September 17 and 18 proved to be the most fun whirlwind we have experienced in a long time. The 2016 Music City Food & Wine festival was met with rain, lots of it, on Saturday and heat on Sunday, though it did not seem to slow anyone down from squeezing every ounce of enjoyment out of this once a year event. The event boasted two grand tastings at the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park and a Harvest Night event in the heart of downtown Nashville and we were there for all of it this year.
As we drove into Nashville on Saturday morning we noticed the weather was looking more and more ominous. Armed with quasi waterproof gear we braved the rain to have our first tastes of the day. On our way to the tasting tents I purchased a hat to make my rainy day outfit complete now we are off to cocktails and food! Here are some of our favorite bites from day one:
Seaweed pasta with scallops from The Catbird Seat was a big umami bomb and a great way to start the day.
BBQ sandwich, spicy mac and cheese with braised greens from Arnold’s Country Kitchen. I could eat those greens all day!
These spicy asian chicken wings from Peg Leg Porker blew our minds with the delicate sweetness to balance the spice.
Chicken liver mousse from Pinewood Social tickled our tastebuds and the crackers, so good.
The cocktails and other beverage options were not to be missed either. Here are a few that caught our eye and our tastebuds:
The House of Angostura went back to tiki cocktails to bring us the Passionfruit Swizzle, a rum based drink with Passionfruit, bitters, creme de cacao and lemon.
We ran into some ladies from Knoxville at the Afrohead Rum space and they provided us a sample of their aged Rum as well as a couple of refreshing mixed drinks garnished with candied ginger.
The men behind Blackberry Farm Brewery were serving up their array of saison which are some of my favorite beers right now.
21 Century Museum Hotels was also on hand at the “Meet the Makers” tent sampling signature cocktails with a tiki vibe. The penguins were out letting everyone know there is a 21 Century Hotel coming to Music City in 2017!
We were also delighted to partake in a couple of demos while at Music City Food & Wine this year. Chef Tim Love taught us the art of cooking steak with various cuts and flavors. On cooking the perfect steak he let us know, “It doesn’t matter when your friends are coming over, it matters when you want to eat.” The use of super high and employ of an oven are important to his methods. We got to sample a bite after the demo and they were indeed, perfect. From steaks we went on to tequila, and by tequila we mean margaritas! Patron’s newest brand ambassador, Stephen Halpin, taught us how to make the traditional margarita using Patron Silver, Patron Citronage, lime juice and simple syrup. About halfway through the demo he confessed to this large group that we were his first demonstration, ever. We have to say that he was a delight to get to know in this unusual situation and we hope that he felt welcome by all in attendance. We made our own margaritas and they were delicious.
The Grand tasting of day one came to a close with the rain lifting and it was time to get cleaned up for our first Harvest Night experience.
It was a beautiful night in downtown Nashville at Walk of Fame Park there were tents filled with food and drink as well as a stage for musical performances later in the evening. We were greeted at the entrance with ponchos, just in case, and we set out to see what deliciousness we could find. First, we found Kelly Fields of Willa Jean serving up the most beautiful dessert. I am huge fan of eating dessert first but I am an even bigger fan of Kelly Fields’s biscuits. You see, we first met Kelly at the Southern Foodwriting Conference in May where she prepared breakfast for the attendees and her Shrimp and Grits are out of this world!
She created this stunning chocolate dessert.
There were other food favorites from Harvest Night and they included:
Levon Wallace’s boudin tamale still makes my mouth water thinking about it.
Matt Bolus cooked up the best soup beans and cornbread we have ever had.
After getting our fill of food and drink it was time for entertainment. The house band let us know that there would be 80’s music all night long and it did not disappoint! We were treated to covers of the hits performed by Lee Ann Womack, Colin Hay from Men at Work, Charles Kelley from Lady Antebellum, Matt Shultz from Cage The Elephant and so many more. We even caught a glimpse of Taylor Swift and Caleb Followill from Kings of Leon. We now understand why this event sells out every year!
Day two started out a little slowly for us but there was plenty of sunshine to enjoy. Fortunately, our first bite at the Grand Tasting was from our friend, Brandon Frohne and his team from Holler and Dash. He served up his Hunka Hunka Bacon Love, a biscuit with peanut butter cream, roasted bananas and candies bacon. Salty, sweet, snd smoky, this dish was a great way to shake off the cobwebs we were left with from Harvest Night. Next we found ourselves at Vivian Howard’s demo learning how to create a Hoppin’ John with roasted catfish. Her goal with the lesson was to let the attendees know that there are more ways to prepare catfish than frying. The dish was beautiful and smelled incredible.
Here are our other favorite bites from day two:
Smoked beef cheek on a masa fritter from Bajo Sexto Taco pretty much made my morning.
Hot Quail sandwich from Hattie B’s was full of flavor.
Delicious Whole hog BBQ from the Pat Martin and Friends Live Fire event. This event happened over the course of the 2 grand tastings and included dish, poultry and pork as well as veggies.
Smoked Boudin from Levon Wallace and Cochon Butcher Nashville
The hummingbird cake from Karl Worley and his Biscuit Love made it hard to decide if that was breakfast or dessert. We think both.
As our day came to a close we walked away with full bellies and happy hearts. We got to see old friends who are doing great things, reconnect with other writers and make some new friends. Music City Food & Wine is a wonderful opportunity for one to explore the Nashville food and drink scene while learning tips for the home kitchen and hearing some great music. We were thankful for the visit and cannot wait to return for next year’s event. Cheers!