This weekend I took a vacation from work and went to visit the madness that is the East Nashville (aka East Nasty) Tomato Art Fest. This was my first time going and I'm new to East Nashville so I missed the first two events, the tomato 5k and the tomato themed parade, but there were enough people still in costumes wandering around the event site to give me a pretty good idea of what I missed (and inspire me to show up earlier next time!). My favorite was a green haired lady with an enormous headdress made of tomatoes and tomato cans. I swear this woman looked exactly like how I would dress every day if I had my way. Although let's be honest I don't think I could handle the shoes as well as she did.
The tomato themed art show I think was my favorite part of the trip (even though I couldn't take any pictures), the art ranged from whimsical to wildly ridiculous with tomatoes stuck on everything from earrings and teapots to pictures of Elvis, and the faces on The Scream by Edvard Munch. It made me wish I had enough money to just cover all my walls with eccentric tomato art ( I'll learn from my experience and bring more cash next time!). The art show is actually where the festival got its start. In 2004 this little East Nashville gallery had tomato themed art show celebrating the tomato in late summer and planned a few neighborhood events to promote the show, it was so popular that it turned into an annual, signature event. Once you see the art, it really isn't hard to see why the Tomato Art Fest was so popular.
For lunch there was a wide selection of vendors all with tomato themed specialties for the day, I took the opportunity to hit up Franklin's infamous Biscuit Love Truck and had what was hands down the best fried chicken of my life. What I ordered was called "The East Nasty- Tomato Art Style"; buttermilk fried chicken, Kenny's farmhouse cheddar cheese, and Bloomsbury farm tomato gravy served on top of a fresh (made from scratch) biscuit. It was HEAVENLY! I swear at first bite, my eyes rolled back in my head. The biscuit UGH! I don't remember the last time I had a biscuit that was as light and flaky and bursting with flavor and this one was! I don't know if I ever have! And the chicken was perfect! Crispy and hearty paired with the strange but tasty tomato gravy. The only thing that was even the slightest bit off was that I couldn't figure out if what I'd ordered was supposed to be a sandwich, like a chicken in a biscuit, or if it was chicken with a biscuit on the side. If it was supposed to be a sandwich it seemed to me that the meat to carb ratio was a little bit off with the fried chicken being just a little more than twice the size of the biscuit, but it was so tasty I didn't really spend too much time thinking about it and just ate what I could see, biscuit-meat-biscuit and wiped the gravy off my chin when I hit the bottom of the plate.
Of course they couldn't have a tomato festival without a few tomatoes for sale. The Downtown Farmer's Market had a little booth set up bursting with Heirlooms and Romas and every kind of tomato you could think of along with jars of salsas and sauces if you were so inclined. I couldn't resist, since I can never make it to the farmer's market regularly, and filled my arms with all the tomatoes I could carry ( which was sadly only a few pounds) and a jar of mild salsa for my purse as we left. I wish I could say I had grand culinary plans for my bounty buuuut it's mostly just been really delicious... *cough* BLT sandwiches*cough* so far.
It was an such a fun event, even though we couldn't stay very long. Next time I'll plan ahead and catch the Bloody Mary and Red Head competitions, along with the 5k and the parade. And maybe next time I'll make a costume too ( and you know that I will!) and join in the fun.