Sunday, May 31, 2009

Oysters "R" Safe in May

Posted By on Sun, May 31, 2009 at 9:12 AM

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Crow's Nest offers two kinds of oysters, baked and raw. We were celebrating last week, so we ordered both.

I got to wondering, because "May" has no "r" in it -- will the oysters be worth eating? Worse, will they ruin our party? Because nothing ends a party faster than funky oysters.

Turns out, that whole "R" thing is largely European, and also, that Atlantic and Pacific oysters spawn later than May, usually in late June. Also, because most oysters are farmed, their beds are closely watched, and they can be scooped up right up until the moment the boy oysters catch a whiff of romance.

After that, they're thin and watery, because they put all their calories into luuuurv. All summer, they plump up, and by the time the "r" months arrive, they're ready to be your guest for dinner again.

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Friday, May 29, 2009

Help a Biter Out: Got Any Eating Tips for the Destin/Seagrove Beach Area?

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 9:15 AM

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Woo hoo! Someday soon, the entire Pink family will be turning crisp and crimson under the golden Florida sun at Seagrove Beach, midway between Destin and Panama City. Oh no! Where will they eat? Will they be forced to subsist on cellphone-sized crabs that wash up in the evening surf? Or will Jif and saltines carry the day?

That's where the Bites brigade comes in. If anybody knows the best places to eat in that neck of the Florida panhandle, it's you guys. Got any eating tips to share? And are there any must-stop BBQ joints or regional treasures along the way in Alabama that shouldn't be missed?

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'Steve Don't Eat It' Takes WTF to the Extreme

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 8:26 AM

click to enlarge Reading about pickled pork rinds is like riding a roller coaster: queasy-making, but you can't stop.
  • Reading about pickled pork rinds is like riding a roller coaster: queasy-making, but you can't stop.

From one WTF to another, I gotta hand it to Steve of Steve Don't Eat It, an occasional series on the blog The Sneeze ("Half blog. Half 'zine. Half Not Good with Fractions.")

From chocolate breast milk to Beggin' Strips BLT, Steve actually goes where your warped imagination has barely dared slink in its darkest moments. And he's so very funny doing it.

Here's Steve on pickled pork rind: "I think it's fair to say it was everything you'd expect from a sliver of briney (sic) fat. It was also the only time in my life my brain formed the sentence: "I have a mouth full of cellulite." And on Beggin' Strips: "Somehow these Beggin' Strips also managed to smell just like bacon. Oopsie. Typo. I meant to say "the smoky puke of a thousand maniacs."

Turn away if you're squeamish. Steve reaches some kind of height, or perhaps a low point, in describing canned cuitlacoche, a corn fungus: "In just a single serving, you'll experience a wide array of textures. Without getting too gross, it's because the disease is more advanced in some kernels than others. One bite might be kinda chewy, while the next might burst in your mouth like a black pus-filled blister."

Eat that, Andrew Zimmern and Anthony Bourdain!

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Empty Plate: The Sweet, Sweet Taste of Our Weekly Open Thread

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 7:11 AM

Where's the Brazilian food around here? Who's got the best chess pie in town? Is Golden Coast as good as Chinese gets in Nashville? These were just three of the topics up for discussion last week on our Friday open thread, where you set the agenda for the conversation. Groceries, restaurants, ingredients, service, specialties--you tell us what's on your mind.

Here's Joy Bites from last week, telling us what we missed:

Didn't anyone from Bites attend the Thursday Night Throwdown at Ugly Mugs last night? Nashville's first ever (I am told) barista competition, it featured latte art by many of Nashville's finest baristas including Rachel from Crema and her whole staff, as well as lots of other coffee geeks in town. Judges included Drew from Drews Brews and two coffee experts from Atlanta (sorry, don't know their names). Nathaniel ? from Fido won it. It was packed and lots of fun.

Here is the blog for the Nashville Coffee Society who says they will be doing monthly events, like the cupping coming up at Crema next month.

I've already got a pocket full of creamer. In the meantime, as always, if you have news, tips, gossip or anything you don't want to pass along in public, email cfox (at) nashvillescene (dot) com.

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Things I Will Miss in Nashville...

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 7:00 AM

...A Short List:

Anchovy pizza at City House, paletas in Sevier Park, Portland Brew chocolate chip cookies, birthday cakes from Sweet 16th, playing "How Cheap Will It Be?" at Las Americas, walking home drunk from Red Door East, Hung Ray Curry at Siam Café, larb at Pad Thai Kitchen (level 4 spicy), Yazoo beer, happy hour martinis at Eastland Café (oh, and that herb olive oil they serve with the bread), Alley Cat's patio (RIP), Family Wash veggie shepherd's pie, kashk at House of Kabob (dip of the gods, and of Jack Silverman), iced tea at Bongo East, Drew's Brews, those glorious times when you walk into Marché and don't have to wait, Woodland Wine Merchant, Slick Pig's crazy awesome smoked chicken wings, grabbing a couple things at Turnip Truck, banchan at Seoul Garden, Kimchi Soup at So Gong Dong Tofu House, eating at the bar at Samurai Sushi, the cheesy grits at Rumours East, Rebel Yelp Turkey Dog at I Dream of Weenie, late-night munchies at Mas Tacos Por Favor (quinoa!), lunch with Scene folks.

And that's just an abbreviated tally. It's been real. Stabert out.

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Urban Farming, Chapter 11: Compost Happens

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 6:50 AM

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My compost pile smells like shit. And not in a good way. I'm told I've been overdosing on nitrogen and not adding enough carbon. That makes sense, since I started with a pile of grass clippings, with relatively no dead fodder such as leaves or straw. After all the rain of the past few weeks, the clippings compacted into a slimy blanket of what looks like wet green felt when I dig it up with my pitchfork. (Did I mention I got a pitchfork for Mother's Day? So hot.)

After building my pile primarily with yard waste--grass clippings, weeds, etc.--I finally took the compost plunge by throwing in non-protein kitchen scraps such as fruit peelings, egg shells and tea leaves. When my pitchfork jabs into a cantaloupe rind or corn husk, I feel sort of bad-ass, as if I've shattered some barrier that existed between my yard and me. This makes me realize just how warped my relationship with my quarter-acre of urban nature actually is. (If the idea of food touching the ground makes me shudder, then clearly I don't have healthy expectations of my food actually coming from the ground.)

Having turned the pile and mixed some air into all that sogginess, I feel like things are composting a little better now. The acrid smell is abating, and I see lots of happy worms. (How do I know they are happy? Well, they're not sun-baked on the asphalt, so they should be pretty psyched.)

My new obsession with my compost pile comes as I realize just how shitty my soil is--here again, I don't mean that in a good way. Far from the fluffy-crumbly curds of moist organic matter that I would wish for my fledgling garden, my dirt has achieved the texture of over-baked cornbread, crackled across the top in a way that looks good in decorative painting but bad on arable land. The fact that little strings of frisée and arugula have pierced the surface is nothing short of miraculous. I owe my plants better, and I'm counting on my homemade compost to make the difference next year.

Metro provides some very helpful resources for would-be composters, including a pamphlet, demonstrations, classes, thermometers for checking the heat of your pile, buckets for collecting kitchen scraps and Earth Machine compost bins, which are currently back-ordered. As for me, I'm sticking with the simple gadget-free pile method, which seems the easiest and gives me a great opportunity to use my pitchfork. But I'd love to hear how other people are making compost happen.

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Twice Bitten: The Weekly Rehash

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 6:44 AM

It was a bittersweet week as we said farewell to Bites blogger Lee Stabert, who's heading home to the City of Brotherly Love. In bidding her adieu, Bites readers gave Lee a list of local favorites to hit before she skips town, as well as a list of places to dine on the way to Philadelphia.

It was also a thirsty week. Readers weighed in on The Patterson House, the new artisanal cocktail place reviewed in this week's Scene, and we got a preview of The Wine Loft coming to the Gulch this summer. Along the way we took sips from the menus at the new Fresh Blends juice bar in Belmont and Urban Flats Flatbread and Wine Co. in the Gulch. (Who's looking forward to a Gulch wine bar throwdown?)

Coming off Memorial Day weekend, we dabbled in Vietnamese noodles, chips & dips and banana pudding. If you missed any of these highlights from the week, take a stroll through Bites and clean your plate. It's good for you.

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Free Coffee Friday at Dunn Bros.

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2009 at 6:25 AM

Capping off a month-long anniversary (gee, caffeine sure makes people festive), Dunn Bros. Coffee downtown is pouring free 12 oz. cups o' joe all day Friday. When you buy a pound of coffee beans, you'll also get a half pound free.

Dunn Bros. is located at 401 Church St. (Phone: 252-2567). If you jump in the free java line, please report back on Bites.

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Thursday, May 28, 2009

Inbox Need Detoxifying? Try Snake Oil Berry

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 10:24 AM

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No doubt the third largest component of your inbox spam, behind Viagra pills and Submariner watches (but above Nigerian royalty seeking a finance partner), is the acai berry.
Seems that for hundreds of years, this palm fruit has merely been as a staple of the Brazilian diet, when it could have been cleansing the colons and prolonging the vitality of overweight people in the developed world. Thank goodness that's changed.

Like a lot of fruits, acai berries have some antioxidant properties. And that's about the end of their magic. Eating them is only about as beneficial as eating any berry, according to the Center for Science in the Public Interest.

And whatever youdo, don't go for the free sample. According to many many complaints, the supplements are free after you pay for shipping and handling, which are charged to your credit card, and you're enrolled in a $50/month program to receive more supplements. Un-enrolling is difficult.

And those ads that claim to expose acai berry scams? They're just slightly more sophisticated credit card enrollment programs. Use that $50 a month to buy more fresh berries -- it's a better deal, and you can see exactly what you're getting.

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Top Banana: Eloise's Pudding is Simply the Best

Posted By on Thu, May 28, 2009 at 6:51 AM

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I recently indulged in a homemade banana pudding that might have spoiled me for any version of the Nilla wafer confection made with a Jell-O brand instant product. A sultry marriage of rich, satiny homemade custard, frothy whipped cream and crisp cookies kissed with edges of perfect sogginess...ah, I could wax on about the sublime texture of that dessert.

But what really intrigued me was its name: Eloise's Simply Delicious Lyman's Favorite Banana Pudding.

The grandmother of a lifelong friend, Eloise is responsible for many of my happiest taste memories--from banana pudding to pea soup--all of which share the prefix "Eloise's Simply Delicious."

After realizing that she often discovered recipes, tested and perfected them and lent them out, never receiving credit for her formulas, Eloise began to brand them. Hence Eloise's Simply Delicious Lyman's Favorite Banana Pudding, created for her beloved husband, Lyman.

It's unclear whether Eloise has an alternate recipe for a Simply Delicious banana pudding that was not Lyman's Favorite (Eloise's Simply Delicious Lyman's Second-Favorite Banana Pudding?), but, knowing Eloise, if she did have multiple recipes, none of them called for instant pudding. Eloise's Simply Delicious is a very different thing from "simple."

The recipe for Eloise's Simply Delicious Lyman's Banana Pudding is after the jump.

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