If you haven’t seen P.J. Tobia’s story “Burgundy Bootlegger” in this week’s Scene, it’s worth reading about wine educator Melanie Armstrong's run-in with state alcohol officials. Anyone who’s ever met Melanie, whom P.J. aptly describes as a “bubbly brunette,” will agree it would make infinitely more sense to investigate her for pimping than for bootlegging. I went to one of her singles wine tastings (in moral support of a friend), and it was a great way to meet nice people in the comfortable setting of a Green Hills restaurant. Hardly an actionable affair.
Melanie has found a clever niche making wine-drinking informative and unpretentious. Let’s hope the story of her (laughable) time in jail does nothing more to her professional reputation than boost it, introducing her Wine University to more people.
You go, girl.
Merry Christmas 1976! My mom gave me a Crock Pot! (Exclamation points intentional!)
Actually, it’s a Hamilton Beach Stay or Go. She also included a book of recipes for all-day cooking. I’ve got some chicken-onion-curry-chutney-apple concoction brewing right now—just six more hours to go! That leaves me plenty of time to have my Dorothy Hamill haircut trimmed and my Pinto detailed before getting supper on the TV trays in time for The Bionic Woman.
(I can’t help but notice that the book of recipes Mom included could be subtitled A Cream of Mushroom Anthology. Does anyone have any soup-free recipes?)
If you're headed to some holiday soirees, make an impression with one of Corrado Savarino's giant cannoli platters. Sixty bucks is all it takes to be sure you're invited back next year. Call ahead and give Corrado a half-hour or so to get it ready. They're made to order, and as many a Scene employee can attest, they're the best cannoli in Nashville. (Cannoli is the plural of cannoli, by the way.) The giant cannoli are available year-round.
But just for the holidays, Savarino's has a variety of gingerbread houses available to spice up your Christmas celebration.
Savarino's Cucina is at 2121 Belcourt Ave. in Hillsboro Village, Phone: 615-460-9878.
Last night at the Governor’s holiday party, I was delighted to be offered a Kir Royal, a bubbly cocktail of sparkling wine and black-currant liqueur. I had not had a Kir Royal—or its non-bubbly cousin, Kir—for years, and I’m going to make an effort to bring them back into my boozy repertoire. First of all, Kir and Kir Royal are great ways to neutralize lousy white wines. Second, they’re pretty. And third, they’re good conversation starters. Last night, for example, the crimson-hued cocktail temporarily diverted a room full of media and lawmakers from questions such as “Does the state need a $4 million underground party room?” and “Who considers food critics to be media?” to the more pressing query of “Why’s my champagne pink?”
The answer to the last question is crème de cassis. A liqueur flavored with black currants, crème de cassis was first reportedly mixed with white wine by Félix Kir, the mayor of Dijon, after World War II. Kir married cassis with white Burgundy and served the combination to out-of-town guests as a way to showcase two regional products. (Using that logic the governor might consider introducing a cocktail of Jack Daniel’s and meth. Beware if anyone ever offers you a Bredesen.)
The recipe for Kir is simple: Pour a small amount of crème de cassis into the bottom of a glass and fill the glass with white wine. The more elegant variation, Kir Royal (pictured in this photo swiped from Drinkalizer.com), substitutes sparkling wine and often adds a lemon twist. The result is a bubbly, colorful and slightly sweet concoction that goes down smooth enough to make you beer-goggle a Republican. And if a Kir Royal looks as festive as it did last night, under the flickering fluorescent lights of the third-floor meeting room in the Tennessee Tower, just think how glamorous it would be at the governor’s 2009 holiday party in a $4 million underground bunker.
If you’ve been driving by the vacant Country Life restaurant in Midtown for the last decade, wondering what’s going on in that rustic cottage, you’ll be glad to know that dining life is returning to 1919 Division St. Michael Tangredi, owner of the 2-year-old Tangredi’s Italian Kitchen on Elliston Place, will take over the building in January and hopes to launch Michael T’s: An American Grill in March.
Michael T’s will serve lunch and dinner with an Italian- and Asian-accented American menu. Expect a roster of items such as grilled shrimp with cilantro and cracked pepper, dumplings, seared tuna salad, oyster-artichoke soup (a Tangredi family recipe familiar to Italian Kitchen patrons), pasta, steaks and wood-fired pizzas. Sandwiches will be priced in the $10 range. Entrées will range from $13 to $28. There will also be a tank with live lobsters.
Tangredi, whose family is steeped in the restaurant business in Birmingham, will shuttle back and forth between the Italian Kitchen and Michael T’s. While there will be some overlap between the two menus, Michael T’s will have a sit-down bar and will serve beer—unlike the original Tangredi’s, which is located too close to a school (the Princeton Review is next door) to get a beer license.
Since it opened last month across from Whole Foods in Green Hills, I’ve been to Five Guys Famous Burgers and Fries three times now. That’s more times than I’ve ordered a burger from McDonald’s—or any other nationwide fast-food chain—in the past 15 years. Life is too short, and arteries too narrow, to shave precious minutes from your existence with a fat-soaked beer coaster on a bun. After years of close encounters with Big Macs and (shudder) Krystal’s, you sometimes forget what a thing of unadorned wonder a humble cheeseburger can be.
Five Guys, though, is the closest thing I’ve ever had at a restaurant to a home-cooked burger—or more to the point, to the ideal of a home-cooked burger that I can never quite measure up to. The thing I like most about it is its Spartan simplicity. They serve burgers. Period. Well, OK, hot dogs—but there are no ill-advised attempts at chicken-parm sandwiches or pita pockets or wraps or what have you. They zero in on doing one thing extremely well, rather than attempt many things poorly.
Rumours East, the sultry East Nashville outpost of Rumours Wine & Art Bar in 12South, is now open for weekend brunch. Chef Hernán Borda's menu bridges breakfast and lunch appetites with a roster that includes omelets, paninis, shrimp and grits, soup and salads. Now you can nurse a wine-induced hangover with a lingering meal, swinging on the garden patio or cuddled up next to a fireplace in the sprawling Victorian house. Located at 1112 Woodland St., Rumours East now serves brunch and lunch 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Saturday and Sunday.
It's Friday, and that means Second Harvest is hosting a First Harvest Café lunch in the demonstration kitchen of its Metro Center headquarters. Today's themed all-you-can-eat buffet is French cuisine. Ten bucks gets you a limitless paper plate of spinach salad, chicken Dijonnaise, boeuf Bourguignon and buttered egg noodles, glazed baby carrots with peas, and crêpes with fresh fruit sauce. Half of the fee goes to support Second Harvest's mission to feed the hungry in Middle Tennessee.
First Harvest Café serves lunch every Friday 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. at 331 Great Circle Road, 329-3491.
If you think you smell an espresso-scented tipping point somewhere South of Broadway near the river, that's Crema, the coffee shop brewing in the burgeoning neighborhood of Rutledge Hill. Named for the foamy, golden brown extraction that develops in the filter and encrusts the top of an espresso serving, Crema (rhymes with “Emma”) is the latest food-forward (or beverage-forward, to be specific) establishment to hang up its shingle in the once-forgotten district of Rutledge Hill.
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If y'all are short of judges, I hereby selflessly volunteer my services.