Brian Diaz’s book, 1800 Miles to Nowhere chronicles his travels as a musician and guitar tech with Guns N’ Roses, Fall Out Boy, and Anthrax.
What was the food highlight of your year?
Being in my line of work I have a lot of opportunities to check out excellent local offerings from around the world. Everything from delightful French bistros in Paris, to standing room only sushi places in Tokyo, to BBQ joints in Nashville. But, my favorite places and food highlights have always been in my home, New York City.
My standout this year had to be the ax-handle ribeye steak at St. Anselm in Williamsburg, Brooklyn. Saying that it was anything short of heavenly would be selling it short. Sometimes a good piece of meat can be seen as a bit pedestrian, but when it’s prepared and presented in this way it’s a work of art. I will only go there with my girl, order the ax-handle and a bottle of wine with a side of grilled sardines and fried mashed potatoes, and spend hours talking and enjoying the atmosphere, food, and drink. Every single time.
What was the music highlight of your year?
Traveling with Guns N’ Roses to Beirut, Lebanon has to be at the top of my “WTF?!” list and career highlights. It’s surreal to go to this place where I grew up hearing about the war and strife, and then going into the middle of where it all took place. Some of the war torn, bullet scarred buildings are still standing, and yet a couple of miles down the road we did a show for 15,000 or more people. It was proof to me that music truly can and will unite people around the world. Everyone wants to be entertained and forget where they are sometimes, especially if it’s a historically troubled place. That’s a pretty powerful thing.
For me personally, seeing Local Natives in NYC with my lady was a huge moment because it’s a band that we discovered together and their music has carried us through good and bad times.
Was there a moment when food and music came together in a memorable way?
Visiting the Grill ‘Em All burger restaurant in Alhambra, CA was a treat. It’s a gourmet burger spot with a heavy metal theme. Great burgers, great music, great beers, and amazing owners. I brought one of the guys from Fall Out Boy there and we all just sat and chatted with owner and longtime friend Ryan Harkins about Midwest punk rock - and burgers (of course) - for quite a while. He brought us more food than our bodies could handle all while pumping Slayer and Iron Maiden. I make it a point to head out that way whenever I’m on the west coast to visit Grill ‘Em All and Ryan.