Fun

I usually do a wrap-up of the Music City Food + Wine Festival over at the Scene with all my favorite vegetarian bites, but I've moved it over here for this year.

I was really pleased at the vegetarian selection this year and had some really fantastic food, but I have to say my favorite thing this year was the addition of the Williams-Sonoma Pastry Tent curated by Lisa Donovan (of Buttermilk Road). Many of Nashville's best pastry chefs brought out their best for folks to try and it was immediately my preferred place to hang (it helped that it gave shelter from the rain on Saturday). Even better: many of the desserts were packaged, so I could just drop them in my bag to take home and eat later. Because even with five hours to graze, it is really easy to fill up at this event. But because of that, I don't have a lot of great pictures of the desserts. But among the standouts was a root beer float cookie sandwich from Littlest Love, a chocolate panna cotta from Megan Williams of Etch, an olive and thyme fougasse from Dozen, a soft pretzel with brown butter mustard from Kayla May of Josephine, and the lemon ricotta cake from Rebekah Turshen of City House. I think I got those right, but everything--EVERYTHING--was amazing. There were also sweets from Dulce Desserts, Olive and Sinclair, Sweet 16th, Utterly Nashville (amazing macarons), The Salted Table's Charles Hunter, and Southern Fatty Phillip Fryman. The espresso/coffee/chocolate chip cookies I got from The Salted Table and Sweet 16th kept me going all of the following week.

Along with the food, there was a TON of alcohol. I didn't try a lot of the alcoholic beverages, but I really enjoyed the ginger-infused Virgil Kaine bourbon, a hibiscus mimosa made with Firepot Chai tea, and American Born Moonshine's Dixie sweet tea moonshine. I also got to sample Pepsi's new artisanal colas, the 1893 "Original" and "Ginger" colas, which are made with cane sugar. They were fantastic. But now for the photos:

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Sweet 16th's spread in the Williams-Sonoma Pastry Tent
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Bastion's ice cream sandwich: peanut ice cream, Carolina Reaper chili, basil
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Grilled Cheeserie's grilled mac and cheese at the Martin's BBQ pit
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Rolf and Daughters muscadine jelly donut with lime glaze (favorite bite of the festival)
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Canelas in the Williams-Sonoma Pastry Tent. I believe these were from Utterly.
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Compressed watermelon with mango butter, lime leaf, and mushroom furikake from Little Octopus
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Seaweed pasta from Catbird Seat
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I can't remember the exact description of this one, but isn't it pretty?
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Margot's veggie banh mi
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Chocolate panna cotta
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Proper Bagel's proper bialy (minus salmon)

Not included in my wrap-up are all the great demos and panels and Harvest Night, too. Just too much to cover! But check out the official festival wrap-up on the Music City Food + Wine Festival website and mark your calendars for the third week in September next year!

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Now that my kitchen is functional (and I’m getting deliveries from Green Bean Delivery every other week), I’ve been busy in the kitchen. I have several great recipes with mediocre photos to share, but I thought I’d do a round-up of others’ recipes I’ve either made or tasted recently and really liked.

romanescoRoasted Romanesco. The romanesco is a broccoli/cauliflower hybrid that is milder and tastier than either of the two. I got one in a Green Bean Delivery box and cooked it up using this simple recipe from The Kitchen Snob and it was great! This is a particularly good recipe to try when having guests since the vegetable looks so great on a plate. And they were definitely better than roasted cauliflower steaks. I just can’t seem to roast them at home so they taste like the cauliflower at Etch.

Baguettes. During the recent snow/ice storms, we were stuck in our house for nearly a week. Our driveway was covered in a thick sheet of ice. The steepness was great for sledding, but not so much for getting out without possibly careening into a tree. So I decided to make some bread in anticipation of actually running out! My friend, Amy at Fearless Homemaker has made these baguettes often and loves them.

Eh, I didn’t love them. But it’s not the fault of the recipe. Somehow (perhaps the arid conditions in our house because of the heat being on all the time), the dough was too dry, so we had to add water. I also had trouble mixing the dough initially (almost burned up my mixer’s motor). My husband swears he did not measure inaccurately, but anyway, the result was a bread with overworked dough that resulted in a tight crumb (like sandwich bread). So I wasn’t blown away. But if made properly, I can see how this bread would be really great. It’s a huge recipe, though (makes four loaves), so keep that in mind.

Freekeh with Brussels Sprouts, Apples, Cranberries, Cherries and Pecans. This is the dish that Beth of Eat. Drink. Smile. brought to our Nashville Foodbloggers post-holiday potluck. I loved this dish. I’ve got to skeedaddilydoo over to the store and get some freekeh, though. I’ve never had it before and certainly never bought it. But it is fantastic. Plus, I’m always up for a new way to use Brussels sprouts.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Empanadas. My favorite dish from the foodblogger potluck was Tracey of Single Grrl in the Kitchen’s empanadas. Oh, man, these things were good. I snagged several to take home afterward, too.

Also at our potluck, Angela of Spinach Tiger brought some of her famous biscuits as well as this triple layer chocolate fudge cake and Phillip of Southern Fatty brought these delicious ginger beer cupcakes.

I’ve also made a really great Brussels sprouts salad (several times), some fantastic waffles, and a “cookie salad” (my contribution to the foodblogger potluck). Those are the recipes I plan to post soon (I hope).

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Wow, it’s been more than two months since my last kitchen update! Things are progressing very slowly. What I had thought would be just an overall three-month renovation has dragged on and will be closer to six or seven months. However, we’ve been living here a month now because we do have a working kitchen and one working full bathroom.

Anyway, all the cabinets, appliances, and countertops are all in place. It still needs to be finished off because the fur-downs created a challenge. None of them were particularly straight, so there were gaps, but we will put some edging on them and paint to match the cabinets to make them look like an extension of the cabinets. We couldn’t get rid of them entirely because they hide some of the HVAC ductwork as well as some wiring and plumbing.

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I am happy with the functionality of the IKEA cabinets (still using the AKURUM system, which is being discontinued by IKEA), but painting them was a real chore. I got some incorrect information that I could just use some alcohol-based primer and I wouldn’t need to sand all these pieces, so I’ve had to do some painting, re-painting, sanding, and re-re-painting. Of course, I probably would have been okay if I’d used an oil-based paint instead of latex. But I’m not going to re-do it all again! And I'm hopeful that they'll last a while. They have a 25-year warranty, but they are not real wood, so I'm anxious about how they'll hold up. I plan to take care of them, though. Prevent spills, keep them clean, and so on.

For the countertops, I went with quartz. There is some quartz that is just gorgeous...and also very expensive. But I opted for Caesarstone in "Nougat" which is pretty with just a bit of sparkle to it. It's in the middle range as far as quartz pricing and about the same as some of the nicer granite. I really like it.

The Bosch appliances have been mostly great. The counter-depth fridge is low on space, particularly in the freezer, but it’s very sleek (thanks to the water and ice dispensers being inside) and the alarm is nice since I don’t always get the door closed. Also, the stainless steel front will take a magnet! This is great news for my little artist.

The Bosch dishwasher (a 500 series) does a great job and is very quiet. So much so that when it does make a noise, it’s startling because I’ve forgotten it was on. However, I am accustomed to a “dry” cycle that could be disabled so that I could put any item anywhere in the dishwasher. This one does not have a dry cycle, but uses extra heated water to “made drying faster.” Well, that water melted a silly straw already. I used the express cycle once, but it did not get the dishes as clean as the “light” cycle on my old Kenmore. However, I can get a lot more stuff into the Bosch, so I don’t have to run it as often, so I suppose that works out.

The slide-in range is a bit disappointing. Though it is gorgeous, doesn’t require any countertop behind it (it is “full depth”) and has many, many nice features (most of which I’ll never use), the one problem with it is a big one. That is, when the oven is on, the cooling fan is also on. And it is not quiet. This is only true for the slide-in models and I really don’t get it. Even when I had it on a warming mode of 120F, the stupid fan was still running. In this age when everyone is blowing out the walls in their homes and many of us have living areas open to the kitchen, this seems like a real design flaw. And as quiet as the dishwasher is, I’d rather have it not be quiet and have a quiet oven because I can run the dishwasher at night and never hear it. And when I’ve finished cooking dinner, the fan will still run to cool down the oven for some 10 minutes after I’ve turned it off. So we hear this clutter noise while we’re eating. This is something I think Bosch should really address or they’re going to have a tough time selling these things. Though, in reading the reviews of the microwave, this feature may be preventing the microwave front from melting...

The microwave is the last of the suite of appliances I got. Its functionality is almost identical to the LG that I left behind (and loved), though it is smaller (by choice) and doesn’t heat items quite as quickly. A weird thing it does is run the vent fan after items are heated, but the fan turns off once you open the door. I suppose this is so there’s a lesser chance of your food continuing to be heated and cooked after it shuts off, so that’s actually a rather nice feature if you use it to steam vegetables (as I do).

The floor remains on the to-do list. Of the many mistakes I have made, I definitely count purchasing Behr Semi-Transparent Concrete Stain near the top of the list. I should have let a professional do this job (and I will have to let a professional RE-DO this job). Here’s the deal. This is acrylic water-based stain, which means it’s really just very liquidy, thin paint. So, when it goes on, you can’t really see where the stain is going because the water discolors the concrete. When it dried (lighter than when it went on), I could see roller marks that did not show up before. And by then, of course, it’s too late to fix. You can put another coat or two on, but then it’s not really semi-transparent any more. It’s mostly opaque. Also, it’s not a great sealer. Water-based sealer isn’t great for sealing against water (dur) and it wears off within a couple of years anyway (I learned this from another DIYer after the fact). I also didn’t prime the floors (I thought it was not necessary because of the sanding) and the stain did not adhere well. Lumps of drywall mud were left to dry on the floor when I had the ceilings finished and when I cleaned them off, the stain came with them. So I will pay someone else to stain and seal my floors…sometime.

Note that you see two faucets at the sink. Even though we have a filtered water dispenser inside the refrigerator, I wanted one at the sink (I don’t like to drink really cold beverages). Mr. Eats wanted something a little sleeker than the standard water dispenser, so he chose this Delta prep sink faucet. It’s not from the same line as the big pull-down faucet (Delta Allora, which I highly recommend), but similar enough and both come in Delta’s newest finish, “Arctic Stainless” which is brighter and closer to the color of stainless steel appliances. It’s really pretty.

The two barstools have been in my possession for 20 years now, purchased at a friend’s yard sale, so they were already old then. But finding comfy 24-inch bar stools (counter height) is more of a challenge than I’d thought! And WTH, bar stools are expensive! I also still need the new windows install and trimmed out, a stainless steel backsplash for behind the range, install the shelving for my cookbooks over the 6-foot long counter between the pantries, choose a paint color for the breakfast room, and find an island that I like. So far, I haven't needed it.