Back with more

Jewel hosts Evanoff’s return to Manchester

With the February release of Singularity, Denver-based power trio Evanoff gave its signature “dream rock” sound a harder edge. Though not the stuff of nightmares, the new album reflects the many discontents brought about by technology and its ubiquity. Each track on the all-instrumental effort ends with a statement about what lead guitarist J.J. Evanoff said in a recent interview is “a very special point in humanity, where technology and us have become nearly inseparable.”

Singularity is not all techno dystopia, however, though the music is often jarring. It’s more metal than the arena rock cum jamtronica that made Evanoff a headliner in their hometown and a big draw in places like Manchester. They appear in the city for the second time this year on Friday, Oct. 7, at Jewel Music Venue.

“We need to be aware of how technology is affecting us and our perception of reality, both good and bad,” keyboard player Brennan Forrester explained as the band headed toward Ohio after shows in Chicago and Grand Rapids. “People talk a lot about how addicted we are to social media, but information has never been accessible like this. If you use it for your benefit, it’s like a superpower.”

However, their first studio effort after several live releases was inspired less by Big Tech angst than by a need to make a cohesive statement that speaks loudest as a force of musical power. Evanoff noted he and Forrester came up with the record’s spoken word vignettes during a six-hour mezcal-fueled writing session. Its songs, on the other hand, took months of development in open-ended jam sessions to find their form.

“Getting to finally create a real concept album is something I feel like I’ve dreamed of since I was 10 years old,” Evanoff, who cites the Who’s Quadrophenia and Pink Floyd’s Dark Side of the Moon as influences, said. “So the fact that we were actually able to do that was extremely creatively fulfilling.”

It also spurred a burst of new music, much of which they’re playing on the current tour. Along with fresh songs is a better stage show than they’d previously been able to mount on the road. “The set we’re running has a unique, almost storyesque-like flow to it, mixing in all these monologues and different pieces from our debut,” Evanoff said. “It showcases what the album was all about essentially, in a more long-form musical piece.”

Forrester added, “we spend a lot of time just thinking about what’s going to make the show the most fun and entertaining for the audience, and for us. So we’re getting away with a lot of things that we wanted to do for a while now; it’s super fun to play.”

The new music, Evanoff said, “definitely has a more aggressive, heavy sound … but I’d say on Singularity, apart from the heavy guitars and rock elements, there’s a lot of lush spatial things. I feel like that’s where we’ve drawn a lot of inspiration from for the new stuff.”

Far from being a different direction for the group, “for us it was really going back to our roots a little bit,” Evanoff said. “We all grew up listening to heavy rock music. It was really powerful to channel where we came from as musicians.”

Headier still is merging it with their well-honed sound. Lately, the band has taken to revamping earlier songs with their newfound edge. “During our live show, it gives this beautiful contrast,” Forrester said. “It speaks to the narrative of Singularity, the dark and light side of the technological revolution that we’re all experiencing in the world right now.”

Asked about the quick return to the Granite State — the band played a sold-out show at Shaskeen in mid-April — Evanoff answered, “We can’t stay away, man. We love Manchester. It really is becoming like a second home. When we’re on the road, it’s like a little island among all of our tour dates. I know we’re going to have a great time just because of the people. They are so much fun and bring so much energy.”

Forrester agreed. “We’ve developed a real community there,” he said. “I look forward to it every single year; that’s one of my favorite shows.”

Both stressed that even local fans who’ve seen the band before will be surprised this time around. “There’s going to be parts of the show that I don’t think people will expect,” Evanoff said. “We’ve got some tricks up our sleeves Manchester hasn’t seen yet.”

Evanoff
When: Friday, Oct. 7, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Jewel Music Venue, 61 Canal St., Manchester
Tickets: $20 at azpresents.com

Featured photo: Evanoff.

The Music Roundup 22/10/06

Local music news & events

Lotta laughs: A solid evening of standup comedy led by Jimmy Dunn promises a bonus special guest. Dunn is well-known for his summer festival in Hampton Beach and the sitcom The McCarthys. Tony V., who opened Bill Burr’s record-breaking Fenway Park show, and Karen Morgan, a one-time finalist on Nickelodeon’s Search for the Funniest Mom in America, are featured, along with rising star Emily Ruskowski. Thursday, Oct. 6, 7 p.m., Amato Center, 56 Mont Vernon St., Milford, $20 at eventbrite.com.

Taco festival: Along with food trucks, craft beer and various vendors, the first Beyondopalooza, named for its taco-selling host, has a bevy of local bands performing. The varied lineup ranges from the banjo-guitar-mandolin roots trio White Mountain Rounders to Boston indie rockers Zygote Theory, along with The Megs and Superbug, a fun band that recently played halftime at a Monadnock Roller Derby match. Friday, Oct. 7, 5 p.m., Taco Beyondo, 53 Henniker St., Hillsborough, see facebook.com/tacobeyondo

Super jam: There’s a lot of live music at this year’s Warner Fall Foliage Festival, including Mike Stockbridge, a guitar player with a deft jazz fusion touch. His band is filled with veterans of the regional scene: keyboard player Chris Decato, and a rhythm section of Ben Butterworth on bass and drummer/singer George Laliotis. Their set will feature the tunes of Jeff Beck, Bill Withers, the Allman Brothers and more. Saturday, Oct. 8, 1:45 p.m., Warner Main Stage, 16 E. Main St., Warner, facebook.com/mike.stockbridge

Boogie down: A downtown restaurant, taproom and longtime friend of area music welcomes back Lisa Marie & All Shook Up. This time the “never the same show twice” combo has the singer, known for moving between R&B, soul, jazz, zydeco and a myriad of other genres, backed by Johnny Juxo on piano, organ, accordion and vocals, Silvertone Steve on guitar and drummer Mickey Bones. Saturday, Oct. 8, 9 p.m., Strange Brew Tavern, 88 Market St., Manchester. See facebook.com/LisaMarieAllShookUp.

Pond crosser: This week’s Dead Archer Presents showcase has Five Feet, a Manchester quartet that its website says is “influenced by artists that utilize soft harmonies and the quieter side of dynamics, like Andy Hull and Fleet Foxes.” They are joined by Holy Pinto, a British indie rocker who, echoing the movie Love Actually, left his home country a few years ago for Milwaukee, and Have A Good Season. Wednesday, Oct. 12, 7 p.m., Stone Church, 5 Granite St., Newmarket, $10 at the door; stonechurchrocks.com.

Bros (R)

Bros (R)

Billy Eichner plays a man who is perfectly happy by himself, absolutely doesn’t want a relationship but uncertainly navigates a possible romance with the very handsome Aaron in Bros, a sweet, genuinely laugh-out-loud funny rom-com co-written by Eichner.

I feel like I’ve seen a run of movies lately where I think “ha, funny” but don’t actually have the spontaneous reaction of laughing. That I actually out-loud laughed is one of the delights of this movie.

And Eichner, of course, gives his character Bobby the mix of clever dialogue and solid delivery that allows for plenty of comedy. Bobby is working to open a museum of LGBTQ+ history in New York City; he has a popular podcast, a solid group of friends and all the casual hookups he wants. He has no need for some conventional-style coupledom, he emphatically explains. But when he sees Aaron (Luke Macfarlane) at a club, he finds himself not just awkwardly flirting but interested enough to be hurt when Aaron seems to walk away from him. He is excited when he and Aaron go on a date but seems sort of pre-angry at the rejection that he thinks is coming from Aaron. Bobby keeps setting Aaron up to tell him that Bobby is not Aaron’s type, but Aaron, who is also wrestling with an unfulfilling career choice, is intrigued by and attracted to the confident Bobby.

This is not your standard Hollywood romance, Billy and Bobby (both Eichner and his character) argue, because gay relationships and the relationship dynamics are different from straight relationships. The movie works to examine that, while also, with a bit of a wink at the Hallmark movie conventions, hitting a lot of the classic romance beats. (Macfarlane has a baker’s dozen of Hallmark movie credits on his filmography, with names like The Mistletoe Promise and Sense, Sensibility and Snowmen.) We get real — or real enough — people navigating relatable emotional stuff with specifics to the community Eichner is portraying, which is always a solid recipe for creating an appealing story.

Even the slightly stilted moments — including some of Eichner’s performance, which at times reminded me of Jerry Seinfeld’s Seinfeld Jerry — work because the movie is able to root itself in believable characters who give some dimension to their rom-com-trope-ier elements. Guy Branum is a standout in the movie’s supporting cast but there are lots of note-perfect smaller roles and cameos, including the always excellent Bowen Yang.

And then surrounding all of that are just pleasurable moments of fun — from your Debra Messing cameos to your jabs at online culture. The office politics of Bobby’s museum, Aaron’s skill at dealing with what he calls weird rich people — it all makes for some highly enjoyable silliness.

Bros mixes just enough tartness and broad comedy, plus some moments of honest introspection, to balance the sweetness of its swoony romance. B+

Rated R for strong sexual content, language throughout and some drug use, according to the MPA on filmratings.com. Directed by Nicholas Stoller and written by Billy Eichner & Nicholas Stoller, Bros is an hour and 55 minutes long and distributed in theaters by Universal Studios.

Featured photo: Bros.

Babysitter, by Joyce Carol Oates

Babysitter, by Joyce Carol Oates (Knopf, 448 pages)

My desire to read books about abduction and murder of children was never strong even before I had children of my own. After becoming a parent, I wondered how anyone could.

As such, I wasn’t sure if I could get through even two chapters of the long-awaited novel from Joyce Carol Oates, which is built around a serial killer who specialized in children. Dubbed the “Babysitter,” because he abducted children between the ages of 11 and 14 who were neglected and unattended, the killer murdered five children near Detroit, Michigan, when the novel opens in 1977.

The victims speak collectively to reveal details: “When we died, our bodies were carefully bathed, the smallest bits of dirt removed from every crevice of our bodies and from beneath our (broken) fingernails, and the fingernails cut with cuticle scissors; rounded and even, as our hair was washed with a gentle shampoo, combed and neatly parted in such a way to suggest that whoever had so tenderly groomed us postmortem had not known us ‘in life’.”

Even as we may want to run screaming from what came before and what will surely come after, we cannot.

Joyce Carol Oates didn’t become one of America’s most celebrated writers for lack of talent, and with that horrific opening, she glides seamlessly into what at first seems an unconnected story: The budding affair between a wealthy housewife in Far Hills, Michigan, and a man she met only briefly at a fundraiser.

Hannah Jarrett is 39, beautiful, privileged, vapid, taught by her parents to prize elegance, simplicity and taste: “Never take a chance of appearing common” is a mantra to which she clings. Her life and her marriage somewhat resembles that of Don and Betty Draper in Mad Men — outwardly perfect, if vaguely hollow, with picture-perfect children, a girl and a boy. Unlike Betty Draper, Hannah Jarrett has a live-in housekeeper, who, despite Hannah’s belief that she is an attentive mother, seems to do a significant amount of the mothering in the household.

When Hannah is contacted by the man with whom she shared an electric moment at a charity event, she decides to meet him at an elegant downtown hotel, enabled by her husband’s business trip and the housekeeper, who will be with the children no matter how late Hannah returns.

On the drive to the hotel Hannah tells herself a reassuring story: she’s only going to satisfy her curiosity, to feel beautiful and desired for an afternoon; she won’t break any vows, but will have a satisfying and fulfilling conversation with the man in the hotel bar about their mutual and ultimately thwarted desires.

That, of course, is not what happens. In her skillful narrative, Oates makes Hannah’s drive to the hotel, and even the ride up the elevator to the man’s suite, suspenseful and chilling. It is a drama seemingly completely unconnected to the “babysitter” killings, but also, we know, somehow entwined. Moreover, there are hints of future — or are they past? — events that push their way into the telling, making it unclear if what happens on any given page is, as Ebenezer asked of the Ghost of Christmas Yet to Come, things that definitely happened or things that simply could happen.

The dynamic between Hannah and her Manila-born housekeeper, Ismelda, is polite, but fraught, as perhaps all housekeeper/employer relationships are. Hannah is both grateful and resentful of the help, and at times the similarities between “the Babysitter,” serial killer, and the babysitter/nanny/housekeeper are a bit heavy-handed. While Hannah’s children, we are led to believe, are not neglected in the way that the Babysitter’s victims are, their mother’s deficiencies are revealed in her interactions with her housekeeper.

Coming home distracted after a tryst, Hannah is so consumed by her fantasy life (“I have a lover!”) that she is unaware that her daughter is gravely ill until the housekeeper apologetically wakes her. While in no way evil or even deeply unlikeable — she is much too bland a person for that — Hannah is not a sympathetic character, even though her upbringing was in many ways troubled. Which is why it’s a shock to so quickly care so much about what happens to her and her family.

When Oates writes, “Despair of women, that men are unknown to them, essentially,” she speaks not only of the overt monsters but also of the hidden lives of husbands and friends. But women, too, have parts unknown to others and also to themselves, as Hannah learns as she is drawn deeper into a relationship despite the frantic screaming of conscience.

Babysitter is no cheap thriller but offers sharp cultural commentary on racism, class, religion and modern-day parenting. Give all the credit to Oates, who has crafted a finely tuned horror story that, like the film Fatal Attraction, is all the more horrific because of its placid suburban setting. A


Book Events

Author events

DONALD YACOVONE will discuss his new book Teaching White Supremacy: America’s Democratic Ordeal and the Forging of Our National Identity on Thursday, Sept. 29, at 7 p.m. at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com).

STEPHEN PULEO visits the Nashua Public Library (2 Court St., 589-4600, nashualibrary.org) on Sunday, Oct. 2, at 2 p.m. to discuss his book Dark Tide: The Great Boston Molasses Flood of 1919. Registration is required.

RENEE PLODZIK, Concord author, visits Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com) on Thursday, Oct. 6, at 6:30 p.m. to present her cookbook Eat Well Move Often Stay Strong.

MARGARET PORTER presents The Myrtle Wand at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com) on Wednesday, Oct. 12, at 6:30 p.m.

JOSH MALERMAN, horror novelist, will be at Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com) to present his newly released bookDaphne on Thursday, Oct. 13, at 6:30 p.m.

JOHN IRVING The Historic Music Hall Theater (28 Chestnut St., Portsmouth, 436-2400, themusichall.org) will host novelist and Exeter native John Irving to present his newest release, The Last Chairlift, at the Music Hall on Tuesday, Oct. 18. Tickets are $49 and include a book voucher.

LYNN LYONS, psychotherapist and anxiety expert, returns to Gibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com) on Wednesday, Nov. 16, at 4:30 p.m. with The Anxiety Audit: 7 Sneaky Ways Anxiety Takes Hold and How to Escape Them.

JOSH FUNK & KARI ALLEN Children’s authors Josh Funk and Kari Allen present their newest books, The Great Caper Caper: Lady Pancake & Sir French Toast Book No. 5 and Maddie and Mabel Take the Lead, atGibson’s Bookstore (45 S. Main St., Concord, 224-0562, gibsonsbookstore.com) on Saturday, Nov. 19, at 11 a.m.

Album Reviews 22/10/06

Alexis Castrogiovanni, Someday My Thoughts Will Be Like a Range of Mountains (self-released)

Debut EP from this Canadian singer-songwriter/cellist, steeped in ’90s throwbackism in the vein of Tori Amos and tinted with Minski, more or less. Castrogiovanni loves her some angst, as the above influences would handily indicate, but lyrically she’s more concerned with her own inner journey than the usual suspects on which “angry girl music” of the ’90s (exes, bad boyfriends and the patriarchy) focused. This is no Alanis clone, in other words, more an Ani DiFranco thing, characterized by her rapid-fire ranty-singing in “Ex-Girl,” whose beat is driven by the artiste plucking a bass-like line on her cello. I expect most listeners would hit Eject right off if they’re not into Ani or Tori or even PJ Harvey, and that’d be too bad, because the title track fares a lot better, sort of a Bjork-on-meds trip, and the effects she put on her instrumental weapon of choice keep it from being entirely disposable. B-

Chez Kane, Powerzone (Frontiers Music)

Cheerio, Bob’s your uncle, I’ll take any excuse to go check out a gorgeous British hard-rock-singing girl who dresses in basically nothing to shoot her videos, and bonus, fam, she’s actually a sweet, rather shy person, or at least she plays one on YouTube. This is her first solo album, one that doesn’t involve her sisters, who play with her in a band called Kane’d, whose 2013 single “I See Ya” was a pretty neat cross between Alanis Morissette and Joan Jett, if you can imagine. That wasn’t bad, even if it was kind of derivative, but time’s passed. Now Chez is older and is on a mid-1980s Heart trip; opener “I Just Want You” is basically “What About Love” but without an orchestra. “The Things We Do When We’re In Love” rips off Bryan Adams’ “Summer of ’69,” and so on and so forth. It all sounds great, but it’s also literally all been done. B-

Playlist

• Watch out, kids, here comes Friday, Oct. 7, bearing albums aplenty, and with that, you can make a note that I have indeed used the word “aplenty” in this award-winning column, as of today! No, there will be lots of albums coming out on the 7th, I’m sure of it, since Halloween is over and it’s basically the holiday shopping season until we get to the snow-and-abject-misery quarter of our year, can’t we just get it out of the way now so we can start thinking about eating fried fish and chips on the beach? I’d love for it to be over already, wouldn’t you? But there’s nothing we can do other than to press on, do our best to avoid getting frostbite, and listen to all the great new rock ’n’ roll albums, like for instance Under The Midnight Sun by U.K.-based ’90s-hard-rock fellers The Cult, you know, the band where the guitarist and the singer beat each other up on stage when their drugs wear off and they remember how much they despise each other. One of those two guys definitely earned some hatred, and I’d nominate whichever of them decided to abandon the slithery, almost psychedelic awesomeness of their breakthrough 1985 album Love — you know, the one with “She Sells Sanctuary,” “Revolution” and all that groovy hippie stuff — and decided to turn the band into some sort of straightforward and boring Buckcherry tribute band on their 1987 Electric LP, with all those stupid bonehead tunes like “Love Removal Machine.” Ha ha, I’ll bet it was the singer’s idea, remember how he had that stupid possum-fur hat on the album cover and all the songs were extra dumb, and you were “RIP, rock ’n’ roll, again?” Man was that album a disappointment, but hey, a lot of water’s gone under the bridge with these guys, so hey, man, maybe there’s something to like about this new album, as in maybe they realized how awful they became 35 years ago and there’s something cool on this album. Just call me a dreamer, folks, I’m going to go listen to the latest “cut” (I hate when that moron bass player Needle Drop uses that word to describe a “song” or “tune” in his CD reviews on YouTube; I only used the term to remind you that I detest Needle Drop as much as the guys in the Cult detest each other) “Give Me Mercy,” and frankly I already have high hopes, because the sample loop of the video shows Ian Astbury dressed like Anton Lavey at a devil conference, and there’s a spooky tree. OK, to the song itself, because that’s why we’re even here in the first place. Huh, look at that, they’re dancing in devil robes, and the guitar sound is awesome, almost kind of emo, maybe they did figure out that they needed to sound like they did in 1985. But wait, singer Ian Astbury’s voice is boring and old-person-sounding. Eh, it’s just the shell of The Cult, but with a great guitar sound, a lot of you would probably like it.

• Holy cats, King Gizzard & the Lizard Wizard has a new album coming, called Ice, Death, Planets, Lungs, Mushrooms And Lava – do I even have room for all that text? “Ice V,” one of the tunes, is an electro-tinged Flaming Lips thingie, it’s OK. Needle Drop had words to say about that “track”/”cut” but I didn’t listen to them.

• Ermagerd, look out, it’s super-heavy (from what I’ve heard) metal band Lamb of God, with their new one, Omens! The title track is metalcore, surprise, and it isn’t as fun or cool as Heriot, if that affects your buying decision.

• In closing we have idiotic ’90s band Bush with The Art Of Survival. Leadoff single “Mor Than Machines” is ’90s-hard-pop oatmeal but with bendy guitar bits reminiscent of Korn added for no reason whatsoever.

If you’re in a local band, now’s a great time to let me know about your EP, your single, whatever’s on your mind. Let me know how you’re holding yourself together without being able to play shows or jam with your homies. Send a recipe for keema matar. Message me on Twitter (@esaeger) or Facebook (eric.saeger.9).

Rosés for fall

The pink drink with seasonal flexibility

The autumnal equinox, denoting the first day of autumn, fell on Thursday, Sept. 22, at 9:04 p.m. Yes, school is back in session. Yes, the nights are getting cooler, but the days remain warm and the skies are a crystal-clear blue. OK, it is fall, but we don’t want to give up on those warm afternoons and times to spend with friends and family. We still have time to prepare for winter. There are opportunities to go apple-picking, to have that afternoon picnic, to schedule that barbecue of chicken or sausages or to just “kick back” and enjoy the day and embrace the evening.

Rosé wines are growing in popularity, simply because they are so flexible. They pair well with many cheeses, chicken, pork, shellfish and, let’s not forget, vegetables. In this column we will explore two rosés that are not only created in different parts of the world but created with very different grape varietals. Rosé wines are made from red grapes whose skins spend limited time in the pressing process. Rosé wines are light and have a limited lifetime, once bottled. That’s not a negative; it is in fact a contribution to the very essence of what they are. Rosé wines are youthful and bright and can be sipped with or without a pairing with food. But, as with all wines, the experience of the tasting is changed with proper pairing with food, and thus enhanced. So. Let’s explore some rosés!

Our first rosé is from where else but Provence, France! The 2021 Crépuscule Coteaux D’Aix-en-Provence Rosé (available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets, originally priced at $39.99, reduced to $12.99) is a classic rose from the south of France. Coming from Château Paradis, it is a blend of 30 percent syrah, 30 percent grenache, 20 percent Carignan and 20 percent cabernet sauvignon. Crépuscule is the noun the French use to define that time of day at twilight when the sun sets and the sky is a wonderful collection of golds and pinks, casting these warm colors of various shades of pink on the landscape. This is the perfect description of this wine, its color, its presence.

The grapes of this wine are grown at an elevation of 850 feet at the northern edge of Provence, in a rich clay-limestone terroir. They are blessed with a warm Mediterranean climate with strong Mistral winds, blowing from the Bay of Biscay to the Gulf of Genoa, resulting in clear skies and warm weather. The color is a rich peach, and to the nose the peach carries through along with floral notes, coupled with minerality. The fruit is dense, slightly spicy, and crisp. This is a wine to be enjoyed with grilled meats and vegetables, flavored with herbs de Provence. The crispness and minerality of the wine work very well with this blend of herbs, and so it should, as they speak of the same terroir.

Our second rosé is from Washington State. The 2020 CasaSmith Vino Rosé (available at the New Hampshire Liquor & Wine Outlets, originally priced at $13.99, reduced to $6.99) is made from 100 percent sangiovese grapes. The sangiovese grape is grown throughout Italy and may have its roots in Roman times. It is most famously known as the grape of Brunello di Montalcino and Chianti, but when used to make rosé, the earthy tea leaf notes of these reds recede, producing a wine with lighter mineral notes. In his tasting notes posted on his website, Charles Smith states, “The 2020 vintage might be the best vintage that we have ever had in Washington state history.” This may very well be the case. Coming from the Columbia River Valley, this wine has pale straw color tinged in pink. To the nose there are berries along with some floral notes. The minerality of the soils of the river valley carries through to the tongue with a refreshing, crisp finale. Noted wine critic James Suckling described it as a “dry, chewy rosé with sliced-cherry and peach-skin character. Flavorful finish…. Drink now.” With his score of 91 points, this is a wine to be tried, and per his instructions, now! At this most inviting price, this is a wine not to be passed by!

So extend your summer by a few weeks. Pick up one or both of these rosés, grill some food and enjoy that beautiful sunset a fall day can bring.

Featured photo. Courtesy photo.

Peach salad with bourbon vinaigrette

Fall in New Hampshire quite often includes a visit to an orchard. While most people may think about apples, there also are peaches available at many orchards. Why not make peaches a part of your fall cooking? This week I want to take a break from weekend snacks and share a healthier, but just as delicious, recipe.

This peach salad is meant to be served as a side dish, but it could be turned into an entrée with the addition of a protein. A chicken breast, a boneless pork chop or some shrimp could make this a fairly hearty meal.

This salad is pretty simple, which means that the ingredients are key. I opt for arugula in this salad to provide some bitterness and to balance the sweetness of the peaches. Of course, almost any green would work in a pinch. For the peach, you want optimal ripeness. Not overly ripe and mushy and not underripe and tart; you want the moment-of-perfection sort of peach. For the dressing, a good bourbon is key. One third of the flavor comes from the bourbon, so use one that you’d drink without a mixer. If you would rather not have bourbon in your dressing, you can increase the vinegar to 2 tablespoons and the maple syrup to 1 1/2 tablespoons.

While this salad highlights fresh fall fruit; it also is a bright reminder of warm and sunny days. Enjoy this salad now while the peaches are fresh and there is still some warmth in the air.

Peach salad with bourbon vinaigrette
Serves 2

2 cups arugula
1 peach
¼ cup whole pecans
1½ Tablespoons cider vinegar
1 Tablespoon good bourbon
1 Tablespoon maple syrup
Salt & pepper

Divide arugula between two salad plates.
Dice peach into half-inch cubes; sprinkle over arugula.
Chop pecans; add to salad.
In a small bowl, combine vinegar, bourbon and maple syrup; whisk well.
Season with salt and pepper to taste.
Divide vinaigrette between the two salads, and serve.

Featured Photo: Peach salad with bourbon vinaigrette. Photo courtesy of Michele Pesula Kuegler.

In the kitchen with Emilee Viaud

Emilee Viaud of Milford is the owner of Sweet Treats by Emilee (sweettreatsbyemilee@gmail.com, and on Facebook and Instagram @sweettreatsbyemilee_), specializing in cakes, decorative cookies, doughnuts, scones, croissants and a variety of handcrafted chocolate items. She started the business in October 2020 at the height of the hot cocoa bomb trend, soon becoming a regular vendor at the Manchester Craft Market inside the Mall of New Hampshire (1500 S. Willow St., Manchester) and branching out to all kinds of bomb flavors, from milk, dark and white chocolate to salted caramel, cookies and cream and peanut butter. She now has a whole lineup of sweet treats stocked there, as well as at Junction 71 (707 Milford Road, Merrimack) — items include chocolate-covered Oreos, chocolate-covered pretzel rods, Rice Krispie treats and jumbo peanut butter cups. Viaud also sells an assortment of fresh baked goods at the Milford Farmers Market (300 Elm St.) on Saturdays, from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., from doughnuts and croissants to scones, cupcakes and rotating flavors of hand pies. The final outdoor date of the market is Oct. 8 before it moves indoors at the Town Hall Auditorium starting next month. Viaud’s first participating date of the indoor market will be Nov. 19.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

The utensil that I use the most is definitely a whisk.

What would you have for your last meal?

I grew up eating a lot of pasta with meatballs and garlic bread. That’s kind of always been like a childhood meal that I enjoy.

What is your favorite local restaurant?

Revival [Kitchen & Bar in Concord] because, of course, it’s farm-to-table and their menu changes seasonally. One thing that always stays consistent is their meat and cheese platter, and so I’ll always go for that as an appetizer.

What celebrity would you like to see trying something you’ve made?

I would choose a lot of people, but I kind of lean toward Duff Goldman, just because I watched a lot of his shows growing up. … I really like him specifically because he’s more on the decorating side, and that’s what I enjoy the most out of baking. So, I know that he would give me an honest opinion on whether he liked it or not.

What is your favorite item that you offer?

I would say probably the doughnuts, because I have not been doing them for a long time. I’m honestly still learning — I’ve changed the recipe multiple times ever since making them, so it’s something that kind of challenges me a little bit, and I also get to change the flavors seasonally.

What is the biggest food trend in New Hampshire right now?

I was thinking, maybe, like cultural food. … You’re starting to see, I guess more on the side of pop-ups, more restaurants displaying their heritage and their food.

What is your favorite thing to make at home?

Something that I always try to do is fresh bread … because I feel like it really completes a meal. I just love fresh bread and butter — there’s nothing better.

Brown butter Rice Krispie treats
From the kitchen of Emilee Viaud of Sweet Treats by Emilee (makes a 9-by-13-inch pan)

1½ sticks butter
2 10-ounce bags mini marshmallows, plus 1 cup
12 cups Rice Krispies cereal

Place the butter in a pot. Let it melt until bubbles form on the top, then start stirring, lifting the browned butter from the bottom of the pan. Once the butter has burned brown, add the two bags of marshmallows. Once the marshmallows are melted, add your cereal. Mix until fully coated, then add an extra cup of marshmallows for extra gooey treats.

Featured photo: Emilee Viaud. Courtesy photo.

Ready, set, cook

MasterChef Junior Live tour comes to Concord

Former contestants of the hit Fox cooking competition series MasterChef Junior hit the road last month for the “MasterChef Junior Live” tour, an interactive show packed with cooking demonstrations, unique challenges and audience participation throughout. Locally, MasterChef Junior Live will make a stop at the Capitol Center for the Arts in Concord on Thursday, Oct. 13.

Season 8 of MasterChef Junior premiered on Fox in March and concluded on June 23, but it was actually filmed back in 2019, prior to the pandemic. Each week young chefs between the ages of 8 and 13 from across the country perform in a number of challenges and present their own prepared dishes to celebrity judges Gordon Ramsay, Aarón Sánchez and Daphne Oz.

The Oct. 13 show in Concord will feature live appearances from Season 8 winner Liya Chu of Scarsdale, New York, who was just 10 years old at the time of the show’s filming, as well as runner-up Grayson Price and fan favorites Molly Leighninger and A’Dan Lisaula.

“The fun part of our show … is that we end up with about 10 people that we randomly choose from the audience that can come onstage and taste the actual food they cook,” tour manager Marti Ramirez said. “People get to be tasters and they judge the appetizer part, and then we have four people that are volunteers, also from the audience, that are sous chefs. … At the end, kids get to come up on stage and help decorate the dessert part of our show, which is cupcakes.”

Chu, now 14 years old, recently spoke with the Hippo via phone about her experience being on MasterChef Junior, as well as what attendees can expect ahead of the Concord show.

Can you tell us about your cooking background and interest in cooking at such a young age?

I started cooking around 5 years old. … My first dish was making dumplings, and it’s kind of a family tradition, since my mom learned how to make them from her mom, and her mom learned it from her mom. So it has kind of been passed down through many generations. … My parents own two restaurants, so I’ve kind of been involved in the restaurant life since I was young. … One restaurant is in Bronxville, New York, and it’s called Dumpling + Noodle, and then the other one is called Fantasy Cuisine and it’s in Hartsdale, New York.

What was the audition process like for getting on MasterChef Junior?

My friend was actually on Season 7, so that was when … I was like, ‘Oh wait, I could go on the show as well.’ … [The audition] started around, like, February [2019] or so, and then it was back and forth for two months of Zoom interviews. Sometimes they’d ask you to cut red peppers or onions or, like, cook an egg 20 different ways. … After those two months, many of us … wondered if we were even still in the audition, because they wouldn’t answer us for like two or three weeks. … Then, May 20 was when they confirmed and we flew all the way to L.A., but at that time it was still [in the] Top 50, and then they started to cut it down to the Top 16 and then the Top 10, the Top Five and then that whole process was another two months. … [The show’s airing] got delayed many times, so after a while, since it was three years, it kind of felt like it was a dream.

Do you remember which dishes you made while on the show? What was the most challenging dish that you prepared for the judges?

Yeah, I do remember a lot of the dishes, because they are all really important to me. Every dish I made was something that … represents my family, my background and what I’ve learned since I was young. … I think the hardest dish was either the sweet bread or the eel dish, or maybe the duck dish that I made last. … Duck is a pretty hard dish to cook, because you have to time it just right in order to get it medium rare. The eel was also hard because it was my first time cooking on the show, and I was really nervous that time.

What is Gordon Ramsay like in person?

Gordon is a very tall man. I mean, of course, we were all very tiny at that time. But he was really nice to us. Of course, he would get mad at us sometimes, but when he did, I think [it was] because he was only trying to teach us and trying to get us to push ourselves. … I was definitely nervous to see what he was like, but he was really nice. He wasn’t mean.

What was your personal favorite thing that you made on the show?

It was definitely my semi-finale dish, which were the dumplings. … When I was around 5 years old, my mom every weekend or every two weekends or so, she’d cook dumplings for my brother and me. … I remember I would run around the house and I would always try to peek around the corner and say, ‘Hey, Mom, can I help you out?’ But it would never work out well because [the dumplings] would always just flop over or they wouldn’t even close. … My mom would still teach me. She never said, ‘Oh, Liya, you’re too young,’ or anything. … She still always tries to help me improve.

Tell us about the MasterChef Junior Live tour. Will the challenges be happening in real time?

Yeah, so it’s kind of like being in the show, in a way, just actually seeing it front and center and being part of it. … We’re cooking on stage, and so yeah, it’s all happening in real time. We don’t know who’s winning, because it’s the audience who is doing the judging. It’s more about just having fun and letting the audience be able to experience it. … It’s definitely fun and family-friendly, and something that I would encourage everyone to come watch.

What’s next for you? Is cooking something you think you’d want to pursue as a career?

I’m very interested in art and being creative, and cooking is definitely a type of art form, for sure. … I don’t really know what I want to do yet, of course, I still have a lot of time to think of what I want to do. But yeah, definitely art and maybe even culinary will be part of my future.

MasterChef Junior Live
When: Thursday, Oct. 13, 7 p.m. (doors open at 6 p.m.)
Where: Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord
Cost: Ranges from $23.25 to $58.25. Optional VIP add-ons are $75 and include a pre-show Q&A, meet-and-greet with photo opportunities and a signed poster.
Visit: mastercheflivetour.com

Featured photo: Liya Chu. Courtesy photo.

The Weekly Dish 22/10/06

News from the local food scene

Market updates: Farmers markets in Milford and New Boston are each expected to wrap up their outdoor seasons this Saturday, Oct. 8 — in Milford, the final outdoor date at 300 Elm St. (across from the New Hampshire Antique Co-op) will be from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m., before it returns indoors inside the Town Hall Auditorium (1 Union Square) every other Saturday beginning early next month. New Boston’s market, meanwhile, also holds its final market from 10 a.m. to 1 p.m. the same day on the corner of Route 13 and Meetinghouse Hill Road. Other markets across the Granite State, including in Bedford, Concord, Henniker and Pelham, each still have a few more weekends to go before they wrap up by the end of October.

Bring on the doughnuts: The New Hampshire Doughnut Co. is now open at 410 S. River Road in Bedford, the company’s third location overall. The custom doughnut shop opened its first location on Route 4 in Chichester in August 2019 before a second location arrived in the former space of the Capital Deli in Concord the following year. Cake doughnuts baked fresh daily are the stars of the menu, with regular flavors that include vanilla, chocolate, apple cider and several gluten-free and dairy-free options, as well as rotating specialty-themed doughnut weeks. Owner Amanda Baril told the Hippo last month that the new Bedford location is expanding New Hampshire Doughnut Co.’s offerings into yeast ring doughnuts, filled doughnuts, fritters and French crullers. Visit them Wednesday through Friday, 7:30 a.m. to 1 p.m., Saturday, 9 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday, 8 a.m. to 1 p.m. Visit nhdoughnutco.com.

Forage around: Join the Brookline Public Library (16 Main St.) for Foraging New England, a special presentation on Wednesday, Oct. 12, from 4:30 to 5:30 p.m., featuring Russ Cohen, expert forager and author of Wild Plants I Have Known … and Eaten. The 60-minute slideshow will include images and information about at least two dozen species of native edible plants suitable for adding to your own landscape. Cohen will cover the many keys to the identification of each species, along with their edible portions, seasons of availability and preparation methods, as well as foraging guidelines that are safe and environmentally responsible. Printed handouts and some samples of foraged goodies will be provided. Register online at brooklinelibrarynh.org.

Turkeys and trains: The Hobo & Winnipesaukee Scenic Railroad is partnering with Hart’s Turkey Farm in Meredith to offer turkey dinner train rides — the next one is scheduled for Saturday, Oct. 8, with two more to follow on Oct. 15 and Oct. 22. The trains depart Meredith Station (154 Main St.) at 5 p.m., traveling south along the western shore of Lake Winnipesaukee through Weirs Beach and Paugus Bay toward Lakeport and back along the same route, returning at around 7 p.m. Riders will be treated to a complete dinner catered by Hart’s Turkey Farm, featuring freshly carved roast turkey, stuffing, whipped potato, butternut squash, gravy, rolls and butter and apple crisp for dessert. The cost is $47.50 per person and advance reservations are required. Visit hoborr.com.

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