Farm Flavor editors Rachel Bertone (RB) and Jessy Yancey (JY) attended the second annual Music City Food + Wine Festival in Nashville this past weekend. From delicious bites to educational and fun cooking demos, it was one food-filled weekend. Take a look at some of their favorite highlights below.
[See Also: Highlights from last year’s festival]
So Many Samples
Harvest night aside (we’ll get to that later), my favorite part of the festival by far was the Grand Taste area. This was set up in the middle of the festival, and featured local restaurants, wineries, breweries, distillers, artisan food companies and more handing out their delicious creations. I had heard of many of these restaurants and their fine accolades, but some are a little pricey for me to visit, so it was great to experience a bit of their food without having to splurge. A few of my favorites from the weekend included a cornbread cake with pickled cherries, olive oil and white honey truffles from The 404 Kitchen and an AMAZING cream puff pastry from The Catbird Seat restaurant. It was such a fun treat. The pastry looked just like a potato, served in a paper bag and topped off with “dirt” which was actually chocolate crumbs using Olive and Sinclair Chocolate. It was a little unnerving to bite into, since I wasn’t sure what it would taste like, savory or sweet, hard or soft, etc., but I’m thankful I did. It was one of the best bites of the day…I went back for seconds! As far as savory bites, I loved the wagyu short ribs from Mason’s and the pork jowl with dates and balsamic from 5th and Taylor, which opens in January. I also loved the sweet iced coffee from Switters Iced Coffee. They had three flavors – black, honey and sweet, but the sweet got my vote. Honestly, everything was delicious and I could keep going, but I’ll let Jessy mention her favorites as well. – RB
That unique potato cream puff definitely takes the cake, so to speak (and I’ve mentioned Catbird Seat on here before), but my favorite pastry of Sunday would have to be the Farm House croissant, stuffed with pecans and cinnamon sugar. Definitely a great, filling breakfast bite. A very, very close second was the wine-poached pear french toast from Sinema. I don’t even care for pears, but they made me a believer! Rachel doesn’t do spicy foods, so I ate enough hot chicken for the both of us. Silo’s take was blazing hot, in a good way, though I have to say the best moment was finally tasting Hattie B’s hot chicken, served on white bread with a pickle, naturally, while watching Tyler Florence fry chicken. (Not Nashville’s hot variety, but nothing compares to good old-fashioned fried chicken, though Florence’s recipe is anything but conventional.) And though I enjoy all of the fancier fare, such as Kayne Prime‘s lobster butter popcorn, I have to give some love to a couple local traditions – Martin’s BBQ Joint was on hand smoking a whole hog as Biscuit Love was cutting aged country ham right off the leg, and Arnold’s Country Kitchen served up a classic meat and three including collards, so at least we were also eating our greens amidst all of the pork and biscuits. (For more photos, head over to Facebook.) – JY
This year, Jessy and I got to join in on the Harvest Night dinner. What an experience! Held at Music City Walk of Fame Park, near the Country Music Hall of Fame, the dinner featured dishes by some of the festival’s top chefs, including Jonathan Waxman, Tyler Florence, Tim Love, Masaharu Morimoto, Sean Brock, Michael Symon and more. Guests were invited to visit each chef’s tent and taste their offering. I think I made it to 6 or 7 tents before I was too full, but Tim Love’s was hands-down the best of the night. The Texas-based chef served a Texas-sized portion of prime rib. When we first got our plates, both Jessy and I wondered if we would need to seek out a steak knife. We didn’t. It was fall-off-the-bone tender, and literally melted like butter in your mouth. I would go as far as to say one of the most delicious steaks I’ve ever eaten! After wining and dining, we were treated to an awesome concert, true to Music City. The Kings of Leon kicked things off, while others (including Charles Kelley of Lady Antebellum, Hunter Hayes, Michael McDonald and more) joined in singing classic country songs. It was definitely a night to remember! – RB
Chefs, Panels & Demos
Of course, the main reason to attend this festival is the insight from renowned chefs. Though the Nashville restaurant scene was well represented, I really enjoyed hearing from some of the more nationally known faces. Amanda Freitag of “Chopped” fame taught us how to perfectly cook an omelet (scramble, scramble, scrape), poach an egg and what happens when you leave a plate on a hot burner (spoiler: it shatters). Talk about staying cool under pressure! Panels from the likes of Andrew Zimmern, Aarón Sánchez and many mentioned above shared details on how they deal with kitchen disasters to some of their zaniest tales from the road. It was fun to see Waxman make an appearance on almost everyone’s demo, including Love’s “Art of Burning Food” (where the flames were intentional). But I think I learned the most from Iron Chef Morimoto, who showed us not only how to scale a fish and make nigiri, but how we are supposed to eat sushi rolls. Wasabi on the fish (and how much depends on how oily the fish), and soy sauce on the rice – never mix it together, as we Americans are known to do. Who knew! We ended the festival watching Waxman and Caleb Followill prepare succotash, Brussels sprouts and sweet potatoes. We realized these recipes sounded familiar… while you may not find sushi or cream puffs on here, we at Farm Flavor agree with Waxman that there are some delicious ways to get your five servings of fruits and vegetables per day. – JY
Did you go to Music City Food + Wine? Share your favorite bites and experiences. Have you been to a similar festival in your city? Let us know what other ones we should add to our agenda!