For a little Fall getaway, we headed south to Nashville for the Southern Ground Music & Food Festival, featuring our faves, the Zac Brown Band, and many, many special guests.
After checking in at the fabulous Gaylord Opryland Hotel on Thursday, we grabbed a nap, then headed downtown to Jack's BBQ on Broadway. Upon seeing they had SIX different BBQ sauces to try, I had no choice. In the interest of research, I had to get the ribs. So I could try every.single.sauce.
On Friday, we headed to Southern Ground for dinner and the evening shows, which included the Zac Brown Band with guest stars Willie Nelson, Kenny Rogers, and Kenny Chesney, among many more!
The food at Southern Ground was Fantastic. Delicious. Creative. Pick your Awesome. Set up as food stalls like you'd see at your typical county or state fair, these vendors went much further than funnel cakes and hot dogs. F. Scott's Restaurant from outside of Nashville had me at "gyro" (typical Greek).
But seriously. Corn & Jalapeno Waffle Cone? Go on.
I tried explaining what Goo Goo BBQ sauce was to my dad when I recapped the next morning. I explained as a sweet and smoky mole-laced BBQ sauce. I'm glad to report that on Saturday, when I got a chance to compliment the chef from F. Scotts, I gave him this same description. He was pumped that I got the mole in there. He said no one can ever articulate that! :) It plumed my foodie feathers a bit, I tell you.
Here's what this amazing morsel looked like before it was all over my face.
Check them out online at www.fscotts.com.
Of course, there were tons of amazing craft beers to try there as well. One I kept coming back to was Dos Perros Ale from the Yazoo Brewing Company in Nashville.
Because you can't be surrounded by amazingly talented chefs and stop at one waffle cone-clad gyro, we had to stop over at GT Fish & Oyster. For those of you familiar with this establishment, we were psyched to see a Chicago restaurant featured at a very Southern event!
Executive Chef Guiseppe Tentori created an awesome Oyster Po Boy Slider with peanuts and this amazing kimchi -- not bad that it was also a James Beard Award-Winning Dish). Aside from being Michelin Star Rated and a two-time Big Gourmand winner, the chef also made a little list of Best New Chefs from Food & Wine Magazine. I guess I'll let that guy make by slider. Check out their restaurant site at www.gtfishoyster.com.
Now let's talk about dessert. At the bottom of this sign.
Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuit Pudding.
I can't. Even. Breathe. It was just phenomenal. Featured at Cookie, the Zac Brown Band's food truck, this was perhaps one of the best desserts I've ever eaten. Ever.
I'm also a believer that food vessels are important to your senses. Serving the Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuit Pudding in a portable paper cone was pretty ingenious too. It left us fighting over who would make it to the bottom of the cone first.
A little later in the night, we had to pop by The Sweet Shoppe from Blue Ridge, Georgia. I mean, they *did* win Cupcake Wars and all. I guess I owe it to the viewing public to try their cupcakes. In the interest of research, of course.
You had me at the sassy names you give your cupcakes. So cute. I'm no dummy -- I tried the Blonde Bombshell and Turtle. Both were pretty fantastic.
But they weren't to overshadow The Sweet Shoppes delicious chocolate covered apples. We tried both white and milk chocolate covered selections and left Nashville still undecided on which was better. The chocolate to apple ratio was spot on -- a key to creating the best chocolate covered apples. Visit at www.sweetshoppeblueridge.com.
Saturday, after my husband cooperatively attending a cowboy boot-buying trip to the nearby Opryland Mills mall, we headed back downtown for our obligatory lunch at Margaritaville (I think we've dined at about 10 of them to date).
Frozen concoction for one, please.
By Saturday night, we were back at Southern Ground for another round of Grilled Gyros and Watermelon Lemonade from F.Scotts, only to be met with heartbreak when I found out Cookie's was out of Chocolate Peanut Butter Biscuit Pudding. Nothing some more beer can't help.
Of course, I brought my own themed koozie. I am a lady, after all.
Bred, Nick, and Jason at the concert.
One last foodie harrah: Jeni's Splendid Ice Creams. And she's from Chicago. Heck yes.
Outlaw Pie Ice Cream: Whiskey Ice Cream, Toasted Walnut Clusters, and Chocolate Stracciatella. Of course we had to try it (with a side of Salted Caramel. This is America).
It was everything I thought it'd be and more. This crew makes all of their own product, which is very impressive in my world (as someone who spent a summer making ice creams, I have nothing but respect for a chef who can nail the perfect ice cream-to-toppings ratio. Check them out at www.jenis.com
Our crew had a great time -- looking forward to 2014's show!