Nite Jewel To Open Slow Jamz Restaurant
Ramona Gonzalez on her braised-meats concept
Touring musicians have a great gig. Rock and roll! It’s doubly great when they’re interested in exploring the international culinary world. We do realize some bands subsist solely on Taco Bell and Coke Zero. Shame on them! There’s Hatch chile to sample in New Mexico. Pappy Van Winkle in Kentucky. Doppelbock outside Hamburg. Tortas on the California-Mexico border. In Good Food, Rocks, we track down a band member serious about their grub—and who has held a job in the food industry too.
“We’re going to go to our friends' farm in Topanga Canyon to hang out and slaughter a chicken and eat it,” says Nite Jewel frontwoman Ramona Gonzalez about her producer husband’s “slightly masochistic” birthday dinner later that night at Los Angeles farm Inner Gardens. Gonzalez, who has lived in both New York and Los Angeles while honing her electro (turned lo-fi) pop band, has been working in restaurants since the age of 14. But, now, she is focusing on music fulltime, and it's paying dividends.
Her second album, One Second Of Love, is a career breakthrough of sorts—trading dance floor bangers for, follow us, nostalgic slow jams. Think Groove Theory and Erykah Badu, but with a little more programming from her producer—Cole M.G.N. (The guy getting the chicken dinner for his birthday.) During our interview we also talk about the healing powers of nori and which douchebag celebrity she used to tend bar for.
So do you go to this farm often?
Yeah, a couple weeks ago they gave me a bunch of stuff and I made kimchi out of it.
What kind of kimchi?
Cabbage and bok choy.
What’s your kimchi making process?
You salt the cabbage and add sesame oil, sesame seeds, fish oil and lots of different peppers and lime juice, garlic and ginger and let it sit in the fridge for two weeks and hope for the best.
Are you fan of the Korean taco carts in LA?
I haven’t been to them yet but I just make that kind of food at home all the time. I have this restaurant concept though.
Do share! Let’s get this shit off the ground.
I’ve had this for about four years, but I couldn’t come up with the right name for it because all the names I was coming up with were provoking really gross imagery. Follow me. I am a fan of slow cooked, soft food. I really like soups and braised meat and jams and chutney. I wanted to have a restaurant that serves this type of pickled, fermented, slow food—which is kinda disgusting when you think about it but it’s actually really delicious. And I just came up with the name last week. It’s called Slow Jamz. And we would play '90s R&B exclusively.
You've worked in a lot of restaurants. What was your favorite job?
Working in LA was actually better [than New York]. I worked at Figaro as a bartender and there’s a ton of celebrities in that cafe bar all the time, which was really fun too see. From my childhood watching Mallrats and seeing Jason Lee coming to my restaurant and like order coffee was pretty surreal. Rob Schneider would come in—who is such a doucebag by the way.
What about your favorite city to visit when you’re on tour for food?
When I’m on tour I’m looking for health food most of the time because I have a very sensitive stomach, so I try and eat non-dairy and salads. If I want to eat something delicious I definitely think the South is where to eat. Atlanta and Arkansas and Tennessee and all those places, that to me where you’re going to find the best food.
Fried chicken? Barbecue?
When I was on tour opening for Deerhunter in 2009 I stopped by the side of the road for barbecued beef, which was strips of beef in a roll. It was like by the side of the road and was super janky with all this graffiti on the walls. It wasn’t even graffiti, it was like scratched in with a knife. And you just get a cafeteria tray of meat and pickles and it was insane.
When you tour, what food and drink do you request?
For as long as I can remember we’ve had seaweed on there. Nori and miso soup packets. I think it’s because they are good for your immune system and settling your stomach. And always coconut water. That’s kinda like the standard.
What about booze?
I just drink whiskey. Straight, usually.
I’ll have cubes if the whiskey’s not great. I prefer to drink it straight. Usually on my rider I’ll have Irish whiskey, which is a little sweeter so I’ll have some rocks. All my friends say I drink like an old man. I just have whiskey and that’s it.
Have you ever heard a Nite Jewel song played at a restaurant you were dining at?
I heard my entire album being played at this juice place in Silver Lake. And it was really weird. I walked in there and I was like, what the hell is this music? And I was like “Oh right, me.”
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