I actually have quite a few part-time jobs. Hey, times are tough. I had to give up my gig as the special teams coach for the Titans. Last month I had the opportunity to earn a little scratch as an author escort for the fils du Paula, the Deen Boys, Jamie and Bobby.
Actually, "escort" sounds either a little too formal or a little too lascivious depending on your maturity level. Author escorts are primarily drivers and schedule wranglers, but I have all the requisite skills for those jobs. Plus I figured I might be able to talk a little food with the guys.
After picking them up from their crack of dawn flight from Savannah via Atlanta, Jamie and Bobby were in need of some serious caffeine. We had a little time to kill, so I took them to my favorite coffee house, Crema. I didn't think twice about taking them the back way down Hermitage Avenue since I ride my bike that way as part of my commute to work. At least I didn't think twice about it until I heard Bobby riding in the back seat say to whoever he was talking to on his cell phone, "Hang on a minute. I'm going to duck my head below window level so I don't get caught in a drive-by." Oops. My bad.
To try to distract them from the neighborhood, I drove them by the scene of the McNair crime at their request. In retrospect, it probably wasn't the best move to assuage their concerns. Luckily, Rachel and the staff at Crema provided the perfect distraction with their perfectly pulled Pistola brew shots. Jamie declared it "the best cup of coffee he'd had in a long, long time" and talked about it to just about everyone he met all day. Not that he remembered the name of the place, but I reminded him every time.
If you have kids and you do lots of kid-oriented events, you don't have to go looking for hot dogs, because they find you the same way that pizza does. They're the kid-friendly choice at sporting events, festivals, cookouts, and they're on every menu.
Given the number of hot-dog serving venues and quick hot-dog meals in our family life, it's fairly unusual that I ordered a hot dog at BBQ Drifters, the motorcycle-lovin' eatery opened just a couple of weeks ago just behind Batter'd & Fried on Woodland Street at Five Points and operated by the same fine folks.
Our party of kids-n-adults got the shoulder sandwich (good), sausage sandwich (sausage, gooooood) and the nachos of shredded smoked chicken (massive serving, and what's not to like?). All good choices, but for me, the menu listing for hand-dipped corn dogs -- who hand dips corn dogs these days? -- was too irresistible.
The crisp, tangy buttermilk crust is nicely sharp against the rich meat of the hot dog, and it seems a shame that more people don't dip corn dogs by hand. Plus, the order has two of 'em -- that's one to eat and one to share!
According to the Bites staff, one of the surprising hits of last week's "Best of Nashville" soiree were the Asian inspired nachos from September's Restaurant in Hendersonville. The short ribs topped with crunchy Asian slaw convinced several party attendees to leave their provincial ways behind and point their Saabs north on I65.
Now you have another reason. Our friends to the north are throwing a Scotch, Cigars & More dinner on Tuesday, Oct. 27, 6 p.m.
The menu looks pretty appetizing, both for drinking and eating:
Tuaca Hot Apple Pie
Romesco stuffed Pork Tenderloin with Rosemary-Apple Jus
Velvet Elvis (featuring Chambord Liquor which is also donating proceeds to Breast Cancer Awareness)
Espresso crusted Beef Tenderloin with Raspberry-Balsamic Glaze
Old Pulteney 17 yr.
Lobster Potsticker with Caramel Vanilla Sauce
Balblair 16 yr.
Lemon Saffron Chicken Brochettes
Chocolate Bread Pudding
Choice of Rocky Patel or Olivia CAO Cigar
$30 per person (excludes tax and gratuity) ($20 with no cigar)
Call (615) 822-5323 for more info or to RSVP.
CAO is getting around this month, also sponsoring a bourbon/cigar tasting in their facility with Grand Cru.
I happened to be meeting some folks after BarCamp Nashville last Saturday night at an unofficial afterparty at Past Perfect downtown. Not being the night owl I used to be, things were wrapping up around the time to get home for the news to SNL. Hey, a guy's gotta get his news somewhere.
As I walked toward the front door, I noticed that servers were beginning to stock the steam tables with what looked like some pretty darned attractive Mexican food. I inquired about it and was told that Past Perfect offers food every Friday and Saturday night at midnight. "Good idea," I commented. "Kind of like the late night menus at some of the Midtown restaurants."
"Yeah," responded the server, "except ours is free." Ding-ding-ding. We have a winner! So if you're looking for someplace to sop up that Lower Broad PBR buzz you've got going on, take a quick turn onto 3rd Avenue under the Pedestrian Bridge for Free Pizza Fridays and Wholly Free Frijoles Saturday. Not since I graduated from college and survived on the free taco bars at The Heartthrob Cafe, Patrick's Fun Club and Rio Bravo (until my digestive system shut down in protest) have I been so excited about a freebie.
I may even take a nap tonight after work so I can stay up that late.
Read a great blog or food book lately? Liked it so much you felt it deserved recognition? The International Association of Culinary Professionals is accepting nominations now for its Bert Greene Award for food journalism. The criteria were re-worked this year and now the focus is on the topic rather than the medium. Categories include:
Culinary Writing About a Restaurant and/or Chef with or without Recipes
Culinary Writing with Recipes
Culinary Writing without Recipes
Culinary Writing about Beer, Wine and/or Spirits
Culinary Writing That Makes a Difference
Read the submission directions at the link above, and find the online submission linke or download an entry form here. Nominations are due December 7, and a fair amount of support paperwork is required, so don't let the deadline sneak up on you.
The organization also is accepting nominations for Its Awards of Excellence for people who have made exceptional contributions to the culinary fields, whether by leadership or expertise.
For all of you who have heard the tantalizing accounts of Gabby's Burgers & Fries (named Best Burger in the Scene's Best of Nashville) but haven't been able to wind your way into the shadow of Greer Stadium between 10:30 a.m. and 2:30 p.m. Monday through Friday, now you've got till 7:30 p.m. on Fridays.
Owner Doug Havron recently expanded the hours, which would seem like an unlikely move for a lunch joint that is virtually impossible to access, thanks to TDOT crews demolishing the road in front of it. But despite the relentless gauntlet of detour signs leading to Humphreys Street, a persistent lunch crowd is making its way to Gabby's.
On a recent visit, we walked right in and got a table in the main room at 11:30 a.m., but by 11:45, there was a line out the door and people were funneling out to the patio--which is lovely, so long as the asphalt drills and jackhammers are taking a break. By 12:30, the line seemed to have tapered off, but the road-building equipment was literally shaking the tables.
Given how irritated diners can get over the slightest inconvenience--a radio playing too loud, a wait to be seated or an inconvenient valet parking situation--it's impressive that the crowd at Gabby's crowd takes the detours, the queue and the jackhammering in stride. It just shows what you can get away with when you serve really good food.
OK, so maybe it's been around a little while, but something this disgusting never truly goes out of fashion. To keep your fingers rubbing the martini glass rim of the boozehound's pulse, behold the McNuggetini--part cocktail, part concoction, and sure to please your college-aged guests at any party fit for a fast foodie with an affection for regurgitation.
Looking for a place to hide out from your Alabama Crimson Tide and Tennessee Vol fanatic friends during their annual tilt next Saturday? May we recommend MAFIAoZA'S Nashville Italian Festival at their 12South location at 2400 12th Ave South for 3:00-10:00 on October 24. A celebration of Italian food and culture, the Festival promises to be a great time for the entire family.
With a kid's carnival, food demos (not to be confused with Demos'), wine tastings and live music, those wacky MAFIAoZA-types will prove they know how to have a good time, even if we have always quibbled with their capitalization practices. Thank goodness for Ctrl+C, Ctrl+V.
There will also be contests to satisfy your competitive spirit, including a meatball and sauce cooking competition. I'm holding out for the "Guess the Number of Red Bull Cans in the Porsche to Win the Car" giveaway.
I knew those three years of calculus would come in handy someday. Let's see...the volume of a cylinder is π x (radius squared) x height. The volume of a Porsche equals a pharmaceutical sales rep plus John Rich plus a box for his cowboy hat. Divide the quotients, carry the two. I got this in the bag!
After more than 15 years in the shadow of The Mall at Green Hills, Mexican restaurant La Paz is relocating to the Rock Block.
Known for its margaritas and party patio, the neighborhood landmark with the familiar hot-pepper sign is taking over the chic Elliston Place space once held by late, lamented bistro Ombi.
Tom Nickoloff, president of the small Atlanta-based chain, says the company is close to signing a lease for a second Nashville location, expected to open in a new site elsewhere in Green Hills next summer.
Not being especially fond of hops, or burping, I'm not much of a beer drinker. Take that as a starting point when I say I liked Trader Joe's generic suds, Simpler Times.
A six-pack bought for research purposes turned out to be not Big Fella's cup of tea, so to speak. That left five beers from the six pack for me. Served really cold, it was light, dry and refreshing, which is what I like in a beer. Maybe it was a little like Pabst, but the beer it most reminded me of, the Proustian wave of familiarity, was Pearl, the beer from Texas.
It's been more than a decade -- no, two decades -- since I drank a Pearl beer, but there's no denying that happy homecoming between Simpler Times and my tongue.
Recaling that there's no accounting for taste, what's the popular verdict on Simpler TImes?
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