Friday, August 19, 2011

Wandering Wino: St. Peter Edition

Posted By on Fri, Aug 19, 2011 at 5:58 AM

If you think that "Pietra Santa" sounds like an Italian winemaker, you'd be half correct. Alesio Carli, the head winemaker at Pietra Santa is a native of Siena, Italy, but the grapes he works with and the winery he runs are located just a little bit east of Monterey Bay in California. Their estates feature multiple microclimates which provide optimal growing conditions for a wide range of grapes. Carli uses this fruit to craft a wide range of wines using a blend of his traditional Italian expertise and modern California sensibility and technology. The result is some outstanding wine, and Nashvillians are lucky enough to have two opportunities next week to meet Alesio, taste the fruits of his efforts and discuss winemaking with him.

The first chance will be next Wednesday, Aug. 24, at 6:30 p.m. at JJ's Wine Bar in Franklin. JJ's is located at 206 E. Main St., and if you're interested RSVP ASAP to 942-5033. The next night, Alesio will be hosting a wine dinner at Bombasha Brazilian Steak House in Hillsboro Village at 2000 Belcourt Ave. The event also begins at 6:30 on Thursday, Aug. 25. For reservations, call 463-0021.

If you're not going to tonight's Night Market at the Nashville Farmers' Market, then ... well, bummer because I'm not going to see you. But if you're looking for another wining and dining option, consider Whole Foods in Green Hills, where they're holding a tasting of wines from Chile and Argentina tonight from 6:30 to 7:30 p.m. $15 gets you in to the demo, so here's the full description:

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Thursday, August 18, 2011

Pimp Your Lunchbox with '400 Best Sandwich Recipes'

Posted By on Thu, Aug 18, 2011 at 11:10 AM

Lunch Box Sushi
  • Lunch Box Sushi
As the kiddies return back to school, I'll bet that many Bitesters are grappling with the age-old issue of how to make school lunches interesting and healthy. While there's nothing wrong with the occasional bologna sandwich, studies prove that children who have a more varied diet when they're young become healthier eaters and make better nutritional choices as they grow up.

Luckily, help is on the way in the form of a new cookbook written by Birmingham, Ala., recipe developer, food educator and nutritionist Alison Lewis. Her book is titled 400 Best Sandwich Recipes and runs the gamut of foods that you can pack in a lunchbox and eat with your hands. Her definition of a "sandwich" includes wraps, burgers, panini and even desserts. She also offers readers the recipes for 50 different condiments to help dress up your sandwich, such aiolis, chimichurri, pestos, chutneys and several varieties of mayonnaise and relishes.

The recipes emphasize healthy ingredients and are written very simply and clearly. Each dish also includes a personal tip from Alison that explains where she came up with the idea or a helpful hint to assist in the preparation. Most of the ingredients are either already in your larder or easily sourced at your local supermarket, although some of the more obscure Indian, Middle Eastern or Thai sandwiches might require a trip to a specialty market.

But don't think that all the recipes are tricked-out or exotic. In fact, there are 90 grilled cheese recipes in this book. (Sounds like a good idea for a food truck, eh?) This really is the go-to book on portable food, and you'll be able to pack years' worth of school lunches for your family without ever repeating yourself.

Alison was gracious enough to share one of her favorite lunch box specials with Bites readers. Her version of Lunch Box Sushi arose from her family's frequent requests for sushi that could survive a trip on a school bus. It looks delicious and fairly simple to assemble, and I'm sure some kids would like to join in on the assembly process.

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Wednesday, August 17, 2011

'Garden and Gun' Gets Us, Part 2: Kathleen Cotter's Top Southern Cheeses

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 3:17 PM

Yesterday Chris Chamberlain pointed out that trendy Southern mag Garden & Gun was smart enough to feature Bar No. 308 co-owner Alexis Soler in its "Southern Women" issue.

Apparently, G&G is hip to at least one other savvy Nashville foodie: Kathleen Cotter of The Bloomy Rind. Proclaiming that Cotter "knows her curds," the magazine asked her to list 10 great cheeses for the ultimate Southern cheese plate. Check out her choices here.

Meanwhile, Cotter is gearing up for the Southern Artisan Cheese Festival, a new event planned Sept. 30 through Oct. 1 at the Nashville Farmers' Market. "Meet cheesemakers and food artisans from around the South and sample their delicious, hand-crafted wares. Craft brews and boutique wines will also be available for your pairing pleasure," reads the blurb on the festival's Facebook page.

The cheese fest is looking for sponsors and other assistance, with lots more details to come. As for The Bloomy Rind, it's also on Facebook. And don't forget The Bloomy Rind will be at Friday's Night Market, 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. at the Nashville Farmers' Market.

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Wine Wednesday: Two Great Inexpensive Reds for Your Pasta Pleasure

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 7:58 AM

After last week's Tomato Art Fest when the streets of the East Nashville ran red with the juice of a thousand tomatoes, a man naturally starts thinking about what the hell to do with all these rapidly ripening red fruits. Many of the most obvious solutions that come to mind involve making pasta or pizza sauces or bruschetta. Of course, these dishes beg for red wine to accompany them, and in particular Italian reds.

So who better to ask for advice than the man who whose Woodland Wine Merchant shop was right in the middle of the action during the Tomatocalypse? Will Motley is often my go-to guy when I'm seeking out affordable lesser known European wines. He keeps a great stock of affordable finds in the $12 to $18 range that you probably wouldn't know about unless you read deep into the back pages of The Wine Spectator. Since I don't have the time to do that, I usually just ask Will.

His latest recommendations to serve along with that tangy tomato-based Italian dish that you might be preparing to use the remains of the harvest that those little gray bastard squirrels haven't stolen from you — two wines from Castello La Farnetella.

The first is their 2008 Chianti Colli Sensei. Wine drinkers frequently have the misconception that Chianti is a type of wine or a grape varietal. Actually, Chianti is a region of Italy that grew out of a defense league formed by many small towns to protect themselves from frequent invasions of neighboring city states.

Chianti is separated into eight subregions, the most famous and the viticulturally significant being the Classico region. So when you see a bottle that is labeled Chianti Classico, that doesn't mean it's a classic Chianti. The Colli Senesi region of Chianti is literally right next door to where the best Chianti Classicos come from. That means you can buy a great Chianti grown from vineyards where the terroir is almost identical without having to pay Classico prices.

Castello La Farnatella is owned by Felsina, one of the key wine houses of the Chainti region. In fact, both of these wines are bottled by the Felsina production facility just across the border in Classico.

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Ex-Nashville Chef Sean Brock's Husk Named Best New Restaurant in U.S.

Posted By on Wed, Aug 17, 2011 at 5:52 AM

Sean Brock
Remember Sean Brock? The sparky young chef who did amazing work in Nashville at the Capitol Grille before moving to McCrady's in Charleston, S.C.?

He's already racked up a James Beard Award, taking the title of Best Chef Southeast as executive chef of McCrady’s in 2010. Now his other place, Husk, has been named Best New Restaurant in America by Bon Appetit magazine's Andrew Knowlton. (The story's in the September issue, which hits newsstands this week, and it's reported online in a slideshow on the BA website.

Here's a taste of what Knowlton had to say:

"Brock isn't reinventing Southern food or attempting to create some citified version of it. He's trying to re-create the food his grandma knew — albeit with the skill and resources of a modern chef. As a result, he (and Husk) has become a torchbearer for an honest style of home cooking that many of us never truly tasted until now."

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Tuesday, August 16, 2011

'Garden and Gun' Figures out What Nashville Already Knows: Alexis Soler and Bar No. 308 Are Cool

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 8:45 AM

Last fall, I told you about the opening of Bar No. 308 and the story of the co-owners Alexis Soler and Ben Clemons. In the months since, No. 308 has established itself as a favorite East Nashville watering hole by featuring expertly crafted, inventive cocktails and a warm, clubby environment. Or it may just be that once patrons climb up on those tractor seat bar stools, they just can't get down to leave. ...

Regardless, Soler and Clemons have spent practically every waking hour building up a loyal clientele and managing their fledgling business. Now people are starting to take notice. The cover story in the latest issue of Garden and Gun magazine is titled "Southern Women" — the piece seeks to redefine the concept of the Southern Belle through a series of profiles of modern Southern women they categorize as "Taste Makers," "Artists" and "Epicureans." Whether or not Southern belles really need redefinition is probably a topic for debate, but not here on the food blog.

But what is notable here is that in the Epicureans section, Soler was recognized for her talents as an entrepreneur and mixologist. Her sultry portrait taken at No. 308 certainly is an eye-catcher, but if you think it was easy, take a look at this behind-the-scenes video that I found of her photo shoot.

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First Bite: Bruster's Ice Cream Now Open at Concord and Nolensville

Posted By on Tue, Aug 16, 2011 at 5:48 AM

I've come to realize one of my favorite smells — right up there with gardenias, garlic, fresh basil and frying bacon — is waffle cones cooking. It's like inhaling an atmosphere of melted butter, a warm, caramelly scent that improbably always makes me think of Christmas. That smell enveloped us like a blanket fresh from the dryer the second we opened the door to Bruster's Ice Cream, which just opened last month at the intersection of Nolensville and Concord roads just past Lenox Village.

My family has come to love Bruster's from trips to Florida and Kentucky, where my kids squeal with delight as soon as they see the name with its cherry logo. The first time we ever visited one, in Kentucky, we pulled up to find a crowd of adults standing around in pajamas — a typically fanciful Bruster's promotion. Others include email alerts when your favorite flavor comes up in rotation — the stores cycle through some 145 flavors, from almond divinity to Winter Wonder white chocolate with peppermint flakes — to Banana Thursdays, where you get half off a banana split if you BYOB.

That's not all. The menu includes plump ice cream sandwiches, cakes, pies, smoothies and freezes, shakes and sundaes, all dispensed by a friendly staff that didn't betray any impatience as my 6-year-old dithered over the selections. We didn't need to be told the store makes its own waffle cones — the smell took care of that — but cakes, pies and ice creams are all made in-store as well.

Before now, the closest Bruster's was in Columbia, some 40 miles away. As the summer wanes, I can see the new Bruster's looming well into winter as a weekend destination, maybe after a family calzone and some wings down the road at Amico's New York Pizza. Bruster's is open weekdays 11 a.m.-10 p.m. and Friday-Sunday 11 a.m.-11 p.m. at 10646 Concord Road.

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Monday, August 15, 2011

'Hip Diner' Sixth & Pine Will Anchor Nordstrom Store in Green Hills

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 4:12 PM

Sixth & Pine is a new restaurant concept for Nordstrom that will open in the Nashville store in September. This image is from the inaugural location in Newark, Del.
  • Sixth & Pine is a new restaurant concept for Nordstrom that will open in the Nashville store in September. This image is from the inaugural location in Newark, Del.
The new outpost of luxury department store Nordstrom, set to open Sept. 16 in The Mall at Green Hills, will have a both full-service restaurant and a coffee bar within its chic confines.

Nordstrom, which has been operating notable restaurants in its stores for many years, is putting a new concept, Sixth & Pine, in the Green Hills location, as I report in this week's Food Biz column in the Nashville Post section of today's print edition of The City Paper. It's only the second Sixth & Pine on the scene; the first is in the Nordstrom at Christiana Mall in Newark, Del.

Described as "a hip diner with the heart of a deli," Sixth & Pine appears to have a comfort-food vibe — at least based on the menu for the Delaware location. Entrees there include roast chicken and meatloaf, with daily specials like prime rib on Saturdays and something that may sound mighty familiar to Southerners: fried chicken on Sundays.

Meanwhile, Nashville's Nordstrom will also have a coffee bar, called Ebar, at its mall entrance, selling pastries, fruit smoothies and grab-and-go snacks. As a Seattle-based company, Nordstrom will ply its customers with a full line of espresso drinks right there at the entrance to the store.

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Nashville Food Truck Association Forms to Represent Needs of Mobile Vendors

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 3:12 PM

Riffs Fine Street Food, flagship of the new Nashville Food Truck Association, at 12South Farmers Market
  • Photo: Eric England
  • Riffs Fine Street Food, flagship, of sorts, of the new Nashville Food Truck Association, at 12South Farmers Market
"We didn't plan on this," B.J. Lofback of Riffs Fine Street Food says, "but it was kind of forced on us."

He's referring to the brand-new Nashville Food Truck Association, formed last night at a meeting that included some 14 mobile food vendors — several of which also run brick-and-mortar businesses.

Lofback, who spoke with Bites via phone this morning, says the impending revision of the city's parking regulations — with a particular focus on mobile food vendors — provided much of the impetus for creating a formal trade association sooner rather than later. (You may recall Taste of Belgium owner Tom Perkins mentioning just such a possibility back in June.) Lofback was among the several food truckers to make the case for mobile at last week's Traffic and Parking Commission public hearing, and was selected as the fledgling association's president. They plan to file their official association paperwork this week.

Among its goals, the association plans to be proactive in lobbying the Public Works department on behalf of mobile vendors, and as Lofback puts it, to "work cooperatively with the authorities to be involved in whatever codes and regulations come about so they are mutually beneficial." Lofback is quick to emphasize that they're not trying to steamroll anyone: "I can't emphasize enough how much we do not want to be a problem," he says.

In addition to providing "a single point of contact" for people who are interested in Nashville's vehicular food vendors, the association will strive to "make sure food trucks and mobile vendors are good neighbors." This will include working with upstart vendors and drafting a code of conduct for association members.

"One thing we can do is self-regulate our members," Lofback says.

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Three Nashville Trucks Eye Food Network's The Great Food Truck Race Prize

Posted By on Mon, Aug 15, 2011 at 10:54 AM

This guy wants YOU to vote for a Nashville food truck
  • This guy wants YOU to vote for a Nashville food truck
At stake: $10,000 and a chance to appear on the next season of The Great Food Truck Race, the Food Network show wherein, uh, food trucks race. And competitively serve food and such, all under the watchful vest of celebri-chef Tyler Florence. Last night, voting started for a TGFTR contest in which the most vote-getting food truck in these great United States wins the aforementioned $10K and shot at a TV appearance.

The three Nashville contenders could certainly use our help: Mas Tacos Por Favor (43), Riffs Fine Street Food (137) and Moovers and Shakers (76) were all out of serious contention as of this morning — but that's nothing a little Music City Internettin' couldn't remedy. Each vote also counts as an entry into a sweepstakes for tickets to the New York City Wine & Food Festival. (And if you're in the mood for voting for food trucks, head over to our Best of Nashville ballot.)

So Nashvillians: You've stood in line for their food, now stand behind your favorite food truck and show them some digital support so they can win a bunch of money and maybe share a green room with Bobby Flay or something. Voting ends Sept. 12.

[The Great Food Truck Race]

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