The World in a Skillet: A Food Lover's Tour of the New American South(UNC Press, $35), by Memphis-based food writers Paul and Angela Knipple, gives a look inside the foodways of some of the people bringing their foods and traditions to Southern cities and towns.
Four of Nashville's immigrant food purveyors get a chance to tell their stories. Some are already well known in restaurant circles, including Memet Arslan and his Istanbul restaurant, and Hamid Hassan and his House of Kabob.
I especially enjoyed the story of Rauf Ary of Tara International Market (located at Nolensville and Thuss). He tells the Knipples that he was a master electrician before 9/11, but as the only Muslim on his crew, he found the atmosphere too tense to stay at his job. He bought the market from the previous owner, and foodists know it as a source for natural goat, beef, chicken and lamb.
Finally, Mahir Ahmad of Mazi International Market (Elysian Fields Court) shares a recipe for Kurdish Chicken and Rice Soup, which points up my favorite aspect of the book — its recipes. From feijoada to cabbage rolls to plantains in peanut sauce to Vietnamese pickled mustard greens to mapo tofu, there's a lot of good coming from the "skillet" of the book's title.
"There was a bit of buzz on Twitter today amongst some local food bloggers that there wasn’t a place to gather to watch tonight’s Top Chef season finale. I responded by organizing a pop up party tonight at Porta Via Italian Kitchen on White Bridge Road. They’ll play the show on their big TV, offer two-for-one draft beers, and of course the full menu from 9-10 p.m. I suppose it’s the food equivalent to gathering at a bar to watch the big game. The event is open to the public."
I'm not very religious about my Top Chef viewing (unless somebody I know is on), so I wasn't aware this was even happening. But it sounds fun.
PortaVia Italian Kitchen is at 21 White Bridge Road, 356-0001
The dinner is set for May 16. It's the third time in less than a year that Nashville chefs have been invited to cook dinner at the Beard House. The Catbird Seat's Josh Habiger and Erik Anderson cooked there earlier this month, and Jeremy Barlow of Tayst was there in August.
To celebrate, the folks at 1808 Grille are doing some Nashville events next week. A week from today, the regular Wine Wednesday tasting will feature a special slate of appetizers linked to the Beard dinner. Look for four treats, including Confit Gressingham duck leg with lingonberry jam, paired with samples of four wines from the Benziger family winery in Sonoma. That tasting is March 7, from 6 to 7 p.m., and it's $15.
Meanwhile, the restaurant is doing something even fancier for dinner March 7-8 — a five-course local version of the James Beard dinner. To get in on that dinner, just make reservations the usual way, by visiting the restaurant's website or calling 340-0012. Check out the menu after the jump.
The first intersection between their Venn diagrams was a really nice inexpensive red wine from Portugal called Quinta do Cabriz Dao Red. At about 10 bucks a bottle, this wine has quickly become one of the house reds in Casa de Chamberlain. Much bolder and well-developed than the price tag might indicate, the Quinta do Cabriz has plenty of berry flavor to nicely counteract the tannins that contribute its backbone. The terroir of the Dão region of Portugal is heavily influenced by the vast amounts of granite in the soil, and the minerality definitely shows through in this wine.
It's cheap enough to buy by the case for home use, but also interesting enough to share with friends or take along as a gift to the hosts of a party. (Providing of course that the hosts don't read Bites and realize that you're giving them such a cheap bottle.)
The second wine that both Will and Paul pointed me to was the 2009 Ameztoi Txakolina, a unique white wine from the Basque region of Spain.
The light and crisp wine Txakoli (possibly pronounced something like "cha-co-lee") is traditional in the region. It's bottled with some residual carbonation, which provides a delightful bit of effervescence to the sip. The primary grape is Hondarribi Zurri, an indigenous variety that I don't believe I've ever had the chance to experience before. It's truly a locals' wine, and you can imagine happy Spaniards sipping on Ameztoi Txakolina in a seaside bar while they enjoy plate after plate of delicious tapas and seafood dishes. This wine is bottled jealousy.
Former Nashville chef Sean Brock, whose restaurant Husk opened in Charleston, S.C., in 2010 to national acclaim, appears in this short film describing the importance of his notebooks, wherein he records his ideas, his dishes, his musings and his inspiration. "It's all dreams until it's on paper," he says.
Artist and filmmaker Jeff Scott and chef Blake Beshore have re-created Brock's notebooks, which Brock describes as "almost like a diary," in a new cookbook called Notes from a Kitchen: A Journey Inside Culinary Obsession. Nine other chefs are also included.
"It's a great way to reflect back and see the process of opening the restaurant," Brock says in the film. "You can almost see the stress in my handwriting." I haven't seen the book, but I'm sure his notebooks also reveal stone-cold creativity (as in frozen-nitrogen cold) and persistence.
The book's website calls Notes from a Kitchen "the first book of its kind to accurately portray the daily creative life of a world-renowned chef in a visceral, cinematic format."
If you're interested in submitting works of food-related fiction, nonfiction or poetry for the first digital edition, they are accepting manuscripts until March 15. For submission guidelines, visit their website. In a hat tip to the old school, Alimentum accepts submissions only via snail mail, so don't dawdle.
Paulette also said she has spaces left in a few of the enjoyable cooking classes she teaches in her home through her Cucina Paradisio program. If you're interested in any of the classes below, check out Paulette's Facebook page for more info and to sign up.
Bento provides an aesthetic approach to lunch, emphasizing appearance and appeal as well as taste and nutrition. They're good for picky eaters, children, people who don't like leftovers, and folks who don't like for their foods to touch.
Here's the blurb from chef Laura Wilson.
Learn the Japanese art of packing a bento lunch. Bento, or obento, means box, but they are also an expression of creativity and love. Learn cutting techniques, character ideas and recipes. Bentos are a great way to pack healthful, beautiful and delicious lunches for your self and your family. This class in an intro to bento and will focus on both children's and adults' meals. Some bento supplies will be available for purchase. Bento snacks will be served.
I've never seen a bento class on offer before, and at $25 per adult, $5 per child under 12 (payable at the door) it's a bargain as well as a terrific parent-child activity. To register, go here and scroll down to click the link.
So when the opportunity came to try out the three-day juice cleanse package from Juice Nashville, I jumped at the chance. Juice Nashville is the brainchild of Stephanie Waring, who operates a raw pressed juicery out of an industrial kitchen in downtown Nashville.
Because Juice Nashville uses a hydraulic Norwalk juicer instead of a rotary juicer like you might be using to store screwdrivers in your kitchen (or is that just me?), they are able to squeeze the nutrients out of 2-4 pounds of produce into each 16-ounce bottle of unpasteurized juice. Because they add no preservatives, sugar or water to their juices, they can claim that you are getting 3-5 times more nutrition than standard juices.
It's not even fair to call it a juice "fast," because after the first eight hours, I never really even felt hungry.
I'm not a doctor, so I can't claim any actual scientific knowledge on the topic, but here's how I understand it. Your body is getting all the nutrients it needs from the assortment of juices that are provided in "The Cleanse" package, and since you're basically giving your digestive system a rest for the duration, you can retain even more of what General Jack D. Ripper would call your "precious bodily fluids." Between drinking water and five 16 ounce bottles of juice and one 12-ounce bottle of almond milk every day, my stomach never developed that gnawing empty feeling.
However, Bites strongly recommends you talk with your doctor before trying any dietary regimen.
This program isn't cheap, with each bottle retailing for $6. "The Cleanse" package includes 18 bottles for three days and an insulated tote to carry them and runs $113. Delivery is available within 15 miles of downtown for $8 with a $30 minimum order, or you can pick up your juice supply at either the Nashville or Franklin farmers' markets on Saturday mornings. But when you consider that you are getting that 4 pounds of produce in every bottle, and that you're not going to spend any other money on food or drink for those three days, it's really not that steep of a price.
The deal is good from 7 a.m. to 10 p.m. at participating locations; call before you visit one of our Nashville-area locations and the Hermitage and Madison stores.
IHOP's goal this year is to raise $2.7 million to add to the $8 million it has donated so far over the seven years the event has been held.
And while you're at it, enter "Stacks for Good Acts" — share a story of a good deed and win pancakes for a year.
Though the event is usually on the traditional pancake day ofShrove Tuesday, IHOP moved it a week to end a month of pancake-related celebrations.
On Leap Day, a popular Hillsboro Village hangout is making the change to a smoke-free environment. Sam's Sports Grill will become a non-smoking venue beginning Feb. 29. The bar said it was responding to the wishes of a majority of it customers.
Open Thread breathes a sigh of relief that Labor of Love Mobile Food, (Twitter:@lolfoods), which had dropped out of sight for a couple of weeks, was busy working on details of a bricks and mortar location. We love those cheesesteaks. They promise to let us know when the deal is set.
The wait is on until we hear where, but general expressions of happiness!
And hey, I had a very crappy meal this week. And I want to cook a goat. What about you? Open Thread is open for the good, the bad and the quirky.
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