I am SO excited about this post!
If you’ve been reading for a while, you know that Nick and I love The Avett Brothers. We’ve seen them 4 times in concert, and I hope there are many more live shows in the future. They put on an incredible show, their music is refreshing and honest, and all of them are extremely talented, humble, and dedicated to their art.
About a year ago, I found out that Joe Kwon, the classically-trained-cellist-that-can-throw-down-and-play-it-like-a-guitar in the band, has his own food blog! After reading Taste on Tour for a few months and keeping up with him, I decided to send him some restaurant suggestions if they were ever in our neck of the woods.
They were just here a few weeks ago, and while I don’t think they had time to eat anywhere, Joe Kwon was nice enough to email me back and somehow – somehow – I was able to interview him over email about his love of food and ask him some questions about his own blog and background. I still can’t believe he said yes – they have a pretty insane schedule, and I’m so ecstatic and thankful that he took the time to answer my questions.
Without anymore gushing from me, please welcome Joe Kwon!
(I took this when we saw them in Charlottesville a few months ago – I tried to get one where he was playing it like a guitar and head-banging, but those all turned out blurry! Moving too fast)
Have you always been interested in food, or is it something that started at a certain age/once you were older?
Honestly, I always loved food. I think however, that when I was younger it meant something totally different to me. I was a plump child and back when I was younger, it was all about how much food I could eat to make me feel full. I was just fortunate enough that the food I was eating was all hand-made and prepared by my mother or grandmother who lived with us. It wasn’t till after college when I was truly on my own that food started to take on a different meaning. This was when I was able to buy my own ingredients and experiment more with some of the techniques my mother and grandmother had taught me.
What was a typical dinner or family meal like for you at home growing up?
Well a normal tuesday night meal would have consisted of a bowl of rice. Rarely was it just plain ole white rice. Most of the time it had some barley mixed in or beans steamed with it. A bowl of some sort of soup, usually a kimchi stew or a fermented bean soup. A protein either in the stew or prepared on the side. Sometimes it would just be a piece of steak that we would all eat off of, or some bulgogi. Of course we would have what is called “banchan” which are an assortment of small side dishes that just supplement every korean meal. In our fridge there would usually be several storage containers full of different banchan my mom would have made.
IF you can choose just one, what’s the best meal you’ve ever made for yourself at home AND the best meal ever eaten out at a restaurant.
Tough question, mostly because growing up we had a family reunion style dinner every friday night at someone’s house. All the cousins lived near enough to each other that we always met up once a week and had a huge festive meal and all the cousins got to get together to play or do whatever. I have a very fond memory of those meals and definitely have a yearning to get back to that schedule. Of course as we all grew up many of us moved further and further away so these types of meals are far and few between now. So long answer short, my favorite meal at home would have been any of those meals on friday growing up.
Now, at a restaurant there is one meal that sticks out in my head only because of the wine that we had at the meal. It was for my 22nd birthday and me and my cousins were in New York City visiting another cousin of ours up there. He took us out to brunch at Union Square Café and brought along three bottles of wine, a 1998 Caymus ‘Special Selection’, 1997 Antinori Solaia, and a (1970’s?) Chateau d’yquem. How could the meal be bad right? How do I even remember the meal right? To be honest, I don’t remember much about the meal because the wines really stole the show, however, I do remember it being the best lamb I’ve ever put in my mouth.
Have you ever had any complete cooking failures at home? (I do it all the time, but they make for funny stories, at least.)
I probably have a cooking failure once a month when I’m cooking a lot at home. I have this problem of thinking I can multitask, you see. I set a pan on the stove with the heat on high, and I’ll leave to go put laundry in the washer, and then all of a sudden I’m sitting down in front of my computer updating a blog post. Ten minutes later, my brand new pan has a nice brown bottom to it and I’ve heated my house for the day. That’s just how it goes I guess. Did you notice how no “cooking” was actually performed!
Are there any restaurants or foods you have on your radar right now that you want to try, and what are they?
Too many to name. I’m fortunate because I get a lot of submissions from fans telling me I have to check out this place in this tiny town, or I should go have a drink here, or eat this BBQ there. It’s awesome and I think one day I could write a book on all the tiny local spots around the US. The obvious restaurants however, which I make known publicly, are Per Se, French Laundry, The Fat Duck, Alinea, Morimoto, and up until recently when they shut their doors El Bulli.
What’s a typical day like for you (food-wise) when you’re at home and how is that different from when you guys are on tour?
Well there is no typical day unfortunately. We split so much time at home with the road that it’s very difficult to get into a routine in either situation. I really do miss the home cooked meals when I’m on the road and therefore I find it hard to go experiment with new restaurants when I GET home. That being said, on the road we spend a lot of time trying to eat as healthy as we can. Eating at restaurants, and eating heavy can really slow you down and with the lifestyle we have it’s difficult if we’re NOT at 100% every day.
If you could pick one food to eat every day for the rest of your life, what would that be?
Only 1? That’s not fair!
So much about this is question is about pairing is it not? Butter and eggs. If I HAD to choose one it would be butter, after all butter makes ANYTHING better. (Good answer! )
All time favorite food?
These questions are a lot more difficult, but I’ll give it a shot. Pork would top my list I guess. I could give up meat in this order: Poultry, Beef, Fish, Pork.
Are there foods that you won’t eat / don’t like?
I’m sure there are but I’ve not been giving the opportunity to try anything outrageous before. I’d imagine I’d have a hard time eating bugs of any sort. I have this irrational fear of bugs and eating them is just not on my plate.
If you could share a meal with anyone, who would it be?
Yo Yo Ma and Thomas Keller, my musical idol and my food idol. Can I bring my Em with me?
If you could pick your “last meal”, what would it be?
My last meal wouldn’t so much be about WHAT is eaten. It would be about WHO is there with me.
A big thank you to Joe for taking a few minutes and answering my questions – make sure to check out his blog, Taste on Tour. He posts about meals in restaurants, recipes he’s making at home, and snapshots of their experiences (food and otherwise) on tour.
If you haven’t checked out The Avett Brothers yet, this is a friendly reminder from me to you :) I can’t say enough about their music – just do it already! PS: They just came out with a holiday cd, featuring some other incredible groups, and their new album will be out in early 2012.
If you could do a foodie interview with someone, who would it be?