Friday, July 31, 2009

Smash or Trash?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 1:27 PM

Have nothing in your house that you do not believe to be either beautiful or useful, said some august figure regarding home decor and junk accumulation.

That's why I still possess the second-most-useless thing in my kitchen: the ice tray that makes cubes in the shape of Titanics and icebergs. The Titanics  sink to just the proper angle in a drink, and it's just too delicious to give away.

A hot discussion in the Recipezaar forums asked people to name the most pointless gadget in their kitchen. Blooming onion maker was the most often mentioned, with cookie press, flat whisk, ice crusher, cheap can opener, and egg separator all ranking high, though some people claimed devotion to their egg separators. A couple of people mentioned mine: the garlic press.

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The press, although well-built and sturdy, didn't really eject the garlic. Instead, the press had to be disassembled and scraped. It was actually more work than chopping garlic, and added to the pile of food prep items to wash.

Are you still holding your most pointless gadget? Or did you ditch it? Better yet, did you give it to a good home?

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Maggiano's Little Italy = Huge Belly

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 12:32 PM

Maggiano's, the winner of "Best Italian Restaurant" in the Tennessean's recent Toast of Music City poll, is jumping on the discount bandwagon wagon try to entice patrons into their dining room. Their new deal offers the opportunity to pick two meals for $12.95.

Choose from seven of their Chef's Favorite pasta and baked dishes, including Mom's Lasagna, Rigatoni "D", Baked Ziti & Sausage, Chicken Pesto Linguine, Four Cheese Ravioli, Spaghetti with Meat Sauce, and Gnocchi with Tomato Vodka Sauce and Maggiano's will send you home with another selection packaged to go at the end of your meal.

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From personal experience, one serving at this place is usually enough to feed three normal-size humans. So this deal ought to be enough to satisfy Jon and Kate +8 + whoever Jon is canoodling with at the current moment. The only way you can beat this deal is by dining and dashing, and we here at Bites would never advocate that. Ready? Go!

As with any discount offer, remember to tip on both meals if you take advantage of the 2/1 deal. You might want to get on down to West End before you get scared away by any of those pesky menu caloric labeling initiatives.

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Where Do Tired Peanuts Lay Their Weary Heads?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 11:51 AM

From my extensive collection of amusing foodstuffs.

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Hot New Ways to Play With Your Wiener

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 10:47 AM

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So your days of truffle risotto and filet mignon have been given the shaft along with your paycheck and are now days of spaghetti and hot dogs. There's no need to be depressed; simply take a tip from the Russians and play with your wieners. English Russia posts that the country's bloggers have gone nuts over what they call a haired sausage. (Though the term "hairy wiener" better arouses my juvenile humor.)

It's not hard at all. Just take your long, stiff spaghetti and prick your wiener, threading the pasta through until the midpoint. Repeat until your meat can't take any more. Then stick your whole package in some boiling water. When you pull it out, you'll be enjoying a hairy wiener faster than you can say Yakov.

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And not to be outdone by their neighbors, the Japanese have a more artistic take on wiener play. Japan Probe has a post about a grocery store worker who erects animals and flowers from wieners. I particularly enjoy the macabre humor of the pigs made from reassembling disassembled pigs.

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Free Stuff Alert: Free Reception Before 'Humpday' Tonight at The Belcourt

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 9:12 AM

Humpday, arguably the hit of this year's Sundance film festival and one of the summer's sleeper successes, opens tonight at The Belcourt. As part of its "Best of Sundance" series, the theater offers a free reception at 6:30 p.m. tonight before the movie with associate producer and soundtrack contributor Ted Speaker. There'll be snacks from Cabana, Fido, Midtown Café, Sunset Grill and Tin Angel and a selection of wine from Village Wines.

From this week's Scene review:

True situation comedy may be the hardest kind to pull off, because it's the least reliant on obvious cues like punch lines or pratfalls. But when done properly--as in writer-director Lynn Shelton's sharply observed indie hit--it can keep you laughing even when nothing overtly funny seems to be happening. Mark Duplass and Joshua Leonard play old friends who've grown apart as Duplass has settled into married life and Leonard has clung to his On the Road self-image. Reunited and nagged by worries that they've lost their old edge, the buddies notch up their rivalry until they've committed to a colossally misguided show of daring--starring together in an amateur gay porn film.

What could have been a predictable gross-out farce instead takes one unexpected turn after another, as the characters respond believably to their unbelievable predicament--and that includes everything after the brosephs enter the hotel room they've rented for their moment of truth. Duplass, last seen in the NaFF selection True Adolescents, and The Blair Witch Project's Leonard have spry comic chemistry. But the performer who steals her every scene is Alycia Delmore as Duplass' wife, who descends the rungs of cold fury with hilarious tight-lipped concealment. Never have the phrases "You're right" and "I shouldn't get mad" sounded more like preludes to Armageddon.

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Twice Bitten: The Weekly Rehash

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 7:50 AM

In case you fell into a food coma and missed some of the week's headlines on Bites:

The Whitfield's team is launching Brio Bistro Italiano in the spot that formerly housed Wildwood Oak-Fired Kitchen.

Las Maracas is introducing mas Maracas in East Nashville and Madison.

Former Ombi owner Terrell Raley is opening Holland House in East Nashville.

Far East Nashville is serving a tight roster of Vietnamese at the corner of Fatherland and 11th.

And if you need something to get your morning started off dancing, check out this Fame-ous flash mob--the coolest thing to hit the Farmers' Market since fresh tomatoes.

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Empty Plate: Hot Off the Smoker, Our Weekly Open Thread

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 7:45 AM

Ribs from Tom's Elite Carry-Out, pad Thai from Pad Thai Kitchen, turkey tenderloin filets wrapped in bacon from Sam's Club, wine tasting at The Standard--all that and more was served up last week on our regular open thread. What's on your mind this week? Will it be a dish, a restaurant, a drink, a bizarre anecdote? Surprise us.

Here's Sally from last week's thread, checking out a midtown hot spot:

On another note, I went to Lime on Saturday night. Not my choice, I usually avoid uber-trendy spots like that and hadn't heard anything good from coworkers. It was actually really good. It was pricey and it is a little slow to get your food, but the drinks, food, and dessert were great, and the service was friendly too! One of my dinner partners got the prime rib (or was it ribeye?) and said it was the best he had ever had. It was a pleasant surprise and definitely made up for the Brewers' Fest lacking food options.

You mean there weren't even pickled eggs? In the meantime, if there's anything you want to pass along off-list, contact cfox (at) nashvillescene (dot) com.

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Becherovka: Czeching in on an Old Boozy Flame

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 6:52 AM

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After about a 14-year hiatus, I ran into my old pal Jan Becher at a liquor store last week. When I say "Jan Becher" (pronounced "Yon Becker"), I really mean the herbal liquor Becherovka, named for its founder Jan Becher. And when I say "ran into" I really mean special-ordered through The Wine Chap in Belle Meade.

JB and I were tight back in the day when I was subsisting on about 6,000 Czech crowns ($200) a month, eating mostly dumplings and weird liquid-filled chocolates and diluting my beer-only diet with an occasional shot of Becherovka.

Admittedly, I usually consumed Becherovka when I was pretty well liquored-up and the trams and subways weren't running anymore so I'd decided to shoot the moon and stay out all night. But I seem to remember liking the stuff. We drank it straight or mixed it with tonic to create a "Béton." My Czech friends enabled the imbibing by swearing the cocktail "aided digestion." (While ostensibly a melding of "Becherovka" and "tonic," the name had layered meaning, since béton means "concrete" in French and the drink invariably hit me like a ton of bricks.)

Continue reading »

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My Morning Racket: Where's Your Favorite Coffee Klatch?

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 6:26 AM

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In a recent news story exploring the coffee wars between Starbucks and McDonald's, one investor had this to say about the caffeinated dichotomy:

"It's two completely different customers. There aren't too many people who meet for business meetings in McDonald's."

A fair point. And one that got me thinking about the Breakfast Meeting. What a different animal from the lunch or dinner meeting. Obviously, a breakfast meeting happens in the morning, at an hour that is, arguably, still personal time. For that reason, it can be a little more intimate than other meals. It happens when we are our freshest, most bright-eyed selves. And it happens when we're caffeinated, buzzing with ideas. Speaking for myself, my breakfast ideas are my best ones, and my breakfast meetings are the ones I wish could go on all day, or at least until the coffee runs out.

With all that in mind, I don't think we put enough thought into where we conduct our breakfast meetings or even our morning coffee rituals. It's one thing to prefer one place's dark roast to another's decaf hazelnut blend, but what about the people who are there at the same time as you--day after day--sharing that rarified morning air? Unlike lunch and dinner, when most people dine in groups, breakfast and coffee are often solitary rituals, so the ambient company--the coffee crowd--is more important.

I used to have a de facto klatch at the 2525 West End Starbucks. They weren't my usual chums, but it was a near-dawn community that I came to count on. Then, when my work commute changed, I hooked up with an entrepreneurial bunch of comedians at Portland Brew in 12 South. I've always been jealous of the super-cool group of brainiacs at Starbucks across from the Vandy business and law schools. (Thanks for letting me sit with you that time, guys.) Damn if I don't see the same friend every time I go to Bread & Co. in Green Hills, but she bums me out but a little because she's already exercised and looks great at 8 a.m. I know there's a group of people secretly running the city from a booth a Noshville, but it's not on my beaten path.

Where do you find the most interesting people in the mornings?


Tomato Art Fest Returns to East Nashville Aug. 8

Posted By on Fri, Jul 31, 2009 at 6:09 AM

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The saucy crowd at Five Points is gearing up for East Nashville's annual Tomato Art Festival, which returns to the neighborhood Aug. 8.

The TAF blog is bulging with juicy tidbits, from the children's art contest to bobbing for tomatoes to the West African drum circle to the tomato-themed costume parade led by Halfbrass. There's a call for nominations for Tomato King and Queen, and Meg MacFadyen (wait--isn't SHE already the tomato queen?) just announced that Tia Thompson swept the tomato bumper sticker contest with her slogan: "East Nashville, Getting Saucier Every Summer."

The Tomato Art Festival kicks off on Saturday morning with a fun run at 7 a.m., but there are events leading up to it all week. (All those Bloody Mary recipes don't judge themselves, you know.) For a complete calendar of tomato-related festivities, visit the official website.

Meanwhile, don't forget that July 31 (that's today) is the deadline for the Tomato Haiku contest.

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