So, I've been pretty obsessed with the idea of insane sandwiches ever since reading about them on the interwebs. I've got some ideas for some Nashvillecentric 'wiches, some of which I'm hoping to assemble in real life and subsequently challenge the editorial staff to ingest.
In the meantime, one of my insane ideas is the Country cha siu baau— pork shoulder barbecue baked into a biscuit. Thinking of this led me to another idea, grits and sausage cooked inside a collard green, a riff on lo mai gai. This of course in turn led me to the obvious need for real dim sum in Nashville, but also, more to the point, to the idea for Southern dim sum. Imagine clattering carts filled with small portions of mac-and-cheese, smoked ribs and permit har gow. Oolong sweet tea on the tables. What else?
Chef Andrew Chadwick and the boys on Rutledge Hill are ushering in spring with a tasting menu bursting with the fresh shoots and fruits of the season. The $80 prix-fixe meal, which debuts tonight, opens with an amuse-bouche of a Canadian oyster on the half-shell with lemon oil, gelled tomato water, red pepper and smoked vinegar. Then come escargots, followed by lobster with porcini mushrooms and black truffles with a pea soup poured tableside.
The entree, a saddle of rabbit, arrives in a glorious vernal composition with celery root puree, truffle sauce, morels, pickled ramps, asparagus and tiny turnips, tomatoes and carrots, finished with a flourish of French breakfast radish. Baba rhum, a yeasty bread soaked in rum and plated with candied baby vegetables and saffron ice cream, concludes the feast, along with a mignardise of sea-salt caramel.
When the rains abate, Chadwick & Co. will get their own crops in the ground, including lettuces, garlic, shallots and heirloom tomatoes, which, according to Chadwick, will help defray the $300 he spends each week on fresh herbs.
Meanwhile, if the inclement weather carries on, Chadwick finally has completed the wine room in the ground floor of the old house. The bottle-lined bunker could be a good place to weather storms.
Andrew Chadwick's on Rutledge Hill is located at 37 Rutledge St. (Phone: 254-8585)
OK, you jackals. Disconnect your alarms. Hit the snooze button. Spend a little quality time with Morning Edition and Pete Wilson's "Nashville Jumps" on WRVU. 'Cause come 6:05 this morning, if any of you stand between me and a pound of Benton's Hickory Smoked Bacon—at least a pound of Benton's Hickory Smoked Bacon—you're a-gonna visit Fist City.
Chef Julia Helton gave me a hit of this porcine crack at Mitchell Deli in East Nashville, where she said she'd gone through 50 pounds of the stuff already this week. It comes from Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams in Madisonville, and Mitchell's supply was already sold out. I can see why. The strip I tried was close to country ham in its full, earthy flavor and stinging saltiness. Even the fat was sweet with wood smoke.
Helton said she'd used the bacon to season a side of summer squash, to which she'd added some freshly gathered dandelion greens. The bacon provided all the salt the squash needed; the greens added a subtly bittersweet bite. Heaven.
Veggie season is almost here, which is swell. But bacon is forever. So let me reiterate: don't go near Mitchell's once their bacon shipment arrives this morning, sometime around 6 a.m. It's for your own good.
The blue crabs are molting in the Chesapeake, which means it's soft-shell crab season. The thought of biting into the defenseless backside of a naked crustacean always makes me feel a little barbaric, but then I just close my eyes and think of breezy spring days on the deck at this place. A few Yuenglings under my belt and, well, I'm over it.
But since a trip to Annapolis isn't in the offing, it's good to know that chef Laura Wilson at Ombi is getting in the first shipment of soft-shells this weekend. She’s still deciding what to pair with them, but she’ll happily sauté, fry, grill or broil them for you, or even set them beside a steak for a Chesapeake-style surf and turf. The Tennessee morels are arriving, too, so maybe there’s a ’shroom-and-crab combo in store.
If you stop by for happy hour on the patio from 4 to 7 p.m., ask Terrell about the new cocktail menu. Or better yet, see if he's got any Yuenglings behind the bar.
First there was Basil, then came Lemongrass. Now we're getting Wild Ginger. It seems you can't open a restaurant these days without naming it for a zingy, herbaceous flavor. There's also Jasmine, Kalamata's, Agave, Acorn, the bygone Grape, the long-awaited Allium and the redundant Tomato, Tomato in Murfreesboro, not to mention anagrams Lime and Miel—though the latter, which is French and Spanish for “honey,” isn't a plant but is the byproduct of one.
Pan-Asian restaurant Wild Ginger is set to launch next month, bringing an ambitious East-meets-West menu to a new stand-alone building in Cool Springs. Not to be confused with Wild Ginger restaurant in Seattle, the Cool Springs eatery is a project of John Chen, who recently closed Grand China restaurant in Bellevue, and Andrew Saio, a professor of Chinese at Vanderbilt and Belmont universities.
With general manager Tommy Stucko—an alumnus of Tavern on the Green in New York City and Cascades restaurant at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel—and chef Greg Epperson—former executive chef for Hilton in Moscow and Kiev—Wild Ginger will feature a creative array of sushi such as the Monster Roll (with black rice and lavender sauce) and the Lotus Roll (with tempura-fried lobster, asparagus and avocado with wild berry sauce). Entrées will include a black-miso cod—slightly different from the famed version at Nobu, Stucko says—and ginger-crusted tuna with whipped potatoes, stir-fried vegetables and soy-mirin reduction. Stucko expects to have 15 sakes on hand, as well as an extensive wine list. Entrées will range from $22 to $35.
With indoor and outdoor seating for a combined 250 guests, the buiding boasts 14-foot windows on three sides of the dining room and an infinity pool on the patio.
Located at 101 Market Exchange Court, Wild Ginger will initially serve lunch and dinner and will eventually open for traditional British tea with an Asian twist. Barring construction delays, Wild Ginger is slated to open May 8.
Public relations is a tough business. Day in day out stirring up reasons to convince lazy, jaded reporters to feature your product, service, candidate or cause can be soul-destroying. Trust me, I've been on both sides.
These days, so many food-related press releases and promotions make their way to my office that I can't hope to write about every pomegranate-flavored brand extension, anal-leakage-inducing fat substitute or revolutionary ergonomic kitchen gadget that gets flacked my direction. Every now and then, though, someone breaks through the clutter with a uniquely elegant promotion, which, more often than not, includes a perishable morsel couriered overnight, with or without dry ice.
That was the case this week when a FedEx parcel containing a simple wedge of Parmigiano-Reggiano swaddled in bubble wrap arrived on my desk. Also in the box was a press release announcing the “Crack Heard Around the World,” a campaign by Whole Foods Market to set a Guinness World Record for most wheels of Parm opened at the same time.
At 2 p.m. CST Saturday, April 12, Whole Foods stores in the U.S., U.K. and Canada will simultaneously crack open 270 of the 85-pound waxy wheels of 2-year-old cheese from Northern Italy. There will be cheese samples and recipes on hand.
At stores in London and New York City, adjudicators from Guinness will be on hand to certify the record. (Presumably, this is a new category of Guinness record, and Whole Foods isn't setting out to upstage some earlier Parm-cracking powerhouse that just couldn't nose past 269.) In those stores, you'll also be able to buy a nice Chianti to sip with your $16.99-a-pound cheese. But, of course, you won't have that option in the Green Hills Whole Foods, where Tennessee's arcane liquor laws will continue to prevent the sale of wine in grocery stores until the legislature makes a long-overdue change.
Now there's a public relations campaign worth writing about.
You may remember that chef Kim Totzke recently left Ombi to oversee the menu at Provence Breads & Cafe. This week the alumna of Yellow Porch and Wild Iris launched her first menu at Provence, which, according to owner Terry Carr-Hall, sounds pretty doggone Provençal. The new roster of breakfast, lunch, dinner and take-away includes items such as lamb-and-duck cassoulet, croque monsieur, poached salmon with braised leeks and fennel, ratatouille and dates stuffed with goat cheese.
As always, if you get there before us, please report back on Bites.
Trader Joe's, a.k.a. Your Neighborhood Grocery Store, is finally coming to a neighborhood near you. The company plans to open its first Nashville store at 3909 Hillsboro Pike, in the building that formerly housed Wild Oats Marketplace, just around the corner from the new Whole Foods Market.
Popular in California and the East Coast for its private-label products and Two-Buck Chuck wine (The company's signature Charles Shaw wine ranges from $1.99 to $3.49 in various markets), Trader Joe's plans to open the Green Hills store by Thanksgiving.
For now, Two-Buck Chuck will not be available in Nashville, where Tennessee's antiquated law forbids the sale of wine in supermarkets. But the company rep was awkwardly mum when I asked if Trader Joe's was involved in the current push to change the arcane law--or whether the launch of the Red White and Food campaign and the arrival of Trader Joe's were just, you know, coincidence.
Many thanks to Kenton Dickerson of the Access Nashville Coalition/Center for Independent Living, who visited the two restaurants in this week's dining review. Dickerson rated both Wild Wasabi and Lemongrass Sushi & Thai as having Limited Access for people using wheelchairs when entering and/or moving around in the facility. Dickerson's report, after the jump:
This place has closed
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