13 July 2013

i should tell you: The Phoenix Foundation

Well hello there, and welcome to volume fifteen of I Should Tell You, the segment on this blog where I interview cool musicians from that particular genre of 'those who will reply to my earnest emails'. The same three questions about food every time, just to see what happens. 

Today I am greatly pleased to be talking to nearly every last damn member of The Phoenix Foundation


The Phoenix Foundation are a sparklingly brilliant band from Wellington, whose mellow-yet-stompy music has been delighting ears all over the world since years ago. Should you know nothing of the Phoe-Fou and want in, their jaunty and endearing song Buffalo is a good place to start. I also recommend the dreamy 40 Years with its video directed by local babe Taika Waititi. The fact that the entire band obligingly answered my questions surely demonstrates, if nothing else, how nice they are. Not that niceness is a reason to buy anyone's records: luckily they back up all this niceness by being bloody great musicians too. I've seen them live several times now ("see" being relative. The last time was when they were at Slowboat Records in Wellington and short little me saw naught but the flanks of the man in front of me. And, if I leaned carefully, the top of Luke Buda's head) and it's always a swell time with Grade A banter. Should you be overdue to see them again, or feel like the time has come to see them for the first time, why! Today's your lucky day. They're back from traversing Europe on the back of their grand new record Fandango and are touring the major centres of this fair (or at least, fair enough) country this month. 

19 July The Bedford @ CPSU, Christchurch
20 July Queens, Dunedin
21 July Chicks Hotel, Dunedin
26 July The Cabana, Napier
27 July James Cabaret, Wellington

Tickets can be sought and bought in Wellington at Rough Peel Music & Slowboat, both around the corner from each other, so you might as well make a small shopping spree of it, and in Christchurch and Dunedin from Cosmic.



Thanks again, Sam Scott, Conrad Wedde, Luke Buda, Will Ricketts, and Chris O'Connor! The interview starts...now. 


Sam Scott:

1. Where's somewhere you've eaten that you kinda like to brag about or drop into conversation?

It's Chez Panisse in Berkley. Me and my wife were staying with friends in Oakland and a few people had suggested we check it out. Every single thing we ate blew our minds. It was the best service I have ever experienced. We got so carried away by the ambience and perfection of everything that I ended up proposing to my wife half way through the meal, completely unplanned. What I didn't know at the time was that Chez Panisse was a the forefront of the local food movement. They have their own farms, vineyard etc. They brought us a complementary plate of stone fruit to eat while we finished our wine before desert and it was unquestionably the best I have eaten anywhere. 

2 What do you fix for yourself, or where do you go to eat, when it's just you on your own?

If I'm cooking for anyone I will always make an effort. I love to cook for other people. My wife pleads with me to stop being so fancy and make something simple for once (as I tend to make a lot of dishes). If I'm cooking for myself I make no effort at all. Maybe plain spag with olive oil, lots of pepper and cheddar cheese. 

3 What's one of your favourite food-related memories from your childhood?

My grandfather lived in Spain and we only got to visit him there once (he came to NZ quite a few times in childhood, he was a cool dude). Pretty much everything we ate in Spain was a revelation, but what stands out to me was the churros sold in the big open air market in Javea. The markets themselves were like a magical kingdom. We certainly didn't have anything like that in Newtown in 1991, but the churros were just unbelievable. Cooked in a huge cauldron of fat over open flame. I pretty much found every churro since these ones to be nothing but a disappointment. 

Conrad Wedde:

1. Where's somewhere you've eaten that you kinda like to brag about or drop into conversation?

I dont really like to brag about where i've eaten and havent been anywhere all that flash. but the food in vietnam is pretty amazing...soup on the street or epic banquets washed down with large bottles of beer, theres a place called cha ca la vong(i think) in Hanoi that does beautiful charcoal tumeric fish, I think the street it's on is actually named after the restaurant.

2 What do you fix for yourself, or where do you go to eat, when it's just you on your own?

rice or soba noodle soup with whatever bits I can find

3 What's one of your favourite food-related memories from your childhood?

brown rice with grated cheddar cheese and corn fritters with home made tomato relish

Luke Buda:

 1. Where's somewhere you've eaten that you kinda like to brag about or drop into conversation?

St John's in London probably, because of its lauded "nose to tail eating". Though if I'm truly honest with myself I found my food there mildly disappointing.  I had the Bone Marrow which is one of their signature dishes (found it a bit boring) and some duck thing which was a bit dry… Ha! Damning report. But some of the other guys had awesome stuff.  Tom had braised Ox heart. It was AMAZING. Also my dessert was great. Cheesecake with raisins that had been soaked in marsala for over 3 months.

The one that I am a total fan of however, is MORO (also in London). It's probably as much to do with the fact that I have one of their cookbooks and it's taught me heaps.  But I also like the fact it's unpretentious. It's not really fine dining as such, it's just amazingly tasty food.  Like the Mansaf, their version of it is:  Saffron yoghurt soup with Lamb meatballs and pine nuts.  Simple.  Delicious.  All the meats are wood roasted or charcoal grilled.  Lot's of nuts and yoghurt and all spice and cinnamon and sumac blah blah blah etc etc Your plate comes out COVERED in food. Very very good. Highest recommendation from me.



2 What do you fix for yourself, or where do you go to eat, when it's just you on your own?

I will almost always head to the Fisherman's Plate in Bond St, Wellington, for their absolutely excellent Pho. Don't be fooled by the way the place pretends to be a mere Fish'n'Chip shop!  The noodle soup is world class (this, of course is an absurd thing for me to say as I have never been to Vietnam BUT it's better than any I had on London's Kingsland Rd, and I had many, at highly regarded Vietnamese joints, well the Fisherman's Plate Pho is superior!).

If i'm cooking for myself… well this hardly ever happens anyway, as I have 2 kids. Or at least, not for dinner. I probably make myself a flash brunch or lunch.  Probably crushed roasted new potatoes with a poached egg, or Shakshuka (a current have, from the Ottolenghi book Jerusalem) or just a nice frittata.

3 What's one of your favourite food-related memories from your childhood?

Eating an entire giant can of halva. Poland (where I lived until I was 8) is mad on halva! You can buy halva bars in any corner store.  Just as popular as chocolate bars.  Also, whenever my mum would bring home some "serek" (kind of translates as: "cute little cheese") which is basically fromage frais. It was only occasionally in the shops.  ALSO my uncle going to pick little red berries in the forest and then mushing them up with polish cottage cheese (quite different from the NZ variety, totally dry.  You can slice a slice, it's crumbly.  Almost like not salty feta, or dry ricotta) then having that on very thinly sliced rye bread in the morning.

Will Ricketts:

1. Where's somewhere you've eaten that you kinda like to brag about or drop into conversation?

i like to brag about a dinner in morocco with ritchie singleton, we ate a whole leg of slow cooked lamb in a sitting. it was unbelievably delicious.

i know that is not a restaurant but cant help despite myself, casually throwing that in when someone mentions a tagine or anything of the morrocan culinary experience.

2. What do you fix for yourself, or where do you go to eat, when it's just you on your own?

i love to make myself pasta. if i eat out alone in wellington, i am strongly drawn to vietnamese food. my favourites being mekong on vivian st or phong vu in the left bank, to have a rare beef pho.

3. What's one of your favourite food-related memories from your childhood?

hasn't changed thankfully! when i go to stay at mums and i get up in the morning to a freshly cleaned kitchen, the sound of choral music and the smell of fresh bread cooling down on the kitchen table. spoilt i know!

Chris O’Connor:

 1. Where's somewhere you've eaten that you kinda like to brag about or drop into conversation?

Jesus Maria in Cordoba province, Argentina. Castrating young bulls and frying up their testes for afternoon tea. During asado for dinner that evening there was a cut - saliva glands I think, that seemed to melt in my mouth...

2 What do you fix for yourself, or where do you go to eat, when it's just you on your own?

Honey smeared roast vegetables with couscous.

3 What's one of your favourite food-related memories from your childhood?

realizing my thumb tasted rather like chips, and thats why enjoyed sucking it so much.

1 comment:

  1. This one time after watching an episode of Ottolenghi's Jerusalem on the Food channel I too decided to make Shakshuka. I succeeded in creating a pretty amazing dish of cat vomit.

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