Monday, May 16, 2016
Music City Food + Wine 2016 – Why you should go.
My most anticipated culinary event of the year has just been announced. The Music City Food + Wine Festival 2016 will be held September 17-18th. This weekend of food, drinks, & fun continues to grow each year, getting bigger & better, and I don’t doubt this upcoming event will be another one for the record books. Here’s a shortlist of why you should go.
(In this post I am mainly referring to the daytime Grand Taste sessions and panels. I didn’t attend Harvest Night in 2015, but I did attend in 2013 & 2014. And I had a blast!)
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 ALL 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, Bluebirds Biscuits, & Porter Road Butcher.
I’ve attended all 3 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 remember them all!
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 into or out of any panel at any time.
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, but more typically just 3-4 people. 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 (assuming you have AT&T, because all my friends without it had a rough time getting a signal out, heh). 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 and 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!
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 at the festival. Without a doubt the reason for me choosing to celebrate my most recent birthday at the Catbird Seat was because I was literally blown away by them at festivals in years past. (My birthday meal did not disappoint.) When I needed to pick up a dark rum for a cocktail, I went with Afrohead, after loving the cocktails they served up both days. I bought many multi packs of Infinite Monkey Theorem canned wine after the festival. Same goes for the killer iced coffee from two different vendors. It truly is a place to discover new things!
Put the dates on your calendar, September 17-18. Get your tickets. The “All-In” option is $500 and includes both tasting daytime events and the Harvest Night concert & celebrity chef tastings. If you don’t want to go “All-In” the single day tickets for the daytime events are $150, and great if you can’t attend both days, or aren’t ready to commit to an entire weekend of eating & drinking. This past year I actually did not attend Harvest Night, just the daytime events. The great thing about the day event is that the majority of the restaurants are only there for one of the two days. Sunday won’t be a repeat Saturday as far as the list of foods & restaurants you sample. Most of the beverage brands are there both days. And of course the panels are different each day. I am already salivating over this year’s event and hope to see you in September!