Wednesday, April 12, 2006

No One But You

Bet you never knew this but I am a secret rocker. Yup … beneath the jagged long tresses, the bohemian-chic halters, hip hugger jeans, hoop ear-rings and chain belts is … er … OK, maybe not so secret …

But the fact remains that peeps always look at me askance when they realise I love rock music. I think my seemingly girlie exterior gives the impression I either listen to classicial music (which I do), or jazz (which I love), or Jessica Simpson (Kill. Me. Now), but would never descend to a full rock-out bellowing of Bohemian Rhapsody (WRONG!).

There was a time in my life when I would call my best friend the moment I landed, change out of my uniform and be picked up in a Harley. We’d bugger off to our local where we would proceed to head bang, scull a couple and rock it out. I detested my job and colleagues and at every chance of liberation, would ride off into the sunset on the back of my best friend’s Harley. While my colleagues were shopping, trying to impress each other or angling for dates and gifts from be-suited men with more cash than class, I was sitting in some deserted quarry with my mates. Over a little camp fire, we would grill some sausages and potatoes, crack open some beer, unstrap the guitars, (how come someone always had some drumsticks but no drums?) and start singing – usually Queen, Alice in Chains or Lord help us, Deep Purple.

Those were the days. Wind in our hair. Music in our hearts. Guitars strapped to our backs. Brilliant. Being clueless and goofy young wannabe rockers, our biggest idols were, of course, Queen. When Freddie died, I was in a bus listening to the radio. When the news slithered through my ear phones, I immediately burst into tears. I would have been mortified except for the fact that many others must have been listening to the same station, because I was not the only one crying.

No one, and I mean no one, has ever come close to Freddie Mercury and or done justice to a Queen song since. So it was with tremendous shock and horror when I realised that this week’s American Idol featured the hapless contestants mangling Queen hits. I knew it would be a trainwreck but I was unable to stop from watching the head-on collision.

The horror … the horror. The country boy sang it like it was a frat song. The pretty boy made it so ugly Freddie must be turning in his grave. Seriously, can someone just get doe-eyed puppy off the show please? The country girl surprised everyone by not flubbing it as badly although it was still horrifying hearing her sing my favourite song like a bad soda commercial. And what happened to rock boy? He rocked it but it was shaky and he suffered in comparison to Freddie who could deliver vulnerability, drama, grit and slamming rock out in a single song.

And Babewatch Idol sang Who Wants to Live Forever … Who Wants to Leave American Idol Forever??? Seriously, she sang it like a cabaret and her pitch was just everywhere! Bad, bad mistake … am still cringing. Sacrilege … pure sacrilege. Freddie, forgive them for they know not what they do! I just knew someone would belt out Somebody to Love and that it would be a disaster. The timing for this song is so damn hard and you have to grab the ever-changing chords and melody by the balls while pumping up the beat. It’s suicide if you just heard the song a week ago! No wonder Elliot massacred the song. Pity as I had a soft soft for him being the under-dog. And is that grey-haired bloke on drugs? The lame kick at the mike stand was as dynamic as a geriatric pensioner petulantly kicking his walker. Let’s not even get into the karaoke singalong.

The Show Must Go On never fails to make me cry - if you watch the last Queen concert with Freddie and saw this performance, you would cry too. That last concert was almost prophetic. The soulfulness, the soaring vulnerability, the aching sadness, the pure pathos … and all these were just in his voice … little girl Paris belted it but lost all in translation. Did no one get it in this show??? Do they even know what they are singing??? Just because it’s rock does not mean one note screaming at the top of your voice! I felt like taking a guitar and smashing it on the floor in frustration!

It was painful listening to the night when Queen became Scream. I decided I needed real spice to burn away the horrific memory of tonight. Right, time for a Fire Roasted Steak and Latke Salad. I need real heat, none of this American Idiot sputter.

Fire Roasted Steak and Latke Salad
1 small flank steak – about 125g I guess
1 ½ tsp ground thyme
- 1 tsp dried rosemary leaves
- 1 tsp dried sage leaves
- 4 cloves garlic
- 2 red hot chillies, sliced
- 3-4 tbsp olive oil
- Salt
- Pepper

Leftover curried sweet potato and zucchini latkes

1 ½ cup haricot verts, trimmed and cut into 4 inch pieces
1 ½ tbsp olive oil
½ tbsp balsamic vinegar

1 tbsp pine nuts, toasted

1 ½ cup shredded lettuce

1 stalk of spinach, trimmed & blanched

1. Pound the ingredients for the marinade in the mortar & pestle, drizzling the oil in a little at a time till the marinade is a spreadable paste. Taste it to adjust the seasoning

2. Spread the marinade onto the steak and cover with cling wrap. Leave to marinate for at least 3 hours

3. Heat your grill till smoking. I used the turbo broiler and placed the tallest rack in it so that the heating element would be as close to the steak as possible, about 4 inches away

4. Grill the steak for about 3-4 minutes on one side (my steak is only about ¾ inch thick) before turning it and cooking for another 3-4 minutes

5. Remove and let it rest

6. Heat up the latkes in your toaster oven or oven for about 2-3 minutes

7. In the meantime, blanch the haricot verts till just cooked and drain

8. Dress the haricot verts in the olive oil, salt and balsamic vinegar

9. Heat up a pan on high and when smoking, throw in the haricot verts (reserving the dressing) and sear them till they are slightly blackened

10. Slice the steak into think strips

11.Time to plate …
a. Spread the lettuce in a ring on the perimeters of your platter

b. Place the latkes on top of the lettuce in a Stonehenge like circle, alternating the two different types of latkes
c. Layer the haricot verts in a square well in the centre of the platter
d. Pile the beef steak strips into the well
e. Sprinkle the pine nuts around the haricot verts

f. Twirl the spinach on top of the beef steak strips
g. Drizzle the remaining dressing from the haricot verts around the dish

12. Attempt to make some hor d'oeuvre versions, take a picture, become too hungry and devour the lot

It’s ironic. We would never have eaten so fancy at our little makeshift BBQs back in the rock ole days. I think the closest we ever came to this were satays, Yorkshire puddings, corn on the cobs, some pancakes I made once using beer batter (because that was all we had) and steaks. Still, I think the boys would have enjoyed this.

A toast to the rockers of old who are now all responsible air traffic controllers, fathers, civil engineers, accountant (yikes!) et al. You were the champions, dudes … I had a blast with you guys, even though I was the pesky “little sister” tagging along. Rock on, old timers.


Blogger michelle said...

My, you've been cooking up a storm, Stephanie! I've been busy, so I haven't been able to keep up on the blogs like I like to. Anyway, dear secret rocker, I have a little secret love of Queen myself, though not as strong as yours. But poor girl, don't ever torture yourself again by watching those horrible singers ruin Freddie's songs!! May there be many fireside rockers and their tagalongs far into the future...

5:49 am  
Blogger sweet-gut said...

I so agree! Where is the doctor? The doctor is behind the drumset. --- Rock and its kin are a healing force. But it's strange how things get packaged up --- rock as not-real-music or, as you describe, as a celebtrity-delivery-device on those shows. I prefer the global peasant take --- it's something we do communally, to feel better. And that includes (supposedly sad) blues. Actually I don't have a TV, nor a Harley opportunity, but I so agree --- I'll try the steak recipe too. Ba-bap ba-bap ba-bap-a-dam. D.

4:09 pm  
Blogger Marianne said...

Steph--you are simply too cute, I can't stand it. I wish you could watch AI with me and my professional Jazz musician husband. Oh, and the food looks wonderful as usual, I need to get it together and make one of your lovely meals!

10:33 am  
Blogger MM said...

Michelle - Actually some of the posts and recipes were backdated so it looks like I have been cooking a storm! And aye to fireside rockers!

Donald - Too right! Try the steak - it's dead easy and I think you'll enjoy it.

Mrs C - Your hubby is a jazz musician? Way cool! What does he play? And I always drool over your food too!

5:35 pm  
Blogger Marianne said...

He plays guitar, primarily, but also teaches guitar, piano, and bass. It's very musical around here, that's for sure!

11:23 pm  

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