Christopher Weingarten is Senior Editor at SPIN. Photo is by Courtney Weingarten.
What was the food highlight of your year?
The food highlight for me was, far and away, finally eating the tasting menu at Chicago’s Alinea, one of the highest rated restaurants in the country. Covering Lollapalooza was basically an excuse to get an Alinea reservation — I love the whimsy of dinner being part art project, part science project, and mind-blowingly delicious every time. I went with Jolie Ruben, a photographer friend from work, and she snapped a few shots; so I still get a goofy joy showing friends the photos and being able to answer “What is that?” with “Oh, that’s a taffy balloon filled with green apple helium.” Also, one the “duck five ways with 60 accompaniments” sent my OCD tendencies into a small tailspin — there’s 60 different compliments to the duck, all small enough portions so only one person can really taste each. The display of these 60 globs was just an explosion of shapes and colors — writer and dinner-pal Piotr Orlov called it the “Damien Hirst course.” Everyone at the table gets a different experience.
What was the music highlight of your year?
Pretty far and away seeing John Zorn take over the Metropolitan Museum of art for 13 hours. Being able to really absorb something like the Temple of Dendur with Mike Patton screaming by it, or New Guinean ancestral poles with William Winant pounding out an octopus-armed percussion suite was just fully immersive — way more special than watching someone play in front of a club’s banner.
Was there a moment when food and music came together in a memorable way?
I covered a lot of music festivals this year, and since food is intersecting with music in a lot of interesting ways right now, I’ve started covering some of the better, more unique, and more fanciful food offerings at these things. Graham Elliott brought Lollapalooza his decadent lobster corndogs, which I noted that you could actually taste the actual grit of corn and not just greasy fried gloop. At Fun Fun Fun fest in Austin, Frank was serving up a $24.20 Snoop Dog as a tribute to the headliner: a quarter-pound Waygu beef hot dog on a soft kolache bun, draped in hemp cheese, malt-liquor mustard, and “dusted with edible 24k gold dust.” I had to buy one if only to have the story about the time I spent nearly $25 on a hot dog. Maybe the best was at Bonnaroo, though, just a simple but succulent donut from the Amish Baking Company.