Thursday, January 31, 2008

Breakfast of Champions

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 at 12:44 PM

Last night I saw for the first time the new Dunkin' Donuts commercial featuring the slogan “America Runs on Dunkin'.”

Is it just me, or does the new campaign remind anyone else of this?

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Go Wild!

Posted By on Thu, Jan 31, 2008 at 12:10 PM

Wild Wasabi! Japanese restaurant in Cummins Station opened Dec. 1 in the former location of Omikoshi (also the former location of Goten 2). Kisung Kim owns the new restaurant, which serves sushi and other Japanese fare from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 to 10 p.m. Monday through Thursday; 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. and 4:30 p.m. to midnight Friday; and noon to midnight Saturday. If you get there before we do, please report back on Bites.

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Wednesday, January 30, 2008

Wish Sandwich

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2008 at 2:00 PM

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You’re never too young to fling dough in someone’s face. The apprentice chef in this photo is 9-year-old Kiel Hamil, who helped devise the hors d’oeuvre menu for Friday’s Celebration of Wishes Gala benefiting the Make-A-Wish Foundation. The organization works to grant the wishes of young people with life-threatening illnesses, and Hamil, a young leukemia patient from Clarksville, was one of five Wish Kids whose dream was to work with a chef.

Hamil and his fellow Wish Kid chefs—Jillian Pasley, Brittany Walker and Quinten Moore, joined by dessert maker Abby McLemore—had the run of Whole Foods Market to create their dishes. They got help from Chefs Julia Helton and Bryn Herrin (pictured) from The Grill at Green Hills, Salud! Cooking School Chefs Merijoy Lantz Rucker and Cindy Chambers, and longtime Scene contributor Kay West. We’ve heard items mentioned from shrimp skewers to calzones, but to try them you’ll need a reservation for $125.

The event takes place 7 p.m. Friday at the Musicians Hall of Fame. The picture brings back memories of the first thing I ever made in the kitchen: my mother’s Texas chocolate cake recipe. If nothing else, it burned in my mind that there actually is a difference between baking soda and baking powder.

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Here Mole, Gone Tomorrow

Posted By on Wed, Jan 30, 2008 at 11:31 AM

It is with great sadness that I report the closing of El Tejado on Charlotte Pike. The short-lived restaurant, which was one of my first reviews, stole my heart with its menu of Oaxacan specialties—especially the deep, rich mole, redolent with chiles, chocolate, fruit, nuts and dozens of other ingredients.

The allure of El Tejado was its bold deviation from the standard Tex-Mex of so many local Mexican restaurants. With unusual dishes such as Oaxacan noodle soup, grilled cactus and an unnerving item translated as “kills your mother-in-law,” El Tejado, a.k.a. The Tile Roof, earned a loyal—but apparently not lucrative enough—following of adventurous diners and homesick Oaxacans, who gathered there for music and dancing. During El Tejado's year of operation, owner Ivette Vutron eventually migrated toward gringo-friendly formulas, which disappointed many original fans without drawing in a substantial new audience. Vutron closed El Tejado this month, but her neighboring Mexican grocery store, La Guelaguetza, remains open for business.

For anyone missing the complex layering of El Tejado's homemade mole, there is some good news. In the last year, Nashville has welcomed at least three new restaurants offering homemade versions of the Southern Mexican delicacy. We've reviewed Rosario's in Edgehill Village and Sol on Main Street in Franklin, both of which deliver admirable interpretations of the traditional sauce. More recently, Lime opened on Division, with a mole that embellishes tamales de Oaxaca and a hearty tortilla soup. We'll bring you more on Lime in the near future.

If you've got other favorite moles, please post them to Bites. In the meantime, El Tejado, may you rest in peace.

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Tuesday, January 29, 2008

The Truffe be Told

Posted By on Tue, Jan 29, 2008 at 3:27 PM

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In this week’s review of Andrew Chadwick’s on Rutledge Hill, I mention a lovely dish of carpaccio topped with black truffles, which Chadwick is importing from Périgord for $1,400 a pound. With just a scintilla of the so-called “black diamonds” shaved over the buttery rose-red beef, the truffle tasting goes for a mere $27. And, like I said, it is lovely. I would love to have some right now, just as I would love to sit in the serene lounge of Chadwick’s, beside the glowing fireplace, with a neat cocktail in my hand.

But am I alone in thinking that, for $1,400, I would rather pay off a chunk of my mortgage than buy a pound of fungus? Truffle-lust, for me, is elusive. Admittedly, in the course of my life, the combined truffles that I’ve ingested probably weigh less than the film that forms on a mug of hot milk. But still, I got nothing. Like Pilates, Webkins and Celebrity Apprentice, truffles do nothing for me.

Maybe if they were more affordable, I could more excited about them. But until prices drop to something closer to the range of, say, Christie Cookies, I can’t get past the equation in which an F-150 loaded with pig food is as valuable as my residence. That just pisses me off.

Maybe the time of truffle affordability is coming. Several U.S. growers are working on cultivating black truffles, including one grower in Chuckey, Tenn., located at the eastern end of the state. (Read more about Tennessee and Oregon truffles in W magazine and The New York Times, where I swiped the photo above.) But then, of course, if truffles become accessible to the masses, will they remain alluring to the dining elite?

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Monday, January 28, 2008

Watermark Team to Open Restaurant in Adelicia

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 3:06 PM

The team behind Watermark restaurant in The Gulch will expand its restaurant reach toward Midtown with the opening of miro district food and drink in The Adelicia residential high-rise. Slated to open in May 2008, miro district will offer Italian-inspired cuisine with a seasonal menu of shared snacks, house-cured meats and artisan cheeses, handmade pastas and main courses.

Nathan Lindley, the general manager of Watermark, along with executive chef Dean Robb—both alumni of Frank Stitt’s Bottega Café & Restaurant in Birmingham, Ala.—will lead the restaurant, which is the second such venture of owner Jerry Brown’s Hospitality Development Group.

The restaurant takes its name from the 18th century moniker for Nashville and surrounding area. In his novel In the Miro District, author Peter Taylor depicts life in Nashville’s Acklen Park neighborhood (where the Adelicia is located) as a “gentler world…known romantically as the Miro District.”

Located at 906 20th Ave. S., miro district will serve lunch and dinner, with lighter fare available throughout the day and late evening.

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Iced, Iced, Baby

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 10:14 AM

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When another Fox family birthday rolled around this month, I asked my friend Brooke O’Dell if she could make a cake. Every so often, Brooke mentions that she’s helping a bride or a friend come up with a creative dessert, so I figured she could throw together a little 9-by-12 number, with pale icing in case the phalanx of toddlers invading my house wanted to stress-test the carpets and walls for stain resistance.

Did I want any particular theme, she asked. What the hell, make it a Ratatouille cake, I said, fully expecting her to smack a plastic mouse in the center of Betty Crocker’s finest.

When Brooke arrived with the glorious artwork depicted above—rat, fork and napkin sculpted from fondant, meatballs shaped from Rice Krispies and covered in dark chocolate, noodles of buttercream topped with marinara of white chocolate ganache and grated white chocolate Parmesan—I could not believe my eyes. Not only was it an outstanding piece of handiwork, but it was also delicious, with moist slabs of sour cream-vanilla pound cake layered with Swiss meringue buttercream. I’d say it was too pretty to eat, but this is me we’re talking about. I ate it. I wrestled it from the hands of small children and ate it. It was the best rat I’ve ever eaten.

If you’re in the market for a cake—Groundhog Day is coming up, and just imagine what Brooke could do for that—call Brooke at Ice This Cakes & Confections, 260-8127.

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On Your Marks, Get Set…

Posted By on Mon, Jan 28, 2008 at 9:26 AM

The next Nashville Originals gift certificate sale is Jan. 30. Discounted vouchers from all the Originals restaurants—including the newest members PM and Tangredi’s—will go on sale on the website early Wednesday morning, and if past sales are any indication, the certificates will get snatched up fast.

Team Bites, we’ve been training for this for months! Get in there! Be aggressive! Set your alarm clocks and kick some gift certificate butt. If you actually get your hands on the golden tickets, report back. We’re rooting for you.

Go!

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Friday, January 25, 2008

Before, Durian and After

Posted By on Fri, Jan 25, 2008 at 10:02 AM

While perusing the aisles at K&S World Market, I have often wondered about the durian—a spiky fruit that looks like the business end of a huge, misshapen mace. I've thought of buying one before, but never have.

Well, some Nashville kids took the plunge, and the above video is a document of their experience. Needless to say, they did not enjoy the durian, which they use a mallet to smash open. "Don't throw up!" one onlooker exclaims. (Some of the language is NSFW, unless you work at the Scene.)

Even a durian aficionado can't deny the fruit's pungence: "Well, durians have a strong smell and a unique taste," says Lionel Bauer over at durian.net. "Could be that those who haven't seen others indulging in durians have doubts as to the fruit's fitness for human consumption. Judging by the fruit's smell, its flesh moves straight from unripe to rotten."

The question for the chefs out there: What could you make with it?

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Thursday, January 24, 2008

Hunting Wabbit

Posted By on Thu, Jan 24, 2008 at 4:33 PM

Savarino's Cucina will host a five-course BYOB Italian Family Dinner on Saturday, Jan. 26. The theme of the evening: rabbit. The $30 prix-fixe meal includes:

Antipasti of caponata, stuffed cherry peppers, eggplant rollatini, rice ball and stuffed mushrooms

Pasta with rabbit sauce or penne with vodka sauce

Entree choice of rabbit cacciatore with roasted potatoes and string beans or London broil with broccoli rabe

Salad with fennel and oranges

Dessert from Corrado Savarino's homemade pastries and coffee

For a slight upcharge, you get a side of Corrado's signature attitude—remember, if you want your food fast, go to McDonald's. But if you've got the time to linger over an Italian feast in a quaint Hillsboro Village market-eatery between 5 and 9 p.m. on Saturday, call 460-9878 for reservations.

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