Here we go folks – I’m very jazzed to bring you my new feature Harlot’s Artists. This week – Toronto guitarist Nathan Hiltz and my Dirty Deep Dish Donair Pie!
I can’t think of a better artist to start with (other than Johnny… but I cook for him all the time). What can I say about Nathan? He is a dear friend – practically family – but before we became friends I was a fan. I saw him first play with The Griffith/Hiltz Trio (or GHT), then with tons of other amazing Toronto musicians. He has projects with vocalists including Terra Hazelton, Jill Barber and Melissa Lauren, and plays every Sunday with his B3 organ project – Organic. Nathan teaches at Humber College in the jazz department.
Nathan’s musicality is truly intuitive. When he plays you’ll hear a guy who respects and loves music. When you see him play you will witness a euphoric pleasure spread across his face as he taps into some ethereal ‘other’ world of musicians before him. He doesn’t just channel from the jazz world – he has strong ties to classic old country, 70s era Soul and Motown, and some pretty gnarly rock.
“[Nathan] paints with startling, emotive colours, which range far and wide across genres. Versatile and multi-talented fall short as descriptions of the talents he brings to the date” – C. J. Bond, Jazmuzic.com
I’ve been so lucky to watch Nathan over the last eight or so years grow a deep maturity and ease in his sound. His work with GHT is not only integral as a founding member and composer, but he rounds out the sound by learning to play a set of bass pedals – with his feet – while simultaneously playing his guitar. It’s been many years that I’ve seen him do this and I forget the impressive amount of work, co-ordination and talent this entails. What could have easily been just a gimmick he approaches with graceful ease and inspired improvisation. At times it is so graceful people almost don’t notice his dual work at all.
If Nathan were an animal he would most definitely be a Labrador Retriever. He has a manic sense of play, bounding love, and limbs that seem to have grown faster than he knows what to do with them… except play guitar, of course. What I know and adore about him is his love of food. Watching him eat is akin to watching a puppy – he can’t get it in his mouth fast enough and is gloriously happy through every bite. I guess this makes him even more perfect a choice for this project.
So… here we go!
INTERVIEW: TORONTO GUITARIST – NATHAN HILTZ
the Harlot: Where did you grow up?
– Nathan: Lunenburg when I was a boy, Halifax as a teen. I moved to Toronto in 1999 when I was 18 for university [Humber Music School] then stayed never went back home.
Do you have any favourite restaurants or cuisines from the various places you’ve lived?
– Well seafood of course, especially bacon wrapped scallops and from Lunenburg we’d have pickled herring which I really loved too. I think they called it ‘Salomon Gundy’ or something like that. But lobster and codfish were staples. My favourite thing in the world is my Mum’s seafood chowder. My favourite junk food from Halifax is Donair and garlic fingers.
Is there a snack food from your childhood that holds special nostalgia?
– Does kraft dinner count?
Of course! Is there a favourite dish you have that someone close to you in your life makes for you?
– I love my grandmother’s macaronic and cheese.
A favourite dish at a restaurant you frequent in Toronto?
– Hamburgers at The Harbord Room, the pad thai at The Queen Mother
What is you guiltiest food pleasure?
– McDonalds at 3am after the bar
What is your favourite beverage?
– Coffee!!! With beer a close second – a pint of wheat beer with a lemon wedge
If someone were putting together the ultimate dinner for you with no limitations what would it be?
– Holy crap! – oysters, steak, bread, grilled vegetables and lots of wine and music playing
Tastes can change dramatically over time – is there a dish or flavour that you love/hate now that you hate/loved as a kid?
– Interesting question, not really. The one thing I can’t stand in the world is corn, I just hate the taste (unless its popped with butter) I used to love ketchup chips but the thought of eating those now grosses me out
Me too! The smell makes me wretch… and seeing the red stains on people’s fingers… barf! As an artist, touring is a way of life. Eating on the road has its challenges, do you have any go-to foods or tricks/habits you have learned?
– Buy a bag of apples for the car is one, another is to do multi grain bagel BELT with ham from Tim Hortons, it’s the healthiest option for breakfast. I dunno though, my diet goes to absolute shit on the road I still haven’t figured this out.
Do you like salty or sweet?
If you were forced to have only one meal every day for the rest of your life, what would you choose?
If you were throwing your dream dinner party, who would be your ideal three guests? What would you ideally serve to them?
– Bill Burr the comedian, Russell Malone the guitarist, and Max Martin the songwriter. I’d make mac and cheese, ribs, and veggies and be sure to have cigars for after.
When you are coming home after a tour, what do you crave to eat first – what did you miss the most?
– I miss vegetables, I tend to eat a lot of raw veggies with some kind of meat on the side or eggs, just quick and delicious and healthy so I miss that a lot.
… For the record: Nathan makes incredible bbq ribs. I didn’t know about his love of chowder, but well aware of his donair and burger obsessions. I had quite a few ideas for Nathan – a seafood chowder mac and cheese, donair burger, something with sticky-ass ribs, a mac and cheese burger? – but ultimately I made a bold choice and I hope I don’t make too many East Coast enemies in the process.
DIRTY DEEP DISH DONAIR PIE
serves 4 or 2 … well it depends who you’re sharing it with – or if you’re sharing
Right away I knew I wanted to make something with donair for Nathan. Two problems with that: 1) Donair is an East Coast religious experience I feel may garner me death threats if I mess it up 2) I’ve never had real Donair – I feel like I’m declaring a dirty secret, but unfortunately I’ve never been to Nova Scotia. I’ve depended on Johnny more than ever with this recipe – if the meat doesn’t match up perfectly then I’m passing the buck to him!
I’m not a fan of deep dish pizza but it works better here than regular crust because you can layer all that meat in a more sturdy way. Make sure to reserve the garlic sauce for after it comes out of the oven.
1 store bought pizza dough (or half a home made one)
1/4 cup tomato sauce
1 cup mozzarella cheese, grated
3 garlic cloves, sliced
1 large onion, roughly chopped
1 Dash’s Donair recipe (see below)
1 handful cherry or grape tomatoes, halved
olive oil for your pan and crust
garlic sauce (see recipe below)
Preheat oven to 450F
Lightly oil a 12″ round pan and place your dough in the centre. Press, working and stretching it out to the edge and up the side about 1 1/2″. Allow it to rest for 5 minutes.
To Assemble Pizza: Spoon and spread the tomato sauce over the dough. Then scatter half the cheese, all the garlic and half the onion over top. Cut your donair loaf into bite sized chunks – about 2″ or so – and distribute it evenly over your pie. Top with the rest of your cheese, then remaining onions and tomatoes.
Place your pan on a baking sheet so it doesn’t bubble over and ruin your oven. Bake on the lowest rack for 30 minutes. Once you pull it out of the oven, allow it to rest at least 10 minutes so everything sets and doesn’t ooze apart when you cut into it.
Drizzle or dip with as much lovely garlic sauce as you like!
*Tip – if the top of your pizza is browning too quickly, then tent loosely with foil.
Donair Recipe – adapted from Dash Riprock
450g ground beef
2 tsp oregano
1 tsp each – salt, flour and onion powder
1/2 tsp each – garlic powder, black pepper and cayenne
Preheat oven to 350F
Mix all the ingredients in a large metal bowl and knead together aggressively. Pick up the meat and throw it down with force against the bowl 20 – 30 times. This will give you the dense consistency donairs have. Mold into a loaf and flatten slightly (like a burger only long). Bake for 40 mins turning once.
* I have undercooked the donair meat since it will be going in the oven again – if you decide to make this and serve it as is in a wrap or sandwich make sure you cook it for 75 minutes.
Garlic Sauce – adapted from Dash Riprock
1 12oz can full fat evaporated milk
1/2 cup white sugar
2 tsp garlic powder
4 tsp vinegar
Whisk together all ingredients in a small bowl until it thickens.
… stay tuned for more amazing artists as The Harlot’s Artists continues xo