Friday, December 30, 2011

Try Chef David Guas' Recipe for Hoppin' John for Luck on New Year's Day

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 7:51 AM

Chef David Guas
  • Chef David Guas
Many of us, especially those of us born and bred in the South, have lots of New Year's Day traditions concerning foods to eat to bring good luck in the coming year. Specifically, most of these superstitions revolve around good fortune, as in how to get richer.

Cornbread is the color of gold, and eating it supposedly attracts gold to the diner. Greens, whether collard, turnip or mustard, are supposed to represent green folding money. Black-eyed peas or field peas are symbolic of pennies or coins, and the fact that they swell when cooked represents your increasing bank account in 2012. It is also a tradition to leave a coin under the pot when cooking them or under each bowl as you serve them to reinforce the wish.

Other practices include the Spanish tradition of eating a grape at each peal of the bell at midnight on New Year's Eve. I tried this one last year, and I can tell you that it's a Kobayashi-like feat when you've already had a good meal and perhaps a few glasses of Champagne. But if it really does bring prosperity, it's worth forcing them down.

Other superstitions rate both foods to eat and ones to avoid. Pork is traditionally favored because pigs root forward. Conversely, avoid lobster (known to swim backwards) and chicken (known to scratch backwards). No word on delicious, delicious beef, which tends to just stand there and grow tastier.

Around these parts, black-eyed peas and greens dishes seem to be the most popular. Texas Caviar is a dip that seems to be a good way to get some luck into your black-eyed-pea-averse friends. More traditional is the Low Country classic dish called Hoppin' John. Although the origin of the name is still cloudy (some think it's a bastardized pronunciation of the Haitian Creole term for black-eyed peas "pois pigeons"), some variation of beans and rice are popular from Texas to Brazil. Even more full of fortune are those who can prove their frugality by extending their Hoppin' John beyond New Year's Day to make leftovers from them. These dishes are known as Skippin' Jenny. Go figure.

Since Hoppin' John is so close to traditional red beans and rice, I sought out a recipe to share with our Bites readers from a true son of the Big Easy, Chef David Guas of Bayou Bakery in Arlington, Va.. Guas grew up in New Orleans and spent his early culinary career learning his craft from chefs around the city. As an avid sportsman, it wasn't too difficult for Guas to trade the bayous of Louisiana for the marshes of the Chesapeake when he had the opportunity to move to the D.C. area in 1998. Since then, he has worked as a pastry chef in several kitchens until he opened his own Bayou Bakery in late 2010. He is a frequent guest on the Today show and has been featured in The Washington Post, The New York Times, Esquire, Oprah Magazine and Bon Appétit.

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It's a Dick's Thing: Open Thread Recalls the Top 10 Bites Posts of 2011

Posted By on Fri, Dec 30, 2011 at 5:59 AM

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Welcome to Weekly Open Thread, where this week we look back at the 10 most popular posts on the Bites blog over the past year. I'm not sure what this list says about us, Bites Nation. People clearly care about good bourbon, Brazilian steakhouse fare and the fascination of The Catbird Seat. And Jeni's ice cream and food truck battles.

And restaurants with naughty names.

Take a look at the list, and share your thoughts with Bites. Or ignore the list and share your thoughts with Bites. This is the place to sound off about the year that's ending, the year to come, your favorite recent eats or whatever's tickling your palate and brain today.

Without further ado, the Top 10 most clicked-upon Bites posts of the year:

10. Prince's Chicken and Rooster's Steaks: Man v. Food Nation's Nashville Episode Airs Wednesday

9. Goldberg Brothers To Launch The Catbird Seat, a New Restaurant Above Patterson House

8. Ifuku on Charlotte: Get Your Mind Out of the Gutter ... If You Can

7. Battle of the Food Trucks at Greer Stadium Oct. 2

6. Whiskey Wednesday: It's Pappy Week!

5. Bombasha Brazilian Steakhouse Opens in Trace Space

4. Chuy's Bringing Its Tex-Mex Party to Midtown

3. Jeni's Ice Cream to Open June 24 in East Nashville; Free Scoops the Night Before

2. Rodizio Brazilian Steakhouse to Heat Up Hillsboro Village

1. Dick's Last Resort to Open in Nashville in May

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Thursday, December 29, 2011

The Year in Food: From Food Trucks to Fine Dining, Nashville Was on a Roll in 2011

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 12:46 PM

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In today's issue of the Nashville Scene, Culture Editor Steve Haruch looks back on all the food news of 2011, which turned out to be a very lively year in dining.

"Throughout the year, a steady rhythm of restaurant openings sent us to all corners of the city, clamoring for new flavors and endlessly rewarded for our travels," he says.

The restrospective is cleverly organized in the form of a menu — check it out here.

And Bites Nation, if you have any thoughts on the eventful food year just passed, feel free to chime in here in the comments.

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TGI Friday's Throws a Wingding for the Music City Bowl

Posted By on Thu, Dec 29, 2011 at 8:11 AM

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If you have noticed the clanging of cowbells all over downtown or packs of fans wearing Demon Deacons (Fighting Oxymorons) sweatshirts, you're probably aware that it's time for the Franklin American Mortgage Music City Bowl this Friday, when Wake Forest faces Mississippi State. While we graciously open the doors of our hotels, restaurants and bars to our guests and really appreciate their contributions to our tax coffers, sometimes it's nice to to something for the locals.

TGI Friday's wants to give Middle Tennesseans a treat before, during and after tomorrow's game. Normally, Friday's All-You-Can-Eat Wings promotion is only available in the bar area of participating restaurants on Saturday, Sunday and Monday, but in honor of the bowl game they are offering the deal from one hour before game time until one hour after the final whistle.

That means from about 4:30 to 8:30 p.m., you can enjoy as many wings as you can handle for one flat rate along with TGI Friday's voluminous bar menu of beers and specialty cocktails. You know you don't want to be any closer to the stadium than twenty blocks at game time anyway. If you don't happen to be near the West End location, the deal is also good at their locations in the hinterlands. Here's a list of all the participating restaurants:

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Wednesday, December 28, 2011

New Year's PSA: Navigating the Perils of Partying

Posted By on Wed, Dec 28, 2011 at 6:03 AM

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We here at Bites love a great party as much as anybody. And with New Year's Eve falling on Saturday night this year, there's a lot of pressure to blow it out big time. So please, go ahead and have fun but do it as safely as possible. To help, we've got some useful advice as you set your game plan for the big night.

First and foremost, plan your game and work your plan. Trying to drive or get a cab from place to place and party to party is difficult enough on a regular Saturday night let alone the mother of all amateur nights. Try to schedule your visits around a centralized spot and walk from place to place. It'll probably be faster than trying to drive or hitch a ride between stops — and undoubtedly safer. As always, if there is nobody in your group sober enough to drive, take advantage of public transportation, especially from one of two Sober Ride bus stops at 2nd & Church or 5th & Broadway to catch a free, safe, and sober ride home, AAA's 1-800-AAA-HELP "Tow to Go" deal or for Pete's sake, just call somebody and wake them up to ask for a ride home. Any friend worth his or her salt would much rather drive you home from the Exit/In rather than bail your sorry butt out of jail — or worse.

Another real and present danger you might not even think about comes from annual tradition of popping the old Champagne cork. I'm more of a gentle uncorker myself, because I hate to waste good hooch just for the sound of a "pop' and a shower of bubbles. But if you insist on opening your bottles with panache, here's some official advice from the American Academy of Ophthalmology:

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Tuesday, December 27, 2011

Restaurant Recap: Openings and Closings in 2011

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 11:40 AM

Hot dogs at Coris on West End, one of the scores of new restaurants this year
  • Photo: Eric England
  • Hot dogs at Cori's on West End, one of the scores of new restaurants this year
Despite a weak economy and rising food costs, Nashville’s restaurant scene was vibrant in 2011. There were some painful closings, but at the same time, interesting restaurant launches were abundant.

My Food Biz column this week in the Nashville Post section of The City Paper looked back at the year in restaurants. There were too many openings to recap in detail, so I highlighted two restaurant ventures on opposite ends of the spectrum — The Catbird Seat and Cori's Dog House — both representing local business veterans using their smarts and experience to bring something special to Nashville.

Meanwhile, here's a compilation of restaurants that opened or closed in 2011. The list is very likely incomplete — closings, in particular, tend to happen with little fanfare. In the interest of brevity, I didn't include the explosion of mobile food vendors. I also added a peek at restaurants expected in 2012.

As always, feel free to use the comments to mention places we missed.

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Hot Doughnuts NOW? There's an App for That

Posted By on Tue, Dec 27, 2011 at 5:56 AM

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If you're one of the gazillion people who got an iPhone or iPad as holiday gift, then you're in luck. (If you didn't get the gadget you want, please don't whine about it like the list of horribly ungrateful teens that are being aggregated by the twitterfeed @fart. It really is a horrific display of greediness that will undermine your faith in the future.)

Anyway, if you're a member of the smartphone-empowered set, there's a fun new app out there that will help to streamline your quest for that elusive pillowy, sugary treat, the hot Krispy Kreme glazed doughnut. The Krispy Kreme® "Hot Light™" App (for iPhone and Android) allows you to enter your zip code into your phone and then receive notifications whenever a nearby Krispy Kreme has turned on the magical "Hot Doughnuts NOW" neon sign. There's also a widget you can download to the desktop of your computer.

It even works when you're traveling, since there are hundreds of Krispy Kreme locations in the U.S. To install the desktop widget or download the free app for your iPhone or Android device, visit the official Hot Light website.

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Saturday, December 24, 2011

Restaurants Open Christmas Day in Nashville

Posted By on Sat, Dec 24, 2011 at 11:26 AM

For many restaurants, Dec. 25 is the only day of the year when they close. Happily for us hungry folks, a few keep the lights on, even on Christmas. Here’s our list, probably incomplete. As always, hotels are often a good bet to be open on the holiday, along with some Asian restaurants. So if you have a favorite, give them a call to see. Actually, it’s always good idea to call first, since holiday hours sometimes change at the last minute. If you know of others, please post them below — and let us know whatever you find if you venture out.

Happy holidays, and Merry Christmas from Bites!

• Bombay Palace, 2912 West End Ave., 321-6140.
• Calhoun’s, 96 White Bridge Road, 356-0855.
• Capitol Grille/Oak Bar at Hermitage Hotel, 231 Sixth Ave. N., 345-7116. (Capitol Grille will be serving a three-course prix-fixe dinner from 5 to 8 p.m.)
• Chinatown, 3900 Hillsboro Pike, 269-3275. Definitely call before you go, because this Green Hills spot sometimes has a full house on Christmas Day.
• 1808 Grille (Hutton Hotel), 1808 West End Ave., 340-0012.
• Latitude (Nashville Marriott at Vanderbilt), 2555 West End Ave., 340-5152.
• Riverfront Tavern, 101 Church St., 252-4849.
• Sitar, 116 21st Ave. N., 321-8889.
• Sperry’s, 5901 Harding Pike, 353-0809, and 650 Frazier Drive in Cool Springs: 778-9950.
• Suzy Wong's House of Yum, 1517 Church St., 329-2913. (Suzy Wong's will be serving full menu 5 to 11 p.m.)
• Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine, 3415 West End Ave., 463-3005.

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Friday, December 23, 2011

Wandering Wino: I Wonder While I Wander Edition

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 10:26 AM

Special Holiday Cameo by WWs Xmas Poodle
  • Special Holiday Cameo by WW's Xmas Poodle
As you would expect, the wine tasting schedule is pretty light this week. Not that folks aren't slamming the liquor stores buying gifts for loved ones and provisions for personal consumption. The parking lot at Frugal MacDoogal's earlier this week looked like Cool Springs Galleria, but with much better options like Flyte, Jackalope and Yazoo Brewhouse instead of Ruby Tuesday to offer a respite in between gusts of commerce.

But remember that Christmas falls on a Sunday this year, so there will be NO PLACE FOR YOU TO RESTOCK YOUR SUPPLIES in case Uncle Jimmy Wayne drinks all your good hooch or you need to deaden the pain from the holiday Pictionary tournament. Get your shopping done today or tomorrow. You're welcome.

If you happen to be taking today off like the rest of the civilized world, you could always spend the afternoon tasting through some of your friends at Vinea's favorite wines of the year. Drop by their shop on 12th Avenue to enjoy some holiday cheer.

This week we're moving our regular Saturday tasting to Friday (Dec 23) evening 5-7pm. If you're last minute shopping or wanting to relax and try some wine we've got a few new things we'd like to share with you to taste. We'll be open Saturday, but just no tasting.

Friday we're tasting some new wines, a few even on the 7 for $70 Rack, where you pick 7 wines out of the 15+ to choose from, retailing anywhere from $10-$16, and then they all magically become $10 bucks!

Here's what's on deck for Friday, Dec 23th 5-7pm:

Yvon Mau Colombard/Chardonnay - France, Cotes De Gascogne - $10
Cantine Valpane Barbaera - Monferrato, Italy - $17
Yvon Mau Merlot - Vin De pays De L'Aude - $10
Gladium Tempranillo - La Mancha, Spain - $14
Fescenino Tempranillo Duero, Spain - $16
Ch√Ęteau Le Cluzeau - Bordeaux, France - $13

AND all our tasting wines will be 15% off these prices for joining us at the tasting on Friday!

Sounds like a good way to spend a holiday to me. Until next week, have a safe and happy holiday!

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Nashville's Vegetarian and Vegan Options on the Rise

Posted By on Fri, Dec 23, 2011 at 9:30 AM

The days of Nashville restaurants serving nothing but a baked potato and steamed veggies to vegetarians are over, and local restaurateurs are keeping up with vegetarians’ demand for more meatless choices.

Although Nashville has an abundance of barbecue pits and chop houses, many local restaurant owners are savvy to the fact that non meat-eaters want more variety in their dining options. And though Nashville’s a far cry from the South’s vegetarian Meccas like Asheville or Atlanta, local restaurateurs are wising up to it.

As a vegetarian, I’ve come to be a discriminating diner — the type who does research on a restaurant before going to eat there. I don’t like sitting down, looking at a menu and having to leave because there’s nothing for me to eat. But local restaurants like Jamaica Way, The Wild Hare, Sloco, Tayst, mÄmbu, the Wild Cow, Porta Via, Gojo Ethiopian Cafe, PM, Rosepepper Cantina, Woodlands or Anatolia are ready and able to accommodate me, my vegetarian fiancé, my vegetarian mother and my vegetarian friends.

Chef Jeremy Barlow, owner of Tayst and Sloco, said he has embraced the growing demand for vegetarian cuisine in Nashville.

“[We] saw the increased need and desire for vegetarian and vegan food at Tayst over the last eight years, and we just kind of embraced it,” Barlow says. “You can make some awesome vegan food. We always kind of prided ourselves on the fact that we knew that vegetarians could come in and eat just as well as everybody else.”

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