Tuesday, April 27, 2010

Get a Head Start on Mother's Day at the Hermitage Hotel

Posted By on Tue, Apr 27, 2010 at 10:59 AM

It's usually pretty stressful to figure out how to thank the woman who brought you into this world on her special day. Brunch reservations are as hard to find as spelling bee champs at a Tea Party gathering. Luckily the Hermitage Hotel is taking the load off with a tea party of their own, and it's a week early so you can still take your mom out for a good meal on the big day.

From their invitation:

Ladies of all ages are invited to gather at The Hermitage Hotel for a Mother-Daughter Tea on Sunday, May 2. This fun and unique event is the perfect pre-celebration to Mother’s Day, giving family members a unique way to spend quality time together while enjoying one of Nashville’s most historic locations and tasting delicious food and drink. From 11:00 a.m. until 2:00 p.m., the tea will feature The Hermitage Hotel’s classic tea service, complete with an array of hors d’oeuvres, finger sandwiches and sweet treats from Capitol Grille’s talented Pastry Chef Andy Manchester.

For extra fun, guests are asked to accentuate their outfits with their best hat. All guests who wear hats will be entered into a drawing for prizes, such as The Hermitage Hotel’s luxurious robes, a massage and a night’s stay at the hotel. Tickets to the tea are $35.00 for adults and $25.00 for ladies under the age of 12. Reservations are required, and can be made by calling 615 345-7116.

Grab your mom and your most fabulous hat and head on downtown. Just don't get caught wearing the same hat the next weekend at Steeplechase!

The Capitol Grille at The Hermitage Hotel is located at 231 Sixth Ave. North, Nashville, TN 37219. Call 615 345-7116 or visit www.capitolgrillenashville.com for more information.

  • http://www.thehermitagehotel.com/

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Monday, April 26, 2010

High-End Cookware: Worth Its Weight or Waste

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 4:29 PM

From a thread on eGullet:

"I've read various threads about which cookware various members would recommend. I don't own All-Clad or Sitram or any of the other higher-end pans that get discussed. For a point of reference I've been cooking for over 40 years. I own mainly Vollrath Pro-HG and Revere pots and pans. What differences would I expect to see if I started adding higher-end sauté and sauce pans to my kitchen? Any insights would be greatly appreciated."

My dear friend Trudy was a dreadful cook, so she asked for a quick lesson — a simple meal she could get to the table in about 20 minutes. I pulled out her pans — cheap, thin pots. Even I burned the food. There was no way not to burn it.

My own collection includes Le Creuset, Lodge iron skillets and other pans, and Emerilware (which I've written about in the past), a mid-price cookware that so far is as good as anything I've ever had. I used to own Circulon and All-Clad. I still have a lot of the All-Clad, but it's the mid-grade stuff and frankly, the Emerilware is better.

Bites readers, what are your experiences with high-end cookware, and does it make a difference?

It's Restaurant Week All Month Long at the Palm

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 4:13 PM

Restaurant Week has always been a huge deal in New York City. Local establishments offer prix fixe menus at discounted rates to get diners in the door, and their reservations books fill up. The Nashville Originals have created their own version of this gastronomical party to wild success.

In Manhattan, the venerated Palm Restaurant is one of the biggest supporters of the Restaurant Week concept, and now they've gone and supersized it for you. For the rest of this month and all of May, The Palm is rolling out a $39.95 dinner deal at all of their locations. Enjoy your choice of a starter, entrée and sides for less than 40 bucks per person. Choose your starter from a traditional Palm Salad, a Caesar or their rich lobster bisque. Entrée choices include a 9 oz. filet mignon, 12 oz. NY strip and a fresh halibut fillet.

For the whole menu and a list of accompanying sides and suggested wine pairings for those delectable entrées, head over to the Palm website. Now if the Predators can just hang around for at least another round of the playoffs, I'll have a place to have my pregame meal.

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All Tomorrow's Refrigerators

Posted By on Mon, Apr 26, 2010 at 4:07 PM

Somewhere in upstate New York in an upscale retirement community, a former art director is just settling into his favorite chair with a cup of tea beneath a framed original of this.

1966 refrigerator advertisement
  • 1966 refrigerator advertisement

The Gemini 19, an appliance so futuristic it requires matching models to properly display it. So marvelously powerful that the user's head must be placed in a goldfish bowl for protection. (Goldfish bowl sold separately.)

Read the hilarious text — and see another futuristic refrigerator — at Paleofuture, a site documenting a future that never was. (There's much more at the site, but a lot of it is about boys imagining new ways to fly, which is pretty much always what the future is about, at least in the past.)

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Friday, April 23, 2010

Don't Forget to Snag a Reservation for Dining Out for Life

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 7:24 PM

Take a cup of kindness Tuesday and visit a participating restaurant for Dining Out for Life.
  • We'll take a cup of kindness Tuesday and visit a participating restaurant for Dining Out for Life.
Remember, all you food-loving folks: Dining Out for Life is coming up soon — Tuesday, April 27.

It's such a blast to visit a favorite restaurant for breakfast, lunch or dinner and know that a generous chunk of the proceeds goes to Nashville CARES. (The donation is at least 30 percent and up to 100 percent.) It's also fun to use this terrific fundraiser as an excuse to try out someplace new.

I've got my breakfast pick lined up, and dinner will be secured soon. If there's a particular place you want to visit, you should try to get reservations ASAP. Of course, some places will be available for walk-ins, too, so don't give up if your first choices are booked.

Check out participating restaurants here.

Nashville CARES' mission: "Our purpose is to educate the community for increased understanding and prevention of HIV transmission, to advocate for responsible public policy, and to provide services that improve the quality of life for people with HIV AIDS and their families."


Check Out the Menu for Brand-New Village Pub in East Nashville

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 4:35 PM

This Facebook fan photo by Herschel Pollard makes Village Pub & Beer Garden look like a barrel of fun.
  • This Facebook fan photo by Herschel Pollard makes Village Pub & Beer Garden look like a barrel of fun.
Village Pub & Beer Garden, which opened this week in the Riverside Village neighborhood in East Nashville, has posted the menu on Facebook, and I've got to say it's intriguing. To view it click here (you'll need a Facebook account to get there).

The folks behind Village Pub are David Mitchell of nearby Mitchell Delicatessen and bartending veterans Jesse Hamilton and his wife Tracy, who in 2005 launched their own business supplying bartenders and beverage supplies for private parties.

Jesse says he hopes the European-style pub and beer garden will become the social hub of the neighborhood surrounding Riverside Village. "Make friends first, drink second" is the motto.

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Wandering Wino: It's a Marathon, Not a Sprint

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Everybody should know by now that it's Country Music Marathon Weekend. That means stay away from the pasta bars on Friday night as carbo loaders could be running rampant. But that might mean the other bars will be a little less crowded, so head out for some tippling at these and other fine drinking establishments.

Grand Cru wants to run you through the blender as they feature several blended "Rad Reds" from California. From their invitation:

"By blending, the winemaker can adjust his wines from year to year to reflect the best possible characteristics of a particular vintage. This almost always results in the a freshest, most flavorful glass of wine that the vineyard has to offer. The Grand Cru Top Ten Red List is dominated by blends, and this is a list that is computed directly from actual store sales. So if you haven't tried many blends, Saturday is your opportunity to taste some new arrivals that are destined to take their spot in your wine rack. Come by and check it out this Saturday, April 24 , 3-4:30 p.m. at dose coffee & tea on Murphy Road."

Next week, Midtown Wine and Spirits offer a rare opportunity for Zinfandel fans. On May 3, Christian Tietje, winemaker from Four Vines, will be in Nashville for his first visit. Four Vines Winery is known for their jammy old-vine Zins and I'm a big fan of their fruit bombs. Buy some Crest Strips for your front teeth, though.

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Iron Fork Meets Open Thread

Posted By on Fri, Apr 23, 2010 at 10:48 AM

Shrimp in cuboids from Two Twenty Two
  • Shrimp in cuboids from Two Twenty Two
Just like Open Thread, Iron Fork is a place to sample Nashville's culinary expressions.

Among the exceptional offerings this year (two tuna samplings! Jimmy Carl's barbecue with sweet habanero slaw!), some stood out. Prettiest was Two Twenty Two's shrimp with a mango salsa in a clear cuboid cup. Along with the bronzy orchids next to it, it made the evening's prettiest table, and branded this new cafe in the Country Music Hall of Fame as one to watch. (And the cafe caters, too.)

Whole Foods brought back its spicy-and-sweet pineapple ginger punch, but also offered cups of Cas Cal sodas to parched Iron Fork attendees. Cas Cal is a brewed and fermented but alcohol-free soda with a fermented malty twinge to it. Sparkling, fragrant and off-dry, it has enough festive fizz and edge to stand in for beer or bubbly. We tried Fine Dry and Light Red, and look forward to Crisp White on a hot afternoon.

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Thursday, April 22, 2010

Stunning Upset Brings Iron Fork Crowd to Fever Pitch

Posted By on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 5:56 PM

In a stunning culinary upset, Chef Andy Hunter from The Acorn snatched the Iron Fork away from its defending champion, tayst's Jeremy Barlow, in a nailbiter of a competition last night that will no doubt inspire folk songs, cave etchings and more than a few Lifetime Movies of the Week.

First, let it be said that all five chefs brought their A game to the culinary coliseum housed within the Country Music Hall of Fame. The unveiling of the secret ingredient — the Stokes purple sweet potato! — brought a gasp of alarm from the crowd. Most of us know only a couple of ways to prepare sweet potatoes anyway, and fewer than that if we don't have a stick of butter and a box of brown sugar handy.

But that's why these guys are Iron Fork material — not a limp spork in the bunch. From Eastland Cafe, Chef Hal Holden-Bache dazzled the crowd with fluffy little pillows of purple sweet-potato gnocchi. Sunset Grill's Chris Cunningham incorporated the tuber du jour into a corn cake that had onlookers salivating. Representing 55 South, Chef Jason McConnell rocked a purple sweet-potato trio capped by a kale-wrapped sweet-potato tamale.

As for reigning champ Barlow, looking very much the samurai kitchen bad-ass in his headband, he seemed to have delivered a knockout blow with his stunning presentation of a Napoleon constructed of deep-fried purple sweet-potato disks and spicy goat cheese. But it was not to be.

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Eat Vegan Cake and Have it, Too, With The Wild Cow

Posted By on Thu, Apr 22, 2010 at 9:19 AM

The most challenging baking I've ever attempted is vegan baking. You can work around butter and sour cream with oil and soy products. It's always the eggs that trip me up. Nothing else performs exactly like an egg.

Vegan chocolate cake from The Wild Cow
  • Vegan chocolate cake from The Wild Cow

That made this delicious vegan chocolate cake, made by the Wild Cow restaurant and on sale at the Earth Day festival, an especially happy find. In taste and texture, it's as near a traditional cake made with dairy as any vegan I've sampled. The main differences were that it's slightly more gooey than a traditional cake, which isn't such a bad thing, and, as my daughter said "You can taste the soy." True, but if you eat a lot of tofu and tempeh already, you'll hardly notice it. And the leaner nutritional profile (and all the other benefits of vegan) means you can indulge a sweet tooth.

Several different schools of thought on tampering with the nutritional profile of sweets. Some people would rather have one teensy sliver of a real cookie than a whole box of low-sugar or reduced fat, cookies. Others would rather not have a sweet than eat one without the richness and sugar of a full-fat, full-sugar sweet. Other people choose (or are compelled for medical reasons) to stick to strong dietary or philosophical guidelines and are glad to have a treat that works, even if it's less rich or less sweet.

I'm in that third category, and I wish I'd tried the lemon cake, too.

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