Wednesday, October 29, 2008

Can't-Do Candies

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 1:07 PM


If it has sugar in it, I'll probably eat it, so at Halloween, the Wood family gives out bubble gum. That way, only my teeth are affected if just a few ghouls trick-or-treat our street.

I wish we gave out something with a more treat-like flavor profile, such as Reese's Peanut Butter Cups, or mini candy bars. But at least we steer clear of giving the horrid candies in this slideshow.

Except that circus peanuts were my mom's favorite, and little Sweet Cheeks is partial to necklaces. Just goes to show that there's a no-go candy for everyone. What's your most loathed Halloween candy? And what are you giving the neighborhood goblins?

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Board of Health Seeks Comments on Menu Labeling

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 5:05 AM


Diners, restaurateurs and anyone else with an opinion about Metro's proposed menu-labeling regulation have until Nov. 13 to submit written comments, and a public comment session will be held at 4 p.m. Nov. 6. Director of Health Bill Paul will host an hour-long information session Friday, Oct. 31 at the Lentz Health Center, at which he will take questions from restaurant industry members.

In an effort to fight obesity by better informing diners about their nutritional choices, the Metro Public Health Department has proposed that restaurants with more than 10 establishments (including Metro schools) include calorie information on their menus. The board could take action on the proposal at its meeting Dec. 4, at which time it can choose to table, revise, approve or reject the proposal. If it passes, the menu-labeling regulation will go into effect Jan. 31, 2009.

A list of answers to frequently asked questions follows after the jump.

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Jerusalem Brings Culinary Promise to Church Street

Posted By on Wed, Oct 29, 2008 at 5:01 AM


We stopped by the ever-changing building on Church Street that recently housed the short-lived restaurants Madras Bhavan and Fire & Ice. Now the space is occupied by Jerusalem restaurant, and let's hope this delightful Mediterranean eatery sticks around for a while.

Our maiden voyage was extremely successful, with a $7.99 all-you-can-eat buffet filled with falafel, hummus, yellow rice, tabouli, roasted chicken, stuffed grape leaves, lamb-and-vegetable stew and tender fava beans in a spicy broth, among other fresh and flavorful offerings. One of the most rewarding dishes was a medley of roasted vegetables, including red peppers, carrots, eggplants and mushrooms, accented with bright bits of lemon rind.

We enjoyed a few glasses of intensely sweet, piping-hot peppermint tea ($1.49 a glass—no free refills) and a small S-shaped cookie whose soft, velvety surface gave way to a core like fine, crisp shortbread. We left satisfied with both variety and volume, without the usual all-you-can-eat torpor.

We will definitely return to Jerusalem. Meanwhile, if you get there, let us know what you think.

Located at 1805 Church St., Jerusalem is open 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. daily, with lunch buffet available 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday. Carryout is available.

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Tuesday, October 28, 2008

WTF of the Week

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 1:00 PM


This is? Bangkok eggs, aka Son-in-Law Eggs

WTF: Boiled eggs, halved and deep-fried, served in a tangy-sweet tamarind sauce with chopped cilantro, fried shallots and hot pepper flakes.

Who thinks up this stuff? Thai sons-in-law, apparently, to impress the bride's parents, goes one story.

Deep. Fried. Eggs. They sound weird. I wouldn't disagree, based on the technique and ingredient list. And yet, they're little bundles of surprise and deliciousness.

Do they have medicinal properties? Why, yes. Reportedly, Thai folk treat them as a hangover cure. And they have no carbs.

Have you ever seen them on a menu? No, now that you mention.

Where can I find them in Nashville? Thai Kitchen, on Thompson Lane at Powell Avenue on the Berry Hill side, site of the restaurant formerly known as Rice Bowl.

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Garden & Gun Magazine Features Nashville

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 5:05 AM


Writers Marshall Chapman and Jim Myers and photographer Caroline Allison made me so proud of my hometown in the November issue of Garden & Gun magazine. Their spread on Nashville put the city in its best light, with culinary nods to Arnold’s Country Kitchen, Margot Café, Marché, The Standard and Martha’s at the Plantation.

In the same issue, Southern Foodways Alliance kingpin John T. Edge assembled a list of 100 Southern Foods You Absolutely, Positively Must Try Before You Die. Nashville had a respectable share of the must-eats—including Arnold’s fried green tomatoes, Martin’s redneck tacos, Prince’s chicken, Bolton’s hot fish sandwich and the pork neck bones and rice at The Sands (formerly Silver Sands).

I’ve got no quarrel with any of those choices, but I bet Bites could make a case for getting a few more Middle Tennessee landmarks in the Southern 100. Am I right? Who would you nominate for the best Southern foods?

While you’re at it, take a look at G&G’s list and see how many of the top 100 you’ve tasted.


The Pain in Spain

Posted By on Tue, Oct 28, 2008 at 5:00 AM

Is anyone watching Spain...On the Road Again, the PBS documentary with chef Mario Batali, Gwyneth "Spain Is, Like, My Passion" Paltrow, New York Times food writer Mark Bittman and actress Claudia Bassols road-tripping through Spain? I am trying. The food looks divine, and the Spanish backdrop is stunning. But so much about the unscripted junket makes me cringe that I haven't made it through a whole episode.

It could be that half of the dialog is in Spanish, which I don't speak, so I feel like I'm back in high school watching the cool kids have a conversation that I'm not invited to join. And then there are interminable Real World-style exchanges like the one in which a positively radiant Gwyneth—with golden locks unfurling from the passenger seat of the convertible Mercedes—kvetches to Mario about how she doesn't have any spa time now that she's a mom. Gag me. No, better—gag her.

Maybe Bittman reminds me too much of the Scene's own bald curmudgeon, Jeff Woods. Either way, I'd rather watch Woods tour the taco stands of South Nashville than endure the Times' columnist ogling Bassols all the way from Galicia to Gehry's Guggenheim.

In Mario's defense, he has been pretty non-grating. In the footage I've seen, he's been mostly behind the wheel while the camera focuses on everyone else. It sort of makes me wonder if somewhere along the way the Crocs-shod chef realized that this well-intentioned culinary documentary would inevitably devolve into a prolonged self-indulgent glamour shot, so he offered to drive.

Is it just me, or is this show making anyone else green—with either envy or nausea?

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Monday, October 27, 2008

Don't Miss the Bus: Meet the White House Organic Farm Project Oct. 28

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 4:07 PM


If you want to ask the next president to plant an organic garden at 1600 Pennsylvania Ave., now's your chance. The White House Organic Farm Project is collecting signatures on Tuesday at the Farmers' Market at 10 a.m. You'll recognize them because they're carrying a petition and driving an upside-down bus. The full press release follows after the jump.

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The Remembrance of Pancakes Past

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 1:42 PM


What do one-time Nashvillians far from home want? A thread on Facebook has the answers: Pancake Pantry, Sylvan Park, Rotier's, SATCO, Baja Burrito, Puffy Muffin and more.

The thread was begun in 2006 and is bumped occasionally by a Nashvillian full of longing for the pizzas, nachos and chicken fingers of youth. There's widespread consensus on Mazatlan and Cafe Coco, a few speaking up for Swett's and plenty of love for Fat Mo's.

And there are a few puzzlers. For instance, I need to dine out with some of these big fans of U.S. Border Cantina and Las Palmas since they seem to be ordering from a different menu. Along these same lines: Spaghetti Factory? Really?

Some classics make the list, such as Jimmy Kelly, J. Alexander and Hog Heaven. Several now-deceased eateries get props, and sad, frowney emoticons, including Vandyland and Houston's.

Everyone is on Facebook these days, goes the conventional wisdom, but the exclamation point ratio in the posts, I'm not completely convinced.

If you were to leave town (perish the thought!!), what local eateries would you miss enough to log on and pen a wistful line?

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Apocalypto Now: Mayan Hot Chocolate New at Crema

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 10:49 AM


With the season's first frost scheduled to hit overnight, we could all use some antifreeze in our blood come the dawn. Since it's unseemly to start the day with a slug of Old Overcoat, I'll be at Rachel Lehman's cool coffeehouse Crema with a steaming cup of liquid fire: Mayan hot chocolate.

Even before it turned up on Lehman's menu, Crema regulars were ordering this stout brew of hot chocolate fortified with spices and a flaming thimbleful of cayenne. You can get it hot or mild, and at first—out of pride, curiosity and obstinance—I was going for the hot, which has a sinus-clearing burn and leaves a fiery burr in the back of your throat. But I've been sticking lately to the mild, which doesn't overpower the chocolate but still feels like a snort from the devil's snuffbox.

I confess that I've tried and liked the Starbucks salted-caramel hot chocolate, even if the salty kick is confined mostly to the top and bottom of the cup. But it can't hold a candle to Crema's kick-ass firewater—or for that matter, to the off-menu orange-zest mocha at DrinkHaus. Keep the chocolate drinks coming, Music City.

Oh, and now through Election Day, if you come by wearing an "I Voted" sticker, you can get a free drip coffee on the house. Can we take advantage of such generosity?


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Trader Joe's Opening Nov. 7

Posted By on Mon, Oct 27, 2008 at 5:05 AM

As if the election weren’t divisive enough, in just over a week—when Trader Joe’s opens in Green Hills—you’re going to have to choose up sides at the grocery store, too. Are you a Whole Foods 365-brand green-bagger? A Kroger Cost Cutter? Or a Trader Joe’s true believer, worshipping at the private-labeled feet of Trader Darwin, Trader José and Trader Giotto, the kitschy grocer’s cheery nameplates?

Trader Joe’s will start wholesale campaigning for your retail love at 9 a.m. Nov. 7, when the 50-year-old happy Hawaiian-themed grocer opens its first Tennessee store, in the former Wild Oats. Customers who get in line before 8:30 a.m. will receive goodie bags and a chance to cut the ceremonial lei.

Located at 3909 Hillsboro Pike (phone: 297-6560), Trader Joe's will be open 9 a.m. to 9 p.m. daily.

As always, if you get there before we do, please report back on Bites.

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