Cooking a 14 course dinner, part 2: The menu

Spring Gourmet dinner 2011: Eat local, goddamnit!

– Appetizers –

Fried potato crisp with smoked Salmon

Smoked white cheese, radishes and pickled cucumber gel

Glazed lobster tail, trout roe and aromatic sea water foam

Raw pickled leeks, blanched red onion slithers and creme fraiche

Layered Creme Ninon

Creme Ninon, lightly whipped cream,  Cava foam and crispy air cured ham

– Light dishes –

Steamed asparagus and Skagen Ham (artisan Danish air cured ham)

Poached quail egg yolks and home-made mayonnaise with vinegar, tarragon, wild garlic and seaweed

Hot-smoked peppered salmon with new potatoes

Champagne Beurre Blanc, asparagus, cress and butter

Slow roasted breast of chicken

Julienne spring vegetables and chicken consommé

Cava granité

– Warm main courses –

Pheasant in two ways: thigh and breast

Celeriac confit, baked shallots and reduced pheasant stock

Pork ribs braised in Danish vintage stout

Smoked, hay-baked celeriac and brussel sprouts sautéed in bacon fat

Tenderloin of venison on a bed of wilted spinach

Pommes Fondant, sautéed shallots, roasting juices and blackberry gastrique

Parfait of cage-aged Danish cheese

Served with ”sparkling cheese”

– Desserts –

Frozen apple-air

With a hint of fermented blackcurrant juice

Skyr (Icelandic  cultured fresh cheese) with beet root syrup

Flower honey, honey-roasted wheat kernels and dried berries

Chocolate stout ice cream

Caramelized pears and beer syrup

Cooking a 14 course dinner, part 1: Proper preparations, or lack thereof!

Note to the picky reader: I jotted this down in about 30 minutes over the course of a day in Microsoft Notepad without spell check, grammar check or anything.. There are errors, there are typos, I’m knackered, I apologize.

It’s been a while since I’ve done any real cooking. And by real cooking I mean, of course, one of my more elaborate meals.. And by more elaborate meals I mean, of course, one of my 10+ course tasting menus designed specifically to confuse and impress and test my abilities and patience.

Looking back at things now, there have probably been a few good reasons why I haven’t been doing any elaborate cooking lately. First and foremost, a 10+ course menu with wine pairings requires, well, a considerable investment. Not only in terms of money, but also in terms of time and effort. Obviously, money is hard to come by when you’re unemployed and living off of the lowest possible unemployment grant.. So while there has been some investment in terms of time and thought into producing new and elaborate dinners, there hasn’t really been much money to invest in the project.

With a new, well-paying job under my belt, this condition naturally changed dramatically. Suddenly I had all the money in the world to invest in the project – this is an overstatement, of course, but let’s just say I wasn’t exactly lacking money to put towards the idea, on the other hand, working 40+ hours a week and trying to maintain a healthy social life, I suddenly, rather ironically found myself short on time to invest in the project. I also found myself a beautiful dinner date short as conflicting schedules made it indeed very difficult for Tina and I to settle on a date where we could actually get together and have a little food and wine.. Sheesh, growing up is so comlicated some times.

After many weeks of plowing through schedules and calendars, we finally settled on a date well into the future and I got my final preparations under way. I’ve already many a time gone into details about the amount of planning and thought that goes into planning a themed dinner, so I’ll spare you the details and rather just mention the conclusion, I came up with which was, literally, very simple:

“While Tina deserves only the best, there comes a time where lobster, king crab, kobe beef and edible gold ceases to impress. Anyone can buy the most expensive ingredients in the world and make something good of it. But maybe it’s time to look at cheaper, local, more common ingredients and try to transform this rather simple base into something tasty, special and impressive. Therein lies the real challenge!”

Based on this rather simple mantra, I came up with a stunningly simple (and very trendy) idea: to use fresh, local, Danish (or Nordic) ingredients to cook simple yet complexely layered, familiar yet innovative, cheap yet fancy tasting experiences. In other words KISALS (Keep It Simple And Local Stupid).. And I managed to come up with something nice and simple.. To the extend that someone like me can possibly keep something Simple! Which is, well, let’s be honest, really not very well..

For instance, I spent months brainstorming ideas, flavor combinations and food pairings. Because, as it turns out, it’s a hell of a lot easier to make Beluga Caviar, King crab and Kobe beef seem impressive and extravagant than it to convicne someone that braised pork ribs can be a luxurious treat. Add to this the fact that I have created in Tina a monster and an extremely knowledgeable and enthusiastic eater/taster and, well, things just get increasingly difficult. It turns out there really is a downside to spoiling little girls silly.. Who’d have thunk?

After many weeks of soul searching, putting forth ideas, discarding ideas, putting forth new ideas and walking in circles, I finally had a plan: Mix great tasting, yet seemingly unimpressive, ingredients in new ways, mixing in some unusual ingredients, new techniques, a few fancy things and a bit of utter nonsense. The end result was a 14 course behemoth task mixing very unsimple preparations of simple ingredients to produce seemingly simple yet stupendously complex dishes mixing the simple and cheap with the luxurious.. Rock n Roll!

The task I’d laid out for myself was daunting: Having settled on a final menu and consulted my wine guy for wines to go along, I’d now “simply” have to figure out how to actually create the dishes I wanted to present, how I wanted to present them and – on top of that – find the time to cook everything and get it ready.. Not easy with a 40 hour work week and a host of projects actually making demands on my free time as well.. I know we want to create the impression that cooking is the easist thing in the world and that we hobby chefs are professionals and what not.. But let’s be honest here for a second, the task that I put in front of myself was massive AND scary!

I ended up spending what little time I had left over over a course of a few weeks just testing out things and making what little preparations I could along the way. I made purchases, tried off things, discarded ideas, tried new ones, took stock of the situation (and by that I mean making stocK: beef, chicken, pork, pheasant and lobster stock to be precise.. A bit of a time-consuming task, that!), played with some molecular gastronomy ideas and tools, and just generally got my bearings.

As for the final week before Tina and I were to get together for our grand dinner, I made some very elaborate time tables for my free time and spent my evenings creating granités, parafaits, mayos, cheese spreads and other crazy things.. The plan was to even take Friday afternoon off and spend all of Friday and Saturday getting everything ready for dinner to start Saturday at 4:30 PM.. It all was looking rather good, really.. Until we hit Friday  and I was getting ready to leave the office at noon.. At which point, the entire plan just toppled over.. Badly!

The minute I got ready to go, my work phone rang and I picked it up to hear my colleage, Frandsen, pass through a call from someone enquiring about our web shop solution.. “Fuck,” I thought, and put on my business tone of voice and settled into a long conversation about pros and cons of our solution. By the time five minutes had passed and I’d seen my bus drive by the window, Frandsen came barginga as silently as humanly possible into my office, waving his arms and mouthing the words “Dude, I’m so fucking sorry!”, then leaving before I could throw something at him. I, on the other hand, talked on for another ten minutes before finally being able to terminate the conversation and, having missed my opportunity to go home with the early bus, settle down with the others to have lunch. After lunch, I decided that it was time to try to go home again, only an hour or so later than I’d planned. So I headed out the door, walked down the street, caught a bus full of over-joyed 16 year old high school students down to the railway station where I was hoping to be able to find a train to Kolding.. And I did, only the electronic departure boards stated that this particular train (and all others for that matter) was running 30 minutes late, leaving me plenty of time to walk around the railroad station, fuming and ending up even more belated.

I finally made it home about two hours later than expected, grabbed my debit card and went out to get the last few ingredients in a bit of a sprint, I subsequently made it home again and got everything in gear, consulted my schedule and decided to save time by running preparations for about five dishes at once, rather than the planned two to three. So I fired up all burners and the oven, got everything well under way and was actually super amazed by my ability to multitask.. And then my work phone rang! – “Johan,” my boss demanded, “one of our dealers did something to his webstore, it’s all messed up, he’s in a panic, we need your help!” – Ooohkay, I thought, this should be interesting.. And it was! I spent over two hours trying to not ruin my dishes on the stove while putting out fires at work.. Something I wouldn’t recommend anyone try, it’s really rather stressful.

At around 5:30 PM, I was finally able to concentrate on my cooking which was, honestly, a bit later than I had hoped and, as a result, I got to have a lot of fun trying to actually get everything on my rather tightly packed schedule done – not done according to schedule – just, basically done.. With some working into the night (and the wee hours of the morning), I actually managed to get my Friday schedule done and treated myself to a blissful 5 hours of sleep as a treat, before getting up at 7 AM on Saturday morning to pick up where I left.. Oh it was a fun experience.. But, y’know, the things I do for the people I love..

Through a combination of experience, proper planning, artful execution and sheer dumb luck, I somehow managed to get everything wound up wrapped up, ready, packed and sealed before my 3 PM deadline. I even managed to have a shower and watch the stench of two days of non-stop cooking off me before jumping into a suit, packing everything up and shoving it into the car that Jeppe had very kindly provided with about ten minute notice to take me down to Tina’s. (btw, I give the poor guy a lot of flak jokingly, but you gotta hand it to the guy.. Not only letting his girlfriend be treated to a 14 course dinner from another guy, but also actually providing transportation before leaving to go do something else – that’s a thumbs up worthy kind of gesture) We then sped down to her, carried everything needed (you’d have to see the amount of food needed to prepare 14 dishes in order to believe it!) up to her 3rd floor apartment and while Tina got dressed and pretty, I set up shop in the kitchen and got ready to unveil the menu.. What menu, you ask? Well, stay tuned, I shall tell you tomorrow.

I’m getting too old to be drinking with rock bands!

Generally speaking, the proposition was as simple as it was confusing: Can I drop by and get you hammered tomorrow if I bring plenty of Belgian beer and a guy named Bo? That is the exact wording of the text message that Dunkel sent me on Thursday and given the fucked up nature of the question, the only real response I could come up with was: Do you know the proper spelling of wood-fired oven? If so, then yes!

And with that, it was settled.. “The band and I will be rehearsing from 4-7 PM, you should drop by our rehearsal space after work.. And bring beer!” – “I can’t be there till 4:30,” I replied, “but I will bring beer!” – “Cool,” quoth the Dunkel, “dinner and beers at your place afterwards!” – Why thank you, I thought, going over his demands in my head. The fell on a Thursday afternoon at work after which I had to go directly to Emelie’s for dinner, fun with the gang and a much needed haircut. After said activities and a bit of lounging about and watching TV, I just might make it home at 10 PM that evening, at which time I had to make my home, which was in an absolutely sorry state, somewhat presentable to Dunkel, his new-found band mate Bo and his girlfriend, Marianne, who had now also announced her appearance Friday.. All this before passing out from exhaustion in due time to give me at least the illusion of a good night’s sleep before getting up Friday morning at 6.15 AM..

This all sounded like a bit of a mouthful after an entire day at work and, quite honestly, after a day at work and a cozy night with the gang, it was, indeed, a bit of a mouthful.. But I somehow managed to get everything done – and do a few loads a laundry – before passing out at shortly past midnight.

Friday at work was a real drag.. Not only because the weather was all nice-like and I would really rather be stuck in the sun drinking beer with the gang, but also because I really didn’t have much of anything to do.. Which, I guess, with my recent itinerary, I should be happy about, but it just sorta felt.. Not right.. Anyways, when the clock finally struck 3:30 PM, I grabbed the six-pack of beer for the band that I’d been saving in the office fridge, bid the office goodbye, jumped on a long yellow /(magic?) bus home and set out to join the band at their rehearsal studio in Kolding.

I arrived at around 4:30-ish and started banging on the front door to be let in, screaming a plethora of loud profanities, thinking the band was probably too busy getting their rock on to notice me. My senseless banging was answered by Dunkel’s girlfriend, Marianne who let me in, hugged me, looked me up and down, stared in confusion at my new office attire of expensive jeans and shirts, fancy shoes and new glasses and mumbled something along the lines of “Fuck me, you look good!” – “Yeah,” I said in reference to my distinct lack of stereotype rock n roll clothing, “I’m not sure the band will agree..” ..

And right I was.. As we barged through the sound-proof double doors of the studio, Under, ex-rythm guitarist cum bass player, was too busy fiddling with something to even acknowledge my entry on the scene. Dunkel, still primarily used to seeing me with long hair and some sort of 80’s metal or 70’s rock band shirt stared at me a little puzzled and Bo, new drummer of the band and last member of the new lineup, whom I had by the way never seen before, stared at my IT professional outfit in a sorta puzzled, sorta apprehensive, sorta questioning kinda way.. Ah yes, the stereotypes of metal.. Anyways, being a long time member of the scene, I knew what to do, I reached into my bag, pulled out a cold six pack and threw one beer to each member of the band, I then pulled off my Hugo Boss shirt, reached into my back, pulled out a Five Finger Death Punch tour tee, pointed at Bo and yelled “FUCKING PLAY SOME PANTERA!! NOW!!!!!” .. At which he nodded in approval in an “you’re okay, kid” kinda way and kicked into Walk.. Jamming ensued and I was evidently accepted by the pack.

What followed was a three hour rehearsal/jamming session interrupted by a break and some mindless, stupid chit-chatter at the hands of five silly metal-heads. Seeing the band in this new incarnation was kinda fun even if they were still getting into the habit of playing together. Dunkel has taken over on vocals from their former lead singer which was, well, hard to say anything about, really, as the PA in the studio was about as shitty as they come. Under went from playing guitar to playing bass which he seemed decent enough at.. And Kris, the old drummer, obviously got the boot in favor of Bo who seems young (ten years younger than me, it turns out), dedicated, fast and roaring to go.. He actually played pretty stupidly fast at times, dragging the entire band into overdrive, which is always a good thing.

After a fun session and some utterly silly and stupid comments and feedback from yours truly, we (we being Dunkel, Marianne, Bo and myself) headed off to my place to unload a large amount of luggage and an even larger amount of various alcoholic beverages, ranging from Newcastle Brown Ale over German Pilsners to Belgian Trappist brews, whisky and two bottles of Jäger.. Y’know, just to be on the safe side. We then wobbled on over to the local supermarket and started arguing over what to have for dinner. We settled for pork tenderloin in cream sauce on the condition, posed by someone who shall remain nameless (*cough* Marianne *cough*), that a 1:1 ratio of cocktail wieners to tenderloin be added to the mix.. Oh well, 900 grams of tenderloin and 900 grams of sausages it was, add to that the pint of heavy cream that Bo showed up with from the dairy section and the 300 grams of bacon I had left in the fridge and we just about had a meal fit for kings. Dunkel and Marianne grabbed a couple of bags of potato chips and some M&M’s for dessert, y’know, just in case anybody were still alive after the cholesterol-laden dinner.

We then trotted back to my place and each busied ourselves in our own little ways for about an hour: Dunkel showered, Marianne complained about her sore feet, I cooked dinner and Bo set out browsing my music collection from A-Z, going either YAY or NAY at each single artist he encountered.. All of us, of course, consumed alcohol in one way or another, we hadn’t come for the dancing after all..

After about an hour of cooking dinner and getting sloshed, we ate.. There’s probably a lot ot be said about the nutritional value of pork and sausages fried in bacon fat and smothered in heavy cream and served over rice with a side of beer.. But umm.. Let’s just stick to the fact that it tasted fucking GOOD! Which, I do believe, is the exact wording of the unanimous verdict brought forth by the tasting jury. After such a pork-ish onslaught, everybody were feeling pretty well stuffed, so I went and got everybody a shot of Jäger to help their digestion.. Which, from a view of trying to improve digestion was a pretty smart idea, but, bearing into mind the six or so odd beers already consumed by everybody involved, was actually a pretty stupid idea.. At any rate, things seemed to head downhill from there.. FAST!

More beers hit the table, as did a deck of cards and another round of shots, Bo claimed control of the playlist and the volume settings of my stereo (which proved a pretty bad idea), I brought out a bottle of Russian Standard Vodka and started mixing drinks for Marianne and Dunkel became the all-out instigator of all plans bad and hurtful to his fellow human beings.. Fast forward about an hour and we were dead-locked in Dunkel’s newest drinking game creation: Fast-paced Crazy Eights which he from the beginning in classic Dunkel fashion had described as “a game which won’t get you very drunk very quickly.” Voice levels were up considerably, mainly owing to Bo blasting Lamb of God about as loud as the stereo would go (and mine goes to 11!), and things had pretty much descended into madness:

Despite the music being up so loud, the windows were open because I had tried to minimize the effort needed to get new cold beers for our drinking game and in doing so had stuck two six packs in the cold early summer breeze outside the living room window. Since they were going down so fast no one had really bothered to close the window. Also, we boys had nearly killed our first bottle of Jäger and Marianne, not to be outdone, had polished off almost a quarter of a bottle of Russian Standard on account of her (despite her better judgement) insisting that I mix her drinks because it made her feel all lady-like/drunk. There was some Pernod or Pastis downing going on, too, I believe, but the details allude me for the time being.

This went on for a good little (and by that I mean long) while until eventually the new guy, Bo, had to admit defeat and spew his guts.. Which, despite the nuisance it must have posed to the neighbors, made me pretty happy that the window was still open.. And then things sorta quieted down a little, from what I remember of it anyways.. See, the thing is, nobody remembers too well after a few six packs and a third of a bottle of Jäger. What I do remember, though, is that the music got turned down considerably (for a while, at least) and that a break was had on the hard stuff. I also sorta remember making my bed with clean sheets and stuff so that Marianne would have a place to crash after she got tired of listening to our nonsense at around 3 AM. I also remember having a very strong desire to turn in myself, and relating this wish to Dunkel.. I also (vaguely!) remember Dunkel telling me something along the lines of: “Aww, come on guy, stay for another drink and Cash’s “I Walk The Line”, Manowar’s “Warriors of the World” and one other song.. What I certainly don’t remember is staying onboard for nearly another hour with Dunkel and Bo, downing another bottle of Jäger and doing all sorts of weird things. I also have absolutely no idea about when I got to bed (and by bed I mean the floor of my bedroom as the bed was taken up by Dunkel and Marianne) nor why I woke up a couple of hours later in my boxers wondering “Where the hell have my clothes gone?”.. Or, for that matter, why Dunkel and Bo were also stirring awake at the very same time asking themselves the very same question..

Dunkel eventually found his clothes in the hallway while mine were in the living room, Bo’s in return was in the bedroom with no one really having much an indication as to why this was the case, though I’d be lying if I said that this was the first time something like this happened.. I didn’t really much feel like wondering about it anyway.. Honestly, though, I didn’t really feel like much that morning.. I barely felt like living.. “Oh boy,” I told myself as the hangovers started rolling over me, I’m gonna be regretting last night for a while.. And, true to my word, I did. While Bo, Dunkel and Marianne spent time slowly regaining their composure (blessed art the young!), I curled up in a fetal position on the floor, moaning and wincing. As they gathered their stuff and left, I moved on to the couch where I turned on the TV and then passed out and slept till 4 in the afternoon. I got up, went shopping for a bit to eat, then had to lay down again on account of not feeling too well. I ate dinner at around 7 PM, much against my better judgement, then got queasy again and had to fight to hold it down until I fell asleep again at around 8.. I was in and out of consciousness until around 1 AM where I tried to watch some form of documentary but had to give up and crawl to bed.. I remember waking at 5:30 AM and still feeling hung over only to go back to bed and wake up at 8 AM Sunday morning, feeling somewhat ready to face the world.. Which I did by going out on an extended three hour hike to get the rest of the toxins out of my blood. It worked, somewhat, but it was only at around noon when Tina texted me to ask how ye olde body was doing (probably on account of not having heard from me since I declared Friday that I was off to get wasted) that I could honestly say that I was feeling well again.. Finally!

Geeze..

God bless socialism! (and lazy Sundays)

I’ve had a pretty busy weekend. In between working and spoiling Tina silly with a 14 course tasting dinner, I’ve actually had surprisingly little time for relaxation.. At a point in time where I probably really needed to relax. As a result, I, rather ironically, spent most of May 1st, International Worker’s Day, in bed sleeping the sweet sleep of the chronically over-worked.

It’s not that I didn’t try to get up, I did, my alarm clock first went off at around 8 AM but prompted nothing more than a “fuck this shit” from a sleep weary Johan. The next attempt to wake me came from Emelie who texted me at around 9:30 AM wanting to set up an dinner date later this week. Now, I’m generally not one to let invitations from pretty girls go unanswered, but I will admit to letting this one go for a while, as I actually fell asleep trying to write an answer. The third, final and successful attempt to rouse the sleeping Johan came when Tina texted me at going on 1 PM, thanking me for the evening before and enquiring as to whether I had had a good night’s sleep, to which I could only reply something along the lines of “yes, and a good morning’s as well, and early afternoon for that matter!”, before finally rolling out of bed and dragging myself up for a shower..

I had a shower, coffee and a breakfast of champions and eventually emerged out my front door at around the crack of 2 PM, ready to face the world. I really had no plans for the day except to do as little as humanly possible, so I thought it a pretty good idea to just go for a scroll in the spring sunshine with my trusty old iPod and see where my feet would lead me.

My feet, as it turned out, had pretty great plans for me as the took me first through downtown, through the parks, past several lakes and a few forests until they eventually landed me at a street lamp post not far from my home.. But not just any lamp post, no! This particular lamp post had a poster on it. A red poster, none the less, advertising the time table of the traditional May 1st celebration taking place each year in a park near to my home (which, strangely enough, my feet had not yet led me through). I read the time table without much interest until mine eyes gazed upon the final entry on the board: “Free concert with the E-Street Jam” .. “Wait a moment,” I thought to myself, “that sounds like a tribute to that there Bruce Springsteen person that I happen to dig quite a lot.. It begins in 30 minutes.. And it’s just down the street.. I should go check that out! What’s the worst that could come of it?”

Well, we’ll touch upon that last question later.. Ahem, anyways, so I set on off down the street, stopped by an ATM on the way to withdraw a bit of money, thinking that any event created to celebrate socialism, solidarity and workers’ rights would probably have a beer tent.. A suspicion I was to have confirmed very shortly as I drew closer to the festival grounds and started hearing the unmistakable sounds of live music, kid’s playing and adults arguing after one too many pints in the sun. As I grew closer still, I also saw the surprisingly common sight on a day like yesterday of middle-aged to elderly men in makeshift uniforms and red, communist star barets  staggering around blindly before falling over in the nearest bush, muttering incoherent nothings about traitors, selfishness and capitalism.

Moving onwards, trying to stay out of the way of more or less stinking drunk partygoers, I eventually arrived at the source of the commotion, a local park in which a makeshift stage had been erected, surrounded by beer tents (as I’d expected), hotdog stands, and a few tents and booths selling everything from psychedelic Hawaiian Leis to communist propaganda.  “This should be interesting,” I thought as I moved on towards the stage, checking my watch. The hour had struck 4:45 PM, the time at which the band was supposed to go on. In retrospect, I probably shouldn’t have been expecting an arrangement of this sort to be keeping to a strict schedule, but I was still a little annoyed to see no sign of a band getting on stage. Rather, I was seeing the unmistakable sign of a warm-up act starting to go off stage and dismount their gear. I sighed a little to myself in resignation and figured that since I was there anyways, I might as well join the other guests in doing what they had obviously been doing all morning and afternoon, having a beer. I located the nearest beer tent (the frequency of those seemingly being around two to every twenty square meters), ordered a pint of beer and were charged a whopping DKK 25.. Which was roughly 15 less than I’d expected and probably much of the reason why the patron standing at the counter next to me was swaying excessively from side to side, blaming a combination of the non-existing wind and the young whippersnappers of today for his less than impressive ability to control his own actions.

Having received my beer and feeling no need or desire to strike up conversation with the gentleman to my right, I decided to instead tour the grounds and take in the sights.. Which turned out to be not very interesting at all, aside from hotdog stands, beer tents and a booth selling crepes and popcorn, there was an inflatable castle for kids to jump around in (which, for whatever reason, I was banned from entering), representatives from various political parties and a booth from the Danish-Cuban friendship association which seemed to sell only two things, bracelets and Che Guevara t-shirts in a seemingly endless array of colors, save the most obvious choices of red with black print and black with red print. Stopping for a moment to pout at the lack of red shirts and another to ponder whether Tina would appreciate a pink Che Guevara t-shirt, I went on only to discover I had now come full circle and was back at the stage where, in the time I had been away, nothing much had happened.. Well, the warmup band had left the stage and the E-Street Jam band of which I had never heard had taken stage and started setting up.

Long, excruciatingly boring story short, the band, backed by the most incompetent sound engineer I’ve ever laid eyes upon (and I’ve seen a few) launched into an almost 45 minute long sound check which was only interrupted by dissatisfied cries of “Hey, are you guys being paid by the hour?” from the audience and frustrated cries from the engineer every time he messed something up anew. I killed the time very slowly draining my beer and looking around at the motley crew that was the crowd: I spotted everything from drifters over strung out junkies to Tina’s exceedingly schizophrenic neighbor who for whatever reason had planted herself smack dab in the middle of a rather large crowd sitting on a line of benches watching the action.. I even spotted local Springsteen cover act “The Boss”, standing around at a raised table, scouting the competition with what looked like equal parts bemusement and contempt.. I guess there’s a fair amount of competition on the Springsteen cover band touring circuit..

When, only some 50 minutes late,  the band finally kicked into an almost embarrassingly over-enthusiastic cry of “Are you ready to rock, Kolding??!”, you could literally feel their hearts sink as the crowd completely failed to muster any kind of response. Regardless, though, they kicked into their opening song which never so much struck me as a timeless Bruce Springsteen classic, as it struck me as the most horribly mixed live sound I have ever heard.. Evidently, the sound tech took this as a clue to stop drinking beer and talking to his girlfriend because he pretty quickly flew back to the soundboard where he started twisting and turning dials and pushing buttons in order to make the sound good enough for the band to perform an impressively off-key, out of tune version of “Surrender”.. “The shit’s really starting to hit the fan now,” I though, before I was interrupted by a 65+ year old lady who danced provocatively into me and started grinding and grooving by my side, starting to strike up conversation as much as she possibly could before I fled the scene quickly, cursing the fact that I seem unable to go to a Springsteen cover band show alone without some elderly lady or another making a move on me.. Goddamnit, I swear before God almighty, I’m bringing one of the girls next time!

Making a hasty exit from stage left to stage right, trying to dodge my new female admirer, I paused and chuckled a bit at a sight which had completely stolen the attention from the band, a three year old kid jamming along on a baby-sized acoustic guitar.. “Note to aspiring rock bands,” I thought:  “If a three year old steals your thunder, it’s probably time to shape up a bit..” – “You guys need to shut the hell up!,” some drunkard in front of me yelled.

To their credit, though, despite a non-caring to hostile crowd, they carried on like there was no tomorrow: the lead singer screamed, jumped around stage, jumped off stage, chased audience members with the mic, jumped back on stage, screamed some more and finally posed the ever-important question: “Why is everybody always so much more up for this kinda thing on a Saturday night?” I’m not sure if the question was meant to be rhetorical, but at any rate it didn’t spawn much in terms of an answer. Their hard work did pay off, though, after almost an hour of egging the crowd on and my watching in horrified fascination, something magical happened: Their three-year old rival ceased playing, the drunken source of Tourette’s-like outcries fell over and ceased whining, another drunken guy rose to his feet on a bench some 100 yards from the stage and started pumping his fists, screaming along to their cover of “Born in the USA”, a group of young skater punks showed up and started dancing in front of the stage in what was probably intended to be a mocking manner.. And slowly, ever so slowly people started catching on.. Heck, suddenly even Tina’s schizophrenic neighbor was head-bopping along, stomping her feet and slapping the rhythm on her thighs.

“This is so weird,” I thought as I stood there looking around at the madness unfold in front of my eyes, “this is the best worst concert I’ve ever been at!” .. And with that I went and ordered myself another beer. As I was busying myself watching a youngster pour me another beer, something even stranger happened. The band played  a song without either sucking at it or seeming entirely out of place.. And not just any song, no, they played the single best Bruce Springsteen song EVER: The River!

Now, I happen to be working on a scale on which I judge any aspiring Springsteen cover band by their version of The River, and if my new scale is anything to go by, then forget all I just said, because in that case this band was actually pretty rocking indeed! And, musically, they just got better from there.. They actually started playing a pretty rocking show which kinda made you feel sad that they’d played most of the really rocking Springsteen songs early in the set.. Why on earth couldn’t they’ve played those when they were all warmed up?

I didn’t have much time to reflect, though, because just as I took a closer look at the spectacle, thinking that this couldn’t possibly turn into a more surreal experience, I noticed none other than my morning bus driver, Flemming, crouching around in front of the stage with a huge camera with an even huger telescopic lens, snapping pictures of the band, the fans and the weirdos.. “What the hell?,” I exclaimed as Flemming took notice, waved, got up and walked over, slapping me heartily in the back in the way that only a surprisingly fit middle-aged man who doesn’t quite know his own strength can, bellowing “Johan! What’re you doing here? Having a beer, eh? Listening to a bit of music, eh?” – “All of the above,” I replied “fancy seeing you here, Flemming.. Taking a few pictures, are we?” – “Yeah, you gotta spend your time somehow when you’re not on the road.. Man, this band kinda rocks!” – “Yeah, umm, you haven’t been here long, have you Flemming?” I asked.. “Can’t say that I have! I just got here! Anyways, I gotta get going, I’ll see you on the bus!” – and with that, Flemming was off again, snapping some more pictures on his way out. I, too, took it as a clue to pack up and get out. The band was tearing into what looked to be their final song of the evening, it was getting late, I was hungry, I was reasonably sure I could do without any possible encores, and well, I wanted to get out before I had to fight through the crowd of, well, about 25-50 insanely drunk ex-communists who somehow managed to still be standing on my way out. So I ducked out the rear entrance of the park, circled safely around a couple of people peeing in the bushes and headed on my merry way home, DKK 50 poorer, but one incredibly strange free concert experience richer.. I somehow can’t wait for next year.

I made it home at around 7:30 PM, cooked up a quick dinner, tried to watch Night at the Museum, got incredibly bored and fell back to sleep.. It had, after all, been a long, hard, tiring eight hour day off..

It’s the end of the world as we know it (yet I feel strangely fine)

April 21, 2011.. Judgement Day.. That is if you subscribe to the Terminator lore version of the world timeline.. Which state that today is the day that the run-amok Artificial Intelligence computer system Skynet launches an all out nuclear attack on the human race, laying the world as we know it in ruins ..

Me? Umm.. I don’t know.. All’s I can say is that if today is Judgement Day, it’s a fine one at that! Today is the first (of three successive) public holidays I enjoy in my new job.. As a result, I’m sitting at my desk, listening to some good music (and sad news), eating a late breakfast, sipping a cup of quality morning coffee and watching the sun trying to break through the clouds.. Sigh, life ain’t such a bad thing after all..

It’s Easter holiday here in Denmark and while I don’t have many specific plans, I’ve vowed to make the best of it. I shall soon be heading off to spend the day (and evening) with the gang in some remote summer cottage somewhere around land’s end.. And then, who knows what tomorrow will bring.. Saturday and Sunday will most likely be spent carrying out secret experiments for a dinner I have planned with Tina come weekend. Monday, from what I understand, I shall be engaging in the usual Easter activity of feasting on innocent, little lambs with Malene and Tina which should be a barrel of laughs as well.

I’m really looking forward to it all, as I have been all (well half of the) week at work.. Speaking of work, I apparently have been one of about ten people dumb enough to actually spend the half week before Easter at work. At any rate, besides having a web developer to follow up on and shout at, I’ve had fuck all to do at work all week and have pretty much felt like an idiot for showing up most of the days.. But such are the ways of those of us who don’t have any vacation days to spend.. At least I haven’t been too over worked, particularly not yesterday which was the last day before the holidays: I had a total of ONE call which came in just five minutes before we shut the phone system down for the holidays, I may have gotten a single work-related e-mail from the outside world, standing in stark contrast to the usual 50 odd emails I usually receive.. Oh well, it’s not like I haven’t had enough to do over the last couple of weeks, so I suppose I’m entitled to a day of goofing off every once in a while..

As for today, come hell or high water or global nuclear holocaust, I shall make any effort to continue the goofing off best as I can! So c’mon guys, let’s make the best of it!

This girl makes Justin Bieber look like a Golden God!

So this is what it’s come down to.. Mine eyes have seen the newest teen sensation, and it wasn’t pretty! I know I’m not exactly helping things by giving her more views, but regardless of that I thought I’d share with you the currently most viewed video on Youtube.. With 110+ MILLION hits(!), this piece of work is, apparently, what the young kids of today look for when it comes to music..

Rebecca Black – Friday

Her name is Rebecca, she’s apparently 13 years old and her interest include Auto-Tune, fluffy pink things, and fame that comes easily..  And I thought we’d hit rock bottom with the likes of concept teen idol Justin Bieber? No, apparently not.. Apparently there is absolutely no limits as to what young people of today will accept as musical talent.. Sigh.. I miss the good old days of the 80’s..

Five Years of Drunken Rants!

Yes, boys and girls.. Five years, indeed! That, to the date, is exactly how long we’ve kept this crazy little side project of mine going! For half of a fucking decade I’ve kept you supplied with silly accounts, great laughs on my behalf, useless info, geeky info about cuisine that probably no one but me really appreciated, music videos and more or less extreme and/or sarcastic views on the world in general.

Granted, these past few months haven’t been the busiest of the 60 months total we’ve kept this silly blog alive.. But we can aim to change that, can’t we? Shouldn’t we? Yes, I rather think we should.. As said oft times before, settling into a new job isn’t always easy, especially not if settling into a 40 hours (or more) a week position.. But I’ve got a strange kind of feeling I’ll make it and I’m slowly but steadily feeling much of my excess energy, will and ranting abilities returning to me.. So what say you we give it another go?

Besides, I kinda have to carry on.. For totally different reasons.. For one, I’m both persistent, stubborn and not really one to give up and go home (not on Friday nights at Dunkel’s, not on the social web..).. And, I think I’m a proud member of a dying breed.. Are there really any personal bloggers left out there? I haven’t seen any in a while.. Have you? They’re out there, I’m sure, but a lot have quit.. And I’m not a quitter.. Just as any good captain always goes down with his ship, a good Johan also always stays behind to shut down the party and cling on until he feels tragically unhip.. And I’m a real good sport at feeling unhip!

Errrm.. Anyways.. What I’m trying to say is don’t discount the Johan! I may have been in hibernation mode over the last couple of months of winter, but now spring is here and it just might be time to rise and shine and start spewing random weirdness, strange opinions and/or profanities!

Happy fifth birthday, https://vicarious.wordpress.com !!