the grub street diet

Musician Greta Kline Wants Food With Multiple Textures

“I can’t have ice cream without a cone.”

“I used to come here so often they thought I had a twin,” Greta Kline says of Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger. Photo: Christian Rodriguez
“I used to come here so often they thought I had a twin,” Greta Kline says of Cozy Soup ‘n’ Burger. Photo: Christian Rodriguez

Greta Kline, the songwriter behind Frankie Cosmos, is back home in New York between tours for her band’s new album Close It Quietly. The album is her sixth release in five years — Rolling Stone praises it as her “best yet” and calls it “especially crisp and catchy” — and the New York Times has credited her career as an example for other idiosyncratic “self-starter” artists. While she’s in New York, she’s been able to make the most of her snack-forward approach to eating: “Every meal is like tapas to me,” Kline says. After closing out the tour’s first leg with bagels in Pittsburgh and Indonesian food in Philadelphia, Kline made it home to eat meals with her family, grab some Tate’s cookies, and finally cook for herself. Read all about it in this week’s Grub Street Diet.

Friday, September 27
Woke up in Pittsburgh after playing a show at Spirit Hall the night before. At 10 a.m., we drove to a neighborhood called Squirrel Hill to try our friend Sara Savage’s bagel and coffee place, Pigeon Bagels. I had a perfect cappuccino in a handleless ceramic mug and an everything bagel with tofu cream cheese. The bagel was incredible. It was small and devour-able like a Montreal-style bagel, but with more of a savory flavor like a New York–style bagel.

We stood around out front and discussed how we all like tofu cream cheese better than regular for some reason. I also embarrassingly drank my yellow drink that I have every morning to control my allergies — a drink I make from a powdered form of Quercetin because the pill form is too big for me. Everyone watched me stand inside Pigeon taking my other pills in my humiliating fashion (I’m bad at taking pills). Then we hit the road for Washington, D.C.

Around 2:15 p.m., it was time for a car-ride snack. I had a honey cake from Pigeon that I had been saving for this moment. It hit the spot. I don’t remember having honey cake before in my life, but Luke told me it is a traditional Rosh Hashanah food that represents sweetness in the New Year.

Stuck in traffic 45 minutes later. I was still feeling a little snack-y. I took half a sesame bagel out of the bag of Pigeon bagels Sara gave us that morning and dipped it in some Philadelphia cream cheese we picked up at the last rest stop.

At 4:30 p.m., we arrived at the venue Black Cat in D.C., where we were playing. We all had to pee after the drive but since we were half an hour early, we couldn’t get inside to use the bathroom. So we walked around to find a café to kill time at and hopefully pee. We peed at Peet’s Coffee but ultimately found ourselves at Jrink, a juice spot a couple blocks away that’s connected to a gym. I got a “Do You Even Lift?” — a smoothie made of almond milk, banana, pea protein, cacao, and cacao nibs. So far today everything I’ve ingested has been on the spectrum of tan-colored … including this. Everyone else got colorful stuff (green, purple). Mine was brown. But I’ll still count it as a healthy snack.

(I eat very tan foods. I have a very tan food palette. I have this thing, it’s sort of a joke, where I take photos of all the tan foods I eat and have an Instagram called tan_feed.)

For dinner, we all went to Whole Foods at 7 p.m.. Everyone hit the hot bar except for me. I got a prepackaged inside-out avocado-cucumber roll from the sushi section. There was nowhere to sit so we decided to walk back and eat in the green room at the venue. I ended up finishing my sushi on the walk back. I had also bought some snacks for the Saturday drive — Boursin and some baked crackers. I had a couple in the green room while everyone had their meals. We ate and listened to Locate S,1 sound-checking upstairs.

The show was really fun. At midnight, I housed another half of an everything bagel in the car on the way to the hotel. Dipped in cream cheese.

We were heading to a Doubletree and I was looking forward to the warm cookie they give you at check-in (hoping to give the classic Doubletree cookie a shoutout in this). Unfortunately the cookie was burnt (as was I). I didn’t eat it. My bassist, Alex, had a couple bites.

Saturday, September 28
Up at 8:30 a.m. Alex and I headed down to the breakfast buffet at the hotel. These meals can be hit or miss, but it was a Doubletree so it was better than most. I had scrambled eggs, potatoes, a roasted baby tomato, and a small pancake. I also accidentally poured myself milk (I was trying to find water) so I got some Frosted Flakes to go with it. The meal was sweet but the highlight was that several babies were present in the dining area. A couple of them waved at me. Babies like me. After eating, I had my black coffee, and finally got my hands on some water to take my pills and drink my Quercetin (yellow drink).

We got to Philly and loaded in and sound-checked. I went the whole car ride without snacking. It’s all about snacking throughout the day for me, as opposed to one meal. I like multiple textures. I don’t like having one meal that’s one texture. Unless it’s the most delicious thing, like rice with butter. I don’t want to have a soup that’s just soup. I want to have a soup with a matzo ball in it, or some texture in it. I like hitting all the concise moments; I like small moments. I don’t want to play a seven-minute song. That’s boring to me.

After sound check we went with our friend Jason to get Indonesian food at Hardena in South Philly. By this time — 2 p.m. — I was hangry and we chose to eat instead of seeing our opening bands play (it was a daytime show, starting at 2:15). I got an egg and tofu curry over rice and a vegetable fritter. It was really comforting and filling and got me in a rice (right/nice) mood for the show.

Then on the walk back to the venue we went for a pick-me-up at the coffee shop Hive. I saw my drummer, Luke, order an iced chai with oat milk so I just copied him and got one too. I can’t recall ever having had an iced chai before but it was delicious.

After the daytime Philly show we drove straight home to New York. We ordered in sushi from Ooki Sushi as we got close to home. I got an avocado cucumber roll and a sweet potato tempura roll, and split some edamame with our merch person, Amanda.

At 11 p.m., I had a Tate’s chocolate-chip cookie. They’re really good. I have a memory of being in my kitchen chemistry class, in fifth grade or something, when we did an experiment of doing the Toll House recipe. One was the control and the rest doubled the ingredients. My group doubled the butter and it always stuck with me: Oh, that’s how Tate’s cookies are made. Basically Toll House, but double the butter and crispy.

Sunday, September 29
The day of our big NYC show! Around 10:45 a.m. Alex, Amanda, and I made breakfast. We made flaxseed oatmeal and scrambled eggs. I also had black coffee, my Quercetin, and my handful of daily pills, plus my bigger weekly B-12 pill. I haven’t mentioned this yet but I also drink water with every meal. And all day long. I love water. I don’t really like drinks that aren’t water, except coffee.

At 6 p.m. (after sound check) Alex and I briskly walked to Mudspot on 9th Street to meet our parents — Alex’s parents were in town from Georgia (for the show and for fun) — for an early dinner in the “backyard” there. I got the egg, quinoa, and kale-pesto bowl, which came with walnuts, and I added avocado. It was exactly what I wanted and I practically inhaled it.

Around 11:30ish we were packing up the car and I got a free ice cream from the merch table as we cleaned up. We collaborated with Blue Marble to give out free ice cream with our merch, but we ended up with extra so everyone had some at the end of the night. I had the salted caramel flavor as we got in the car to head home.

By 12:17 a.m., I was back home and eating my crackers and Boursin cheese. Amanda and I sat at my parents’ kitchen table and decompressed. Around 12:44 a.m. Amanda turned to me and said, “Should we eat an ice cream with a cookie dipped in it?” I said yes. We split a Blue Marble vanilla ice cream and crumbled a chocolate-chip Tate’s cookie over it. I can’t have ice cream without a cone or something else with it — I would have a milkshake, because that’s a drink. But if I’m at an ice-cream place I will order a cone. That’s part of what makes ice cream good.

I took a Benadryl and fell asleep for the night at 2 a.m.

Monday, September 30
My mom ordered Barney Greengrass supplies over the weekend (it was closed for Rosh Hashanah) so we would be ready for a big Monday morning meal with everyone. We had to get a “real New York bagel” for Alex’s parents. My mom also made scrambled eggs. I had an everything bagel with cream cheese, tomato, and onion. And scrambled eggs. And of course black coffee, water, Quercetin, along with my many pills.

I showed Alex’s parents around Brooklyn and Manhattan. We were by Barclays so we decided to stop by the Doughnut Plant. We got three donuts split into thirds between me and Anne and Dan. First we all had a third of a mocha (randomly gluten-free) doughnut. Incredible. Didn’t taste gluten-free at all. Then we all had a third of the tres leches donut. So amazing. “To die for,” said Dan. Lastly, we each had a third of a matcha one. My least favorite but still good. Tasted like matcha. It has “a little edge” said Dan (who also says it was maybe his favorite).

At 4:45 p.m., we found ourselves in Chinatown. I brought Anne and Dan to Vanessa’s Dumplings. We all split an order of boiled vegetable dumplings and a sesame pancake. Needed some extra fuel before we hit Canal Street for the tourist T-shirt-buying experience, but were also trying to save room for our dinner with my mom later.

We headed uptown at 7 p.m. to go to Korali for dinner.  My mom says it’s one of her favorite restaurants, but I don’t know how often she goes there. Some starters I had handfuls of: pita and tzatziki, zucchini chips and tzatziki, Greek fries. I ordered kolokithokeftedes, which are  zucchini croquettes. It was delicious but I was full from all the starters and from our day of snacking.

Back at the house, I realized I hadn’t tried the chocolate Blue Marble ice cream yet … we had three flavors at the merch table and this is the only one I hadn’t had yet. So I had some while we played Colorku.

Tuesday, October 1
At 10:15 a.m., I made over-easy eggs and a bowl of Frosted Mini-Wheats (with milk … cereal is always with some kind of milk for me). It’s not my first-choice cereal. That’d be Cinnamon Toast Crunch. Frosted Mini-Wheats is too adult for me. Black Coffee. Quercetin. Water. Pills.

Alex and I headed back to Brooklyn. I hadn’t been home in weeks and had no groceries. I decided to figure that out in a bit. For the time being, I had a chocolate-chip Clif Bar that I must have bought a week ago at a rest stop and forgotten to eat.

I’m pretty much always cooking when I’m home. For dinner I wanted to make something easy but also comforting and good. I only had a couple more days before tour again, so it didn’t make sense to buy too many groceries. Around 7 p.m. I started making black-pepper noodles with tofu and spinach. My friend Gabby was coming over for dinner.

Then at 9:30 p.m. we made chocolate-chip cookies (Toll House recipe). Pretty much every time Gabby comes over, we make cookies. It was a nice night and felt great to be at home and cooking again.

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Musician Greta Kline’s Grub Street Diet