Tuesday, August 31, 2010

From Annatto to Zedoary: Take the Obscure Spices Quiz

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 1:51 PM

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The Mental Floss blog has compiled a weird quiz that's just my cup of sassafras tea: the Obscure Spices Quiz.

Sadly, I scored only 7 out of 11. I bet other Bitesters can do better. But first, a pep rally. Repeat "Peter Piper picked a peck of pink peppercorns" 10 times fast.

(Tip of the hat to my colleague Steve Haruch, who scored 6. Not bad for a music guy.)

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Buenos Aires Grill at Woodbine Farmers Market: A New Contender for City's Best Street Food

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 11:41 AM

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  • Photo by Chris Crimmins
Among the innumerable taco trucks, the occasional hot dog or snowball stand, and rumors of additional looming developments (pizza!), Nashville has a true left-field surprise: a tiny mobile grill cart dispensing Argentine sandwiches and desserts.

We first encountered Gitano Herrera and his awesome Buenos Aires Grill at the Woodbine Farmers' Market, where he'll be this afternoon (and most Tuesdays through next month) from 4 to 7 p.m. We haven't tried his eggplant sandwich, but we've found it hard to resist his choripan — a stout little sandwich of grilled sausage, homemade chimichurri and slivered tomato on a soft, fresh roll. The sweetly spicy sausage gets a light crust on his small but evidently powerful grill, and the chimichurri intensifies its flavor without overpowering the whole.

Better still is Gitano's panqueque, a thin crepe onto which he squeezes a thick reddish-brown ribbon of homemade dulce de leche — a substance one onlooker aptly described as "caramel on steroids." Imagine a pastry filled with the texture of custard but the taste and intermittent crunch of creme brulée crust. Small wonder folks were lining up for these as Gitano was trying to pack up last weekend.

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10 Bizarre Celebrity Products

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 11:25 AM

Yo, Adrian. Enjoy the power of this protein-fortified custardy dessert.
  • Yo, Adrian. Enjoy the power of this protein-fortified custardy dessert.
When celebrities hit their celebrated peak, the pitches must come rolling in for endorsements. Easy money.

Pimp Juice, endorsed by Nelly
  • Pimp Juice, endorsed by Nelly
Case in point: Jessica Simpson. I don't even know why she's famous, but gosh, she's got a lot of clothes, lip gloss and body cream for sale.

Timing your endorsement picks and your career arc seems like it would be really tricky. Between aligning your brand with the right product, owing people favors and needing cash, a lot can go wrong.

Jezebel.com rounded up 10 of the strangest, unlikeliest celebrity products it could locate.

Be sure to enjoy the soul-shredding stupidity of the 1984 Mr. T Cereal TV commercial, and wonder what instructions were given to the creative team.

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New Italian Lights Festival Will Brighten September

Posted By on Tue, Aug 31, 2010 at 6:05 AM

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In an event that sounds like a melange of erstwhile Nashville summer festivals Summer Lights and the Italian Street Fair, Michael King of Monell's is helping to organize a brand-new Italian Lights Festival Sept. 10-12 on the historic campus of St. Pius X School about five minutes north of downtown at 2800 Tucker Road. Admission is free, but there will be lots of activities to spend your denari on.

Events include: grape stomping, and all-you-can-drink wine garden (with $15 glass purchase), bocce tourney, arts and crafts sale, Italian food and gelato, a kids' zone with inflatable bouncy things, Tea for Two with Mother Goose, a Gospel High Tea, fun gastronomic competitions and music on all three days.

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Monday, August 30, 2010

Meet the Man Behind Benton's World-Famous Bacon

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 1:06 PM

Allan Benton in the smokehouse
  • Jude Ferrara
  • Allan Benton in the smokehouse
The City Paper put a little sizzle into its cover story this week, profiling bacon virtuoso Allan Benton, whose Benton's Bacon has become a national sensation. It's nice to read that a smart, hard-working Tennessee ham and bacon man has gotten props from high-brow folks like The New York Times and Gourmet.

Benton makes a mean country ham at his Madisonville, Tenn., smokehouse, but it's his bacon that gets the most notice. Restaurants in Nashville and New York treasure his frilly strips of genius. Benton's Bacon even played a prominent role in an episode of HBO's New Orleans-set drama, Treme.

My favorite Benton's Bacon story is something I heard from a female server at a local restaurant that fries up pounds and pounds of the popular bacon every day — and where the delightful smoky smell anoints everyone who works there. She said that if they happen to stop in a bar after work, the bacon aroma is a powerful pheromone for attracting the attention of men. Who needs perfume when there's bacon in the air?

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Fat Mo's Getting Mo' Veggie-Friendly

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 11:59 AM

Shiva and Mohammad Karimy
  • Eric England
  • Shiva and Mohammad Karimy
In my Food Biz column in the Nashville Post section of the print City Paper today, I report on the fact that Mo and Shiva Karimy, aka Fat Mo and Mrs. Mo, have bought back one of the Fat Mo's locations from a franchisee in Smyrna and plan to run it personally, reopening this week after a thorough renovation. The novel news is that in addition to running a sit-down Fat Mo's burger restaurant at 1610 Victory Parkway in Smyrna, the Karimys will be serving up two new vegetarian alternatives.

Shiva says Mo has been working for about six months to create a homemade veggie burger with zucchini, squash, lentils, garlic and Persian spices. (The Karimys are from Iran originally.) The burger is vegetarian, not vegan, because he uses a little organic milk to bind the vegetables into patty form.

For vegans, they are introducing their own version of falafel (the popular Middle Eastern snack that is something like a chickpea croquette), which Shiva says are made from scratch in the traditional way.

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A Full-Flavor, No Burn, All-Purpose Hot Sauce

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 7:08 AM

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The proliferation of hot sauces that want to burn my face off is puzzling — anyone can make a sauce that's excruciatingly hot, but the market must be really small, so what is the point, exactly?

It's much more difficult to make a sauce with a pepper flavor that approximates fresh and is strong but not bitter. Equally important is a light touch with the vinegar — it shouldn't alter the flavor profile of the food.

This mental checklist on hot sauce goes with me as I pick up and examine the many hot sauces that cross my path. I feel like Goldilocks: This one's too hot, this one's too sweet, this one is too sour. I found a good one last week that's got a different approach.

Gunshot Sauce is a vinegar-based sauce that uses a touch of horseradish, lemon juice and lime juice. It's warm, not hot, and calls itself a barbecue sauce, not a hot sauce. It would make a good mop for pork, but unlike most vinegar mops, it has enough balance and complexity to also work as a condiment.

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It was great on a smoked prime rib sandwich, for instance.

There's also some celery salt in there, so it has an undeniable Bloody Mary kick to it. That's what I'll be using it for, and deviled eggs, which the website recommends.

It's for sale The Market in Maryville, Tenn., and at the hot sauce store in Gatlinburg and Gourmet's Market in Knoxville. Get in touch with Bites if you find it closer to home.

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Brave Church's Rolls Out Spicy Chicken in the Home of Hot Chicken

Posted By on Mon, Aug 30, 2010 at 6:02 AM

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Anybody in the chicken biz knows that Nashville rules the roost when it comes to hot chicken. Yet, Atlanta-based Church's Fried Chicken is not afraid to go head to head with the singed taste buds of Nashvillians, and have chosen our fair city as one of their main target markets as they roll out their new Spicier Spicy Chicken recipe.

There are several reasons why they chose Nashville, not the least being that they are seeking to re-establish their brand in town after their recent purchase of locally-owned fast food poultry joint Mrs. Winner's. I was lucky enough to get to sample some of the new spicier chicken with Kirk Waisner, who holds the title of (I swear I'm not making this up) Chief Chicken Officer of the corporation.

And Kirk knows his spicy chicken, since he held a similar position at Popeye's prior to making the jump over to Church's. A graduate of the prestigious Culinary Institute of America, Kirk has over 20 years of experience in the food business and has been a big fan of Nashville's version of hot chicken for a long time. He knew going in that there was no way to reproduce the fire of Prince's or Bolton's in a way that would be appropriate for fast food diners.

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Friday, August 27, 2010

That's Good Pig!

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 4:14 PM

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Don't forget the 2nd Annual Music City BBQ Festival runs this weekend until Saturday night. Among some suggestions for improvements that arose from last year's inaugural Pigapalooza was the idea that there should be some places where the general public could actually purchase some barbecue — since the dizzying scent of hickory tends to whip appetites into a frenzy.

Well, there was one vendor last year, with Paradise Ridge providing some fine swine. But this year organizers have listened to the vox populi and invited five other BBQ purveyors to feed you on the midway. Most notably, Nolensville `Q-Master Pat Martin will be selling shoulder sandwiches on the corner of Broadway and First Avenue.

Easy to find. Tough to beat. Hopefully that will satisfy the nay-sayers. So head on down this weekend to meet the competing teams, listen to some great music, and enjoy some of the best smoked pork on the planet.

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Think Pink at Miel With Rose Wine Tasting to Benefit Susan G. Komen

Posted By on Fri, Aug 27, 2010 at 4:10 PM

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Hey, my colleague Chris Chamberlain had this item in his Wandering Wino column today, and I think it merits its own separate post, what with the combination of Miel's farm-fresh hors d'oeuvres and lovely patio, along with a chance to explore the spectrum of rosé wines — and benefit the fight against breast cancer:

This weekend Miel is holding a drop-in tasting from 1-4 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 29. They invite you to "Drink Pink" for Susan G. Komen for the Cure of Greater Nashville. Just $35 gets you samples of five rosé wines plus nibbles, and $10 of your admission will go to cancer research.

I can't think of a better patio to sip some wine and help out this great cause. Call 298-3663 for reservations.

Miel, the wonderful French-Mediterranean inspired bistro, is at 343 53rd Ave. N., just off Charlotte in Sylvan Park.

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