Country stars shine at Miranda Lambert's local People magazine-meets-cotton party
Stargazing's easy to do when the stars are of the country-music persuasion and the place the gazin' is going on is a party in honor of country artist Miranda Lambert.
Such was the case Tuesday evening, Aug. 11, at the trendy 1808 Grille on Nashville's West End Avenue, where Lambert was the guest of honor at a party sponsored by People magazine and the cotton industry, the latter of which proudly boasts the hit singer-songwriter as its current celebrity spokesmodel.
This scribe was honored to be invited to the festivities, which celebrated not only Miranda's role as the cotton-clad model in cotton's extensive advertising campaign, but also her presence in the brand-new People Country Special issue that's on newsstands now through Sept. 7. ( Reba McEntire 's on the cover, by the way.)
Naturally beautiful, Lambert--who's set to unleash her Revolution at the Ryman this month, visited with friends and fellow country stars, posed for many o' photo and even signed this scribe's copy of People.
Did she know what page her People feature was on? No, she didn't, and that in itself was endearing, as was watching her flip from page to page, looking for her editorial layout so that she could lend her autograph upon request.In fact, the mango salsa, with big hunks of creamy fruit and a spicy finish, was critical to the success of ale-battered shrimp. Like an elegantly minimalist spin on fish and chips, five large shrimp in golden-brown cocoons of fluffy breading arrived unadorned on a white plate, save for a grilled lemon half. Without the bright salsa, the meal would have read like a monotonous plate of prawns-meets-funnel-cake.
More satisfying was the grilled rack of lamb with slow-roasted eggplant. A straightforward presentation of four ribs, plated head to toe like a lamby yin-yang symbol, was dusted and seared in a blend of Moroccan spices, including turmeric, cumin, coriander, mustard and red pepper. The meat was beautifully cooked to medium rare and plated on an understated but sultry nest of puréed roasted eggplant seasoned with feta and Italian parsley.
With à la carte sides available for $5—including roasted beets, sautéed brussels sprouts and bacon, red skin mashed potatoes, roasted oyster mushrooms and cheddar grits—dinner at 1808 Grille can be deceptively pricey.
Conversely, the lunch menu offers unusual value, given the serenity of the dining room and level of service. With several soup and salad items doing double duty on the lunch and dinner menus, the noontime meal offers an economical way to experience 1808. Silky Tuscan white bean soup with a hint of bacon and an earthy garnish of mushroom-barley pilaf made for a comforting light lunch, and the dark roasted tomato soup with a smoky paprika finish was a rich vegan option with a faint hint of barbecue. The drizzle of coriander crème fraîche made a cool counterpoint to the rich hot soup. We enjoyed the bountiful panzanella of herbed focaccia tossed with spinach and shaved parmesan. Likewise, the medley of Boston butter lettuce with pastel hunks of flaky arctic char, olives and tiny tomatoes in an aioli-based dressing was an abundant twist on the salad Niçoise. Consistent with 1808's emphasis on sustainable seafood, Phillips replaced the classic tuna with char—similar to a cross between trout and salmon—which meets approval of the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program. (While both salads were fresh and fluffy, we would have preferred both to be less heavily dressed.)
Moreover, was the country starlet wearing cotton, you may wonder? Why, of course, she was. Specifically, she donned an 80/20 cotton blend. But Lambert wasn't the lone country star wearing the fabric that breathes better than any other.
Per this writer's cotton-themed line of questioning, most country artists in attendance were indeed donning a cotton-based wardrobe, from hit-newcomer Eric Durrance, the members of Lady Antebellum and Chris Young, to the stunning Martina McBride, David Nail and Darryl Worley.
The Music-City-based lineup known as KingBilly, in fact, was wearing cotton times five. Players Donny Fallgatter (lead vocals), Josh Matheny (dobro, lap steel, vocals), John Osborne ("take-off" guitar, vocals), Matt Utterback (bass), Kevin Weaver (drums) and Charlie Worsham (banjo, mandolin, guitar, vocals) passed the cotton check in spades by flaunting their "500 percent cotton" status with a toast and high-fives.
Country fans can expect to hear more about the evening, thanks to video crews from Peopl e .com, CMT, GAC, Nashville's Fox 17 and more, all of which lined up to tape the country stars on the red carpet, which was actually white, so go figure.
Nevertheless, kudos to Lambert on her People -meets-cotton promotion, which was tubs o' fun, even if her country-star boyfriend of three years, Blake Shelton, couldn't be there. And, don't forget to snag a copy of her forthcoming Revolution CD that comes out on Sept. 29, and please , wear more cotton, won't you?