Category Archives: To Do in Nashville

Alton Brown brings his ‘Edible Inevitable’ tour to Nashville

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Television culinary celebrity Alton Brown is coming to Nashville on Thursday November 7 to bring his “Edible Inevitable” tour to TPAC’s Andrew Jackson Hall at 8 p.m. The combination variety show/cooking demonstration event has been a hit as Brown has made his way across the country, leaving a swath of planned destruction in his path, thanks to a particularly messy cooking demo that necessitates a “Poncho Zone” for the front three rows of the auditorium.

In advance of the show, Brown spoke with us about his relationship with Nashville and answered a few other silly questions.Alton4

“I love coming to Nashville. I used to perform regularly at Gaylord Opryland. Your food scene has really changed so much over the past few years; it’s really grown! I’m definitely going to set aside some time for visiting restaurants while I’m in town. But I’m not interested in finding what’s new and trendy. I just want to find some excellent food and a good glass of whiskey.”

“I made a visit to Nashville recently to tape a future episode of my podcast. I spent time with Scott Witherow and his crew at Olive and Sinclair. I’ve been focusing on Southern food producers, and I really love what they’re doing at Olive and Sinclair. They are inherently Southern in both zip code and mindset.”

Then it was time for the silly questions. We asked how come the first pancake is never any good.Alton1

“I’ve actually studied this. It’s not that the first one isn’t any good; it’s just that the subsequent ones are better. It has to do with getting the excess heat off the griddle so that the pancake can cook more evenly. Also, people don’t let their batter sit long enough before cooking. You have to allow the leavening in the batter to thicken, so batter is better after 3 to 4 minutes. Ideally, you should make it the night before and keep it in the refrigerator.”

Recently at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium in Oxford, MS, Kat Kinsman of CNN’s Eatocracy and Kim Severson, Atlanta bureau chief for the New York Times staged a Lincoln/Douglas-style debate on the merits of pie vs. cake. We questioned where Brown comes down on this particular controversy.

“Oh, I’m definitely on the pie side. Pies take more advantage of the great agricultural resources of the South. Pies show off the amazing nuts and fruits that are grown around here. Cakes just don’t show off as much.”

Tickets for Alton Brown’s “Edible Inevitable” tour are still on sale now at tpac.org.

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Behind the Scenes at Christie Cookies

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Working at Nashville Lifestyles gives me the unique opportunity to go behind the curtain and experience some “unseen” territory in this town. A few weeks ago a small group of food bloggers and I aproned-up and witnessed the 30-year-renowned Christie Cookie recipe from start to finish. We toured. We tasted. And now we’re talking.

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CC2Nashvillian and Vandy grad Christie Hauck opened his first retail store down on Church Street near the main library. Gussied up in a rented suit and red cumberbund, he plated up cookie samples and took to the street. Blame it on the Heath toffee or the real butter, but people were hooked. The Christie Cookie is now a booming mail-order business sending out “the perfect cookie” across the nation—about 89,000 tins of baked perfection during the holiday season. If a gracious client, friend, or family member has ever sent you a tin of Christie Cookies, you know they don’t last long.

Bite-Sized Facts:
• The factory and headquarters is located in the heart of Germantown at 3rd and Madison. They have free tasting every month—test their cookie of the month plus their existing flavors. These small batches are available for a limited time and you can a whole tin full of your favorite.
• Keep up with the new flavors of the month by ‘liking’ the Christie Cookie Facebook page. Coming up: August-Chocolate Chunk, September-White Chocolate Cranberry, October-Rocky Road.
• All the cookies are trans-fat free, Kosher certified, and do not contain high-fructose corn syrup or preservatives.
• Also available are brownies, muffins and a line of chocolates that have the same focus on quality ingredients, just like the cookies.

Inspired by the goodies they sent home with us, I put together a batch of Chocolate Chip Cookie Dough Sandwiches from food blogger Lindsay Landis’ Cookie Dough Lover’s Cookbook. I paired Christie Cookie’s chocolate chip cookies with Lindsay’s recipe (click here to get the recipe) for a decadent and amazing result. Cookie SandwichesA small plate of these cookies at the office was divided and conquered in less than 5 minutes which means next time I’ll have to make more…
DealThe nice folks at Christie Cookie are offering all Nashville Lifestyles readers a 15% discount! Use the Promo Code “LIFESTYLES” from now til September 9 at ChristieCookies.com and surprise someone (even yourself) with something sweet!

— Valerie Hammond, Designer/Web Editor

Q&A with Cirque Du Soleil Quidam performer Adrienn Banhegyi

The Cirque Du Soleil performance Quidam comes to Bridgestone Arena this weekend, bringing with it a host of high-flying experts. We caught up with performer and professional jump roper Adrienn Banhegyi to learn more about her experience and what goes into the show.Q3

NL: What brought you to Cirque du Soleil?
Adrienn Banhegyi: (AB)
After 20 or 15 years of competitive jumping rope at one point I was ready to make a transition in my career and that’s when I received an e-mail from the Hungarian Jump Rope Federation that Cirque Du Soleil was looking for a professional jump rope artist. I sent them a video to Montreal, to their headquarters. They invited me for an audition. That was about 8 years ago. [My sister and I] auditioned together. She actually was elected to be part of the show a couple of months after we did the audition while I had to wait for almost 4 years to receive a contract which was for a different show than Quidam.

NL: Jumping rope takes a lot of concentration. Especially when competing, I imagine. Is it difficult to hold that concentration while also focusing on performing?
AB:
Actually that’s something we start our training program with in Montreal once we are selected to be part of a show. They train us to be good actors and artists as well. Because I come from a competitive background most of the time I was focusing on the difficulty and the endurance so it’s a big change to learn how to project the joy I feel inside. When you’re performing and you see how other people react, it helps a lot.

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NL: Cirque du Soleil is known for its eccentric artistic flare and creativity. What’s the most surprising or strange thing you’ve happened upon back stage or in rehearsal?
AB:
The funniest thing that happened was on stage the first time I did the show. We have different roles so, more or less everybody’s main act is almost always perfect, or close to perfect but the side roles add other disciplines. I had to be a momma character and we are rolling in on skateboards laying on our belly and kind of imitating freestyle moves, rolling all the way to the front of the stage. Then we stop for a second and we have to turn. I couldn’t turn my skateboard because my dress got stuck and I was trying to move and I kicked all the lines. For the audience it was probably not that visible because it was not the main thing but everybody back stage was laughing and when I came off, they said, “Ah, momma didn’t make it too well.” There are some funny things happening on stage. It brings a little bit of color to the performance. For the audience it’s something that probably only a person who saw the show, I don’t know, a hundred times would recognize but otherwise it’s something for us to laugh at.

NL: What was the toughest trick for you to master?
AB:
I think one of the most difficult ones is called a release. When you let one handle go, spin the rope around twice and then you grab the handle again and that’s something that you have to be really good with the timing and focus on catching the handle.

NL: Are there any other forms of exercise you use to keep in shape for jumping rope like yoga or pilates?
AB:
I do a lot of different things. I studied physical education and I’m also a pilates instructor and I was teaching [as a physical education teacher for children] before I joined Cirque. It was nice to experience that as well. And I am also a fitness instructor and personal trainer. The nice thing is that when traveling around we have a gym back stage always that is set up in the arena so we have the chance to use very different equipment. And also within the group we have artists who are qualified to give lessons to each other. So we have martial arts classes, pilates; we have dancing, we have personal training. What I try actually is all the aerial things like climbing rope and it’s really a great workout and you have fun spinning around.

NL: As a little girl, did you ever think jumping rope for a living was possible?
AB:
I always wanted to do something that I really liked and my dad is a physical education teacher so he always wanted us to be in sports. I played professional handball but I always stayed with jump rope. I really liked it. The original idea was that if it doesn’t work out, it’s still going to be a really good sport to keep my fitness level. But after a while I said, “No. No. Actually it’s the main thing for me.” I don’t want to do anything else anymore, I just want to do this.

Quidam will perform seven shows June 26-30 at Bridgestone Arena. For a full schedule and tickets, go to cirquedusoleil.com/quidam.

For more of what to do in Nashville, visit our Things to Do page!

— Emily Grace Markanich, editorial intern

Light: Bruce Munro exhibit at Cheekwood

Katie Jacobs Last night we got the opportunity to step onto the Cheekwood property for the lighting of their new exhibit, Light: Bruce Munro at Cheekwood.

This is the British artist’s second-ever North American exhibition of Light and he was on hand to give us a personal guided tour through his stunning outdoor and indoor art installations.

Bruce Munro
We were floored by just how down-to-earth Munro is—incredibly humble, chit chatting with everyone in attendance, cracking jokes about himself, and encouraging everyone not to over-complicate his work but instead just enjoy its beauty.

Bell Chandelier This was one of my favorites! It is a stunning chandelier of cascading optical fibers in the center of the mansion's rotunda staircase which makes it accessible from all angles.

Bell Chandelier
One of my favorites! It is a stunning chandelier of cascading optical fibers in the center of the mansion’s rotunda staircase which makes it accessible from all angles.

Light installation

Light Shower
A site specific installation of 1,400 teardrop-shaped diffusers in the Mansion Loggia.

Reflecting Pond

Fagin’s Urchins
Created especially for Cheekwood’s reflecting pool, this one is beautiful at twilight.

Cheekwood Lawn

Field of Light
The star of the show—comprised of 20,000 lighted glass spheres and gracing the grounds in front of Cheekwood’s mansion—this installation must be seen in person.

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Water-Towers
Comprised of 40 structures built out of one-liter recyclable plastic bottles filled with water and optical fibers connected to an LED projector and audio system.

While the images here are beautiful, you really MUST go and see it for yourself. It is indescribable in person and something I can guarantee you’ve never seen.

— Katie Jacobs, Creative Director

Find out what else is happening in our What to Do This Weekend review — and enter our contest for a 2014 commemorate Light calendar with some of the featured light sculptures.

Light: Bruce Munro at Cheekwood
May 24 – November 10
Wednesday, Thursday and Friday’s until 11 p.m.
Adults: $15

A sneak peek at the awe-inspiring new Music City Center

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There are plenty of reasons to get excited about Nashville’s new Music City Center (MCC), which opens to the public this Sunday, May 19. There is the intricate architecture and design (spearheaded by Nashville-based firms Tuck Hinton Architects, Moody-Nolan Architects and Atlanta-based TVS Design), the four-acre green roof, the massive eight-acre exhibition hall floor, and 57,000-square-foot Grand Ballroom which mimics the interior of a guitar. The chef is sourcing from a number of Tennessee farms and can produce up to 20,000 meals per day; the building’s entire energy consumption is offset by 845 solar panels; and there are 32 loading docks hidden away off Korean Veterans Boulevard.

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What we were most inspired by, though, was the generous display of local art used throughout the entire building. Senior Art Consultant Rich Boyd, who previously worked with the Tennessee Arts Commission, helped secure the 101 pieces that now hang in the MCC and explained that 50 of the 59 artists on display are from Tennessee. The Center’s $2 million budget paid for 8 site-specific art installations, including “Composition” (below) by Aaron Stephan, which takes inspiration from small model-making kits and “Euphony,” an arrangement of 25 miles of stainless steel chain cascading down from a 1,400-pound ring, which was created by L.A.-based Ball-Nogues Studio.

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“Composition” by Aaron Stephan

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“Euphony” by Ball-Nogues Studio

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Photographs by local designer Bob Delevante

The Center’s Public Art Committee also sifted through 2,500 submissions, eventually acquiring artwork for 62 different spaces throughout the building. Local artists represented include Fisk University professor Alicia Henry,  photographer and Watkins faculty Caroline Allison (below), Brentwood-native Jamaal Sheats, and mixed media artist Carrie McGee. Next to each piece of art, you’ll find plaques describing the art, along with a QR code that will eventually lead you to more information about the artist (those details are still being put into place, says Boyd.)

Art tours will be available starting June 1, allowing the public to access this massive collection, as well as the interior of the stunning structure itself.

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“Ivy Green. Tuscumbia, Alabama” by Caroline Allison

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“Intimacy and Peace” by Alicia Henry

Find out what else is happening this weekend (May 17-19) in Nashville!

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The Grand Opening of Music City Center kicks off this Sunday, May 19 at 1:30 p.m. with a Community Open House and live entertainment lasting through Monday night. For details, go to nashvillemusiccitycenter.com.

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MCC By The Numbers:

7,300+ people worked on the construction of the building
1.2 million square feet of public space
11,000 tons of steel; 12,000 tons of rebar
150 feet high at its tallest point
18,000 stackable chairs
20,000 meals-per-day kitchen capability
35,000 pieces of china
$130 million spent with minority, small, and women-owned businesses

Announcing Music City Eats, coming this September

Music City Eats

Yesterday afternoon, we dropped by City House to hear about the forthcoming Music City Eats festival scheduled for September 21 & 22, 2013. Clearly, this event has the full support of the city behind it as the announcement was hosted by the NCVB president and CEO Butch Spyridon, Mayor Karl Dean, and the Kings of Leon drummer and lead singer Nathan and Caleb Followill, the latter of which is the brainchild of this exciting new food and music event. The two-day fest will feature a who’s who of  powerhouse culinary talent, including Tom Colicchio, Giada De Laurentiis, Michael Symon, Trisha Yearwood, and Jonathan Waxman, as well as about 20 local luminaries, including Tandy Wilson (City House), Deb Paquette (Etch), and Otaku South’s Sarah Gavigan.

“When I first dreamed up this event, I thought, how do we get more chefs to come to town and understand the beauty of Nashville’s food scene,” said Caleb. “Food is becoming as big a part of this city as music,” he added.

“We’re all in. Financially, as a marketing partner. We’ve committed this date to the future,” said Spyridon. Mayor Karl Dean echoed the sentiment, saying he was on board in supporting the event, adding that  “Nashville is going through a renaissance.”

The event, which is produced by C3 Presents (the Austin Food & Wine Festival; Austin City Limits) will be anchored at Public Square Park and feature a Harvest Night event, showcasing national chef talent, Petty Fest, an all-star musical review, and the two-day Flavors of Nashville featuring food from local chefs plus wine, beer, and spirits. We’ll keep you posted as more details emerge.

Tickets go on sale this Friday, May 17 at 10 a.m. with packages starting at $275.

— Erin B. Murray

Surviving Steeplechase

Steeplechase Survival

It’s time for Steeplechase! One of Nashville’s most iconic spring events, it’s also one of the city’s fastest sporting events. But that doesn’t stop folks from celebrating all day and into the night. We’ve gathered a few of our favorite “Steeplechase Survival Moments” from our own staff and readers. Here are a few of the best:

“One of my first years attending Steeplechase as an ‘adult’ (seated in the prestigious box section instead of the infield), there was a well-known woman in the next box over with the most gorgeous hat she had carefully created using fresh flowers from her garden. It was covered with large, vibrant blossoms and  absolutely stunning. Turns out we weren’t the only ones ‘buzzing’ about it. Between the hat and all of the mint juleps in our box, we were completely swarmed by bees the entire day. I spent the afternoon dealing with a big, swollen sting on my leg.”
— Stacie Standifer

“We always take a party bus to ensure everyone has a safe ride home. One year our party bus had a DJ booth, complete with disco balls and everything. On the ride home, one of the young ladies dressed in her fancy Steeplechase dress and hat stole the microphone from the “official DJ” and busted out a full rap to Eminem! Proof that in Nashville everyone really does think they can sing, or in this case, rap.”
— Amanda Kinzer

“To start the day we had to go door-to-door to find our ‘crew’ before we could even depart for Steeplechase. Then Kaitlin had to sacrifice her underwear for the betterment of society (due to a friend forgetting hers and making the rookie mistake of wearing an extremely short dress). At the end of the day, we lost our crew again, but then found them as we were pulling out of the gates. Moments later the owner of our car and her friend hiked 3 miles back to center field from Highway 100 to find their phones…which they lost because they decided to jump over a fence. Four hours later a Metro Officer knocks on the car window to ask us if we’re missing something. Very concerned that we didn’t know the correct answer, we respond “2 girls”. His answer “are you sure not 3?” and he opens up the back if his squad car and out came our missing friends plus one more. I was told “don’t let me find them again”. In order to survive Steeplechase, one must leash their crew like toddlers in Disney World.”
— Kaitlin Grigsby & Elisabeth Oliphint

“My brother was a record producer back in the  80’s when someone talked him into attending the Iroquois. He was not amused with the hats and the khakis and the pink shirts on men, but he was talked into to placing a bet on a horse. He looked over the field and made his selection as his friends encouraged him on. “It will be fun”, they told my brother “if you place a large amount of money on a race!?

They went on and on about how much fun the race would be with a friendly wager riding on it… he bet,  the horse ran, then the horse got to the first hedge, stopped, looked over at the crowd—no kidding—walked around the hedge and continued the race. My brother was not amused and has not returned. He really should try again!”
— LaRawn Scaife Rhea