A few months ago, the Nashville Convention & Visitors Corp opened Music City Marketplace in the ground floor of the Regions Bank building in downtown Nashville. Created to support and recognize Nashville makers, the store is full of some amazing goods — from housewares to food items to jewelry to books — there is no way you could shop there and not find something for someone on your list!




Every year around this time, people start asking me for suggestions on where to purchase local made goods, so I’m happy to now be able to point them in the direction of this store where they’ll find one of the most extensive (and diverse) collections of local products I think I’ve seen anywhere in town.

Because of this, I was happy to oblige when Music City Marketplace reached out to me recently and asked me to participate in The Curated Stocking, a collection of stockings curated by local bloggers. Curious to see what I chose for my TN Textile Mill stocking? Just keep reading below.

You’ll notice that I tried to keep with the food/entertaining theme since, well, that’s kind of what I’m known for. And while not all of them will actually fit inside a stocking, many of them will. All of the items combined would make a pretty fantastic gift basket for someone special (if I do say so myself).






  • Nashville Eats cookbook, $35.00 – This was the easiest pic of my entire collection, as I’ve owned a copy for over a year now, and I’ve even given copies as gifts in the past. Jennifer Justus is one of my favorite local food writers, and I love that she not only shares incredible recipes in this book, but also stories of Nashville’s history, people, and food.
  • Soberdough Artisan Brew Bread Mix in Rosemary, $9.95 – As someone that has readily admitted in the past that I don’t really enjoy baking, I’m not embarrassed to tell you that this is my go-to bread for all occasions. It’s so simple to mix up and always garners rave reviews. The packaging is super cute too, so it makes a great hostess gift.
  • TruBee Barrel Aged Honey, $14.99 – My house is never without honey, and I love this rich, smokey honey from TruBee. Always great with biscuits, but I think it would even be delicious with some Soberdough Bread, so why not buy both items and give as a gift set?!
  • Goo Goo Clusters, $1.79  – Do I really need to explain this one? Yes, I work for the company, but honestly, I’d pick this chocolate confection even if I didn’t. I’ve been eating Goo Goos for pretty much my entire life, and nothing says “Nashville” more to me than a Goo Goo Cluster!




  • Handmade Studio TN Cannister in White Lace Glaze, $80.00 – I had never seen any of Handmade Studios work until I visited the Music City Marketplace, and let me tell you, it was love at first sight. Their handmade ceramics are not only gorgeous, but also functional.
  • Hummingbird Factory Nashville tea towel, $15.00 – These little tea towels are so cute that I had a tough time choosing just one.
  • Paddywax 2oz. Apothecary Tin Candle in Amber & Smoke and Vetiver & Cardamom, $6.00 –  You guys, I am obsessed with these candles and that says a lot as I don’t typically like scented candles. Heavily perfumed anything turns me off (fact: I never wear perfume!) but when I discovered Paddywax a few months ago, I changed my tune. Their scents are just really clean and interesting. These little tins would be perfect as stocking stuffers, but the store also has some other lovely larger ceramic candles that I’ll be purchasing for a few friends this holiday season.






Be sure to check out the other awesome Nashville bloggers that participated in The Curated Stocking with me, and follow Music City Marketplace on Instagram so you see what goodies they all chose for their stockings!

Laura Lea Goldberg of LLBalanced

Kelly Henderson of Velvet’s Edge

Landyn Hutchinson of Living With Landyn

Greta Hollar of

Mallory Ervin of


Music City Marketplace

Regions Building (corner of 4th and Commerce)
150 4th Avenue North, Suite G-250
Nashville, TN 37219
(615) 259-4787

Monday-Friday: 8 a.m. – 5 p.m.


Photo credits: Amy Richmond for all photos of me and my curated stocking picks, Darrin Dickerson for interior store photos.


Sinema’s Scallops with Spinach Orzotto, Black Garlic Brown Butter, Fried Capers and Lemon Mignonette


Lately it seems like I’ve been getting an unusual number of text messages asking me to name my favorite special occasion dining spots as well as places to host group dinners and holiday soirees. So to answer those questions, today I’m taking you back to what is still one of my favorite restaurants in town, Sinema.

When Sinema opened in 2015, I couldn’t stop raving about it. As we all know, many new restaurants have been added to the Nashville dining scene since then, and all the openings tend to keep me busy…which means I don’t get to revisit older favorites as often as I’d like.



Celebrating with friends at Sinema

But recently I was able to plan a rare night out with some of my best friends to celebrate a major life occurrence* — and I got to choose where we would eat! Sinema it was. And man, was it fantastic. From curried parsnip soup, to lamb chops, to scallops – every single dish we tried from Executive Chef Kyle Patterson‘s new fall menu was delicious.

*Major life occurence = my good friend (of 20+ years) and hairstylist, Chris, bought a hotel in St Croix and is moving there in just a few days! I’ll miss him like crazy, but so happy to see him living his dream and enjoying life to the fullest.



Sinema’s Blackened Lamb Lollichops with Green Apples and Mint Jelly


So, back to why I’m writing this blog post. Two important things: a Gift Card Sale you’re not going to want to miss and a new Private Event Space at Sinema!

Black Friday Gift Card Sale

When: November 25th – November 28th, 2016

What: Purchase Sinema gift cards online and enter code BLACKFRIDAY to receive a BONUS gift card for yourself!

  • Purchase $100-$250 in gift cards, get 10% Bonus
  • Purchase $250-$1,000 in gift cards, get 15% Bonus
  • Purchase over $1,000 in gift cards, get 20% Bonus

For more information and to purchase, click on the header above.



Curried Parsnip Soup with Curry Creme Fraiche and Crispy Parsnips at Sinema

New Private Event Space: Backstage at Sinema

A few weeks ago, Sinema debuted their new private event space behind the current restaurant, and I was able to go take a peek. Backstage at Sinema is a private venue with a separate entrance at the side of the building (note: guests may also enter through the main entrance and walk through the kitchen to get there).

  • A completely private room for up to 50 guests
  • Movie screens, AV connections and wireless capabilities
  • Fully customizable space for events ranging from meetings, dinners, receptions, and photo shoots
  • Sinema’s full event menu, staffing, and service

So when you’re looking for a spot to host a private event, be sure to remember this lovely new space as an option!



Backstage at Sinema private dining space



Photo Credit: All of the really good photos on this page were taken by my friend Phillip Fryman (aka Southern Fatty). The soup and friend photo were made with my trusty iphone ;-)


For the last few days I’ve begun plotting my Thanksgiving menu so I’ve been revisiting several tried and true, delicious recipes in my archives. I’ve begun to narrow the list down a bit, and thought I would share my favorites today in hopes that it may help and inspire you!

Grandmama’s Corn Pudding

Carrot Souffle

Parmesan Kale Salad

Savory Sweet Potato Gratin with Parmesan and Pancetta

Roasted Butternut Squash and Farro with Almonds and Blue Cheese

Sausage and Wild Rice Casserole

Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary and Parmesan Cream

Cauliflower Gratin with Toasted Almond Crust

Best Ever Mac & Cheese




You may notice there’s something missing from that recipe roundup….sweets. That’s because I love to cook, but baking is just not my thing. Sure, I do it sometimes, but for Thanksgiving this year, I’m leaving it up to a pro so I don’t stress myself out completely.

The Goo Goo Shop Dessert Bar is baking up 5 seasonal pies this year that you can pre-order or grab & go. And since I’ve personally taste tested every one, I can promise they are yummy! Choose from Chess, Maple Pecan, Apple, Pumpkin, and Cherry. For more info and ordering, click here.

I don’t post recipes nearly as often as I used to, mainly because I don’t experiment in the kitchen too much these days. That’s life with a picky 4 year old. However, on the rare special occasion that we’re having guests over, I do get to play…like last year for Thanksgiving.

Yes, I tucked this recipe away for a whole year! Definitely the best dish of our entire meal, this savory sweet potato gratin is decadent and rich, so not something I’ve added to our everyday menu rotation, but certainly worth a splurge every now and then. You guys, it is insanely delicious.

My apologies for having only one (not great) photo, but the holiday was so chaotic that I completely forgot to snap pics until the next day when I was eating leftovers. (BTW this dish is still great leftover!) Please don’t let the number of ingredients and steps dissuade you, as this is one dish that is definitely worth the extra effort. I know it will certainly be making a repeat appearance on our Thanksgiving table!


Savory Sweet Potato Gratin with Parmesan and Pancetta

Serves 12-14 as a side dish, 6-8 as a main dish. From Domesticate Me


¼ pound pancetta, thinly sliced and chopped
1 tablespoon unsalted butter
1 large shallot, minced
3 cloves garlic, minced
2½ cups heavy cream
5 fresh sage leaves
2-3 sprigs fresh thyme
½ teaspoon salt
Fresh ground pepper
3 large sweet potatoes, peeled and sliced into 1/8-inch rounds
½ cup grated Parmesan cheese, divided

For the topping:
1 tablespoon butter
1/3 cup Panko breadcrumbs
¼ cup parmesan cheese
½ teaspoon smoked paprika
1 tablespoon freshly chopped sage


Pre-heat your oven to 400 degrees.

Heat a large pan or skillet over medium heat and add the pancetta. Cook for 5-6 minutes until browned and crispy. Using a slotted spoon, transfer the pancetta to a paper towel-lined plate to drain.

In a medium saucepan, melt 1 tablespoon of butter. When melted, add the minced shallots and garlic and sauté for 2-3 minutes until the shallots have softened. (Be careful not to burn the garlic) Add the cream, sage, thyme and salt to the saucepan and heat until it is just simmering. Simmer very gently (don't let the cream boil) for 10-15 minutes to allow the flavors to infuse.

While your cream is simmering, prepare the sweet potatoes. Peel the potatoes and slice them in 1/8-inch discs (best to use a mandolin if you have one). Your discs should be as even in width as possible so that they cook evenly. Briefly set the potatoes aside.

Remove the sage and thyme from your cream, and taste the mixture. Add a little more salt if necessary and season with fresh ground pepper. Pour 1/2 cup of the cream into a shallow baking dish. Add 1/3 of the sweet potatoes to the dish in an even layer. Add another ½ cup of the cream, ¼ cup grated Parmesan and half of the pancetta.Top with a second layer of potatoes, followed by ½ cup cream, ¼ cup grated Parmesan and pancetta.

Finish with the remaining potatoes, and pour the remaining cream over the top of your gratin. Cover the baking dish tightly with foil and bake for 50 minutes or until the potatoes are very tender when pierced with a sharp knife.

While your gratin is in the oven, prepare the crunchy topping. Heat the butter in a large pan. When melted add the Panko and stir until the breadcrumbs are well-coated. Continue cooking, stirring constantly, until the Panko is golden brown. Transfer the toasted Panko to a bowl to cool. When cool, mix in the grated Parmesan and smoked paprika.

After the gratin has baked for 50 minutes, remove the foil. Add the topping in an even layer. Return the gratin to the oven for another 10-15 minutes until the top is crispy and browned and most of the liquid has been absorbed. Allow it to rest for 10 minutes before serving.



Bacon and Beer Classic

Saturday, November 5th, 2016
1 – 5 pm

Nissan Stadium
1 Titans Way
Nashville, TN 37213

Cost: $59 General Admission (1 pm entry); $75 Early Access (12:30 pm entry); $99 VIP (12 pm entry)

You’ll quickly notice a common theme for the events I’m highlighting for November – beer, beer, and more beer! Starting with next weekend’s Bacon and Beer Classic, beer lovers are going to have plenty to keep them busy.

The Bacon and Beer Classic is a nationally-touring craft beer and food festival that has been ranked one of the top three 2016 beer festivals by Time Out. Featuring 40+ regional breweries with 80+ craft beers, the event will also host 30+ local restaurants serving all-you-can-eat bacon strips and bacon dishes. Check out some of the offerings on the event website. Delicious!

You can purchase your tickets at this link, and the organizers have been sweet to offer my readers 20% off their ticket price when you use the code CHEERS.

BUT – before you go buy those tickets, why not try to win a pair?? That’s right, I’ve got a set of VIP tickets to give away to one of my lucky readers! Scroll all the way down to the end of this post to find out how to enter.



Homegrown Beerthday Festival

Saturday, November 12th, 2016
12– 5 pm

Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace
2720 Old Lebanon Rd
Nashville, TN 37214

Cost: $25/single; $40/2 pack; $72/4 pack

Homegrown Taproom & Marketplace opened last year and the community has heartily embraced this neighborhood watering hole that brought craft beer and local food to the Donelson neighborhood. In celebration of the birthday, co-owners Robin Davis and Jennifer Starks (both of whom I adore) are throwing Homegrown’s First Beerthday Festival featuring local breweries like Czann’s, Black Abbey, Little Harpeth, Yazoo, Honky Tonk, East Nashville Beer Works, Fat Bottom, and more.

Guests will receive a complimentary 5-ounce sampler glass with their ticket purchase, and there will be food specials and live music.  Tickets can be purchased at the taproom or online. $1 from every ticket sold will be donated to Hip Donelson Lost & Found Pets.


Craft Beer Meets Craft Fair at TailGate Beer

Saturday, November 26th, 2016
12– 6 pm

TailGate Beer
7300 Charlotte Pike
Nashville, TN 37209

Cost: FREE admission

In celebration of Small Business Saturday, TailGate Beer is hosting 8 local artists and artisans so you can get some of your holiday shopping done while enjoying a few TailGate beers! Sounds like a good plan to me.

They’ll also be accepting donations of new, unwrapped gifts for the Last Minute Toy Store. For more information, visit the FB event page.



Holiday Lights at Cheekwood

Friday, November 25th, 2016 – January 1, 2017
5 – 10 pm

1200 Forrest Park Dr
Nashville, TN 37205

$15 – $25 for adults
$15 – $20 for youth
Free for Children 2 and under
Parking  $5

Visit on Tuesday or Wednesday night and receive a $3 discount per ticket (not available December 20 and 21)

Last year was the first Holiday LIGHTS at Cheekwood, and I have a feeling it will quickly become a part of many families’ holiday traditions. We had a wonderful time strolling through the gardens last year and viewing all of the gorgeous lights (ONE MILLION lights!) and taking advantage of the s’mores pits.

Beginning Friday, November 25th , the lights will illuminate the gardens once again, and this year, they’ve introduced new elements such as Storytime with Santa and Gingerbread House Workshops. For more information, visit the Cheekwood website.




~Bacon and Beer Classic VIP Giveaway~

Contest Closed

The Winner is….

Josh on the Bus!

I’ve got a pair of VIP tickets for the Bacon and Beer Classic being held at Nissan Stadium on Saturday, November 5th to give to one of you! To enter, all you have to do is one of the following. If you do two or three, you get bonus entries!

1. Leave a comment telling me which brewery or restaurant you’re most excited to try at the Bacon and Beer Classic, or which is your favorite of the bunch on an everyday basis.

2.  Follow me (@betheats) on Twitter and tweet “Nashville Beer & Bacon Classic is on Nov 5th and @betheats has 2 VIP tickets to give away! Enter here: ” then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

3.  Follow me on Instagram and leave a comment on my Beer & Bacon Classic post, tagging a friend to help spread the word.

Contest ends on Sunday, October 30th at noon CT. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll make contact via email or direct message and post the name here on the blog. If that person doesn’t respond within 24 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!



Pakta interior photo courtesy of Pakta

Finally back with more Barcelona! Have I mentioned how absolutely, head-over-heels I fell for this city? There is just so much to talk about that it’s making it extremely difficult to pare down our adventures into concise blog posts, but I’m at least going to try.

Previously I told you all about the fabulous Food Lover Tapas Tour, and today I’ve got a completely different dinner experience to share with you.

Pakta is a Michelin-starred experiential restaurant run by Albert and Ferran Adrià of elBulli fame. Yes, elBulli, that place in Spain that was named the most influential restaurant in the world for many years. Sadly, it closed a few years before I stepped foot in that country, but I certainly read about it. A lot. For anyone that is as food obsessed as I am, there was no way not to.




When I began researching Barcelona, I crowd-sourced on Twitter, which I often do when planning trips. Pakta was recommended by an acquaintance whose opinion I definitely respect when it comes to food, so I added it to my list of ‘potentials’. As I began to dig further, I discovered the connection to the Adrià brothers and there was absolutely no doubt in my mind that it was a MUST do.

My research also turned up these fun facts:

  • Pakta serves Nikkei cuisine, which is a blend of Japanese and Peruvian elements
  • Nikkei cuisine was created by Japanese immigrants that began coming to Peru in the late 19th century
  • The word Pakta means “union” in the Peruvian dialect Quechua (the original language of indigenous Peruvians)

To learn more about Nikkei cuisine, its roots, and where it’s going, read this article. I found it fascinating.




Now, for our experience~

Pakta offers two set tasting menus, which they will email to you a few days before your reservation. At that time, they ask that you let them know your choice of menu so they’ll be ready for your visit. (You are able to share allergies or intolerances at this time so the chefs can adjust your menu)

The first option is the Fujiyama menu, with 23 dishes for 95€. The second option is the Machu-Picchu menu, with 33 dishes for 130€. Typically I would go for the larger offering, but this was one time that I showed restraint and was actually happy that I did.

While I’m sure all those extra dishes were incredible, we were completely satisfied with Fujiyama’s 23. It was the perfect amount.



Honzen Ryori

Corn surinagashi with huacatay and lime

Tamago-dofu, tosazu sauce with nori and salmon roe

Horse mackerel with cucumber, gari and sumiso sauce

Cherry with kimchi, radish and green shiso

Kumquats with “leche de tigre” jelly

Daikon with “ají amarillo”

Market fish usuzukuri with yuzukosho

The meal starts with Honzen Ryori, which is a basic style of Japanese cuisine where dishes are arranged and served on trays. Our first round of dishes were bite sized courses served on a wooden platter.



The Nigiris

Oyster nigiri with ponzu sauce and “rocoto”

Horse mackerel nigiri with umeboshi and “ají mirasol”

I can’t even begin to explain everything. Let’s just say we were blown away. My head was spinning and I’m not sure there has ever been a time in my life where I was so absolutely giddy about food. We were both at a loss for words, and all we could manage was “wow”.


Tuna tartare with crispy nori and shichimi

And of course it didn’t end there. We were just beginning. Next up was nigiri, tuna tartare, and the most amazing ceviche ever. Honestly, I felt like I was in a dream. My head was swirling as dish after dish was put in front of us.


Sea Bass ceviche with fresh green almond “leche de tigre”

Looking back, there’s a part of me that wishes I’d done a better job of documenting every bite. Taken notes, taken more photos. But at that moment in time, I didn’t want to analyze and document. I needed to just be. To enjoy.



The Causas

Floral causa of tuna with “acevichada” mayonnaise and kizami wasabi

Fried causa with chicken and huacatay

That said, I did take the time to snap a few photos, and luckily several of them were of the dishes that turned out to be favorites.

In traditional Peruvian cusine, a causa is a mashed potato terrine typically served as a starter. Pakta’s causas were little mini bites, but the small size definitely did not mean little flavor. This tuna causa was absolutely incredible.


Suckling pig Xiao Long Bao with “ají limo”oil

Pork jowl fried “sanguchito” with pickles

Cancha chulpi soba with “acevichada” sauce and bottarga

Then there was the Xiao Long Bao. I haven’t had a dumpling this good since China. Need more of these in my life.


To Finish

Grilled chicken “Anticucho”

Fried rock fish with “escabeche” nikkei sauce


Desserts Honzen Ryori

Shikwasa mochi

Yuzu meringue

Mango sandwich

Soy sauce flam

Cinnamon stick

This was a meal that will never be forgotten. When I’ve tried to describe it to people, the best way I can do so is to say that it was one of the best meals of my life. Actually, it might even be THE best meal I’ve ever had.

It’s made me start researching Peru so I can go there and seek out more Nikkei cuisine. It made me want to expand my world. To travel more, to soak in other cultures. That’s what a truly great meal should do. Fully satisfy you, but leave you craving more.

Restaurant Pakta

Carrer de Lleida, 5, 08004 Barcelona, Spain
+34 936 240 177

Mon – Thurs 7 – 10:30 pm
Sat – Sun 1- 4 pm; 7 10:30 pm


photo courtesy of Bastion Nashville

Back in February, a new bar opened it’s doors in Wedgewood Houston and I pretty much instantly fell in love. At that time, some of my friends didn’t even know where Wedgewood Houston was. Actually, by the blank stares I still get from some people when I’m explaining where Bastion is, it’s obvious there are plenty that still don’t.

And I’m okay with that. Because so far it hasn’t gotten too crowded. And it hasn’t been overrun by tourists and bachelorette parties (please God, don’t let this happen. Please.)

Tucked away inside Houston Station, Bastion is the kind of watering hole/gathering space that my husband and I have been saying was lacking from the social scene for a few years now.



Bastion Nachos

Strategic Hospitality and Chef Josh Habiger are the forces behind this place, and once again they’ve got the golden touch. A neighborhood bar serving everything from amazing craft cocktails to High Life ponies, Bastion also has an arcade table. Galaga!!! The excitement I experience any time I encounter Galaga is a little abnormal. Pair it with a good cocktail and my night is made.

While I love many of Strategic’s concepts (Patterson House, Pinewood, Catbird), this one is definitely the most laid back and comfortable. It’s the perfect place to hang with friends or have a casual date night with your honey.

Craft cocktails are $13. Punch of the day, Old Fashioneds and Bucks (my go-to) are $9. Wine is $8. Beers are $2.50 – $6.50. When I say there is something for everyone, there really is.



Toy Soldier at Bastion – Tequila, Mezcal, Pineapple, Lime, Ginger, Cardamom, Salt

While there are more than enough drink options to keep you busy for quite some time (and meet anyone’s taste), the bar serves only one food item – nachos. But they are way delicious, so I think you’ll be more than satisfied.



just part of our Feast at Bastion, the restaurant

That said, if you’re looking for more of a meal than just snack-y bar food, then you can combine your visit to Bastion the bar with Bastion the restaurant.

Opened in May of this year, the 24 seat restaurant side of Bastion is made up of basically 3 areas – a small bar, a kitchen counter, and a dining room with 3 tables.



one of many a la carte dishes at Bastion’s counter


Parties of four to six (no parties of more than 6 can be accommodated) can dine at one of the dining room tables, where they offer ‘the feast’, a multi-course meal that, in our experience, will leave you stuffed, and perhaps even taking home some leftovers. These dishes are served family style, and the chef himself delivers the courses to you, along with a detailed description of each.




Pear + Fennel at Bastion


For parties of one to four, Bastion offers a multi-course a la carte menu served at the kitchen counter, where you can watch all the magic happen up close. Having done both, I have to say, I think I prefer sitting at the counter for no reason other than being able to interact with the chefs as they prepare the meal. You can’t go wrong with the food either way, but it’s fun to watch and ask questions as it’s all coming together.


Scallop + Melon at Bastion

The kitchen counter menu is arranged by size, with the smallest dishes at the top, and the larger entree-like dishes toward the bottom, with dessert very last. They suggest 1 item per line per person, and for the most part, I agree. Of course, if there are 3 things on one line that you want, go for it! My husband and I are usually more interested in savory courses than sweet, so if you’re like us, maybe you’ll want to cut out a dessert and choose something from another section instead.

Whatever you do, definitely choose different items than your dining partner/partners, so you can taste almost everything on the menu!


Beef + Sweet Potato at Bastion

Menu descriptions are super simple (as you can see from my photo captions), but I promise the flavors are way more complex. There’s a lot happening in some of these small plates and your taste buds will be doing the happy dance as you hop from dish to dish.


Dessert at Bastion

Whether you’re looking for a casual after-work drink spot or in need of a special place for a celebratory meal, Bastion has you covered. Take my word for it and go grab a drink, have some nachos, and/or make a reservation for the restaurant via their online ticketing system. But let’s keep it between us, okay? I’d like for it to stay tucked away as our hidden gem for as long as possible…


Bastion Nashville

434 Houston St
Nashville, TN 37203

Tues-Sun 5 pm – 2 am

Wed – Sat 5:30 – 9:45 pm



Kiddo spotting Mommy’s name in the Scene

Nashville Scene’s annual Best of Nashville issue just hit the stands a few days ago and I want to thank you all for voting for me! For the second year in a row, I placed second in the Best Food Writer category between two very talented and very deserving people, Chris Chamberlain and Jennifer Justus.

When I started this blog over seven years ago, I had no idea anyone other than my friends and family would ever read it, and I certainly didn’t think I’d be winning any awards! Even better than the awards though are the friendships I’ve built and the amazing opportunities I’ve been given. Thank you all from the bottom of my heart for supporting me all these years!