On a Bites trip to Hanabi sushi in Brentwood over Valentine's weekend, the table was tickled by the above creative sushi creation. Also strange and strangely delicious, if not sushi, strictly speaking. It set the tone for a fun dinner out, and made us wonder what other sushi experiments are out there that we might be trying?
Besides sushi, what expanded your culinary horizons this week? The weekly open thread is your place for questions, answers, advice and comment.
Almost everybody has that bottle of wine they bought for a special occasion because they know it's one of their favorites. Then the occasion just never seems special enough to pop the cork on that expensive bottle. Well, Saturday, Feb. 27, is OPEN THAT BOTTLE NIGHT! Every year since 2000, people around the world have been declaring a particular night in February as the event that is memorable enough to gather some friends and enjoy that dusty bottle. Join the fun! www.openthatbottlenight.com
In other commemorative news, did you know that it is Absinthe Day on March 5? That date marks the third anniversary of absinthe being legally available on the U.S. market. The category leader in the world of the "Green Fairy" is a brand called Lucid, which is available in Nashville. It's featured in a fabulous cocktail or from the traditional absinthe fountain at Past Perfect downtown (122 Third Ave. S.) So celebrate Absinthe Day at Past Perfect and write us about your hallucinations.
Will Motley at Woodland Wine Merchant brings word of two tasting and eating events coming up over the next week:
A little while back, Bites commenters had a rousing discussion in the comments as to their suggestions for a NCAA tournament-style 64 burger Bite Down to determine the best hamburger in town. Of course the timing stinks since I'm in the middle of a Lenten pescatarian period of meat denial.
So more timely would be my query: Who's got the best veggie burger in town?
I'm partial to Cheeseburger Charley's black bean burger and the beet burger at Pied Piper Eatery. I've got a long month ahead of me, so please offer your guidance in the comments. Thanks in advance!
Just because the Super Bowl is over doesn't mean that snack season is over. With March Madness, St. Patrick's Day, Cinco de Mayo coming up, there are plenty of occasions for parties coming up and that means appetizers. Luckily, creative inspiration is within reach thanks to Red Pony's Chef Jason McConnell.
On Thursday, March 4, Chef McConnell will host Easy Appetizers 101, and walk guests through the development of three simple, yet savory appetizers. Guests will enjoy tasting and learning with friends, while sipping on suggested wines to pair with each dish.
The event costs $20 per person and includes three hefty portions of the featured appetizers and three wine tastings. Additionally, patrons will leave with the recipes and will also receive 15 percent off on all food purchases at the three restaurants in Chef McConnell's burgeoning empire, Red Pony, SOL and 55 South, for the following month. Chef Jason is an entertaining, engaging kind of guy so I'm sure the evening will be a hoot.
The $20 cost includes tax and gratuity. For reservations or more information, call 595-7669. Red Pony is located at 408 Main St. in historic downtown Franklin.
In a culture of abundant charitable events, Soup Sunday, coming this weekend, stands out.
As your money-raising party ventures go, this fundraiser for Our Kids has a one-of-a-kind profile and menu
It's on a Sunday, during the day, conveniently scheduled at lunchtime, and is family-friendly. A $40 ticket buys admission for the whole family to eat competitively concocted soups, plus extras and desserts.
The long, long list of 50-plus entrants is a veritable tureen of both established and new eateries, from Loveless to Macke's, from Frothy Monkey to Park Cafe. Several interesting entrants are sprinkled in, too: Art Institute of Tennessee; Bordeaux Long-Term Care facility (you'd be surprised how good the food is at sister institution General Hospital) and Chaffin's Barn, whose chocolate-banana-peanut butter-caramel dessert was among the swooniest desserts at Iron Fork last year
. Sideline festivities like balloon artists, a magician and face-painting are directed at the junior connoissieurs.
The soups are always extraordinary -- I still remember a chicken poblano cream soup that won more than 10 years ago. Last year's top bowls included Monell's Strawberry Cream Soup, Aquarium Restaurant's Loaded Seafood Chowder, and Middle Tennessee Chapter of the American Culinary Federation with "Swamp Hog Mud Bug and Gub Mint Cheese Soup."
Soup Sunday is 11 a.m. to 2 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 28, at LP field Club Level West. Tickets available at ourkidscenter.com or 341-4917.
Does anybody know the pope's cell phone number? Because I need to call him to ask for a special Lenten dispensation.
According to Pat Martin's Twitter feed, after a few minor remodeling snafus he is planning to reopen Martin's BBQ at their new location at 7238 Nolensville Road (just down the street from the previous spot) next week (Tuesday, March 2).
With a larger kitchen but a promise of the same attention and dedication to great pit-smoked pork, the new joint should make barbecue lovers rejoice! Head on down to Nolensville and tell him I sent you. And that I'll be in after Easter.
Martin's BBQ Joint
7238 Nolensville Rd.
If I had a quarter for every time somebody has told me how much they wish they could buy "Two-Buck Chuck" wine in Nashville, well, I could buy a case of the stuff. But I wouldn't.
You may have heard about Chuck as a "super value" wine sold at Trader Joe's (in states other than Tennessee where grocery stores are allowed to sell wine). I'm not being a snob about it, but first of all, it's not even really two bucks. East of the Mississippi, Charles Shaw's white and red usually run a little over $3. Manufactured by Bronco Wine Company, Chuck is made from the extra grapes from many, many vineyards all over California. Like the grapes that nobody else wanted. The inconsistency of the juice means that you really might get what you paid for: not much.
More importantly, there are much better cheap wines available from vintners that understand that many wine drinkers are looking for a "pool pounder" that won't break the bank. They're not easy to find, but if you make friends with your local wine shop employees they'll give you the skinny. Don't be ashamed to say you're looking for something cheap but palatable.
Recently Hoyt Hill at Village Wines sent me an email that I thought had to have a typo in it. He had come across a deal on multiple cases of some 2007 Jacob's Creek Reserve Riesling that he was selling at $2.50/bottle or $27 per case. That's usually a $12-15 bottle, so I took a flier on a case.
As always, the proof is in the tasting. How did this wine measure up to the Chuck?
This week's dining review features the seven-year-old Acorn restaurant on the outskirts of Centennial Park. Chef Andy Hunter delivers a playful and well-executed menu of French-inspired fare that could make for a friendly neighborhood joint, but with dinner for two easily clocking in at $100, Acorn appears to have painted itself into the corner of special-occasion dining.
Keeping in mind the pressure on diners' wallets and menus' prices, Acorn will soon be launching a menu of small plates.
"In response to the economy and in an effort to allow our patrons to sample more of Andy's creations, we're in the process of developing a small plates menu," said owner John Leonard, who now lives in Washington, D.C. "We'll still have many of the favorite items from our current menu, but we are looking forward to the impending change, set to take place in late March or early April."
There'll be a new brew at some local bars soon, and it's a beer that aims to make a difference.
Nashville nonprofit that assists teens in difficult home situations, according to Jubilee founder Mark Dunkerley.
Dunkerley, a returned Nashvillian, describes the brew as medium bodied, not overly bitter, smooth and flavorful.
The beer will be contract brewed by the award-winning Bluegrass Brewing Company in Louisville, maker of the Bourbon Barrel Stout that first caught Dunkerley's eye.
The roster of establishments signed up to offer Jubilee so far include many Bites favorites: Whiskey Kitchen, Patterson House, Melrose, Corner Pub Green Hills, Corner Pub in the Woods, Lime, Paradise Park, Virago and, for the thirsty in Williamson County, Wolfgang Puck in Cool Springs. You're likely to roll up in one or other of those watering holes at some point: supporting a worthy cause will be as easy as ordering a beer.
Following its decisively successful crowd-sourced Saveur 100, the magazine is looking for reader food photography good enough to feature on its cover.
Saveur's food shots, like most magazine's have a distinct look -- you can almost pick out the magazine just from the lighting and styling.
But some of you are pretty handy with a camera, too, a real achievement with food, which usually tastes better than it looks. I'm just saying that there's a reason that red bell peppers appear so frequently in magazine recipes.
Visit the gallery so far to get a feel for the range of entries. Submitted photos must be non-commercial, and while some entries are intimidatingly good, others are more accessible, as you can see, so bring your best.
See the first few hundred entries at this link
Besides landing you on the cover (maybe -- the language leaves a loophole), you could win a set of Le Creuset cookware.
For the rules, click here. Note that the caption will be judged, too.
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