This Wednesday, June 22, arrive at 5:30 p.m. and head for the church's west lawn to buy local organically raised foods from Good Food for Good People (or sign up for a weekly market basket at goodfoodforgoodpeople.org
Then join others for an Ethiopian-inspired dinner menu prepared with produce, eggs, cheese and chickens supplied by Good Food for Good People.
Chicken with berbere spices
Chickpea and sweet potato stew
Tomato, cucumber, and sweet onion salad
Wilted kale with yogurt cheese
Spiced honey bread, blueberries and cream
Then see the 30-minute film "A Thousand Suns," an encouraging look at the unique relationship between the Gamo people of the Ethiopian highlands and the land around them. Go here to download a fact sheet and discussion guide to accompany the film.
The cost for dinner and the movie is $10 for adults, $5 for children. Call 321-8500 for reservations. Here's a link to the video (but watch the film at Wednesday's screening to better enjoy the magnificent sweep of the landscape).
If that mode of preparation sounds a little familiar — like, maybe, a kebab — you’re on the right track. Kay Bob’s (get the name now?) is a kebab place with a Southern twist, says Pizza Perfect’s Amir Arab, who’s a native of Iran but has lived in Middle Tennessee since the ’70s. He and his brother Ali own the Pizza Perfect at 1602 21st Ave. S. and its Bellevue spin-off. (The Pizza Perfect on Granny White is a separate operation owned by Amir’s former business partner.)
Amir Arab says one reason to skew the concept away from straight-ahead Middle Eastern cuisine is to avoid duplication with the upstairs neighbor, a Middle Eastern restaurant called … Middle East Restaurant. But the blending of food traditions also reflects Arab’s dual perspective.
“I’ve been here for 30 years,” he says, recalling the culture shock when he came to Middle Tennessee from Iran in the late ’70s. “I go back now and I don’t know it,” he says, laughing. “Nothing’s seasoned the way I like it.”
He does plan to play up everything that’s healthy about traditional kebabs, like fresh ingredients cooked over a flame instead of a greasy griddle. All the sauces will be made from scratch, he says, including lemon-saffron, cucumber and one of his nods to Southern comfort food: barbecue sauce. He’ll also have a house-made olive tapenade to top the sandwiches.
But along with healthy and even vegetarian options, Arab promises hearty fare like grilled kielbasa. And to help folks kick back after work, Kay Bob’s will serve beer (no wine or cocktails), including six brews on draft.
A Pizza Perfect veteran, Andrew Tarpley, will manage Kay Bob’s as a co-owner. The team hopes to open Kay Bob’s open sometime in July, after major construction to expand and improve the space, which has had a long and not always illustrious life representing a world tour of cuisines in various quick-serve guises — Chinese, Japanese, Indian and most recently, burritos. (Predecessor Mr. Burrito Fresh was locally owned and had a pretty good menu, but it lasted only a couple years.)
Chris Chamberlain and several Bites readers have already chimed in on the delights that Jim's serves up in the unlikely but convivial setting of a small shop in a gas station parking lot at 4663 Trousdale Drive (445-3006). Carrington says:
The real ode to the classic Michigan Coney Island is the natural casing — the length of sheep intestine used to contain the 80/20 blend of beef and pork — and of course, the chili.
"Michelle and I know, when someone asks for a 'hot dog combo,' they mean they want ketchup, mustard and relish. But if they ask for a 'Coney combo', they want chili," Butler says. The chili in question is a yellowish, oatmeal-textured medley of ground beef and cumin — not the deep-red pepper-fired and kidney-riddled stew of the ubiquitous chili dog. The slop on top adds just a touch of moisture and subtle spice to the frank, without smothering the signature snap of the casing when it pops between your teeth. That feeling — akin to biting into one of those long balloons used to fashion animals at children's birthday parties — can be something of an acquired taste, but it's a sensation ardent Midwesterners will defend until their last dying swig of Vernors ginger soda or red-dyed Faygo Rock & Rye.
For Southerners who don't cotton to the elastic crack of natural casing, Jim's serves up a burger that's easy to love. With telltale ragged edges of hand-patted beef, the generous burgers lop over the sides of sweet, soft flour-dusted buns, loaded with lettuce, tomato, onions and melted American cheese.
The cookies won't have to travel far. Since 1995, Nashville's The Christie Cookie has held the secret DoubleTree recipe, which people have chased across the Internet. If you've tried making your own, stop by to see how they compare — and register in the meantime for prizes ranging from weekend getaways to tins of the coveted cookies. The grand prize is a five-day/four-night stay at any DoubleTree by Hilton location, airfare included.
One thing I like that about Happy Eating is that I can often find it in the Happy Japan parking lot. So I know if I'm overtaken by a sudden craving for gyoza — and let's face it, it can happen to anyone at any time — I know where to go.
DD and I were shopping for a birthday gift that was peculiar, strange and inexplicable, and really, there's no culture more inexplicable than Japanese pop culture. It's pretty much all wth? Exhibit A, these motorized sushi toys.
With Happy Japan as our shopping venue, we got Happy Eating as our lunch venue. The hiro tacos — with wonton skins standing in for tortillas —were too odd a combo of sweet, chewy and vegetabley for DD, but the glazed pineapple worked. We both loved the gyoza, stuffed with finely ground meat and served with a soy ginger dipping sauce.
Chris Chamberlain and I often discuss the economics of food trucks, and we like this development of semi-reliable parking, like Saturday afternoons at Musicians Corner in Centennial Park. Mobile is good, and being mobile-plus-Twitter is great for a business that wants to be flexible and find a wide customer base. But it's also nice for customers to be able to find their craving reliably.
What truck is conveniently located for you, and what else do you wish you had more access to?
Now, the good news is that Joey's should be a little easier to find. The bad news for Brentwooders is that Joey's is moving about twelve miles away to 897 Elm Hill Pike, where Elvy's Deli was previously located, on the hillock overlooking downtown right near the I-40 Fessler's Lane exit. That building has remained vacant for years, so I'm sure that the neighborhood will be happy to have another dining option, especially one as beloved as Joey Macca's restaurant which serves some of the best pizza, calzones and subs in Middle Tennessee. The new outpost should be open some time in the next couple of months, and I promise to keep you posted.
But as the good lord taketh away, he also giveth in the form of another pie option for the Brentwood/Franklin area as Porta Via plans to open a new location at 3301 Aspen Grove Drive at the corner of Cool Springs Boulevard West some time in mid-September. The new restaurant will occupy the space that was previously occupied by Tossed, and in a thoughtful effort to replace the lost opportunity for fast salad options, Porta Via has committed to expand their salad offerings.
From their official announcement:
You call these weekly assemblies of home-baked goods, food stands and organic produce "farmers' markets." I call them "food courts." Two weeks ago I made it through the Saturday morning West Nashville Farmers Market in Richland Park with the best barbecue sandwich I've had in Nashville (more on that later), a big cup of basil lemonade from Primm Springs, a crisp, gooey empanada from Karla Ruiz (and damn the scoundrel who absconded with her entire supply of tamales!) and a grilled rice cake basted with tamari from Naoko's Delights.
But the best farmers' market find I've found recently along these lines — and perhaps the most counter-intuitive, no pun intended — is at the Saturday morning Woodbine Farmers Market in Coleman Park. This budding market already has one of my favorite items, available nowhere else I've seen: Ben Smythe's Banjamin's Ghost Pepper Elixer & Seasoning, a variety of zippy spice powders, rubs and condiments with the dusky atomic bang of the infamous Bhut jolokia throughout. I put it on eggs; I put it on buttered bread; I snort it off the table in lines.
And now I can put it on biscuits and gravy as I walk around the Woodbine market, thanks to Jon Heidelberg and his Jonbalaya Catering. An affiliate of Riffs Food Truck — where Chef Carlos was dispensing amazing blackened fish tacos and Thai beef salad over noodles last week across the shady field — Jonbalaya has the breakfast I've been craving on early-morning trips to the farmers market: buttery biscuits with perfect discs of poached egg and mild country sausage, available with a rich sausage gravy that shames Cracker Barrel. That's $4; the biscuit, egg and sausage alone are $2.50. Great stuff.
Jonbalaya and Riffs have a lot of mutual joshing going on. When I bought a peach iced tea from Jonbalaya, Jon directed me across the lot to tell the guys manning Riffs his tea put theirs to shame. I did so, expecting a plateful of Thai beef salad in the face. (Which wouldn't be a bad thing.) Chef Carlos grinned and shook his fist in mock indignation. The smart guy would go early enough to have Jonbalaya's biscuits and gravy — washed down with either a Primm Springs lemonade or a chocolate milk from the Dairy-Air Airstream trailer — spend an hour or so hanging out and striking up conversations, then hit the Riffs truck on the way out.
I talked to chef Roderick Bailey the other day, and he told me they're finishing up the construction, which almost doubled the size of the eatery from about 800 square feet to just shy of 1,600. "It feels bigger than twice the space, actually," Bailey says. Whatever the actual numbers, there's now room for 44 seats (as opposed to 20 before), which includes a 10-foot community table and a bar handmade from 87-year-old walnut.
The tiny cooking area that served diners before has been replaced. "I have somewhat of a proper kitchen now," Bailey says, "a a convection oven, a fixed burner range — we're still going to use the George Foremans and a panini press, but we'll able to offer a little more stuff, especially dinner-wise." Speaking of dinner, that's the biggest change to the menu.
I gave you the heads up earlier this month about the upcoming wine and beer tasting series at Amerigo, but now that I've received more details on next week's upcoming beer tasting, it seemed notable enough to warrant an update. They'll be serving some exotic beers I've never seen on a restaurant menu, so if you're a connoisseur, consider dropping in next Monday to their West End location.
Here are the details:
I love the idea of a restaurant directly requesting client critique. It's a brave stance, asking diners to address their critique directly to you. On the other hand, it's a good way to adjust the food so it appeals to the maximum number of diners. Call it a miniature focus group.
Here are the new dishes Hartel wants reviewed, descriptions penned by Chef Anita, which you can always tell because of the ellipses.
Seared Scallops ... linguine with farmers' market squashes & peppers .. carrot-chipotle sauce. Nice ... light ... stunning color on the plate.
Risotto with roasted heirloom tomatoes, spinach & speck ham ... red wine reduction
Duck Breast ... mulberry reduction( Anita picked & canned) ... gorgonzola bread pudding ... local green beans ... Chris's tomato-rosemary jam
Vegetarian dish ... red curried lentils ... raita ... root vegetables ... red potatoes ... cranberry chutney ... Indian fried cracker
Go order dinner, then be fearless in your opinions. If you're not the type to call the chef to the table to chat, come back here and share your thoughts — and all your weekly dining experiences — on Bites.
Condolences. The bums lost. My advice is to do what your parents did; get a…
To Chris's point, $1 on a $15 tab is 7%. That is not insignificant.
1. Lockeland Table
4. Kien Giang
5. Jim & Nick's
Come down and see us Nashville. We have a real cool summer treat for you.