Monday, January 25, 2016

Pastrami: Ode To A Lifelong Obsession

Just to let you know, I have had pastrami sandwiches from all over the United States. Yes, I have been to Carnegie Deli and Katz's in New York (which I touch on), but what you are about to read is my pastrami obsession from the different places I have lived in, both here in Tucson and back in California. Think of it as a "where can a pastrami hooked kid get a decent sandwich in his neighborhood?". Makes it a bit more intimate don't you think?

I think so.

Anyway, the sandwiches I have had in New York and beyond were amazing (although I do think the Carnegie is a bit overrated, I mean, c'mon, it's a tourist spectacle at this point, that tower of meat is just silly...yet delicious) but here is a nod to all of the pastrami sandwiches from around my blocks.

Thank you pastrami, past, present and sandwiches yet to be consumed. made me the man I am today. complete me.

Young Metal Mark and his early pastrami filled belly in repose in Los Angeles

Not too sure, but I think it came from a movie. Or perhaps a TV show I saw.

Somebody was eating a pastrami sandwich and it just looked heavenly. At the age of 8 or 9 the only deli meat I was accustomed to was bologna that came in clear plastic silos, "ham" and the frozen meat surrogate enigma also known as Steak-Umm. Living with my dad, who was famously known for being quite terrified of most foods, he kept the fridge stocked with glistening slabs he thought a spazzy little KISS listening to kid would enjoy for lunch or snack. I had little time to care about the menu in the house; between playing outside, going to school, getting high score on Donkey Kong or trying to get my Thief/Magic User to the next level, as long as I was eating, I was content.

Here's the thing though: I grew up in Glendale, CA, a pleasant suburb in Los Angeles. My friends were really diverse, culturally, so I was extremely lucky in that capacity. When I spent the night at any one of their houses, I was treated to trips of varied cuisines from around the globe.

Monte was Hispanic and through his mom and family I had my first tamale and authentic taco, not the yellow greased meat stuffed variety at Taco Bell (which was right next to the arcade I frequented so I have had my share, believe me) and they were fantastic. Victor was Korean so marinaded pork and rice with kimchi, hot and cold noodles, spicy soups and squid, squid! I ate squid!, were suspicious at first but divine. Michael was Italian so real pasta with real sauces and real meatballs made fresh by a real Italian mother changed the way I look and treat food to this day.

That's why when I saw that guy on the TV eat a pastrami sandwich, I knew I had to have one. Just think of it as a calling of sorts.

At a little corner deli, the pastrami craze took hold

Luckily, just a few blocks from where we lived, right across from my elementary school, was a little corner deli called the LA Cafe. When I walked in I was greeted by the ding-a-ling of a bell and a smiling Vietnamese lady behind the counter. The place smelled exotic, like a combination of steaming meats, fresh bread and heavy mustard; familiar yet strange at the same time. It was quite small so all of the ingredients, I'm sure, were packed tight together and with the front door always closed, along with an old oscillating fan working on a table in the distance, the scent of the place immediately drew me in and for some reason I knew I had found something special.

I got a small sandwich, like 6 inches, hot, with yellow mustard, tomatoes and Provolone cheese, which is what the guy on TV was eating...I think. The nice lady quickly went to work and after a few minutes my first pastrami sandwich was in front of me. After taking a seat near a window, I nervously picked up the soft roll packed deep with cured meat and took a bite.

Even at that young age, I knew I had found what I had been looking for - food wise that is. Whatever that movie or TV show that I wanted to sandwich emulate did nothing for what I was experiencing at that moment. That sandwich was beyond any fast food burger or sweet treat from the U-Tote-M market. So young, yet I had found my calling. Food wise, of course.

That night when my dad came home I told him about my new found love of pastrami.

"You don't like pastrami," he claimed as he put a Swanson's Salisbury steak dinner in front of me.

"Uh. Yeah I do."

"Since when?"

Even after telling him the extended story, he was still convinced that I was lying somehow about my love for that sandwich. Maybe because at that age I changed my love of things quite often. I was a Cub Scout for exactly a week, I wanted cello lessons and went once, Power Lord action figures were quickly replaced by Masters of the Universe. Stuff like that.

"You don't like pastrami."

But this phase I knew would stick.

The addiction taken to a new level

When my mom got word that I was now a pastrami fiend, she only had one thing to say:

"Oh, you like pastrami? Well we need to take you to Langer's then."

Apparently this place she was taking me to was famous for their pastrami sandwiches. Whatever. I was content with my little corner place, with the nice Vietnamese family that always greeted me with warm smiles and after a couple of visits all she would ask in broken English was "Pastrami?" All I had to do then was nod and she'd deliver another perfect sandwich to my 9 year old chubby face.

Langer's Deli was different. It was bigger. Much bigger. And packed with people. On a late afternoon on Alvarado Street in the MacArthur Park area of Los Angeles, there was a line out the door. So we shuffled through with the rest of the hungry crowd, eventually getting to the counter.

There it was, in a big sign over the bustling sandwich line, proclaiming: The #19, World's Best Pastrami Sandwich".

Okay mister number nineteen. Let's see what you got.

The Langer's Deli #19, a sandwich game changer for this kid

It was rough but we luckily found a table by walking around the busy restaurant a bit. After sitting down among the throngs of blissful eaters, I scooted my chair in, took a look at my pastrami sandwich and made a face. It didn't look like the sandwich I got from the LA Cafe. This was on seeded rye bread, no cheese, just mustard and served with a dill pickle. But, whatever. I was hungry and curious to know what World Famous pastrami tasted like.

After taking a bite...yep. It tasted like this.

The flavor on the meat was different but so much deeper in quality and excellence. The bread was soft and chewy and I didn't even miss the cheese or tomatoes. Mom then explained what Kosher was, that dairy couldn't be anywhere near the meat, which I found strange but didn't care. Luckily I had a few Jewish friends so from then on I always had them take me to their favorite Kosher deli for a pastrami sandwich when we got the chance. Most were good, but none compared to the #19 at Langer's.

Oh sure, I still went to my little Vietnamese family down the street, but only because it was so close and they knew exactly what I wanted when I walked in with the tinkling of that bell. But when I bit into the oh so familiar taste of the LA Cafe sandwich, I knew there were pastrami adventures just waiting for me out there, and Langer's had planted that seed of exploration.

Then, without warning, the little corner deli closed down.

Soon after, my dad and I moved from Los Angeles to a town near my hometown, Carmel, called Salinas,  and my pastrami prospects didn't look too good.

At the time, ToGo's was the only pastrami game in town

Salinas, for quite some time, was the hub of farming in central California. In fact, Salinas had the nickname of "The Lettuce Bowl" because there were nothing but lettuce fields everywhere. In my big city/small town displacement and creeping adolescence, my love of Hard Rock turned to Speed and Thrash Metal, my love of New Wave turned to Hardcore Punk and my youthful skateboarding around town progressed into a full thrasher lifestyle. This is where cute little Mark began forming into Metal Mark and my angst was only offset by the lack of a decent deli in Salinas.

Oh sure, there were plenty of good Mexican restaurants, which was great, and lots of cheap fast food and donut shops that served pizza, but what I really missed was my longtime friend the pastrami sandwich. Only trips to LA to visit my mom were I treated to good delis and Langer's, but around Salinas in the mid-80s, there was only one game in town.

It was called ToGo's and was a local west coast chain. The first time I walked into a ToGo's my first reaction was 'I don't like the smell.' It had this fake meat and hard plastic aroma but I was desperate to find a good pastrami sandwich within skating distance and there was one just a few blocks from my school, much like the little corner deli I missed so much back in Glendale.

The sandwich was...fine. Not horrible, not great, but good enough to satiate my eternal craving for pastrami. Luckily, when high school rolled around, I had friends that would go to work for ToGo's and often enough would get the occasional "hook up" on the pastrami front. But it wasn't the same. It lacked character and fresh flavor and was also kind of drippy. And when my mom moved from LA to Wilmington, Delaware, her home city and state, to be closer to her family, I knew I was in trouble.

The ToGo's pastrami sandwich...meh, but fine when the cravings came, which was often

In the post high school stage of my life there were various holidays back east to visit my mom, which meant trips to New York, Philadelphia, Chicago, etc. It was at these bustling metropolises I tried a variety of foods; the cheesesteaks in Philly, Chicago dogs, New York style pizza, all that. One thing was for sure though...I got me some fantastic pastrami sandwiches, especially in New York. My favorite was at Katz's Deli on East Houston street. It was a lot like Langer's; loud, busy, brimming with life, very Kosher and most importantly, had an amazing pastrami sandwich. The meat tower over at the Carnegie was just silly to me and the vibe there was way too touristy. Katz's though. That was my east coast jam.

After "dabbling" in college, I moved to San Francisco in 1995 which made me more excited than ever because I knew the food scene there was unbeatable. My pastrami addiction moved to Mission Style Burritos and if you've ever had a Mission Style Burrito, you know why. Still though, I needed to feed the pastrami beast that still lived inside me. I searched the local papers and publications looking for a real deli, when the internet became, well, the internet, I did online searches for the best pastrami in town, I asked locals where I should go, what I should eat and which bus line did I need to get on. Honestly, at that juncture in San Francisco, there wasn't a whole lot of options.

Except one.

A second home in SF if you will
Tommy's Joynt rested on the corner of Geary and Van Ness and was famous for their huge cuts of meat and gargantuan portions per plate. For me, this is where Metallica got Jason Newsted drunk and then announced that he was their new bassist. It was also a return to a corner deli, although in a much louder and drunker capacity. The deli wizards at Tommy's cut thick slices per order and then piled it on soft rolls or crusty bread and the addition of a full bar didn't hurt either.

The pastrami at Tommy's was good. Not Kosher, a bit greasy but still they provided a good sandwich when the perennial fog and drizzle gloom hit. This was my place to tuck in and hide among the crowds, disappearing into a mammoth sandwich and a mug of beer when the bustle of the traffic and onset of hipster bullcrap became too much.

I can't even imagine what it's like now. But in the early 2000's, it was glorious.

Thick and manly, the Tommy's pastrami way

Right before I moved from San Francisco to Tucson in 2006 to be with my now wife, a great little place opened up on upper Polk that I only visited once but was amazed at how they captured the essence of east coast deli.

Miller's was a delight, surrounded by questionable Asian fare and sex shops, and their pastrami sandwich brought me back to snow days in New York, watching the heavily coated community shuffle by in the sleet as I cozily sunk into a hot pastrami on rye. After experiencing Miller's, which wasn't too far from my last apartment on Columbus and Union, I knew I would return for more. Then one chilly night I met She-Ra, two days later I proposed and a month later I moved to Tucson. It's...a long, but lovely story.

You can read all about it in my first book HERE.

We could have been something Miller's, we coulda had a relationship

My first meal in Tucson was breakfast at Blue Willow, which was fine. I was bleary from the 14+ hour drive on no sleep but was happy to watch a brightly colored macaw dance around the back patio who had obviously escaped from the vet clinic next door. The second thing I ate, as She-Ra was driving me around town introducing me to my new home, was a Sonoran hot dog. No, it wasn't from BK or El Guero Canelo, it was from random dude with a cart on some dusty lot and, just like the Mission Burritos, my attention moved from pastrami to those hot dogs for a bit. I think I ate like three or four right then and there. They were unique, delicious and oh so bad for you. I couldn't get enough.

That is until I started to get a little pudgy, especially 'round the middle, then I knew I had to dial the Sonoran hot dog habit down a few notches.

As I began settling into my new home in the Old Pueblo, I knew what my next mission was: to find a great pastrami sandwich.

When I asked around the resounding direction I was pointed towards was a place called Schlomo and Vito's. It was a bit out of the way from our snug garden nook in midtown but, hey, if everyone says this is the place to go in Tucson for pastrami then a mini road trip it is!

The place was nice, a great set up, obviously catering to the more affluent residents surrounding the place. So I ordered my custom sandwich to go and when it was ready I drove out to a scenic spot to eat my first Tucson pastrami sandwich.

The result?


Sorry, this place just didn't live up to the hype

There was a sort of blandness about the whole thing, the sandwich felt as if I was supposed to love it. I didn't love it. The meat lacked inspiration and seasoning which sucks coming from a spot that has "New York Delicatessen" on it's marquee. I've had New York deli pastrami...this wasn't New York deli pastrami. It was more like Montauk pastrami.

I don't know. That was back in 2006 so perhaps they have changed. Hate to say it, but, I haven't been back since.

Then a word came from the Kosher deli underground. In hushed tones, someone told me that a place that used to be called Feig's Deli was now the Fifth Street Deli (which is now under a new name, Eli's) and their pastrami was to die for. Great. So the next chance I got I drove out to see what all the rumors were about.

Now this joint made me feel at home. The guy behind the counter, a rather Hasidic man with the curls and everything, angrily took my order and in a huff made my sandwich. Was it because I am gentile, one with long hair and wearing a High On Fire hoodie, or was he just having a bad day? It didn't matter.

This sandwich ruled.

Thank you Fifth Street Deli, and thank you angry Hasid dude

Whew. Finally, after all this time, traveling hundreds of miles to be with my true love and leaving my city of 12 years behind, I finally grabbed onto a decent pastrami sandwich. It was perfect; simple yet elegant. No cheese (duh), but the meat was cured just right and the bread resonated with Langer's and Katz's divinity. Lovely, just lovely. Welp, I guess I found my sandwich.

Uh, nope. Because I was about to get thrown a pastrami throwback curve ball.

One night, after a screening at The Loft Cinema, a group of us converged to a bar and grill right next door. Called the Red Garter, it was a spot I had been to once before but had a hesitancy to return, mainly because the last time I was there smoking was still permitted in bars and it was a choking smog bank of cigarette pollution. Me having never smoked a cigarette in my life, I nearly died. But now that the smoking ban was in full effect, I decided to give it another go.

It was getting rather late. My buddies and I were a few drinks in. Seeing as I had only eaten lunch many hours ago, my belly was rumbling. Luckily they served food till late so I grabbed a menu and made a pleasant surprise.

The Red Garter had a pastrami sandwich.

Things are about to get real here

Now, knowing the environment I was in and how tipsy I was, my expectation of the sandwich was quite low. Still, I was curious as to how a divey type bar would handle a pastrami sandwich. So I ordered it up and when it arrived I made a very pleasant discovery.

It looked almost exactly like the sandwich from the little corner deli in Glendale! Nearly on the same roll, similar build and presentation but, most importantly, the smell. This pastrami sandwich, in one whiff, brought me back to being a curious nine year old kid, hungry for a sandwich he saw in some show on the TV and immediately became obsessed with. And after taking a bite? I knew I was home.

I almost wanted to go back into the kitchen and look for the nice smiling Vietnamese lady who always greeted me with a knowing "Pastrami?" before I confirmed her prediction and her going to work on it. Now, you may be reading this and are rolling your eyes before yawning and consoling with the local hipster pastrami elite, but for this food guy, this rolly polly writer and lover of all things pastrami, the Red Garter does it old school correctly. Sorry, but their pastrami sandwich is now my birthday treat, as my wife and I watch one of the various o.g. Star Wars movies on the back wall of our favorite bar, and it always takes me back to a more innocent and (palate wise) simpler time.

It might not be the most perfect pastrami in Tucson, but it is perfect for me thanks.

That being said, I want to thank the early Romanians for coming up with the idea and recipe for pastrami and the Kosher sorcerers that made it what it is today. Thank you all the deli kings and queens for assembling and delivering delicious sandwiches to my salivating mouth and to all the future pastrami masters yet to feed me.

Thank you pastrami. You've always been there for me...

Honorable Tucson mentions for pastrami go to: The Sausage Shop, the Sausage Deli, that one time offer at Old Chicago, Daggwoods (rip), Kappy's and Tony's Italian. You guys rock. Cheers!

Photo Archives, Scanning and Typing
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Late January, 2016

Metal Influence:

Friday, January 15, 2016

The Stars Looks Very Different Today and I Don't Want To Live Forever!

(You know, as I type this we all just found out that actor Alan Rickman has died as well. This is not a good year, thus far, for male Brits over 60. Perhaps in a future Homeskillet we can do something about Rickman but, for now, this is all about Bowie and Lemmy...)

On my birthday, December 28th, just as we sat down with friends at the local pub to enjoy a toast and drink to me being on Earth for 45 years, my wife looked up from her phone and sadly proclaimed "Lemmy just died."

Not a great way to start off my birthday if you ask me. I mean, we all knew he was getting up in age and wasn't in the greatest of health, but for some reason we of the Metal community always thought that man would live forever, even though in his band's most infamous song "Ace of Spades" he liked to proclaim otherwise.

This was quite the bummer to end 2015. A relative good year compared to 2014 where we lost my dad, my dad's husband, She-Ra's grandmother, we had to put our dog down then our cat was eaten by a coyote. Yeah. 2014 sucked.

But I took Lemmy's passing on my birthday as a sort of sign. Me being Metal Mark and all and Lemmy and Motorhead being huge influences in the rock and Metal arenas, perhaps this icon suddenly becoming all too mortal made me realize that I too only have a short way in this life and to get going on all those projects and supposed goals. This website being a big part of that. So I went into 2016 with a new focus and breath knowing only good things could come my way if I persevered and tried just a little bit harder.

Then, boom. David Bowie died a few weeks later.

I mean...what? Again, we all knew he had put himself in relative exile from the public due to health concerns but...David Bowie? No. The Space Oddity couldn't leave us anytime soon, or ever really. But, again, there it was: the mortal spin of the clock. Even Ziggy wasn't immortal enough to avoid the rot of cancer and for that, the sun seems a little less bright without him in our world.

Now, I had in mind another piece for the Tucson Homeskillet but after two of my lifelong musical heroes passed within just a few short weeks of one another, I knew I had to do something special.

What follows is a food and drink celebration of both David Jones (later to become Bowie as to not be confused with a certain Monkee) and Ian Frasier Kilmister, aka Lemmy of the powerhouse Metal band Motorhead (and, yes, Hawkwind, but, c'mon...).

We will miss both of you very much and cannot express our gratitude for all you've done for the planet.

Now...let's get cooking!

A rare shot of the Thin White Duke eating

David Bowie was a slight man. Tall, with heterochromia eyes and rather skinny. So to think this guy would actually have a favorite dish, let alone one that is rooted deep in his British heritage, seems rather daunting. But he does and it's one that is a staple comfort food for most Brits when the usual sleet continues to flurry down in its drab wet unwelcome shiver.

Bowie loved Shepherd's Pie.

It took some digging but I found that the slender king did love him some mashed potato topped meat and peas. Most likely a taste from home seeing as he traveled a lot and was, in one way or another, on the move. Eating exotic food all the time or just craft service during a show or shoot, I can totally see Bowie craving something simple and glorious from his home country, a dish made to keep the frozen shepherds going on long days or a hot delight coming home after that said day on the Moors.

Here is a recipe you can make to honor the Diamond Dog:

Bowie's Favorite: Traditional English Shepherd's Pie

For the potatoes:
1 1/2 pounds russet potatoes
1/4 cup half-and-half
2 ounces unsalted butter
3/4 teaspoon kosher salt
1/4 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
1 egg yolk 

For the meat filling:
2 tablespoons canola oil
1 cup chopped onion
2 carrots, peeled and diced small
2 cloves garlic, minced
1 1/2 pounds ground lamb
1 teaspoon kosher salt
1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
2 tablespoons all-purpose flour
2 teaspoons tomato paste
1 cup chicken broth
1 teaspoon Worcestershire sauce
2 teaspoons freshly chopped rosemary leaves
1 teaspoon freshly chopped thyme leaves
1/2 cup fresh or frozen corn kernels
1/2 cup fresh or frozen English peas

Peel the potatoes and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Place in a medium saucepan and cover with cold water. Set over high heat, cover and bring to a boil. Once boiling, uncover, decrease the heat to maintain a simmer and cook until tender and easily crushed with tongs, approximately 10 to 15 minutes. Place the half-and-half and butter into a microwave-safe container and heat in the microwave until warmed through, about 35 seconds. Drain the potatoes in a colander and then return to the saucepan. Mash the potatoes and then add the half and half, butter, salt and pepper and continue to mash until smooth. Stir in the yolk until well combined.

Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

While the potatoes are cooking, prepare the filling. Place the canola oil into a 12-inch saute pan and set over medium high heat. Once the oil shimmers, add the onion and carrots and saute just until they begin to take on color, approximately 3 to 4 minutes. Add the garlic and stir to combine. Add the lamb, salt and pepper and cook until browned and cooked through, approximately 3 minutes. Sprinkle the meat with the flour and toss to coat, continuing to cook for another minute. Add the tomato paste, chicken broth, Worcestershire, rosemary, thyme, and stir to combine. Bring to a boil, reduce the heat to low, cover and simmer slowly 10 to 12 minutes or until the sauce is thickened slightly.

Add the corn and peas to the lamb mixture and spread evenly into an 11 by 7-inch glass baking dish. Top with the mashed potatoes, starting around the edges to create a seal to prevent the mixture from bubbling up and smooth with a rubber spatula. Place on a parchment lined half sheet pan on the middle rack of the oven and bake for 25 minutes or just until the potatoes begin to brown. Remove to a cooling rack for at least 15 minutes before serving.

David and Iman
As you know, Bowie was married to model Iman since 1992. Her being Somali, her ethnic beauty was a welcome shock to the fashion industry and I'm sure she introduced David to some traditional foods and dishes from her home country in Africa.

David Bowie was born in Brixton, a suburb of London, which has an amazing public market where folks from all over come to shop for hard to find items and spices. The Brixton Market is known for its largely Caribbean influence, along with, yes, a big African constituency.

Brixton Market, alive with African and Caribbean flavors and colors

So, why not combine the two and see what we can come up with? With a love for Shepherd's Pie, I'm sure Bowie loved him some Afro-Caribbean influenced curried meat and rice. I mean, who wouldn't? Iman on one side and his hometown market in another, I found a dish that transcends both cultures and brings the similarities of them together.

Loved on both seas, curried goat and rice is a great way to get a taste of his home city and the country of his glamorous widow.

Check it out:

Afro-Caribbean Curried Goat with Rice

3 lbs Goat meat, chopped in cubes
2 tsp Salt
1 tsp Black pepper
5-6 Tbsp Curry powder
1 large Onion, sliced
4-6 cloves Garlic, minced
1 Scotch bonnet pepper, slice and discard seeds (handle with care)
4 Tbsp Cooking oil
4 cups boiling Water
1 large spring Thyme
1 medium Onion, chopped
3 medium Potatoes, each cut in 3 pieces
1 Tbsp Tomato ketchup

Season Meat
Mix together goat meat, salt, black pepper, 4 Tbsp curry powder, 1 large onion sliced, garlic, Scotch bonnet pepper. Please in the fridge overnight (or at least 5 hours) to marinate.

Remove the sliced onions and scotch bonnet pepper from the bowl of marinated goat meat and set aside.

Heat cooking oil in large saucepan on High. Place goat meat in pan and brown to seal in juices.

Once the meat is browned add thyme and 2 cups of boiling water; cover, lower heat to Medium-Low and simmer for about 1 hour.
Chop 1 medium onion and add to pot along with the sliced onion and Scotch bonnet pepper that was set aside earlier.
Add 2 cups of boiling water and bring to a boil.

Taste and remove Scotch bonnet pepper based on your taste; add more curry powder to taste.

Add potatoes and tomato ketchup; simmer on low heat for 1/2 hour, or until the meat is falling off the bone.

Bartender Bowie
To cap off a culinary trip down the Bowie skyway, I found a drink that was named after the multi talented androgynous cynosure.

Simply called "The David Bowie", New Deal Distillery in Portland, Oregon concocted a rather sweet and stalwart cocktail to honor the man behind Aladdin Sane. I, personally, haven't tried it yet, but if you out there reading this give it a go, let me know what you thought.

I'm sure after a couple of these you'll start to throw glitter in the air, wear tight pants and start warbling "Dance magic dance!"

Here's how to do it:

2 1/2 oz New Deal Mud Puddle chocolate liquor

1/2 oz bourbon (choose a sweeter bourbon like Four Roses)

Orange wedge, for garnish

Serve in a high ball glass.

The David Bowie

The man, the myth, the moles

“My ethic is: ‘Eat, drink and be merry, for tomorrow we die.’ You can be as careful as you want, but you’re going to die anyway, so why not have fun?” 

Lemmy was a man that lived by his own premise. He did what he wanted, played the music he wanted to play and, most importantly, ate and drank what he wanted.

We all know he was joined at the hip/mouth with his always present Jack and Coke but the guy did like to eat now and then. Except vegetables. He hated vegetables. Except mushy peas.

And potatoes.

Like all good hard living Brits, Lemmy loved him some properly fried "chips", or what we call here in the States, fries.

In a recent documentary, Lemmy takes a break from playing a World War 2 video game to make himself some good old fashioned pub style chips. Carbs are always the perfect antidote to too many whiskey and cola drinks. So if you wanna eat like Lemmy, you need to know how to cook like Lemmy.

Here is a traditional fried chip recipe courtesy of a chef at a prominent chip shop in the UK.

Lemmy's Favorite Snack: Fried British Chips

200g/half pound Maris Piper potatoes (or Burbank russet) per person.
Dripping or other animal fat, to cook (enough to half-fill your pan when melted)

You'll need a cooking thermometer, or electric deep fat fryer for this recipe.

Peel your potatoes and cut into chips – approximately 1cm for thick-cut chips, half that for thinner ones. Rinse well under cold water, then drain.
Put the chips into a pan of cold, salted water, and bring to the boil. Turn down the heat, and simmer until just soft to the point of a knife.

Drain, pat dry and allow to cool, then put in the fridge until cold.

Heat your fat to 120C/250 degrees, and add the chips. Don't overcrowd the pan. Blanch for about five minutes until cooked through but not colored.

Remove, drain, pat dry, and refrigerate.

When you're ready to eat, heat the fat to 160C/320 degrees and add the chips. Cook until crisp and golden, then remove, drain, season and serve immediately.

Lemmy outside of his favorite LA hangout, the Rainbow bar & Grill

When Lemmy moved to Los Angeles he set up his man hovel near the infamous Sunset Strip go-to palace of historical rock star decadence, the Rainbow Bar & Grill. I, actually, have been here and, yeah...I don't know. It's more of a tourist attraction than some dark bar for aging rock stars to sit in relative silence and drink a good honest drink. In fact, I always thought the Rainbow was kind of horse crap. They serve up "Italian" fare and, believe me, the food ain't cheap. I mean, nearly $20 for a plate of pasta. Ugh. Sure they claim the noodles are handmade in Italy and imported fresh daily, but still.

Here's the thing: Lemmy liked to eat his food cold. Don't ask me why and it's a bit too late to ask the gruff rocker himself. Apparently he couldn't afford room service for so long that he wound up eating food left out for days on end in hotel hallways and developed a taste for rather un-fresh fare. Whatever. I don't know. Honestly, I don't care. Lemmy was too influential and individualistic to read too deeply into this quirky palate note.

So what I did here was find a copycat recipe from the Rainbow Bar & Grill of their spaghetti and meat sauce (minus the onions because Lemmy hated onions, which is rough because it's normally an essential element to the dish) with the suggestion that, I guess, stock it in the fridge for a while till the steam wears off and you're left with a plate of squishy meat soaked noodles.

It's what he would want you to eat to remember him by.

I guess.


Rainbow Bar & Grill's Famous Spaghetti with Meat Sauce

      1/4 cup extra virgin olive oil, divided
      1 1/2 lbs lean ground beef (85% or 90%)
      1 medium carrot, finely grated (about 1/2 cup)
      4 cloves garlic, finely minced
      2 (28 oz) cans crushed Roma tomatoes
      1/4 cup chopped fresh basil
      2 Tbsp chopped fresh parsley
      1 tsp dried rosemary, crushed
      3/4 tsp dried thyme
      1/2 tsp dried oregano
      1/2 tsp dried marjoram
      1/2 tsp dried sage
      2 bay leaves
      1/2 tsp salt, or to taste
      1/4 tsp freshly ground black pepper
      1/2 - 1 cup chicken or beef broth, to thin sauce if desired

In a large non-stick sauce pot, heat 1 Tbsp olive oil over medium high heat. Crumble ground beef into pot (approximately 1 inch pieces). Brown beef, stirring occasionally (I was always taught to stir constantly but this makes your beef gray, let it brown on bottom and only stir occasionally) and breaking up beef as you stir, until cooked through. Drain ground beef, reserving 1 Tbsp fat in pot. Place browned beef in a food processor and pulse until finely ground, about 10 - 15 seconds, set aside. Saute carrot and onion in reserved fat over medium high heat until golden, about 4 minutes, adding in garlic during the last minute of sauteing. Remove from heat (this will reduce splattering) and stir in 2 cans crushed Roma tomatoes, remaining 3 Tbsp extra virgin olive oil, basil, parsley, rosemary, thyme, oregano, marjoram, sage, bay leaves, salt, pepper and browned beef. Return pot to low heat and simmer uncovered, 5 - 8 hours (yes minimum of 5 hours), stirring occasionally. Add broth to sauce to thin sauce if desired (at about 4 hours sauce will be pretty thick so if you want it any thinner just add broth to desired consistency. Also, once it reaches the thickness you want you can cover it with a lid to reduce further condensation). Remove bay leaves and serve sauce warm over pasta garnished with grated cheeses and additional chopped fresh parsley or basil if desired.

Serve cold!

Lemmy enjoying his signature drink

Finally, Lemmy is known for his love of whiskey spiked cola, better known as a Jack and Coke. The man was so infamous for this that Jack Daniels whiskey actually renamed a limited edition single barrel whiskey after his band. Food and Beverage magazine has decided that a Jack and Coke be forever known as, that's right, The Lemmy.

We of the Metal contingency (and me personally) totally and utterly approve of this.

So to wind up this ode to our fallen rock god heroes, I now give you the ultimate recipe for the ultimate drink for the ultimate man behind the most ultimate music.

Please enjoy responsibly. Or not. Screw it. Lemmy did what he wanted and you should too.

Do what you want. Just don't be an idiot about it.


2 Parts Jack Daniels Whiskey
2 Parts Coke

Which is now officially known as:

Photo Uploads, Research and Typing
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
Near Mid-January, 2016

Metal Influence:

Wednesday, January 6, 2016

The 2016 Guide to Curing Your Hangover!

Hey, this post is a few days late. New years was like almost a week ago. Sort of irrelevant now don't ya think. What gives?

Um, well...what can I say?

Dude, I was so hungover!

You know the feeling

It happens every time: The holidays hit, the rum cake and spiked nog is displayed mirthfully on the big dining room table that had to be made bigger by putting in those clunky sectional expansion boards. The good scotch comes out, orange juice in the morning is trickled with vodka, an afternoon charm of gin and tonics is served because the Beasley's are in town, but only for a short while. Your weird uncle from Texas, whom you thought went missing a year back, suddenly arrived and he has Jagermeister straight from eastern Europe tucked in his suitcase. And the wine. Oh Kris Kringle there is nothing but bottles of the stuff dotting kitchen counters and mantels and late night bitch fests with your siblings gets interesting when you open up another Cabernet and open up about how you slept with your high school math tutor. Just one more before you go. I don't normally do this but, why's the holidays! I'm sorry, what's in this? Oh, I feel a little light headed. Wow that's strong stuff. Okay. Well, maybe I should just lie down because I'm starting to feel...

And then, the next morning.

You. Literally. Want. To. Die. No wait, you are dead. This can't be real. Your head. Dear god, the pulsating nail gun just wont quit. The bed is soaked in sweat. Actually, this isn't a bed. This is a hamper. You passed out in granny's towel hamper. You try to get up but can't move. When they say "the struggle is real" they didn't mean Jim Beam and Rumple Minze shooters as a base for it. Your eyes are two dried onions that have seen too much. Hitler took a crap in your mouth. Your knees are laughing at you.

You, my friend, are really hungover.

Tuck in party people

Having been there myself, oh, a "few" times, for me, the only solution to the immediate problem of trying to get human again is to soak up the alco-fuel with food. Yes, even more food. The holidays are thick with meats, cakes and meatcake, but when the suffering of ten thousand years of boozing with your cousins and high school friends takes hold, all I can even think of is a plate of greasy perfection.

One time, on a holiday season trip to Tahoe with some longtime friends, the partying went so fierce that afterwards we wound up in a log cabin of a coffee shop where some of us ingested what was listed on the menu as the "Mountain Man Breakfast". This acreage of steamy redemption consisted of a full stack of pancakes, three sausage links, three thick strips of bacon, three eggs, hash browns, toast, grits, biscuits and gravy and all you can drink coffee. It was glorious. So much in fact that I slept all the way back to my tiny apartment in San Francisco until going out later that night and continuing the revelry because it was New Years eve.

I was young, what do you expect?

Now that the holidays have come to a slow grinding halt, the effects of excess might still be creeping in on you. When you get older, it takes longer to fix what damage you inflicted from tipping more than a few back over the most wonderful time of the year and the Tucson Homeskillet not only sympathizes but is here to help.

First off, let's take a look at our favorite hangover cures from around the globe.

Canada = Poutine

Poutine is perfect. For a bunch of drunk people locked in snow most of the time, drizzling gravy on hand cut fries then topping it with cheese curds is simply a divine spark of next day thankfulness. Here in Tucson we have a few options to get this heavenly concoction, most notably is the food truck the Zany Beaver which the Homeskillet featured a while back and you can read, or re-read, that article HERE.

Skipping the eggs and various whatnots, poutine goes right to the source: carbs solve all the worlds problems, especially the issues going on in your rot gut sloshed belly. To help slide it all down is where the gravy comes in. And the cheese curds? Because you're welcome rest of the world.

Germany = Katerfrühstück

Oh Germany. Of course this is your common cure for the post prost! crusades. You gave us Rammstein, Dunkel beer and hot dogs that come in a jar and now you tell us that something called katerfruhstuck is the way to go for getting back to normal when the Killepitsch is gurgling in the system for too long?

And just want is katerfruhstuck?

Traditionally it is raw, pickled herring that's wrapped around gherkins and onion and then topped with a creamy dill sauce. Blorp. It looks and sounds more like the stuff that comes up after much Rateputz and kraut soaked in Bitburger. I'm sure if you are used to it this might be the way to go, but here in Tucson, this dish feels more like fish bait.

That is if we did any fishing here. Do we? Where do you go fishing in Tucson? Let me know...

Japan = Umeboshi

A good friend hipped me to this a while back after she had spent some time in Japan teaching. Okay, it was an ex-girlfriend and after an evening of sake and Asahi, she insisted that this was the cure all. She took me to a place in Japantown, ordered it up and when it arrived, to me, it looked like a bowl of feculent sheep spleens.

Called umeboshi, it is a bunch of dried and pickled ume, which is pretty close to an apricot or plum, sometimes called a plum blossom. Well, let me tell you, being from California, land of the breakfast burrito, those muck balls got right on top of me. Not only were they pickled, they were really really pickled. Like making pinched and pained faces while to try to decipher what's going on in your mouth pickled. I never spent any time in Japan, she did. Umeboshi hit like puckering tongue napalm and it took a large Kirin to soothe the pain.

Sure, my hangover went away, only because I had to start drinking again and eat more nigiri to ease my suffering than I have in years. I'm sure this works for the locals in Tokyo but for this West Coast kid, it was like popping concentrated sour spite squirt, almost like a double dog dare you type of activity. Yeah. No.

* * *

So it seems that everyone and everywhere has a sort of "go to" hangover remedy, each to their own location and palate. Some cultures swear by rice heavy dishes, others noodles, some like heavy proteins, while another relies on fresh fruits and vegetables.

Knowing this, I asked a couple of my food and beverage minded friends here in Tucson what puts them back among the living when it comes to waking up after a night of hooch heavy holiday merrymaking.

Here's what they had to say:

CJ Hamm, general manager, Red's Smokehouse and Taproom:

"Red chili pork tamales, enchilada style, with beans and two eggs over easy from Poco and Mom's. Plus a lot of Mountain Dew, black coffee and water."

Erik "Chili" Hulten, owner/bartender, Danny's Baboquivari:

"Green chili huevos rancheros from El Indio in South Tucson. The photo to your right gives it no justice. El Indio serves their breakfast with fried potatoes and refried beans. Trust me, you wont have to eat again till dinner. But...kiss that hangover goodbye! This dish is a game changer, please go try it!"

Frankie Santos, owner, Frankie's South Philly Cheesesteaks and Hoagies:

"In Philadelphia, cheesesteaks are the ultimate hangover cure. Obviously. The new year is always the busiest day for Pat's, Geno's and Jim's Steaks."

Eddie Bickel, chef/owner, American Flying Buffalo:

"Beef pho! Slow cooked beef in a light broth with ginger, cinnamon, carrots, onions, celery and a bunch of spices over rice noodles then topped with bean sprouts, cilantro, fish sauce, some fried onions, roasted garlic, lime...whatever you want! Slurp, slurp...hangover be gone!"

Heather Hoch, food writer, Tucson Weekly:

"That all depends on whether it's permissible for me to be drunk the following day. If I can continue a bender, I go get a sloppy diner breakfast first--two strips of bacon, two eggs over medium, fried potatoes of some variety, preferably a biscuit and a few cups of black coffee as well--then I ease back into life with a mimosa or a daiquiri (don't knock the breakfast daiquiri 'til you've tried it). If the hangover is particularly bad, I might take a shot before breakfast just to get it going, and that you may absolutely judge me for.

If I have to go back to sober life, there's nothing more restorative--be it from being actually sick or just hungover--than a bowl of pho. I like to get a bowl with a nice, hearty beef broth, fried tofu, bok choy, broccoli, mushrooms and a side of rare beef. 

Either way, I'm probably going to be chugging Topo Chico or La Croix all day."

I like how both Heather and Eddie both go for the pho. On  many occasions, I too have reached out for the helping hand of that Vietnamese staple. It's got everything: the broth, the sprouts, the noodles, the beef, the's always fixed me when things seemed their most grim on a coming down hard morning (well, afternoon).

But there is one item, one story I should say, that has been with me for almost 20 years. I still dream about this dish to this day when the black sun rising of firewater envelops me in a shame casket of hedonistic depravity, and yet, I still haven't come close to it's healing powers and incredible flavor since then.

There was even a bit of danger involved as well.

It was the early 2000's in San Francisco. My good buddy Jose and I had just signed a lease on a large two bedroom  flat in the Mission district. At the time, the Mission was, primarily, the Latino area, full of taquerias serving up their famous "Mission Style Burritos". It was also where a lot of struggling artists and musicians called home because the rent was cheaper and there was nothing but dive bars and venues nearby. Plus....those Mission Style Burritos.

Well, it became apparent quite soon that when Jose and I were in constant and close proximity, the drinking commenced. It was too easy back then. Bars and liquor stores everywhere, cheap booze with plentiful and delicious cheap food on every corner. After a few months of living together, we decided that we should not sign another year's lease if that option were to arise. Because, if we did, we knew we would be dead.

One morning, after a particular, um, "boisterous" evening of cavorting, cajoling and consuming of much booze-ahol, I woke up in so much pain that I nearly called in work to quit because I knew that I would never recover. Somehow I stumbled into the kitchen, drank some water, tried to find food but opening up a can of Beefaroni proved far too much of an effort.

Eventually Jose woke up and looked as if he had just come back from scrawling the Sahara desert for weeks on end. I, too, only had one eye opened and was in my skivvies because, at the time, "pants hurt".

"I know just what to do," Jose mumbled. "Put on some pants."


Oh life saving menudo
Now I don't normally wear sunglasses but I put on some that day. Sure it was foggy, but it didn't matter. Apparently Jose knew about some hole in the wall joint that will fix us up and it was only a few blocks down. A few blocks? Don't you realize what condition I am in right now? A few San Francisco might as well have me run the Iditarod, as a husky! But I man-ed up, managed some shorts, walked outside into the dreaded metropolis and followed my just as damaged friend to a place I never knew existed.

A 'hole in the wall' doesn't do this place justice. Having lived in the city for a while and in this neighborhood a few months, I must have passed it by numerous times. It was a Salvadorean restaurant, tiny, just a door in the side of a building with some hand painted words in Spanish around it. When we entered, it was instantly clear that I was the only gringo there and probably have been in quite some time. In fact, a hush fell over the dark skinned men and women and all eyes fell on Jose. He said something to them and they seemed to relax a bit. It was apparent that folks of my ethnic standing weren't really the norm in this joint.

"You're going to eat menudo," uttered Jose. "You know what that is right?"

Of course I did. I'm from the California coast, most of my friends growing up were Mexican. It's just that, well...I was always afraid to try menudo. I mean, chicken guts and stomach lining and all that weird crap you usually don't find in a Safeway or Ralphs. Gross. But he ordered two large bowls, a side of tortillas, water and two beers.

 A few minutes later a very large multi-colored bowl was placed in front of me, vaporous, filled to the brim with red hued, oily broth goodness and topped with cilantro and onions. The tortillas were thicker than I was used to but they were homemade and delicious. I dove right in to the menudo. The first bite was life changing, the second even more. After about half in I could feel my entire being getting recharged and healed. It didn't matter the tripe in the mix, I licked that bowl clean and nearly cried from its cleansing effects. The spices, the peppers, the hominy, all of it somehow changing my view on what food can do for you forever.

"It's good right?", smiled Jose. I wanted to punch him in the face that bowl of menudo was so good. We sat there for a moment, letting the warmth wash over us as we finished our beers. The faces of the other patrons seemed to have softened, seeing a guy like me sitting there being baptized by soup and looking as if I wanted to dive into that ceramic bowl. I will never forget that soup, my first real bowl of home made menudo. I will never forget that little place. I still don't know what it was called.

A month later our landlord asked if we wanted to sign another year lease. I think you know the answer to that.


Metal Mark: "Who turned on the sun, man?"

Camera and Typing
"Metal" Mark Whittaker
First week of 2016

Metal Influence: