Monday, September 24, 2018

Music City Food + Wine 2018 – HOT HOT HOT

Another festival has come and gone. If there’s a takeaway from this year’s Music City Food + Wine festival the best word to describe it is HOT. Temperature-wise this may have been the hottest festival I can remember. And while it was hot, myself & other festival attendees still managed to have a blast despite the heat. Of course the temperatures were cooler Friday night, which made the night option seem like such a smart choice. There’s definitely a different ambiance to the night event, a bit of magic in the air. 

Left: Adele’s bite with red sorghum, charred corn, heirloom cherry tomato, jalapeño jam, cilantro pesto, coriander blossom

Upper Left: Capitol Grille’s Double H Meatballs with bourbon smoked paprika glaze atop whipped goat cheese with a sprinkle of kale. Bottom Left: oyster shooters from Henley.

Right: Tomato Tart from 5th & Taylor.

Middle left: Oak Steakhouse‘s CAB Beef Belly with rosemary milk cracker, caramelized onion, bleu cheese mousse, tomato jam.

Bottom left: Greko Street Food‘s salad of mixed greens, tomatoes, Greek feta cheese, kalamata olives, crispy chickpeas, green onions, cucumbers, & creamy GReKo dressing.

As much fun as Friday is, it can also feel like a big pre-game to the main event, Saturday’s Grand Taste. Remember when I said the word to describe this festival was hot? Well, that was also because I snagged some delicious Hattie B‘s hot chicken. Admittedly I do not typically eat hot chicken. When we order Hattie B’s, I always get southern (zero heat). But I figured I could manage a small festival sized portion, and I was right. This was worth the hype.

Hot also describes the feeling at Martin’s BBQ & Friends Live Fire. Some of my favorite bites were snagged from here. The smoke rising into the air was a signal, this was the place to be.

Top left: Vivek Surti

Lamb rib seasoned to perfection and so soft and tender it pulled right off the bone. I didn’t catch who cooked this, if anyone knows, please let me know!

Vivek Surti in action.

As crazy and simple as it sounds, this okra was one of my favorite bites. Maybe it’s because I just love okra, or maybe it was the seasoning + live fire. I wanted to go back for seconds, thirds, and fourths, but I’m not that greedy.

Belle Meade Bourbon‘s “Cold Fashioned” is something we have been conditioned to seek out every year at the festival. Especially this year in the heat, it truly provided great relief. Tell me, does anywhere in town serve this??

BJ Lofback of Funk Seoul Brother, with his KFC (Korean Fried Chicken) was another hot bite at the festival. This stuff is like crack (though not to be confused with his Crack Rice…).

Top Left: ‘Which Hunt from The Mockingbird featuring cheddar biscuits, chicken breakfast sausage, american cheese, pepper jelly. Top Right: Grilled Ham, Kale and Cabbage Salad with Corn, bacon and Scallion Muffin from Smithfield.

Bottom left: Dan dan cold noodles from Tànsuǒ. Bottom right: killer Southern Smokehouse Bloody Mary featuring Tabasco, Titos’s Vodka and Smithfield flavored Bacon garnish.

Top left: cocktails from Cumberland Bar. Top right: Canned wine from Francis Coppola wines. Bottom left: Proper Bagel

It wouldn’t be a Music City Food + Wine without a refreshing cucumber gin drink from Hendrick’s Gin!

Top left: DJ Case Bloom spinning the good tunes. Bottom left: Americano Tapas Bar with the Chinese five spice pumpkin panna cotta with apple tarragon duck confit salad.

Right: Shrimp dish from Thai Esane. Special thanks to Nina for not making it too spicy!

Ticket holders had the opportunity to enter into a lottery to win a spot in the exclusive Pappy Hour. At this year’s Pappy Hour they sampled the 12 year Van Winkle Special Reserve and the 15 year Pappy Van Winkle’s Family Reserve along with special Blackberry Farm beers Ampersand Saison, Classic Saison, and Vintage Abbey Quad Saison. That’s my husband there in the hat and glasses, he scored a coveted seat at the table for this bourbon with beer back experience.

Toyota brought a fun user experience yet again with their Travel.Eat.Repeat tent. Just like last year I waited until the very end of the festival to hit this up, and managed to score a fun bag, passport holder, luggage tag, and personalized cutting board. I love that I have souvenirs to last forever from this festival!

Top left: My friend Ally thumbs it up from the Toyota Avalon after finishing her cutting board. Top right: showing off my tri-star cutting board!

Middle left: passport holder & luggage tag. Bottom: canvas bag, J’eat yet? 

I don’t know how we did it, but we powered through and made it to Harvest Night. I’m SO glad we did. The whole night had a Studio 54 theme and the music was absolutely amazing. I mean… we heard Ruby Amanfu sing “I Will Survive”. It was AMAZING! Other acts that came out included Little Big Town, Sheryl Crow, Phillip Phillips, and Elle King brought the FIRE with “Don’t Leave Me This Way”. And then everyone came out for Earth Wind & Fire’s “September”. Oh yeah… and there was food. Great food!

This was the year I convinced multiple friends & even coworkers to come to the festival. It was great having so many friends there, but I have to say, socializing really cut into my eating time (ha, j/k… sort of). Believe it or not there was a lot of things I never had to chance to sample. Shame! I’m already looking forward to 2019!

Tuesday, August 14, 2018

Music City Food + Wine preview 2018

 

My absolute favorite time of the year will be here before you know it! The 2018 Music City Food + Wine Festival is barely a month away. This popular event grows & evolves every year and gains new fans along the way. Here’s why you should go:

THE FOOD.

The food during the Grand Tasting is a curated pooling of the best Nashville has to showcase. I love to check out what my favorite restaurants are serving up. With Nashville seemingly opening a new restaurant every two days, there a ton of restaurants I haven’t been to. Music City Food + Wine brings them the best to you in one spot. These restaurants do not play when it comes to the tastings, bringing impressive, flavorful, and intriguing bites.  You’ll also catch bites from non-restaurant booths, past examples include Olive + Sinclair Chocolates, Goo Goo Clusters, Christie Cookie.

THE DRAAANKS.

I’ve attended all 5 festivals in the past, one of those years I was pregnant. I have to admit, it wasn’t *quite* as much fun attending as a non-drinker. My options were water, iced coffee, & ginger beer. If you are imbibing this is a wondrous place to be! Cocktails, wine, beer; your chosen poison is available at every turn. It’s a great place to discover new spirit brands, and especially inspiring to get ideas on cocktails you can make at home. And if you like wine, there are so many great brands there as well, far too numerous to name them all! Some of my favorite discoveries from years past include Cooper & Thief bourbon barrel aged red wine blend, and Owl’s Brew Radler. The beer offerings grow more impressive each year as well, so there truly is something for everyone.

THE PEOPLE.

I have to say, the crowd that attends Music City Food + Wine is a really great mixture of people mostly ranging from mid-20s to their 60s. All like-minded in that they appreciate great food and great drinks. If you follow celebrity chefs, the list for the festival this year is great, as always. It’s great seeing chefs out of the kitchen in a panel session (or in the kitchen, doing a demo!). Don’t let the word “panel” make you think this is a stuffy, boring sit down event. The panels have the feel of being invited to sit at the table with the “cool kids” and hear their stories & opinions on the food world. It’s all very relaxed and you can pop in or out any panel at any time.

THE EXPERIENCE.

Besides seeing the big name chefs, eating the amazing food, and drinking the delicious drinks, every year the festival has been a place for me to gather with foodie friends to eat, talk, & have a good time; as well as make new friends. The festival has never felt overly crowded to me. I didn’t have to shove my way through a crowd to get anywhere. I’ve never had to wait in insane lines for a sample. In my experience, the max wait for a sample from a booth is about 6-7 people deep. It’s just enough time to finish a bite from another table, continue conversation with a friend (or make conversation with a stranger about their experience so far!), or instagram a shot for everyone who isn’t there to know the amazing time you’re having. You can attend as many panels as you want, or none at all. My favorite thing is when I just casually bump into local or regional chefs I admire. Ok, so I tend to stand there in awe, unsure what to say so I sort of say nothing… but if you are the type who is at ease conversing with someone you admire, this is a great opportunity! Have I ever told you about the time Ken Levitan, one of the founders & producers of the festival asked me how the festival was going so far? I told him how great it was and then said “Ok, forgive me… I recognize your face and know I should know who you are but I am blanking right now…” OMG. Luckily he was absolutely as nice as he could be, and didn’t expect me to know who he was but as soon as he said his name it hit me. LOL

THE IMPACT.

I feel the impact of attending the festival for quite some time. And I don’t mean the hangover. What I mean is, after the festival a lot of my food or drink decisions are swayed by experiences I had at the festival. My birthday is in early November, and MCFW is basically the audition process for where I want to eat to celebrate that year. I’ve made my birthday meal decision based on what blew me away, or intrigued me the most at the festival. It also has really expanded my horizons in liquor, wine, beer purchases. I might learn new cocktail recipes for my favorite spirits, or discover a spirit brand launching a new product. Each year the festival expands my wine tastes as well.

Put the dates on your calendar, September 14-16. Get your tickets. The “All-In” options are already SOLD OUT! The single day tickets for Grand Taste are $165, and great if you can’t attend both days, or aren’t ready to commit to an entire weekend of eating & drinking. Fridays Grand Taste is from 6-10pm and includes a Throwdown featuring Nashville Predators PK Subban & Roman Josi teaming up with chef Anne Burrell vs chef Tim Love and the Tennessee Titans Taylor Lewan & Marcus Mariota. The great thing about the day event is that the majority of the restaurants are only there for one of the two days. Saturday won’t be a repeat of Friday Night as far as the list of foods & restaurants you sample. Most of the beverage brands are there both days. Each of the Grand Taste offers 80+ Beer, Wine, Cocktail, & Food offerings, as well as access to Martin’s BBQ & Friends Live Fire. The panels are different each day as well. I am already salivating over this year’s event and hope to see you in September!

Tuesday, July 31, 2018

Mexican Street Corn Salad

Mexican Street Corn, or elote, is a delicious way to dress up corn on the cob. A little creamy, a little spicy, and full of flavor. This dish takes those flavors off the cob and makes it a little easier to eat. Do you ever want to bring a homemade dish to a party, but are in a bit of a time crunch? (I feel like I’m always in a time crunch these days.) This recipe is perfect for that. Even making a double batch, which entailed cooking the corn in two batches, it came together pretty fast. I chose to cook my corn in a cast iron skillet to really get it hot and give it a good char. This Mexican Street Corn Salad was a hit at the party we took it to, as I came home with an empty bowl. The first time I made this I doubled the recipe as written. However, I think it is just a delicious if you go a little easier on the dressing, as I did when I made it again recently. It’s easy to adapt to your crowd’s tastes.

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Mexican Street Corn Salad

Yield: 4-6 servings

Total Time: 15 minutes

To feed a crowd, double the recipe. (The photographed dish is the recipe doubled.)

Ingredients:

2 tablespoons vegetable oil
5 ears fresh corn, shucked, kernels removed (about 3 cups fresh corn kernels)
Kosher salt
2 tablespoons mayonnaise
2 ounces cotija cheese, finely crumbled (substitute feta if you can't find cotija)
1/2 cup finely sliced scallion greens
1/2 cup fresh cilantro leaves, finely chopped
1 jalapeño pepper, seeded and stemmed, finely chopped
1 to 2 medium cloves garlic, pressed or minced on a microplane grater (about 1 to 2 teaspoons)
1 tablespoon fresh juice from 1 lime
Chili powder or hot chili flakes, to taste

Directions:

Heat oil in a large cast iron skillet, non-stick skillet, or wok over high heat until shimmering. Add corn kernels, season to taste with salt, toss once or twice, and cook without moving until charred on one side, about 2 minutes. Toss corn, stir, and repeat until charred on second side, about 2 minutes longer. Continue tossing and charring until well charred all over, about 10 minutes total. Transfer to a large bowl.

Add mayonnaise, cheese, scallions, cilantro, jalapeño, garlic, lime juice, and chili powder and toss to combine. Taste and adjust seasoning with salt and more chili powder to taste. Serve immediately.

barely adapted from Serious Eats

Wednesday, April 25, 2018

Craft Brewers Conference – Public Events – Nashville

Being married to a craft-beer lover, I’ve known that this year the Craft Brewers Conference was coming to Nashville for quite some time. Apparently this is a really big deal in the beer world. Even though the conference is a ticketed event, there are also going to be events going on around town that the public can attend. Here are a few:

CANdemonium – Canned beers, food trucks, and music from Nashville heavy hitters like Emily West, Shelly Fairchild, Lila McCann, and a special guest headliner. Tickets are $45 and include samples/full cans from 20+ breweries (click the link the see the full list). Marathon Music Works, Tuesday May 1st, 6-10pm.

Music City CANarchy + Oskar Blues Encore – This event at Music City Walk of Fame Park is FREE (my favorite word) open to the public, and damn near all day long! This party is to officially launch the new craft beer collective created from the partnership of Oskar Blues Brewery, Cigar City Brewing, Perrin Brewing Company, and Utah Brewers Collective. At 4pm there is a tapping of Oskar Blues’ limited release Check Yo’Self Golden Double IPA and Interstate SMaSH Express Simcoe IPA. And at 5pm the music kicks in with 5pm with Eagle Eye Williamson from Austin, TX, Interstate Stash Express from Lyons, CO, and headliner Lukas Nelson & Promise of the Real, featuring the 28 year-old son of Willie Nelson. Sounds like a fun event not to be missed! Full press release here.

Blackberry Farm & New Belgium Bière de Mai Release Party – These two breweries are throwing a shindig to celebrate their collaboration on a late Spring wild ale blended with foeder-aged sour beer. The party is open to the public, but requires ticket purchase. The $20 ticket include unlimited pours of Biere de Mai and a wide assortment of New Belgium and Blackberry Farm Brewery brews. There will be food trucks on site to purchase food. The party is May 2nd at Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery. Head here for tickets & more info!