Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Tickets Now on Sale for Battle of the Food Trucks Oct. 2

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 6:12 PM

A while back Steve Haruch told us about a monumental-sounding event coming up this fall: Battle of the Food Trucks.

If that news got you excited, you'll be happy to know you can now lock in your tickets for the new event, which takes place 3 to 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 2 at Greer Stadium. Tickets are $25, and proceeds benefit The Tomorrow Fund (a fund of the Community Foundation of Middle Tennessee) and its mission to help children.

Admission includes entry into the event, samples from every food truck and one drink ticket. Bring five cans of food for donation to Second Harvest Food Bank and receive one extra drink ticket.

This is a battle, of course, and you'll be able to vote for your favorite truck amongst all the contestants. The master of ceremonies is Chef Arnold Myint.

Participating food trucks include some that are familiar and some we haven't heard much about:

Deg Thai, Hoss' Loaded Burgers, JonBalaya, Love Shack, Maggie's Mobile Slab, Moovers & Shakers, Riff's, Taste of Belgium, Terradelicious, The Cupcake Collection, Izzies Ice, Fleur de Lis, Tin Can Treats, Mere Bulles, The Latin Wagon, Smoke et al, Mean Green Ice Cream Machine and Sugar Wagon.

Go here to purchase tickets.

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Willie Nelson Covers Coldplay in Short Film That Plugs Chipotle as Pro-Environment

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 4:30 PM

Bites' mind is reeling. Country icon and friend to farmers Willie Nelson covers Coldplay's "The Scientist" in an animated short film critical of factory farming — a film created by fast-food burrito giant Chipotle to tout its commitment to sustainability and raise money for the Chipotle Cultivate Foundation, "which provides funding to support sustainable agriculture, family farming, and culinary education."

We have no idea how we feel about this. What are your thoughts, Bites Nation?

Chipotle's press release describing the project:

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The Catbird Seat Sets Opening Date of Oct. 12, Starts Taking Reservations

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 3:05 PM

The Catbird Seat, the fascinating upcoming restaurant above The Patterson House that will serve a seven-course chef's menu to 30 diners seated around a mini-kitchen manned by two nationally known chefs, has announced its opening night: Wednesday, Oct. 12.

In addition, the restaurateurs behind the project, Benjamin and Max Goldberg of Strategic Hospitality, have begun taking reservations for The Catbird Seat via an online reservation system, which can schedule up to 90 days in advance. That's found on the Catbird Seat website, which also includes an FAQs section that reveals the price of the seven-course meal: $100 exclusive of tax and tip. For another $30, you get beverages paired with the meal.

Meanwhile, the Goldbergs (who own Patterson House, Paradise Park Trailer Resort, Merchant's, events space Aerial and Diana's Sweet Shoppe) have been issuing unusually detailed updates via a Catbird Seat blog. (That's where I heard about the fact that Catbird chefs Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson have been issued custom chef's jackets designed by rhinestone master Manuel, which I wrote about jealously last week.) If you're intrigued by The Catbird Seat, the blog's worth checking out.

Today's full release:

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Pump up the Jam with Bathtub Gin Fruit Spreads (and Booze)

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 8:07 AM

Two of my favorite vendors at the monthly Night Market are Amy Lorber and Erin Ackley, a pair of sisters who run their own small artisan fruit spread business called "Bathtub Gin." You can usually find them stationed right next to another favorite purveyor, Kathleen Cotter of The Bloomy Rind, because their products complement each other so exquisitely.

As charming a duo as you could ask for to pitch their own product, Amy and Erin grew up making jams with their mother using fresh ingredients from their own garden. Now they have expanded these efforts into a line of jams that use fruit in the same way that speakeasies did — by combining them with a perfect match with a spirit or liqueur to enhance the flavors. They use organic and local ingredients whenever possible and have released several intriguing and flavorful varieties.

The first that I ever tasted and purchased was their Limoncello-Strawberry melange. While it's delicious on a crunchy piece of Melba toast or on top of a croissant, the sisters also suggest using it as a flavoring for smoothies or with a fruit salad. Of course, I immediately started thinking of a way to use it in a cocktail.

One of the favorite discoveries I made at this year's Tales of the Cocktail is that there is nothing wrong with enjoying a well-made cocktail with breakfast. Don't just limit yourself to bloody marys and mimosas; if you keep the alcohol levels manageable for morning consumption and look for flavor profiles that pair well with breakfast items, there's something damned civilized about sipping a highball with your eggs Benedict.

But the big surprise was that my favorite morning bracer was a drink made out of scotch. The thought of drinking blended scotch while the sun is shining had never crossed my mind before I tried a Monkey Jam Sour made from Monkey Shoulder Whisky, a triple malt made from three of Speyside's finest malts. Unfortunately, since Monkey Shoulder is not yet available in the U.S., it could be a long time before we can buy it in Tennessee.

Being the industrious (and cheap) lad that I am, I decided to substitute Dewar's and Bathtub Gin Limoncello-Strawberry in the original recipe to create a version of the Monkey Jam Sour that I strongly encourage you to try out some Sunday morning soon, perhaps before a Titans game. It's crisp, refreshing and will turn haters into Scotch lovers. It does contain a small bit of raw egg as do most fizzes, so as always drink at your own risk if you are concerned about that sort of thing.

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Looking and Cooking With Saveur's Recipe Comix

Posted By on Wed, Aug 31, 2011 at 5:56 AM

Fun pictures, light tone, lack of ingredient lists: If you could blow up the "cookbook" box to build a better one, comics would be a pretty good place to start.

Earlier this summer, Saveur online asked several comic artists to draw a recipe, calling the results Recipe Comix. Though reading and cooking go hand in hand, there are plenty of cooks who aren't readers. And since it's easier to learn by watching than reading, comics are a natural.

Take this one, from Ryan North (Dinocomix). You think it's going to be your basic ground beef and bean chili, but there are also chick peas and pickled cactus paddles.

The series includes useful recipes like a gingery cocktail, ice cream, cold noodle salad. No technique is too basic — one cartoonist tackled boiled eggs, another, potato wedges. For your amusement, artist Ali Kenifick tackled a Heston Blumenthal recipe (but not, thanks be, his snail porridge).

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Tuesday, August 30, 2011

New 'Que Review — Coming Right at You

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 8:42 AM

Last weekend's Music City Festival and BBQ Championship was the third year in a row for the event to be held along Nashville's riverfront, and by most accounts, it was the most successful yet. The weather was tolerable for late August (thanks, Irene), the crowds were teeming and the competition for the top prizes was fierce.

Walking around the park looking at the various contraptions that contestants were using to add smoke to meat was like taking a stroll through the parts yard on "Junkyard Wars." From the two-story high tech edifice used by the Harley Hogs Smokers to a simple 55-gallon drum with a chimney pipe sticking out of it, if you could build a fire in it and find a place to cram some brisket or a pork butt in it, odds are somebody was making some delicious barbecue with it in Riverfront Park.

My personal favorite was the pink pig smoker fabricated by the Algood BBQ Pit Crew from just outside of Cookeville. The friendly members of the crew showed me all the brilliant add-ons that they had manufactured to improve the smoke flow of the cooker and also to make it, well just more fun.

You had to laugh at the twisted curly steel tail that they had attached to the axle of the rotisserie so that it spun as the meat rotated through the hot zones. They also had one of those computerized pellet smokers, so between the old and new technology they did quite well, placing in two of the KCBS categories.

In what I considered a surprising result, the Peg Leg Porkers team only finished fourth in the Whole Hog category, despite the assistance of Pitmaster extraordinaire Pat Martin who helped them smoke this amazing-looking pig. The PLP team did win the "Grand Ole Porker Award" award as the top scoring local team in all the MBN categories.

If you are interested in all the results or just want to giggle at a couple of the punny pig names that the teams use, here's the whole rundown:

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Mumbo Jumbo is Magic Enough

Posted By on Tue, Aug 30, 2011 at 5:56 AM

Goat steaks from Peaceful Pastures coated with Mumbo-Jumbo and ready for grilling
  • Goat steaks from Peaceful Pastures coated with Mumbo-Jumbo and ready for grilling
Add to the list of local artisan producers Perri Suggett, whose Mumbo Jumbo Seasonings are positively enchanting way to conjure flavor.

Mumbo Jumbo Seasonings first caught my eye at foodblogSouth, where area vendors got a lovefest from a very attentive bunch of food writers.

The "Mesa" was the first blend I tried, and its precisely balanced flavor combination and high-grade Mercan Chilean roast chilies, ingredients so fresh they were still slightly moist. A sample of the "Elegance" packed a whiff of lavender in the herbes de Provence, coarse pepper and sea salt. Java blends pulverized coffee with cayenne, cinnamon and chili for is rib-ready and an instant steak solution. "Everyday" is an all-purpose alternative to salt-heavy seasoned salt. They're super-fresh, high-grade blends made with an expert's palate, and they're really something completely different.

"We knew we didn't want to be on the shelf next to McCormick," is how Suggett phrases the product's niche. The problem isn't finding what to do with them — it's having enough time to discover all the ways you could put them to work.

So I asked Suggett. She uses the Mesa in bloody marys (brilliant!) and on popcorn, Elegance on grilled fillets and on asparagus. Her toddler eats the Java on cucumber slices, while Mom uses it for grilling pork, yielding a crisp, coffee-cinnamon crust. She slow-cooks brisket in the "Everyday" and onions and nothing else.

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Monday, August 29, 2011

Act Fast — Like Yesterday — to Eat Sean Brock's Food at City House

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 9:00 AM

  • Capitol Grille chefs present and past, Tyler Brown (left) and Sean Brock
I'm kicking myself for a couple of reasons. First of all, I'll be out of town over Labor Day weekend so I can't take advantage of the usual deal where I make my own reservation and then tell y'all about a really cool guest chef dinner coming to town. And secondly, I waited too long to share the details with you Bitesters so this dinner was almost sold out as of last night, but hopefully at least some of you can still get in, enjoy the meal, take some pictures and let us all live vicariously through your experience. (Or even better, from a doggie bag.)

Remember when Dana told you a few weeks ago that ex-Nashville chef Sean Brock's Husk had been named the best restaurant in the U.S by Bon Appetit? Well, Chef Brock is bringing his amazing culinary talents back to town for one night only to cook dinner in Tandy Wilson's kitchen for a Sunday supper at City House this weekend on Sept. 4. The family-style dinner begins at 6 p.m., and the meal is ridiculously inexpensive for a chef of his caliber at $90/person, all including tax plus gratuity.

Add to that the fact that Sean will have just returned from a trip to Denmark to experience MAD FoodCamp, where he will have been the guest of host chef René Redzepi of Noma, a restaurant that has been named the best restaurant in the world two years running, and we can only expect that his creative juices will be running full-tilt to share with his old friends here in Nashville.

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College Food Survival? It's Cold Pizza Omelet for the Win!

Posted By on Mon, Aug 29, 2011 at 5:52 AM

In an example of life imitating art, back-to-school chaos overtook me at the very moment the Weekly Open Thread held a cookbook giveaway in honor of all the arriving college students. The prize, the I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook by Andrea Lynne.

Bitesters submitted their stories of cooking and eating on the super-cheap in the college (or college-era) years. Some scrappy tales of smuggled food, hot-pot mac-and-cheese and microwave rice were shared. Besting them all was the cold pizza omelet of BW.

Oh, I had too way many and luckily, have forgotten most, but my favorite college survival dish was the cold pizza omelet. Step one, order pizza late at night, usually while inebriated . Step two, don't finish it all. Step three, wake up a little groggy the next morning and look in the fridge to find only eggs and something that could be a used in a science class for mold reproduction. Step four, choose eggs. Step five, prepare eggs as you would for any omelet. Step six, when eggs are almost set, place piece of cold pizza in omelet and fold over. Serve and enjoy. Seriously, we did this one summer. And that may explain why I am the way I am today!


BW, for your ingenuity in the face of poverty, for your sheer culinary audacity, not to mention the strength of your digestive system and the assault on tastebuds, you're the winner of the I Love Trader Joe's College Cookbook! You find us, we'll find you, to claim your hard-won prize!

Friday, August 26, 2011

Answering Your ’Que-ries About the Music City BBQ Festival

Posted By on Fri, Aug 26, 2011 at 2:11 PM

Earlier this month, I told you all about the 3rd annual Music City Festival and BBQ Championship which is coming to Nashville this weekend. Then two days ago, because he apparently doesn't read my posts on Bites, Mike Smith told you all about it again. (Just kidding, boss! Editor's note: different Michael Smith.)

You'd think that would have answered all of everyone's questions about the festival, but it didn't. I heard some of the old complaints like, "You can't taste any of the competitors' barbecue" and, "You can't even buy a pork shoulder sandwich down there" and, "It's nothing but a bunch of funnel cake stands." Plus there was a new one this year: "What about the Titans game going on Saturday night?"

Legitimate questions all, so I took a little walk down the riverfront during lunchtime to get the skinny on the pork fat so all you Bitesters will want to come down and give a visit.

First of all, unlike some other festivals in town, there is actually shade available at the Music City BBQ Championship. Between the trees along First Avenue, the numerous tents where cooking demonstrations are being held and under the shadow of the Shelby Street Pedestrian Bridge, there is at least enough shade to take a brief respite from the sun. Plus, the fun doesn't really get rolling until after 5 p.m. tonight anyway, when The WannaBeatles hit the stage.

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