It was a beautiful weekend for eating, drinking and grooving at Music City Food + Wine Festival.
Back for a third year, the event featured a big change of venue, moving Saturday's and Sunday's daytime events to the spacious Bicentennial Capitol Mall State Park, as opposed to the much more confined quarters of its previous home at Public Square Park. The move was a huge plus in the categories of seating, shade and overall breathing room, but having the festivities more spread out definitely killed the party-like atmosphere of the previous two years. In fact, it would be hard to imagine a more laid-back festival than this year's. But in some ways, that's not such a bad thing.
Saturday gave way to the first round of the 'Grand Tasting and Chef Showcase' from top local chefs and wine, beer and spirits purveyors. The near-unanimous favorite bite of the day was The Catbird Seat's Trevor Moran's 'ice cream salad,' which was also the first booth to run out of food. Other popular dishes included Biscuit Love's onion biscuit with ripened tomatoes and cheese and City House pastry chef Rebekah Turshen's lemon poppyseed pavlova.
On Sunday, Hattie B's had a constant crowd vying to get their hands on their hearty hot chicken sliders. Sarah Gavigan, giving attendees a little reminder of what's to come when Otaku Ramen opens later this fall, served up corn mazeman. Strategic Hospitality's Josh Habiger was there to rep Bastion, his recently announced new project, with an unusually simple dish of roasted potatoes, sour cream, herbs and salt. And Arnold's Country Kitchen made a strong showing with their mini meat-and-three plates.
And of course, if you couldn't find your favorite chef at their booth, the most likely place to find them was at pitmaster Pat Martin's fiery playground. Much like last year, it became the preferred hangout for all participating or off-duty chefs, many of which rotated shifts grilling, roasting and barbecuing everything from whole lamb to fish collars and octopus.
Saturday evening brought on a change of venue to Music City Walk of Fame Park, and a focus on the festival's guest chefs and musical talent at 'Harvest Night.' No surprise here, but Tim Love certainly had the rowdiest tent, donning a Tennessee Titans jersey and offering up shots to anyone that would take them. And Andrew Zimmern's 'Canteen dog' was a nice surprise, offering a full-sized hot dog with all the fixings, rather than the typical small bites that are up for grabs. There did appear to be a mini-crisis when Tom Gore Vineyards ran out of wine early into the evening, but Kim Crawford Wines stepped in to help keep the party going.
And as in years past, there was an eclectic mix of artists and musicians that took to the stage, playing a range of classic R&B and soul songs. Performances included festival co-founders Kings of Leon playing Bill Withers' "Use Me," former Rage Against the Machine guitarist Tom Morello paying tribute to Albert King's "Crosscut Saw" and Michael McDonald joining Sam Moore for "When Something Is Wrong With My Baby."
So take a look at all the photos above, and start making plans for next year's Music City Food + Wine Festival.