melon salad

Honeydew, Mint & Feta Salad with Lime Ginger Dressing (Inspired by Laura Mvula)

melon salad

It has been an impressive year in music for fellow Lauras! Marling, Stevenson, Veirs and Mvula all have released/are releasing great records in 2013, the latter being the only I hadn’t been familiar with before this year. Laura Mvula is a British singer/songwriter who completely blew me away with her debut Sing to the Moon. At first listen her voice reminded me of Adele, but that lazy comparison went away pretty quickly. Mvula’s music is big, soulful, fearless, sometimes a little jazzy, and danceable; her lyrics are smart and empowering, and the whole record is fantastic.

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Peach-Blackberry-Ginger Popsicles (Inspired by We Are Augustines)

THE DISH
Peach-blackberry-ginger popsicles (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
It isn’t super often that I totally fall in love with a new band; mostly because I hear so much music every week that a lot of it starts to sound the same (my friend Amanda summed that feeling up rather perfectly on Pitchfork this week; I’m not quite at that point of jadedness or whatever you want to call it, but you get the idea). But for some reason when my boss recommended listening to Brooklyn band We Are Augustines (who essentially used to be the band Pela), something clicked and I’ve been listening to their album Rise Ye Sunken Ships more than anything else in the past couple weeks. I can’t even really explain why it gets to me more than a lot of other rock bands, but parts of the album remind me of the National and Against Me! (I know, kind of a weird combination).

The story behind Rise Ye Sunken Ships is pretty heartbreaking; you can read it all on the band’s website, but in short, much of the album is based around singer/guitarist Billy McCarthy’s brother James, who was diagnosed as schizophrenic and committed suicide while the band was recording what was originally going to be a new Pela record. Apparently (at least, according to Wikipedia), the band was named in part for the month of August; the month of two bandmembers’ birthdays, as well as McCarthy’s brother James.

Popsicles perhaps sound a bit too sunny to represent an album with so much pain behind it, but with the pain came a lot of healing. In the song “Augustine,” McCarthy sings, “Keep you head up kid, I know you can swim, but you gotta move your legs.” Ginger and honey are known for their healing powers, while peaches and blackberries are perfectly in season in August (and I got what I used for these at the Greenmarket in Union Square). Anyway, check out the album; it’s pretty great.

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Gazpacho + a few songs to beat the heat

Confession: I made this dish a couple weeks ago, one of the last posts conceived in my old kitchen, because I moved last weekend! Apologies for the lack of posts in the last couple weeks — between traveling to Michigan for my cousin’s wedding, packing up my apartment and moving, and my 17-year-old brother coming to visit this weekend, blogging has sort of taken a backseat (but not for long, I promise!).

THE DISH
Simple tomato gazpacho (recipe at the bottom)

THE INSPIRATION
It has been hotter than hell in the city, which has made the thought of cooking quite unappealing. Standing over a stove or in front of an oven? In a sauna? No, thank you. (OK, so I’ve still had to do it a bit anyway; but it’s awful.) So I made gazpacho, cold soup that doesn’t require any cooking. To go with it, check out a few summery songs I’ve heard recently — maybe they’ll make you forget about the heat for a little while?

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Peach-Pineapple Salsa (Inspired by Washed Out)

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

THE DISH
Peach-pineapple salsa (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
This weekend was HOT. One of my best friends was in town visiting from Michigan, and we were out and about for three straight days — mostly in direct sunlight, sweating more than we would’ve liked to while walking and eating our way through the city. After getting back to my apartment every evening, we needed a light and refreshing meal to cool us down — and on her last night in town, that was sauteed kale and baked tilapia fillets topped with peach-pineapple salsa. The salsa matches how I feel about Washed Out’s music: They’re both bright and combine different textures, but they’re still low-maintenance. The salsa doesn’t require much thinking to make, and it doesn’t take much thinking to enjoy Washed Out’s woozy, repetitive tunes with few vocals — not to mention they’re both perfect for summer. And I chose the peaches because, not only are they refreshing, but Washed Out’s Ernest Greene grew up on a peach farm in Georgia.
Washed Out on MySpace (New record Within and Without is out now on Sub Pop)

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Drinking Tunes: Summer Beer + Music

It’s summer! Which, for me, means free outdoor shows, the Brooklyn Flea, biking, watermelon lemonade, Big Gay Ice Cream Truck, outdoor markets, and drinking on rooftops. It also means crafting the perfect playlist for those rooftop outings; and I’m pretty sure there are more songs I associate with summer than any other season.

I wrote a few words about five songs, new and old, that are perfect for the sun and my friend Bret Stetka, who writes about food and drinks for Time Out New York, Metromix and MSN.com (he also has a doughnut blog), paired them each with a beer that complements the music and the mood, and explained why they work together. Cheers! (Also check out our spring beer edition.)


http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: PJ Harvey, “You Said Something”
All of PJ Harvey’s 2000 album Stories From the City, Stories from the Sea makes me want to walk aimlessly around New York in the summer, but “You Said Something” pretty much sums up what I plan to be doing all season in the city — not so much the “you said something” part, but looking at the Manhattan skyline from my Brooklyn rooftop. Don’t even try to get me to go anywhere else on the 4th of July.
THE BEER: Sixpoint Tallboys (Sixpoint Craft Ales, Brooklyn, NY)
Not to take anything away from the next four pairings, but come summer, really all I want to do is listen to music and drink canned beer on a Brooklyn roof somewhere. Enter Sixpoint tallboys! Previously all-draft, Sixpoint’s May announcement that they’d started canning was big news for Brooklyn beer drinkers — the consistently great taste of one of the borough’s best breweries combined with the casual allure of cans. Plus aluminum is far more appropriate than glass in precarious rooftop situations [Especially ones, like mine, that involve climbing a ladder. — Laura]. Sixpoint is now distributing four of their beers in 16-ounce cans — Sweet Action, Righteous Ale, The Crisp and Bengali Tiger IPA — all of which are on the lighter side and ideal for summer.


http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: The Breeders, “Cannonball”
A lyric from this song inspired the name of the album it’s on, The Breeders’ 1993 LP Last Splash. Even though the video follows around an actual cannonball (erm, likely a bowling ball in disguise), the energy and the underwater singing/whistling will always make me think of bratty kids doing cannonballs into a public pool, splashing everyone around them.
THE BEER: My Antonia (Dogfish Head, Rehoboth Beach, Delaware)
Agreed: “Cannonball” reminds me of the reckless side of summer, as does Dogfish Head’s bold take on a Pilsner. It’s bigger and brasher than the traditional Czech and German originals: more sweetness, more hoppiness, and — at 7.5% ABV — more alcohol. It’s all fun-loving bluster like the track’s prominent, awesomely-’90s bass line.


http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: Yellow Ostrich, “WHALE”
Yellow Ostrich — aka guitarist/vocalist Alex Schaaf, multi-instrumentalist Jon Natchez and drummer Michael Tapper — make music that’s bright and breezy; especially this track from their LP The Mistress (which was self-released online, then put out exclusively through eMusic Selects, and soon it’ll see a proper release through Barsuk). Schaaf uses vocal and guitar loops to tell a story about swimming “far into the blue” with a whale, and he has other animal-inspired tracks that are equally whimsical.
THE BEER: Field Mouse’s Farewell (Pretty Things Beer and Ale Project, Cambridge, Mass.)
Yellow Ostrich builds complexity from simple components. Low-key vocal loops and minimalist percussion merge into an awesomely catchy summer trance; Pretty Things’ equally approachable yet intricately-crafted Field Mouse’s Farewell is the perfect pairing. This refreshing, rustic ale is brewed with rye, oats, wheat and barley and should please even casual beer drinkers — but beer geeks will appreciate the perfectly balanced spice, lemony tartness and touch of fruity banana. And like a song about swimming with a whale, the folks at Pretty Things don’t take themselves too seriously — the label features a field mouse hitting the road with an over-the-shoulder satchel, hobo style.


http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: Architecture in Helsinki, “Escapee”
On their recent LP Moment Bends, Architecture in Helsinki shed some of their super-twee roots in favor of pure dance-pop — and it’s a great fit. “Escapee” is perfect for a summer party, with lyrics about looking at constellations on a rooftop, getting out the dark, and escaping.
THE BEER: Weihenstephaner Hefeweissbier (Bayerische Staatsbrauerei Weihenstephan, Freising, Germany)
Hefeweizens — a German beer variety brewed with wheat in addition to barley — tend to be light, refreshing and nice and dry. Hence, they’re perfect for warm weather. Like AiH’s high-energy, bubbly dance pop, this classic take on the style is effervescent and bright with hints of banana and clove. Just don’t try to pronounce it.


http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf
THE SONG: Wild Nothing, “Summer Holiday”
“Summer Holiday,” from Wild Nothing’s excellent 2010 debut Gemini, is a reverb-soaked love song about vacationing to a lover’s parents’ house and having to sleep in their brother’s bedroom, during which frontman Jack Tatum sings, “Won’t you sneak into my room and climb under the covers, talk nonsense in your sleep?”
THE BEER: Sorachi Ace (Brooklyn Brewery, Brooklyn, NY)
Virginia college music isn’t all Dave Matthews jammery: Wild Nothing founder and Virginia Tech alum Jack Tatum’s songwriting brings to mind Morrissey and doesn’t include a single 10-minute electric violin solo. It’s sophisticated and moody yet approachable and Sorachi Ace is a great match. This beer is seriously amazing — one of Brooklyn Brewery’s best. It’s super dry, spicy and complex with an earthy edge and a summery burst of intense carbonation.

Basil-Mint Watermelon Lemonade (Inspired by Beach Fossils)

http://grooveshark.com/songWidget.swf

THE DRINK
Watermelon lemonade with lime, mint and basil (recipe here)

THE INSPIRATION
When it’s as hot as it is in New York this week (in the 80s and 90s, aka I AM MELTING IN MY APARTMENT AS I WRITE THIS), the only thing I can think about is watermelon. And now, I can assure you, the only thing I will ever think about during times like this is this drink. It’s inspired by the Brooklyn band Beach Fossils, whose music is equally fit for this weather; they’ve recently become my start-of-summer soundtrack. Their music is breezy and drenched in reverb, and while the songs have plenty of pep and energy, they never seem to be in too much of a hurry, which is exactly how I like to be in the summer. In their song “Lazy Day,” from last year’s self-titled debut, frontman Dustin Payseur sings, “Lazy today, lazy tonight and later on/ All we had to do was nothing at all, under the sun.” Sounds about right to me. Their recent record, What A Pleasure, isn’t as explicitly about the laziness of summer, but still has the same feeling. What a pleasure, indeed.
Beach Fossils on MySpace

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