A Very Special Weekend Roundup

November 5, 2012 § 3 Comments

This past weekend was one that I had been looking forward to for a long time. Not one, not two, but three very special events were colliding and I couldn’t wait to get the weekend started.

We kicked it off Nashville style with the 46th Annual CMA Awards. This event was so much fun and I am so glad it’s home is in Nashville! Not only was it one star-studded performance after another, but the fans and the energy in the crowd had a contagious,  anything-goes kind of feel- from cut-offs to ball gowns.

Next, my mom and my sister came into town for a visit and some wedding planning. Of course we had to show off our favorite joint, Patrick Martin’s, so they could taste what real bbq is.

We definitely do not have this at Philly “barbecues” when we grill hot dogs and hamburgers. It’s very impressive to a Northerner

We also wanted to bring them to what just might be our favorite date spot in Nashville, City House. Our waiter even let it slip that they were catering to Anthony Bourdain after his show. I love the wine in the picture below, Glornata Gemellaia, Sangiovese, Merlot, Paso Verdot, Paso Robles, CA 2010 which I’ve ordered at two different dinners now and it’s paired with everything.

Pre-Tony

And then I came face to face with my long-time celebrity personality crush, Anthony Bourdain. I spent many a lazy college afternoon watching No Reservations, devoured Kitchen Confidential (and the not quite-as-good Medium Raw) and stood in a jam-packed Barnes & Noble in NY to hear him speak with David Chang.

Up close & personal in the front row. I have the best fiance in the world.

My answer to the “what’s your dream job?” question was always the same, “Anthony Bourdain’s sidekick.” Listening to him speak Saturday at TPAC, I got to hear the inside scoop of just what it would take to be on his team–namely, humiliation, exhaustion, lots of strange food, too much liquor and a dash of skirting the law. Maybe I should just enjoy getting my fix from his upcoming CNN show.

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Halloween Spread

October 30, 2012 § 1 Comment

Entertaining tomorrow night? Here is a last minute solution for what to serve. The sake needs to be done the night before but everything else can come together just a few hours before people arrive. So even if you didn’t have plans, why not throw something together last minute? Menu taken care of.

Clockwise from top left: Pumpkin cupcakes with cream cheese icing, Spider Web Fiesta dip with chips, more cupcakes, Devils on Horseback, Pita chips with cheese and apple, Veggies with Greek yogurt dill dip

I would start with the cupcakes first (of course). I used the recipe here and they were delicious. The batter even started tasting like pumpkin before I even added the pumpkin (yes, I tried the batter).

Cream Cheese Icing (Pre-food dye)

An easy way to dress these up is to add food dye halfway through icing the cupcakes. Add diverse toppings like chocolate sprinkles on some, crushed pecans on others, some plain and some with candy corn for a really decorative look that let’s your guests choose what tempts them most!

This fiesta dip was sort of inspired by a few different versions of 7 layer dip and other Mexican dips. I just tried to simplify the best I could. I think one version that is topped with shredded lettuce, diced tomato and cilantro could be delicious.

Layer 1- 1 can refried black beans mixed with 1 package taco seasoning
Layer 2 – 1 can Rotel Tomatoes mixed with 1 package cream cheese
Layer 3 – Guacamole. The top it all of with a sour cream spiderweb by piping the sour cream through a small hole cut into a zip-loc bag.

I used the Devils on Horseback recipe here. Mine turned out a little more well done than I would have preferred but I am always someone who would take my bacon overcooked rather than undercooked. The grease from this bacon gets your oven really hot so keep an eye on them.

Slice pitted prunes in half without going all the way through. Stuff with blue cheese. Wrap half of a strip of bacon in half and secure with a tooth pick. Voila easy as 1,2,3

Slightly well done

The rest of the apps are just slicing and dicing! If you don’t have a full bar already stocked, a good way to cut down is by serving a signature drink. Then have a few standard options like beer, wine and whiskey.

After a delicious cocktail in California last weekend, I scoured the internet to find how it was made–turns out it was infused sake. In a glass, air-tight container, pile in any fruit of your choice (we chose watermelon and pineapple). Make sure it is cut and cored with no bruised spots/blemishes. Mix in 1.5 L Sake and .5 L Pear Vodka and let sit for 24 hours

Southern Artisan Cheese Festival

October 8, 2012 § Leave a comment

When I found out there was a cheese fest going on, there was no way I could not attend. It’s clear I love me some cheese (here, here and here) so even the fall chill couldn’t bring us down at the Nashville Farmer’s Market this past weekend. For $44, we got to sample goods from over 20 cheesemakers across the Southeast as well as wine and craft beer. Though there were some organizational issues at first (this is only the festival’s second year), the cheese-hungry crowd figured it out and we soon tried so much, I think I got cheesed-out (I know, I didn’t think it was possible either but when Whole Foods was giving out apple slices, I had never been happier to see the fruit). It was a super indulgent way to spend a Saturday–someone mentioned “bucket-list worthy”–and I hope to attend for many years to come.

Bonnyclabber Cheese from Sullivan’s Pond Farm

Some of my favorite bites were not straight cheese but the spreadable goat cheeses blended with herbs, nuts, savory preserves, etc. from Stone Hollow Creamery in Birmingham. These things make entertaining a no-brainer.

Wine to wash it all down. My favorite was from Le Mistral

With so many dairy farms present, there were some delectable ice cream choices. We went with Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams–the Dark Chocolate is TO DIE FAR it is so rich, it tastes like frozen brownie mix. Perfectly paired with Goat Cheese and Cherry

Our favorite takeaway was The Preservation Society’s Pepper Jelly (we came home with two jars). It was so sweet and peppery it’s good any time of day. I was thrilled to learn they also sell in Whole Foods so I can restock easily.

 

Your Plans for the Month of October

October 3, 2012 § Leave a comment

This week saw a turn of the calendar which means a whole new page to fill with activities. It seems like as the weather cools, people are squeezing in everything they can before people turn in for the winter. So get out and enjoy as much as you can!

How fun would it be to stomp grapes this weekend? What a great idea. A Vintage Affair continues the celebration of its 12th year of supporting nonprofit organizations in Williamson County with The Grape Stomp at Animalia. It will be held this Sat, Oct 6 from 2-7 at Animalia, a veterinarian clinic near the Westhaven neighborhood.

If you love cheese as much as I do, then the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival is a must-do event. On Sat, Oct 6, sample 75+ handcrafted cheese from over 20 artisanal cheesemakers from six states around the Southeast. Each cheesemaker will be on hand to introduce and share their cheeses with. And with each $44 ticket comes a $5 voucher. They’ll also be craft beers, wine, tea and other beverages on hand to wash down such creamy, stinky goodness.

This week is the last chance to catch Smokey Joe’s Cafe! The Franklin Theater is putting on the broadway revue that features fun hits that range from rock to rhythm & blues from legendary songwriters Lieber & Stoller. It promises to be a really good time and with an outstanding cast, could be the perfect date night with dinner in downtown Franklin.

I am so excited to explore Germantown during it’s heyday–Oktoberfest. Any festival with steins, sausage and lederhosen has to be a good time so be sure to be there out and about on Sat, Oct 13th. And to relieve some of the guilt of overindulgence, there is a 5k around historic Germantown beginning at 8:00 AM the morning of the street festival.

I am totally ready to whip out my English-degree-pants and head to the Southern Festival of Books Oct 12-14. Each year the Festival brings to Nashville approximately 250 of the nation’s and region’s most prominent authors, spanning all genres (including chefs). There are so many things on this schedule, I can’t even handle it, and every session is free and open to the public with no advance registration or tickets required. Just make sure to get out early since seating is on a first come, first served basis.

Luke Bryan is set to headline the 5th annual Capitol Street Party on Weds Oct 17. The free concert will move from Demonbreun Street to Lower Broadway this year with Luke and newcomers Kelleigh Bannen and Jon Pardi performing on a stage set up on Broadway between 1st and 2nd Avenues.

 

I think it’s clear I love a good wine festival (here and here) so I am very glad to see another one on the calendar in Nashville. On Friday, Oct 19 from 7-10 pm at the Factory in Franklin will be 300+ wines to sample, live entertainment, seminars and so much more. Tickets run $75 or $85 at the door.

To celebrate the Latin American holiday of Los Dias de Los Muertos, head out to Cheekwood for their Fall Festival. The event has tons of kid-friendly, artsy activities as well as a marketplace, live music, and food. AND the event is free for anyone under 17.

 

 

Wine on the River

September 18, 2012 § 1 Comment

When I found out that Wine on the River would fall on the same weekend my best friend was set to visit, I felt like the stars were aligning. What could be better than sipping all different wines outside taking in gorgeous views of Nashville with someone you’ve known since (practically) birth? Not much. But you definitely did not need out-of-town guests as an excuse to take advantage of this event. Unsurprisingly, tickets sold out and the bridge was packed. The goal is simple: sample wines and spirits from different regions around the world–plus there’s fun music and tasty eats. I will definitely have to make this a new annual tradition in Nashville.

 

WINE KEG. AMAZING

Something new I hadn’t seen before, Darcie Kent Wine Kegs.

Tennessee’s Own

I was this close to trying the Pumpkin Spice Moonshine but once I took a whiff, I chickened out. I guess I’ll have to take a trip to Corsair Distillery to redeem myself.

The music started out classical and by the time this thing was ending it was a full blown dance party to Stevie Wonder

 

 

 

Grilling something. Despite just coming from lunch, I was tempted to try whatever they were grilling up.

12South Farmer’s Market

September 11, 2012 § Leave a comment

I swung by the 12South Farmer’s Market this afternoon. A relatively new addition to Nashville Farmer’s Markets, the 12South location is in its 2nd year and held at Sevier Park Tuesday afternoons from 3:30-6:30 PM May-November. I apologize because these pictures do not nearly do it justice–I was too busy perusing and taking everything in! The vendors really run the gamut and you can find everything from produce to great gifts here: cupcakes, coffee, gourmet cheeses & pastas, soaps, candles. Even swing by for a walk in the park and a shaved ice, the perfect end to a warm day.

Winter CSA! Reality Check…

This picture is deceiving since everyone is super friendly and helpful if you are looking for more information, not on a cell phone!

And don’t forget Food Trucks. You can find the Grilled Cheeserie and Riff’s here without the crazy lines I had last week at Centennial Park!

Your Plans for the Rest of September

September 7, 2012 § Leave a comment

I feel like September has just started and we are already 1/4 of the way through! This month is jam-packed with amazing events in Nashville as everyone is willing to go back outdoors in the milder weather. Here is what’s going on the rest of the month so it doesn’t pass you by!

I’ve learned since moving that Fall means football in the south and this week the Titans battle the Patriots right here on home turf. If you don’t have tix, Sam’s seems like a nice alternative to watch the game. And I’m not just saying that because it’s my namesake– it was voted the best place to watch the Titans by MSNBC and One of The Top 16 Sports Bars by Maxim.

You know after my great time last week I’ll be back to Musician’s Corner but I have another concert series that I must check out–Live on The Green. With The Wallflowers and Alabma Shakes on the schedule, they have some pretty can’t-miss shows. The best part? It’s all free, held in the eco-friendly Nashville Public Square Park.

Wine on the River is my kind of event. The Nashville leg of the World Tour will be held at Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge Saturday Sept. 15 3-7pm. $50 gets you in to sample beer wine and/or spirits from 10 different regions around the world. Methinks the Nashville region will boast some Jack Daniels and Yazoo but I am very interested to see the wine showcased here.

Zac Brown is bringing his band and a whole slew of star acts to Nashville’s Riverfront Park Sept. 21-22 for the two-day Southern Ground Music & Food Festival. Greg Allman, Alan Jackson and Sheryl Crow are all on the lineup. Zac Brown’s mobile kitchen will be there and some of Nashville’s top restrauteurs will be joining the festival as well.

I just found out about the Music City Southern Hot Wing Festival on Sept. 29. I remember growing up my brother attending “wing bowl” every year but something tells me it’s even bigger and better in Nashville. The event is only in it’s second year but already they will include cooking and eating competitions, live music, kid’s activities and over 200lbs of wings. This one’s for you, bro.

The IBMA (that’s International Bluegrass Music Association) is hosting a convention this month and in addition to a conference, golf tournament and Awards Show, there will be a 3-day Fan Fest Sept. 28-31. With over 60 acts, it is sure to be a good time.

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