Wednesday, November 17, 2010

Oh Canada! Jets Overhead talks music, food, & their home country

Hi Friends -  Before turning to next week's Thanksgiving day post, I present the Canadian Rockin' Foodie special.  And to get us warmed up, here are 10 fun facts about our northern neighbors:
1. Canada has more donut shops per capita than any other country.

2. Canadians still recognize the Queen of England, who btw has a facebook page - click here to be a fan of the monarchy, but don't write an offensive comment because that is expressly forbidden(!)

3. Spread Eagle, Climax, Sexsmith, St. Louis du Ha Ha!, WaWa, and Come by Chance are real Canadian cities and towns.

4. "Beaver Tails" are a favorite Canadian pastry and President Obama digs them too! Click here for recipe.

5. Mail is not delivered on Saturday in most of Canada 

6. Basketball was created by Canadian, Dr. James Naismith.

7. Canadian law dictates you may not pay for a 50 cent item in all pennies -  Jr. High Z would have been a law breaker by paying for 59 cent Taco Bell tacos with 59 pennies.

8. Canadian Thanksgiving is in October, and although no Squanto tales, the menu is very similar to American Thanksgiving. 

9. Justin Bieber is Canadian (although I hear Canada is overwhelmingly apologetic about this).

10. Despite the Bieber, Canada boasts great music - Arcade Fire, Broken Social Scene, Feist, The New Pornographers, Rush, Tegan and Sara, Metric, and finally... JETS OVERHEAD

Formed in 2003 & hailing from Victoria, British Columbia, Jets Overhead is a 5 piece rock outfit consisting of Antonia Freybe-Smith, center (keyboard vocals), Jocelyn Greenwood, left (bass), Luke Renshaw, second from left, (drums), Adam Kittredge, right (guitar, vocals), & Piers Henwood, second from right (guitar, keyboard).

Adam Kittredge, fellow foodie, kindly chatted with me about the band's last two stellars LPs, their recent culinary experiences in China, and what Canada cuisine means to him as a Western Canadian.

Unlike many other bands these days, Jets Overhead's music is authentic - not fabricated or fictionalized.   Drawing from their own thoughts and experiences, they write about life - good, bad, melancholy, confusing, complicated, which is what makes their music so relatable. 

For me, listening to NO NATIONS, the band's second full-length LP released in 2009, is like staring at a large, intricate & complex painting - the more closely you look, the more you appreciate the details.  Disarmingly simple at first listen, it was only after listening to NO NATIONS with headphones, that I noticed the subtleties & layered nuances.  And I continue to pick up new things each listen.  From the cosmic title track, "No Nations", to the introspective, "Weathervanes", NO NATIONS is a piece of elegant art.

Check out the below video for the track "I Should be Born" off NO NATIONS.  Filmed in Victoria on Vancouver Island, the video showcases the breathtaking setting in which the band lives - with Antonia floating in the Pacific Ocean and the Olympic Mountains of Washington state in the background.  The video is so simple, but the song is so intense... listen for my favorite line "you were drowning when you should have flown".

And for a vast cultural shift from Canada, the video below for of the title track "No Nations" was filmed across the globe in Shangai and Shenzhen, China.  

Check out the wordly video for "No Nations" - an intermix of Chinese culture and Western sounds.

While on their most recent China tour, the band not only had the honor of playing China's World Expo 2010 in Shanghai (in front of dignitaries and other distinguished guests), they also had an unforgettable culinary adventure.  Adam, Antonia, Jocelyn, Piers, and Luke tried everything from Chinese street noodles to hot and spicy dishes at elegant 5 star restaurants.

Adam shared an amusing story with me about a meal where the menu was all in Chinese and the band's interpreter was not present.  The band simply pointed to a steaming hot-pot style dish at someone else's table because it looked good - and it was good - although they didn't know what small animal they were eating.  So like any normal foreigner lunch patron, Adam played charades (complete with animal sounds) with the restaurateur to figure out the mystery lunch ingredient which turned out to be frog (and not just the legs).  Needless to say, this was entertaining for all the lunch patrons to watch - especially after a few Tsingtaos.  And since returning home, Adam continues to experiment with Chinese 5 Spice in an attempt to recreate some of the dishes sampled on their tour.

And before turning to our recipe portion, I must share my favorite songs from Jets Overhead 2006 album, BRIDGES, which was nominated for a Juno Award (Canadian Grammys equivalent). 

Check out the official video for the fantastic song, "Killing Time".

And now a live rendition of my favorite tune off BRIDGES, "Life's A Song."

I look forward to the Jets Overhead third LP which they will hunker down and write this upcoming Winter, and will likely record in Canada on pristine Hornby Island where NO NATIONS and BRIDGES were recrorded. 

And now that we have chatted Canadian sounds, lets move to Canadian food.  Like any other huge country (Canada is the second largest in the world), different regions have their own famous favorites.  If you are in Montreal, you get a smoked meat sandwich from Schwartz's Deli which Adam describes as a delicious oozing & dripping hunk of meat on top of bread that apparently is so popular, it's sold pre-packaged in Canadian Costco. 

And for a late-night greasy-spoon meal, another French Canadian popular dish is called Poutine, which is french fries drenched in beef gravy and cheese curd.  Although a Quebec specialty, Adam tells me that a great Poutine place opened up in Vancouver.  Like most of the Denny's menu, Poutine = a meal to sop up the liquor in your system before passing out.

Turning to Adam's part of the country, Western Canada focuses on home-grown local fruits and vegetables and free-range poultry, meats, and seafood from local farms and fisheries.   Adam tells me that if I was visiting Jets Overhead on Vancouver Island, and I wanted a special Canadian meal that represents Western Canada, he would make me a Sockeye Salmon dish.

 Every year Sockeye Salmon travel through the Frasier and Adams rivers of British Columbia, however, in 2009 the Sockeye Salmon curiously did not return resulting in great disappointment and concern across Canada.  But, in a surprising and fortuitous event the Sockeye Salmon showed up in droves this year.  In fact, 2010 has been one of the best Sockeye Salmon runs in British Columbia in over 100 years.  As such, Adam and Antonia have plenty of Sockeye Salmon, and Adam's specialty is to bbq the Sockeye on a cedar plank.

Adam very kindly sent me photos of the wonderful Sockeye Salmon meal he made for 4 of 5 members of Jets Overhead. Jocelyn took the pictures, Adam and Antonia hosted, Adam cooked, and Piers was an excellent guest - I am sure Luke was missed.

Cedar Plank Grilled Sockeye Salmon Fillet with Herb Butter (Serves 6)

Here is what you need:

2 cedar planks 1/2" thick, 14" long (you can find these at the grocery store but call ahead and see if they have them because not all stores do.  You can order them also from Amazon and

2 Sockeye Salmon Fillets approx. 24-oz each.

Ingredients for Softened Herb Butter:

4 Tbsp unsalted butter softened

2 Tbsp chopped fresh dill

1 Tbsp grated shallot

1.5 tsp chopped garlic

Grated zest and juice of half a lemon

1 Tbsp sea salt

1 Tbsp Spanish SMOKED paprika. That's why the butter spread looks pink in the photos.

Mix all the ingredients for the herb butter in a bowl. Spread the herb butter over the flesh of each fillet. Rub Canola oil on the PRE-Soaked planks. Put the fillets on the planks skin side down. BBQ with lid down directly over heat for approx 15 minutes at about 400 degrees, checking every so often to make sure there is no flare ups causing the cedar planks to catch fire and burn. Garnish with dill sprigs and lemon wedges.

And if you don't have a barbecue or it's too chilly to grill outside (not a big issue for us in CA - 75 degrees this past November weekend), try cooking this directly on an indoor grill pan.

Thanks to Adam for chatting with me both about Jets Overhead and for sharing his Sockeye Salmon recipe and photos with me. 
Hope you enjoyed the Canadian tour as much as I did. 
Hugs and Kisses.

1 comment:

  1. Thank you for this Jets Overhead write up! The salmon sounds especially good; btw is that Canadian cedar? (...and 2b a bit forward, would u know if jg is single?!?)