It was Southern hospitality as much as the celebration of good eating and drinking that ruled the third annual Music City Food + Wine Festival this weekend in Bicentennial Mall State Park.
In fact it was downright chummy, gathering Nashville's finest plus a mingling of celebrity with outside chefs. If there were a common refrain among visiting talent, it was how nice everybody had been.
Stephen Barber of Long Meadow Ranch in St. Helena, Calif., said it was one of the most fun and low-key festivals he had ever been to, and this is a guy who has seen them coast to coast. The Kentucky native attributed a lot of that to being in the South, but also acknowledged Nashville itself for its warmth.
Most visitors I spoke with felt the $500 all-in ticket delivered a good value. Maryjane Tomlinson, who came from Chicago to visit friends, attended just the Sunday tasting, and said that the single-day $125 ticket was a bargain. She and her friends said the breadth and number of tastings exceeded her expectations.
Much of the energy swirled among the smoke motes at Pat Martin's barbecue playground where chickens hung on metal wires ("chicken ...