I came, I ate, I happy - Music City Food & Wine Festival was a blast.
And just like that, Nashville's best food festival came and went and I am still in withdrawal. Things began with nonstop rain and ended with sunshine and dancing. I'd like to thank every chef and restaurant that participated in Music City Food & Wine - you all worked your butts off to make this another fantastic event for us attendees. As someone who also worked the event, I'd like to commend the organizers for doing a good job in spite of the weather and the mud. Oh, the mud!
Even though my shoes are still coated in mud and my hair still has a tinge of barbecue smoke two days later (not that that's a bad thing!) I'm not exaggerating when I say this has been and continues to be my favorite festival here in Nashville. I get to see all my favorite friends, and media pals, I get to eat and eat and eat and I get to talk to the people in the food industry I admire. So you can keep your Bonnaroos and your Fan Fairs, I'll stick to Music City Food & Wine.
PS: I don't really drink so this is mostly food. I'll have links to other recaps that talked about the booze too at the end!
Day 1: Wet, Hot, Nashville Summer Festival
Day 1 was, needless to say, really squishy thanks to the rain and, subsequently, mud pits. Still, it was totally worth it and everybody who was there seemed to get past how damp they were and we all had a great time.
Food: lots of patés and crudite type bites which I passed on because I'm not a huge fan of digestive organs turned into pastes (still tastes like liver!), and since I got to the festival late by the time I found my usual favorites like Arnold's and Porter Road Butcher they were already out of food. Sad face. That does speak to how good what they served was, next year I'm making a beeline for them.
I caught part of the Low & Slow panel on barbecue with local pitmasters Pat Martin, Carey Bringle and the guys from Porter Road Butcher. One thing I appreciate about our festival as opposed to other ones I've been to are how the panels are in the vicinity of the tasting tents and offers a variety of things to do. The session topics are fun too and they give you wonderful insight and because the chefs usually already know each other the camaraderie is enjoyable to watch.
Click on the thumbnails for Day 1 highlights
Even though I missed out on a few booths I still managed to eat plenty. However I was careful to not stuff myself to save room to eat at Harvest Night!
It was dark by the time Beth and I got to Hall of Fame Park, we started with Lisa Donovan's cornbread which raised the bar pretty high for the night. For a while there it was hard to concentrate on eating when I spent most of the evening trying to get a glimpse of Taylor Swift who was there hanging out with her mom and squad.
Harvest Night also has a live concert with "Kings Of Leon and Friends" that usually starts two hours in but they started the music sooner due to impending rain. Frankly I enjoyed that more and not just because I was ready to go by 9 but because who doesn't enjoy dinner AND a show (vs dinner THEN a show)? We got to feast under the stars (the rain lasted a total of 10 minutes and went away) to 80's covers sung by the likes of Jessie Baylin and Hunter Hayes and more. MCFW really does do a nice job of bringing together local talent from both music and food!
Favorite dish that night? Chef Ludo Lefebvre's Parmesan Tapioca bites (above). It's unfortunate that people at a food and wine festival weren't adventurous enough to give his food a try because they were fun, really delicious and unlike what I've had at food festivals. I may or may not have had more than a few helpings.
Day 2: Blue skies and full stomachs.
Wellies were still necessary on Sunday. The ground was still saturated and it looked like giant moles had also made their way through. Hay was laid over the muddiest spots which seemed to help and thanks to the sun, things were almost dried up by the time the festival ended. Didn't matter, everybody was ready for another fun day of eating and drinking and boy did everybody eat and drink!
I'd gotten there early to help a client set up and got to watch as chefs personally set up their stations with their team. Went over to the Martin's Bar-b-cue area and watched as Sal Avila and his crew hung up cabbage, chickens and other meaty goodness on strings over a fire. It was only 10 a.m. but things were already smelling fantastic.
The crowd entered to the Star Wars theme and before we knew it, people (with adult beverages already in hand) were also eagerly feeding their hangovers.
The food on Sunday was even better than Saturday (which I didn't think would be easy to top) and I definitely ate more than I needed to. Also my client's station was two doors down from local Eighth & Roast and while I didn't go nuts, I did get quite a bit of their Vietnamese and Thai iced coffees!
Standouts that day: Bajo Sexto Lounge. Chef Kaelin Ulrich brought his A++ game with his ceviche. His braised beef cheeks served in a little crunchy masa bowl with avocado puree on top was also a great little bite. Also refreshing and a great idea was the watermelon salad from Butcher & Bee. It was light, had great texture (who doesn't love crispy shallots) and perfect on a super hot day.
Click on the thumbnails to see more:
For a really thorough breakdown of the food and the festival check out my friend Camels & Chocolate's recap. Follow Music City Food & Wine on social media (and check out their official recap HERE) so you know when next year's tickets go on sale. If you're not from Nashville, this is a fun weekend for which to travel here. If you are from Nashville and you're thinking, "eh I can just go to these restaurants on my own why would I need to buy tickets to this?" well, let's be real here - you probably won't do that and this is going to be your one chance to give all of the best food options we have in town a try all at once.
I'm already looking forward to 2017's festival and I hope to see you there!