Sunday, June 29, 2008

Dining with Julie Slick

So Julie and I have had a lot of down time together in between her summer touring schedule and whilst I wait for edits which are forthcoming on my new book. Naturally when this occurs, we do what we do best - eat. Oh and play Scrabble - and as brilliant as my daughter is, graduating college magna cum laude and all, she cannot beat me. Last night I trounced her by over 100 points, despite the fact that she tried her best to get me drunk first even though I assured her it would make absolutely no difference - I would still demolish her. We shared a lovely bottle of Torrontes but once I put a seven letter word down five minutes into the game, she cracked open another bottle of an equally lovely Zinfandel.

It didn't work. Sorry, Jules.

But first we ate. That morning, Julie and her dad went shopping at the Clark Park Farmers Market in West Philadelphia and then headed cross-town (sort of) to South Philadelphia where they did more damage at the Italian Market. Not only did Julie prepare an awesomely magnificent meal last night, more dinners of wonder and delight are scheduled for the rest of the week.

We started off with a cheese plate, which included Lagrein, Testun al Baralo, Acio DiBosco, and Boucheron goat cheeses served with raw sugar, honey and balsamic carmelized figs, spring olives, and honey hazelnut crackers. (Where did Julie learn how to roast and carmelize fresh figs? I have no idea but to taste them, drizzled with honey, is to experience nirvana)

For the next course, Julie and I had grilled garlic scape, lemon thyme and cashew pesto glazed scallops, heirloom tomatoes and baby squash served with roasted garlic dijon Four Bean Salad over arugula, curly endive, and purple lettuce medley.

Gary, our resident carnivore who is slowly coming over to the "other side" and acknowledged that when he does eat beef, it will be organic from now on, had grass fed Porterhouse Steak briefly marinated with kosher salt, fresh cracked pepper and teriyaki sauce served with sauteed chorizo garlic scape reduction. (Julie wrote the descriptions here and I think the word "briefly" is included to let you know that you are not supposed to over-marinate grass fed beef. I also never heard of "garlic scape" before, either, but I looked it up on Google this morning...I'll put a photo and a definition under the pic of Gary's steak)

"Garlic and its relatives in the allium family, (leeks, chives, onions) grows underground, where the bulb begins its journey, soft and onion-like. As the bulb gets harder (and more like the garlic we know), a shoot pokes its way through the ground. Chlorophyll- green like a scallion (maybe even greener), the shoot is long and thin and pliable enough to curl into gorgeous tendrils.

This stage of growth is the garlic scape, folks. If left unattended, the scape will harden and transform from green to the familiar opaque white/beige color of garlic peel. Keeping the shoot attached will also curtail further growth of the bulb. So, in an effort to allow the garlic to keep growing, the farmer is getting a two-fer with this edible delectable that cooks are just beginning to discover."

Well, Julie apparently knew all about them and went into rapture when she saw them at the farmers market.

It was a totally unbelievable meal, but Julie wasn't finished with us yet. For dessert she prepared an almond scented mascarpone cream with strawberries and bing/rainier cherry melange.

Do I believe we eat like this? She woke up at dawn this morning, even though she's busy all day today, to brine a whole free range chicken with specific instructions that we are to roast it with fresh oranges and rosemary atop baby new potatoes and onions.

You don't even want to know what she is planning for Thursday evening, which is going to be a bon voyage meal for the three of us - Julie, Eric and I are all headed for Canada at 5:00 a.m. Friday morning for the July leg of the summer Adrian Belew Power Trio tour, which means that Matt and Katy and Gary, our significant others, will be treated to one final spectacular meal before we leave them to their own devices for ten days.

On Friday, Julie and I had to run some errands and what a better excuse for trying out a new...well, new to's been around a year of two After much deliberation - because there is literally a brand new place opening every day in downtown Philly, we settled on Raw Sushi and Sake Lounge. No Bento boxes for us, we split three rolls, which amounted to twenty-four pieces of sushi. By far the best was a house specialty, the Binny Roll, which is a shrimp tempura and avocado roll topped with really fresh, succulent tuna garnished with eel and spicy sauce. Also most excellent were our spicy tuna and scallop rolls, but oh man, that Binny time I might not share and just get that one for myself.

Raw is conveniently located a few steps away from our favorite Italian Gelateria, Capogiro. We split a small, which features two flavors, and oh my god, try and pick out two when the choices include Bacio (chocolate and hazelnut), Baked Pineapple, Bananas Foster, Bourbon Butterscotch, Burnt Sugar, Cetriolo with Grey Goose Vodka (cucumber with vodka), Cherimoya (custard apple), Cherry Blossom, Chocolate Peanut Butter, Cilantro Lime, Cioccolato Mexicano (Mexican chocolate), Cioccolato Scuro (bittersweet chocolate), Cocomero Giallo (yellow watermelon)...oh God, I can't even type them all here, but we chose fresh strawberry and mascarpone - it was like eating the world's best and richest cheesecake without the crust. And yes, it's true, we are mascarpone addicts.

So I'm pretty happy with simple roast chicken tonight...and luckily we've also been doing a lot of walking in some intense Philadelphia heat so I've actually lost instead of gained weight over the past few days.

I guess that's it for now - I've got a bunch of stuff brewing as usual but I've finally learned not to blab about things until, um, it's a done deal, you know?

Enjoy the rest of your weekend...I'll be back with any breaking news.


Thursday, June 26, 2008

Odds and Sods for Thursday, June 26, 2008

Wow, I remember when I used to blog every day. Well, I try to do it when the Adrian Belew Power Trio or Project Object are on tour, but over the past few days, things have been quiet, I've been writing, and I know it's hard to believe, but most of the time my life is just as exciting as the rest of you. Ha ha - which means I sit around in my pajamas, paying bills, avoid housework, watch television with the sound off, and a personal highlight, wondering what the hell to have for dinner.

But some stuff has come up that's pretty damn fantastic so here is the official report.

Eric has been on tour this week with both Delicious and Crescent Moon doing double duty on the drums...on Tuesday night they opened for the Butthole Surfers in Asbury Park; tonight it's Delicious and Crescent Moon at one of my favorite venues, John and Peters in New Hope. Will the usual suspects show up, i.e., Mickey from Ween and/or Chris Harford? If they do, you can be sure the jamming will continue until 2:00 a.m. - it would probably go on all night if it wasn't against the law for J&P's to stay open beyond that time. I'm dying to go but Gary's been on this horrific work schedule for the past two weeks because they're short handed and has to be at the office by 7:00 a.m. which means a 5:00 a.m. wake-up. If we were go to to John and Peters, we might not get home until 3:00 a.m. because when those guys just can't leave. It's impossible. By the way, speaking of Chris Harford, Eric has a couple of gigs coming up with him this summer - more details later.

My pal Joe, consummate Ween fan and all around music lover, wrote to me about the Asbury Park show:

"Hi Robin,

Great show last night at Asbury Lanes. Really enjoyed Delicious -- I was standing there with Reverend B-ill from Sound of Urchin when they started playing... and a few minutes into it, B-ill looks over and asks, "wow, who are these guys?" I mean, who knew the players, just didn't know the band name...

I said, "They're Delicious... playing transmissions from outer space..." because the first song was really trippy and spacey, and had this cool effect whereby Andre would turn his guitar on and off repeatedly to create these crazy blips and bleeps...

They were impressive, and kept things interesting up there, you know... to my ears i even heard a bit of black sabbath riffage..."

Rock on, Joe (heh), and congratulations on the impending birth of your sure-to-be-beautiful daughter, Stella Star.

Here's a You Tube which surfaced showing Delicious in concert and below that, my personal Crescent Moon favorite, Hammer to the Skull...Eric does it all, doesn't he?

So yeah, if you're in the area, you really want to hit John and Peters tonight and woo hoo, both bands will also be playing this Sunday at the Festival Pier in Philadelphia.

In other news, for more photos of Matt and Julie's graduation party and my adorable nephew Garrett on guitar, thanks to the lovely Jen Foster, Jordan's significant other, and Jordan, as you know from my last post, is lead guitarist and vocalist for the absolutely amazing band, Cheers Elephant, and guess what, Cheers Elephant will also be playing at the Festival Pier on Sunday - I believe all of these bands will be on stage in the afternoon.

And for more absolutely fabulous photography, here's a film/photo montage of the Adrian Belew Power Trio at their recent stint at Skippers in Tampa, Florida.

Something I've been sitting on but can now report is yes, the trio will be heading to Russia the last week of August to play a couple of festivals. Heart be still - here's a newspaper article I found which gives a little bit of information...well, enough to cause me to foam at the mouth in happiness, anyway. (Oh, and while I'm thinking about it, some more ABPT European dates have been added as well - Eric just put them up on his My Space page.)

Kazan Open Air Festival

August 29-30 will see the unique festival Creation of the World gathering together world music stars in Kazan.

"The one-of-the-kind project is intended to unite people with the help of music of various genres and countries and make them leave religious and interethnic hostility behind.

The project’s author, producer Sergei Mirov and the festival president, musician Andrei Makarevich have chosen Kazan as the festival venue, since it is the city where in modern Russia there are various religions coexisting side by side and its Kremlin has an orthodox church and a mosque standing next to each other.

According to festival organizers on the City Day, August 30, a huge stage will be mounted on the main square of Kazan and the festival will be open by five priests: an Orthodox, a Catholic, a Muslim, a Judaist, and a Buddhist – all at once.

Russian stars, such as Zemfira, Boris Grebenshikov and Aquarium, Time Machine, Yuri Bashmet, and Huun-Huur-Tu will be performing alongside with Western musicians: Patti Smith, Keith Emerson, Fairport Convention, Future Sound of London, musicians from the King Crimson band, and Nina Nastasia, as well as ethnic music stars from Cameroon, Israel, Pakistan, Scotland and other countries.

In addition to that the festival will surprise audience with unusual duets and jams. Thus, Patti Smith will take the stage together with Zemfira, and in the performance of the famous Turkmen drummer Rishad Shafi there will sing solo almost all festival participants.

The Fair Square where the event will be taking place holds one hundred thousand people. Music lovers from Moscow, St. Petersburg and from overseas are already getting ready to go there."


You'll note that the article mentions "members of King Crimson". That would be KTU featuring Pat Mastelotto and Trey Gunn and Kimmo Pohjonen, UKZ, featuring Trey Gunn, Eddie Jobson, Aaron Lippert, Alex Machacek, and Marco Minnemann, as well as, yep, the Adrian Belew Power Trio. This same line-up is also resurfacing in Moscow a few days later, and I think, but am not sure, that Tony Levin is going to be there, too, because if you go to his website and click on "tours", he mysteriously is going to be in Russia on the same dates as well. And while you are visiting Tony's website, be sure to read his journal and click on the photos. Tony gives great blog!

Okay, so let me get this straight. The article also mentions "unusual duets and jams". Does this mean that the Adrian Belew Trio may jam with Keith Emerson? I'm having a freaking coronary. You have to realize why - let me fill you in on a little Slick history. Growing up, rock was pretty much forbidden in my house because my father was a jazz musician and basically blamed the Beatles for what he decided was "the death of jazz" *snort*, it couldn't possibly just have been his career in the toilet due to, erm...let's not go there. But I was bitten bigtime when I heard my first Beatle song. (Yeah, yeah, just like Bad Company's Shooting Star). Beyond the Beatles, though, my knowledge was limited to other British Invasion bands like the Kinks and Stones. When Gary and I first started hanging out in high school, he was my music professor, and in an effort to try and get my old man to listen to something outside the box, he brought over albums (yes, albums...I'm old, remember?) by people like John Mayall, Savoy Brown, King Crimson, and Emerson, Lake and Palmer. How could my father deny that even though they played rock/blues, they were still incredible musicians?

He did...but I'll leave all that for my psychiatrist (ha)...but man, I fell in love with ELP, and I know all the critics and hipsters trash them - well, my opinion of that is they are fucking ridiculous and know nothing about music and if someone starts that spiel with me, I walk away.

The night before Julie was born and my contractions were coming like twenty minutes apart - too soon to go to the hospital but impossible for me to get any sleep - Gary played ELP's Take a Pebble for me and I can't hear that song without bursting into tears remembering Julie's birth...sadly...I'm also that way about Cat Stevens' Morning Has Broken as that was the song playing in the delivery room just as Julie was born and they placed her on my stomach. It was like a scene out of a movie.

So like, imagine how I'm feeling about the possibility of my kids sharing a stage with Emerson. When we were first married, Gary and I would have ELP marathon nights, where we'd listen to every one of their albums in a row. If you would see me right now you'd giggle - I have total goosebumps and I just wiped away a tear.

Damn hormones.

Okay, time to talk about my always-interesting-if-nothing-else writing career.

As I indicated in an earlier post, I went to New York City twice last week to co-star in a documentary. The first day I did a one on one interview and I freaking can't believe it, the minute they hooked me up to that mic and put the camera on me, I didn't shut up. But did I stay on topic? Of course not. I talked about Julie and Eric and Adrian and my own agenda, i.e., my unfortunate experience with agents (one quit the business, one disappeared, and the other wanted me to make my characters twenty-five years old even though I write about baby boomers and that's basically my platform although naturally one day after we parted ways, I started a new book with a twenty-one year old protagonist)...anyway, I cringed the whole way home on the train remembering what I said on camera and thinking I'd really screwed up, but when I went back on Friday and we did a shoot featuring the whole group of us, I think I rectified the situation and besides, that is why directors use the "edit" feature. I had never met any of the nine/ten people also being filmed and it was interesting - even though we were quite diverse in appearance we ended up having a lot in common and by the time the shoot was over and we headed to this really incredible Spanish restaurant, El Quijote for dinner, we all lamented the fact that there were no cameras filming there as we really clicked and great conversation flowed throughout the meal - we were there over two hours and probably could have stayed longer if we didn't have other obligations...and in my case, if I didn't consume more than my usual two glasses of wine, knowing that I had a two hour train ride home.

Anyway, the hope is that this documentary will air on a cable channel such as Bravo when completed and really, I think it will. Both the premise and characters are pretty unique.

Also, I mentioned that I have a new publisher for Bitten to the Core and my editor contacted me this week -- I can tell just from our emails that we're really going to hit it off and that's a huge load of worry off my shoulders. That and the fact that she told me she was laughing out loud and spitting out her coffee while reading the first chapter, which, if you ask me, is a very good sign.


Finally, because I can, and because I am sitting here freaking out that I just found it on You Tube, I leave you with Emerson, Lake and Palmer performing Take a Pebble, and Oh. My. God....look how young they are. I'm gonna cry.

Okay, I am crying. But in a good way.



Sunday, June 22, 2008

The Best Party Ever - Part I

So there's much to catch up on, but today's post is about Matt and Julie's graduation party yesterday - probably one of the best/most enjoyable parties I've ever attended in my life. Thank you so much to Matt's parents, Frank Rothstein, and Eva and Steve Nicolazzi, who held it at their magnificent home, and for acting as sous chefs for Julie, which meant being ordered around until 1:00 a.m. the evening before by the high priestess of Epicurian Delights who refused to let Eva and Steve hire a caterer.

Here's the cool signs which helped me to relax we weren't hopelessly lost (i.e., Did I screw up the directions when reading them to, I did not, though I would later rectify that unusual occurrence on the way home in the dark)

I made Eric get out of the car to take this picture much to his utter (not) joy. Other than that, this first set of photos were taken by me and now no one in my family can make fun of my rotten photographer skills anymore...or, now I know the secret. My camera works best outdoors in sunshine.

What a cool banner - and even cooler the sign that there would be a jam session at some point...many of the guests were talented musicians.

Proud papa Gary Slick, who I made pose for this photo because...there's that shirt again! (and notice, when you click on that link, the very cool photo credit. And as my regular readers already know, the t-shirt was designed by brilliant photographer Mark Colman).

And there's the official hand lettered card, announcing Julie as Caterer, in between two of the most lethal Sangrias I have ever had - Julie's special recipe, i.e., fresh tropical fruit, red/white wine, tequila, rum, brandy, cognac, Jack Daniels...oh, I'm kidding...but only a little. More than one glass and you're dancing on tables...more than two and you probably start shedding clothes.

Erm...I wouldn't know.

Some of the appetizers - also all made by hand and by Julie...she totally rocks. The first is brie with honey glazed pecans and a fruit chutney of sorts - there was one on every table, too and incredibly addictive.

Julie's guacamole and corn and black bean pico de gallo...too, too good...and I don't know what she used for a marinade on the mozzarella/tomato skewers but she took a simple appetizer to a whole 'nother level.

As the card says, those are indeed "Julie's Famous Poppers" and they are unfortunately so incredible I ate about three dozen and was almost too full to eat anything else.

Okay, not quite...but almost. She must have made a thousand of them, tray after tray kept appearing warm from the kitchen, and I giggled at the thought of Eva and Steve slicing jalapeno peppers and removing those dreaded seeds at midnight because I know that's what Julie had them doing...I just know it, without even asking.

Speaking of Eva, here she is thanking us all for coming to the party...and yes...she is not only very sweet, she is also very beautiful.

Julie and her dad, sharing grilling duties. I know I'm prejudiced, but I just adore these photos:

This is Clyde, Matt's dog, who stationed himself in front of the barbecue and didn't budge...which was a very smart move on his part as with so much food on the grill and so much Sangria being consumed by one of the chefs and it wasn't Gary, he (Clyde) was bound to get lucky.

What's coming to the table now?

See these shrimp skewers? Un-freaking believable tasting and Clyde's first real score from a "whoops it slipped off the barbecue" mishap. Luckily I noticed right away and wrestled it from him, regretting that I could not take the chance of running for my camera to take a photo of that cute bulldog face with a shrimp skewer sticking out of his mouth but it was too risky. Okay, okay, after I took it from him, I gave him a could I not?

Some photos just to give you a feel for how nice the whole atmosphere was...Julie and Matt, Eric and his significant other, Katy...there's Gary behind Katy in photo #3...all of their the absolutely gorgeous grounds with blooming flowers everywhere...just an incredible vibe.

Okay, for some unknown reason, Blogger is acting weird and won't let me put up any more photos in this post so stay tuned for The Best Party Ever - Part II - below.


The Best Party Ever - Part II

So after we finished stuffing our faces it was time for some music. Now here is where photographer extraordinaire Gary Slick takes over...and taking the stage is Matt's amazing band, Cheers Elephant...and look who is on drums...Eric Slick, who sat in for Cheers' regular drummer, Brandon King, who unfortunately had to work yesterday. By the way, for those in the Philadelphia area, Cheers Elephant will be playing the XPoNential Music Festival on Saturday, July 12 and I'm really looking forward to that.

Lead guitarist/vocalist Jordan del Rosario, bassist Matt Rothstein, and on guitar and lead vocals, Derek Krzywicki

Matt doing a little more singing...

Jordan, who Gary remarked to me "reminds him of members of the band Traffic" and I agree but it somehow looks better on Jordan...


Which rhymes with...Eric...

Naturally Cheers Elephant's engineer/producer, Ms. Julie Slick, had to play with the sound...

Matt and Derek...

Jordan, Matt and Derek...

One of my all time favorite photos of Eric which I can't use anywhere else as Eric is a Paiste artist and this was obviously not his drumkit...

Sitting in the audience and taking in the music, Eric's girlfriend, the very beautiful Katy...

And the equally beautiful Julie...

After Cheers Elephant played, everyone jumped in Eva and Steve's in-ground pool, and yes I know, I should have taken a photograph but by that time Julie's Sangria was really starting to take effect and I was seriously afraid I'd drop my camera in the pool. Besides, it was time to go back for more food.

Anyway, after all of the musicians were refreshed (translation: dripping wet from the pool and I tried not to worry about electrocution) Eric, Julie, and another infamous School of Rock alumni, C.J. Tywoniak joined up for the first time in a couple of years for an impromptu jam...during which they were then joined by another Rock School friend, teacher Brian Davis...and it was pretty damn impressive.

Here's C.J. Remember him from Rock School (the movie)?

The guitarist in the pink shirt is Brian Davis. Julie, Eric, and Brian record together when Julie and Eric aren't on the road with Adrian and I bet we see a project from them in the very near future. In fact, there's some most excellent stuff Julie put right on my computer but I have no idea how to post a link here...actually, I don't even think that's possible, anyway, but maybe one day they'll have a MySpace page...who knows...

I don't think Julie looks gorgeous enough in this photo, do you? Oh my God, she looks like a mermaid...with legs and a bass har har...

Uh-oh, Jordan, after also consuming copious amounts of Julie's Sangria (I'm guessing, I could be wrong), decided to join the band and they did hilarious versions of Michael Jackson's "Beat It", Asia's "Heat of the Moment" don't even want to know what else...but trust me, they made those songs sound good...

Now comes my own personal favorite part of the evening. My brother, Dave, and his wife Staci and sons Garrett and Dylan came to the party all the way from West Hartford, Connecticut, and Garrett, almost 10, is developing into quite the guitar player so he brought along his ax and asked if he could jam. His cousins were only too happy to oblige him and he really rocked!

Here's Garrett, who, by the way, is playing a guitar signed not only by Julie and Eric but by Adrian Belew, Garrett's favorite guitarist. And these pictures were taken by was quickly getting dark so don't blame the photographer...blame Julie's Sangria of terror and delight and the fact that my camera only works in the sunshine...

Garrett and Jordan, hashing out a song...

The band gets ready to play a smoking version of Stairway to Heaven which had us all grinning from ear to ear...

Garrett is giving his band some final instructions before playing the next song...

What's this? The band is launching into the Beatles "Ticket to Ride"? Who is that guy, unable to stay in his seat? Could it be...

Yep, you can't deny a true musician/Beatle fan. That's Gary on vocals, belting out Ticket with Jordan...and Garrett, who had previously only played solo and never with a real band before, totally jammed out and I think both Garrett and his Uncle Gary could have stayed on stage all night...

But alas by this time, it was very dark, very late, and we were very exhausted and knew we had a long drive home ahead of us. So we regretfully said goodnight and headed to our car. Sigh...they'd just lit a bonfire as we were leaving and I was ruefully regretting that I didn't visit the dessert table...don't even ask what that included...incredible beyond belief...but I was seriously too full...anyway, Gary and I unanimously agreed that yes, it was probably the most fun we'd ever had at a party and to Eva, Steve, and Frank...thank you so, so much.

And hey, congratulations to Julie Slick and Matt Rothstein - Drexel University - Class of 2008.