Nuit Belge: An Artistry Event
Nuit Belge means Belgian Night in French, and oh what a night it was. Belgian beer, cheese and food pairings, all with a creative flair that could only happen in Nashville.
It was equal parts foodie and beer aficionado heaven. The best kitchens in Nashville were assigned a specific beer as inspiration, prepared a food pairing especially for that beer’s flavors, resulting in nothing short of art. The restaurants went all-out, with creative flavor combinations ranging from peanut butter and ham biscuits to the traditional Belgian dish of moules frites.
The evening started out with Blackberry Farm’s culinary and brewery team at William Collier’s. The 50-person VIP experience included beer and food straight from the farm. This was a special treat considering they don’t host many events off farm grounds. We tasted 3 Saisons, brewed on location: Summer Seasonal with Australian hops, Prickly Pear with Hibiscus, and Reposado with Blue Agave. The overall theme for the food was fermentation. My favorite tastes were the fermented sausage, late winter carrots wrapped in pig’s jowl and potato chips spritzed with pickle juice. The Blackberry Farm staff was friendly and made us feel at home, answering questions and mingling with the group.
After the Blackberry Farm VIP party, the main event started in Marathon Music Works. Upon entering, guests were greeted with a special tulip tasting glass from Spiegelau and a tasting notebook with the pairings already listed, to keep notes along your culinary journey.
Overall, the tastes were impressive but some stood out more than others.
My Favorite Beer and Food Pairing:
“Belgium Elvis” biscuit from The 404 Kitchen paired with Lolita from Goose Island Beer Co. The biscuit came baked with crispy Benton’s ham, a dollop of peanut butter on top, with honey. Lolita is a Belgian style pale ale, fermented with wild yeast and aged on raspberries in wine barrels.
Crowd Favorite: (based on line-length and conversation with the crowd)
BBQ ribs from Husk, paired with a Belgian Quad from Blackstone Brewing Company. The ribs were charred with scallion and peanuts.
Pork Belly Banh Mi Donuts from Mason’s, with Love-Blackberry Whiskey Barrel from New Belgium Brewing Company. The donut was used as a sandwich for the pork belly, smoked cheese wiz and pork cotton candy inside. The beer is a very limited release of unblended dark sour ale, that was aged in Leopold Blackberry Whiskey Barrels.
Pork and Toast from Prima, paired with Bockor Cuvee des Jacobins Rouge. I say unexpectedly good, because it seemed so simple in execution and presentation: but the flavor of the meat, which was schmeared pork with cherries and chili de arbol, was delicious. The fattiness of the meat, paired with the sour beer made for a great taste combination.
Ricotta Buttermilk Gelato from City House, paired with Hanssens Experimental Cassis, an experimental lambic that is brewed with black currants. It was hard to resist pouring the Cassis directly over the gelato and just drinking the whole thing together.
The Oak Melchior Special Edition Pur Sang, from Picobrouwerij Alvinne. A true Belgian beer, bottled and labeled by the maker himself and only brewed once, is aged in Oak wine barrels with fresh cherries added in the last 3 months before bottling.
In addition to the restaurant and beer pairings: cheese, accoutrements, oysters and chocolates lined the room’s perimeter. The cheese selection was impressive, with flavors from all over the world, but my favorite was the Chimay Grand Cru from Belgium. Gooey like Brie, this was delicious spread atop flatbread, with spicy plum chutney. And, it wouldn’t be a Belgian evening without chocolate truffles. Olive and Sinclair’s new Seersucker collection did not disappoint, especially with my new favorite, the caramel truffle.
Overall, the creative food, unique beer, wonderful entertainment all mixed with a crowd of curious taste adventurists made the event a truly artistic presentation, in and of itself. The limited availability of only 500 tickets sold made it easy to sip and taste without feeling overly crowded or spending a long time waiting in line. This was Nuit Belge’s debut year, and it definitely earned do-not-miss status on my list of events for 2016. Bravo, Rhizome Productions and all who were involved. I’m looking forward to what you’ve got cooking up next.
Beyond Nashville: Cleveland, Lexington and Louisville
Giveaway: Music City Spirits and Cocktail Festival
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