Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.
Pop culture obsessives writing for the pop culture obsessed.

Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi on his love affair with steak

Illustration for article titled Cloud Nothings’ Dylan Baldi on his love affair with steak

The Internet features more than its share of negativity and snark—sometimes you’ve just gotta vent. But there’s plenty of room for love, too. With Fan Up, we ask pop-culture people we admire to tell us about something they really, really like.

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The fan: Twenty-two-year-old Cloud Nothings frontman Dylan Baldi has musical tastes that belie his years. In a recent Pitchfork piece about the Cleveland group’s new album, Here And Nowhere Else, Baldi cited influences like “Belgian coldwave band Isolation Ward” and a Japanese post-rock band called NaaN, for instance. He also dropped references to obscure cultural figures like 19th century cartoonist Kate Carew and recently deceased beat writer Amiri Baraka.

When it comes to food, though, Baldi’s tastes are a little simpler—and meatier. The A.V. Club talked to the singer and guitarist about steak in all its various delicious forms, from simple backyard barbecue fare to Parisian bistro-style steak frites.

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The A.V. Club: Why did you want to talk about steak?

Dylan Baldi: I was having a hard time thinking of something to talk about, but I saw you guys talked to Ty Segall about tacos, and I realized that I also really love food and that I should probably talk about steak, because it’s the best food by far.

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AVC: Why is that?

DB: A good steak makes you feel better than any kind of food. I eat the best pizza or something and that’s really good, but a good steak makes you feel like a good person.

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AVC: Can you explain that?

DB: It is hard to explain. When you go to a good restaurant, just ordering the steak feels like you’re making the right choice. It’s like, “All right, I’m doing good.” It makes you feel good about yourself for a moment and that’s what everyone is really trying to do.

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AVC: When you order a steak, what do you order? Do you have a preferred cut or doneness?

DB: I always get it rare or medium rare, depending on where it is. I usually get a filet or a rib eye.

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AVC: Bone in or no bone?

DB: I don’t usually like the bones and it’s too much work for me, but if there’s a bone in there, it’s fine.

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AVC: What’s the best steak you ever had? Do you know?

DB: Actually it’s a tie between two. There was this place in Lisbon called El Saldadera that had this steak that had a cheese on it. And I actually just had one at a place called Hawksmoor in London. I took a picture of it. It was really dark in the restaurant and the picture kind of looks like a little circle of poop, but the steak was really good.

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AVC: The outside of a steak can be deceptive. Something can look terrible and be delicious inside.

DB: That’s another thing. Steak is tricky; it’s not about looks. You can’t judge a steak by its cover. That’s inspiring, really.

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AVC: You talked about pizza earlier. A lot of people are of the opinion that there’s no bad pizza. Do you think there’s bad steak?

DB: Absolutely, and there’s definitely bad pizza too. There’s bad everything, but there’s also really good everything.

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AVC: A Ponderosa steak isn’t great.

DB: Ponderosa was a running joke in my family for a long time. We went and my mom ordered steak. She cut into it and blood squirted into her face or something, and it was just not a good scene.

AVC: What are your favorite sides?

DB: I prefer making it into the classic steak house experience wherever you go. Mashed potatoes, french fries, whatever carbohydrate I can find usually goes along pretty well.

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AVC: You’re in Paris right now. Have you had steak frites since you’ve been there?

DB: I have.

AVC: Do you know how to cook a steak?

DB: I was worried you’d ask me that. No, I can’t cook. I’m lazy and never live anywhere long enough to learn how to cook so I don’t do that, but I should. It would qualify the experience, I’m sure.

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AVC: Do you have go-to steak places? Like places that are always your jam?

DB: I usually have to see what people say about where I am. I don’t like to go to one place more than once honestly, whether it’s restaurants or it’s cities. Wherever I go, I’ll either hop online or I’ll ask a friend, “What’s the good place to go?” I just went to Peter Luger in New York and it was amazing. I don’t know; I seek out steak. I don’t have a standby.

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AVC: How long have you liked steak? Has it always been your favorite food or is it something you grew into as an adult?

DB: I’ve always preferred meats, because I don’t really like any vegetables. I’ve had moments where I’m like, “I should go vegetarian,” but then I’m like, “I don’t like lettuce, so what am I supposed to do?”

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AVC: Just eat tater tots.

DB: Yeah, chocolate and tater tots.

I’ve always been like that, but it’s just been recently that I’ve had a little bit more money to spend. I’m not just getting by so I’m like, “I can treat myself to a nice meal.” So the actual steak fixation is fairly recent, but all encompassing as far as food goes.

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AVC: What’s the most you’ve paid for steak?

DB: I would pay a lot if I could. But the most I’ve paid for a steak would be about $60. Not that much the grand scheme of steak, but I’ll work my way up to something else.

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AVC: Do you ever not want steak?

DB: It’s not the only thing I eat. I’d be a horribly disgusting person. I’d be unable to tour or anything if all I ate was steak. I’d be dead at this point.

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AVC: It’d be really expensive, too.

DB: It’d also be really expensive. I don’t want to think of what I’d look like, but I do like other food and crave other things.

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AVC: Do you have holy grail of steaks? A place you have to go before you leave this mortal coil?

DB: No. I don’t ever know where I am or what I’m doing until I’m there. I don’t research steak to the point where I idolize restaurants I’ve never been to.

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AVC: Do your bandmates like steak?

DB: Everybody likes steak!

AVC: Everybody from Ohio likes steak. I don’t know if everyone everywhere does.

DB: Unless you’re a vegetarian, you can’t say no to steak as far as I’m concerned.

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AVC: It seems like there’s a romanticism to steak. It’s a classic meal. You can just have a steak with some friends.

DB: It’s like that Spike Jonze movie that just came out, Her. Instead of the cell phone, it’d be me and a steak. The steak would be talking to me. When you go to the restaurant and get the steak, you’re in for a nice time; there’s something comforting about that. You know you’re doing something good.

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