Nashville Scene: Seven Things We Liked at the Music City Food + Wine Festival

The Music City Food + Wine Festival, which takes place every September downtown, brings together an array of national and local chefs, and the locals definitely impress. Here are some things we liked at this weekend's installment.

Double H Meatballs from the Capitol Grille

These balls of beef, sourced locally by the chefs at the Capitol Grille in the Hermitage Hotel, were glazed with bourbon and smoked paprika, laid on a bed of whipped goat cheese and smothered in crispy, cool kale from the hotel’s garden at the historic Glen Leven estate. This was the first dish where about half of our group turned around and went back for a second portion. I’m not a huge kale fan, but it absolutely made the bite. 

Bò lá lốt from Vui’s Kitchen

This was little oblong balls of grass-fed beef with lemongrass, shallots and garlic, wrapped in a betel leaf. It had a garnish of pickled carrots and daikon and, of course, had Vui’s fish sauce on it. This is near the top of the list of festival dishes I wish were on a local restaurant’s regular menu.

Slow-roasted ribeye on street corn from Hemingway’s Bar and Hideaway

I picked this up thinking it would be a pretty typical dish between a few vineyards whose wines I wanted to sample. Then the ribeye just kind of melted in my mouth. How in the hell was this so good? I asked Hemingway’s chef Larry Carlile, who was prepping samples as fast as he could. It turns out, he cheated (sort of): “I used wagyu,” he said. That was worth the price of admission.

Gol guppa shots from Chauhan Ale & Masala House

Veterans know how to play to the crowd on a hot day, and this bite was among the most refreshing out there: A semolina puff with a bit of black garbanzo and potato inside it is then filled with mint cilantro water. It was cool and delicious.

Korean fried chicken from Funk Seoul Brother

Look, at some point someone is going to open a chain with chef B.J. Lofback’s KFC recipe (he says he keeps simplifying it) and make about a zillion dollars. I just hope they put one in my neighborhood so I can eat the perfectly spiced, perfectly fried bites that taste like they’ve been finished in butter every day. I may or may not have eaten a half-dozen of these things. It is worth stalking the FSB truck for these things.

Women at Martin's Bar-B-Que & Friends 

Every year it’s fun to just park down at one end of the festival and watch a bunch of chefs cooking over hot coals at the invitation of Pat Martin, one of the city’s finest pitmasters. The dishes are some of the best at the festival, and they change every hour (we were lucky enough to get some smoked, blackened okra that was dynamite, along with a skewer of fresh grilled tomatoes). In the Scene’s chef survey earlier this year, one chef bemoaned the lack of female representation among all of the BBQ bros, and this year Martin rectified that, inviting Little Octopus’ Sarah Gavigan and Atlanta chef Tammie Cook. Bravo.

Dan dan noodles from Tànsuǒ

You can get the hot version of these at Maneet Chauhan’s Chinese place in the Gulch, but these were something special: cold noodles with preserved mustard stems, ground chicken, bok choy and a szechuan tahini sauce. I became a convert to cold noodles a few years ago and they were an outstanding bit of counterprogramming to the summer heat. 

Mollie MurphreeComment