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CSS' Lovefoxxx Is a Restaurant Snob, Good Home Cook

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Photo: Luiza Sá

Luísa Hanae Matsushita, aka Lovefoxxx, is the lead singer of CSS, the sextet responsible for some of the most danceable, clever, and fun elecro/new rave rock of the last five years. Though she and her bandmates hail from São Paulo, she is familiar with some of America's hottest restaurants, from Gabriel Rucker productions to notable spots from Hugh Acheson.

She still goes back to São Paulo once in a while, and thinks there are better options in that city than Alex Atala's DOM, ranked 7th in the world. Not to mention she and everyone else in the band knows how to cook, and well. Here's the conversation that revealed it all, which we conducted a few days ago, right when the band was kicking off a tour of the U.S. and Mexico in support of their new album, La Liberación.

What did you have for dinner last night?
Last night I went to Le Pigeon, in Portland.

Super famous.
Yeah! We were tired, and it's close to the hotel we're staying at.

What did you have?
I had lobster cakes, some shrimp and grits and mushrooms. Before that, some cheese. And, of course, we drank some wine.

What about other places in Portland?
There's a food park on 20th and Everett. I had a viking wrap, and it's honestly the most amazing wrap I've ever had in my life. They make it right there, almost like a French crêpe. It was marinated salmon — not cooked but not totally raw.

My favorite place to eat in Portland, though, is the Screen Door. I've just been in for brunch, which I love, but you have to wait at least an hour to get a seat. It is so worth it. I like the grits with cheddar, poached egg, and a biscuit. Oh, and the maple praline bacon! If I'm very in the mood, I'll get a waffle, just so I can go home and sleep for three hours.

What about on the road?
Ooh! There's a a place called Ninfa's in Houston. It's a Mexican restaurant. There are several of them in the city, but the one on Navigation Street is still run by the same family. Britt Daniel told me to go there, and he really knows his Mexican food.

That's the guy from Spoon, right?
Yes!

Any other places?
I want to start thinking of cheaper restaurants, since that's cool to talk about. Oh! Hot Doug's, in Chicago.

So good. That line, though.
So huge. It was an hour and a half the last time. Another one, in New York, is Marlow & Sons. One of my bandmates used to live right above it, so she used to go there all the time. Let me check for more places with my friends, who are here now.

[Starts talking in Portuguese to her friends, inside a noisy café. After about 45 seconds, she returns to the phone.]

We're browsing in our heads.

Oh! There was a restaurant we went to in Atlanta. The name was like three letters. The guy who owns it, he was on Top Chef: Masters. He left at the beginning but then came back. Can we talk about one restaurant in Vancouver?

Of course.
The Twisted Fork. They do everything there— the preserves, the bread, everything. Really amazing. We went for breakfast and ended up going back for dinner the same day.

And what about the place in Atlanta? Is that Hugh Acheson's spot?
It's Empire State South. Now I remember!

What about in São Paulo, where you are from?
I was there in August. The thing about Brazil right now is that everything is so overpriced. But I do eat out there.

The one that's very famous there is DOM.
This is known as the best restaurant in the city, and it is good, but there are ones that I like even better than DOM. There's one called Chou, and they do everything on — how do you say? — over fire. They make all the vegetables on the fire. I'm not sure what the hell they do, but it's really delicious. It comes with pickled things and fresh herbs.

There's another place Mani. The food is so good. They had a Nutella foam — they say "foam," but it's more like a mousse — that comes with ginger ice cream and a crust which is just so good. They also have a reworking of the traditional feijoada, where they make it into little spheres. It's like something Richard Blais would make on Top Chef.

There's also a bar near my house called Rota do Acarajé. This is a cheaper option, and they have lots and lots of beer; they have Original, and they serve it very cold. And they do lots of classic Brazilian fried snacks. You can of course have the Acarajé, the traditional dish from Bahia. It's a really cool bar to hang out.

You really seem to know your stuff. Do you cook at home, as well?
Yeah, all of us in the band are really into food. We love to cook.

What do you make?
I do desserts. I did Cordon Bleu courses, so I make bread and pastries. I can make really good tarts, all from scratch. Ana did a cocktail course and can make really amazing drinks; she has all the gear at her house. She makes the best caipirinha I've ever had. Caro can cook really amazing main dishes, like paella. She can really cook some savory food. So sometimes we throw dinner parties.

And what about music in restaurants? Do you like it?
I prefer not to have music in restaurants. Sometimes, depending on the restaurant, I love to have some jazz, because I feel like I'm in a Woody Allen film. And Mexican music in Mexican restaurants, if it's not too loud. But that's pretty much it, because it sucks for the most part when places start playing Maroon 5 and Coldplay.

Any last words?
Well, we all love food and we really care about it, even when we are on the road. When we travel, we put on our rider that we want local food and local drinks.

Most bands have an awful time eating on tour.
Yeah, they just want their Budweiser and crap. But we're a little different.

Video: "Hits Me Like A Rock"

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