On the wall at Joanne

Of course, since I spent a whole post on dinner in Vegas, I have to offer due diligence to the East Coast trip…and yes, we ate well. You’d think this has turned into a food blog. I don’t know, maybe it has. Food and traveling for music go hand in hand.

My one request tourist and culinary-wise for our NYC stay was Joanne Trattoria…owned by Joe and Cynthia Germanotta, parents of Lady Gaga. I am a fan girl, and I’m proud. Plus, I mean, I’ll eat pasta in the name of almost any musician…this is not a hard task.

Joanne was definitely a treat, though. It’s located around the corner from Lincoln Center, and we went early in the day so there wasn’t a crowd yet.

But strangely I still felt a little crowded on the sidewalk outside.

We all ordered coffee which…a lot of places I go, the coffee is an afterthought. Maybe NYC is different, maybe Italian restaurants are different, maybe Joanne just knows that coffee is pretty much the staff of life and one should not serve a bad cup…but this was amazing. It came with a crema on top, which maybe it was espresso, except it was coffee, and I am not good at this stuff, but it was heaven. THIS IS NOT A FOOD BLOG. I had two cups.

They brought us bread, and we ordered. I went with the signature dish, Joanne’s spaghetti and meatball. I mean, what else can you say about a meatball that looks like this?

Everything tasted great; the meatball had the right ratio of…meat stuff (I’m sure there were several ingredients happening here) to bread crumbs. The sauce had a little zing to it and tasted fresh. I did not have an ArtPop cocktail but maybe next time.

Yep, this is definitely not gonna turn into a foodie blog since the best I can describe is often “foooood gooood want mooooore.” But I mean, I’m totally going back to Joanne when I get a chance. Paws up.


Shout out to Aqua Thai in Philadelphia because my pineapple chicken CAME IN A PINEAPPLE Y’ALL.

I love Gordon Ramsay. I watch all this shows. Hell’s Kitchen is the least interesting, just because I feel like he comes to America and has to scream more. It was when I started watching Kitchen Nightmares and MasterChef that I realized he really does care about food and people, and just wants things to be excellent all the time. I think it’s a good lesson to live by in business…excellence first, everything else after that.

When I learned that Ramsay has a restaurant in Las Vegas, I knew that’s where dinner would have to happen. It took me about 16 read-throughs to realize there is no “e” in BURGR because the GR is for Gordon Ramsay. Of course.

The restaurant is located in the Planet Hollywood casino on the strip, so the atmosphere is not exactly quiet. We got a place in line and had about an hour to wait. Once we were seated in a very orange, very fiery dining room that was an obvious homage to Hell’s Kitchen, it was on.

The menu was full of burgers…er, BURGRs, and I chose the Brittania…medium with arugula, sharp English cheddar, and chutney. We shared the sweet potato fries (dusted with powdered sugar) and the truffle fries (dusted with crack). This is turning into a poorly written food blog.

It was amazing. I am not exceptionally picky with food…I travel so much I have to just eat stuff sometimes, like those triangle sandwiches from gas stations (when it’s desperate). I do like to think I have watched enough Ramsay TV to know what to look out for, though. The burger was cooked really well, the bun was sturdy but not hard to chew (architecture is important), the ingredients were few but perfect in proportion and taste. I once heard Gordon say that any item on a menu really only needs 3 components…any more and you’re mucking it up. This makes sense for a lot of things in life.

The only thing I noticed that was a LITTLE odd was that the SECOND you finished, they took your plate and silverware. I am pretty sure this is because so many Vegas tourists have tried to walk out with a Gordon Ramsay souvenir fork, they have to be on the ball. Aside from that bit of weirdness, we had an amazing meal.

All burgers will pale in comparison from now on, even the In-N-Out we had on the same trip.

I know people know that I am a New Mexican and we love our chile, but do you KNOW, really? When one doesn’t live in New Mexico and it’s chile harvest time, one does things like…buys a bushel and drives it 12 hours home in a cooler. Because it’s necessary. Some photos of the process:

1) Refuse to do it the easy way:

2) Get a bushel freshly roasted and almost faint from the delicious aroma.

3) Take it home in a giant box and smell up your car.

4) Divide into smaller bags for ease of use (and maybe to share…maybe not).

5) Enjoy it while it lasts.

I am so relieved it’s December, which is not usually a statement I utter. November was such a whirlwind of awesome (see below) and other stuff (flat tires, moving, broken laptop) that surviving it was a feat. Things will calm down in December, though there is plenty to do.

Susan is mixing her live album right now and that comes out in February. I am so excited for it – it sounds amazing and plotting how to promote these things is always a good time. Here we are listening to mixes whilst driving. Road tested, you would say.


Dan is mixing my EP…we might have a close to final mix on one song, more to follow. I’m glad my part is done for the time being. Artwork is on deck next…I’ve collected a Pinterest board of ideas for Emily to look at and I imagine we’ll start that this month sometime.


I got to go home to Albuquerque for Thanksgiving and we ate a lot of kolaches and pie like the Czechs we are.


Happy holiday season, everyone!

Lamp. One of five.

Hello from Casper, WY where the venue tonight gave us TWO HOTEL ROOMS which means I AM IN MY VERY OWN HOTEL ROOM. Thank you Jimmy and the Wonder Bar!

Now, we have had a great time on this tour and a lot of fun, but as Suz points out, for most of the days we are a middle car seat apart from each other and a lot of times when we have a hotel room we are a night stand apart from each other. Other times we are put up by very kind hosts and I make sure to be polite in their presence.

However, in my VERY OWN ROOM I have flung clothes far and wide, turned on all five (yes, five) lamps, and am blasting CNN quite loudly. I may have just revealed myself to be a very boring person, but after living out of a bag for 4 weeks, flinging my clothes feels good. Tomorrow morning I’ll pick them all up again and stuff them into my bag again, but for now, roam free little fabrics. Breathe like the cotton you are, the fabric of our lives.

Now, to divert off onto a completely different blog topic because I can…Club Sandwiches.

Mother Clubber

This is the consummate American sandwich. It has some of everything on it, and as I have found wandering the country lately, there seems to be quite a variance in what constitutes a Club. I like creativity as much as the next person, but after a while you can only experiment so much before your sandwich turns into something completely different than a club. Here are my criteria for what makes up a Real Club Sandwich (RCS):

– fairly plain white or wheat bread
– layers of turkey, ham, cheese, bacon, lettuce, tomato
– the important middle layer of bread
– toasted bread (all 3 layers)
– mayo must be present
– toothpicks with colored paper on the top spearing the sandwich (functional and aesthetic)

You can add to this list when creating your sandwich, but you can never subtract. If you take out the middle layer of bread, you have a plain sandwich with a lot of stuff on it. If you don’t toast the bread you have a soggy sandwich. If you don’t CUT IT INTO QUARTERS then…I don’t know. It’s definitely NOT a Club Sandwich. It’s probably not worth eating if you ordered a club and it’s only cut in half. I usually just go ahead and quarter mine anyway if this transgression has been made.

Acceptable additions: avocado, onion, mustard
Iffy additions: fancy substitutions (spinach instead of lettuce, aioli instead of mayo, etc.), roast beef, fancy types of bread (sourdough, rye, etc).
Unacceptable additions: spreadable cheese, pickles, most other kinds of meat, chunky textured meats, tortillas

The Club Sandwich above was from Bones Brewery in Billings, Montana. That was a good one, though I will say it was missing the mayo. The Iron Horse Pub in Missoula served me a club with no middle bread layer, lots of guacamole on it, and only cut in half. It was a good sandwich but something I would equate to more of a “California Turkey Sandwich” than a Club. Even quartering it didn’t entirely cover up the feeling that I was eating an imposter.

The best Club Sandwich I’ve had this tour? Denny’s in Spokane, WA. I guess when you want predictability, go to the predictable.

Sometimes the only thing needed for a blog post is a big photo of a slice of green chile pizza.

Green Chile Pizza

This is from Dion’s Pizza in Lubbock, which is an Albuquerque pizza chain. They have branched out to Lubbock and my friends are nice enough to eat there with me when we pass through sometimes. Green chile is good on anything, but on pizza it is transcendent.

Susan Gibson
I love this picture.

It was time to rock the festival and Susan wore her new hat and Don Richmond joined her onstage. It was an amazing set, so good that I didn’t even notice on the big sign over the stage that it said “Big Bardance.” There was no bar to dance on, but there was no barn, either. Anyway, the hat looked great on SG and the music sounded doubly great.

Susan Gibson

Then Walt Wilkins and Crew played a great set…it still said “Bardance.”

Walt Wilkins

The Trishas were great to see – I had heard plenty about them but never seen all of them play in one place at once. Their harmonies were killer, and it made me want to get a drum to hit sometimes on stage.

The Trishas

After that we ate dinner that involved (surprise) green chile, and I was pretty much catatonic with music. It was all good music, but the constant flow of sound into my ears was wearing thin. Two days at a festival is about right for me, I guess. I highly encourage you head up there next year…I’ll be there in a tall hat eating something spicy.

So 54,000 people told us to go to Voodoo Donuts while we were in Portland, and we had time, and who doesn’t have time for a donut anyway? As we drove by the place we thought we might not, actually, because the line stretched down the block. On a Monday afternoon. Weird. We decided to go for it.

Voodoo Line

After perusing the menu from their website, I had decided on the Memphis Mafia, described as “Fried dough with banana chunks and cinnamon sugar covered in a glaze with chocolate frosting, peanut butter, peanuts and chocolate chips on top!” Sometimes you make simultaneously poor and excellent choices when traveling. I was not prepared for the size of the thing when it was handed to me, however. It took me 2 days to eat it.

Memphis Mafia Donut from Voodoo Donuts

I enjoyed everything about the place…their quirky marketing, their bright pink boxes (also marketing), their menu specificity (donuts…not scones, not muffins, not danishes…donuts). If I had a 4th life with a little coffee shop I’d shoot for the same…but probably with scones. Memphis Mafia scone anyone?

I’ve posted on this topic before, but hey. You drive, you play, you eat…ideally, anyway. (We always do, we are lucky). Anyway, food and beverage is of big concern when you sit in a car a lot for whatever reason.

I am trying to kick the Diet Coke habit once and for all – the soda habit in general, really. This is hard, because I have been drinking it for years for it’s no calorie attributes. However, now my mind is more focused on beverages with “no poison” attributes as well, so goodbye aspartame and sodium benzoate. I have read my last article about how DC will kill me.

I started on the 1st, and I’m on day 12 now…so far so good. It’s more of a habit thing than a caffeine thing, because I am still drinking copious amounts of caffeine through coffee and tea. Round about 2 PM I am pretty sure I absolutely NEED the lovely fizzy bubbles only a Coca-Cola product can offer, and I can’t drink coffee because it’s HOT and oddly enough NOT EVERYWHERE HAS ICED TEA AAAAH! And I feel stuck, because I don’t want plain water, I want FIZZ! Or flavor! Or flavor AND fizz!

Buying Water in Taos - Frou Frou

Luckily Susan is a road champ and we stopped at the frou frou grocery store in Taos and stocked up on a ton of various beverages that provide either fizz or flavor or both an don’t contain poison. Imagine that. We looked like we were stocking up for a very dry, very yuppie nuclear winter.

While we are trying to eat healthy and not in excess on the road, I make an exception for New Mexico. In fact I make a demand for New Mexico…if we’re in a 20 mile radius of a breakfast burrito, that’s what’s happening. The Taos Diner is our breakfast home and they did not disappoint this time. That’s red AND green.

Breakfast Burrito

Suz went a little healthier and ate tiny little…strawberry-blueberry people? Yum. Look, I’m turning into a food blog. Stop me now.

Breakfast in Taos

Thai Food!

Oh, “stay healthy.” How generic, Jana. Why not just copy and paste an article from Women’s Day and call it good?

I know, we should all stay healthy for health’s sake…but touring around in a car or van poses some unique obstacles, hence…Women’s Day isn’t going to cut it for this series. What follows are just simply some things I have found to either work or not work for me. Everyone is different, but we’re all sitting in cars a lot.

– Weekends. We go on trips lasting 2-3 days that don’t really require a whole lot of food forethought. We carry a box full of every kind of good granola bar we know of…Lara, Cliff, Kashi. Having variety really helps when you are faced with the decision of granola bar or granola bar. Usually venues or the kind folks we stay with take care of food things, too. Home cooked food is awesome. Venue food is tricky, because the onion rings are always going to look good, but if there’s a salad, get a salad. This is generic advice stuff, but when your tab is covered and you’re staring at the “Fried 3 Sampler” versus the grilled chicken salad, it gets hard. Just do it.

– A week. All of the above plus go to the store and pack a cooler. Things we buy include almonds, trail mix, apples, plums, bananas, string cheese, carrots, and something carby. Don’t get everything with carbs, because you’re still sitting a lot even if you buy whole grain carbs instead of eat deep fried ones. The trick to having a cooler is to keep it iced and to actually eat the stuff in it. I am Offender No. 1 when it comes to thinking carrots are a good idea at the time and then not eating them for the whole trip. Note to self: Just eat the carrots!

– A month. This clearly requires some maintenance and pruning of your cooler supply. The good news is use this as an opportunity to get to know a cool grocery store in some other town (or a Wal-Mart, whatever works if you shop at 2 AM) and replenish once a week or so. We tour up in Montana in the summer which means we get local cherries. Be a local foodie, because it usually means you’re eating better.

Sometimes you just don’t want to eat anything from the cooler. If you have to open that lid one more time and find the string cheese under the one Red Delicious that is hiding next to the baby carrots you just might surely pass away right there from boredom. Since you’ve been awesome about your budget by using a cooler, you can afford to eat out! We choose Thai food when we can, because we like it and the ingredients are usually fresh…bottom line, don’t go fast food. Don’t do it. Try to eat food from places that start with whole ingredients.

Fruit and Veggies in Seattle
If you tour in Seattle you have scored.

So I sound all preachy and locavore and stuff, but the truth is we stop at truck stops and convenience stores a lot. The good news is Subway has become the new megalith of fast food, and they’re big about truck stop locations. Granted, if you’re comparing Subway to Whole Foods, you’re still eating fairly badly…but at least you are getting vegetables in your diet. Load up on the vegetables and then load up again. They try to get away with putting 2 cucumber slices on your sandwich, but don’t fall for it. Demand thine veggies! Once again, besides Subway, do not do fast food. Or eat it once a week, not every day.

Just be sane and thoughtful about it, and then remember that your calorie burning is severely reduced because all you’re doing is sitting, so subtract accordingly. Sometimes, a granola bar is all you need.