Thursday, March 31, 2011

Last Chance for Discount Tickets to Iron Fork — And New Watermark Chef Enters the Ring

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 4:59 PM

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We've already told you about Iron Fork, the fabulous culinary competition that the Scene stages each year. Well, it's time to get your rump roast in gear if you want to secure the $30 advance ticket price. At midnight tonight, the price goes up to $40, still a bargain considering admission includes three drink tickets and samplings from more than 20 local restaurants.

Furthermore, proceeds from the party benefit the great work of the Martha O'Bryan Center. Go here to get your tickets now!

And we just heard a hot tip about a roster change: Louis Osteen, the top toque at Fish & Co. and corporate executive chef for parent company Hospitality Development Group, had to bow out because of a severe case of laryngitis. Replacing him is Matt Bolus, whom HDG just hired for the executive chef spot at Watermark, the fine-dining sister restaurant of Fish & Co.

Bolus has prominent credentials, including a recent stint as sous chef at the nationally praised restaurant FIG in Charleston, S.C.

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Porta Via Now Offers Gluten-Free Neapolitan-Style Pizza

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 12:25 PM

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Personally, I got no kick against gluten. (Although I have little tolerance for that bitchy little lactose molecule.) However, some people are actively seeking out ways to avoid gluten in their diets, whether they are among the less than 1 percent of the population with celiac disease or if they are avoiding gluten as part of some cleansing regimen.

Whatever your reason, Porta Via Italian Kitchen is responding to the requests of their customers by importing a new gluten-free flour they offer as an option in their pizzas, breads and pastas.

The gluten-free flour is imported from Italy and contains a blend of rice, fava bean and potato. You have to ask for it in when you order — and of course pizza, pasta and bread made with traditional wheat still dominate the menu).

In an interesting twist, the management of Porta Via has managed to create gluten-free options while still adhering to the strict pizza standards set forth by the Associazone Pizza Napoletana (VPN).

That's quite a feat, so I hope the anti-gluten set appreciates the effort and gives the new dishes a try. Report back here how the new flour is working out.

Porta Via Italian Kitchen is located at 21 White Bridge Road. Check out their website at www.eatatportavia.com for more information.

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Tupelo Honey Cookbook

Posted By on Thu, Mar 31, 2011 at 5:35 AM

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I really love the wave of restaurant cookbooks in the last couple of years. I love the generosity of spirit in a restaurant's willingness to share its recipes. I love the impulse to reach out to customers.

And I love being able to reproduce the dishes. There's always been resistance among restaurateurs to sharing their recipes, sometimes because they don't want to bother recopying a recipe that's handwritten and annotated and covered with spills. But more often, it's because of worries that customers will reproduce their favorites at home and not visit the restaurant any longer.

Except that you can't reproduce the experience of a wonderful evening at a place that suits you perfectly. Still, I'm so happy to have the Tupelo Honey Cafe Cookbook (Andrews McMeel, $29.99). I couldn't stop telling people about Tupelo Honey Cafe after a meal there about four years ago. The buzzy location in downtown Asheville, N.C., the funky floor plan, our great seats at the bar (where we enjoyed the view of workers in their assorted Grateful Dead T-shirts working on the plates, and got a feel for how much fun it must be to work there) — It all added up to exactly our kind of place.

And the food! We ordered and ordered: grits cakes, sweet potato fries, crab cakes, shrimp and goat cheese grits, the almond-crusted trout and more. With a couple of beers from their great selection, the total bill was still under $90 for three people.

A book doesn't recapture that night, but it does let me make some of the things we liked most, and try other dishes we wanted or that hadn't yet been put on the menu. The likeliest candidates are Chicken Andouille Stir-Fry with Orange Jalapeno Glaze; Lamb and Multi-Mushroom Meatloaf; Pork and Blueberry Sausage Simmered in Maple Syrup.

All of it seems doable by one person in a home kitchen, which is just another thing to love about both the cookbook and Tupelo Honey Cafe.

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Wednesday, March 30, 2011

Out of the Deep-Freeze for Spring

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 3:21 PM

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If a search of the freezer involves digging past more than two packages of frozen ham bones and three tubs of chicken broth, it's time for a freezer clear-out.

Egullet got the spring cleaning urge a couple of weeks ago. After the success of 2009's Don't Shop Now month in urging gulletteers to better steward food resources by cooking from pantry and freezer, The Great Freezer Clear-Out of 2011 seems logical.

What people found in their freezers was a snapshot of the owner's habits and whims. As a preface, it's worth noting the surprisingly large number of people with more than one freezer. With a big garden, a catering business, friends who raise livestock, or a deer hunter in the family, it makes sense. Ordinary suburbanites with giant freezers — I wouldn't have expected that.

One poster shared an epic freezer hoarder story: Her friend owned an appliance store, and delivered an extra-large chest freezer to someone just across the state line. The delivery team transferring the old freezer's contents to the new one began finding packages of meat that were five and 10 years old. What to do with it, they asked the buyer? Put it into the new freezer, she declared. Same with the layers of 20-year-old, 30-year-old and 40-year-old meat. At the bottom, a package of meat was dated 1947.

"That's why we clean out our freezer," wrote commenter runwestierun, "so we don't have appliance people in other states talking about us."

After the jump, the most expected and unexpected items in the freezer.

Continue reading »

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The Top Chef All-Stars Finale Is Tonight: Who Ya' Wit?

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 12:46 PM

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  • www.aceshowbiz.com
Back in November when Bravo's Top Chef All-Stars kicked off, I invited you all to pick your favorites to win the show's $200,000 grand prize. My pick of Angelo flamed out toward the end, after competing for a season-and-a-half of intense competitions in a row. That's like picking somebody to win the Triple Crown three times consecutively over two months and just reminds me what a crappy handicapper I am.

Several Bites readers identified Richard Blaise as the chef to beat, and he's made it to the finals against Mike Isabella from Top Chef's season 6. Now that it's down to a coin flip, who's your pick to win? I'll go with Blaise, since he's the closest we have to a local with restaurants in Atlanta and Birmingham and he missed the birth of his child to compete in the final. Of course, Isabella said he missed his own honeymoon, but I can't see how that could be possible unless the bride went with someone else. That sounds like a loser to me.

Make your guesses in the comments, and we'll hold folks accountable at the Scene's upcoming Iron Fork competition next month. We do have time stamps on these comments so don't try to sneak in a winner after the episode airs.

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The Jack Trail: I Finally Do Know Jack, and You Can Too

Posted By on Wed, Mar 30, 2011 at 8:01 AM

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When I first started writing for Bites way back in aught-nine, I shared an admission about restaurants I had never visited. But as a wine and booze writer, I still harbored a dark secret. Until last week, I had never visited the Jack Daniel's Distillery in Lynchburg. Dum-dum-DAHHHH!

Thanks to Tennessee Department of Tourist Development, I finally had a reason and a route to travel down Highway 82 to Miss Mary Bobo's neck of the woods. Last week Commissioner Susan Whitaker introduced media to the new "Jack Trail," the sixth of 16 self-guided driving tours in the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways program to be launched since 2009. The Jack Trail claims to feature "Sippin' to Saddles" as it covers 328 tourism sites across 348 miles in 11 Tennessee counties.

The initiative started from the suggestion of a private citizen, Aubrey Preston, who wanted to encourage visitors to get off the interstates and see more small towns like Preston's home of Leiper's Fork. The state's involvement seems like a great investment since they primarily only have to spend money on marketing in the form of signage and an excellent guide book and series of trail maps that are available at the Discover Tennessee Trails & Byways web site. The individual counties contribute to the marketing efforts, and the cooperation between state and county governments (as well as many state agencies) has been a testament to what can get done when everybody is rowing in the same direction.

Continue reading »

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Tuesday, March 29, 2011

Bagel Face Bagels Moving, Soon to Offer Sandwiches and Seating

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 11:32 AM

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East Nashville's Bagel Face Bakery, whose chewy, impressively flavorful bagels have filled a doughy hole in the lives of many Northern transplants, is about to offer one thing patrons have clamored for (besides bialys): seating. Co-owner Kristen Skruber says the popular bagel bakery is just beginning the build-out at its new location in the old Bethlehem Christian Bookstore at 7th and Main.

Skruber says this will allow Bagel Face to offer attractions such as toasted bagels and sandwiches that could not be made at its current home in Riverside Village. No opening has been set for the new location at 700 Main St., but Skruber says Bagel Face is shooting for mid-May.

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Today's Big Deal, Creole Style: Chappy's on Church

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 11:18 AM

Today's coupon offer on The Big Deal Nashville, brought to you by SouthComm: $20 worth of Creole cooking, brunch or lunch, for $10 at Chappy's on Church.

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Izzie's Italian Ice Moving Location

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 9:26 AM

Friday is opening day for one favorite East Nashville spot, but this year, it will be in a different spot.

Sisters Alice Carpenter and Elizabeth Gammans are moving their Italian-style ice shop, Izzie's Ice, to 14th and Woodland behind Lipstick Lounge.

Izzie's won over the Rosebank neighborhood and beyond last year with its changing daily roster of natural fruit mixtures frozen with smooth, finely textured ice. The list always includes lemon, with tiny bits of zest for a bolt of lemon. Look for raspberry, kiwi, watermelon, peach — whatever looks good in the market is what they'll be offering. They say the treat was their childhood favorite back on Long Island.

This year, they'll be offering Nathan's hot dogs too.

Hours will remain 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Saturday and 11 a.m.-3 p.m. Sunday. The pleasantly reasonable price is the same too: $2 for a small and $3 for a large.

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Cookbook Events at Williams-Sonoma: Recipes by Sam Beall, Eva Longoria

Posted By on Tue, Mar 29, 2011 at 8:23 AM

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Williams-Sonoma in Cool Springs is taking part in a new national program called the Williams-Sonoma Cookbook Club. Taught by culinary professionals, the monthly classes provide cooking tips and techniques as well as a sampling of some of the featured cookbook’s best recipes in a three-course tasting menu — prepared while you watch. The book is included in the cost of the class, so it’s yours to take home and enjoy.

• Class cost of $75 includes the featured cookbook and a 10 percent discount off your entire purchase after the class.

• Space is limited and reservations are required.

April's event will be held on Wednesday, April 27, and features Williams-Sonoma Breakfast Comforts cookbook.

Featured Recipes and Tasting Menu:
• Fruit Smoothie
• Fontina, Leek and Mushroom Braid
• New Orleans-Style BBQ Shrimp and Grits
• Eggs Blackstone with Roasted Tomatoes
• Whole Wheat Pancakes with Strawberry—Rhubarb Compote

Continue reading »

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