The new Noah Liff Opera Center in Sylvan Park already looms as a gift to the city--a multi-use facility that houses rehearsal space for the Nashville Opera, administrative offices, rooms for community functions and more. This weekend, the gift keeps on giving with a festival that includes kids' activities, food and live performance--all free and open to the public.
For its grand opening, the Liff Center and Nashville Opera invite the public to come tour the new facility from 3 to 5 p.m. this Sunday, May 3. Not only will there be a special performance of The Magic Flute, the center will also have photo stations where children and adults can pose in opera wigs, finery and make-up; opera trivia; a raffle-ticket drawing; goodies for guests; and full-contact opera karaoke where you can duel with the divas--Die Fledermaus with a vengeance!
Say, isn't this a food blog? Right. The center will also offer a spread of Italian finger foods such as cannolis, crostini and cookies, along with grapes, cheeses, pasta salad, drinks and Italian frozen treats.
Again, the entire event is free and open to the public, with families encouraged. The Magic Flute performance will begin at 3:45 p.m., if that helps you plan. (And invitations to Saturday night's $500 black-tie gala benefit are still available by calling 832-5242.) So send this notice to everyone you know--and start limbering up the ol' uvula to hit that high C.
The Noah Liff Opera Center is located at 3622 Redmon St.
Meat butchery has had a hold on my attention the last few years, since I discovered during a stint in England that meat is butchered differently there. America butchers for steaks and chops, while Brits prefer roasts. This means you see a lot more steak cuts in America, like round steak and blade steak, that don't really exist in other places.
Last month, Saveur magazine reported on the recent appearance of flat iron steaks. It's a re-architected "blade steak," taken from steer shoulder. Plenty of rich chuck flavor, but blade steak has a segment of unpalatable connective tissue in the center. University of Nebraska professor Chris Calkins figured out a way to cut the meat at different angle to get a fillet-type cut. A flat iron steak was born.
Flat iron is lower in price than other steaks, about $8 per pound. K&S market, source of many delights, has espadilla de res steaks, the same piece of meat as a blade steak and a flat iron, for unbelievable $2.99 a pound. It's sold as "shoulder roast" because it includes the tissue in the center, which you can see in the photo. But now you know it's a steak. Cut out the center and cook the resulting beef strips like steak. Or cook it first then cut out the center.
Butchery. It's what's for dinner.
It's been about a year since Deb Paquette took home the gold for her inventive use of fiddlehead ferns at the Scene's inaugural Iron Fork culinary competition. At that event, many of the 1,200 guests got their first glimpse of the intriguing green shoots, which recall the flavor of asparagus and are slightly toxic.
Kudos to the Whole Foods team for picking such an au courant ingredient. According to this this Wall Street Journal magazine piece, fiddleheads are all the rage now in Montreal, where foraged or "found" foods are the height of culinary chic.
At the second annual Iron Fork on May 6, Whole Foods and Delvin Farms will conspire to pick the secret ingredient that chefs Jason Love, Bart Pickens, Guerry McComas, Jeremy Barlow and Tandy Wilson will have to prepare for the judges. Who knows what that edible variable will be, but for an idea of how various foods could play to the chefs' strengths, check out this week's dining column.
Fresh Blends Juice and Smoothie Bar will celebrate the launch of its Belmont Boulevard store on May 9 and 10, with $50 coupons for the first 50 customers, as well as 15 percent discounts at both the East Nashville Store and the new location at 1703 Portland Ave.
Fresh Blends launched its inaugural store at 1888 Eastland Ave. last summer, with a menu of vegetable and fruit juices, fresh whole fruit smoothies and shots of locally grown organic wheatgrass. The Belmont store will offer a similar repertoire, though owners Tony Reall and David Edwards have opted not to sell wraps, thereby avoiding a sandwich fight with their hoagie-hawking neighbor, Subway.
As always, if you get to Fresh Blends in Belmont before we do, please report back on Bites. And by all means, let us know if you get one of the golden tickets for $50 in coupons.
Just in time for the spring opening of the renovated Farmers' Market, Tanisha and Byron Hall have opened Fleur de Lis Flavors, selling New Orleans-style snowballs and roasted nuts. With 40 flavors of shaved ice--ranging from coconut and tiger's blood to strawberry cheesecake and wedding cake, Fleur de Lis got its start as a mobile vendor, with a brief stint in the Bellevue Mall, before lighting at the newly renovated Market Hall.
In addition to snowballs and nuts, Fleur de Lis carries chocolate-covered nuts and fruits, chocolate-covered frozen bananas and organic chocolates. With the mobile unit, the Halls offer theater-style popcorn.
You can stop by and check out Fleur de Lis on Saturday, May 2, during the Market House Celebration.
As always, if you get to Fleur de Lis Flavors before we do, please report back on Bites.
Here's an enticing twofer: Get discounted Iron Fork tickets this weekend while cruising the candy-colored cookware at Le Creuset. The cookware store in Green Hills, which is providing gleaming stainless steel and enameled equipment for competitors in the Scene's May 6 culinary showdown, will have tickets on sale for $25. That's compared to $30 online or $40 at the door of the Country Music Hall of Fame on the night of the event--if it doesn't sell out like it did last year.
Le Creuset is located in the Hill Center at 4017 Hillsboro Pike.
So, the impossible has recently been confirmed: My mom is finally coming to Nashville to visit me. She helped me move down here more than three years ago (not an easy task since I was crippled by a broken kneecap at the time) and hasn't been back since. Now, this isn't entirely her fault--due to the fact that she lives full-time at the Jersey Shore these days, summer months always result in my going there. We also spend Thanksgiving in Philly. She swore she was coming last fall, but then I ended up back in the City of Brotherly Love working for the Obama campaign. So, long story short, the stars have finally aligned and she's coming to town, my little brother in tow.
Now that I know this town pretty well, I'm excited to show it off. This means food, lots of it. And since I've started doing a bit of food writing, my family expects a lot from me when it comes to restaurant choice. I don't want to disappoint.
So, Bites Community, where should I take them for a truly local--and impressive--culinary experience. City House? Las Americas? Margot? Hot chicken? Sweet 16th? (Keep in mind, my mom loves, loves, loves a great deal.)
I also plan on cooking one night. Any show-stopping recipes (that remain easy to prepare after a couple of glasses of wine) that folks have been itching to share?
It was either the Lee Brothers or Paula Deen who said it best: Red velvet has always seemed to me to be a name in search of a flavor.
I've read a lot of cookbooks, and as best I can tell, Red Velvet originated as a way to dress up a cake with no other flavoring than a spoonful of cocoa. The originals used a "poor man's buttercream" (flour and milk cooked to a sauce consistency then whipped with margarine) while a cream cheese frosting is the usual topping now. To me, that's not a flavor profile.
These Red Velvet Cake balls were as close to good as it gets for me. The cook combined cake with frosting, then dipped them into more frosting. A few included coconut, which was a good idea. A little orange zest would have been good, too.
Still, I don't get the appeal of Red Velvet Cake. If it were white cake, or yellow cake, would people get worked up about it?
You should have seen Iron Fork contestants Jason Love, Guerry McComas, Bart Pickens and Jeremy Barlow take off like a shot when it was time to pick the Le Creuset cookware they would use to compete in the Scene's second annual culinary showdown on May 6.
Jeremy, the chef/owner of tayst, let me come along on his shopping spree earlier this week. The last time I'd shopped that intimately with a man was when I registered for wedding gifts, and believe me, Jeremy had more fun than the betrothed Fox.
The winning chef at Iron Fork gets to keep his half-dozen pieces of Le Creuset equipment, while the other four sets will go to a well-deserving nonprofit culinary program. With that in mind, I encouraged Jeremy to choose super-huge pieces that would be most useful to a cooking school--not that I thought he wouldn't win, but because surely that would give him the karmic edge.
On the other hand, Joseph Kirkland at Le Creuset urged him to choose the tools that would best serve him in the heat of the cooking competition at the Country Music Hall of Fame, so Jeremy flirted with some smaller specialized pieces.
I'm not going to tell you what Jeremy chose, because that could tip his strategic hand. But I will tell you that he went with black enamel--for stealth. And he was particularly intrigued by the crafty pots whose lids doubled as grill pans or other shallow cooking vessels.
I left seething with jealously over Jeremy's gleaming batch of gorgeous cookware--though, of course, I would have chosen blue or green.
If money were no object and you could select six pieces of brand new cookware, what would you choose?
Recognize this guy pictured in a story at ParkRecord.com? That's Jason Brumm, chef/owner of Radius10, which closed its Gulch doors in January. Brumm has since landed in Park City, Utah, where he is heading up the steak-heavy Butcher's Chop House and Bar.
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