Ever watched a child play with the Fisher-Price farm set and wonder whether there were toys for people who don't wish to exploit animals even in pretend? Well sure--who hasn't? Such teeming legions can find just the gift at the quirky site for all things handmade, etsy.com.
And a cloth stir-fry with tofu similar to, but more sustainable than, Fisher-Price plastic food. (There's a cotton version for vegans.)
Supporting a radical tofuista who believes that tofu is much more than protein that can't fight back? Give a goth tofu warrior. Oh yes there is.
Just one more thought. Tofu Timmy the Soy Boy wants to remind you of something. Holidays--what a time to share the spirit of tofu.
I attended a dinner party this weekend at which all the men
waxed rhapsodic about their love for the bison offerings at Ted's Montana Grill. It was the
first time I had heard such enthusiasm for the Atlanta-based chain, which stampeded into Nashville
in 2003, but if the proliferation of 24-hour news shows us anything about the eponymous Ted
Turner's ability to change Americans' most basic habits, I figure there's a
good chance that soon enough we'll all be eating tatanka while we watch Headline News.
With that in mind, I led the Fox herd to Ted's to see if we could suss out the difference between beef and bison. (Founder Ted Turner
trip to Ted's, but since we usually stick with the plank-grilled salmon or the fish sandwich, this time we focused on bison burgers.
I've been eating at La Hacienda on Nolensville regularly for over five years, typically having lunch twice a week. On each visit, I tend to consume at least two small bowls of salsa by myself. Friends who eat with me know I don't share when it comes to the delicious red suspension.
La Ha's salsa tends to vary with each batch. The levels of herbs or other ingredients may differ, but the flavor is OK at worst and divine at best. While it has been a little pickle-y lately, today, something was terribly off.
One person gave up after one bite. I made it through half a bowl trying to figure out what the wrongness was. The unpleasant taste seemed familiar, but I just couldn't place it. Then it hit me: bug spray. Once I named it, the others at my end of the table stopped eating it as well.
I'm pretty sure that's not what it was; nonetheless, there was a flavor in the sauce that shouldn't have been there. Any other regulars notice it and have a guess?
Let me add, though, that one bad batch among the gallons of their salsa that I've consumed over the years doesn't really bother me. To steal from one of my party, I surely won't be returning...until next week.
I was home sick recently, and while I lay in bed too weak to change the channel, I endured endless hours of daytime TV. I think it was during an enthusiastic exchange between Kathy Lee and Hoda that I learned about these handy little strips for testing the caffeine levels of your coffee.
According to the marketing propaganda, as many as 30 percent of decaf coffee orders in restaurants aren't exactly decaf. I can believe that. After all, it can be hard to remember whether the orange pot is the one with or without the go-juice.
True confessions time: How many of you have tried to pass off caffeinated coffee as decaf to your guests—either at home or in a restaurant?
When I stopped by the coffee counter at Whole Foods in Green HIlls this week, I was delighted to see the store is now offering Drew's Brews, in addition to Whole Foods' Allegro brand. The barista said management is waiting to see how things go before making Drew's Brews a permanent offering. Whole Foods sells Drew's Brews and Allegro for the same price. So if you want beans roasted by Nashvillian Drew Park on the java-scented cliffs of East Nashville, make some noise about it next time you're at Whole Foods.
Perhaps you'll see a film over this pre-holiday weekend, and perhaps you'll pay $4 for sub-optimal popcorn. That in itself doesn't especially irritate me. No, that's the role of the $4 soft drink and $4 candy, for a total of $12 for a snack worth about $3.50 at retail.
If the food were any good, maybe the price wouldn't be an issue. But the candy selection is infantile. The soft drinks are never mixed right and are either syrupy or weak or taste like the stuff that cleans the tubes. I have personally witnessed the unloading of giant bags of pre-popped corn at a local theater. It tasted like it was trucked in from California after a long boat ride from China.
Are you one of those people who skips the whole issue by taking your own treats? If so, Cinematical has a thought for you, which is that movie theaters aren't in the entertainment business; they're in the concessions business, so please buy concessions.
There are definitely two sides to the story. The theater deserves to make a profit. Theatergoers deserve to vote with their wallets, especially at a time like this. I worry a little that some theaters won't make it through the downturn, if it's true that 80 percent of profits come from concessions. That's a lot to ask of stale pretzels.
(After the jump, 8 ways to improve movie theater food.)
Every so often when I sit down to sort through my receipts and expense forms, my mind wanders to the topic of tipping. Something about seeing all those gratuities—scribbled in my handwriting on tiny slips of thermal-transfer paper—makes me want to take the pulse of the dining public to make sure I'm, you know, doing it right.
For example, how much do you tip? Do you tip on the pre- or post-tax total? If you tip on the post-tax bill, do you adjust your gratuity upward when you are in, say, Hawaii, which has a 4 percent state sales tax? Do you tip the same at lunch and dinner? Do you tip differently depending on whether you have a whole meal or just cocktails? Do you tip differently depending on if you sit at the bar or at a table? If you were to order, say, a $100 bottle of wine, would you tip $20? Do you tip if the restaurant has counter service? Do you tip the same if there's counter service but you don't have to bus your own table? Do you tip if you were served by the owner of the place rather than by her employee? When you use a gift certificate, do you still tip on the whole bill? Do you actually adjust the tip depending on your dining experience? If so, do you tell the server? Have you ever caught yourself adding a tip to a purchase simply because there was a tip line on the receipt?
It's enough to make my head spin, so I tend to go with 20 percent in most dining situations, except at counter service, in which case I panic and do everything from tipping 20 percent to throwing loose change in the jar. (Now here's a real question: Do you ever fake that you're throwing money in the jar, you cheap bastard?)
Anyone got any tipping insights, questions or anecdotes that might be helpful?
When my partner and I attended a recent performance of the Nashville Symphony, we decided to try out Arpeggio, the restaurant in the East Lobby of the Schermerhorn.
Everything started off well enough. We were safely at our final destination, and the dining area, if a bit cramped, was as pleasant as the Schermerhorn itself.
When our server eventually showed up, he spent longer than necessary listing the buffet offerings--including appetizers, soups, entrées and desserts--which were plainly printed on our menus. Then he took our wine order.
Some time back when it was warm, before hibernation set in, Pink, Carrington and I stopped in at Hot Diggity Dog on Ewing Avenue for a working lunch.
When you have kids, you don't have to go looking for a hot dog. Hot dogs find you, mostly via little chubby hands proffering half-finished dawgs that subsequently become your lunch.
Lately, at last, I have rediscovered how good it is to have a a high-quality dog with fine toppings.
My ideal dog has chili, cheese, relish, hot mustard and caramelized onions. That's where this mystery starts, and leads me to a couple of questions that I know someone can answer.
1) What is that bewitching brilliant green relish, called "green relish" on the menu, and where can I get it?
2) How is it possible that, born and bred in Middle Tennessee going back generations to when my quarrelsome ancestors were asked to hie themselves out of Carolina over the Appalachians, I've never heard pickled peppers referred to as "sport peppers"?
I guess that's three questions.
With the doors closed at both Bar Twenty3 and City Hall, entrepreneur Austin Ray is moving on to yet another venture, The Melrose Neighborhood Pub. Located in the building that formerly housed The Chute, The Melrose represents a complete departure from the uber-hip style of BarTwenty3. While that establishment earned a national reputation for its ever-evolving-always-chic club scene, Ray's latest project seeks to fill the role of neigborhood pub for a neighborhood currently without one. The Melrose will serve lunch and dinner, with a menu of sandwiches and appetizers and a roster of 50 beers.
The first tenant in the newly renovated building at 2535 Franklin Pike, The Melrose will be open to all ages during the day. At night the restaurant will be restricted to guests 21 and up and will remain non-smoking. Ray describes the casual pub décor as having “lots and lots of crap on the walls,” as well as booth seating, wood detailing, schoolhouse lights, pool tables, a Ms. Pac-Man table, an old-school CD jukebox (Apparently CD's are officially old school.) and a Super Shot arcade basketball game. Ray plans to open The Melrose later this month.
Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a…
To Chris's point, $1 on a $15 tab is 7%. That is not insignificant.
1. Lockeland Table
4. Kien Giang
5. Jim & Nick's
Come down and see us Nashville. We have a real cool summer treat for you.