Wednesday, November 12

My Visit to Nashville for The Pillsbury Bake-Off and TOFFEE BACON

One of the greatest things about my job as a food blogger, is the places it has taken me over the years. 
Last week I was invited by General Mills to cover the 47th Pillsbury Bake-Off at the Omni Hotel in Nashville, TN.  For those of you who don't know much about the Bake-Off,  thousands of people send in their recipes each year for the chance to win some major prizes including the grand prize of 1 MILLION dollars! Out of the thousands of entries, Pillsbury narrows it down to just 100 finalists. Those 100 home bakers, are invited to compete and make their creations for a panel of judges at the Bake-Off for a chance to win. 
Linda, the ONLY New Hampshire Contestant, I was rooting for her. She and I are practically neighbors both living outside of Manchester.
Can you imagine being in a room with 100 GE ovens and stoves going all at the same time? All while being filmed for ABC's the Chew? It is a pretty intense scene. Being there with a media pass meant I was allowed to walk the floor as the contestants prepared their entries and taste test their goodies. Oh and did I mention ABC's the CHEW! Carla Hall! Pretty exciting experience, and not at all what I was expecting when I agreed to come out to Nashville. 
Me (with closed eyes...) and Tia and Mark, the mastermind song writers behind so many MAJOR country hits. Trouble by the Dixie Chicks and I hope you Dance by Lee Ann Womack being two of my favorites. I have always been a huge Dixie Chicks fan, and I hope You Dance was my graduation song, and also danced to it at my wedding.  They did a little private show for us at lunch, then afterwards I had a really down to earth convo with them. They were the sweetest, one of the  highlights of my weekend!
For those who have never visited Music City, you really need to book a trip soon. It may be my favorite little city in the US. I come from a family of musicians (I was not blessed with their talent) so my love for music is pretty huge. What better way to spend my weekend, than a city filled with huge talent and live music everywhere you turn. 
When in Nashville with your girlfriends, be sure to take advantage of the "Buy one get TWO free," sales at the boot shops on Broadway St. Real cowboy boots are $$$! Dorothy from Crazy for Crust, Lori from Recipe Girl and I all split the cost and got a pair. How cute right? 
I kicked my weekend off with meeting up with a cousin that relocated to Nashville a couple years ago, she took me out for a beer and we enjoyed some classic country music covers at the famous and classic bar Legends Corner. It was fun catching up with her, and enjoying a couple local brews from Yazoo
Later that night I met up with a group of friends that I have met at other conferences and blog events for dinner at the Silly Goose, I ordered the Pork Belly which was served with a cider reduction on top of a parsnip puree. It was absolutely delicious and melted in your mouth. If you are ever in Nashville, I highly recommend a trip over to Silly Goose, the food is amazing, great wine menu and the atmosphere is so fun and laid back.
Another must hit is the Southern. Pillsbury took the media team out to eat there on Sunday night and I ordered a filet that was topped with a mound of fried onions and some potatoes. It may have been the biggest filet and the most delicious, I have ever ordered. Dessert was an over the top chocolate cake that I could not eat. It was way too rich for my tastebuds. 
For lunch I recommend the walk over to Hattie B's. This is chicken like I have never had in my life. It comes in several heat levels, I ordered the HOT tenders with a side of cheddar bacon grits and collard greens. Being a Yankee, I've never had grits or greens. I can now say I am a huge fan and you will be seeing them on my blog in the near future. As for the chicken, it will change your life and how you feel about fried chicken. 
We were smart and got to Hattie B's super early. The line was crazy long waiting for the 11am opening.  Life changing chicken y'all!

Dessert? Get your butts over to Jeni's. Not only did I go there once... I made a second trip the next day and ordered two more flavors. I tried the Brown Butter Almond Brittle, Black Current Sorbet made with a type of wine, and an ice cream made with Yazoo beer, rosemary AND pine nuts. The Yazoo beer ice cream was my absolute favorite. The rosemary was subtle but it was there, the creaminess mixed with the crunch of the pine nuts was absolutely amazing. I want to recreate this ice cream soon on my blog, you guys.... it is really amazing. Or just order a pint for $25 a pop (shipping included) online.. and not share it with anyone. 
Megan and Joan taking photos of their insane dessert servings. 
I was also told ( I ordered wine instead of dessert) that the dessert menu at Bob's Steakhouse (Located inside the Omni Hotel) was the best. The size of the desserts my friends ordered were absolutely INSANE. One slice of cake was 1/4 of a layer cake. 
For breakfast or coffee I stuck to the coffee shop found right inside of the Omni, Bongo Java. This Pumpkin Latte was the best latte I have ever had.... and just so you know. It is real pumpkin. Drink that Starbucks haters! 
Out of all the blog related trips I have been on over the years, this was my favorite. I was surrounded by my friends, great food, GE ovens, Carla Hall, country music, and of course the Pillsbury Doughboy! 
One of the things that caught my eye while watching the contestants, was one lady making toffee bacon to use in her bread pudding. 
Guys. Toffee..... Bacon. It exists. 
Here is how you make it....
Toffee Bacon
(Inspired by Lynne Laino's Chocolate Hazelnut-Toffee Bread Pudding with Candied Bacon)
1/2 lb of bacon
1/2 cup English toffee bits 
Preheat oven to 375 degrees. 
Place a baking wrack onto of a lined cookie sheet. 
Spread bacon slices over baking wrack and sprinkle with toffee bits. 
Bake for about 20 minutes or until the bacon is crisp and the toffee is just barely melted. 
Allow to cool and then enjoy as is, or crumble to use in your baked goods. 

To vote for your favorite Bake-Off Recipe you can do so online! Out of the 4 finalists, only one can win 1 MILLION dollars. 

(Disclaimer: I did not receive monetary compensation to write this post. Pillsbury did provide me with lodging and travel expenses and a ticket to the Bake-Off. However all opinions are 100% my own.)


  1. This bacon is seriously everything!!!! It was so fun spending time with you in Nashville!

  2. My daughter chose to change jobs rather than move to Nashville...silly girl. Looks like great fun and gorgeous boots.

    I could eat that bacon all day; maybe sprinkled with a bit of cayenne though!

  3. Carla Hall! How cool...this event looks like food heaven...Happy Thursday, Carrie :)

  4. Wow! You are one busy bee! What a fun and amazing trip. And that bacon? Amazing!

  5. I neeeeeed Toffee Bacon. And I'm so glad we got to hang out!

  6. Everything you ate looks delicious, but that toffee bacon looks incredible!!!

  7. Two of my absolutely favorite things in one: toffee and bacon!!! Yum!!

  8. Oh my gosh, I just found your blog and this post!!! You are so sweet, almost as sweet as my toffee bacon!!! Thanks so much for the shout out. Carla spent a lot of time interviewing me and asking about the bacon - she was so sweet!