In this week's review of Los Rosales, the charming Mexican restaurant in an unassuming Antioch strip mall, I praise the simple broth that preceded our meals. Studded with cubes of chayote squash and carrot, the soup was lightly salty and soothing, punctuated by the vegetables, which were tender but not soggy. It was like nothing I had ever tasted in a Mexican restaurant, yet it was vaguely familiar. An imaginary dialogue kicked off in my brain:
Me: Hey, Chayote, don't I know you? Have we met somewhere before?
Chayote (sheepishly, looking over his shoulder): Uh, no, I don't think so. I'm not from around here.
Me: But I'm sure we've met. Your texture, it's so familiar, like a green tomato. I know we've met before.
Chayote: Look, woman, I said No! I don't know what you're talking about. I'm just a humble pear-shaped chayote squash from Mexico. Leave me alone.
Me: Gosh, sorry. Pardon the intrusion. You just remind me of someone.
Then it hit me. I have met that squash before, but he called himself “Mirliton,” and he was the centerpiece of an elegant Southern-inspired entree. Why the subterfuge? Did he remember me? Did he not like me? Was he ashamed to be seen in this lowly supporting role? Was he part of a melon witness-protection program?
In fact, mirliton and chayote are the same food, the plump, green-skinned squash found in the Southern U.S. and Central and South America. (Photo swiped from frutisandveggiesmatter.gov). While Los Rosales delivers chayote in a simple broth, chef Joe Shaw at The Standard restaurant on Eighth Avenue prepares a gorgeous and decadent mirliton in the Louisiana tradition, deep-fried and topped with bacon, crawfish and hollandaise.
With the firm texture of an unripe tomato, the fruit lends itself well to both preparations. It is a versatile—dare I say wily?—chayote.
The cool Ulika Food Blog, devoted mostly to all things barbecue, takes a rare detour to one of my favorite old hangs in Murfreesboro: Buster's Place at 1615 NW Broad.
Back when the Scene was mounting its ground-meat death match to determine Nashville's best burger, I kept my mouth shut about Buster's 30 miles down I-24. But I knew that if Buster's was as good as it was 20 years ago, when the late Buster Pugh was running it and I ate there every other week, there wasn't a burger in Davidson County that could whiff its buns. (That includes the contender who's still bitching that some Asian restaurant claimed the prize over his. Cowboy up, bud—your burger couldn't carry PM's wasabi.)
If the picture Ulika snapped above tells the story, Buster's is still burger heaven: nothing but burgers, crinkle-cut fries and onion rings. The decor sounds the same, down to the "mismatched tablecloths" and "the same soft beige hard plastic plates that were in your middle school lunchroom." But it's worth going back to see if Buster's still has the two things (besides the burgers) that earned my hardcore patronage.
One was Coke in real old-fashioned glass bottles. No cans, no plastic bottles, no fountain drinks: just ice-cold Coke longnecks sweating rings on the table. I always ordered two, just because. The other was, without question or rival, the greatest honky-tonk jukebox I've ever encountered. I could sit in there on a Saturday afternoon, with the sunlight outside scarcely daring to poke in its head, and wash down that first battery-acid sip while Ferlin Husky sent down his love on the wings of a dove, or George Jones praised his pappy's corn squeezin's.
Just looking at the picture, I can see, hear, smell and remember it all. A return trip is many years overdue. Thanks, Ulika.
Enjoy this glimpse of downtown's “newest and finest restaurant,” Pearl Fusion Restro, located at the corner of Commerce and Second.
It's not an illusion.
As always, if you get there before we do, please report back on Bites.
If you were planning to visit New Orleans Manor before it shut down forever Wednesday night, don't bother. A damburst of visitors--most regulars from throughout the seafood parlor's 31-year history on Murfreesboro Road--cleaned out the restaurant's food supply tonight, effectively closing the place a day early.
"They wiped us out," the exhausted employee who answered the phone said. "We could've served 2,000 if we'd had the food."
The irony is that if the same people had come more regularly over the past year, the place might still be open. According to an employee, food costs inflated by rising gas prices took a heavy toll on the seafood restaurant, but the biggest problem was a steady decline in business that began last winter and never recovered. Even Valentine's Day, which should've been a killer, was off.
"Last weekend was the last straw," the employee said, stating they had only 30 patrons last Friday night in the spacious 115-year-old mansion. Another recent night had only seven. Even so, the employee said, the closing still came as a shock.
"There were a lot of tears tonight," the employee said.
More after the jump.
Someone remind me this fall—when Best of Nashville rolls around—about the tom ka kai coffee at Crema. I finally tried one of Rachel Lehman's sultry new iced coffee drinks this morning, and it is my instant favorite coffee drink.
Of course, it's far from instant. The coffee guru starts out with a shot of espresso, to which she adds cool, creamy coconut milk; homemade simple syrup infused with kaffir lime leaves; and a pinch of cardamom. The result is a thick, frothy blend of nutty flavors and citrus zing—arguably the best Thai soup-flavored Italian-style coffee in Nashville. Of course, we'll have to wait till BON season to be sure.
He's leaning toward poaching, only because he hasn't tried it before, but he's open to suggestions. Got any?
If yours is the winning recipe, we can (almost) guarantee you immunity from investigation for the next six months, or at least until the next time P.J. visits the fish market.
Remember Chef Julia Helton's tasting dinners at the Family Wash? East Nashville's tattooed culinary love goddess is reviving the tradition this Saturday night, June 14, at Mitchell Deli in Riverside Village. Each course, featuring Helton's clever variations on comfort-food staples such as pea soup and corned beef and cabbage, is paired with a sampling of Yazoo Brewing Company brewmaster Linus Hall's finest. Here come the newlyweds:
Baby corned beef and cabbage (brussels sprouts) with Sly Rye Porter
Minted English pea soup with Hefeweizen
Sauteed clams and chorizo with Dos Perros
Braised beef with a morel demiglace with Onward Stout
Fromage savoie with an IPA brewed specially for the event
Cost is $65, and only 40 slots are available. To make a reservation, contact catering (at)juliahelton.com. Mitchell Deli is located at 1402 McGavock Pike, 262-9862.
UPDATE: Waaah! The tasting dinner Saturday night has been canceled, and here's hoping it's rescheduled on a day that East Nashville hasn't temporarily relocated to Manchester. However, this also means Julia Helton has a free Saturday night, a shipload of Yazoo and lots of those corned-beef-sprout thingies. Were I a younger man....
Our inimitable Scene food scribe, Carrington Fox, has outdone most of her culinary critic cohorts, taking home the second-place prize for food criticism in our division of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies Awards. These winners represent the best of the best in our industry, so don't be takin' your girl for granted.
We'll probably celebrate with some combination of Mentos, Diet Coke and hood-fried egg.
Great work, Fox. We're lucky to have you.
Need a stout cup of Drew's Brews, some New Orleans funeral-band vinyl, a Michael Crichton paperback and some jumbo slabs of Benton's bacon? Tomorrow marks the first anniversary of some of Riverside Village's highest-profile tenants, and the happening East Nashville hang celebrates with a day of sales and goodies.
There'll be live music and cheery chow Saturday to commemorate year one of Sip Café and the East Nashville School of Music. The day will be especially sweet for Sip, as owner Mike Duguay—who also owns Mike's Ice Cream Fountain on Lower Broad—will hand out free samples of his vanilla ice cream. In coming weeks Sip will start carrying 18 flavors of Mike's, which recently completed its manufacturing facility nearby: that will give the Riverside neighborhood an ice-cream parlor to go with its barbecue (Bailey & Cato's and Dee's Q), vegetarian offerings (The Veggie Cafe), pizza (Castrillo's) and the quickly beloved Mitchell Deli.
Also celebrating is Inglewood Backs and Tracks, the used book and record shop with deals for discerning jazz fans. (I found a two-disc Blue Note jump-blues set not long ago for the cost of a Noshville Reuben.) Owner-proprietor Adam Meyer will knock 10 percent off all merchandise; he's already offering 15 percent off "beach reading" popular fiction, some of which may end up in the nearby "take-one/leave-one" lending library on Mitchell's garden patio.
Meyer says Mitchell too will be joining tomorrow's party—a good excuse to sample one of the city's tastiest, saltiest BLTs (and to sign up for next week's Yazoo tasting dinner—more on that Monday). It's all happening throughout the day at the corner of Riverside Drive and McGavock Pike in East Nashville. Watch out for Fan Fair traffic.
The Kansas City Barbeque Society, the NASCAR of competitive grilling, is making a pit stop in Nashville. June 5 through 8, you can check out the KCBS tour trailer and interactive display at the CMA Music Festival.
If you can't take the heat of downtown and LP Field, swing by the Wal-Mart parking lot at 5824 Nolensville Road on Monday, June 9 at 4 p.m., where you can meet KCBS pros and taste samples of their 'cue.
KCBS is a nonprofit organization dedicated to promoting and enjoying barbecue. With more than 8,000 members worldwide, the organization sanctions 300 barbecue contests annually in the U.S.
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