After almost four wonderful years here on Bites — four years of discoveries and laughs, of hard times, of rallying around our local restaurants, of cooking alongside you and eating with you, if only virtually — four years and almost exactly 1,000 blog posts, today is my final regular post for Bites.
Technically, it's a just a sabbatical, but it was still a hard decision to make. I love it here, and I feel safe and at home. The Scene and I go back more than 20 years, and in every way, it's my literary alma mater, and you, the readers, are my most precious responsibility.
And it's just fun. Cooking and dining are communal activities, and a pleasure not shared is a pleasure not fully experienced. I love hearing about your marvelous home cooking, your experiments, your fantastic dining experiences and your disappointments. I love the rush of adrenalin and the pit in my stomach when there's breaking news to report. And — not aging gracefully — I savor every sweet drop of beating the competition on a story, a relic of my days in daily journalism.
While I've been penning these posts, I was also attending radiologic tech school, and I now work as a mammographer and clinician. Writing is still my vocation, but writing to make a living has become so very hard, and mine is a two-writer household. You can work out the economics there.
Medicine comes pretty naturally to me — I come from a family of nurses and anesthetists. I love my clinic, and I cherish patients almost as much as I cherish Bites readers. I always ask what they're making for dinner, and where they're going for lunch. They must find it charmingly eccentric; I hope so. I expect they prefer it to discussing breasts.
That alone isn't enough to make me leave this place. I continue to edit cookbooks, and that workload is increasing. I'll also be writing one day a week at Relish magazine, where I hope you'll join me, or at least pop in to see what's up. I've worked on the Relish books and articles for several years, and I can tell you, from one foodist to another, the food is great.
Like I said, this is technically a sabbatical, and if history is any indicator, the odds are I'll be back some day. The Scene and I are like friends with benefits: We fall into bed about once a decade. I recently dug out a cover story I wrote for the Scene 12 years ago, the last time we had an assignation, which was a 12 years after my short gig as the first restaurant reviewer.
Thank you for your patience, your excellent intel, your tips, your good words, your candid critiques, and mostly, thank you for coming back to Bites over and over. I know I'll be doing the same. See you on the boards.
Edge, who appears at Green Hills' Parnassus Books at 6:30 p.m. today, is hitting the road promoting his newest work, The Truck Food Cookbook: 150 Recipes and Ramblings from America's Best Restaurants on Wheels.
As food trucks continue to proliferate in the Music City, we thought it a perfect time to check in with Edge, relaxing at his home in Oxford, Miss., before hitting the road again for the second leg of his book tour.
But word is getting out, and perhaps that obscurity will become a thing of the past. Bites' own Nicki P. Wood has written up Soy Teriyaki Bistro as this week's Dining review in the Scene.
"Like its hybrid name, the menu at Soy Teriyaki Bistro brings together elements from all over — a bit of Japanese, a hint of Singaporean, a lot of Korean — and seasons it with fusion to yield a menu that's brief but inexhaustible," Wood says.
She praises not just the food, but also the friendly atmosphere created by the owners: "Hanna and Chris Lee greet one and all as friends — and often they are. Soy has a lot of regulars, and the Lees are very outgoing. 'It's the environment we wanted. And Chris loves to talk,' said Hanna Lee, who developed the menu and does the cooking."
Hey, I want this place in my neighborhood! As Nicki concludes, "For a lucky part of Brentwood, it's their neighborhood spot — a continent-spanning sampler of delights that renders the global irresistibly local."
So in honor of memories of beers past and thinking of the bicycling "Cutters" from that classic movie Breaking Away, I figured we’d lead off this week’s Wandering Wino with a really fun beer event, the return of the Tour de Fat sponsored by New Belgium Beers.
The Tour de Fat will be held on Saturday, June 2, at Centennial Park with bike parade registration starting at 9 a.m., the parade at 10 and other festivities kicking off at 11 and running until 4 p.m.
The bike parade is always a hilarious display of tricked-out bikes and barely appropriate costumes, so drop by even if you don’t ride. The event benefits local nonprofit bicycle advocates, including SoundForest.org, Nashville Bicycle Alliance, Ride For Reading, Oasis Center and Walk Bike Nashville.
New Belgium also sponsors several fun pre-TdF parties the week preceding the event, so look for one that’s at your favorite watering hole:
Today, Friday, May 25
Tour de Fat Promo
Fat Tire & Somersault Beer Specials
Tuesday, May 29
Broadway Brewhouse Midtown
Tour de Fat Promo
New Belgium Beer Specials!
Thursday, May 31
12th South Taproom
Tour de Fat Promo
Win a New Belgium Cruiser!
Go on, click it. Scroll down to Nashville. I'll wait.
Usually with these things, I get it. There's some sense to the ranking. Here, I'm flummoxed. Do we not have five or eight or 10 other popular "high-end" restaurants that deserve equal notice?
So I mused on Twitter (I'm @Nashmallow) about the algorithm used to assess the rankings, and the algorithmist tweeted back. It's all perfectly civil, you know, "sorry your favorites didn't make the list" or whatever. But still, there's a point to be made — why is someone far away from Nashville ranking our restaurants? I even get that maybe not a lot of Nashvillians use Urbanspoon, so the site doesn't have many reader reviews to draw from. But you have the Scene to refer to. I'm still a little huffy.
Share your thoughts in the comments, or get something off your chest. The open thread is the place to blow off steam, politely disagree and bitch and moan. As Dorothy Parker (or Alice Roosevelt Longworth) said, "If you can't say something good about someone, come sit next to me."
This Sunday and Monday, May 27-28, both the Belle Meade and Cool Springs outposts of Sperry's are offering all entries (except lobster tails and crab legs) for half price from 5 p.m. until close. Despite the fact that the deal kicks off at 5, they still want to emphasize that it is not available during brunch in case you roll your lazy butt out of the rack at 5:30 looking for some cheap Eggs Benedict.
Seriously, this sounds like a pretty good deal to me. Head on out and enjoy some of their popular prime rib and a salad served on one of those cryogenically cooled steel plates at a great price.
Sperry's Belle Meade
5109 Harding Pike
Nashville, TN 37205
Sperry's Cool Springs
650 Frazier Drive
Franklin, TN 37067
I don't know about y'all, but I was brought up to fear the pressure cooker. Before the days of reliable pressure relief valves, my mother would clear the kitchen when the top began to dance on our cooker. When I shared this fear with Nicki a few years ago, she was kind enough to come to my house and show me how easy the new modern devices are to use, and she even made me a really nice 15-minute risotto.
Now she wants to share some of that knowledge with you, plus she'll be teaching about canning procedures as well.
Here's the syllabus:
There are several reasons to stop by the just-opened fancy-pants coffee shop Barista Parlor (including but not limited to Mast Brothers chocolate, mugs that are the exact perfect size and weight, fantastic light fixtures, and of course, really great coffee), but if you're anything like me, you'll probably make a bee-line to the mural on the shop's back wall, inspect it from close up, gawk at the craftmanship, then back up and gawk at the artfulness of its presentation. It's the latest creation of Nashville printmaker Bryce McCloud, who runs Isle of Printing (for more on that, read this).
Because Rayburn's surrogate won a narrow decision of the fighter representing Jimmy Kelly's, Mike agreed to put on his chef's jacket and spend a day last week working in the kitchen at Rayburn's Sunset Grill.
We sent ace photog Eric England over to document the event, and it looks like everyone had a good-natured fun time. Check out the pictures after the jump:
Roberts is a partner in a popular chain of tavern/bowling alleys in San Diego (too bad he hasn't opened one here), so he has a lot of experience making crowd-pleasing wings. So much so that Frank's RedHot Sauce has signed him up as their national spokesman and brand ambassador. He is also the official wing consultant for Yankee Stadium. Now that's a position I was unaware was available.
I spoke with Roberts about grilling and winging it for about an hour last week while attending the Memphis in May World BBQ Championship, where he was presiding over the Frank's Hot Wing Eating competitions that took place next to the main stage every couple of hours. As a representative of Frank's, which is a member of the French's family of products, Roberts naturally prefers some of their other wares like Cattleman's BBQ Sauce and French's mustard when he is grilling.
This isn't as much of a pander as you might think, as many of the winning competitors at Memphis in May endorsed Cattleman's, and Frank's is the original buffalo wing sauce. When Roberts makes ribs, he slathers his ribs in French's to add just a little tang to them, but more importantly to keep them moist while they cook. Most of the mustard burns off anyway, so you'd probably only notice a slight nuance in the flavors afterwards. For his wet rib sauce, he mixes Frank's and Cattleman's to make what he calls his "Tavern-style" sauce.
For wings, he suggests boiling them in your favorite craft beer for about 10 minutes until the wings are cooked through and really tender. Since nobody likes soggy wings, you need to crisp them up somehow, so he recommends either flash-frying them or grilling them until the skin is crispy before tossing them in the Tavern-style sauce.
I tried some of his wings, and I have to admit that for ease of preparation and the sweet/hot flavor that I usually prefer, they were spot on. I have generally preferred Alton Brown's preparation in the past, but dang, those things take two hours to make. I can use that extra time to eat more wings.
Roberts shared his easy recipe with Bites readers:
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