Tag Archives: Nashville

A First-Timer’s Look at the Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium

ErinAbout a week ago, I sat in on the 16th Southern Foodways Alliance Symposium, which is organized and attended by (in my opinion) some of the most fascinating people in the South. It was my first time attending the Oxford, Mississippi-event and I was hooked from the get go: As a first-timer, I was invited for bloody Marys and biscuits at director John T. Edge’s home to kick off the weekend.

I was introduced to a dozen new faces, all of whom were as excited and anxious to start the weekend as I was. The high-octane beverage helped, especially since it was packed with spices, pickled okra, and a hefty pour of Cathead vodka. There were biscuits and souvenir Tabasco go-cups, to boot. That sense of hospitality was carried through the entire weekend. One evening, we were handed a flask filled with a potent bourbon cocktail (to be consumed on a school bus as we rode to fried catfish dinner); the next afternoon, we received illustrated tea towels.

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Hospitality and event organization aside (the entire weekend of lectures, meals, and entertainment were executed flawlessly and to the minute), the weekend was packed with informative conversations, both formal and casual. The theme of this year’s conference was “Women At Work” so everything revolved around women and food. It started with the car ride down; I was joined by food writer Jennifer Justus and author Alice Randall (Jennifer summed it up nicely in a recent wrap-up post) and continued once we arrived, just in time to watch the Thacker Mountain Radio program. There was an interview with fashion designer Natalie Chanin followed by a performance from The Gee’s Bend Singers, who are both fine quilters and choral singers. Friday, Alice and her daughter Caroline Randall Williams, presented their newest project, a cookbook, due out next fall. We were entertained with stories about Caroline’s grandmother, Alberta Johnson Bontemps, who left Caroline her massive cookbook collection, which includes a full range of Junior League cookbooks that were once housed in her grandmother’s guest toilet. The speech made me laugh out loud and also crave a cookbook collection like hers.

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Alice Randall presents a talk with her daughter, Caroline Randall Williams

There was a clever lecture on Eugenia Duke, creator of Duke’s Mayonnaise and a moving documentary by filmmaker Joe York about Alzina Toups, of Alzina’s Restaurant, who also won the SFA’s Ruth Fertel Keeper of the Flame award this year. Her restaurant will surely be my next food pilgrimage

Between all of this, there were funny and fascinating conversations with people from all over the South as well as other members of the Nashville food world like Karl and Sarah Worley of the Biscuit Love food truck, Kahlil Arnold of Arnold’s Restaurant, and Lisa Donovan, pastry chef at Husk. It was a big Nashville contingent, I was told. I imagine it will only keep growing.

The meals were spectacular, made even more delicious by the conversations happening over them. One lunch by chef Asha Gomez of Cardamom Hill in Atlanta, was the prettiest plate I’ve seen all year.

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As a first-timer, going into it, I didn’t know what to expect—and like many I’ve spoken with, still feel overwhelmed by everything I experienced. But driving home on Sunday, I was struck by how fulfilling and satisfying the weekend turned out to be. The food, drink, friendships, takeaways, and knowledge have all sunken into my bones, held firmly in place by the fact that I now have 375+ reasons to return again next year.

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—Erin Byers Murray, managing editor

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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.

Christie Cookies
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

Staff Salvation: Soulshine Pizza

We’ve heard plenty of reports about the new Midtown hotspot, Soulshine Pizza Factory, which is why we decided to send the team over to investigate. Longtime readers of Nashville Lifestyles know that we like to treat ourselves to a little post-production outing. Last month, Soulshine truly hit the spot.

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Music and pizza are at the heart of this massive space. Dozens of original live show posters line the walls and there are a few areas set up for live music including outside on the spacious, covered, second-story roof deck. Inside, pops of color warm up the otherwise industrial room, including the stained glass window panes that take up much of the front wall of the restaurant.

Stained Glass Windows
We were in search of a few lighter, mid-day snacks, so we started with the hummus plate and a heaping Greek salad, layered with iceberg lettuce, artichoke hearts, peppers, onions, olives, and feta. To go along with it, a few of us ordered that day’s cocktail special, called the Tart-y Pants: sweet-tart vodka mixed with sugar-free Red Bull. They also boast a pretty lengthy beer list, with a dozen beers on tap and an even longer bottle list, including a strong showing of Nashville-brewed beers. They also have a signature Soulshine Beer brewed locally by Blackstone Brewery.

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Of course, what we really wanted to try were the pizzas. Fair warning: These are huge pies with a soft, doughy crust but a well-balanced ratio of toppings. The CCR was a hit with our group—it’s grilled chicken, bacon, mozzarella, cheddar tomatoes, and ham—as was the Mediterranean, which we ordered with a whole-wheat crust, and came loaded with shrimp, pesto, and sun-dried tomatoes. Johnny’s Garden satiated our veggie needs since it was layered with artichoke hearts, tomatoes, broccoli, sautéed onions, mushrooms, bell peppers, black olives.

Three Pizzas
After filling up on pizza, we took a peek downstairs inside Soulshine’s brand new sister restaurant, the Slider House. More of a burger-and-beer joint, this first-floor neighbor has a number of fun, retro touches like communal bar tables made from old bowling alley floors from the beloved Melrose Lanes. The beer list at Slider House is still getting beefed up but look for an all-can selection of about 50 or more plus a few boxed wines (the good ones). Also on hand? A frozen drinks machine that will pump out Painkillers, a heady concoction of spiced rum, coconut, pineapple, and orange juice.

Between the patios, the tasty offerings, and the constant supply of good music, these two new additions are becoming a one-stop-shop for fun. If you haven’t checked out them out yet, now’s the time.

Soulshine PizzaPhotos by Katie Jacobs

Celebrating our Cover Dog

Nashville Lifestyles May 2013
This isn’t the first time our May 2013 Cover Dog, Bella, has seen the spotlight.
Every week, she is the star of a different show when she visits the community of seniors at the Homewood Residence at Brookmont Terrace in Belle Meade. Showering them with puppy love and with free slobbers, Bella’s a regular.

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The folks at Brookmont hosted a celebration party in her honor and we had the pleasure of being party guests. It was such a sweet afternoon out on the patio enjoying the cutest dog bone cake (made of cupcakes), the dog of honor, and singing along to fun pup-themed songs.

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It was a perfect way to wrap up our People & their Pets issue! For our online pet guide check out NashvilleLifestyles.com — everything from How to Pick a Perfect Pet Sitter to the Top Pet Friendly Hotels in Nashville.

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