LOCKN’ lived up to all the hype. Anything that Peter Shapiro touches turns to gold, so of course his festival is no exception. The extremely selective musical programming makes for a unique vibe and this year the lineup was stacked with my fantasy lineup, which is why we finally made the schlep to Arrington, Virginia to experience the magic of LOCKN’.
I expected the food to be just as incredible as the music and was not disappointed. Two huge food court tents featured all local vendors from the nearby Charlottesville area, and fest food MVPs like Arancini Bros from NYC (stuffed, fried risotto balls of heaven), Roti Rolls from South Carolina (Indian flatbread sandwiches and Magnaball vending MVP) and Peace Love Tacos gathered from across the country to provide something for all tastes. Appropriately, the very best vendor at LOCKN’ was from right there in Arrington, whole hog butchers called The Rock Barn. Not only were their sausages a carnivore’s kryptonite, but they also had the freshest salad bar with grilled peaches and local vinegars.
Our friends Corn & Co. popcorn from Magnaball were a big presence at LOCKN’ this year with a contest to come up with their next new flavor. The winner was Berried Alive, a rainbow colored mix that tasted like Berry Berry Kix sugar cereal. But the flavor that stole my heart was Coconut Curry, slightly sweet but also salty. Hats off to Corn & Co. for making the perfect music festival snack (light, flavorful, infinite varieties) with such care, as you can really taste the love they put into every bite.
We truly tried to taste almost everything at the fest – highlights included smoked trout dip with house-made pita chips, an orgasmic frozen cider donut muffin ice cream sandwich, pancit Filipino noodles, juicy Chinese dumplings, and a pulled pork biscuit sandwich. To wash it all down, there was the local Starr Hill Brewer, which also now has a fantastic line of hard ciders. High Brew Coffee kept everyone buzzing with cold brew in cans, and there were not one but two kombucha vendors. The founder and ‘buchmaster of Mountain Cult Kombucha said that 4 years ago at the first LOCKN’, 95% of people did not know what kombucha was and this year, 95% of people do.
To add a Top Chef twist to the weekend, I teamed up with one of my favorite food bloggers @jewisheater to create a dish for at Shabbat Tent, an organization that hosts Friday night dinners at festivals. We picked a summer roll filled with cucumbers, lettuce, and slices of local Virginia peaches served, with peanut sauce and Sriracha. Trying to wrap rolls in 100 degree heat with 100% humidity with the clock ticking till Phish took the stage turned out to be the quickfire challenge from hell, but we pulled it off and the dish was a hit!
The final night of the festival, I stumbled upon a real southern pig pickin’ with Gary Clark Jr. playing just feet away. This southern tradition barbeques a whole hog, which is then picked apart by hand to shred all the buttery meat. I could not take my eyes off the pitmaster digging into this giant pig, and when he handed me a piece, I knew I had died and gone to fest food heaven.