Monday, December 19, 2011

A Last Minute Appetizer with Brilliant Flavors and Lots of Style

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 11:32 AM

This time of year, the appetizer section of my recipe book gets a workout. Family parties call for casual dips and spreads. Serious foodie gatherings get elaborate bites rolled and stuffed with exotic ingredients. Small groups get super-festive foods.

This recipe has the virtue of being very easy to assemble. It's light when so many holiday appetizers are heavy. It looks pretty and tastes even better. I adapted it from Fine Cooking, maybe. It goes together in about 20 minutes. Tastes just right with beer or wine. It doubles successfully, and the leftover vinaigrette keeps for a week or so.

Smoked Salmon in Endive Spears with Lemon Dill Vinaigrette

1 tablespoon grainy mustard
1 tablespoon mayonnaise
2 tablespoons minced red onion
2 tablespoons minced fresh dill
1/4 lemon juice
1/3 cup olive oil
Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper to taste

8 to 10 ounces smoked salmon, cut into 15 pieces
Leaves from 2 Belgian endive (about 15)

Combine the mustard, mayonnaise, onion, dill and lemon juice in a small bowl and mix well. Gradually whisk in the olive oil. Season with plenty of salt and pepper.

Arrange the salmon in the endive leaves. Arrange on a platter. (You can make the dish up to this point and refrigerate, covered, for 2 hours.) Drizzle a little of the lemon-dill mixture over the salmon. Makes 15 pieces, 5 to 6 appetizer servings.
(There will be a lot of viniagrette left — instant salad dressing!)

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Wine-Loving Saucy Sisters Share 'What Every Girl Should Know Before She Unscrews'

Posted By on Mon, Dec 19, 2011 at 8:06 AM

Local wine experts Barbara Nowak and Beverly Pittman, known as The Saucy Sisters, have released their newest book The Saucy Sisters Guide to Wine — What Every Girl Should Know Before She Unscrews just in time for your holiday gift-giving pleasure. The book is a follow-up to their 2004 guide, The Saucy Sisters’ Guide to Wine - What Every Girl Should Know Before She Uncorks and demonstrates that they are in tune with the industry's new trends toward bottle closures.

The authors share their enthusiasm for screw-top wines by pointing out that there is no performance anxiety with unscrewing and no need to pack a corkscrew that ends up being confiscated by the TSA. The Saucies recently celebrated the release of their new book by setting a world record for “most women unscrewing bottles of wine simultaneously" at a gathering of 127 women, which raised funds for the Boys & Girls Club of Williamson County.

But most importantly, the book demonstrates their sense of humor and their utter lack of snobbishness when it comes to advice about how to choose and enjoy wine. I took one of their classes a couple of years ago and found the sisters to be highly entertaining and charming. The Saucy Sisters are proud that the latest book is especially written for "the girl who would rather sip than study, who feels like an outsider in a pack of wine snobs, but who welcomes a good laugh with her wine."

To see the Saucy Sisters in action, check out their cheeky YouTube video below:

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Friday, December 16, 2011

Cooper's on Porter Will Close for Good After Saturday Night

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 4:27 PM

Cooper's on Porter, a restaurant and bar that opened with promise a little less than a year ago and had one of the better outdoor decks in East Nashville, announced today that it is going out of business.

Tonight and Saturday will be its final two days, and transactions will be cash only, with a two-for-one deal on all draft beer "from 4 p.m. till it's gone," according to a post on the Cooper's on Porter page on Facebook.

Chef-owner Cooper Brunk confirmed the closing via email. "We've been in a slump for some time and I can no longer keep it going," he said.

Brunk, an accomplished chef and a veteran of both Ombi and MacK & Kate's, said he may take a break from the restaurant industry for a while. Asked about hints he might have another business in the works, he said he couldn't comment, but added, "We'll see."

Cooper's on Porter got good notices when it opened in January, with the Scene's Carrington Fox saying: "Dark and cozy, with comfortable booths and a manly vibe underscored by a deep bench of bottled and draft beers, Cooper's could be described as a fortunate collision of Brown's Diner and Rumours — made for a man but pretty enough for a woman. Or made for beer folks but culinary enough for food people."

The restaurant space is a retail anchor of the Porter East development, which includes housing for hearing-impaired residents along with shops. Another retail tenant, The Almond Tree Bakery recently announced on Facebook that it's taking a hiatus because the owners are expecting their first child.

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Popular East Nashville Restaurant The Silly Goose Closed 'Until Further Notice'

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 2:26 PM

The Silly Goose, the popular East Nashville dining spot whose creative menu has generated both critical acclaim and long lines for seating, announced today that it has shut its doors "until further notice."

Here's the announcement on The Silly Goose page on Facebook:

It saddens me to say that The Silly Goose is closed until further notice due to an untenable business issue. My gratitude to our fine staff , our customers, and the community. It has been my greatest pleasure to create and serve you. We look forward to resolving this administrative matter and seeing you all again soon. Happy holidays to all of you.

Bites is working to get more details, and we'll keep you posted.

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Wandering Wino: And If You're Not Careful, You Just Might Learn Something Edition

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 8:06 AM

Yes, your Wandering Wino was a big Fat Albert fan and always enjoyed being entertained while he learned. That's why I'm so excited about the event that Adventure Science Center, Yazoo Brewing Co. and Lipman Brothers are putting on this Wednesday, Dec. 21. The third annual "Science of Beer" evening will explore the world of stouts, ales and lagers from the perspective of the science behind their production.

From the official announcement:

Local and regional brewers will offer their wares for a night of tasting, sampling more than 50 different beers in 10 different styles from pale ales to stout to hard ciders. Each attendee will receive a free Yazoo glass to take home plus a pint of beer to enjoy at the event. In addition, a silent auction will provide opportunities to win a “Beer for a Year” package among other great packages.

Science center educators will provide exciting, hands-on activities demonstrating the science behind the oldest beverage known to man. Live demonstrations include experimenting with molecular gastronomy to make liquid nitrogen beer ice cream, optical illusions, fun with beer cans and a BYOB (Bring Your Own Brain) Olympics featuring various challenges. Competitors in the BYOB Olympics will vie for a Homebrewer’s Kit at the end of the night.

The evening's festivities will start at 6:30 p.m. and end at 10. Tickets are $30 each, or a “six pack” of tickets for $150, and must be purchased by 3 p.m., Tuesday, Dec. 20. There will be food for purchase available from Subway and Swanky’s Tacos to soak up the lager and power your brain. The event is, of course, 21+ and all proceeds benefit the Adventure Science Center. For more info or to order our tickets, visit their website at

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Open Thread Has Holiday Cheer To Spare

Posted By on Fri, Dec 16, 2011 at 5:33 AM

Oh someone! Get me a moist towelette — it's an eggnog tasting, featuring local Hatcher Dairy eggnog and Four Rose Small Batch, tonight 6 to 7:30 p.m. at Porter Road Butcher, 501 Gallatin Road. Porter Road carries the nog, and you can nip over to Woodland Wine Merchant to buy the Four Roses.

In a development that will gladden hearts on the west side, Sperry's has added a light-bites/appetizer menu of casual foods available before and after the dinner rush. Smoked salmon on toast points, prime rib sliders, filet mignon tidbits on stone-ground grits, escargot, jumbo shrimp cocktail, blackened prime rib, and baked brie — just $7 each. Get them from 5 to 7 p.m. or after 9 p.m. at the Harding Road location. (There's also a $6 a glass wine list!) Go to their Facebook page for more details.

And finally, briefly, expect a Penn Station East Coast Subs in a strip mall near you — businessman Praveen Patel just inked a 10-unit deal for the Nashville area, according to Delis are pretty thick on the ground in my neck of the woods, but some people prefer Penn Station to any other sub chain. What about you — want a Penn Station nearby?

Shopping, wrapping, partying, baking — what's up in your culinary life?

Thursday, December 15, 2011

Tomorrow's Night Market at Nashville Farmers' Market Will Be Last Before Winter Hiatus

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 1:59 PM

The monthly Night Market event at the Nashville Farmers' Market is one of the best parties in town, especially for food lovers, who can try restaurants, meet farmers and buy produce and other treats while strolling in a festive night-time atmosphere, including, if you wish, a glass of wine.

Jolie Ayn Yockey, the marketing director at NFM, sent out a note alerting us that tomorrow's Night Market will be the last for a while.

"We are going to take a little break to focus on our Grow Local Kitchen, give our merchants a little reprieve from what has been such a busy last few months in the food and farming world before the busy season starts again, and do some specialty events. Unless the public really wants night markets back ASAP we will sit out not less than January-February and not more than May," Yockey said in an email.

So, the last Night Market before the hiatus is 6 to 8 p.m. tomorrow, Dec. 16, and as Yockey says, it's "a great opportunity to shop for local holiday gifts and foods while sipping on fun libations, enjoying NFM restaurants, music by Paper Lantern and more."

She adds: "If you haven’t quite made it down [to Night Market] or know others who haven’t, now is definitely the time!"

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Beer Wars: May the Froth Be With You Tonight at Belcourt

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 8:29 AM

Beer Wars Screening and Discussion
Where: The Belcourt
When: 7 p.m. Thu., Dec. 15

You’re the good kind of beer snob, right? You support local craftsman brews like Yazoo, Blackstone, Jackalope, Jubilee and Calfkiller. You threw away your Thanksgiving leftovers early to make more room in the fridge for growlers. But did you ever stop to think about the difficulties faced by small regional artisan breweries in the shadow of megacorporations like Anheuser-Busch, Miller and Coors?

Tonight, Yazoo and The Belcourt are teaming up to give you a peek into the inner workings of the industry with a screening of the documentary Beer Wars. The $25 tickets include admission as well as your choice of two Yazoo products. After the film, Yazoo will host an open panel discussion on brewing and distribution, as well as retail, bar and restaurant sales. The members of the panel represent local professionals from all aspects of the Nashville beer business.

A great movie, beer and lively discussion? There’s nothing snobbish about that.

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First Bite: Benchmark Sports Bar

Posted By on Thu, Dec 15, 2011 at 5:54 AM

I'm always looking for a good place to kill the couple hours between when I get out of work and weeknight Predators games start at 7:00. Bonus features in such a hang-out include good bar food, cheap drink prices, accessible affordable parking and at least somewhere to sit down without being jostled by tourists enthusiastically requesting "FRIIIIIIENDS IN LOOOOOW PLAAAAACES!" from the bar band.

Benchmark Sports Bar hits most of those marks for me, but as of yet seems relatively undiscovered by the downtown sports and tourist crowds. It's at 117 Second Ave. N. in the former location of Mulligans Irish Pub, and the new ownership hasn't made too many major changes to the interior. There are still two separate bar areas to which they have added a slew of big-screen HDTVs for your sports viewing pleasure, including a 70-inch behemoth upstairs. Initially, the concept was to separate the two areas into Big 10 football watching on one floor and SEC on the other, but the last couple of times I've visited there wasn't enough of a crowd to warrant opening and staffing the upstairs area. It is available for private luncheon or party rental, and I'm sure both bars are hopping when there are major games on.

I'm not gonna lie to you, the bar and wait staff are also really attractive. Call me an objectifier, but I wasn't the one who hired and clothed them in those catsuits. If that sort of thing bothers you but you still want some tasty hot wings, Hooters is right up the street.

Anyhoo, the staff has always been very attentive, and service is efficient enough to get you in and out in an hour before a sporting event or downtown show. The menu is short but well-executed. Wings are available in both "Right WIng" and "Left Wing" varieties, with the former being more traditional spicy Buffalo-style and the latter featuring a garlic-honey barbecue sauce. To appease those Big 10 fans, Benchmark also offers a unique batter-fried cheese curd plate served with horseradish ranch dressing. It's better than it sounds.

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Wednesday, December 14, 2011

Cooking with Class and Paulette

Posted By on Wed, Dec 14, 2011 at 9:57 AM

A cooking class with chef and food writer Paulette Licitra is as much about feasting and toasting as cooking and learning. Licitra recently set her winter class schedule, and it's hard to imagine a better way to while away a pleasant winter evening than with good food in good company.

She offers gift certificates to classes — be a nice prezzie for someone who doesn't need more stuff.

Here's the schedule through late March. Just think — by the final class (Two Classics + Cupcakes), spring will be here.

To sign up, email her at emailpaulette5(at)gmail(dot)com. Check out the class list after the jump.

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