Le Creuset cookware is launching a new online community, and to whet your appetite, the Le Creuset store in the Hill Center at Green Hills is hosting a special evening with Chef Margot McCormack of Margot Café and Marché Artisan Foods. Tonight from 5:30 to 9:30 p.m., Chef McCormack will lead a special hands-on demonstration and tasting at the store.
Last week we got the tip from the intrepid Southern Beale that the Sonic on Eighth Avenue had installed a 25 kW solar array on top of their car corrals. Being the curious sort, we had to see for ourselves.
Damned if they didn't.
If they can take advantage of the free rooftop space and current tax breaks to save a little on their electric bill and educate the masses yearning for carbonated nectar/ice cream concoctions about ways to conserve resources, good for them.
It may be a little tough on somebody's diet plans, though.
From painful experience, many of you know that a family trip is not the same as a vacation. That goes double when it's a reunion of distant family, like the command performance we attended of my grandmother's surviving siblings and their seemingly endless descendants in remote Jamesport in northwest Missouri.
First of all, the Midwest really is different. We passed exactly three towns between Nashville and Jamesport: Clarksville, St. Louis and Columbia. The rest was fields. My relatives are lovely, gentle, dutiful, salt-of-the-earth people who I'm proud to know. They are not concerned about the new trend toward speak-easies. The move back to locavore cuisine makes them chuckle.
The highlight of the trip was the large Old Order Amish community. They prospered wildly after settling in Jamesport in 1953--they pay "cash money" for whole farms, according to my great uncle. They run produce stands and even distributorships (refrigeration provided by generators so they're off the grid), their wood-working shops are legendary, as are their horse farms, the swap meets of old ploughs and not-electric washing machines. And bakeries. Bing!
Bakeriesbakeriesbakeries. I bought bags of Amish baked goods and other stuff. The most interesting purchase was this dandelion jelly.
I didn't know what to expect from dandelion jelly, so I proceeded with caution. And you'll absolutely never guess what it tastes like. But try. Seriously--it was a complete surprise.
In what is becoming a caffeinated art tradition, Bongo Java Roasting Co. launched its third series of coffee cans bearing locally inspired labels. In the most recent batch of designs, local artists riff on the Obama campaign slogan "Yes We Can."
Buddy Jackson, Jackie Rippey, Jimmy Abegg, Sunny Becks and Paul Harmon (Harmon's contribution is pictured above) designed labels ranging from robots to Neo-Pop Art. In addition to the artwork, each canister bears this explanation:
Five local artists illustrate that we can achieve anything we set our minds on, be it supporting the arts, recycling, our environment, running a marathon, or simply getting a kiss. Yes you Can get a buzz out of supporting artists, small business & farmers. Just buy lots of this coffee!
The 10 oz. cans are available at Bongo stores and online for $9.95.
Click here to see the whole Yes We Can series.
LocalEats, the blockbuster iPhone application produced by Brentwood-based Magellan Press--which also publishes Where the Locals Eat restaurant guides--makes navigating and penny-pinching a simultaneous cinch.
Take it from local boy made good John Seigenthaler, Jr., who explains the restaurant guide app in the video above. Seigenthaler the Younger uses LocalEats to find somewhere to eat on New York's Upper West Side, but the program also works in Nashville.
Tireless eater Pat Embry and the Magellan team have assembled a list of some 100 Nashville restaurants, searchable by location and cuisine. Several featured establishments--including Jasmine, Flyte, Los Rosales, Shalimar, Firefly Grille and Mad Platter--have digital coupons that can be tendered simply by showing the phone to a server.
A list of restaurants offering iPhone discounts is available at LocalEats.
I found a hair in my noodles the other day. I'm not pointing fingers, because, hell, we all shed. And as far as bodily detritus goes, hair's certainly not the worst. I mean, it's not fingernail. And for further perspective, I once toured restaurants with a health inspector who didn't even flinch at dead cockroaches, because--she pointed out--they're dead, which means the restaurant has the proper roach-killing systems in place. Hurray, I guess?
Looking around the restaurant where I found the hair, I could identify the long-maned servers from whom the offending strand likely exuviated. They looked like a well-kempt cast of Bumble & Bumblers, so that hair was probably every bit as clean as the fork that I was so blithely licking.
In the end, I abandoned my hairy noodles, leaving about 80 percent of the dish on the table. Frankly, I could stand to do that at more meals, so it was a BMI-beneficial event, at least.
When the server asked if anything was wrong with my food, I really wanted to say--at the top of my lungs--"YES THERE WAS A DAMN HAIR TANGLED UP IN MY NOODLES--CAN'T Y'ALL WEAR NETS OR SOMETHING? GROSS! GROSS! GROSS!" But I said nothing. For one thing, I don't really like looking at people in hair nets.
What would you have done?
Tonight begins the four episode final arc of this season's abbreviated Top Chef Masters competition. Unlike the regular Top Chef, which is populated with some creative up-and-comers, or the frightening Hell's Kitchen, whose contestants often look like they couldn't boil water, TCM brings the heat every week. What began with 24 renowned chefs is down to the six semi-finalists.
The final sextet is made up of more than just celebrity cheftestants. These folks can really cook! Most of them own and run multiple restaurants and have displayed a creative coolness under fire during the show that place them head and shoulders above your normal television recipe wrangler.
The final six are:
- Hubert Keller
- Suzanne Tracht
- Rick Bayless
- Anita Lo
- Art Smith
- Michael Chiarello
One of the chefs will be eliminated each week for the next month until the last two face off for the title of Top Chef Master (or Mistress). There's some internet rumor-mongering going around that some SF Bay food writer has already leaked the name of the winner, but you won't hear that from me.
Who do you think will bring home the bacon and win $100,000 for their favorite charity?
"Original ad: 'Collector looking for vintage scotch, rum, cognac, bourbon, etc. Willing to pay top dollar for fine bottles.'" For the response, you'll have to check out DontEvenReply.com, the funniest website we've run across in months, where some sadist wreaks havoc responding to online classifieds. We know, we know, we shouldn't laugh, there but for the grace of God, etc.--but if you can read this exchange resulting from a refrigerator offer without hyperventilating, you must be the seller. Thanks for the tip, Nashville Cream.
• I like bacon and I like cake, but I'm not sure I can wrap my head around the concept of bacon cake. If you think the photo here we stole is rank, check out the others at YesButNoButYes. (More items after the jump....)
If your name is Jonathan, and you were the server for a table of three women at ChaChah last week, I'd like to apologize on behalf of all of us and thank you for your patience and help.
Southern women usually say, "Oh, I'll eat anything." But that wasn't true for our party of three. First of all, we couldn't decide how much food to get. No one wanted to overeat, but we were highly motivated to order because we couldn't have more drinks until we ate.
The bargaining began. We couldn't agree on big plates or small ones. One of us wouldn't eat lamb or octopus. One of us wanted the stuffed dates. One of us would not touch dates. One wanted sausage and potatoes. Another refused to eat potatoes. Two small plates and one big racione didn't seem like enough. The bargaining began again over which additional racione, then, we should order.
Then the wine selection. A sparkling pink was summoned from the bar. Too sweet. A non-sparkling pink was summoned from the bar. Somewhat vinegary. The wine list was brought out. Red? Or white? One only drank white, one drank red or white, one got headaches from Chardonnay, one found pinot grigio too tasteless to pair with food.
For the record, the barbecue bison was the entrée, with pinchos of crab fritters and lamb meatballs, plus the three-dip selection. Hours later, everyone left happy, possibly the happiest being our server.
Servers, do you dread seeing that table of Southern women?
Later it became apparent that food must be consumed. For this, someone has filled a niche--when Hog Heaven next door closes at 7 p.m., Taco Party is there instead to serve you, right within the folds of Springwater, nestled into a tiny space in the back and cranking out tacos, quesadillas and more until the wee hours.
As ipso facto drinking food, it doesn't have to hit a very high bar. But it does, with fresh, homemade guacamole. And the quesadilla was, well, it was fine. What else is there to say about a quesadilla? Which is a good reason to put it on the menu of a drinking establishment. The pricing is clever: about $4 for the quesadilla, then choose a meat to add and kick in a little extra.
There's a plan to offer tacos made with Hog Heaven meats. It's open until 3 a.m. You can ride your bike there. You can have dinner there after a run in Centennial Park. People are nice. It's much better than the McDonald's 100 feet away. Gots to give it the thumbs up.
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