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 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.


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.


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.


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


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!

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