I arrived at Music City Eats right when gates opened on Saturday. There was a buzz in the air as people were scrambling about trying to be first in line for their favorite chefs. After a quick visit for some breakfast bourbon from Willet, I headed over to City House to see what Tandy Wilson and his crew were cooking.
City House cooked up a chicken jalapeno sausage with fresh slaw. This was a great first “breakfast bite” because, SAUSAGE. The slaw was crispy goodness while the sausage didn’t have as much of a kick as I was hoping for, but the flavors were solid. This was a great first bite to kick off the weekend and it was telling of the great food to come.
Next I hit up Rolf and Daughters where they were offering an eggplant bite. It was perfectly tender and melted in your mouth. The only down side: it was kind of messy and didn’t come with utensils, so I hoofed it down, getting most of it on my face. I’m oh so lady-like.
Continuing the roll of good food, I stopped by to visit Josh and Erik from The Catbird Seat where they were nice enough to pose for a photo. The local wonderkids whipped up an elegant maple custard inside of an egg shell with a bacon bite. This morsel was both the breakfast and dessert of champions, being so versatile it could work either way. The custard itself was perfectly smooth and luxurious.
Next up was local Eastsiders Lockeland Table. They presented a grilled shrimp with corn and berry salad. I didn’t know what to make of the corn and berry combination, but they turned out to work quite well together- different forms of sugar making everything sweet.
Thinking it was time for some champagne and a sit down, I went over to see Jonathan Waxman cook some fowl. During the duration of his 45 minute presentation he cooked duck, turkey breast, turkey thighs, roasted a whole turkey, and chicken fried some quail. There is something quite zen about watching Waxman in the kitchen. He has no stress, which is incomprehensible to me when trying make four birds at one time.
After Chef Waxman’s bird talk I had a yen for foul so I stopped by to see Arnold Myint who was serving up a duck liver banh mi. I love duck liver and this was no exception, but I felt like the pickled vegetables overshadowed the subtlety of the liver. But it's ok, Arnold is totally adorable and the sweetest guy ever, and no matter how you dress up duck liver it's still good.
Keeping with my Arnold theme I stopped by the crew from Arnold’s Country Kitchen, the best meat & three in town. They were serving up some roast beef, mac and cheese, green beans, succotash, squash casserole and a sweet roll. This might have been the biggest “sample” of the day- pretty much consisting of a full picnic lunch.
I’ve never been to Giovanni so I was interested to taste their sample. They did a nice Italian trio consisting of seafood salad, pesto pasta, and pork loin. The seafood salad was served nice and cold but it needed a bit more flavor. The pork loin was the standout, having a lot of nice but mild heat. I really wanted more of the pork loin and might have to visit the restaurant to assuage my cravings.
Kayne Prime seared some beautiful looking scallops and topped them with house-made whipped lardo and pickled grapes. This was one of my favorite bites of the day- a perfect amuse bouche. The scallop was well cooked but still tender and, honestly, add lardo to anything and I’m in.
Silo was serving up another of my all time favorite meats- pork belly. It was served with cheddar grits and I felt it was a good example of the honest food that they serve. The pork belly itself was crisped up, creating a crunch in contrast to the soft grits.
Merchant’s did a country ham and scallion pancake topped with whipped pimento cheese and pickled green tomatoes. This was a perfect example of “southern food trying too hard.” I honestly wasn’t a big fan of this dish, mostly because I don’t think the individual parts stood up together, and they made an soggy amalgam in my mouth.
Over at Etch my favorite lady Deb Paquette was serving plum pork with Moroccan spices and Tennessee sipping cream. This dish was served cold, which was smart because it immediately prevented any temperature issues with the meat. The pork was tender and very well seasoned. It had a nice kick, reminiscent of the Moroccan-inspired fare on the full Etch menu. Deb knows her spices and she uses them well.
I was in the mood for some sweets so I stopped by the Art Institutes tent to try their passion fruit marshmallow on a macaroon with a white and dark chocolate curl. I didn’t like this dish. The cookie was too hard and it just tasted like a jacked-up Mallomar. Bummer town.
Oh, Aaron Sanchez. EVERY WOMAN AT THIS FESTIVAL LOVES YOU AND WANTS TO HAVE YOUR BABIES. Do you know that? Of course you do. You are funny, charming, handsome and can make some Mexican BBQ like nobody’s business. I honestly have no memory of how to make your Mexican BBQ, but I do know you have knuckle tattoos and a pretty smile.
After all the Mexican pork talk I headed over to Peg Leg Porker (who recently had their smoker stolen right from under their nose- seriously, people suck...) to try their smoked chicken salad and Asian glazed pork belly. This might be blasphemous, but I’ve never been a fan of chicken salad and this didn’t really do anything to alter my opinion. On the other hand, I was a big fan of the pork belly.
Since I already tried every pork product that was available for the tasting, I hit up Jeni’s ice cream to sample the Loveless Café's biscuit and peach jam flavor. I know I've said this time and time again, but all other ice creams simply can’t hold a candle to the fatty goodness that Jeni's makes. I honestly feel bad for cities that don't have a Jeni's (which is like 99% of the country).
I finished off my day with a visit to the pork panel with Jon Shook and Vinny Dotolo from Animal and chef Edward Lee. They debated the merits of pork versus beef and surprisingly, I became hungry again. How is this even possible?
The highlight of my day was meeting a sweet fan of my blog, Anne! Just look at this lovely lady! This blog has brought so many wonderful people into my life and that thought just makes me giddy on the inside.
Stay tuned folks because Harvest Night and day 2 are coming up!