Juan Alderete, bassist for the Mars Volta, is sort of a super-foodie. And for him, tours mean a chance to map out obscure culinary missions. When he’s not busy working on his recently launched music website, Pedals and Effects, or touring around the world with his band, the L.A. native enjoys dining out with his wife, Anne. "I love really clean food that makes you feel good after you eat it, like Japanese cuisine, crudo, and Spanish-style seafood tapas," says Alderete, who spent the majority of last week in his hometown, then left to tour with the band through Tel Aviv and Europe. Read more about his obsession with properly prepared coffee, the joys of housemade bread, and what to avoid on in-flight meals in today’s L.A. Diet.
Wednesday, June 6
Having visited Japan so often, I learned to appreciate the way they made coffee, so I do mine the same way with a Hario filter. Intelligentsia will try to charge you 60** 23 bucks for those things, but all you need to do is go upstairs at the Woori Marketplace in Little Tokyo. They sell them for $12. I drink my coffee black. I don’t understand why people dump in a bunch of milk and sugar. I don’t want anything touching it. Just pure, black coffee. As for breakfast, I had two over-easy Chino Farms eggs on top of spelt bread that Anne makes. We haven’t had store-bought bread since February. It’s awesome!
For lunch, I had meeting with this company called MonoCase that does instrument cases and backpacks. We went to the Little Flower Candy Company in Pasadena. I get their veggie wrap. It’s really great: brown rice, cilantro sprouts, and tomatoes, and this killer spread. I can always feel good after I eat that. The owner is really known for her sweets, but I love that veggie wrap. It always comes with one salty pickle and one sweet pickle. I had a glass of their lemonade too, fresh-squeezed.
My wife and I were in a bit of a rush around dinnertime because I had to go record, so we went to Maximilliano and sat at the bar. Typically I get the pork chop, but I didn’t want to feel weighted down, so I ordered the chopped salad with the seared ahi. It had a great crust with plenty of sesame, and the salad wasn’t overdressed. We also split a biancha verde pizza with garlic, arugula, lemon. I thought I’d kill the guys at the studio with my garlic breath!
Thursday, June 7
I am a creature of habit when it comes to breakfast. I did my two eggs over-easy with the spelt bread. When you crack it and the egg yolk soaks into the fresh bread, oh man, that’s good! And coffee, of course.
I was running around like a crazy person around lunchtime, so I just had some oatmeal with maple syrup and a Stony Farms vanilla yogurt with banana. I wanted to make sure I was hungry for a big party I was going to that night.
The party was an event my wife was putting on for Montes Winery at Urbano Downtown. The chefs there were all huge Mars Volta fans, so we’ve always eaten well there. My favorite were the meatballs — the spiciness was just killer. I really liked the oxtail cups with onion confit and polenta fries, too. Manny [the chef] sent over a some pork belly, which I’m normally not fond of. Foie gras and pork belly aren’t my thing, they’re just too rich. The wines were great too. I’ve been to Santiago a few times, and I’ll go to wine stores and hang out. These were really solid, especially the Sauvignon Blanc and the rosé.
After the event, Anne and I picked up a bottle of Pinot Blanc from Alsace at Bottega Louie. We cracked that open when we got home and had it with pita crackers and called it a day.
Friday, June 8
Anne is a big fan of avocado and sardines, but she never offers it to me. I went for my eggs and toast again. And coffee, of course.
I almost forgot lunch because it was awful, just awful. I went to El Pollo Loco in a pinch. It was just terrible. Everything just mushy: The chicken was mushy, the tortilla was mushy, the avocado was mushy. I didn’t even finish it. That is exactly why I just don’t ever eat fast food. I ended up coming home to eat some oatmeal to feel better, which always makes me feel like I’m getting a kiss from my mom on the top of my head.
We always splash out on a pre-tour dinner, so Anne and I went to the newly revamped Water Grill. We had "The Grand" iced shellfish platter, which was piled with shrimp, clams, mussels, oysters, some small sea snails, a big lobster tail, and claw. We also had some clam chowder, fries, and really fabulous sourdough bread with salted butter on the side. For drinks, it was a glass of Spanish Albarino, French Sancerre, and water. Gotta hydrate, especially before tour.
Saturday, June 9
I woke up at 4 a.m. and headed to LAX, and grabbed a tall Starbucks coffee of the day. Then we jumped on the plane to Toronto and had AirCanada’s veggie wrap that was basically a thick pita, hummus, black olives, red bell peppers, and some lettuce. I always eat vegetarian when I’m flying, unless I’m going in first class. You just know everything is going to be oversalted, and veg is just safer.
I had lunch at the Toronto airport at some bar. I ordered the bison burger with BBQ sauce and brie, which I took off because it seemed like an afterthought. I swapped the fries for a Caesar salad which was a mistake because it was so overly dressed and way too many bacon bits. Yeah, I didn’t eat much of that. I made up for it with two bloody marys — the Canadian kind that are made with Clamato instead of tomato juice. My father-in-law always makes them that way, and I prefer it. I was a little tipsy afterwards on the plane, but I had to sleep.
On the plane to Tel Aviv, I had AirCanada’s dinner. I pretty much just ate the bread with the butter spread and then tried the pasta and covered it up and left it. I did eat the dessert, which was a dry chocolate cake, but it was the best thing on the plate. I drank two glasses of a French Syrah blend and water.
Sunday, June 10
I woke up to AirCanada’s breakfast. I ordered the eggs, and it was this egg loaf that was paired with potatoes and some ground sort of meat or sausage. I tried a forkful and passed on it. I finished my yogurt and that same dinner roll, water, and coffee, which was a Starbucks Via pack that I brought on the plane. Like I said, I love my coffee.
Once we arrived in Tel Aviv, I had a caprese salad at an Italian café. I tried a slice of a bandmate’s pizza and a Gold Star Israeli beer. After that we met some crew and band members at the hotel lobby bar and had two glasses of a Spanish Cava.
For dinner, we had Mediterranean food. I had a stewed chicken leg and thigh with rice and veggies. The waiter brought us some pita and hummus and then I tried some pickles. Followed that back with an Israeli Gold Star beer.
Monday, June 11
For breakfast, I had scrambled eggs on walnut bread with fresh-squeezed O.J. and a Starbucks Via. I still needed dessert, so I had a yogurt parfait with dried nuts and dried fruit on top of granola. Later that day, I had some homemade bread with smoked mackerel, olives, and olive-oil butter.
We had dinner at the venue in Tel Aviv, which was lamb and chicken grilled with garlic and lemon served on a giant wheat pita with hummus and the traditional cucumber, onion, and tomato salad. Our lead singer, Cedric [Bixler-Zavala], is a vegetarian, so we always have hummus, avocado, and pita on tour with us, no matter what. After the show, I had some Prosecco and Gold Star beer with grapes.
**A correction has been made here as Intelligentsia sells its Hario filters for $23, not $60 as earlier suggested.