Monday, September 25, 2017

MCFW 2017 Wrap Up

The 2017 Music City Food + Wine event has ended. It seemed to go by so much faster this year than in year’s past. As I mentioned in my previous post there were some changes & tweaking to the schedule this year. I was very curious as to how it would play out to move the Saturday & Sunday General Tasting sessions to Friday night & Saturday. On one hand I can see the appeal of a night time event to a lot of people. It makes for a fun “date night”, and the atmosphere is just different at night. But on the other hand, I personally found it harder to try and consume ALL the food & drinks that Music City Food + Wine has to offer in the 4 hour period at night. I also noticed that the panels seemed to have lower attendance than they typically have during the daytime sessions. In the daytime I think a partial reason people attend the panels is to seek out relief from the hot sun. Resting & entertainment/information. But at night, especially with 1 less hour than the day sessions, people are too busy eating & drinking to pop into the sessions. So, I kind of think if they do a night session again, cut the sessions WAY down.

Saturday brought back the MCFW festival magic I’ve been accustomed to the previous 4 years. There is a definite air of excitement when you walk in and are handed your cup. Speaking of cup, I noticed the cups are a little than before, and the bags had a redesign too! I enjoyed the Toyota experience where you could get a sturdy canvas tote screen printed with cute & unique designs, made specifically for the festival. It was also nice to make my own batch of Tim Love’s poultry seasoning.

One of my favorite aspects of the festival is connecting in new ways with brands & restaurants I already know and love; as well as discovering ones that are new to me. Two standouts on the alcohol front for me were Cooper & Thief, a red wine blend aged in bourbon barrels, and Owl’s Brew Radler. While I may be married to a craft beer nerd, I’m not nearly as enthusiastic about beer as my husband is. But I do enjoy radlers, and both the Watermelon & That’s My Jam varieties of beer + tea + fruit juice hit the perfect fruity/refreshing spot. On the opposite end of the spectrum, the Cooper & Thief red blend was such an interesting array of flavors; rich, velvety, spicy. I sent quite a few friends over there to try it! I’ve already picked up a bottle for the house. We were also big fans of the bourbon slushes offered up at both Wild Turkey/Eli Mason Syrups, as well as Green Briar Distillery‘s “Cold Fashioned”. And, as always Hendrick’s Gin wows every year in both presentation as well as flavors. I loved the paper fans they gave out, providing much needed relief from the Saturday heat!

Some of my favorite bites from restaurants included both offerings by Deb Paquette from Etch & Etc. (pastrami beets, say wha-?!, as well as some kind of mashup between salmon & cheesecake!), Farm House/Black Rabbit, Sinema, and the AMAZING rib we were lucky enough to score hot off Martin’s BBQ & Friends. I can’t confirm, but I think I was told they were prepared by Greko, Nashville’s new Greek street food spot.

Another bummer of having a night session, is it was hard to get a good photo of all the dishes!

Another solid year of Music City Food + Wine just reminds me what a top notch festival this is. I already can’t wait for 2018!

Saturday, September 9, 2017

MCFW 2017 – What’s new?

Tickets purchased, these fools are going to Music City Food + Wine!

As you know, I’m a HUGE fan of the Music City Food + Wine Festival. I’ve went every year since the inaugural event. They’ve made a few changes & additions to the event this year, and I’m curious to see how it plays out. One of the changes I’m most intrigued about is the schedule. Previously the Grand Tasting events were held Saturday & Sunday mid-day to afternoon. Saturday’s music was provided by DJ, and the Sunday Grand Taste was themed Gospel Brunch with live gospel music, and a bloody mary bar. They’re switching it up and extending the festival by having a Grand Tasting event Friday night 6pm-10pm, followed by another Grand Taste 11am – 4pm, both at Bicentennial Park. Harvest Night is still Saturday 7-9:30pm at Walk of Fame Park. Now, the Gospel brunch will be a separate event 11:30am – 2:30pm at Walk of Fame Park. Therefore, an extra event has been added. Personally, I wasn’t thrilled to learn of the schedule change, as my body doesn’t handle drinking evening or night time. But, I trust that the organizers have a grand plan for extending the fun of this weekend. Looks like I’ll definitely be limiting my beverage consumption at Friday’s Grand Taste. Especially if I want to be up and at it again for Saturday!

Another change is one I’m really excited about, the craft beer lineup has vastly improved since the inaugural year. I remember the first year I told my husband he wasn’t missing much because there weren’t a lot of craft beer options. It was only a handful of breweries, and they weren’t that new or novel to me. (For those unfamiliar, I am married to a craft beer nerd, and therefore know WAY more about beer than I need to.) However last year they really stepped up their game with beer, and Blackberry Farm Brewery was among one of the breweries serving. This year’s brew list includes: 2nd Shift Brewery, Bell’s Brewery, Bearded Iris (a local favorite of my husband), Devil’s Backbone, Grayton Beer, Hap & Harry’s Tennessee Beer, Jackelope Brewing Company, Mantra Artisan Ales, Napa Smith Brewery, Radeberger, Schofferhofer (yay, grapefruit beer!), Starr Hill, Tennessee Brew Works, and YeeHaw Brewing Co.

Last year my husband only came for one day of the Grand Taste, now that he knows just how amazing it is, he’s in for BOTH Grand Taste events this year. We’re looking forward to seeing friends, and as always, making new ones at MCFW! Join us!

For ticket info, schedules, talent list & more, visit

Tuesday, August 15, 2017

Bison Carnitas Tacos

I’m the queen of grabbing random cuts of high quality meat when they go on sale, and stashing the meat in the deep freeze until I figure out what to do with it. My local grocery keeps organic bison in stock, but it doesn’t get marked down all that often. I was quite excited to nab two packages of bison stew meat, but I just didn’t know what to do with them. I love cooking bison, as it’s full of flavor, and much healthier than beef. Admittedly I’ve never cooked bison stew meat before! I suppose that like beef stew meat, it shines best when cooked slow & low. I never found any recipes specifically for bison stew meat that appealed enough to me, so I searched for beef stew meat recipes and found one for carnitas. We love tacos, so I hoped this would be good!

I did a few adaptions to the original recipe, and cooked this in my Le Crueset dutch oven. The meat turned out SO flavorful and juicy. Paired with a tasty margarita and combined with fresh taco toppings, this was quite the special meal! For toppings I did a fresh tomato/onion/avocado salsa, quick pickled red onion, cotija cheese, and fresh cilantro. I’m including the salsa recipe and you can find the quick pickled red onion recipe here.


Bison Carnitas

Yield: 6 servings


1-2 Tablespoons olive oil
1 cup chopped onion
3 garlic cloves, crushed
2 pounds bison stew meat, trimmed and cut into 1-inch pieces
1 cup less-sodium beef broth
1 teaspoon sugar
3/4 teaspoon salt
1/2 teaspoon crushed red pepper
1/2 tbsp chili powder
1 tsp ground cumin
1 tsp ground coriander
1 tsp paprika
1 large unpeeled orange wedge

2 cups chopped plum tomato (about 2 medium)
1/3 cup chopped onion
1/4 cup diced peeled avocado
2 tablespoons minced fresh cilantro
1 tablespoon fresh lime juice
1/8 teaspoon salt
1/8 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

corn tortillas
quick pickled onion
1 lime cut into 8 pieces
cotija cheese


CARNITAS: Heat olive oil in a large Dutch oven over medium-high heat. Add onion; sauté 4 minutes or until tender. Add garlic; sauté 1 minute. Add bison; sauté 5 minutes or until meat is browned on all sides. Stir in broth, sugar, salt & pepper, chili powder, cumin, coriander, and paprika; nestle orange section into bison mixture. Bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 1 ½ hours or until bison is tender. Remove and discard orange. Continue simmering, uncovered, 8 minutes or until liquid almost evaporates, stirring frequently. Shred meat.

SALSA: Combine tomato, onion, avocado, 2 Tbsp cilantro, 1 Tbsp lime juice, salt & pepper in a medium bowl; toss well.

TACOS ASSEMBLY: Warm tortillas according to package directions. Spoon 1/4 cup Bison Carnitas onto each tortilla; top each with pickled onion slices and about 3 tablespoons avocado salsa mixture. Fold in half; sprinkle with cotija cheese and fresh cilantro, serve with lime wedges.

Carnitas and Salsa recipes via Cooking Light

Supposedly this recipe yields 6 servings. However I got closer to 8. I even froze half of it after cooking by wrapping it tightly in plastic wrap and putting it in a ziplock freezer bag.

Saturday, August 12, 2017

Quick Pickled Red Onion

Quick pickled onions are so fast and simple to make. Obviously I didn’t come up with this concept, but I make them enough, and have used them as a topping for quite a handful of other recipes I felt it was time they got their own post on my blog. Plus, now when people ask me how they make them I can point them to my blog!

As someone who abhors raw red onion, I was quick surprised at how much I like pickled red onion. I’ve used these to top homemade bibimbap bowls, Korean Barbecue Burgers, pulled pork sandwiches, and most recently on some bison carnitas (recipe coming next!). My 2 year old even likes to eat them as a snack!


Quick Pickled Red Onion

Yield: about seven 1/2 cup servings

Prep Time: 5 minutes


1/2 cups apple cider vinegar
1 tablespoon sugar
1 1/2 teaspoons kosher salt
1 red onion, thinly sliced


Whisk first 3 ingredients and 1 cup water in a small bowl until sugar and salt dissolve. Place onion in a jar; pour vinegar mixture over. Let sit at room temperature for 1 hour. DO AHEAD: Can be made 2 weeks ahead. Cover and chill. Drain onions before using.

7 Servings, 1 serving contains: Calories (kcal) 10 Fat