In an earlier thread about the recent Music City Hot Chicken Festival, held July 4 at East Park, we offered hearty and grease-soaked congratulations to this year's winner, Justin Jones of Team Soda Pong. We also said that we'd asked Justin to send us the recipe that cinched his first-place prize, but so far we hadn't heard from him.
This was not a surprise. Hot chicken recipes are guarded more fiercely than child brides. No local grail is more keenly sought than the mysterious mixture of spices and incendiary devices that gives Prince's Hot Chicken its atomic glow.
But all of a sudden, to our undying wonder and gratitude, what should arrive via ePony Express but a missive from Justin Jones--and with it the winning recipe!
A few considerations. First, we haven't tried it for ourselves (but O my readers and only friends, you can bet we will). Second, this is not the Prince's recipe, and Justin makes no claim that it is. Third, it's bound to cause some controversy on one front: all the heat is added after the chicken is cooked.
Still, this is the recipe a panel of expert judges selected as Nashville's best civilian hot chicken. Without further ado, we let Justin Jones give you the bird.
Yarr! Set a starboard course for Caribbean-themed food and have yer brawny fill as Whole Foods launches a series of monthly film-themed food evenings in its Salud display kitchen 6:30 p.m. Thursday. A $20 reservation gets you four courses of tropically inspired chow whipped up by Whole Foods’ roving crew of chefs, presumably including such staples as coconut, curry, papaya and beans. If shrimp there be, mateys, make 'em Depp fried! Yarr!
Only 25 slots are available. So report to jolie.yockey(at)wholefoods.com, call 440-5100, or risk a short plank walk to a watery grave. Or perhaps even scarier, takeout from Pei Wei.
This is just a notice that between the hours of 2 and 4 a.m. this Saturday, the Bites Department of Dirty Tricks will be coming to disconnect your alarm clock. No way in hell are you beating us to the Nashville Farmers' Market before The Sugar Bar opens its long-awaited stall of freshly baked goodies.
Baker/blogger Rebekka Seale, who founded the fledgling bakery with Grammy-winning singer-songwriter Michelle Branch, reports that she'll have at least three different flavors of cupcake (including the carrot pictured above, courtesy of Seale) as well as slices of that Bourbon Chocolate Pecan Pie we've been hearing so much about. She plans to open at 8 a.m. Saturday, and based on the level of interest she's been getting since the bakery-slash-sweet-shop was announced in June, we doubt they'll last long.
That's just the most public development in The Sugar Bar's confectionary-domination plans. Seale says that after a brief search, she and Branch are now sharing a warehouse kitchen space with Lunchtime Catering in The Gulch. They're now taking catering and wholesale orders on 48 hours' notice for customers such as East Nashville's soon-to-open Ugly Mugs Coffee & Tea. Anyone with a sweet tooth can peruse the menu and get in touch by calling 715-1240 or emailing orders(at)thesugarbar.com.
Still to come is The Sugar Bar's retail sweet shop and dessert bar. "I know for sure it will be in 12South," Seale says, but she's mum for now about the exact location. You can show up Saturday at the Farmers' Market for a taste of what she'll eventually have to offer there. Just don't get there before us.
We don’t usually recommend showing up at a restaurant on opening night, when servers and chefs are still working out kinks and getting timing down to a science. But if you’ve been waiting with bated breath for the debut of Miro District Food & Drink, you just might take your chances when the curtain goes up Friday.
After all, this ain’t the first rodeo for owner Jerry Brown, who launched Watermark in The Gulch, and managing partner-chef Dean Robb, who left his post at Birmingham’s Bottega Restaurant & Café to join Miro District. Located in the ground floor of the new 18-story Adelicia in Midtown, Miro District will offer lunch and dinner with a menu of Mediterranean-inspired cuisine with a Southern twist, ranging from antipasti and Italian salads to fresh seafood and homemade pasta.
• The summer heat isn't stifling Arnold Myint. PM Cafe's mad scientist is filling his beaker with blackberry wine and Prichard's Key Lime Rum and pouring the result as a Blackberry Mojito—one of several sweet items on PM's late-summer menu. Among the offerings: a PM Split with tempura-battered plaintains, vanilla ice cream, coconut shavings, candied ginger, chocolate and caramel with sesame brittle; and a pouch-style peach cobbler variation with pineapple, cardamom, flaxseed, granola and fortune-cookie brittle. PM is located at 2017 Belmont Blvd., 297-2070.
• Brixx Wood Fired Pizza, a Charlotte, N.C., chain specializing in brick-oven pizzas, will open its first Tennessee location next month at the Streets of Indian Lake Village in Hendersonville. On paper, it sounds great, promising "salads made with locally grown greens, sandwiches served on daily-baked focaccia bread, pasta dishes and desserts" along with pizzas such as jerk chicken, pear and gorgonzola, and a prosciutto/spicy-Italian-sausage Bronx Bomber. Expect 24 beers on tap and wine by the glass.
• A nice bit of recognition for a Middle Tennessee business: On the SF Weekly's SFoodie blog, Meredith Brody writes that San Francisco's Slow Food Nation ’08 celebration, led by legendary Chez Panisse chef and slow-food advocate Alice Waters, will feature a "Slow on the Go" festival of world-class street food. Among the offerings: a ham biscuit from Benton's Smoky Mountain Country Hams, the pride of Madisonville, Tenn. It's scheduled for Labor Day weekend, but if you get a hankerin', go to East Nashville's Mitchell Deli in Riverside Village for a slab of Benton's bracingly salty bacon.
Are you now, or have you ever been, a subscriber to Gourmet? Did you fist-bump Michael Ruhlman during his last Nashville stopover? Can you say the word "charcuterie" without snickering? Then for the duration of this post, avert your eyes. Whistle with fingers in your ears. This is not for you, the foodie with a life, cosmopolitan tastes and disposable income. Really. See you next post.
Parents, are we alone now? Let's try an experiment. "Did you hear about Jean-Georges Vongerichten taking over the kitchen for a residency at...."
(sound of loudly chirping crickets)
Was it just me, or did The Tennessean's ballyhooed "Toast of Music City" land with all the splash of poop in a punchbowl? Foodies have had their issues with the Scene's "Best of Nashville" reader votes over the years, and as you'd expect, the consensus will almost never represent the highest bough of achievement or the farthest limb of adventure. But at least those folks were reaching for low-hanging fruit, not the stuff already on the ground.
"The most competitive category with nearly 44,000 individual votes, we are a city of food and drink connoisseurs," read the opening of the Food & Drink section's two-sentence intro. Wow. After that modifier-dangling display of rhetorical fireworks, the lists themselves could only be a letdown. To be fair, there were several respectable choices among the winners—Lime for best new restaurant, Yazoo for beer, I Dream of Weenie for hot dogs—alongside deserving usual suspects such as Pancake Pantry for breakfast and Arnold's for meat-and-three.
But come on—in the cradle of hot chicken, the best Tennessean readers can come up with is freakin' Bojangles? Starbucks for coffee? Here's the score by my tally: three for Chicken Nick's in Williamson County, two for NYPD Pizza in Mt. Juliet (and Shoney's—don't forget Shoney's!), one for server Topher James at some unspecified Ruby Tuesday—and zero for Baja Burrito, Basil, Cafe Nonna, Cuppycakes, Dee's Q, Flyte, Jimmy Kelly's, Joey's, Manny's House of Pizza, Mambu, Marche, Martin's, Mitchell Deli, Muddea's, Ombi, Pizza Perfect, PM Cafe, Prince's Hot Chicken Shack, Rumba, Samurai Sushi, Sweet 16th or Tayst, to name but a few.
The contest saved its biggest WTF for the very top. And now, drum roll please, the best restaurant in Nashville. At No. 1, representing the very best dining experience the city of Nashville has to offer, it's...Bar-B-Cutie. Any Bar-B-Cutie in particular? (The paper's website lists eight, as well as a franchising office.) Nope. Guess any one Bar-B-Cutie beats a trip to Capitol Grille any day of the week.
Which brings up my whole problem with the format. The section offered little actual copy or even photos to break up the monotony of the cookie-cutter ads, just lists without a word of explanation or identification. (The "Best of Nashville" lists aren't annotated either, but there are thousands of words of accompanying writers' choices to compensate.) Maybe somebody could make an interesting case for Bar-B-Cutie. (It wouldn't be me.) But taken strictly at face value, this toast looks a lot like stale bread.
While debate raged on Bites about the merits of hosting a hot chicken festival every year in near-guaranteed 95-degree heat, the Music City Hot Chicken Festival quietly posted the confirmed date for next year's event: July 4, 2009. Pluck you, hatas!
Interestingly, though, a poll on the festival website suggesting alternates to its traditional July 4 date has not closed. With four days of voting left as of 10 p.m. last night, here's what the results look like after 186 votes:
Keep it on July 4: 92 (48 percent)
Saturday of Fathers Day Weekend: 24 (12)
First Saturday in August: 21 (11)
First Saturday in October: 49 (26)
In other words, those who believe the current date makes as much sense as hosting the Music City Sorbet Festival in January still have time to mobilize. Activate! Motivate! Initiate! Fight the fryers that be! The hopes of Nashville's sweaty gluttons ride with you.
Worst-case scenario: the conclusive vote must be cast by Kevin Costner.
UPDATE: Whoa baby! Has anybody checked those numbers lately? October has gone from 49 to 63, with a day left in voting! Could an upset be in the offing?
Remember last November, when an innocuous invitation-only Food Network taping at Fido turned out to be a paleta-packin' Throwdown between superstar chef Bobby Flay and Las Paletas' lovable Paz sisters? Remember how little Max Bernstein, heir to the Bongo/Paletas empire, reported Flay's first words upon tasting one of Irma and Norma Paz's handmade popsicles: "This is f*&@ing good!" Remember how Carrington showed up to participate and wound up drafted as a judge, meaning she had to come up with an array of non-trademarked euphemisms for "popsicle?" (I believe "Frosty the Phallus" was one contender.)
Why, it seems as if it happened just eight months ago. And now comes word that the climactic episode will finally air! Set your TiVo for Aug. 13 on the Food Network, where you can see who emerges triumphant in the frozen-treat face-off. We'll keep you posted about a large-screen outdoor viewing event scheduled for the big night. We'll also torture Carrington with reruns of Paula's Party until she gives up the winner.
In the meantime, if you need a broadcast fix of the gorgeous Irma Paz Bernstein, check out her cameo in the video for Alan Jackson's "Good Time."
Earlier this week the Stepford Wife and I took Mr. Pink to the newly opened Edisto to celebrate his birthday. It was hot, so instead of bellying up to the smoker on the back patio, we sat in the dining room and ordered from Edisto's menu of South Carolina-style cuisine.
The former Patrick's has been recast with dark wood ceiling fans and rouille-colored walls, and with the jazz wafting through the room it makes a peaceful retreat for toasting a birthday with tall glasses of watermelon iced tea, Sun Drop and RC Cola.
Anyone who knows Mr. Pink knows he's a slut for elotes—Mexican-style grilled corn sprinkled with salty cheesy dust—so we ordered an appetizer of Edisto's grilled corn lollipops. Three cross-sections of corn—skewered, grilled and sprinkled with cotija (grainy white cheese similar to feta)—were succulent, smoky and delicious.
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