Tuesday, June 22, 2010

The Cupcake Collection Launches Cupcake Bus — Who Else Should Make Their Goodies Mobile?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 22, 2010 at 6:13 AM

Have you ever had a restaurant or store you loved, but because it was a small family-owned business with limited hours, you could never get there when it was actually open?

According to Mignon François, that's what she hears all the time from fans of The Cupcake Collection, a bakery in the Germantown neighborhood. Since she starts her day very early, baking fresh cupcakes, she doesn't want to extend store hours past 5:30 p.m. Nor does she want to spin off a whole chain of Cupcake Collections across the Midstate.

So she decided to take the cupcakes on the road. The Cupcake Bus will travel to various events and neighborhoods throughout the summer, bringing sweet little cakes to various neighborhoods.

As I mention in my Food Biz column in the Nashville Post section of this week's City Paper, the inaugural voyage was to the first Movies in the Park event at Centennial Park. Unfortunately, it was rained out. Left with a bus full of 500 of fresh-baked goodies, François put up a sign proclaiming "Free Cupcakes." People were literally chasing the bus, she says.

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Monday, June 21, 2010

Hot & Cold: Paleta Queen and Her Consort, Bongo Java Bob, Team Up for New Cafe

Posted By on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 4:44 PM

In my Food Biz column in the Nashville Post section of this week's issue of The City Paper, I talk to coffee guru Bob Bernstein about a new business he and his wife, Irma Paz Bernstein, are launching later this summer.

Irma is best known as founder (with her sister Norma) of Las Paletas, the purveyor of yummy Mexican-style frozen treats, the equivalent of gourmet Popsicles. Bob, of course, rules over the Bongo Java coffee empire. In a move as endearing as it is brilliant, the husband and wife are partners in Hot & Cold, a concept that will unite coffee and frozen treats.

"Usually, when ice cream places try to do coffee, it's lousy," he says. "And when coffee places try to do ice cream, it's lousy." The couple hope to dodge those pitfalls by taking the erstwhile Smoothie King spot (next to Bongo Java flagship cafe Fido) and configure it with the coolers and display space that ice cream requires along with the setup and expertise to ensure a good cup of joe.

Bernstein says Hot & Cold will sell coffee, paletas and locally made ice cream. Fido veteran Jeff Gibbs will manage the place, which hopes to open by Aug. 1.

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Rub Elbows with the Stars for Flood Relief

Posted By on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 2:26 PM

If you didn't manage to get tickets for the big "Nashville Rising" flood relief concert at the Bridgestone Arena on Tuesday, June 22, there's still an option for you. Providing, of course, you're willing to shell out some big bucks. But, hey, it's for flood relief. The Palm Restaurant is hosting an exclusive VIP reception following the 7:30 p.m. The VIP package includes tickets to the show and the reception, where you'll get to meet and greet some of the famous performers.

You could spend an entire month at the food bar at Whole Foods or stalking the Pancake Pantry to try to see some of these celebs, or you could just go for the sure thing. Details after the break:

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WOW! Check Out This Soap

Posted By on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 7:40 AM

A recent dining column showcased Humphreys Street Coffee Co., the featured roaster at Dose Coffee & Tea on Murphy Road. HSCC is a cottage industry of Harvest Hands community development corporation, which created the business as part of a mentoring programming to teach young men in South Nashville about entrepreneurship and financial skills.

Harvest Hands also has a mentoring program for women, which produces WOW! (Women of Wisdom) soap. Based on a recipe shared by the ladies at Magdalene House's Thistle Farms, WOW! soaps are made with all-natural vegetable oil and come in scents such as lavender, honey almond and Arabian spice. Packaged in colorful sachets, the soaps make a clean and creative gift, not to mention an easy way to help support the neighborhood between downtown and hte fairgrounds. WOW! soaps are $5 per bar or five for $20 and are available at Harvest Hands (424 Humphreys Street.)

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New Yorkers Notice Us Noticing Them Noticing Nashville-Style Hot Chicken

Posted By on Mon, Jun 21, 2010 at 5:14 AM

  • Peaches HotHouse
Last week, I wrote a post about a Village Voice post about a new restaurant in the Bed-Stuy neighborhood of Brooklyn, Peaches HotHouse, which proclaims its specialty is Nashville-style hot chicken.

I noted that while the writer was positive overall, she was disappointed because the chicken seemed mild compared to scenes of Prince's avid customers sweating and weeping over their hot chicken, as seen in a Southern Foodways Alliance documentary. I quoted this response by Peaches:

"So here's the deal. After our first week, due to a few delicate constitutions, some expletives and the overall litigious nature of New Yorkers, we did turn down the heat a bit. Now we only bring the fire if someone asks. However, you may be required to sign a waiver. ... Just remember: hot in, hot out."

Being a polite Nashvillian, I didn't come out and say it sounds like New Yorkers are laughable (yet litigious) wimps when it comes to spicy poultry. But apparently I set off an alarm. New York magazine's Grub Street blog responded under the headline: "Can New Yorkers Really Not Handle Nashville Hot Chicken?"

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Friday, June 18, 2010

Blind Pig No. 55 Opens Tonight in Former Mirror Space

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 5:08 PM

The team behind Watermark and Miro District aim for down-home with their new restaurant The Blind Pig No. 55, which opens tonight.

Hospitality Development Group has also hired a new chef, Louis Osteen, to be the company's executive chef overseeing all three restaurants. Osteen is a well-known practitioner of upscale Southern cuisine, especially Low Country cooking (he worked for years in Charleston). He won the James Beard Award for best chef in the Southeast in 2004.

The Blind Pig No. 55 is a self-described neighborhood bar and grill in the former Mirror space in the 12South neighborhood. It promises "chef-driven, upscale Southern comforts in a polished, yet relaxed atmosphere." Read a release about the menu after the jump:

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Weekly Open Thread Can Hardly Keep Up Without a Scorecard

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 2:37 PM

Martha Stamps
  • Martha Stamps
The Bites radar spun round this week, from Nashville hot chicken in Brooklyn, to New York City itself, oysters from New Orleans and free Wi-Fi at Starbucks.

Closer to home we found a garden in the city, some great summer drinks and a world-changing cooking class (see the posts below).

Meanwhile, you can make Wednesdays wonderfully sustainable with a weekly meal hosted by caterer and culinarist extraordinaire Martha Stamps beginning June 23 at West End United Methodist. Supper at 5:45 p.m. and program at 6:30. Martha describes the programs in her inimitably poetic voice: Explore our complex food system. Consider the notion of hope. Ponder your role on earth. Find your place at the Table. Cost is just $10. More information, and reservations, by clicking here.

Wandering Wino: A Riddle Wrapped Up in an Enigma Edition

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 11:44 AM

Laely Heron
  • Laely Heron
In one of the strangest adjectives I've seen lately in a wine newsletter, our friends at Midtown Wine and Spirits invite us all to a Heron Wine Tasting with the enigmatic winemaker Laely Heron.

I guess "enigmatic" is a compliment to some people; like when I consider it a good thing when people sometimes describe me as "quirky." At least to my face.

So if you're interested in meeting the lovely and enigmatic Laely Heron and enjoy some of her fine wines and Chef Joe Shaw's creative cuisine, head on over to Miro District on Wednesday, June 23, from 6 to 8 p.m. The cost is only $25 per person.

Shaw will present four courses specifically paired with the following Heron wines:

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Sweet Tea and Cookbooks

Posted By on Fri, Jun 18, 2010 at 7:44 AM

They say that writing about music is like dancing about architecture, but what about singing about food?

Local writer Bryan Curtis and radio personality Devon O'Day are collaborating on an upcoming cookbook titled My Southern Foods. You may recognize Bryan's name from the How to Be a Gentleman series of books that he co-wrote with John Bridges for Brooks Brothers, along with many other projects. Devon is probably best known as one of Gerry House's sidekicks and from her gig as the host of Country Hitmakers on 100-plus radio stations across the country.

Their book is not due out until this fall, but is available for preorder on Amazon. The book promises to take you on a beautifully illustrated journey through Southern (with a capital "s") favorite dishes. It will include over 200 recipes with chapter headings like: "Sunday Dinner and Other Family Gatherings"; "Breakfast in the South"; "Treasures from the Southern Garden"; "Summer Celebrations"; "What Every Southern Lady Knows"; "Cooking for Company"; "Glorious Southern Desserts"; and "Eating Out Southern Style."

In a unique promotion, Devon has recruited a songwriter friend named Kim McLean to write an ode to the house wine of the South, titled "Sweet Tea." I fully expected the accompanying YouTube video to be kinda cheesy, but danged if some of the food images didn't get my stomach to growling and the song got my soul tapping.

I must be getting soft in my old age. Check it out for yourself after the break:

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Thursday, June 17, 2010

Arnold Rocked on Top Chef Last Night — You Just Didn't See It on TV

Posted By on Thu, Jun 17, 2010 at 11:56 AM


If you watched the first episode of Top Chef last night, you probably came away with the impression that Nashville's Arnold Myint is middle-of-the-pack. In the elimination challenge, he was in neither the top group, from which the challenge's winner was chosen, nor the bottom group from which the go-home loser was selected. That means he escaped being told to (in TC argot) "pack up your goddamn knives and get the hell out of here."

Because of how the show was edited, though, we didn't get to see any reactions by the judging panel to Arnold's dish. All we know is he survived and moves on to Week Two.

But if you have a look at the judge's blogs, you learn that Arnold rocked. There was this from Gail Simmons:

Although it did not make it into the top four, honorable mention must go to Arnold for his Kaffir Lime & Thai Basil Cake. Considering he is not a pastry chef, making a dessert for a large crowd, especially for the first Elimination, is a risky move. Arnold pulled it off with flying colors. The cake was moist, light, and tasted exactly as described: a balance of fresh herbs and tropical Southeast Asian undertones — and was a clever window into his history and personality.

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