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photo courtesy of Music City Food & Wine

 

Last year we were blessed with glorious weather for Music City Food + Wine Festival.  This year, not so much.

Day 1 of the festival was one of the grayest, dreariest, messiest days I remember experiencing here in Nashville for quite some time. Lucky for me I learned my lesson years ago after surviving one mud-bogged Steeplechase, and I now own some cute rain boots for times like this. I’ll admit they don’t provide the best support for hours on your feet, but at least they kept my tootsies dry and made navigating the mud-filled park a lot easier than those people I saw getting stuck ankle deep in sandals in the mud. Ick.

While the rain did put a bit of a damper on the first day, it certainly didn’t stop me (and a few hundred others) from enjoying some great food and drink.

This was the 4th year of the festival, and the 4th year I’ve attended. Year 1 and Year 2 were held at Public Square Park downtown, but last year it moved to Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, and I absolutely LOVE the change of venue. Much more space, a few trees to seek shade (or shelter from the rain), and plenty of free parking in the area.

 

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Virago’s Carp Crudo

It would be absolutely impossible for me to recap every single thing I ate and drank, so I’m just going to hit the highlights. Believe me, there were plenty of those.

By far the best bite of the day on Saturday was, for me, Virago’s Kentucky Silver Carp Crudo with pickled gooseberries, gooseberry ponzu, chevral, and smoked olive oil. It was so refreshing and flavorful, and just so very different than anything else I had that day!

 

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Thai Esane’s spicy chicken larb

People often ask me to name my favorite restaurants in Nashville, and it’s HARD y’all. Sometimes I really love a place for certain seasonal dishes they have. Sometimes I love a place for the atmosphere. But there are a handful of places I consistently crave no matter what time of the year and my fondness for it has nothing to do with atmosphere. Thai Esane is one of them.

Thai food is my jam, and the pork larb is one of my favorite dishes there. Here at MCFW, Nina was serving up their chicken larb and even though I probably added a few too many peppers (good lord, my mouth was on fire!), it was one of my favorites.

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The Goo Goo Shop at Music City Food & Wine

Okay, so I know I work for the company, but I swear even if I didn’t, the Premium Goo Goos would have still been the best dessert I ate on that Saturday! For the last couple of years we’ve been collaborating with some of Nashville’s best chefs for our Summer Chef Series, and Music City Food & Wine is where the series culminates and all chef creations are available for tasting.

My favorites this year have been Chef John Lasater’s (Hattie B’s) “Goo Goo Cluckster” and Pat Martin’s “Whole Hog“. If you weren’t at Music City Food & Wine and haven’t been able to get any of the Premiums yet, then hurry over to the Goo Goo Shop today and grab one because today is the very last day of the series!

 

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The Southern’s potato pancake with duck confit

Now back to the savory…

I really enjoyed the Southern’s duck confit with spiced carrot puree and plum cherry mostarda with toasted pepitas, plus I got to chat with Chef Dale Levitski who was manning their booth at the time, so that’s always a treat.

As many of you probably know, Dale used to be the chef at Sinema, but left a few months ago. I was excited to hear through the grapevine a few months back that he was now working on the new Tom Morales seafood concept, Fin and Pearl (which will be a sister restaurant to The Southern). I love Dale and seafood, so should be a winning combo!

 

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Watermark’s Bacon & Pickles

Watermark won my award for prettiest tablescape of the weekend. I actually kept taking people by there to see it. Of course, I wanted them to eat the food too, as it was one of the best bites — maple glazed bacon with pickled squash, carrots, onions and mustard seed. Yum.

 

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Watermark’s Table at Music City Food & Wine

 

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Chickens and cabbages gettin’ smoked at Martin’s

While I didn’t get photos of all the individual foods I sampled from the Martin’s BBQ fire pits, I can say that everything I had was fabulous! From lamb skewers to sausage to green beans, I loved it all.

 

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Octopus on the grill at Music City Food & Wine

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Hallelujah, Day 2 of Music City Food & Wine was a much better day! It wasn’t raining, the sun was shining, and for some reason, the food offering was even better (was that just my imagination?) than Saturday.

Over the last couple of years the Sunday Grand Taste has really become my favorite part of the whole weekend. The Gospel Brunch is fabulous. Love the music, love starting the day with a Bloody Mary (this year from Tito’s), and the vibe of Sunday just seems to be way more chill for some reason. Maybe because many people are hungover? Ha! Thankfully I wasn’t, so the day was pure awesomeness.

 

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Merchants Bacon Cornbread

I’m not typically one for carb heavy foods, so sometimes I pass up those dishes at events. Not on this day, and thank goodness I didn’t, because carbs ruled.

When I saw the description of Merchants’s cornbread on their sign, it sounded strange, so I hesitated. But, ultimately I went for it and let me tell you, bacon cornbread with peach miso butterscotch dandelion pesto is divine.

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Holler and Dash’s amazing biscuit

Let me tell you what else is divine. Every single topping on the biscuit from Brandon Frohne of Holler and Dash: candied bacon, popcorn, whipped peanut butter, and bananas. Yep. If I had been hungover, this definitely would have cured it.

 

mcfw16-pink-radio-cake-bongoBongo Java Pink Radio Cake

More carbs! When I spotted the pink radio cake from Bongo Java, I was giddy. You see, this cake has been around for years (at least 7 or 8 years?? I feel like I may have been eating it at Fido before I even created this blog).  But until Music City Food & Wine, I hadn’t had a piece in ages.

One little square reminded me what I’ve been missing out on. The second square confirmed that I need to eat it more often. No, I didn’t take a third square, but I wanted to. (fun fact: the cake and icing contain puréed beets but you’d never know it from the taste!)

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Watermelon salad from Butcher & Bee

There were lighter bites to be had too, I swear. For instance, I loved this little bite of watermelon salad from Butcher & Bee. (Seriously, you can never go wrong with anything from Butcher & Bee. Never.)

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Ceviche from Bajo Sexto at MCF&W

And this really light & tangy ceviche from Bajo Sexto. Speaking of which, have you been to Bajo Sexto Taco Lounge on Charlotte yet? It’s awesome, you guys. You must check it out if you haven’t already. Super cute space, great patio and some really interesting dishes coming out of that kitchen from Chef Kaelin.

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The best drink booth of the entire festival was definitely Wild Turkey’s, as they had these guys from The Patterson House mixing up tiki drinks.

I mean, look at them. They slay.

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Wild Turkey Tiki drink from Patterson House at MCF&W

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Flyte’s Cornmeal Sourdough Crostini

One of the best parts of this festival is that I get to revisit some older, more established Nashville restaurants that maybe I haven’t been frequenting as often as I used to since all these newbies have started popping on the scene. Case in point – Flyte.

They served this simple cornmeal sourdough crostini with mushroom ragout and whipped bonnie blue chevre, and it was delicious. Chatting with Chef Chris Stallard reminded me that I haven’t been there since he took over the kitchen, and that’s a big fail on my part. My friend Kristin and I are already comparing calendars so we can remedy that.

 

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Elote bite at Music City Food & Wine

Rodney Strong Vineyards brought Chef Jason Dady all the way from Texas, and my friend Jenny from Speakeasy Spirits forced me to eat the little bite they were serving up. Really, she forced me. I was so stuffed at that point of the day, that I didn’t think I could eat another bite, but I did. And when she saw the look on my face, she said “I told you so”.

This cream corn concoction was served atop a lime wedge, so you squeezed the lime to transfer the corn into your mouth and it gave you all the flavors of elote! Such a creative (and delicious) idea.

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Ice Cream Sandwich from Bastion

The very last bite of food I ate on Sunday was this mind blowing ice cream sandwich with peanut ice cream, carolina reaper chili, and basil oil from Josh Habiger of Bastion. Josh is a genius, in case you didn’t already know that. I asked him to explain this little nugget to me, but I think my head was still trying to process how incredible it was, and I couldn’t for the life of me repeat back the details for you. Sorry! Just take my advice and go see him at Bastion. I’m quite sure he’ll astound you with several dishes.

So there you have it. My picks for the best of the fest. Until next year, Music City Food & Wine!

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photo courtesy of my lovely friend Kristin, Camels & Chocolate

Disclosure: I was granted a media pass for Music City Food & Wine free of charge, but all opinions are my own.

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No Kid Hungry Bake Sale

Saturday, October 1st, 2016
10 am til they sell out!

Williams-Sonoma Green Hills
Green Hills Mall
Nashville, TN 37215

Williams-Sonoma Green Hills is hosting a “Professional” Bake Sale this Saturday for a great cause. Featuring donations from local bakeries, pastry chefs and candy companies, 100% of the proceeds will go to No Kid Hungry, a campaign that connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending child hunger a national priority.

So if you happen to be shopping in Green Hills on Saturday, don’t forget to pop into WS to get your sweet treats and help out this worthy organization!

 

 

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Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival

Saturday, October 1st, 2016
10 am – 6 pm

Centennial Park
2500 West End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: FREE

I’m ashamed to say that I’ve lived in Nashville for almost 15 years and have never made it to the Celebrate Nashville Cultural Festival. This year, the 20th anniversary of the festival, that’s going to change! On Saturday I’m heading to Centennial park to soak in dance and music performances, eat as much exotic food as I possibly can, shop the global marketplace, and let my kiddo have loads of fun with all the children’s activities being offered (He can create wearable Samurai garb? Yes!).

But again, back to the food…. I’m completely overwhelmed by this list of offerings. How will I choose?!?

 

 

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Green Door Gourmet Fall Fest

Sunday, October 2nd, 2016
Noon – 6 pm

Green Door Gourmet
7011 River Road Pike
Nashville, TN 37209

Cost: $5 per adult, children 10 and under free

This is shaping up to be a busy weekend for our family, because in addition to the cultural festival, we’ll also be attending Fall Fest at Green Door Gourmet.  We had a blast last year, so definitely wouldn’t miss out this time. Join us on Sunday to soak up live music, take a hayride around the farm, play some pumpkin games, and let your kiddos burn off some energy in the Kids Zone.

In addition to all that stuff, more than 40 local artisan vendors will be showcasing their local, Pick TN and Made in the South wares and there will be food from The Grilled Cheeserie, Peg Leg Porker, Yayo’s OMG Tacos, Jeni’s Ice Cream, The Trailer Perk, Califarmia and Yazoo.

 

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Henrietta Red Oyster Roast

Friday, October 7th, 2016
6:30 – 9:30 pm

1307 6th Ave N
Nashville, TN 37208

Cost: $75

Nashville is not lacking in new restaurants these days, and one of the most highly anticipated openings is Henrietta Red. Slated to open in Germantown in “Winter 2016” (according to the website), it will feature seasonal food with an emphasis on sharing, as well as a raw bar with oysters and seafood.  You can read more of the details here. I’m REALLY looking forward to this one, as I’ve heard great things about Chef Julia Sullivan, and well, I’m a fan of pretty much everything Strategic Hospitality puts their hands on.

Winter seems so far away, but lucky for us, we can kick off Oktoberfest and get a preview of Henrietta Red with an upcoming Oyster Roast being held next Friday, October 7th. Details and tickets can be found here.

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Tennessee Beer & Wine Festival

Saturday, October 15th, 2016
Noon – 5 pm

Two Rivers Mansion
3130 McGavock Pike
Nashville, TN 37214

Cost: $30 (early bird online until 10/5), $35 (online from 10/5 – 10/14), $45 (at the door), $15 for designated driver tickets

Purchase tickets here.

 

The Tennessee Beer and Wine Festival will once again bring beer lovers and wine aficionados together at the gorgeous Two Rivers Mansion on October 15th.

The 7th annual festival brewery lineup includes favorites such as Tennessee Brew Works, The Black Abbey Brewing Company, Crazy Mountain Brewing, Hi-Wire Brewing, Core Brewing and Ballast Point Brewing Company. In addition, guests are invited to stroll along the beautiful grounds of Two Rivers Mansion while enjoying local musical talent, a variety of food vendors and moonshine tasting. The event will also feature an educational tent with sessions such as food pairings and home brewing. As an added bonus, Lyft is offering free and discounted rides to guests for safe driving to-and-from the festival.

Tickets include access to the event, samples of beer and wine, a commemorative tasting glass and an invite to the event’s official after party at Scoreboard Sports Bar & Grill.

For more information on the festival and discount codes from Lyft, visit the festival website.

 

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Chef Ashley Christensen Cookbook Signing

Monday, October 17th, 2016
6 – 8 pm

Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint
410 4th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37201

Cost: $25

James Beard Award Winner Chef Ashley Christensen is heading to Nashville to promote her new book and Pat Martin is hosting a shindig for her at the downtown Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint. If you haven’t yet had a chance to check out the new place, then this is the perfect opportunity!

For $25 you’ll get plenty of delicious hors d’oeuvres (see menu below) and two signature cocktails from Ashley’s new cookbook, Poole’s: Recipes and Stories from a Modern Diner. The ticket doesn’t include a copy of the cookbook but you are welcome to bring your own copy if you’ve already purchased or they will be available to purchase on-site.

Menu:
Oysters rocka-billy
Ribs w/mustard sorghum sauce
Crab donuts w/piquillo pepper mayo
Pimento cheese finger sandwiches
AC’s deviled eggs
To purchase tickets, click here.

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Though it had been quite a long time since I’d visited New Orleans, I certainly hadn’t forgotten how great the food is in that city and over the years, I’ve continued to pay attention to new restaurants that have come on the scene there.

That’s how I knew that Shaya was the first reservation I needed to secure when planning my trip. Named the Best New Restaurant in the U.S. at the James Beard Awards in May, and then more recently, one of the South’s Best New Restaurants by Southern Living magazine, there was no way I was missing out on eating a meal there.

 

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ikra at Shaya, New Orleans – paddlefish caviar spread with shallots

And let me tell you, I’m tempted to hop on a Southwest flight back to the Crescent City just to eat there again!

That bread. The ikra. We are all still talking about this spread. How can a simple dip be so glorious??

 

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crispy halloumi at Shaya, New Orleans
plums and beets, tarragon, almonds

In addition to eating an ungodly amount of pita bread (and I almost don’t even want to call it that, because it’s so far above and beyond any pita bread I’ve ever eaten in my life), we consumed one of the best meals I’ve had this year.

Shipka peppers with goat cheese, Moroccan carrots with chermoula and mint, an amazing roasted cabbage….

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Shaya’s roasted cabbage
muhammara, tahini, hazelnuts

Oh my goodness, this cabbage. And then this rice….

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Persian rice at Shaya, New Orleans
golden crust, cherries and brown butter

The rice alone is delicious, but eat it with the slow cooked lamb and OMG.

Suffice it to say that I highly recommend you get yourself to Shaya. Just plan a whole trip to New Orleans to eat there. It’s worth it.

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Shaya’s slow cooked lamb
whipped feta, walnut and stone fruit tabouleh

Trinity

1117 Decatur
New Orleans, LA 70116
504-325-5789

 

While Shaya can be the main reason you go to New Orleans, you might as well take advantage of the rest of the dining scene and eat some more delicious meals while there, right?

Smoked Oyster Deviled Eggs at Trinity, New Orleans

Trinity is fairly new on the scene (I think it just opened in May?) so it was a riskier choice as there wasn’t as much written about it as some other tried and true places in New Orleans. But, it was on Eater’s Heat Map for one of the hottest restaurants currently, and it had lots of oyster options on the menu, so I booked it.

Good decision.

 

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Trinity grilled octopus & chickpea dip

The Smoked Oyster deviled eggs were to die for. We would have gotten two orders, but they had just run out of eggs when we asked for a second order! Boo.

Ah well, the grilled octopus & chickpea dip with pickled red onion and toast points was awesome, as were the broiled oysters with cayenne aioli.

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Broiled Cayenne Aioli Oysters at Trinity, New Orleans

Seared scallops with corn puree, roasted mirliton, and pine nuts was our favorite entree, but I think the small plates was where the restaurant really shined. (Did I mention pork belly? Never a bad thing)

Tip: If you go to Trinity, be sure to make a night of it and check out Cane & Table right next door for great craft cocktails.

 

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just a portion of our spread at Peche, New Orleans

If you need another reason to buy a plane ticket to New Orleans, Peche is it.

I was actually afraid it wouldn’t live up to the hype (as I’d heard SO MANY good things about it). Fortunately that was not the case….it was even better than I could have imagined.

 

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Peche’s tuna with pickled corn, pistachio puree, and crispy rice 

 

From the moment I took the first bite of the tuna sashimi, I knew I was in for a treat. Then the crab salad…. well, that crab salad. Words escape me. Who knew a simple crab salad with cucumber & sesame could be so brilliant?

Not me. Thus, I didn’t even bother taking a picture of it before digging in. See what you can’t really see in the above photo? Yep, that’s the crab salad in the background, upper right corner. If I had known that it was going to be mind-blowing, I certainly would have documented it better than this!

 

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Cobia with lentils, pepitas, fried onion, and curry aioli at Peche

Often I find that the dishes I am most impressed by are found in the appetizer/small plates section of the menu, but here at Peche, the entrees definitely held their own with the starters. The Cobia may have been my favorite, with lentils, fried onions and a curry aioli. I made sure there was not one single morsel left on that plate. Not one.

And then we were super surprised by the Baked Drum, which was described simply as “baked drum w/ tomato broth + croutons”. Uh, yeah, that description does not even come close to doing it justice. It was not at all what any of us expected, but that was not a bad thing. It was actually a very, very, very good thing.

So there you go… a few places to visit and things to eat on your next trip to New Orleans! Enjoy~

 

 

 

 

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Berries & Tofu at Virago Brunch
fresh berries, wasabi pea granola, whipped tofu

Have you heard? There’s a new brunch coming to town and you’re going to want to take advantage of it while it lasts.

Virago‘s fall brunch will officially kick off to the public this Saturday, September 10th and be offered every  Saturday and Sunday throughout the rest of September and all of October.

 

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Virago’s A.M. Chirashi Don – smoked salmon, bagel cured salmon, albacore, tamago, asparagus slaw, avocado, salmon roe

 

Recently I was invited to a preview of the rooftop brunch, so I thought I’d give you a little peak at everything we got to sample. First, I can tell you that this not your typical brunch menu, which makes it really exciting.

You’ll find twists on breakfast favorites and completely unique items that you may have never heard of, but you’re definitely going to want to try!

 

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Virago Soft Scotch Egg – soft egg, tsukune (chicken meatball that’s wrapped around the egg), black currant mustard, shungiku (chrysanthemum greens)

I’ve known Chef Andrew Whitney for a few years now — since he was the Executive Chef for one of my favorite food trucks (Riff’s Fine Street Food) turned brick and mortar, Riff’s Cafe. If you haven’t been to Virago since Drew took over the kitchen, this is your chance to go see what he is doing. I promise, you’re going to like it. A lot.

 

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Bacon and Eggs Mazemen at Virago – soft egg, pork belly, arugula, pickled tomato

My absolute favorite dish of the preview was the Bacon & Eggs Mazemen, which is like a ramen noodle dish. Those pickled tomatoes were the perfect little bite to cut the richness of the egg, noodles and pork belly.

Even though I was pretty stuffed (do you see all the food we ate???) I kept going back to this plate for another bite. And another. And another. So good.

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Virago’s Cereal Roll
sweet rice, inari tofu, mascarpone, crunch, rolled in fruity pebbles, sweet condensed milk

While I typically prefer savory breakfast and brunch dishes, I certainly was not opposed to finishing off the meal with a little something sweet. I’d definitely recommend this fruity sushi roll for sharing with a group – it’s plenty to feed 4 or even 6, depending on how much of a sweet tooth you have.

 

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Virago’s Cereal Roll
sweet rice, inari tofu, mascarpone, crunch, rolled in fruity pebbles, sweet condensed milk

That’s just a little preview of a few dishes you’ll have to choose from – you can check out the full menu here. There are so many great things being offered up that I might just have to be there every single weekend between now and the end of October to get through it all!

Roasted Hazelnut Burrata definitely needs to happen in my life. Burrata, arugula, toasted hazelnuts, citrus and blueberry balsamic vinaigrette with grilled bread…uh huh.

Oh, and the Bacon & Egg Hand Roll…and the Breakfast Bomb…and the Wagyu Kimcheese Burger and the Pork Belly Corn Dog. And did I mention the view? The best.

 

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Virago Brunch with a view (photo by Michael Sati)

 

Virago

1126 McGavock St
Nashville, TN 37203
615-254-1902

Brunch with a View (on the patio through October)
Sat-Sun 11 am-3 pm

 

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Casa Milá, Barcelona, Spain

With over 400 photos of Barcelona to dig through and whittle down to a more manageable number, I almost started to think this trip recap was never going to happen. But…I fell so in love with this city that I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to share, no matter how long it took me!

While I was attempting to write one single Barcelona post, I’ve decided that’s absolutely impossible. Honestly, I’m not even sure I can fit it all in 3, but that’s my goal! *Hopefully* over the course of the next couple of weeks, I’ll find the time to give you the full rundown of our Barcelona adventure.

 

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La Bodegueta, Barcelona, Spain

For today, I’m starting at the beginning – Day 1 of our stay in Barcelona. Within 2 hours of checking into our hotel we were already out the door and on the way to a tapas tour of our neighborhood, L’Eixample. I discovered Food Lover Tours through my friend Lindsay, who had, just a couple of months before, gone on their Sweets Lover Tour in Barcelona.

Since Ravi and I are definitely more savory than sweet people, I wanted to try out one of their other tours. Tapas style eating is my jam, so when I saw “Tapas Lover”, I was all in. Funny thing is, I didn’t even realize when booking it how near our hotel we would be.

Our meeting point to start the tour was at Gaudi’s La Pedrera (Casa Milá photo at top of page), located just two blocks away!

 

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La Bodegueta, Barcelona, Spain

Our tapas tour began at 7:30 pm and was to end at 11:30 pm. After several hours on a train traveling from Paris, I was definitely ready to stretch my legs and eat more than a croissant. Little did I know just how much food (and drink!) we would be consuming that night. At 94 €, we MORE than got our money’s worth.

 

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Our Food Lover Tour group (sans me) at our first stop, La Bodegueta

This is a group tour, and we were fortunate that we ended up with a really fun crew. Of the 12 of us, a few were from the U.S., but France, Germany, England and Australia were also represented (as well as Ireland, which is where our guide Brian hailed from).

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Boquerones en vinagre (small anchovies in vinegar with olives)

 

La Bodegueta was the first stop, and here we got “a taste of the sea”: Esqueixada (Cod fish with olives and tomato), Bunuelos de Bacalao (codfish croquettes), and Salpicon de Pulpo (octopus in vinegar). And it’s not seafood, but it’s perhaps the most traditional tapa-  Pan Con Tomate (Spanish style toast).

 

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Next we made our way to what would end up being our favorite neighborhood tavern during our stay in Barcelona – Colmado. At Colmado we were treated to “mountain food” and Vermut.

We learned that if you want to drink like a Spaniard, you participate in the ritual of tomar un vermut (“taking a vermouth”). It happens any time during the day, typically with a friend (or a few). There are different variations at every spot, and at Colmado we had Casero, a small production white wine made with 20 spices in Reus, the village where Gaudi was born.

 

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Gin Tonics almost as big as our heads at Colmado

The purpose of vermouth is not to get drunk, but to just relax and enjoy yourself. Sounds pretty good to me.

Of course, after some wine at our first stop, then this vermouth, and then a Gin Tonic that was far larger than any drink I’ve ever had in the U.S., let’s just say I’m really glad there was plenty of food to soak up all the alcohol…

 

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patatas bravas al caliu at Colmada 

Here at Colmado we noshed on Alcachofa (artichokes), manchego sprinkled with crushed almonds and drizzled with olive oil, and Patatas Bravas Al Caliu (roast potatoes with “allioli” – a Catalan variant of the garlic sauce aioli).

You guys. These potatoes. !!! I’m not even a huge fan of potatoes, but man, these were delicious.

 

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Butifarra (Catalan Sausage) at Colmado in Barcelona, Spain

But my very favorite dish of all was the Butifarra (Catalan sausage) in white sauce with mushrooms and crema de leche. Oh. My. Word.  It might not be the prettiest dish, but it was certainly one of the best bites I had on the entire trip.

 

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Restaurant 2254 in Barcelona, Spain

After all that, it was on to Restaurant 2254 for “Mediterranean modern tapas” and I honestly have no idea how my stomach found room for all of the food we consumed here, but it did.

And it was glorious.

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First up was a Gazpacho with strawberries from Maresme, a rucola salad with goat cheese, pistachios, and dried tomato, and then red shrimps capuchino with sea urchin. Sure, that’ll get us started.

 

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Oxtail (Boneless with prawns) at Restaurant 2254

There were several dishes to follow – oxtail, smoked sardines, rigatoni, and octopus. And I ate every single one. And drank more wine.

 

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The coolest presentation of a dish goes to the Smoked Sardines with Guacamole…. just watch this short video clip below to see for yourself.

 

I have to say, gastronomically speaking, Barcelona was smoking Paris. At least in my humble opinion.

 

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Smoked Sardines with guacamole at Restaurant 2254 in Barcelona

3-Food-Lover-Tapas-Tour-2

Brandade stuffed rigattoni with crispy Catalan sausage

 

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Octopus with green curry and Catalan beans from Ganxet

3-Food-Lover-Tapas-Tour-Desserrt

Hazelnut Coulant with vanilla ice cream

Words really cannot explain how much we enjoyed this Tapas Lover Tour, and I cannot recommend it enough. It was the PERFECT way to kick off our Barcelona experience and I’m so happy we did it on our very first night in the city. If you find yourself heading to Barcelona or Seville, definitely check out Food Lover Tours!

 

 

InterNASHional-Food-Crawl

 

InterNASHional Food Crawl

Saturday, September 3rd, 2015
12 – 4 pm

Plaza Mariachi
3955 Nolensville Road
Nashville, TN 37211

Cost: $15 General admission
~OR~
$55 for Curated Food Tour

The 4th annual InterNASHional food crawl is coming up soon, and I can personally attest that it’s a fun and delicious way to spend a Saturday afternoon! The crawl explores a 5‐mile stretch of Nolensville Road, where participants are able to try incredible foods from around the world– Mexico, India, Thailand, the Middle East and many more.

General event tickets include a map for you to drive your own car to at least five participating restaurants and markets where you can sample food at your own pace. Note: When you purchase your ticket, you’ll receive a confirmation email with a pdf ticket attached. On the day of the tour, you take that ticket to Plaza Mariachi between noon-4 pm. In exchange for that ticket, you’ll be provided with a wristband and a map of the restaurants you can visit for food and drink samples.

If you’d rather not drive yourself, but instead be transported around and imbibe a bit during your travel, then the Curated Food Tour is for you. Added last year, my BFFs and I went on this tour and had a blast! You ride a charter bus from site to site, are provided adult beverages, and have a group tour guide to tell you stories of the restaurants and owners while you travel. Note: the Curated Food Tours begin at noon and 2 pm.

For more information on the event and to purchase tickets, visit the event website.

2nd Annual Empanada Tasting_FINAL logo

2nd Annual Empanada Tasting

Wednesday, September 7th, 2016
5:30 – 8:30 pm

Tennessee Performing Arts Center
Andrew Jackson Hall Lobby
505 Deaderick St.
Nashville, TN 37219

Cost: $20

This event somehow slipped right past my radar last year. I’m pretty certain I would have been all over the prospect of an empanada tasting!

Tennessee Latin American Chamber of Commerce (TLACC) and the Tennessee Performing Arts Center (TPAC) will host their 2nd Annual Empanada Tasting Event in the main lobby space at TPAC on September 7th. Attendees will get to try five empanadas and be provided with a soft drink or water with the purchase of a ticket. Additional food and drinks will be available from the vendors and TPAC concessions if that’s not enough to fill you up.

This year, the event will also feature a special presentation from Studio Tenn Theatre Company, whose original production of “Evita” opens the 2016-17 Broadway at TPAC season on September 9th-18th. For more information, visit the event website.

 

music-city-food-wine

 

Music City Food + Wine

Grand Tasting and Chef Showcase
Saturday, September 17th and Sunday, September 18th, 2016
11 am – 4 pm
Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park

Harvest Night
Saturday, September 17th
7 – 11 pm
Walk of Fame Park

Cost: 1-day Pass $150
All-in 2 day Pass $500
Harvest Night Only $275

Summer has flown by and I can’t believe Music City Food + Wine is less than a month away!!! This will be the fourth year for the event, and I’ve had the pleasure of attending every year. Check out my experiences from 2013 here , 2014 here and 2015 here. The change of venue last year to Bicentennial Park was awesome, so I was thrilled to see that it would be happening there again this year.

For this year’s full schedule, click here and to take a gander at the talent, click here. Celebrity chef demos and panel discussions run simultaneously with Grand Taste, so you can flit back and forth between food stations and tents, and never feel like you’re missing out on anything. I’ve been asked by many people if I think this event is worth the price tag. As far as the 1-day passes go, I absolutely, without a doubt, do. I’ve been to many food festivals over the years, and in comparison to the ticket cost on some of them, I truly think that the 5 hours of food, drink, education and entertainment this one offers blows others away.

To purchase tickets, or for more detailed information, visit the Music City Food + Wine website. Can’t wait to see some of you there!

 

FallCrush2

 

Fall Crush

Sunday, September 25th, 2016
4 – 8 pm

Green Door Gourmet
7011 River Road Pike
Nashville, TN 37209

Cost: $150

I love that Autumn is almost upon us. Sorry Summer, but you are definitely not my favorite season. What better way to kick off Fall than with a farm-to- table event at Green Door Gourmet’s Grand Barn?  Fall Crush will feature Nashville Chefs Trey Cioccia of The Farm House, Pastry Chef Rachel De Jong of 5th & Taylor, Hal Holden-Bache of Lockeland Table, Travis McShane of Adele’s and Eric Zizka of Oak Steakhouse

A celebration of wine and food benefiting the Mid South Chapter of the National Multiple Sclerosis Society, the event will consist of a locally sourced dinner, exclusive wines, silent and live auctions, and great music (because it’s Nashville!). Tickets can be purchased at www.fallcrushms.org.

 

Etc-vodka-beet-cocktail

 

Sorry Sylvan Park, your loss is my gain. Well, really Green Hills’ gain. Not that I want to rub it in, but I’m pretty dang excited about it. Last year, Deb Paquette and partners walked away from their Truss restaurant concept in the Sylvan Park neighborhood after a development dispute. Months later, they announced they would be opening etc. in Green Hills. My neighborhood.

And it’s only a little over a mile from my house. Score!

Even better, etc. is tucked away in the Bedford Commons development back behind Green Hills mall, so I don’t even have to get on the nightmare that is Hillsboro Road- all back roads for me, baby! Oops, I’m sounding a bit selfish aren’t I? Seriously though, my happiness level with my neighborhood has increased tenfold with today’s opening of etc.

 

Etc-Scallop-Crudo

scallop crudo with roasted poblano pepper orange oil, black lava salt, orange segments, watermelon radish, red curry mustard seeds, watercress tempura

 

I’ve been a big fan of Deb Paquette’s for years….long before I even created this blog. But when I did start blogging, she was one of my first topics. I was devastated when she closed her restaurant Zola, and then ecstatic when she decided not to move away from Nashville and opened Etch. There’s just no one in town that creates dishes like she does. No one. Her style is fun and flavorful…and completely unique.

 

Etc-Duck-Gizzards

panko crusted fried duck gizzards with sambal peach jam, lavender beet smear, sesame onions, berries

 

I was super fortunate to be invited in to etc. over the weekend for an advance taste, and was happy to find that Deb is being as creative and quirky as ever with this menu. Gizzards and grasshoppers? Yes, please.

I’ve had a thing for gizzards since I was a young girl and ate them almost every Sunday afternoon at my grandmother’s house. Those were Southern fried chicken gizzards, but etc.‘s are confit and fried duck gizzards served with a peach jam and pickled onions. Different, but just as delicious as those I loved as a child.

 

Etc-Fowl-Trio

Etc’s fowl trio: cinnamon sesame duck breast, ancho cherry jam, confit chicken, chili aderezo, date foie gras brûlée, grasshopper crumble, pumpkin seed masa grits

My favorite part of our meal was my entree though – the ‘fowl trio’. I ate every single bite, and it was a lot of food: Cinnamon sesame duck breast on pumpkin seed masa grits, confit chicken with pepitas, and a foie gras brulee topped with grasshopper pecan crumble. I will admit that much of the reason I settled on this particular dish was because of the grasshoppers. How could I not try it? I mean, I’ve eaten chocolate covered bugs (including grasshoppers) before, so I wasn’t scared, just intrigued.

My husband swears they tasted like grasshoppers to him (what does that even mean??) but I tasted the pecans more than anything. The grasshoppers just gave the topping a nice crunch.

 

 

Etc-Grilled-Tuna

Etc’s grilled tuna with raisin pasilla sweet potato, peanut pepper butter, pork black bean sauce, Caribbean spiced greens, poblano verde, okra

While we dined at dinner time, etc. will also offer lunch Monday – Friday and plan to add Sunday brunch in the future. You can peruse the lunch and dinner menus on their website.

As for drinks, there are lots of great wines and beers to choose from, including some high gravity. Named simply for the spirit they contain, we had the Vodka, Rum and Aged Gin cocktails from their short list of signature drinks, and enjoyed all of them.

Of course, no dinner is complete (at least in my book) without a little bite (or five in this case) of something sweet. Pastry Chef extraordinaire Megan Williams will be splitting her time now between Etch and etc., and believe me, that is a very good thing.

 

Etc-Chocolate-Panna-Cotta

Chocolate Panna Cotta at Etc

etc. restaurant

3790 Bedford Avenue
Nashville, TN 37215

BON2016_Mag

 

It’s here. Voting for this year’s Nashville Scene “Best of Nashville” just kicked off a few days ago! Last year you guys were SO AWESOME and took the time to vote, pushing this little blog of mine to be named the #1 Best Food Blog in Nashville! Truly, a huge, huge thanks for that.

No pressure at all, but if you have a sec to type Eat. Drink. Smile. in that blank space next to “Best Food Blog” in the Media section again this year, it would be greatly appreciated :-)

Click here to start working on your ballot now…with over 200 categories, it might take a while to get through them all. Don’t fret- thankfully you can save your ballot and come back to it later. No need to choose all of your favorites in one sitting. And you also don’t have to vote on 200+! Just be sure to enter at least 20 categories for your vote to count.

Have a great week!

~Beth