On the last night of my trip to Nashville, we had the unbelievable opportunity to join in on the Whole Hog Pop Up Dinner. Pop Up dinners were becoming popular in many cities across the nation, including Nashville. It's a concept where you take an open space of some sort and create a "pop up" dinner service. After learning about this concept, I was super excited to see what $70 got me!
Caroline and her husband, Chef Galzin, were the two hosts of the evening. Chef Galzin was the same chef that prepared the drunch items a couple of days back. He was later joined by celebrity chef Dale from Bravo's Top Chef. Although I did not get to meet Chef Dale, I was able to see a glimpse as he prepared our courses. The location was an open space with a few table, next to a fully equipped commercial kitchen. For the amount of people there, the space was definitely big enough. In this dinner, we had a total of four courses, all pork themed courses and paired with alcohol. Here's what I thought:
Course 1: Platters of house charcuterie: Mortadella, country pate, smoked coppa, rhubarb mostarda sauce, sourdough pretzel and paired with a Belgium beer, Urthel Hop it. The mortadella was creamy and delicious, filled with little blocks of pork fat. The coppa was cured perfectly and had a nice salty flavor. The pate was by far my favorite. Creamy and packed with flavor. Then you had the soft pretzel with the mostarda sauce which brought a nice texture and sweet tart flavor. The beer was a perfect pair to this course. Not too hoppy for an IPA with a golden tone.
Course 2: Boudin blanc of charred ramps and beer mustard greens, asparagus with radishes, cured egg yolks and lardons, warm dandelion greens with wild mushrooms, cracklins in a pork fat vinaigrette, paired with 2013 Elk Cove Pinot Gris. The boudin blanc was sausage out of the casing and drizzled over the ramps and greens. It was flavorful and nicely salted. The asparagus was perfectly cooked and went well with the salty pork lardon pieces. In this course, my favorite was the dandelions with wild mushrooms. Lots of earthy flavors and the cracklins offers a crispy element. The Oregon based wine made for a light and crisp pairing. Great!
Course 3: Roasted pork loin and crispy pork belly served with English peas, spring onions, nettles and a drizzled pan sauce. The nettle greens, onions and peas were a good trio of side dishes. Not overcooked and the pan sauce brought a cohesive pork flavor. The pork loin wasn't dry and seasoned well. The star of the show was definitely the crispy pork belly. Pan seared, the belly was salty and super marbleized. The only issue with this course was the serving. For the main course, I wished they gave a little more. The course was paired with an Austrian wine called Berger Zweigelt, 2012. It was a dark wine that paired nicely with pork.
Course 4: Strawberry shortcake with poppy seed ice cream, paired with a Bully Hill Vineyards Sweet Walter Rose. The shortcake was dense and topped with sweet cuts of strawberry. The poppy seed ice cream was a great touch to the end of the entire 4 courses.
I hope that I get to experience this pop up concept at another time. I love the idea of it and had a great time with some excellent food. Aside from the hefty price tag, I thought everything was perfect! The location, the courses, the alcohol pairings, the company. Thank you to Caroline and Chef Galzin for putting on an amazing dinner!