In the kitchen with Sam Slattery

Sam Slattery’s earliest memory of cooking is of standing on a chair in his kitchen while his father taught him to make eggs. At Alvirne High School he was a member of the culinary arts program, and he furthered his studies at Lakes Region Community College, where he earned an associate degree in culinary arts. Today he is the lead line cook at Stella Blu in Nashua, where he runs the weekly dessert specials and prepares charcuterie roll sushi and shucks oysters at the raw bar station on the weekends.

What is your must-have kitchen item?

KitchenAid mixer.

What would you have for your last meal?

Fried clams.

What is your favorite local eatery?

My favorite local eatery is probably a tie between the Himalayan Curry House in Nashua or the Tuckaway Tavern in Raymond.

Name a celebrity you would like to see eating in your restaurant?

Billy Strings, considering I’m a huge fan and if I’m not working at Stella on a Saturday night chances are I’m traveling to see my favorite band.

What is your favorite thing on your menu?

The pan-seared duck breast with sweet chili glaze.

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

One food trend I’ve noticed across New England is birria tacos or burritos, both in food trucks and restaurant special sheets.

What is your favorite thing to cook at home?

French onion soup.

Corn flake fish tacos
From the kitchen of Sam Slattery

Haddock cut into 3-inch pieces
Corn tortillas

3 cups corn flakes
1 cup sesame seeds
1 Tablespoon sugar
2 Tablespoons red pepper flakes

1 head red cabbage shredded
3 carrots shredded
2 cups frozen mango
2 jalapenos
1 cup rice wine vinegar

Cilantro lime crema:
1 lime zested and juiced
1 bunch of cilantro
1 cup sour cream
2 Tablespoons garlic powder
1 Tablespoon cumin
1 Tablespoon coriander
salt and pepper
Simmer mango, jalapeno and rice wine vinegar together until soft, blend on high until smooth, fold over shredded cabbage.

Bread haddock using a flour batter and the corn flake mix, then fry until 165 degrees internal temperature.
Blend all cilantro lime crema ingredients until smooth.

Toast tortillas in a pan or on a hot grill and assemble the tortilla with coleslaw, then fish, and top with crema.

Featured photo: Sam Slattery, lead line cook at Stella Blu. Courtesy photo.

Immigrant song

Reunited and revitalized, deSoL hits Concord

Fans of Latin-infused rock and soul music are in for a treat when deSoL performs at Concord’s Bank of NH Stage on Nov. 11, their first area show in over a decade. Though the band officially split in 2010, they stayed friendly, doing a Concerts for the Cause benefit in Manchester in 2013 — but nothing since.

Socially distanced meetups at front man Albie Monterrosa’s New Jersey home in the waning days of pandemic lockdown, however, led to deSoL’s first new songs since their final album, Chango. Monterrosa promised in a recent interview that more are in the works, perhaps a sign that the band’s upcoming live shows won’t be the last.

“It’s more of a commitment, I guess,” he said. deSoL is now a four-piece band; Monterrosa, keyboard player Andy Letke, James Guerrero on percussion and bass player Chris Apple.

“We never lost the love for each other and for what we do and for our audience,” Monterrosa continued, adding that the rigors of touring caused the breakup. “We hit it for a decade strong and we missed birthday parties, funerals, weddings…. We had to reassess where our personal lives were at that moment. It was interesting to really take inventory.”

Once reunited, the Asbury Park rhythm machine began to get its groove back, while mending fences. “Being with a band for so long, things happen, things are said. When you’re older you have distance from it and there’s healing. I remember sitting around the island in my kitchen with a bottle of tequila in the middle and us just talking… really being honest with one another. It was a couple of those conversations that really started to make way for new music.”

“El Paso” is one gem in a batch of new songs. Monterrosa wrote it for his mother, while he reflected on her challenges immigrating from El Salvador in the 1970s.

“I realized I had it pretty good,” he said. “Her selflessness was a gift. [Her] struggles I really didn’t see until now…. A big part of what ‘El Paso’ is about is giving my mom honor there.”

Though it’s true when Monterrosa sings, “everybody’s got their own story to tell, mine began in El Paso,” he insists the song isn’t autobiographical.

“It’s pretty much the Latin American story, underdogs coming here try to make it,” he said. “Making it for my parents was literally what they did; they purchased a home, got us through school and out of the house. They created people that were productive in society.”

Handing the song to his bandmates provided a reminder of the rhythmic chemistry that drives deSoL. It was an acoustic song when Monterrosa wrote it, “very singer-songwriter,” he recalled. Guerrero was the first band member to feel it. “He has this ear that I really trust…. If he gets excited, I know it’s hitting a chord somewhere. Then Andy got behind the drums and started playing that groove, and it turned into something that we all were liking. When that happens, you go with it.”

Fittingly, the completed track has a groove that recalls “City of Immigrants,” Steve Earle’s ode to NYC. Another finished song, “Sally,” has a Lieber & Stoller, doo-wop feel. “We’ve got a couple more that we’re gonna release in the new year,” Monterrosa said. “It’s interesting to make music a decade or more later than the last time, and in a new way.”

That said, they’re most excited to be returning to the stage.

“That’s where we love to be, in the live realm; we love when people are together,” Monterrosa said. He likened the band at the start of each show to a jet plane sitting on the runway. “When the plane takes off, everybody’s vibing together and everybody is unified. People are dancing, people are singing back, people are with you on the ride.”

Whether they feel a little or a lot of that love isn’t critical. “Even if it’s one person, as long as somebody’s on the ride with us, I feel like we’re doing our job. We’ve been really fortunate to have that one person spark up and then the person next to him, then it becomes a chain reaction. Next thing, the whole place is really a party.”

There’s a reason their only two upcoming shows are in New Hampshire and in Massachusetts, a Nov. 10 co-headlining concert with fellow percussive pals Entrain.

“You guys really know and love your music, and you sniff out something that’s not working,” Monterrosa said. “You respond well when it’s authentic and real. I love that about New England.”

Saturday, Nov. 11, 7:30 p.m.
Where: Bank of NH Stage, 16 S. Main St., Concord
Tickets: $30.75 and $43.75 at

Featured photo: deSoL. Courtesy photo.

The Music Roundup 23/11/09

Local music news & events

Folk professor: The latest from singer-songwriter Ellis Paul is 55, an at-the-crossroads effort highlighted by the title song, where he sings, “Rand McNally and the fax machine … Sears and Roebuck’s magazine, look what I survived.” Paul has won multiple Boston Music Awards. The University of Maine awarded him an honorary Doctor of Letters degree in 2014. He performs at a beloved brewpub-restaurant. Thursday, Nov. 9, 7:30 p.m., Flying Goose Pub, 40 Andover Road, New London, $30; reserve at 526-6899.

Minnesota punk: Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the breakthrough album Home, Off With Their Heads continue a tour that began in summer with a stop in Manchester. New Noise magazine called it “one of the most influential punk albums of the new millennium,” and with it a band that began whimsically in a Minneapolis basement leapt to a new level. 2023 also marks OWTH singer Ryan Young’s 20th year in music. Friday, Nov. 10, 9 p.m., Shaskeen Pub, 909 Elm St., Manchester; see

VH1 wonders: Best known for the ubiquitous’90s hit “All For You,” Sister Hazel came from Gainesville, Florida, inspired by local hero Tom Petty. Their latest effort is the four-volume EP Series Elements; the final installment, Fire, included the Darius Rucker cowrite “Raising a Rookie.” Saturday, Nov. 11, 8 p.m., 10 A St., Derry, $45 and up at

Queen thing: More than a few observers have called Garry Mullen & the Works a cut above the average tribute act. Mullen looks like, sounds like and embodies Freddie Mercury. His fans include Queen guitarist Brian May, who once invited him to hang out at a show. Sunday, Nov. 12, 7 p.m., Capitol Center for the Arts, 44 S. Main St., Concord, $46.75 and up at

Edge music: Progressive metal with elements of psychedelic and post-metal thrown in, Tool brings its sonic assault to town for an arena-headlining appearance. The group is currently on tour in support of the 2019 album Fear Inoculum. Monday, Nov. 13, 7:30 p.m., SNHU Arena, 555 Elm St., Manchester, $79.50 and up at

Priscilla (R)

The 14-year-old girl who eventually becomes Mrs. Elvis Presley (at 21) and then the ex-Mrs. Elvis (at 28) gets her story told in Priscilla, a movie written and directed by Sofia Coppola and based on Priscilla Presley’s autobiography Elvis and Me.

Priscilla Beaulieu (Cailee Spaeny) is a ninth grader when we first see her in 1959, drinking a soda in a diner in West Germany where her father, who is in the Army, is stationed. She is bummed at having recently moved to West Germany and not yet having any friends. Adult soldier Terry West (Luke Humphrey) approaches her at the diner and delivers the following information: he’s seen her at the diner before; he and his wife are friends with Elvis Presley (Jacob Elordi), and would she like to go to a party and meet Elvis.

Now, look, kids, if a strange man comes up to you and says something like this, run and tell a trusted adult. Which is the opinion of Priscilla’s dad (Ari Cohen) and mom (Dagmara Dominczyk) at first. Who is this Terry and his wife, why are they taking her to meet Elvis, why would Elvis — a 24-year-old mega-star serving in the Army for two years — want to meet this barely teenage child? But eventually they relent, I guess because they think mopey Priscilla needs some excitement.

From the jump, Elvis gives off what I found myself thinking of as “vampire boyfriend” vibes. There’s a sort ofEdward from Twilight way to how he instantly takes a shine to Priscilla for no particular reason (or, maybe I should say, no non-sketchball reason). He says he likes talking to her, though she doesn’t really talk when they’re together (which, perhaps, you know, is a feature not a bug). She is dazzled, as any girl would be, by the attention of this high-wattage star and sucked in, as any young teen girl would be, by his wounded puppy pose — his stories of being lonely, like her, in Germany and being sad about the recent death of his mom. He’s grieving, he needs me, she says to her parents when they object to her seeing Elvis again. From the perch of “I remember the TV movie based on Elvis and Me”-years-old, I laughed at all of Elvis’ emo nonsense and his “you’re the most special girl” and “you’re more mature than your years” (barf) performatively gentle wooing of Priscilla. But, especially in this Sofia Coppola sourball confection, you can see how all of this goes straight to the heart of a lonely young girl. And how the kind of love and devotion she gives to him is exactly what a controlling narcissist who has surrounded himself with yes men would want. Nancy Sinatra and Ann-Margaret — two of the many women he’s linked to throughout his relationship with Priscilla — aren’t going to put him first or change themselves to suit him, the way he demands of Priscilla.

But Priscilla, wowed by Elvis, longing for his world and attention, which is indeed so much more exciting than high school, hangs on — staying in touch via phone and letters after he leaves Germany and eventually going to visit him at Graceland. There and then later on a trip to Las Vegas, they share a bed but don’t have sex. Elvis insists they wait until he decides the time is right — which turns out to be their wedding night when she is 21 years old, after years of living with him in Graceland, where she often gets left behind when he goes to make movies and have affairs. As he explains to her, the woman who is going to be with him needs to be understanding.

Here in 2023, it’s easy to identify what Elvis is doing as grooming: taking young, doesn’t-know-herself Priscilla and molding her into the wife who will ignore his cheating, put up with his absences, allow herself to be controlled down to her eye makeup by his whims, eternally be waiting for him and forgive his angry, sometimes violent outbursts. Sofia Coppola really highlights the heartbreaking nature of their relationship as we see any natural confidence or sass in Priscilla get swallowed up by the Elvis of it all. But the movie doesn’t paint Priscilla as dumb — naive, maybe, and too willing to trade everything for the happy moments. This movie is quite reminiscent of Coppola’s Marie Antoinette, with a girl who is suddenly in a rarefied life trying to figure out what to do with herself in ornate rooms and opulent clothes, surrounded by people who act very much like a royal court.

In the movie’s final third, there is something very Coppola in the way Priscilla (spoiler alert if you’ve never seen a People magazine) finds her way out. And like many a Coppola movie, we’re seeing all of this both from Priscilla’s point of view and also at a remove. We can see how she’s feeling but we never quite get to hear from her why she makes the decisions that she does. It’s frustrating — but in a way that feels intentional and also kind of enjoyable for what it leaves for us to understand based on vibes. The movie doesn’t look down at Priscilla but it does give the sense of a woman who can look back at this relationship and see what it was (real-life Priscilla Presley is an executive producer of the movie). And the whole thing gets pulled together in a well-done final sequence with maybe one of the best needle drops of recvent memory. B+

Rated R for drug use and some language, according to the MPA on Written and directed by Sofia Coppola (based on Priscilla Presley’s Elvis and Me, written with Sandra Harmon), Priscilla is an hour and 53 minutes long and is distributed by A24 in theaters.

Featured photo: Piscilla.

A City on Mars, by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith

A City on Mars, by Kelly and Zach Weinersmith (Penguin Press, 448 pages)

Besides buying Twitter and normalizing electric cars, Elon Musk is known for his belief that human beings need to get off this planet and in particular colonize Mars. “It’s a little cold, but we can warm it up,” his SpaceX website says, adding that because gravity on Mars is 38 percent that of Earth’s, “you would be able to lift heavy things and bounce around.”

That sounds like an argument you would make to a 5-year-old. Also, a little cold? The average temperature is -80 Fahrenheit.

The optimism about populating an inhospitable planet has been long overdue for a reality check, and Kelly Weinersmith, a biologist, and her husband, Zach, a cartoonist, have stepped up to the plate.

The Weinersmiths are self-described “space geeks” who have studied the subject for four years, longer if you count the research they did for their 2017 book Soonish.

“We love visionary plans for a glorious future. We also are very skeptical people,” they write.

The Weinersmiths say the current conversation about Mars colonization centers around the specifics of getting there and settling in, while larger, stickier questions — such as ethical air rationing — are swept aside. They accept the noble intentions of the “space billionaires” — namely Musk and Jeff Bezos — but think that done right, colonizing space should be something that takes us centuries, not decades.

A City on Mars — subtitled “Can we settle space, should we settle space, and have we really thought this through?” — comprises six parts, liberally punctuated with cartoons. The first section addresses the biological costs to spacefarers and the psychology of space settlement (i.e., how to go to Mars without losing your mind), as well as the logistical nightmare that is “space sex.” The people we’ve sent to space thus far are the best humankind has to offer; they go through gauntlets of testing to ensure they’re in peak condition. Even then, encapsulated in all their high-tech gear, they suffer the physical insults of living outside Earth’s gravity, including muscle and bone loss and eye damage. They’re exposed to higher levels of radiation in a place where medical facilities are in short supply. We don’t know what will be the physical effects of a longer period in space, much farther away than we’ve gone.

And there are the “morally dicey” issues that come with conceiving a child (should one be conceived) as basically an experiment. For example, “What we know about human bones in space today comes entirely from fully developed adults,” the authors write. “We have no knowledge about how altered gravity regimes will affect, say, a twelve-year-old girl having a growth spurt.”

The second and third sections of the book focus on living arrangements, including housing, food and waste disposal. You’d think anyone who signed up for a trip to Mars wouldn’t care about food beyond sustenance, but the Weinersmiths write, “People who study space psychology report good food as one of the most important factors in day-to-day well-being — an idea also found in books from the era of polar exploration.” (Fun fact: NASA prohibits adult beverages on the International Space Station, but on other trips, astronauts have taken cognac, whiskey and wine.)

Sections 4, 5 and 6 explore big-picture challenges: space laws, space states, space politics and of course the potential for space wars (which strikes down the argument for getting off this planet to escape the tumult here). The basis of space law was the Outer Space Treaty of 1967, which in English was only about 2,500 words and basically said no weapons of mass destruction or military exercises in space. It also said all space activity should be carried out “for the benefit and in the interests of all countries.” That treaty and the Moon Agreement of 1979, however, do little to mitigate the kind of conflicts a greater human presence in space will raise, both in international politics and in the minutiae of spacecraft law such as whether starving astronauts can legally eat one of their crew. (There’s a scientific paper on space cannibalism titled “Survival and Sacrifice in Mars Exploration.”)

Mars, which has 24-hour days similar to ours, could possibly be “terraformed,” its climate made more hospitable by detonating nuclear weapons at its poles, eventually making it warmer and wetter, and it’s easy enough to get to compared to other sites, but it’s far enough away that if something goes wrong you’re on your own. And the Weinersmiths envision everything, concrete and fanciful, that can go wrong, right up to war breaking out between the factions of Bezostralia and Muskow. They leave no moon rock uncovered.

Even a dystopian Earth is still better than Mars, the Weinersmiths argue: “That Earth still has a breathable atmosphere, a magnetosphere to protect against radiation, and quite possibly still has McDonald’s breakfast. It is not a world we would like to inhabit, but it is the one world in the solar system where you can run around naked for ten minutes and still be alive at the end.”

They’re not saying we should never go to Mars, just that we should do so slowly, after having worked some things out, like how to establish a short-term research station and how to make babies in space. B+

Album Reviews 23/11/09

Newmoon, “Fading Phase” (self-released)

Funnily enough I was just watching a long documentary about shoegaze bands for no real reason, luckily for me. Newmoon, based in Antwerp, Belgium, has already released a couple of albums to “critical acclaim” (which, let’s be honest, in some cases may pretty much mean that one of the band’s friends said “it’s awesome” on Instagram), and this single will lead off their third when it drops in March 2024; it’s mastered by Simon Scott of shoegaze legends Slowdive. That last bit is important, because if there ain’t no plasma-blob immersiveness to the guitars it simply ain’t shoegaze. Toward that, the guitars are pretty bright and, well, tropical as the tune rolls out, until of course the inevitable noise-chaos appears two-thirds of the way through. I’m definitely more of a My Bloody Valentine guy than a Glasvegas fan, but all the ingredients fit, from the sexless faraway Q Lazzarus-like vocals to the ludicrous reverb level. It’s fine. A-

Dokken, Heaven Comes Down (Silver Lining Music)

Once you little Zoomer rascals get off my lawn, I’ll tell you the story of way back in the 1980s, when I completely ignored this Los Angeles-based glam/hair-metal band, mostly because my guitarist at the time thought they were awesome; he and I shared a strained, awkward mutual respect. I preferred bands that had a pulse and obvious brain damage, like Slade, Wasp and Alcatrazz, where Dokken had a weird rep as some sort of borderline prog-rock thingamajig but was really just about getting dates, which is of course the only reason anyone starts a metal band in the first place (raises hand). OK whatever, the LP kicks off with “Fugitive,” a decent speedster that’s decorated with either a 12-string or sitar that makes it sound important, and then the main riff kicks in and yep, it’s good, making the listener want to punch someone in the face out of adrenaline overload. Singer Don Dokken is as boring as ever, which really drags things down during obligato lonesome-male filler tune “Is It Me Or You.” The band’s the same as ever, folks, pseudo-epic slow-burn tunes (“I’ll Never Give Up”) yadda yadda. A-


A seriously abridged compendium of recent and future CD releases

• Nov. 10 will be a day marked by the release of many new albums, because Friday is the traditional day of the week when all the bands and artistes release their new records in the hope that people will buy them! Hello to all the new readers out there, I’m your host for this journalistic exercise, in which, every week, I try my darnedest to find something nice to say about albums that should never have seen the light of day. Just so’s you know, I actually do try to wax positive about all the bands and sonically creative types that send things to my physical and virtual mailboxes in the usually misplaced hope that I’ll be in good enough of a mood to say something positive, which, my longtime readers know, is like expecting the famous groundhog Punxsutawney Phil to neither confirm nor deny that he saw his shadow but instead to start singing “Vesti la giubba” from the classic opera Pagliacci in such a perfect tenor that people begin weeping uncontrollably on the spot. No, kidding, I’m usually really nice to bands, especially local ones, not that that ever gets me anywhere.

Yow, here we go, look at that, I had all but forgotten the the early Aughts had ever even happened (I’d need 50 pages of space in this paper to list all the reasons), so it was quite a trip when I noticed that the Cold War Kids have a new album coming out. The LP is self-titled, which is such a late-Aughts thing to do, but I liked those guys; they had Spoon-level songwriting, even if they were too catchy and commercial-sounding for the snobs at Pitchfork Media (which is actually a selling point in the opinion of most people, let’s be honest). Anyhow, the Kids have a new single, of course, and it’s called “Run Away With Me,” let’s listen to its YouTube version. Wow, it’s energetic and bouncy and poppy, Pitchfork would hate it, and at the moment I’m trying to find a reason not to do the same. It’s disco-y and works a Weeknd/LMFAO angle, but — OK, here’s the chorus. Right, it’s cool, try to picture the Strokes having a Some Girls period, that’s what this is. I physically can’t hate these guys.

Pinkpantheress is a British 22-year-old who had viral success on TikTok; when our civilization is gone, TikTok success will be something that will puzzle archaeologists. She’s into bedroom pop and two-step garage, and thus her new single, “Capable of Love,” is a lot more listenable than Ariana Grande, there, I said it.

• We’ll end with Beirut’s new one, Hadsel, because why not. The band is led by trumpet/ukulele dude Zach Condon, and the new single “So Many Plans” is a plodding weird-beard tune that crosses Sigur Ros with Carolina Chocolate Drops; it’s liveable.

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