Music City Food & Wine 2014: A Recap
I could spend days writing this blog post. Not kidding. DAYS. Our town’s 2nd Music City Food + Wine Festival has come and gone, and it was a doozy.
As I sat here going through all of my photos, it hit me hard how much I love Nashville and more specifically, our food community. This past weekend was absolutely incredible. My heart and my belly were filled as I got to eat delicious things, listen to incredible music, meet interesting new people, and spend quality time with dear friends I don’t get to see nearly enough of.
I love my life. And I love this festival.
Unfortunately, I don’t have days to spend writing, so while I can’t explain every single thing that made this weekend amazing, I’m giving you my thoughts on what was the best of the best – the food, the drink, the moments.
Day 1 – Grand Taste
One of the first bites I had when I came through the entrance was from Otaku South. That dish stayed on my mind all day long. Okay, who am I kidding? I’m still thinking about it! Tantan Mazeman – thick style noodle, sesame, chili sauce, dashi, chili oil and cured egg yolk – absolutely one of my top 3 favorites of the day.
The other two dishes that made up my Top 3?
Moto’s Housemade Burrata and heirloom tomato panzanella and Sinema’s Duck, Duck, Dumpling – frisee, butternut squash, whipped goat cheese, duck confit, and curried French style gnocchi. Both amazing.
Those may have been my Top 3, but there were a few others that I loved as well.
Biscuit Love’s 3-year-aged country ham with beaten biscuits and jam. As you can see, the ham was cut from a leg right there on the table. I may have gone by a couple of times (3, 4, 5 – who’s counting?) to nibble on the ham remnants. Hey, I love country ham. I grew up in a town that hosts the Country Ham Festival every year. It’s in my DNA.
Just in case you’re wondering, I did more than just eat at the festival. I learned to play harmonica too!
Moving on to the sweet side of things, Lisa Donovan’s (Husk) Bourbon Butterscotch Pudding with Smoked Cocoa Nib Brittle was absolutely delicious.
And this one? Well, it was pure insanity. My mind was blown and I deemed the Catbird Seat contribution to the event the ‘Best in Show’. What looked like a wheelbarrow full of potatoes and dirt turned out to be an amazing cream filled pastry with cocoa nibs (dirt)!
The Grand Taste tents at Public Square Park during the day is where the Nashville chefs show off their culinary skills, but Saturday night’s Harvest Dinner is where the out of town chefs have a chance to shine.
Held at the Walk of Fame Park behind the downtown Hilton, the lawn was set with 15 individual sampling stations for each chef, which meant lining up for each taste. A couple of the lines were so long, I just wasn’t willing to wait (sorry Tyler Florence & Morimoto), but for the most part they moved fairly quickly.
My favorites from Harvest Night (I’d definitely be willing to wait in line for a second helping of these!):
Amanda Freitag’s Falafel
Ashley Christensen’s Pimento Cheese grits, succotash, and fried okra
Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman’s Porchetta with Brussels Sprouts
Levon Wallace’s BBQ Manchester Farms Quail, Berbere, Watermelon Confit, Cruze Buttermilk
Mike Lata’s braised grilled squid, burnt eggplant puree and paprika
After eating my way through most of the stations, I was exhausted and starting to lose steam, so I plopped myself on the grass to listen to the entertainment. Just a few of the performers for the evening: Kings of Leon, Michael McDonald, Charles Kelley, Hunter Hayes, Ashley Monroe, Moon Taxi…
Sitting in the cool grass with the lights of the city and good friends around me, I had another “I love Nashville. I love my life.” moment. Happy times.
Day 2 – Grand Taste
First thing on the agenda for Day 2 of the festival was to get caffeinated. Day 1 was a long day, and we needed a boost! Luckily, Switter’s bottled iced coffee was there, so I pretty much guzzled it* for the first couple of hours. Let me tell you, this stuff is really, really fantastic!
Made with 8th and Roast beans, it’s currently sold at Whole Foods, Produce Place, Mitchell Delicatessen and a few other local markets, as well as on tap at some restaurants (and more to come soon). Search it out!
*there may have also been a little Whisper Creek Tennessee Sipping Cream added….
Caffeine secured, so naturally, hot chicken was our next stop. While Hattie B’s had a table full of mini hot chicken sandwiches, I wasn’t really in the mood for a sandwich, so I asked the chef if I could just get a piece of chicken sans bread. His response was to pull out a giant ziploc bag full of hot chicken skins.
How did he know the way to my heart??? After multiple trips back to that table throughout the day to secure more, I finally suggested that they start selling them by the bag in the restaurant. It would certainly be my new #1 snack food.
Other top picks for Day 2:
Sinema’s Cardamom Sugar Crusted French Toast with mulled wine poached pear, and whipped farm cheese. (Wow. Fingers crossed that this or at least something very similar will be on their new brunch menu when it launches!)
404 Kitchen’s cornbread with pickled cherries, trampetti olive oil and Hungarian white honey truffles
Mangia’s Porchetta on Focaccia
Well, there you have it. My “best of the best” list for Music City Food + Wine 2014. For those of you that were there, I’d love to hear what your favorites were! And for those that didn’t attend, start saving your change now, because you need to be there next year!