Music City Food and Wine 2016Farm Flavor editors Rachel Bertone (RB) and Jessy Yancey (JY) experienced a culinary playground at the fourth annual Music City Food + Wine Festival in Nashville, held over the weekend Sept. 17-18. See some of their favorite highlights:

Music City Food + Wine, Day 1

This year’s festival got off to a rainy start, but despite the clouds and mud, the Grand Taste tents offered delicious comforts. For me, Saturday provided a couple of winners. It might sound simple, but the Bacon and Pickles from Watermark Restaurant was one of the first – and best – things to cross my lips. The offering from The Southern was almost just as tasty: a Potato Pancake with Duck Confit, finished with a spiced carrot puree, plum-cherry mostarda and toasted pepitas. As always, Goo Goo Clusters showed up with their A-game, featuring several special edition Goo-Goos created by some of Nashville’s finest chefs. I tried one with peanut butter and raisin filling, plus homemade strawberry jam and lots of other goodness. My favorite bite of the day had to be the sweet dessert from relatively new restaurant, Le Sel. They served an olive oil cake with blueberries, cream, and almond praline. The fresh, light dessert was simple, yet still packed tons of flavor. In fact, I had to stop myself from going back for seconds. –RB

Bacon and Pickles
Bacon and Pickles from Watermark Restaurant
Sweet Potato Pancake with Duck Confit
Potato Pancake with Duck Confit from The Southern
Goo Goo Clusters
Chef-inspired Goo Goo Clusters
Blueberry Olive Oil Cake
Blueberry Olive Oil Cake from Le Sel

Harvest Night

Harvest Night is one of the best parts of this annual festival, combining the two elements Nashville is famous for – great music and delicious food. This year’s event didn’t disappoint, with top-notch chefs including Tim Love, Sean Brock, Jonathan Waxman and more serving delicious dishes. The night concluded with an awesome concert featuring hits of the 1980s, kicked off by Kings of Leon frontman, Caleb Followill. Other artists featured were Lee Ann Womack, Charles Kelley, Hunter Hayes, Colin Hay and more. As for the food, Tim Love served up a duo of sweet and savory donuts, while other dishes included fried green tomatoes from Vivian Howard, a savory cornbread dessert and lots more. –RB

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Tim Love donuts
Tim Love’s duo of donuts
harvest night
Lee Ann Womack performs at Harvest Night.

Music City Food + Wine, Day 2

On the second day of the festival, the sun came out and dried up most of the puddles. And I tasted some of the best bites in Music City Food + Wine festival history. We’re in the South, so several involved biscuits: Holler & Dash (the new fast-casual concept from Cracker Barrel, with a menu developed by Nashville chef Brandon Frohne), featured an Elvis-inspired biscuit with bananas, bacon, popcorn and a fluffy peanut butter mousse, while Mangia served up the Nashville Hot Sausage, a twist on the city’s famous hot chicken, on a black carbon focaccia bun. Perhaps one of the most unique offerings was from Bastion, the new restaurant/bar from Josh Habiger – a mini frozen sandwich of peanut ice cream, Carolina reaper chili and basil. The cold sweet treat with a spicy kick led to a surprisingly delicious explosion of flavor. –JY

Bastion Ice Cream Sandwich - Music City Food + Wine
Ice cream sandwich with peanut ice cream, basil and Carolina reaper chiles from Bastion
Mangia Hot Sausage Biscuit - Music City Food + Wine
Nashville hot sausage biscuit on a black carbon focaccia bun from Mangia
Holler & Dash Elvis Biscuit - Music City Food + Wine
Biscuit from Holler & Dash with bananas, bacon, popcorn and peanut butter mousse

Of course, one of the main reasons to attend is for the interaction with the chefs. I was excited to see Vivian Howard, owner of Kinston, N.C.’s Chef & the Farmer and star of PBS’s A Chef’s Life. We’ve worked with her on our North Carolina Field and Family magazine, which features one of Vivian’s recipes in each issue (and you can also find them here on Farm Flavor), and she graced the cover of our first issue of North Carolina Agriculture, the annual food and farming magazine we publish in partnership with the N.C. Department of Agriculture & Consumer Services. She taught us how to make Hoppin’ John with catfish, and then we were fortunate enough to have a quick chat when we saw her walking around the festival grounds. Even in our technology-driven world, it’s still nice to meet face-to-face when you have the opportunity. Her show’s fourth season just premiered earlier this month, so check your local PBS listings to find out when it airs in your area. –JY

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Vivian Howard - Music City Food + Wine
Vivian Howard demonstrates how to make Hoppin’ John.

Every year, Martin’s BBQ goes whole hog – pun intended – with an incredible array of grilled, smoked and otherwise barbecued meats. This year went above and beyond with fresh octopus from Gullo Specialty Foods, as well as salt-encrusted halibut. We happened to be in the right place at the right time when they were pulling it off the grill and were fortunate enough to enjoy the melt-in-your-mouth whitefish just a few minutes later. –JY

Smoked halibut from @pitmasterpat @martinsbbq #musiccityfw

A video posted by Tennessee Home & Farm (@tnhomeandfarm) on

Thanks to the organizers for another great festival, and we’re already looking forward to next year! (And if you’re hungry for more, check out our recaps from 2015, 2014 and 2013.)

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