In recent years, Nashville's reputation has morphed as one of a town solely known outside of its own city limits for country and bluegrass music to that of a multifaceted destination that also comprises style accolades, world-class food, innovative tech startups and major breakthroughs in the healthcare industry.
But it's the foodie angle that is most appealing to many locals—not to mention to the millions of visitors who make their pilgrimage to Tennessee annually to see the culinary explosion going on in our corridor of the country.
All images courtesy of Camels & Chocolate
And there's nary a better time to experience what Nashville is all about than this week when Music City Food + Wine, now in its fourth year, comes to town Sept. 17-18, holding court with some of the best purveyors of food and drink around.
During the two-day event, more than 40 chefs and 85 food and beverage vendors will be on hand to serve up signature dishes with plenty of local and regional wine, beer and craft cocktails to wash it all down. But there's far more to do at MCFW than just eat (though heed my advice and wear your fat pants): There are cooking demonstrations from top talent around the country like Andrew Zimmern; discussion panels on topics like "Kitchen Disasters" and "Tasty Travels;" and "Meet the Maker" events featuring regional beer and spirits experts filling out the full weekend schedule.
The Grand Taste tents are open from 11 a.m. to 4 p.m. every day and are personally hosted by a suite of beloved local chefs such as Trey Cioccia (the Farm House), Maneet Chauhan (Chauhan Ale & Masala House), Sean Brock (Hush), Tandy Wilson (City House), Matt Bolus (404 Kitchen), Karl Worley (Biscuit Love), Josh Habiger (Bastion), John Lasater (Hattie B's) and Deb Paquette (Etch), who will mingle with attendees and cook up some delectable treats. All of them love to talk shop with fans so don't be shy when you're snatching up a sample from their table (and also don't be afraid to go back for seconds once your plate is clean!).
A fan favorite, Harvest Night on Saturday has special performances from a variety of artists from Nashville's legendary music scene, as well as plenty of food and adult beverages. Artists are assembled by the Grammy-award winning band (and Nashville boys) Kings of Leon, and though admission is not included in the regular pass and is already sold out this year, be sure and put it on your to-do list next year. Or purchase the All-In Ticket, which includes entry to Harvest Night. Day passes to both Saturday and Sunday's afternoon events are still available for purchase.
"Pappy Hour," a limited seating bourbon tasting event cued up for Sept. 18, is coming for the first time this year and hosted by the great grandson of Julian P. "Pappy" Van Winkle. Attendees are selected at random from a pre-registered list of specific ticket holders. Check the website—or if you're a current ticket holder, your email—for more information.
On Sunday morning 11 a.m. to 12:30 p.m., a boozy Gospel Brunch featuring Gale Mayes kicks off your afternoon. Also open all day on Saturday and Sunday is Martin's Bar-B-Que and Friends barbecue grilling feast with a rotating cast of celebrated chefs curated by Pat Martin of Martin's Bar-B-Que fame. Expect an eclectic mix of slow-cooked meat and fish at this must-see (and -taste) event. Dishes are being announced on social media channels and chalkboards throughout the weekend.
Those who want to start the party early can pull up a chair at Adele's on Friday where chef-owner (and MCFW co-founder) Jonathan Waxman and Travis McShane will offer a Rosé Summer Harvest Luncheon for $55. Guests can enjoy a special summer harvest menu from the duo, served family-style and paired with refreshing rosé wines and rosé sangria noon to 2 p.m.
Dishes will include: whole hog with Alabama white sauce, lamb sausage, kale salad, cauliflower salad, vibrant heirloom tomato Panzanella salad, seasonal Bruschetta, shrimp toast, pizzettes and more.
So, what are you waiting for? Grab yourself a paper plate, some napkins and a frosty beverage and go on a journey into some of the hottest restaurants around at Music City + Wine Festival this weekend on the Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park grounds.
You'll find me there, with a fork in one hand and a cocktail in the other!