You want to quit throwing away plastic bottles, don’t you? Which means drinking tap water. I want to help, so I got a tour of Nashville’s Omohundro Water Treatment Plant from Scott Potter, director of Metro Water Services.
Situated right on the Cumberland River, the plant has great real estate, and is itself a work of art, with a spot on the National Register of Historic Places.
Some of the original workings are still in use, including a monstrous 1873 valve that pumps water from the river and into pools.
Once in those pools, the water gets a chemical shot designed to make all the bits of grit and algae clump together. In late summer the water is naturally so much clearer coming out of the Cumberland that it’s hard to get the clumping action to start.
The way to a man's heart is supposedly through the stomach, but most guys are looking for a different transportation route—an expressway to the vagina. Their GPS to the G-spot comes courtesy of Cooking to Get Lucky, a webcast cooking show designed to make your dining partner the last course on the menu. "A lot of girls out there love healthy food," the blurb copy leers. "If you want to get into bed with one check out this episode!" The promised "dishes to help you seal the deal without the grass & tofu" include halibut baked with ginger, parsley and olive oil followed by chocolate-dipped strawberries and "pompagne" (pomegranate and champagne—cab, please). I'm guessing the Goldfinger-era Sean Connery is the only man who could parlay this dubious feast into a Kama Sutra smorgasbord, but I'd love to be proven wrong—preferably before the pompagne pouring. Any thoughts, ladies? (Hat tip: Boinkology.)
• While I'm doffing chapeaux, I would never have found Boinkology without consulting The Clothes That Got Me Laid, the blog devoted to two things I know less than nothing about: fashion and sex. (Rumor has it the author does one of the best shows on 91 Rock.) Had Sex and the City been as much fun as this compendium of hot encounters in hot clothes—which might as well take place on Omicron-4 in the Zenobite galaxy for all the relevance it has to my life—I might not have sat through it whistling with my fingers in my ears.
• Since you still have a few days to share your experiences during Nashville Originals Restaurant Week, let's prime the pump a little. Get your juices flowing by checking out this past post from Boston Dreams and Michelin Stars: a nicely orchestrated course-by-course heavyweight bout between two Nashville favorites. "In the red corner, the challenger from Elliston Place, a walk-in dinner on Friday night at Ombi. And in the blue corner, the defending champion and pride of the 37206 zip code, a reservation on Saturday night at Margot Cafe." What follows are "five rounds of toe-to-toe culinary boxing action"—and if only one walks away with the title, the other still sounds like a contender.
• Thanks to Nashveggie for sharing the news that Pennsylvania-based frozen-treat purveyor Rita's has opened an outpost at 4219 Lebanon Road in Hermitage. (Another will be coming soon to Mt. Juliet, according to Rita's site.) Rita's serves a full menu of custard, cream ices, gelati, cookie-ice-custard hybrids called Blendinis and fat-free Slenderitas. But the shop is best known for its Italian ices, in flavors ranging from lemonade and passion fruit to wild black cherry. Call 874-9500 for more info.
• It took me the better part of my adult life to warm up to Almond Joy candy bars, and I still can't say I relish the texture—it's like sinking your teeth into some kind of squishy beetle. (Coconut in general polarizes people more than any other food I know, except maybe beets.) But the recipe Ulika has for homemade AJs (not to mention the photos) looks like the awesomest thing in the history of awe, starting with the sugar-toasted almonds pressed into the "fun size" coconut logs. Bonus points for that caption lower down on the photo of Mr. T.
• Aunt B. has learned Carrington Fox's two dirty secrets. I mean, besides that her nom de porn is Valentine 76.
Congratulations to wine aficionado Melanie Armstrong, who recently welcomed baby Evan Marshall Armstrong. Like any new mom, Melanie is up to her eyeballs in bottles, but in her case it's Bordeaux and Beaujolais. The host of Wine University is conducting a series of classes at Whole Foods' Salud! demonstration kitchen. In some classes, you'll taste as many as nine wines for $15. If you can find a better deal on booze, please report back on Bites.
Here's the upcoming schedule of wine classes. All classes are held at Whole Foods in Green Hills, upstairs in Salud! Cooking School. To register, call 440-5117.
Sept. 19: Organic Wines, 6:30-7:30 p.m., $15
Oct. 10: Wines of France, 6:30-7:30 p.m., $15
Oct. 16: Exploring France I: Bordeaux, 7-9 p.m., $40
Oct. 21: Fall Food and Wine Pairing (cooking and wine class), 6:30-8:30 p.m., $50
Oct. 30: Exploring France II: Burgundy and Beaujolais, 7-9 p.m., $40
Nov. 7: Top 10 Holiday Wines, 6:30-7:30 p.m., $15
Nov. 13: Champagne and Sparkling Wines, 7-9 p.m., $40
Nov. 21: Wines for Thanksgiving, 6:30-7:30 p.m., $15
Add to Security Moms, NASCAR Dads and Moose Stew Chefs another sliver of the voting demographic: Wine and Cheese voters. My friend at I Will Always Have Food Today heard this phrase applied to a segment of the Republican party.
It made me wonder whether it would be depressing or flattering to be referred to as a Wine and Cheese voter. Is it equivalent to “limousine liberal” but edible and Republican? Is it true, after all, that you are what you eat?
What’s next? Hot Dish and Coffee voters in the Upper Midwest and Latte and Bagel voters on the coasts? But more interestingly, what other food-based voter demographics could we identify?
In this week's dining feature about the emerging restaurant scene in Germantown, I all but swooned over the fresh spaghetti and linguine at Lazzaroli's Pasta Shop. I also—unintentionally—exaggerated the prices. Depending on the flavors, owner Tom Lazzaro, a.k.a. Tommy Noodles, sells his handmade spaghetti and linguine for between $4.39 and $5.39 a pound. Compared to buck-a-pound Barilla dry pasta, that's some pricey dough. But it's a far cry from the $9 that I mistakenly quoted.
"Badabing!" Lazzaro said, "It would need to be speckled with gold to sell for that!"
Every autumn, we buy a Bigham's country ham on our way back from visiting family in Huntsville. I take it to Todd's Butcher Shop at 6682 Charlotte and have it cut into four steaks and a ham the right size for a small family.
I used to take it to the Compton's on West End (on a tip from John Egerton). If you asked nicely and brought your own sugar mixture, they'd bake and glaze it for you too.
When the Compton's was sold and changed formats, I moved to Todd's. He's a genius with all things carnivorous, and it was a joy to pore over every wonderful thing in the cases. I bought smoked pork chops, handmade hand-smoked andouille, and loads of other boutique meats.
But this year, Todd's shop is dark, and there's a "For Lease" sign on the door. Who's going to cut my ham? More important, where is Todd? Anyone? Anyone?
The Standard at the Smith House kicks off the first of the fall temperatures on Thursday, with a five-course dinner featuring wines by R. Merlo Estate Vineyards from California. Grab a sweater and your checkbook—dinner is $75 a person before tax and tip—and head to the historic townhouse at 167 Rosa Parks Blvd. Raymond Merlo will be on hand for hors d’oeuvres and champagne at 6:30 p.m., and dinner begins at 7:45. For reservations, call 254-1277. Chef Joe Shaw’s menu is after the jump.
This is: Nopales on the hoof, so to speak.
WTF: Prickly pear cactus pad.
And what's the botanic name for that? You know, just in case. Opuntia ficus-indica
Uh, it's a cactus. WTF? Pull out the thorns, peel it, cut the pad into strips, simmer them until tender and call them nopalitos.
What does it taste like? Tart green beans. Who'd have thought there would be two foods in the world that taste like green beans?
Who eats them? In Mexico, nopales are standard fare in mama's kitchen. For convenience, they're also canned. Just like green beans.
Can I eat them too? Sure. A few pickled nopalitos garnish many of the offerings at Rosario's and top the Mexican chef salad ($11.99)
Last weekend, the Foxes defaulted to Bricktop’s for family dinner. The offspring of Houston’s is one of our favorite dining indulgences, in large part due to the $5 kids’ meal that comes with an apple-shaped bottle of Martinelli’s apple juice and a scoop of vanilla-bean ice cream with an obscene molten chocolate sauce.
The Fox baby daddy ordered steak frites, and I ordered carpaccio. As always, our dinner at Bricktop’s was excellent, and the staff deserved formal decoration for enduring the chicken-finger fireworks that erupted from our table. But we noticed a couple of idiosyncracies in the food:
1. Carpaccio, which is traditionally raw beef, was seared rare before being sliced paper thin. To my strict-constructionist mind, that’s not carpaccio so much as it's a chicly named dish for people who need to have the rawness of their cow sugar-coated—or at least black pepper-coated.
2. When the server said the steak frites came with a side item, we assumed that was in addition to the frites. It was, after all, steak frites, i.e. steak with French fries. To our chagrin, if you order steak frites with a side of asparagus at Bricktop’s, you get what might be dubbed more appropriately steak asperges.
I admit it—I loved the seared carpaccio served with arugula, horseradish and soft buttered crostini. But the vegetable-for-fries swap was a little cheeky. So if you're dining at Bricktop's and you're looking for the classic bistro combo of ribeye and matchstick French fries, try ordering steak asperges with a side of frites.
Helicopters are circling and smoke is belching into the air in the skies over midtown, where the now-shuttered Mario's restaurant (2005 Broadway) caught on fire around 1 p.m. today. The building was previously damaged by fire in October 2006. NewsChannel5 is updating the story online. More photos after the jump.
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