Fall is by far my wife's favorite season, mostly because it allows her to wear scarves and the color orange. Texas doesn't really have fall (just summer and winter), so it's fun to be in a place where the leaves actually change rather than die. After a disappointing Saturday, we decided to try and salvage what was left of our weekend by heading to Fall Fest at Green Door Gourmet. Some pre-festival research told me that there would be several food trucks at the event, including barbecue!
Green Door Gourmet is an awesome local farm with weekly CSA (community-supported agriculture) baskets. Their produce is some of the best I've found in middle-Tennessee, and they also have a great selection of locally-sourced jams, jellies, honey, cooking oils, and various pickled things. Today I hoped I'd find some great non-veggie deliciousness as well.
The Fall Fest had everything you could ask for from a family-friendly (and pet-friendly) event: hayrides, pumpkin carving, face painting, balloon animals, and a pumpkin patch. For the big kids, there was Yazoo beer, live music, shopping, and cornhole. All of that sounded fantastic, but we opted for some delicious homemade basil lemonade to get things started.
Paradise Ridge BBQ
I had my first run-in with Paradise Ridge at the underwhelming Music City BBQ Festival. The ribs they served me were about as disappointing as the festival itself, but I decided to give Paradise Ridge another try. Their initial menu included BBQ Tacos, although after only an hour and a half into a six-hour festival, all they had left was smoked sausage and coleslaw. I didn't notice any huge lines during that time, so I'm guessing the lack of food was simply due to poor planning. Their sole-remaining menu items didn't sound that appealing, but I got an order anyway.
This was basically just a big hotdog, complete with a basic grocery store hotdog bun. The slaw was also pretty monochromatic, with only a few orange flecks of carrot poking through the sea of white. I hoped it tasted better than it looked. It did not. The sausage, much like its bun, was also of the grocery store variety. I likely could have ordered the same caliber sausage dog from the Kroger deli. The smoke level here was so minuscule that the sausage may as well have been grilled. The sweet slaw added a nice crunch, but not much else. I guess it's a good thing that I got some "smoked" sausage while it lasted, because shortly thereafter the only things they were peddling were plain bratwurst hotdogs. Everything about this operation is extremely half-assed, even their boring, undecorated, red food truck.
The Grilled Cheeserie
As disappointed as I was with Paradise Ridge, I was really anxious to try The Grilled Cheeserie. In a few short years, the Cheeserie has climbed to the top of the Nashville food truck scene. They've been featured on Food Network's "Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives," and they've been voted best food truck three years running by both The Tennessean and Nashville Scene. Even though there was no barbecue to be found on their menu, I knew it would still be delicious. We went all out and ordered the Why I Autumn Melt (their special "Melt of the Moment"), the B&B Melt, and a Cookie Melt for dessert.
The Grilled Cheeserie's Why I Autumn Melt is the perfect grilled cheese for fall: smoked gouda, Benton's country ham, caramelized apple and fig mustard, crispy kale, and buttered leeks on pumpkin-seeded multigrain bread. Needless to say, this sammich has quite a lot going on. The pumpkin bread was crusty and grilled just right. I found a nice tartness from the apple/fig mustard, and the ham added some much-needed savory notes. The creamy gouda tied the whole thing together quite well. Mrs. Barbecue Fiend didn't care for the greens, which were admittedly a little bitter. All in all, I was really happy we gave this melt a try.
Next up was the B&B, which is one of The Grilled Cheeserie's normal menu items. It doesn't have near as many ingredients as the first one we tried, but it still sounded amazing: buttermilk cheddar, Benton's bacon, and peach jam on multigrain bread. The salty and delicious Benton's bacon (if you haven't had it, you definitely need to) paired nicely with the sweet peach jam. I like specialty breads, but the buttery multigrain was perfect in its simplicity. My only regret was that I had to share half of this sandwich with my wife.
We were both pretty full by this point, but the Cookie Melt sounded too good not to devour: a Mexican chocolate cookie, dulce de leche, and pumpkin marshmallow. It was certainly messy to eat, but delicious nonetheless. The abundant cinnamon in the Mexican chocolate cookie had a nice bite to it, and the dulce de leche was almost like caramel. The marshmallow had only minimal pumpkin flavor to it, or perhaps it was simply masked by the other stronger flavors. Regardless, this was a great note to end on.
After suffering through Paradise Ridge's mediocre barbecue on two separate occasions, I can say with absolute certainty that I will not be eating their food a third time. On the flipside, the sandwiches from The Grilled Cheeserie were as amazing as I hoped they would be. Despite the ups and downs, we will definitely return to Green Door Gourmet's Fall Fest next year. I just hope they find a different barbecue vendor by then.
Fall Fest 2014
Green Door Gourmet
7011 River Road Pike
Nashville, TN 37209