Friday, May 14, 2010

Fabulously Fierce Friends, Aaron

Aaron Hilbun grew up in a gastronomically-challenged household and is now making up for lost time. His overriding philosophy on life is "go local," meaning eat and do what the locals do. In an increasing age of global homogenity, his goal is to experience what makes a place unique the world. He typically avoids chain restaurants (unless its uniquely local) and mass-produced varieties of his favorite beverage, beer. His favorite place to eat and drink domestically right now is probably Brattleboro, Vermont, because it offers to many opportunities to experience local color, even outside food and drink. Internationally, he enjoys London establishments that reflect the unique character of the city's vibrant neighborhoods, and the City of Trujillo, Peru (where he has performed many times) because there is not a single American chain to be seen. Professionally, Dr. Hilbun was trained as an oboist and a music theorist, and is currently on the music theory faculty of the University of Central Florida. He'll still dust off his oboe and play if someone calls him for a gig.

1. Who are your role models - food related or otherwise?

Anyone who can make the near-impossible seem effortless.

2. What is your drink of choice?

A good draft beer

3. What is your favorite cookbook or other food related book?

Culinary Harmony by David Rezits, a compilation of favorite recipes by famous classical musicians. Full of tasty and practical recipes for the musician on the go. David is a cellist in the Fort Wayne Philharmonic, and the book will soon be out of print, so get your copy today.

4. What was your most memorable meal and why?

Too many to count, but my most recent was at TJ Buckley’s in Brattleboro, Vermont. You can’t beat the intimate atmosphere. It feels like a dining car on a train and all the food prep is going on less than 10 feet away from you - when you first walk in, the smoke stings your eyes! But all this would be incidental if the food wasn’t superb.

5. What is your favorite kitchen gadget or tool?

Probably the coffee mill. No fumbling around with the grinder on those early, hung-over mornings.

6. If you had to make dinner with ingredients at your home right now, what would you make?

What I made just now, pork tenderloin rubbed with garlic and Provencal herbs, with garlic mashed potatoes and steamed carrots.

7. What kind of music do you like to listen to while you cook?

I don’t. I’m too easily distracted.

8. What is your philosophy on cooking and eating?

Unfortunately (for someone who once fancied himself a composer), I’m not terribly creative. Therefore, I follow formulas (and therefore, recipes) best. That said, I live to eat. Food is one of my preferred ways of experiencing the world.

9. Are there any foods you cannot stand to eat?

I know this is going to send shock waves among my foodies, but anything that comes from sheep or goats. This includes such foodie staples as lamb and goat cheese.

10. If you could use any super power in the kitchen, what would it be and why?

Kill all the remaining germs in any piece of meat, poultry or seafood without overcooking it. I loathe overcooked meat, but at the same time, I don't want anyone getting sick from one of my parties.