nashville food festival

Dee Gross with Kings of Leon Caleb Followill and indie music artist Trisha O’Keefe.

For my thirtieth birthday, my husband bought us all tickets to the Music City Eats festival. On top of getting to experience some of the best. food. ever, it was an inaugural event in Nashville.

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Sausage on a bed of chick peas and assorted vegetables.

To make a long story short, partaking in this two day food and wine extravaganza was one of the highlights of my life.

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Egg custard with a bacon tuile.

The first day, we were greeted with our schedule, a GooGoo Cluster swag bag, and a tasting cup. The schedule was so jammed packed that I felt like I was in Sophie’s choice. I had to decided between gorging myself on the Flavors of Nashville, food demos, and panel discussions. Of course, the temptation to keep going back to the fine wine, beer, and spirits vendors never went away. We decided to watch a dessert demonstration hosted by Nancy Silverton, a chef, author of several cook books and artisan bread advocate.
After that, we watched Trisha Yearwood/Aaron Sanchez and Tim Love/Giada de Laurentiis. At the end of most of the demonstrations, KitchenAid would auction off a product signed by a famous chef to support breast cancer research. We got to learn and help charity all at the same time.

As the booze flowed, the presenters got more interesting. Especially Tim Love who, by the end of day one, was signing his autograph onto festival attendees.

Once the first part of the day ended, we spent a few hours at our hotel coming to our senses. After a brief respite, we headed back to a special Harvest night. This was where the presenters such as Michael Simon, Nancy Silverton, Ed Lee, Tim Love, Trisha Yearwood, and Jonathan Waxman. The gnocchi at Jonathan Waxman’s station was life-changing, and who knew Trisha Yearwood’s german chocolate cake could be that amazing. Of course, the pervasive intoxicant were interspersed among the delicious food all the while a local band played on a stage in the background. This portion of the evening was the most green-friendly part of the event. The theme of the evening was, “seasonal ingredients for a veritable farm-to-palate extravaganza.” As you know this is one of the best ways to be eco-friendly and produce a more delicious plate.

After the Harvest Night ended we waddled our way to the War Memorial Auditorium for Petty Fest. As you would expect, Jameson was a sponsor of Petty Fest, so alcohol poisoning was a real possibility if you did not pace yourself. Medical hazards aside, the War Memorial Auditorium is a breathtaking venue combining history and intimacy. This concert was to celebrate all things Tom Petty. As the brochure said, “Along with Kings of Leon, Music City Eats [welcomed] Emmylou Harris & Rodney Crowell, Norah Jones, Patrick Carney of the Black Keys, Jakob Dylan, Buddy Miller, Erika Wennerstrom of Heartless bastards, Butch Walker, Cory Chisel & Adriel Denae, The Whigs, Cyle Barnes & Samuel Williams of the Weeks, Ruby Amanfu,” not to mention Trisha Yearwood and Charles Kelley. The room was filled with lights, smoke, and voices. Though we were exhausted and somewhat inebriated, we stayed until the very last song. All the performers filled the stage and closed the night with a collaborative rendition of Free Falling.

music-city-eats-nashvilleThe next day we got a late start, but we were sure to make it to the Michael Simon’s It’s All Greek to Me. After seeing his food demonstration of Ribs and watermelon salad, I felt like I could cook like an Iron Chef. Then we moved on to Ed Lee’s How to Eat Your Bourbon. He utilized Kentucky Bourbon and Artisan Soy Sauce to make pickled vegetables and roasted chicken. We ended our food demonstrations with John Besh’s A Taste of Provence. Though his fish soup was not a practical recipe for our land-locked state. It smelled delicious and encouraged the use of every part of the fish included head, shrimp/lobster tails, etc.

As the festival drew to a close, the famous chefs and musicians wanders around among the regular Nashvillians. One public square was transformed into a magical place where local food, delicious wine, and food-lovers alike converged. Like the brochure said, “For two delectable days, chefs, purveyors of wine, beer, and spirits, and epicurean heros from around the region and across the country [enticed] senses–all to the soundtrack of the great music this city is known for.” We ate, we drank, we recycled and the world was a little happier place for a moment.

Music City Eats is a festival in Nashville showcasing Food, Wine & Spirits Festival, presented by Nashville’s own Caleb and Nathan Followill (from Kings of Leon), chef Jonathan Waxman, Austin-based C3 Presents, and Vector Management’s Ken Levitan and Andy Mendelsohn.

By Dee Gross