Monthly Archives: December 2008

Sam: Year in Review

2008 was a pretty good year in music. There were a lot of great albums and songs, and a few nasty train wrecks. Overall it ends on a high note for me. That said, I offer my official recap of the year. Quail at my wonder.

Favorite albums of 2008:


#1

The Kills – Midnight Boom

This is their most polished, and dare I say radio friendly (shudder!), album to date, but it still packs a punch. I almost feel like this album could totally beat me up in some weird way. Full of razor sharp guitars and beats from the drum machine, the record is dark and raw and really fucking brilliant!

#2

The Raveonettes – Lust Lust Lust

Continuing with their signature fuzzed out/60’s pop-inspired sound, ‘Lust Lust Lust‘ just solidified the band as one of my all time favorites. It’s lush and is best enjoyed as loud as your ears can handle. They even experimented with hip hop beats and sing about my beloved city, Portland, Oregon. What’s not to love?

#3

Deerhunter – Microcastle/Weird Era Cont.

Yet another disc this year riddled with 60’s pop influences, sigh! Only this one is tangled with odd noises, feedback and is just plain quirky. When a copy of Microcastle was leaked online before the official release, it prompted the band to go back and record the bonus disc Weird Era Cont. Which, in my opinion, is far superior.

#4

MGMT – Oracular Spectacular

Even though most of the songs on this album are kind of played out and tired, I still really enjoy it. It’s been on constant rotation for a while now. It’s a fun record and makes me feel kind of stoned at times. I heard it described once as, “a college-dorm experiment gone horribly right” and I would completely agree.

#5

Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds – Dig, Lazarus, Dig!!!

Dig!!! absolutely exceeded all expectations and left me wanting more. Nick’s primary inspiration was the actual story of Lazarus, a man who rose from the dead. Only looking at things from his perspective. True to form, Mr. Cave takes you on a dark and glorious trip through the cemetery while reminding you it is okay to dance on a grave here and there.

#6

Wolf Parade – At Mount Zoomer

Only the second full length release from Wolf Parade, and I feel like I know them so well. This is much different than their first effort. It’s very catchy, almost poppy. That formula usually equals a less than savory review from yours truly. Not in this case. In all it’s catchy glory it still remains a bit disjointed and restless and full of spirit.

#7

Sune Rose Wagner – Sune Rose Wagner

The self titled venture for the Raveonettes front man, is his first and does not disappoint. Again, another Spector/60’s drenched offering this year and it makes me sweat like a whore in church. It’s sung in his native tongue, Danish, and you barely even notice. In fact, after listening to it several times I had convinced myself I have been speaking Danish for years.

#8

The Helio Sequence – Keep Your Eyes Ahead

This is the fourth record for the Portland based duo, and is my favorite release from them yet. It’s haunting, and several songs leave you with a feeling of heartbreak. Who knows if that was the intent, but that’s what I got out of it. Full of emotion and energy, the album is stunning and a real treat from a band I had just about written off completely.

#9

Eagles of Death Metal – Heart On

Ooh, what a sexy record. The cover art and title had me sold before I even heard it. Yes, I did it. I judged the record before hearing it. But, it turned out in my favor. It’s a sultry, almost trashy, romp with classic rock and 80’s hair band undertones yet it still sounds new. It makes me want to stuff a sock in my tight jeans, and hit the town for a night of serious dancing and boozing.

#10

The Black Angels – Directions To See A Ghost

They’ve drawn comparisons to The Velvet Underground and The Jesus and Mary Chain in the past, and you can really hear it on their latest release. It is a sonic masterpiece, proudly rhythmic and psychedelic and in some odd way a little cryptic. They make me feel a little on edge at times. Like something big is about to happen, and that excites me to no end.

Honorable Mention:


Magnetic Morning –  A.M.

A lush and mellow debut from Adam Franklin from Swervedriver and Sam Fogarino from Interpol. There are a few moments on this record that make me feel like I am listening to Slowdive, and that’s what hooked me.


British Sea Power – Do You Like Rock Music?

This is a record filled with gloomy anthems and sounds a bit cold at times. They’ve drawn comparisons to Joy Division and Arcade Fire, but for me BSP sounds more like Arcade Fire and The Psychedelic Furs had a baby.

M83 – Saturdays = Youth

Heavily textured with loud electronica beats combined with soft vocals and a touch of mid-80’s nostalgia is the best way for me to describe this piece. The singles “Graveyard Girl” and “Kim & Jessie” could have both fit in very nicely on any John Hughes movie soundtracks.

Portishead – Third

This one just about landed on the disappointment list this year. On first listen I was not impressed, but it gets better with time. It is much different than the first two albums they’ve done, which is good. I’m glad they switched it up a little. This is a much colder, sharper sound for them and may take a little getting used to.

Bloc Party – Intimacy

I wasn’t sure what to expect with Intimacy, I really loved their first album, Silent Alarm and really hated their second release, A Weekend in the City. I don’t know if they will ever top the jittery goodness of Alarm, but this is their best release since. This too had to grow on me. It’s a deeper and darker sound for them and gets better with each listen.

Clinic – Do it!

I adore this band. They have a peculiar sound and often times sound a bit disjointed. They’re off-kilter antics repeat on their fifth release. It’s not my favorite release from them, but the off-chord chaos is still there and it is fine piece of work.

Disappointing albums of the year:

Disclaimer: I’m not saying these records are horrible, they just didn’t live up to my expectations. Most are critically acclaimed and have landed on numerous ‘best of’ lists this year… just not mine.

  • Scarlett Johansson – Anywhere I Lay My Head = Yawn!
  • Jenny Lewis – Acid Tongue = Someone clearly had a bad trip!
  • Death Cab for Cutie – Narrow Stairs = No thanks!
  • The Breeders – Mountain Battles = Really unfortunate!
  • The Secret Machines = Hot mess!
  • She & Him – Volume One = Sounded like a good idea on paper!

My 25 best jams of the year:

#1. “U.R.A. Fever” – The Kills: You’ll have a fever after this track is done boxing your ears with its punchy stomp.

#2. “Black/White” – The Raveonettes: Stark, mysterious, and down right fun… yeah yeah yeah!

#3. “Sex on Fire” – Kings of Leon: All signs point to me hating this song. Not wild about the band & the title is embarrassing… but it is fantastic and has a slight twinge of 80’s Americana.

#4. “Lust” – The Raveonettes: Possibly the sexiest song of the year. Sultry voices in unison singing lines like “I fell out of heaven, to be with you in hell“, Sigh!

#5. “The Captive Mind” – The Helio Sequence: A song about a broken heart and willing someone back into your life. It isn’t as depressing as it sounds.

#6. “We Own the Sky” – M83: This song sounds big. It’s luscious and full and really badass.

#7. “The Handshake” – MGMT: A trippy psych-romp with a little Prince-ish vocal (circa the Purple Rain era) mixed in.

#8. “Credit in the Straight World” – SSION: One of my favorite cover songs ever. It’s jams, straight jams, and will make you want to move.

#9. “Blood Red Leis” – The Raveonettes: An electronic departure from their signiture sound, and it totally pays off. Sexy vocals, dark lyrics and juicy bass. Delicious.

#10. “Last Day of Magic” – The Kills: There’s only so much you can hide“… it’s true. The song will find you, and wail on you like a little tornado.

#11. “Waving Flags” – British Sea Power: An urgent, and soft anthem that aims straight for the gut and sticks.

#12. “Kim & Jessie” – M83: Like I said earlier, this song sounds like something out of a John Hughes movie to me.

#13. “Hairy Candy” – Tobacco: Another psychedelic-drenched track that makes me feel very, very stoned just listening to it.

#14. “Vox Humana” – Deerhunter: A 60’s inspried gem, with a shared drum intro and some of my favorite lyrics of the year.

#15. “Time to Pretend” – MGMT: The song is a little tired now, but it was quite refreshing at the begining of the year. I’m still hooked, just not as hard.

#16. “Kissing the Beehive” – Wolf Parade: An epic song! It’s a little on the long side, but you never really get bored. The many peaks and valleys keep you interested.

#17. “Náttúra” – Björk featuring Thom Yorke: What an odd song this one is. It’s quirky, aggressive and a little spooky. Oh, and it’s all sung in Icelandic!

#18. “Rockferry” – Duffy: I can’t believe this song made my list. I don’t like anything else she has done, but when I heard this song I fell in love with it immediately. I think it’s the passion in her voice… perhaps.

#19. “Starstruck” – Santogold: Her record was decent, but it was all over the place. This track stuck out though, thick bass and good vocals get me everytime.

#20. “Language City” – Wolf Parade: Loaded with echoed guitars and organ, its hard not to like this song. Plus, I absolutely love his voice. It gives me the grrr.

#21. “I Will Posses Your Heart” – Death Cab for Cutie: I can’t even beleive I am going to say this, but I think I perfer the radio edit over the album version of this song! Yes. I said it. The intro on the album version is too long and irritates the shit out of me. The rest of it is outstanding though.

#22. “4 Minutes” – Madonna featuring Justin Timberlake & Timbaland: Slap JT’s name on any project, and I will listen. He saved this track. I think Madge got lucky on this colaboration.

#23. “Single Ladies (Put a Ring on It)” – Beyoncé: I’m completely serious. I love this song. It must be my inner-bootyshaker talking.

#24. “Chemtrails” – Beck: I go back and forth with Beck. I usually tend to get tired of him easily, but I was really impressed with this song. I didn’t expect to be at all.

#25. “Wannabe in L.A.” – Eagles of Death Metal: The funny thing about this song is you can’t really tell if they are trying to be serious, or if it is a total joke. Either way it’s a hell of a lot of fun.

Here’s to 2009, cheers!

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audra: blow me

i love me some isabella blow.  after last night’s hot mess of a resolution post, i got to thinking about wearing hats more often (à la blow) & her incredible iconic stature.  famous among fashionistas for eccentric hat-wearing, she died may 7th, 2007; just a single day following a one person cocktail party she hosted with a bottle of the herbicide paraquat.  isabella was dying of ovarian cancer, & instead of succumbing to the disease, she decided it best to off herself on her own terms…something her grandfather & father-in-law had done themselves in the past.

born in london, isabella bounced around from job to job – once even as a maid – & eventually moved to new york city in 1979 when she was 21.  by 1981, she was working directly for andre leon talley at vogue(!), and went on to be anna wintour’s assistant(!!).  as if she couldn’t possibly get any more rad, blow was apparently bffs with andy warhol & jean-michel basquiat.

in all this investigation, i found out that isabella is the genius behind discovering some of my favorite-favorite style icons like alexander mcqueen(!), sophie dahl & stella tennant.  it has also been noted that the reason she always wore such face-obstructing hats was to hide her face; she thought she was ugly.  that broke my heart.

but then i read this quote from her on wikipedia, offering a cooler guise for the bizarre hats:

…to keep everyone away from me. they say, oh, can i kiss you? i say, no, thank you very much. that’s why i’ve worn the hat. goodbye. i don’t want to be kissed by all and sundry. i want to be kissed by the people i love.

i love that.  you see?  this is why i should be wearing hats all the time.  it would help filter out all the unwanted kissersby.  i love what she says in the clip below too, “i hate crap.  i like craftsmanship.”  and how her “…ingredients are clothes.”  lovely.  be sure to note her impeccable taste in haircuts as well.

i still miss her terribly.  however, whilst doing a bit of research, i read that she’d attempted suicide many times in 2007 before the weedkiller cocktail incident; various overdoses, purposely driving her car into the back end of a truck…she even tried drowning herself.  i’m happy she went out with a little bit of drama instead of becoming another cancer victim.  good for her.  that’s some damn good craftsmanship, wouldn’t you say?

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audra: le xxx-mas dîner, resolutions & a coke-nail

had i been planning better, i would’ve pulled the camera out earlier last week, gotten off my ass & posted some sort of something for you to feast your eyes upon. but, of course, instead of using my snow days productively, sam & i laid about.  a lot.  aside from watching caligula & what we do is secret – twice, i have no idea what we actually did last week.  but i did discover that i wanna eat shane west even more so now after seeing secret.  even with his totally fucked-up-darby-teeth, he’s so delicious.  i no longer have to use a walk to remember as a masturbatory tool.  thank heavens.  that was getting embarrassing.

but anyway.   sam & i had a lovely christmas at home, relatively drama-free.  i even took some really gorgeous photographs of the super sexy standing rib roast with roasted fennel & crème brûlée…but it as it turns out, i was drunk, & the pictures didn’t turn out so hot.

i’m really lacking for material here, but i was thinking of doing up my annual resolution list.  it’s about that time, kids.  i think i’ll keep some of the same ones i’ve used in the past…you know, the easy ones, such as ‘fashion coke-nail out of left pinkie’ & ‘become best friends with an olsen twin’.  i should even keep the ‘lose 20 pounds’, but perhaps add ‘and gain back by next december’.  that’s sure to come to fruition…otherwise i’m just setting myself up for disappointment, right?

okay.  let’s get it over with…

*lose weight it’s terribly cliché, right?  but two years ago i resolved to lose 20 lbs & succeed, only to gain it back this year.  gross.

*drink less last year i said i would drink less only during the work week, & that it would not, under any circumstance, include nights of shows or anything social.  so then i resolved to drink more.  well, it’s gotten me all fat again, so maybe i just fucked myself there.

*gossip less this one is leftover from last year, too…but you didn’t hear that from me.

*buy more lusciously tall shoes because short girls can never be too tall.

*investigate hair bleaching although i have so much black hair dye in my locks that it would totally turn orange.  sigh. but i really wanna get skinny & morph myself into debbie harry in the 70’s.

*buy a good meat cleaver i don’t have one.  i need it.

*have dinner & drinks with the friends we always talk about going out with & never do i miss you.  you know who you are, you greasy little pepperonis!

*possibly try & get more sleep because after several drinks & some roofies, i’m no longer able to dream lucidly.

*become bffs with m-k or at least meet an olsen.  that would be okay, too.  i’ll settle for even seeing one from afar.

*learn to play my guitar again.  and better this time.

*fashion a coke-nail out of my left pinkie seems easy enough.  i could make it cool.  i could.

*roast a pheasant lame.  i can’t believe i didn’t accomplish that this year.

*wear more hats i have an enormous vintage hat collection inherited from sam’s glamorous great-grammy, & never wear them.   i’ll start wearing all my brooches, too, maybe.  & with my new coke-nail!  brilliant!

i think that about does it…wasn’t that fun?  i’m getting all sweaty just thinking about it.  for the moments leading up to the end of the year in mere hours, here’s some inspiration i’ve hunted down for myself…

june cleavers

pheasant!

new bff

future me

isabella blow. my hat idol. and in a mac store!

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Sam: What We Do Is Secret

Last night I watched What We Do Is Secret, a film about punk legend Darby Crash and his band The Germs.  It started off as sort of a mock documentary, with bad writing and questionable acting but I ended up sort of really liking it.

It turned out to be one of those it’s so bad, it’s good situations.  I was immediately drawn to the film because I love The Germs. Then I was curious to see how Shane West was going to pull off portraying such a gritty punk with a heavy drug addiction.  Then(!) I found out Bijou Phillips was in it and I was sold.  She is a total train wreck, but I love her and will watch just about anything she is in.

When Darby formed the band in the late 70’s, none of the members knew how to play the instruments and none of them had performed live.  They immediately booked a show and bumbled through it.  Darby’s vision was brilliant.  Start a band, create a bunch of hype, play a show then learn how to play.   He was determined, and set a plan in place, to become a legend in five years.  In this particular section of the film, David Bowie’s Five Years played in the background which is when I knew I liked the movie and it had me by the short and curlies.  The band went on to book shows all around Los Angeles and were gaining serious notoriety.  Mostly due to the self mutilation on stage (yep, Darby was a cutter!) and their ability to incite massive riots.  The crowds grew increasingly violent causing the bands to be banned from most venues they were used to packing.  This nearly derailed the band until Crash began booking shows under the moniker GI which stood for Germs Incognito.  Brilliant.

After the venues got wise to this little trick, the band continued to struggle to perform live.  Darby and Pat Smear left to form the Darby Crash Band, but the project did not take off like planned.  They only played a few shows, then realized it was time to reform The Germs for one final show.  They took the stage at The Starwood on December 3, 1980 and played to a packed house.  The show was a success, but unfortunately the last one the band would play with this line-up.  Darby Crash committed suicide by overdosing on heroin on December 7, 1980, the same day John Lennon was murdered.

The film did a pretty good job of capturing all of this, even if it was in a made-for-TV-movie kind of way.  It was all a little clean though, the scene at that time was hard and dirty.  They should have made the film a little edgier, but you can’t always get what you want.

Shane West did a pretty good job portraying Crash, they even managed to fuck up his teeth to mirror Darby’s cracked smile.

Shane West

Darby Crash

The Germs formed again to play the after party directly following the release of the film.  Impressed with West’s work, the band asked him to take on lead vocals.  I’m not so convinced it was that good, but it makes sense I guess.

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audra: i love getting stuff

my top five favorite gifts baby jeebus bought me this year(!):

betsey johnson booties from sam...so fucking darling.  hot pink polka dots inside!

betsey johnson booties from sam...so fucking darling. hot pink polka dots inside!

just look at the soles of these!  so cute its gross.

just look at the soles of these! so cute it's gross.

influence by mko & ao.  even radder than expected.

influence by mko & ao. even radder than expected.

lambskin cate adair clutch.  lavender inside!

lambskin cate adair clutch. lavender inside!

documentary of cynthia plaster caster(!)

documentary of cynthia plaster caster(!)

oh, jayne...

oh, jayne...

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audra: absolute power, romans & porn

one might assume what with all these snow days piling up, sam & i would be overflowing with blog-worthy material, no?  all i’ve been doing the past week is snacking, drinking, smoking & searing some lamb chops.  it’s sad, really.  oh, but i have managed more laundry & dusting than normal, which has been nice.  it took me last night’s screening of caligula (1979) to put some motivation in me.   all it takes are some brits pretending to be romans, be-headings, rape, incest & lots of dick & titties to inspire me.  who knew?!

caligula, the film based upon the reign of the third roman emporer gaius julius caesar augustus “caligula” germanicus, has been sitting in our netflix queue for months.  i don’t know what the fuck we were waiting for; the dvd sleeve states a forboding warning:  “this unrated edition contains explicit sex, nudity & violence as well as disturbing imagery.”  um…sold.

at first i was a little nervous; the credits take nearly ten minutes to get through, & i’m not one for films over two & a half hours…especially epic period pieces…but i just wanted to see me some helen mirren.  loves her.  and it’s produced by penthouse magazine editor bob guccione(!).  when caligula finally started with the scenery, i was totally hooked:  these ancient romans, they work & throw axes at boulders in the buff?  they’re all chiseled & such?  they have orgies & wife-swap in the evenings when most people are suppering?  clearly i was born in the wrong era.  wrong decade.  wrong century…?  and then i fell head-over-heels when i learned that caligula was in love with his sister, & they had this heated love affair.  scandalous.  and hot.

in addition to the delicious incest, this “dull period piece” contains public birth, rape, anal fisting & circle-jerks.  the circle-jerking part involved a prominent, respectable woman lying about on a big bed filled with pillows & scarves & such.  her name escapes me at the moment, but it’s really not important.  five or six roman men were standing around her, rubbing their meat hooks into a frenzy, then expelling the money shot into a regal gold dish…and then rubbing it on the pampered lass lying on the plush pillows.  probably to make better her complexion.  caligula walks in on this spectacle, & the woman begs him not to charge her lover of treason.  caligula rubs his head with some of the ejaculate, makes a comment about it helping with male-pattern baldness, & banishes her.  what a dick.

aside from all the graphic nudity & sex, you do learn a thing or two about caligula’s struggle with absolute power & his godlike ego, even referring to himself as a god on several occasions.  it eventually catches up to him in the end of the film though: (spoiler alert!) a few years after the public birthing of caligula & livia orestilla’s first child, his minion & the roman senate are so pissed off at him, that they plot an assassination.  swords fly, blood is spilt & even the child gets it — with a big conk to the head on the stairs.  ouch.

lovely film, this one.  i didn’t think i had it in me to finish it, but i did & i’m proud.  all it takes is a little nudity to get me interested in history.

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Sam: Depeche Mode are at it again

Depeche Mode are currently in New York working on their new record.  The untitled 12th release will be out sometime in 2009.

I’m so happy they are still around and putting out good stuff.  There are a handful of  more mature bands still recording and touring, but they fall short.  They look and sound old, and I ‘m usually disappointed in what they release.  Read, The Cure.

For me, Depeche Mode isn’t one of those bands that have passed their 80’s prime.  I love their newer stuff, they haven’t lost anything.  I listen to Exciter now the same way I used to listen to 101 when I was eight.   The only difference to me is listening to it on the ipod vs. the Walkman.  News of the new album is very exciting for me to hear, but it will be hard to contain my excitement after seeing these.  I love the loose change on the drum, genius!

I am also making myself sick over the announcement of the North American leg of their new tour.  The only dates confirmed so far are the European leg.  You can check it all out here, Tour of the Universe 2009

Fingers are crossed for a Portland date!

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audra: glasvegas

so, i just read about this new-ish scottish shoegazey band, glasvegas, in NYLON.  they have been compared to the jesus & mary chain & are heavy on the 60’s soul-pop.  combine that with the lead vocalist (james allen) combing his hair into a pompadour like morrissey…i think i may pass out.  it sounds impossibly divine, really.

i ran home & told sam all about my new discovery.  he promptly reminded me that we had already previewed them some time back, & were not impressed.  they aren’t new, either; glasvegas formed in 2003.   i choose not to remember any of this taking place.  i must’ve been drunk.   nonetheless, i was still all in a tizzy, thinking they may be my new favourite band…then i thought that maybe i should listen to the material before making any radical decisions.  my new favourite they’re not, but still alright.  they remind me of several different bands at once…i can’t put my polished finger on them just yet, but maybe if the killers (shudder…!) had band practice with the boomtown rats & peter hook it might sound something like glasvegas.  i’m actually a little offended that they have been compared to the jamc…they sound hardly anything like them, unless you think that just because a band is from scotland, has a fuzzed out bass & some feedback from time to time, that that’s cause for sounding like the jesus & mary chain…?  sigh…

listen to their material here if you’d like. and goodness gracious, they are cute too! glasvegas will be in pdxoxo on january 12th, at the overly revered doug fir lounge with dirty pretty thing‘s carl barat.  i’d like to maybe see them live, but i try to go to the fir as little as possible.  we shall see.

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Sam: Snow dance

Portland is apparently going to be hit with another snowy weather event tonight or early tomorrow morning.  The first one on Sunday wasn’t that bad but, in typical fashion, paralyzed most of the city.  Today, most of the people in the office I work in were all worked up about the possibility of a snow day tomorrow.  As I was leaving work this afternoon I was inundated with phrases like, “keep your fingers crossed for tonight” and “be sure to do a snow dance tonight“.   The snow dance remark I’ve heard before, but it wasn’t until today that it struck me as kind of funny.

What exactly is a snow dance and how exactly does one perform it?   Are there specific steps?  Can just anyone do it?  If you do it incorrectly are you stuck with rain?  I thought about this the whole way home and concluded that it must be different for everyone, and you have to put your heart into it and really believe for it to work.  So tonight, after I get back from stocking up on food and beer at the store – just in case(!), and with thoughts of blizzards in my head… I’m pretty sure my snow dance will look something like this.

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audra: on the lamb

oh, heavens…finally(!).  food.  really.  i’m embarrassed to admit that we’ve been eating out & snacking more often than not, & i haven’t been up to much cooking lately.  it breaks my heart.  but…baby jesus was listening to me this weekend when i was praying for snow, and i’m now reconsidering christianity.  or any religion.  maybe.

so we have this freezer full of baby lamb, right?  i found this lovely sounding recipe on food network the other day & it sounded so lovely, i couldn’t possibly wait another second.  turmeric, cumin, cardamom, ginger, garlic, cilantro and lamb? i nearly passed out:

braised lamb stew

recipe adapted from danny boome

for the lamb:

  • 3 tablespoons olive oil, divided
  • 1/4 teaspoon ground turmeric
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cumin
  • 1/8 teaspoon cayenne pepper
  • 1/2 teaspoon ground cardamom
  • 1 teaspoon kosher salt
  • 2 1/2 pounds boneless lamb shoulder or boneless leg of lamb, 1 1/2-inch cubes

for the stew:

  • 1 onion, cut into 1-inch cubes
  • 3 carrots, roughly diced
  • 3 cloves garlic, minced
  • 1 tablespoon ginger, minced
  • 1 tablespoon tomato paste
  • 1 (14.5-ounce) can chickpeas, drained
  • 1 lemon, zested
  • 2 cups chicken stock
  • 1 cup dried apricots
  • 1 tablespoon honey
  • 2 tablespoons freshly chopped cilantro leaves

directions:

in a mixing bowl add 2 tablespoons of the olive oil, turmeric, cumin, cayenne, cardamom and salt. mix well until the mixture has turned into a paste, if the paste is too thick add a little more olive oil. add the cubed lamb to the bowl and toss around to coat well. cover and set aside.

heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large, heavy bottomed pot over medium-high heat. add 1/3 of the lamb, and brown well. remove to a plate, and repeat with remaining lamb.

add onions and carrots to the pot and sweat for 5 minutes. stir in the fresh garlic and ginger; continue cooking for an additional 5 minutes. stir in the tomato paste and chick peas, then return the lamb to the pot and stir in the lemon zest, chicken stock, apricots, and honey.

bring to a boil, then reduce heat to low, cover, and simmer for 1 1/2 to 2 hours, stirring occasionally, until the lamb is tender. sprinkle the stew with chopped fresh cilantro and serve.

after tasting the spice & oil mixture, it seemed bland…so i added several pinches more of each spice, along with a few extra cloves of garlic & twice the ginger.  the finished product was still a bit lifeless…i would love to try some curry with it next time.  the apricots & honey also made it too sweet for me; even after adding more than enough of the kosher salt & extra ginger & such.  i also deglazed the pan with a good pinot gris before adding the meat back into the vegetables…i couldn’t believe there wasn’t a spot of wine in the recipe!

i would highly recommend this recipe to anyone; it’s a complete no-brainer.  even with having to bone my own lamb shoulder, it was still pretty quick & super easy.  i served it alongside roasted fingerling potatoes just with some olive oil, kosher salt & parsley, and some steamed haricot verts…and of course a lovely oregon pinot noir.  just don’t forget the additional ginger & garlic, along with some salt…otherwise it’s sweet as fuck…unless you like that type of thing.

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