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Friday, September 27, 2013

Music City Eats: Day 2

Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Day two of Music City Eats was the home stretch of the marathon eating weekend. I was personally slowing down, mostly due to the fact that there was no room left inside my belly. But it didn't appear that most people felt the same, because when I arrived on Sunday it was pretty darn crowded.
Margot at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
My first stop was at Margot for their kale and butternut squash tart with Gruyere cheese. This dish looked beautiful- you can see the striated layers of vegetables. It tasted like fall and put me in the mood for the hearty and savory foods that I'm sure to get in the coming months.
Hattie B's Hot Chicken  at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
If there's one thing Nashville is known for in the food world, it's hot chicken. We are probably the only place in the world where you can get this insanely spicy fried bird. Newcomers to the Nashville hot chicken scene, Hattie B's, served up theirs on a biscuit and a pickle. My bite was unfortunately really cold, but I still felt the spicy heat. I think I'm going to have to stop by their restaurant for a full hot chicken dinner to make up my mind.
Blackberry Farms at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
This simple dish from Blackberry Farms might have been my favorite of the afternoon. Their blackberry glazed quail legs were out of this world. There are few things that I enjoy more than quail leg in general, but what made Blackberry Farms' unique was the fruit glaze. It gave the legs a sweet and tangy flavor.
Otaku South at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Over at Otaku South I had a small bite filled with a big flavor. They had savory pancakes with pork shoulder, bacon and pickled vegetables. I think my favorite part of this dish was the pickled veggies. They had such a lovely vinegar tang! I usually get the ramen bowls when I go to Otaku South's pop-ups, but this made me want more of their non-liquid fare.
The Southern at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
My goodness, The Southern presented a purely decadent, true southern bite- a corn cake with pimento cheese and a hard boiled quail egg. My comment after taking a bite was "ung... unfair!" This was a nice take on traditional southern food, pushing the boundaries just enough to be interesting, but not insulting to the cuisine.
Mangia at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Over at Mangia Nashville I had a fried risotto cake with a lemon cream sauce. I think I was very lucky to try this, as they ran out right after I got my plate. I have to say I was pretty bummed that some vendors were out of food two hours before the event was scheduled to end. I hope that this mistake is a teaching lesson that will better prepare them for service next year. Anyway, this little bite was pretty good, but didn't knock my socks off. Perhaps it was because I've actually made these at home before. But I have to give credit where credit is due; that sauce was the bomb.
Wild Hare at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
The Wild Hare was serving up a duo of deviled eggs with smoked Gouda and peanut butter pie. I honestly can't say I was impressed with these two dishes. Deviled eggs are a southern staple, and I have had them done better than this, although the smoked gouda was a nice addition. The peanut butter pie was solid, but I wish it had a bit more crunch with the addition of a crust. Maybe it was just my bite that was missing the crust.
Chef John Besh  at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Next I headed over to see Chef John Besh make a Soupe de Poisson with blue crab and fish heads. I was sitting really close to the front and the smell was amazing. I wanted to grab a spoon and run right over to try it straight out of the pot, even though I'm generally not a fan of fish soups.
Tavern at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
I was confused by Tavern's apple dessert bite. They used raw oats that were too hard and difficult to chew. I feel like this needed to be cooked down and softened to be enjoyable.
1808 Grille at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
My final stop for the day was 1808 Grille for their banh mi. It seemed that banh mi was the most popular flavor at the festival; there were many varieties available. This take on it was no great shakes, and it had too much bread. Why do people get the bread ratio wrong so often?
The Silly Goose at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
I was really bummed that by the time I got to the Silly Goose they were all out of food. I'm really happy for Chef Roderick Bailey and his team, but sad that I didn't get to taste the mole they had prepared. They were even all cleaned up by the time I got to them. Lucky for me one of the nice Silly Goose staff members sent me this picture so that I can pretend like I was there.

All in all, I had an amazing weekend at Music City Eats and I can only hope that this nascent festival grows and grows each year. And I would like to extend a hearty thank you to the Music City Eats team for letting this local blogger live out her food dreams!

Thursday, September 26, 2013

Music City Eats: Harvest Night

After a fabulous first day of eating, I was not done. Stuffed to the gills, I retreated home for a booze-induced disco nap only to wake up refreshed one hour later ready to eat again. Lucky for me Harvest Night was full of delicious creations from all the celebrity chefs that flew into Nashville for this event. It was like getting to taste food from the best restaurants around the nation!
Chef Jon Besh at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
First up was Chef Edward Lee's pork and squid pancake. Why no picture? I think I ate it before I remembered to take one. Instead, enjoy this photo of Chef John Besh looking super cute. I know it wasn't a contest, but I think Chef Lee's creation was my favorite taste of the night. My compatriots agreed that sometimes the first thing you try is the best thing you try. There was so much flavor packed in Chef Lee's little bite and I loved the substantial squid flavor.
Chef Jon Besh at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Chef Besh served up some hot buttered crab with caviar on toast. Oh, and there were a few edible flowers to boot. I loved this luxurious dish. Crab, butter, caviar... I must be someone special to eat like this! I was impressed how the salt of the caviar did not overpower the delicate crab flavor. The caviar itself added a nice textural element and I loved the "pop pop" they produced in my mouth.
Chef Jonathan Waxman at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
My perennial favorite Jonathan Waxman provided us with a simple southern succotash with gnocchi. I loved his choice of local ingredients, including my personal favorite, okra. While I was hoping for a chicken dish from this fowl-loving chef, I was quite pleased with his well-flavored gnocchi.
Chef Aaron Sanchez at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Chef Aaron Sanchez at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Chef Aaron Sanchez was once again being painfully cute and flirting with all the diners. I didn't get a single picture of him where he wasn't giving me the sassy face. Chef Sanchez created a Brussels sprout salad with fried pork fat crumbles and pickled onions. I know this wasn't a contest, but this was my number two of the evening. The sprouts were cold, crunchy and served a way I'd never had them before. Add that to the earthy smoke flavor of fried pork fat, and you have a winning dish. This is something I will try to replicate at home if I'm ever feeling brave.
Chef Donald Link at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Chef Donald Link offered the diners a shrimp salad sandwich and tuna crudo. While I loved the shrimp salad itself, I felt like there was too much bread and the bun-to-filling ratio was off. I wound up eating the salad with just the bottom part of the bun. On the other hand, the tuna was perfect. Whatever sauce he added was a perfect light flavor, allowing the fresh fish to remain the star.
Chef Tim Love at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
After all these dishes, I made it to the lamb portion of the evening. Lamb is one of my favorite meats, mostly for its gamey flavor and high fat content. Chef Tim Love did a nice grilled lamb rib. It was cooked perfectly, even down to the lovely grill marks. My one issue was that they Frenched the bones. As a fat lover, I think all the good stuff is in the fat, and bone fat is the best fat. I spoke to one of Chef Love's sous chefs, who told me they Frenched it for ease of serving, but at their restaurants they don't French every lamb dish. Good to know!
Chef Michael Symon at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Chef Michael Symon presented another beautiful lamb variation- a rib with grilled lemons. I was amazed by how much flavor can be added just by squeezing a bit of grilled lemon juice over meat. Chef Symon was certainly playing to the crowd (assuming he knew of my love of bones) by giving me something tender and lovely to gnaw on. Ladylike, y'all! If the event wasn't ending, I would have run back for another one of these.
Chef John Currence at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Chef John Currence created the perfect chicken meatball. I have no idea how anyone can keep anything made of chicken that moist and tender. The meatball was so soft and flavorful, almost changing my skeptical mind about chicken and meatballs in one bite. The added bonus was the cheese chip served along side the meatball. It soaked up all the flavors!
Jeni's Ice Cream at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
And of course I ended my night with a lovely Sundae from Jeni's ice cream. This sundae was made with salted caramel ice cream, chocolate and whiskey sauce, candied nuts and fresh whipped cream. This might have been the most gluttonous blow of the evening, but by this point I didn't care. I polished off my sundae and waddled back to my car, knowing that the next day I would have to eat just as much.

Wednesday, September 25, 2013

Music City Eats: Day 1

Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee

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 at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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.
Rolf and Daughters at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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.
The Catbird Seat at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee

The Catbird Seat at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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.
Lockland Table at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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.
Chef Johnathan Waxman at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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.

Arnold Myint at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
Arnold Myint at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee

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. 
Arnold's Country Kitchen at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee

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.
Giovanni at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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 at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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 at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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 at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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.
Etch at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee

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.
Art Institute at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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.
Chef Aaron Sanchez at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee

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. 
Peg Leg Porker at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee

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.
Jeni's Ice Cream at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee

Since I already tried every pork product that was available for the tasting, I hit up Jeni’s ice cream to sample the Loveless CafĂ©'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).
Chef Edward Lee at Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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?
Music City Eats Food Festival in Nashville Tennessee
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!



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