Thursday, June 24, 2010

Top Chef, Week Two: Arnold Makes His Move

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 5:26 PM

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We'll admit it: Last week, we were a little concerned. On the season premiere of Top Chef, our hometown hero — Arnold Myint, chef-proprietor of PM, ChaChah and Suzy Wong's House of Yum — didn't stand out much. Among the 16 competing chefs, he seemed kinda shy and retiring (which is not exactly Arnold's style). He stayed mostly in the background, letting hotheads Kenny and Angelo take over the show with their instant clash.

And that made us worry. Was Arnold an imminent casualty, soon to be voted off the kitchen island? Or were the producers shrewdly withholding his screen time, waiting for an underdog to challenge the alpha canines?

Now we know. Like a NASCAR racer who sees the inside lane clear, Arnold made his play last night. Now that he's got a team victory under his belt — and more importantly for the demands of reality TV, now that he has a nemesis — Arnold has definitely announced himself as a competitor to watch.

Some highlights from last night's episode, along with some stray thoughts:

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Grill Great Steve Raichlen Coming to Cool Springs

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 8:20 AM

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Barbecue guru Steven Raichlen is world renowned for his grill skill. I imagine I'm not the only Bites reader who has a slightly singed, sauce-stained copy of Raichlen's The Barbecue! Bible in the deck box with his charcoal and grilling utensils. He's got a new book out titled Planet Barbecue!, regaling readers with his stories of visiting 60 countries to collect 309 new grilling recipes from all over the world.

If you'd like to meet (meat?) the man himself and get a signed copy of his new tome, all you have to do is visit Williams-Sonoma in CoolSprings Galleria at 3 p.m. Saturday, June 26. Raichlen will be visiting with his fans and sharing secrets to master the art of BBQ. I fully expect at least one of our locals to engage him in the "BBQ as noun vs. verb" debate. I'll be arguing for the former.

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Huzzah! Pied Piper Creamery Coming to Berry Hill

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 6:30 AM

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Those seeking Trailer Trash will no longer have to drive to East Nashville!

(uncomfortable pause)

Let's try that again. Five Points' delightful Pied Piper Creamery — home to exotic handmade flavors such as the afore-mentioned Trailer Trash, an everything-plus-the-kitchen-sink assemblage of various candies in vanilla ice cream — is opening up a second outpost, its first across the river. The good news: It will be located in Berry Hill on Bransford Ave., next to the doggie bakery See Spot Eat. Sadly, according to the Pied Piper employee who fielded our call, it will take the place of Re Je's Grab & Go, which served up some fine boudin and sausages on its smoker out front while it lasted.

To end on a bright note, the new Pied Piper is expected to open within the next few weeks. More details as they become available.

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New Cafe, Roast, Inc., Bringing Craft Coffee Brewing to South Nashville

Posted By on Thu, Jun 24, 2010 at 6:21 AM

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A couple of entrepreneurs who have operated an artisan coffee-roasting and delivery service since last year are poised to open a retail coffeehouse on Trousdale Drive south of Harding Place.

Brad and Lesa Wood live with their two children in the Crieve Hall neighborhood of Nashville. A few years ago, Brad developed a fascination with coffee roasting. In September, the Woods launched Roast, Inc., with a website where people can sign up to have his carefully selected and roasted beans delivered to their home or office. Roast, Inc., also frequents farmers' markets in East Nashville and west Nashville.

"We've slowly but surely built up this big customer base with delivery," Brad Wood says. "Actually doing a cafe just came out of sheer demand. After about the hundredth person asked, we decided to set up shop."

Roast, Inc., specializes in single-origin coffees, not blends. One of his favorites is Finca Genesis from Costa Rica, which he says has unique brown sugar flavors. "From bean selection to roasting methods, it's a craft thing," he says. "It's not fast."

The cafe will have no coffee urns or air pots. Every cup will be brewed to order, Wood says, using one of four methods: French press, pour-over coffee made using the Clever Coffee Dripper (a nifty gadget that uses a stopper under the cone to regulate brewing time), a dual-siphon apparatus heated by butane, and the old dependable Chemex filter cone system.

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Wednesday, June 23, 2010

Capitol Grille Stakes Out Its Own Produce Farm at Historic Glen Leven Estate

Posted By on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 8:14 PM

Capitol Grille chef Tyler Brown surveys his plot of premium produce at Glen Leven.
  • Capitol Grille chef Tyler Brown surveys his plot of premium produce at Glen Leven.
The Hermitage Hotel and its restaurant, Capitol Grille, have established their own farm to provide fresh produce for the restaurant's upscale menu. Their partner in the project is the Land Trust for Tennessee, which has provided an acre of land on the grounds of the historic Glen Leven estate on Franklin Road in south Nashville.

Capitol Grille executive chef Tyler Brown may work at a posh downtown restaurant, but he seemed to be in his element when showing off veggies pulled from the dirt at the farm. (Thanks to my colleague Tom Wood of the Nashville Post for attending the announcement of the deal today at Glen Leven, getting the scoop and snagging a photo.)

The hotel says natural gardening methods are being used to grow the produce, and Brown has selected heirloom varieties of vegetables to maximize flavor.

The mansion at Glen Leven dates to 1857 and was used as a hospital by Federal troops during the Civil War. In those days, the neighborhood (about five miles from downtown) was completely rural. In addition to the mansion, a smokehouse, carriage house and farm office stand on the 65-acre estate. Susan M. West willed the property to the Land Trust for Tennessee in 2006. The nonprofit aims to protect historic and scenic lands from destructive development.

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First Bite: Uh Wool Lim Korean Restaurant

Posted By on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 12:44 PM

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I happened to be flipping through that old rag the Scene a while back, and came across an ad for Uh Wool Lim, a Korean restaurant in Antioch I hadn't heard of before. Since I love Korean food, I felt compelled to try this new place immediately. So I closed the paper and promptly forgot about it for weeks. But eventually I remembered! I hopped in the hatchback with my life partner and a good friend to check it out. Turns out it's just across Antioch Pike from Hai Woon Dai, which made me realize it's been a while since I've eaten there. (Pronunciation note: In both names, Uh Wool Lim and Hai Woon Dai, the "w" is silent. The car company Daewoo, for example, is pronounced "Dae-oo." Anyway.)

I suppose some people would call Uh Wool Lim a dive, as it's not particularly fancy inside, and an area just off the dining room was dedicated to a small child, presumably belonging to one of the restaurant's owners or wait staff, who rolled about, gurgled and generally made cute noises.

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Wine Wednesday: l'Eté du Vin Rises Up From the Drink

Posted By on Wed, Jun 23, 2010 at 8:37 AM

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l'Eté du Vin has been Nashville's premiere wine event for over 30 years, but they really had a curve ball thrown at them by the May Day floods. Their plans to hold their big auction at Gaylord Opryland Resort were scuttled when the resort was forced to close for flood repairs. Having already secured wine and representatives from five great wineries, the l'Eté du Vin staff and organizers scrambled to arrange events to take advantage of their patrons' largesse. There's a reason why this event still ranks among the top 10 highest-grossing wine events in the country every year and why they have raised over $16 million in the fight against cancer.

With guest vintners and sales representatives from Casa Lapostolle, L'Aventure Winery, Moët et Chandon, Morlet Family Vineyards and Torbreck Vintners already booked for late June arrivals, the annual Vintner's Tasting was moved to Hillwood Country Club. A couple hundred eager tasters assembled Thursday, June 17, to meet the vintners, taste their wines and hear the stories behind the grapes. After a short reception to enjoy some hors d'oeuvres and some delightful local Arrington Viognier, guests assembled in the main dining room in front of a beautiful array of pre-poured wines.

Elise Loehr of F. Scott's "moderated" the presentation, but that's really not the correct word since her ribald commentary added a lot to the enjoyably PG-13 discussion among the winemakers that included everything from a comparison of champagne and Viagra to a running "F bomb" count when Aussie maverick Dave Powell of Torbreck was speaking. Each winery representative spoke for about 10 minutes and led the assemblage through a tasting of their wines.

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Tuesday, June 22, 2010

What the World Needs Now in Nashville Department: Wood-Fired Street Pizza

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 3:03 PM

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Dana Kopp Franklin's post below on the mobile food of our dreams got us thinking. Some weeks ago, the mighty Chris Chamberlain sent out a link to the Green Olive Media blog under an issued challenge: "So which of us is gonna be the first to quit our jobs and do this?"

The post in question concerns Moto Bene (love the name), an Atlanta food cart that dispenses wood-fired pizza from a pull-behind oven. Selections include grass-fed beef, arugula and spring onion; a three-cheese pie; and bacon, spring onion and bok choi.

Even after clicking the link, I wasn't convinced such a thing actually existed. It sounded too good to be true, like snipe meat or Shmoos. And yet I was inching my way through the Dust Bowl haze at Bonnaroo two weeks ago when I saw a line 50 people long. They were bellied up to a wood-stoked portable oven and a steady stream of crisp little $10 Frisbee-sized pizzas, featuring fresh veggies atop a bubbled and blackened crust.

I don't believe it was a Moto Bene stand, and I did not try one — the angel on my shoulder pointed the way to Stevie Wonder, even as the devil in my ear kept whispering "portobello." But now that I know they exist, I'm ready to pass Chris' challenge along to the greater Nashville area: Who's going to take their job and shove it so I can get a wood-fired rosemary chicken/Brussels sprout special with roasted garlic and pepper flakes? (I'll settle for pepperoni, by the way. I'm easy.)

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You Are So Nashville If ... You Wait Until the Last Minute to Submit Your Winning Entry

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 8:25 AM

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OK, we not only see your strategy, we applaud it. Wait until the Joe Scutellas, Adam Dreads and Stacy Harrises have fired off their annual salvo of entries in the Scene's time-honored "You Are So Nashville If ..." contest — then you swoop in at the 11th hour and snatch away the victory.

Even so, you're going to have stiff competition as the YASNI contest enters its 21st year. You've got just two days left — before 11:59 p.m. Thursday, June 24 — to submit the magic entry that slays your neighbors, tickles our readers and leaves your competitors shaking their fists. All you have to do is complete the phrase, "You are so Nashville if ..."

What've we got to talk about this year? Oh, not much ... just Al and Tipper Gore, Chris Johnson, guns in bars, Dale Chihuly, Arnold Myint, Deb Paquette, Trader Joe's, the Savarino's sandwich board, Mike McWherter, wine in grocery stores, the Health Freedom Act, CSA culture, Ron Ramsey's boot, Bill Haslam's umbrella, the parking lot at Local Taco, Zach Wamp, Chip Forrester, Tobin the Gnome, Trash Humpers, Guy Fieri, the Tea Party, Boots del Biaggio, Ke$ha's toothpaste of choice, Vince Young, Pastor Maury Davis, the Music City Center, May Town Center, the Scene's glossy stock, Henry vs. Yarbro, Beavers vs. Lynn, Lind vs. Trebek, etc., etc. Plus we hear there was a spell of bad weather not long ago. Never has there been less reason to clutter our inboxes with wheezy jabs at interstate construction, the many names of Old Hickory Boulevard or the ever-popular "Look At All Those Mexicans!"

Do not post your entries below in the comments box. We will route them straight to YASNI Siberia, the special purgatory reserved for entries that still reference Hee Haw and Planet Hollywood. Instead, fill out the online form — again, by the end of this coming Thursday — and start rehearsing an acceptance speech that sounds humble. May the best YASNI win!

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Sole Mio Wants Businessmen's Business

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 8:05 AM

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Downtown Italian stalwart Sole Mio is now offering a new Business Express Lunch to attract diners looking for a good quick lunch. Their deal includes your choice of entree, a salad, and any soda/tea for just $9.95. Don't forget that they have free parking behind the restaurant, removing one of the major inconveniences of dining in SoBro.

Also, they are offering a coupon online and on your mobile phone for the rest of June for a free dessert with the purchase of two or more entrees. Click here to print it out or simply show it on your phone when you come in. Their tiramisu alone is worth the trip.

In other Sole Mio news, they are holding a fundraiser this evening to benefit the Bridges Foundation (formerly the EAR Foundation and The League for the Deaf and Hard of Hearing). Fifty percent of food sales from tonight's dinner will be donated to this worthy cause.

Make your reservations today at 256-4013.

Sole Mio
311 Third Ave. S.
Nashville, TN 37201

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