Friday, December 17, 2010

Pie's the New Cupcake — 2010 Food Trends at Weekly Open Thread

Posted By on Fri, Dec 17, 2010 at 5:48 AM

Over at Serious Eats, they've compiled a list of 10 food memes for 2010: Korean tacos, epicurean ice cubes, Gourmet's resurrection to iPad, and The Cooking Channel, a new network for people who prefer the food without the 'tude. This is the year that pie took on cupcake for Most Ascendant Baked Good; read the comments here, and you'll be wanting to short-sell cupcake stock. No end-of-year list can be complete without a mention of Four Loko, the drink that just packaged what everyone was already doing anyway, right?

You can see the list as a slideshow here, and click the links for deeper coverage. Read the list of suggested trends from Serious Eats readers here.

Our fair city is certainly keeping up, but we've also got other things going on, as well. I'm loving the house-made pickles I get occasionally in restaurants — that's a trend I can fully support.

Any trend here that didn't make these list? And what do Bites readers predict for next year? (For a look at one Bites reader's perspective from inside the restaurant industry, check this post from Elevated Southern.)

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Thursday, December 16, 2010

Don't Just Guess, Look Up That Flavor Pairing

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 4:41 PM

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Fresh basil and tomato, pork and fruit, peanut butter and chocolate — to go confidently beyond these traditional pairings, you've got to have a certain sixth sense. It's why great chefs get paid so much.

Now a team of Belgian scientists working with chefs and calling themselves Sense for Taste have created a shortcut. It's an online tool for looking up successful flavor pairings and displaying the results as a chart. The site called foodpairing.be lets you select a food and get a tree-style diagram of partners. (You're supposed to be able to type in an ingredient to search, but at this writing, the process only seems to work when you click "What fits well with" and select a food from a pull-down menu to the right)

Artichokes, it turns out, go with fried bacon or guava, linden blossom or mackerel. The pairings branch out by type: cheese, herb, meat, beverage. You can proudly serve artichokes with black tea, plum brandy, French sauternes or Kentucky bourbon.

You can also choose the question "What can replace ..." for a similar tree graph that offers alternatives for an ingredient. Looking to replace cardamom in a recipe? Try verbena, rosemary or gin! That'll pep up the ol' pudding.

The creators are continually adding new ingredients to the site so if you Google-whack it this time, you may find your ingredient later.

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Quite Possibly the Silliest Headline I've Ever Written: "Tweet Myint for BOGO at Cha Chah"

Posted By on Thu, Dec 16, 2010 at 6:50 AM

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Well, it's certainly no "Dewey Defeats Truman!" but the information is probably important enough to bring to your attention. In an effort to expand his hold over the intertubes, if you mention "Arnold Myint" on Twittter or Facebook now through the end of the month, he will add your name to a list at Cha Chah that will entitle you to his buy-one-get-one lunch deal.

Think of it as a Groupon that you don't have to remember to print out and bring with you. (I'm really bad about that one.) Or you can just send him a message on Twitter or Facebook, and Arnold will give you the hookup. A Cha Chah lunch at full price is worth the experience. At half off, you can't miss it!

You know there's somebody you owe a special lunch, or maybe somebody special you'd like to ask out for a meal but haven't found just the right opportunity. Break out the mistletoe and check out the menu at Cha Chah's website. Depending on what you and your companion order, this deal might make a delicious Cha Chah lunch cheaper than going to a fast-food joint.

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Wednesday, December 15, 2010

Restaurant Manager Charged With Pocketing $19,000

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 12:55 PM

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Anybody who's worked in the restaurant business knows that employee theft — of money, food, equipment, other people's tips — is pretty common. I've known of businesses going bankrupt because of it, especially since many restaurants operate on a slender profit margin.

Of course, theft takes place in every business sector, and the vast majority of restaurant employees are loyal and law-abiding. (And sometimes the bosses are the thieves — I'm still waiting for my last paycheck from a place where I waitressed in high school. I showed up for work only to find a gutted building whose tenants had fled!)

A story by reporter James Nix in our sister publication, The City Paper, tells of a particularly sticky-fingered restaurant employee.

Nix reports that a former manager at Blue Coast Burrito in the Nashville West center on Charlotte Pike has been indicted on a felony theft charge. Samuel Richard Causey Jr., 50, allegedly stole $18,788.24 between Nov. 18 and Dec. 7 last year.

Causey, who was released on $4,000 bail, allegedly told police he took three weeks' worth of deposits home instead of to the bank. Yum ... burrito cash. I wonder if he got chips with that.

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New Booze is Good News: No. 308 and Cooper's on Porter Opening Soon in East Nashville

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 6:57 AM

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After months of rehabilitating old buildings across the river and whipping up the interest of hundreds of Facebook friends as they document the details from every swing of a hammer to the ordering of stemware, two start-up bars are about ready to throw open their doors. We gave you the heads up about No. 308 back in October with the caveat that renovations rarely (read NEVER) come in on time or on budget, so a mid-November opening was just a guess at that point.

But the latest rumblings seem to indicate that we're within a week of No. 308's big night. Unfortunately, I'll be traveling over the holidays, so if you get a chance to crash the door before me, leave your impressions here in the comments. I'm guessing you'll really like the vibe, and owners Ben and Alexis have the potential to become rock-star bartenders in this town. They're just good people whom I think you'll enjoy bending an elbow with.

Cooper's on Porter is the brainchild of Cooper Brunk, formerly chef at Mack and Kate’s. Opening in a building that was previously a nursing home and which will contain retail as well as apartments for low-income, deaf and hearing-impaired residents, Cooper's on Porter aims to be "a swanky brewhouse." They plan to offer 24 draft beer selections of domestic microbrews, premium beers by the bottle and a substantial wine list. Food will revolve around Chef Cooper's take on classic American fare.

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West Nashville Farmers Market Finds Indoor Home

Posted By on Wed, Dec 15, 2010 at 6:07 AM

Brussels sprouts and more from Green Market Farms at the West Nashville Farmers Market
  • Brussels sprouts and more from Green Market Farms at the West Nashville Farmers Market
You'll know you've found West Nashville Farmers Market's new winter home when you see the big L-O-V-E painted on the side of the building at 4611 Alabama Ave., next to the McDonald's on Charlotte Avenue, hard by Interstate 40.

Inside on Saturdays from 9 a.m. to noon, stalwart vendors offer their winter wares and seasonless specialties. Traffic is very brisk for the red-heart radishes from Bells Bend Farm, the lacinato kale from Green Market Farm and little hakerei, or Japanese turnips, from Foggy Hollow that are so sweet you can eat them raw.

Lacinato, or Tuscan kale, can be served toasted and crispy like chips, according to this fascinating recipe from Bon Appétit.

The Green Market Farm says the cone-shaped Caraflex cabbage is a favorite of the local chefs, so I got one of these amusing beauties.

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Tuesday, December 14, 2010

Attention Shoppers: Nashville Originals Gift Certificate Sale Is Tomorrow

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 11:18 AM

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Nashville Originals, the organization that gathers 44 local independent restaurants to promote Nashville's indigenous food scene, is about to launch its quarterly sale where gift certificates are sold online for a drastically reduced price.

This one, of course, is handy for holiday shopping. It kicks off early tomorrow, Wed., Dec. 15. Joining the sale is the Originals' newest member, Rumours East, the popular wine bar on Woodland Street in East Nashville.

As always, the certificates go fast, so set your alarm. As always, we don't know exactly when the trigger trips, but hundreds of dedicated shoppers find it worth the groggy logging-in in the early A.M.

Here's the description from Originals spokeswoman Laura Hill:

Certificates, good for 44 individual Nashville Originals member restaurants, are sold at a 30-40% discount — e.g., a gift certificate worth $25 will sell for $16.50 and a $50 certificate for $35. Check us out Wednesday morning early at www.instagift.com/nashvilleoriginals

And remember, most gift certificates sell out before 9 a.m. Certificates can be printed or e-mailed immediately after purchase. More detailed information is provided at the link.

Questions or help with purchasing a gift certificate? Please call our gift certificate support line at (877) 870-DINE, or e-mail us at support@eatlikealocal.com

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New Holiday Lunch Options at Scarritt-Bennett, Morton's and 360 Bistro

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 7:44 AM

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After last week's spate of restaurant closings, it's nice to be able to report about some restaurants that are actually expanding their services. Last winter, I let you in on the secret of the great lunch deals at Scarritt-Bennett. Well, they're throwing open the doors this week and ringing the dinner bell to invite all their neighbors to join them for a series of holiday luncheon buffets in the grand Susie Gray Dining Hall. Just $19.99 gets you a crack at Chef Jen "Angel Whip" Threadgill's scrumptious menu.

The buffet will be served every day this week from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m., followed by a free holiday concert at 1 p.m. next door in the historic Wightman Chapel, featuring local vocalists and musicians. If you've been missing out on the holiday spirit and are worried you'll miss out on the chance to feast on some roast beast, drop on by Scarritt-Bennett at 1008 19th Ave. S. Call 340-7500 for reservations or email reservations@scarrittbennett.org.

Check out the menu after the jump:

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Drippy Takeout Sorted, No Frisbee Necessary

Posted By on Tue, Dec 14, 2010 at 6:18 AM

Injera encloses and secures takeout from Gojo Ethiopia restaurant.
  • Injera bread encloses and secures takeout from Gojo Ethiopian restaurant.

Chris Chamberlain's got a friend who keeps a Frisbee in the trunk of his car, not for playing, but for holding the grease-soaked paper bag of hot chicken so it doesn't stain the seats and floor of his car. Genius.

Stains can also be a problem with other takeout — Ethiopian cuisine uses copious amounts of turmeric-tinted niter kibbeh, a spiced butter, and berbere, which is heavy on the red paprika.

Gojo, the excellent Ethiopian spot on Thompson Lane, has developed a unique solution to keep their tasty takeout from causing collateral damage in the car: They line their to-go cartons with injera, the springy teff-based bread. It's folded down over the food, and the corners are mitred to keep in any dribble.

Low-tech, Ethiopian-American ingenuity!

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Monday, December 13, 2010

'Bon Appetit' Recognizes Tennessee Truffle Hounds

Posted By on Mon, Dec 13, 2010 at 11:18 AM

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It's easy to get tired of Tennessee finishing near the bottom of most of the obesity, education and standard of living statistics. But look out, Alabama. We're gaining on you in rickets prevention!

So it's an interesting novelty when a national media outlet mentions Tennessee as a contributor to the high life. Bon Appetit magazine presented their annual recommendations for good gifts for filthy rich foodies, and East Tennessee resort Blackberry Farm made the list.

If you are in fact filthy rich (and reading this blog for some obscure reason), and you're looking for gifts for one of your friends or clients or favorite food bloggers, Bon Appetit recommends that you consider Blackberry Farm's unique truffle-hunting expeditions (list price: $2,600). You can work with one of their trained truffle dogs or even bring one of your pooches for instruction on how to find those wonderful earthy pleasures buried beneath the loam. Considering how much truffles cost in our local specialty shops, it might even turn out to be a bargain.

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