Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Growing Seasons

Posted By on Tue, Jul 31, 2007 at 3:32 PM

Anyone curious about the next act of gentrification along Eighth Avenue will be interested to know that All Seasons Gardening and Brewing Supply is preparing to move into the attractive tin-roofed building at 924 Eighth Ave. S., just down the road from Flyte World Dining & Wine.

Paul and Emily Thompson and Clint Lane will occupy the store later this month with their earthy inventory of organic gardening supplies and beer- and wine-making items. It's not clear yet when they'll close the original store at 3900 Hillsboro Pike, but probably sometime in the spring.


Monday, July 30, 2007

Ready? Okra!

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 1:38 PM

After the inaugural Grill Night at Martha's at the Plantation, I thought I'd revisit last week's conversation on Bites about fried okra.

On Friday night, chef Martha Stamps trotted out a new charcoal grill, an old-school contraption that blends right in with the antebellum feel of the old Belle Meade horse farm where the restaurant resides. Along with several smoke-kissed entrees, Stamps served up some okry that put other treatments of the deep-fried summer staple to shame. Like plump little Bugles, the okra retained a bright-green hue and a fresh texture inside the batter, with none of the gooey sputum that fills so many specimens.

The key to Martha's okra? It was picked fresh by Amish farmers in Lawrence County. I'm sure that made all the difference, but the homemade pesto mayo with homegrown herbs didn't hurt any either.

Martha's at the Plantation will host Grill Night again Aug. 10 from 6 to 9 p.m. For reservations, call 353-2828. Otherwise, you can visit Martha's for lunch from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. daily.

Pfun, Pfun, Pfun

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 1:34 PM

Let the pigeons pfly! The Pfunky Griddle, home of the flip-your-own flapjacks, is now open for business 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. at 2800 Bransford Avenue in Berry Hill. Individual griddles built into each (fireproof) table allow diners to pour their own pancake batter, white or wheat, from sturdy stoneware pitchers. All-you-can-eat pancakes are $6.50 per person, with a dozen mix-ins such as blueberries, pecans and mini M&Ms available for $1.50 per dish.

The menu features a la carte items including breakfast potatoes, country bacon and grits—careful, or your breakfast bill could easily hit $15. Future subjects for study are the lunch sandwiches—a roast beef melt ($8), an "Island Breeze" of chicken salad and pineapple ($7.50), a "Kalua Pig" specialty of pork cooked in banana leaves ($8)—any of which can be turned into paninis. The server, Diego, who would have done back-flips to keep diners happy, said that lunch is bringing in a bigger crowd so far than breakfast, to the surprise of all.

I'd suggest waiting a few days to let the restaurant work out some kinks: at least one of the griddles in the small restaurant has been giving some trouble. (Also, there is a reason cold lump butter is typically not served in Dixie cups.) But if you've ever wanted a pancake the size of a porterhouse steak, don't miss this chance to live the dream. Call 298-2088 for more info.

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King of Curry

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 1:01 PM

Speaking of Indian restaurants, I'm still on the hunt for the best, spiciest, most lethal lamb vindaloo in Nashville. Any suggestions? I'll try them all, and post the results.

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Change of Taste

Posted By on Mon, Jul 30, 2007 at 12:39 PM

Naresh Kumar, owner of Sitar restaurant on 21st Avenue, is taking over the space on Church Street that formerly housed Taste of India restaurant. Kumar, a native of Punjab in northern India, is renovating the space and expects to launch Madras Bhavan sometime this week. While Taste of India specialized in cuisine from the northern part of India, including tandooris, Madras Bhavan will serve both northern cuisine and the spicier curries from the southern region, Kumar says. Madras Bhavan, located at 1805 Church St., phone 327-5400, will be open daily, with a lunch buffet from 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. and dinner from 5 to 10 p.m.


Friday, July 27, 2007

Bottle of Red, Bottle of White

Posted By on Fri, Jul 27, 2007 at 2:48 PM

Woodland Wine Merchant is now open for business. On Thursday, Will Motley peeled the brown paper away from the windows of 1001 Woodland St., letting folks know it was finally time to shop. A former employee of local Best Brands distributors and Kenwood Vineyards in California, Motley plans to focus on unique finds in the $20 range. The store, located a couple of blocks down the street from the much-anticipated East Side outpost of Rumours Wine & Art Bar, is open from 10 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday, phone 228-3311.


Something in the Water

Posted By on Fri, Jul 27, 2007 at 10:37 AM

If you thought you tasted something unusual in the water at Tin Angel, you probably did. But in fact, that something was more likely nothing. Tin Angel owner Rick Bolsom has caught the wave of filtered water, a trend that is trickling into the dining industry via food-forward centers such as California and New York. Bolsom recently installed a $4,000 CUNO multi-filter system that scrubs any water used in restaurant beverages, i.e. coffee, tea, bar soda and ice.

Folks like Chez Panisse founder Alice Waters champion filtered water—part of the rising effort to "green" the restaurant industry—as a way to cut down on the environmental drain associated with the transportation and disposal of water bottles. But while drinking local water may cut down on the landfill, some business owners argue it will also cut into their bottom lines, as many restaurants enjoy exorbitant markups on Pellegrino, Perrier, Fiji and other designer waters. Bolsom says he hasn't raised any prices to compensate for the loss of bottled water sales.

So here's the $4,000 question: is it worth it?

"I can taste the difference," Bolsom says, "just like I can smell the difference now that we've been non-smoking for almost a year."


Thursday, July 26, 2007

Chasing the Ghost

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 4:00 PM

click to enlarge cpi_test300.jpg

A few days ago, I was reading an online report about what is allegedly the world's hottest chili pepper: the bhut jolokia or "ghost chili," grown in the Assam region of northeast India. How hot is it? According to Fiery-Foods.com (where I swiped the image above), your average jalapeno rates as high as 10,000 Scovilles, the unit used to measure the capsaicin content or "heat" of chilies. The bhut jolokia? Try a colon-scalding 1,001,342 Scovilles. Put that in your lemonade.

God knows why, but I'm curious about trying it. That which does not kill you, etc. So I've been calling around Nashville trying to find some, either as whole peppers or in sauces. None of the Indian restaurants here apparently cook with them. "Most Indian food is cooked to American tastes," said a helpful staffer at Green Hills' Shalimar—a polite way of saying, "You'd scream like a girl if we served it, wuss." A woman at the Shubha grocery in Woodbine laughed when I asked her. "I have some hot pepper," she said, "but I'm not sure it's the hottest in the world!"

I didn't find it at the Tennessee Hot Spot (a.k.a. the Tennessee Stinkin' Rose) in the Nashville Farmers' Market. But manager Brandon Wyche—who took over for the late Frank Schumaker, the merry gent who could always be found cutting up with customers until he suffered a heart attack at the store a few months ago—offered the next best thing. It's a mammoth bottle of Da Bomb: The Final Answer, a stout blend of habaneros and pepper extract that weighs in at 1.5 million Scovilles. The only drawback: Wyche says he's selling it for $750. That's a steep price just to relaunch the Manhattan Project in your duodenum. Bottom line: I'm not ready to give up the ghost.

To Market, To Market

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 11:11 AM

Thursday is Public Square Market day at the corner of Third and Union. A project of Nashville Urban Harvest, the market is open from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and offers farm-fresh and organic products and handmade crafts from within a 150-mile radius of Nashville. Lunch foods are available from Savory Secret Cheesecakes, Cerano's Italian Foods, Provence and others, and there's live music. The market runs every Thursday through Oct. 25.


All You Can Drink

Posted By on Thu, Jul 26, 2007 at 10:00 AM

Mark your calendar for the Music City Brewer's Festival, this Saturday from 2 to 8 p.m. on the lawn of the downtown Hilton. Thirty bucks (in advance, $40 at the door) buys you a bottomless cup to fill with the product of 30 local, regional and national breweries. For more information, check out the Scene's Critics' Picks.


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