Nashville is known as Music City, but they don’t do too badly in the gastronomy department either. During my recent visit, I spent most of my time in the guitar-shaped convention center, but had a delicious opportunity to enjoy the local cuisine courtesy of the Seattle and Austin convention and visitors bureaus.
As you might suspect, a special event put on by these two cities will be pretty cool. It was held in one of the most talked-about restaurants in Nashville: Rolf and Daughters. With Seattle supplying the Washington state wine and Austin the music, it was a gem of an evening.
Rolf and Daughters is in the up-and-coming Germantown area and last year was named the third best new restaurant in the country by Bon Appétit. It specializes in what chef-owner Philip Krajeck describes as “modern peasant food.” If this is what the peasants are eating, they are doing well indeed.
After disembarking from the motor coach with our group, I was surprised to hear someone calling my name. It was a former colleague Jay Strother, accompanied by his wife. I hadn’t seen Jay for more than a decade, but there he was holding a glass of chilled rosé on the patio. He’s a successful executive in the Chicago area and we conversed pleasantly in the humid afternoon sun.
The wines were provided by Gorman Winery of Woodinville, a wine mecca in Washington State. The winery produces 7,000 cases a year, focusing primarily on the premium wine appellation Red Mountain. Winemaker/Owner Chris Gorman was at the dinner to mingle with the crowd and introduce the wines.
Upon arrival we enjoyed a crisp, chilled glass of the 42-39-56 2013 Rosé. It is a blend of 50% Cabernet Sauvignon, 40% Syrah and 10% Petit Verdot. The temperature in Nashville was nearing 90 and so this refreshing wine was a godsend. We stepped inside an continued enjoying the wine and music by Austin performer Erin Ivey.
Rolf and Daughters has a rustic, funky décor with well-trained waitstaff. Each dish is an eclectic masterpiece of farm-to-table ingredients. We had a fixed menu for our group. The regular dinner menu is limited in choices, but dazzling in its range.The first course was a delicious salad of heirloom tomato, farmer cheese with charred and raw zucchini. It was paired with Gorman 2013 “Big Sissy” Chardonnay.
Chef Krajeck is known for his pasta, and the pasta course was superlative. We had two offerings, a rigatoni verde with heritage pork ragout and sarvecchio and a farro gemelli “hen of the woods” with spinach and lemon.
The pasta verde was one of the best dishes I’ve enjoyed in months with the perfect consistency and shot full of flavor. The “hen of the woods” is a chicken pasta dish and was savory and succulent.
The pasta was paired with my favorite wine of the evening, the 2011 Gorman “Pixie” Red Mountain Syrah. A spicy, solid wine, it is aged in French Oak for 21 months. It ripples with plush flavor.
When I saw that 735 cases of “The Bully” 2010 Red Mountain Cabernet Sauvignon were produced, I assumed this was a limited production wine. But when you are a small-by-design winery, Chris informed me that it actually is one of their most plentiful wines. It is smooth, fruity and low in tannins. It includes 10% Petit Verdot. It paired with our pastured chicken entrée which was served with la ratte potatoes, calabrian chili mayo and creamless corn.
An Olive & Sinclair chocolate tart put an exclamation point on the meal. It was accompanied by a “cry baby.” No, I’m not talking about a dissatisfied guest. That is the name of the Gorman 2012 Late Harvest Yakima Valley Chenin Blanc.
This is “faux” icewine because the grapes were frozen post-harvest at –6 degrees for five weeks before pressing. The Cry Baby has an amazing bouquet and was a perfect pairing with dessert.
Outstanding Nashville cuisine, perfect Washington wine, and guitar tunes from Austin. That’s my recipe for one superb evening.