If you’ve paid attention to the lyrics of any random handful of Big Black, Rapeman, or Shellac songs, listened to the man’s between-song banter, read the zine writing, that Gourmandizer Q&A, or more recent interviews, and/or watched him act as ATP’s resident poker dealer, you know Steve Albini has wide-ranging interests. So it shouldn’t be a surprise he has a cooking blog. It’s called mariobatalivoice, subtitled “What I made Heather for dinner.” Earlier this week it was “Orzo with Egg Yolk and Tomato,” before that “Trottoli, An Unusual Pasta,” etc. Each entry’s pretty detailed and entertaining (he wanders into relevant anecdotes, life philosophies.) Nice photos, too. Here’s a representative excerpt about Born Against/Universal Order of Armageddon drummer/star pastry chef Brooks Headley and how he relates to Steve’s tomato sauce.
As a completely random confluence between my professional life as a recording engineer and my passion for food, I know the pastry chef at Del Posto, Brooks Headley. He was the drummer for several bands before he got too busy as a chef, and I have been lucky enough both to record him and remain in touch with him over the years as he progressed into a star chef with an adventurous and tasteful approach to food. Part of the tasting menu was a little plate of gnocchi dressed with nothing more than some crushed tomatoes from the slopes of mt Vesuvius. No salt, no pepper, no cheese, no herbs, nothing. The tomatoes were fantastic, bright, astringent, with substantial body and complex, juicy texture. They had undertastes of wine and dirt and smoke and holy shit they were amazing. This dish was a real revelation, because I have a tendency to putter around with sauces, and I realized I was probably doing more than necessary.
For the first meal back in Chicago I wanted to make something with a similar simple tomato dressing, but we didn’t have anything to make gnocchi out of, no potatoes, no pumpkin, no semolina, nothing…
Listen, I tried. I honestly tried not to do anything to the tomatoes, I just couldn’t stop myself. It was tasty. The orzo absorbed enough of the stock to have a nice flavor, the egg yolk added a nice richness that was offset by the tomato, and the olive oil and parmigiano were a pleasant seasoning. There was nothing wrong with it. I’m doomed to fall short of the ideal, so what. That’s the human condition and I’m human.
Not only did I need to make dinner for the love of my life, but also snacks for the poker game, and like an idiot I mentioned spring rolls in the group email to the poker crowd. I was on the hook for spring rolls, but I didn’t really have anything prepared for spring rolls other than the rice paper wrappers…
Pretty demanding poker group. While we’re here, don’t forget fellow American indie-rock icon/traveler/occasionally cranky old man Gerard Cosloy’s longstanding sports blog, Can’t Stop The Bleeding.