Randy Rayburn, father of the perennially popular Sunset Grill, Cabana and Midtown Cafe, is now a baby daddy. He and wife Sonata welcomed Duke Ranier Rayburn on Wednesday evening, just in time for dinner.
Mafiaoza's, the popular pizza restaurant and 12 South pioneer, is expanding into uncharted waters, namely the Cumberland River, where it will anchor the yet-to-be-built Cumberland Yacht Harbor waterfront community. When it opens—sometime in 2009—Mafiaoza's II will serve pizzas, pastas and wine, with indoor and outdoor seating overlooking the harbor. Mafiaoza's is the first retail tenant named for the 43-acre harbor project, which will include a marina, public docks and luxury villas.
Cumberland Yacht Harbor will be located on the river, near the intersection of Briley Parkway and Lebanon Road.
This week's dining review chronicles a non-scientific survey of East Nashville pizza purveyors by the highly hungry and hypercritical Scene editorial staff. We pitted Pizzereal, Little Italy and Castrillo's against each other to see who made the superior mushroom-and-pepperoni pie. And the winner is....You'll have to read the story.
While picking up my veggies from Fresh Harvest Coop today, I met Yvonne Smith, a.k.a. the Traveling Vegetarian. A camera-friendly veggie who felt "underserved by the Food Network," Smith took matters into her own production-savvy hands. The result is The Traveling Vegetarian, a vibrant web-based series featuring vegetarian restaurants and cuisine. The first video installments feature Atlanta restaurants Cafe Sunflower and Deluxe Grill. Coming soon: Asheville, N.C.
I love meat. In fact, I once ate Korean barbecue, at an all-you-can-eat buffet in Chicago, for an hour and a half straight. A friend of mine once said, upon introducing me to a friend of his: "He doesn't eat vegetables, unless they're wrapped in some kind of meat." So, of course, I married a vegetarian. Which means I'm a part-time vegetarian myself now. It's not so bad. I've discovered the joys of Quorn, which, with its botulism-free prep, is definitely preferable to handling raw chicken, and tastes good enough to impress my extended family, who are the kind of people for whom the word "tofu" is a punchline in and of itself. The gruyere cutlets, available at most Kroger stores, are crisp, delicious and will not leave you wanting for poultry. All of this is to say that, for you vegetarians (or veg-curious) out there Lesley Eats is a local blog that covers the meatless diet of its author as she dines around town, along with the occasional recipe or scientific explanation of what makes vegetarians toot.
It's hard not to like my co-worker Lee Stabert, but for all of her wonderful attributes, the one thing about her that I hold dearest is that she introduced me to Bobbi's Hummus. I buy mine at Turnip Truck in East Nashville, though it may be available elsewhere in town. (Wild Oats? Produce Place?) Regardless, even if you have to trek 15 miles across town for some Bobbi's, it's well worth it, even at $6.99 for a 12-ounce container. Turnip Truck typically offers three flavors: garlic, red pepper and jalapeno. They're all good, but the garlic is the hands-down winner. You won't a find a more flavorful or creamier hummus, and don't be put off by the price...12 ounces goes a long way.
Restaurateur Frank Varallo, who operated the landmark Varallo's for more than 70 years, died Sunday morning at age 93. His obituary, provided by daughter-in-law Deborah Varallo, follows after the jump.
Food columnist Tom Parker Bowles' book The Year of Eating Dangerously hits bookstores today. The son of Prince Charles' second wife, Camilla, the well-born Brit chronicles a year's worth of culinary adventures, including stops throughout Asia, Europe and Middle Tennessee.
What's interesting about the chapter entitled "Nashville" is not the author's anthropological observations of participants in the annual Jack Daniel's barbecue competition (imagine Sir David Attenborough narrating with breathless lockjaw as a pack of wild dogs devours a carcass), but Parker Bowles' comments on Mayor Bill Purcell, who accompanied him to Prince's Hot Chicken Shack.
"A typically slick and ebullient public servant," the author writes of Purcell, "he speaks with polished eloquence on most subjects close to the city's heart."
As I read those words, I felt a swell of municipal pride. "That's our mayor," I thought, "slick and ebullient." But with five days to go until we elect a new ambassador of hot chicken—I felt a sudden twinge of anxiety. How would a traveling food critic describe Bob Clement or Karl Dean?
In response to this week's dining review of Spudz Inc., a hole-in-the-wall potato purveyor on Charlotte Pike, reader Chris Norman sent an email to remind us about Tater Shack, another such merchant of stuffed tubers, with locations in Dickson and Fairview. I have not been to Tater Shack and would love to know how it stands up against Spudz. Anyone tried both?
We Biters hesitate to flex our muscle in shaping the city's destiny. But when we see a chance, we take it—just like Steve Winwood, baby. So here goes. By now, it's common knowledge that the Wild Oats store in Green Hills, one of the chain's biggest performers before its merger with Whole Foods, will clear out in late October to make way for Whole Foods' grand opening down the street Nov. 1.
Reps for both Whole Foods and Wild Oats said that plans for the old Hillsboro Road space are up in the air when Wild Oats' lease runs out at the end of the year, although extensions are possible. A Wild Oats spokesperson said one likely scenario would involve subleasing the property to another tenant. Another tenant, eh? Empty grocery-store facility...prime retail location in one of the city's wealthiest sections...hmmm. Sounds like a golden opportunity for Trader Joe's.
Huh? Trader Joe's, based in Monrovia, Calif., was picked last year by Consumer Reports as the nation's second-best supermarket chain. It's a determinedly quirky outfit—a neighborhood grocery with a cargo-cultish vibe that specializes in offbeat imported and local foods, from gluten-free pancakes and cookies of many lands to fully cooked BBQ pork roast and cheddar cheese curds. The closest store is in Atlanta (figures), so a Green Hills location wouldn't be cannibalizing its other markets.
The chief drawbacks we foresee: worsening the already nightmarish Green Hills traffic, and the near-impossibility of a Nashville outpost carrying the store's famous "Two Buck Chuck" Charles Shaw wines, which retail at TJ's California locations for $1.99 a bottle. But if grocery chains are already circling the property—as the City Paper reported this morning—why not get a good one? Besides, if they can't swing it in Green Hills, there's always Brentwood.
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