Apropos of nothing, your Wandering Wino wanted to remind all you fine people that Dana, Nicki and I will be hosting an evening of "Dining Out for Life" this Tuesday, April 26, at Tayst. Chef Jeremy Barlow has promised that he has a few special treats up his sleeve for diners who choose to join us for dinner.
Don't forget that it's all for a good cause: a portion of your bill will be donated to Nashville CARES. Chef Jeremy also tells us the reservation book is still not full for that evening, thus the plea for your involvement. It's the easiest fundraising donation you'll ever make. Just eat and drink and have fun. I know you have it in you!
Now back to your regularly scheduled drinking.
Moscato d'Asti Villa Giada Andrea Faccio 2009 DOCG
Barbera d’Asti Superiore La quercia Villa Giada 2007 DOC
Barbaresco Govone 2005 DOCG
and a vertical tasting of Barolo Bricco Gattera Cordero di Montezemolo DOCG 1998 and the same wine from the 2005 vintage!
You can also expect some classic dishes like roasted heritage pork from Sequatchie Cove Farms and spring truffle risotto. It's $75++ (that's plus tax plus tip for the uninformed).
343 53rd Ave. N.
Call for reservations: 298-3663
First of all, the Scene's food and drink issue came out this week, and if you haven't read it, go get one and settle in for a good read.
The issue was timed to coincide with Iron Fork, the Scene's annual food festival and chef challenge that was held Wednesday night. So much fun to chat with the chefs, employees and patrons of the city's favorite places. Lots of good eats — and no hard choices to make. Just grab one of whatever you fancy. Suh-weet! Kudos to the genius who put the Nashville Originals restaurants in their own rotunda upstairs for best flow and crowd management.
The Bravo TV Top Chef tour came to town, bringing low-key, personable cheftestants Rich Sweeney and Casey Thompson to town for a cooking demonstration (and a little friendly competition).
There was Arnold Myint's tsunami relief sake dinner last night at Cha Chah with visiting chef and fellow Top Chef alum Tiffany Derry. (We hear that Arnold's taking Tiffany on a culinary tour of Nashville today, and hot chicken is definitely on the agenda.)
Next Tuesday is Dining Out for Life. The excellent Garden Brunch Cafe isn't normally open for dinner, but as a special treat owner Jennifer Carpenter is prepping homemade gumbo and other Cajun food for the occasion. And, oh yeah, it's Easter.
Now I turn it over to you, readers, to update the city on what's new in your corner of the map.
We hear that the judges had a tough time deciding between the efforts of five really strong chef contenders: Wilson, Matt Bolus of Watermark, Ashley Quick of Flyte, John Stephenson of Fido and Charles Phillips of 1808 Grille. The Golden Fork trophy went to Wilson by a one-point margin.
Bolus gets the hitting-the-ground-running prize: When quizzed by the Scene's restaurant critic, Carrington Fox (who emceed the event with Scene editor Jim Ridley), the brand-new Watermark chef — who comes to us from Charleston, S.C. — admitted he had been in town exactly 68 hours.
Iron Fork is always a popular event, and this year it actually sold out, with almost 1,000 enthusiastic folks thronging the ground floor of the Country Music Hall of Fame, an adjacent tent and a second-floor area where an array of independent restaurants from the Nashville Originals offered up samples.
Proceeds benefit the good work of the Martha O'Bryan Center.
That's all for now; we'll have a report from Bites' own Chris Chamberlain (who served as an Iron Fork judge) and lots more photos soon.
Monday belongs to diners, soul food and Robert's honky-tonk burgers, courtesy of Brantley Hargrove; Tuesday travels the map from Turnip Truck to Thai to Twin Kegs, thanks to Jim Ridley; Wednesday wings it in the name of caffeine, cake and cocktails, compliments of Carrington Fox; Thursday makes time for breakfast, gets Silly for lunch and kicks it with some Korean, due to some guy named Steve Haruch; Friday, Friday, gotta get down (and eat cow heart) on Friday with Sean L. Maloney; Saturday changes things up with some North Side brunch, sweet cocoa and Turkish delights, by way of Dana Kopp Franklin; Sunday goes from jitters to jimjams in the flash of a dim sum cart, via Jack Silverman; and finally, we realize eight isn't enough, but we round up some more favorites anyway.
I, for one, didn't have time for breakfast (again), and I'm getting hungry just thinking about it.
Randy Rayburn at Sunset Grill has hit you right in your O'Charley's bone with a "Kids Eat Free" option. The brunch menu looks spectacular, bloody Marys, mimosas and sparkling wine are only five bucks apiece, and children under 12 eat free off the kids menu. I'd say make reservations now.
The Nashville stop featured Rich Sweeney from Season 5 and Casey Thompson from Season 3 and was emceed by Arnold Myint, homeboy and Season 7 cheftestant. Along with a pantry of 10 ingredients, the two chefs also worked with a local ingredient — pork — and a secret ingredient each selected. Richard chose Mr. Pibb (substituting Dr. Pepper in the two later sessions), and Casey selected bourbon.
Stoves blazing, the chefs nimbly fielded questions as they flipped pork, slung sauce and prepped plates.
I was one of the judges at the third session. The audience (which included many Bites-izens) was evenly divided between preferring Casey's panko-crusted bourbon pork with corn, raisin and onion succotash and spring pea puree, and Rich's pork with apple and asparagus slaw, cumin-cinnamon quinoa, arugula-walnut pesto, in the Dr. Pepper reduction.
The judges went for Richard's winning flavors, two to one. For me, it was the side dishes that put him across the finish line.
I completely understand why some people don't like the super oaky, high-alcohol butter bombs of California Chards. Just know that there are plenty of great Cali whites that don't taste like a shoe tree. Australian Chardonnays are crafted to have a lighter style, more like Chablis. Look for hints of citrus and peaches that can be a delightful pairing with some curried chicken. I'm thinking Calypso Cafe takeout.
In France, the Chardonnay-based wines known as white Burgundies have long been considered the benchmark by which all Chardonnays should be measured. Full-bodied and complex, they are less flinty than their Chablis neighbors to the north. It's hard to go wrong with any of the Grand Cru Chardonnays, but you will pay for their complexity and consistency.
More enjoyable to me is to find a less expensive version of the varietal that demonstrates different aspects of the grape's flavor profile. With so many variables in the fermentation and aging processes, studying Chardonnays can become a great hobby.
A recent excellent find was a bottle (OK, a case) of 2007 Concha y Toro Chardonnay Marques de Casa Concha from Chile. For a bottle that you can buy locally for less than $15, the 2007 Concha y Toro scores very well on the national scales, with a 91 from both the Wine Spectator and Robert Parker.
The story's in Rolling Stone's April 28 issue (on newsstands now). Online content is available by subscription only, but Cream procured a scan.
The story has set some of Cream's readers aflame. (Who knew it was controversial for a national magazine to like Nashville.)
What are your thoughts, Bitesters? Here's the part of the story that pertains to restaurants:
There are plenty of amazing cheap eats in town: Carney suggests the fried-avocado tacos at MAS TACOS, while Ke$ha recommends the meat-and-three platter at ARNOLD'S — "unless you don't want to suffer a heart attack." The Kings' Nathan Followill swears by "the bison burger with truffle fries" at BURGER UP. Jack White and wife Karen Elson are brunch regulars at MARCHE; for fine dining, hit CITY HOUSE, a farm-to-table haunt that serves moonshine and hosts the Kings, Gillian Welch and Mumford & Sons. Taylor Swift prefers a lighter snack:"I love the Blue Chair granola yogurt parfait at FIDO."
I'm guessing word got out about what a great party it is, or maybe people were especially impressed by this year's strong slate of competitors: Charles Phillips of 1808 Grille, Ashley Quick of Flyte, John Stephenson of Fido, Laura Wilson of The Turnip Truck Urban Fare, and the intriguing new guy in town, Matt Bolus of Watermark.
And this year more than 30 great restaurants have signed on to serve samples at the extravaganza, which takes place 6 to 10 p.m. Wednesday, April 20, at the Country Music Hall of Fame. Even Bites' own dashing man about town, Chris Chamberlain, is in on the action, serving as a judge. As always, the proceeds help the great work of the Martha O'Bryan Center.
Anyway, anyone who was hoping to score some last-minute tix is out of luck — the event is completely sold out. Oh, well, better luck next year, and don't worry — we'll give you a juicy recap on Bites.
The local food revolution happened so gradually. When I wrote my first story for Baking Buyer magazine around 1999, profiling small local bakers producing for the nascent coffeehouse culture, a pantry full of locally produced food was just a faint but unattainable wish.
Somewhere along the line, there were enough local producers to band together for efficient distribution. And presto: a fridge full of local food.
My question for keen economic observers is, what, and approximately when, was the tipping point?
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