Thursday, June 21, 2012

Carey Bringle, the Peg Leg Porker, to Appear on Food Network's Chopped

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 10:13 AM

If you've ever attended a competitive barbecue event in Middle Tennessee or hung out at the Corner Pub in Green Hills, odds are you've met Carey Bringle. And if you've met him, you'll remember him. Known around the barbecue circuit as the Peg Leg Porker, Bringle is a gregarious one-legged man who I would never bet against in an ass-kicking contest. Perhaps you might remember when I reviewed his "Smoke Like a Pro BBQ Kit" here on Bites a couple of years ago.

Well, now the rest of the nation is gonna find out about him as he appears on a special episode of the Food Network's popular competition cooking show Chopped as part of a series of shows featuring grilling. The shows were filmed in the Sonoran desert at the the nostalgic Old Tucson Studios. Sixteen grill pros faced off in duels for judges Amanda Freitag, Marc Murphy and Aarón Sánchez with a $50,000 grand prize on the line.

Like on the traditional version of the show, all the chefs were presented with a basket of mystery ingredients and asked to compose and cook innovative dishes. As if that wasn't enough to make you sweat, they were also working over a hot fire in the middle of the desert.

Bringle's episode is due to premiere on Sunday, July 29, at 8 p.m. Central time. Will he bring home the Peg Leg bacon? Will he figure out what to cook with prawns and chile taffy? You'll have to tune in to find out.

Whether he wins or loses on the tube, Bringle has won a pretty big prize in East Tennessee, where his line of barbecue sauces has just been introduced into nineteen Kroger stores. Already named a top sauce by Bon Appetit magazine, Bringle's sauces and rubs can be purchased from his website until the day (hopefully soon) when some local grocery stores pick him up.

So make us proud, Peg Leg!

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Reservations for this year's l'Eté du Vin Gone Country Now Available Online

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 8:37 AM

This year's edition of the Nashville Wine Auction, previously and always to me known as l'Eté du Vin, promises to be a countrified good time. L'Eté du Vin Gone Country will feature a full evening of tastings, auctions, fabulous food and entertainment on Saturday, July 21, starting at 5 p.m. at the Loews Vanderbilt Hotel.

Tickets to the Vintners' Tasting before the big dinner and auction are $100 and will feature wines from the guests of honor, Cakebread Cellars and Château Lynch-Bages, with special guest Kix Brooks and moderator Jamie Pollack from Zachys Wine Auctions. Eight very special wines will be tasted, with the entire list available at the event website.

After the first tasting, the silent auction begins with more than 80 different lots of fine wines and luxury items up for bid as guests sample more wines and hors d'oeuvres. At 7:30, the dinner and live auction begin with 80 more lots of amazing wines, dinners, celebrity experiences and trips available for bidding. Tickets for the dinner and the afterparty cost $250 apiece.

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New Hot Chicken Cafe, Hattie's, Coming to Midtown

Posted By on Thu, Jun 21, 2012 at 5:41 AM

This space at Broadway and 19th, formerly Off the Grill, will soon be Hattie's Hot Chicken.
  • This space at Broadway and 19th, formerly Off the Grill, will soon be Hattie's Hot Chicken.
Hey, here's a dispatch from my current Food Biz column, which appears in the print edition of The City Paper, or online in the Nashville Post:

Nashville’s own spicy specialty, hot chicken — or as Travel + Leisure magazine called it, “Nashville-style napalm” — continues to thrive, and word continues to spread from coast to coast. Nashville has Prince’s and Bolton’s, Pepperfire and 400 Degrees, and a whole annual July 4 festival, the Music City Hot Chicken Fest, to help us count our blast-furnace blessings. (Brooklyn, N.Y., has Peaches HotHouse, but we’re not here to talk about Yankee ripoffs … er, I mean homages.)

Now Nashville’s bustling Midtown district is about to get its first outpost of fiery orange poultry. The father-and-son team of Nick Bishop, senior and junior, are working to open Hattie’s Hot Chicken in a space on Broadway behind Gigi’s Cupcakes.

The Bishops already have a restaurant, the Cool Springs meat-and-three called quite simply Bishop’s, which opened in 2007. I reached Nick Jr. there by phone and he told me about the plans for the new Midtown place.

“We both always loved hot chicken, like Prince’s and Bolton’s, so we started playing around with it here [at Bishop’s]. We put it on the board, made it to order for people, and watched it grow.”

In planning Hattie’s, he said, “We wanted to be able to offer all of it, more Southern traditional sides like collards and pinto beans. … We’ll have hot chicken with different levels of heat, plus regular fried chicken and grilled chicken, because I think this area calls for it.”

Hattie’s will also offer a couple other amenities you don’t find at most hot chicken joints, like outdoor seating and beer. “We think it will be a nice draw,” Bishop said.

The Bishops are generational restaurant folks. The elder Bishop is the son of Gene Bishop, who was the CEO of the Morrison’s Cafeteria chain. Nick Sr. worked for that company for many years, including its foray into hospital food service, which is what brought the family to Nashville 20 years ago. Nick the elder retired from that a while back and started Bishop’s.

“Growing up in Nashville, it’s been really cool to watch the culinary scene take off,” said Nick Jr., who lives in the 12South neighborhood. Now he and his dad hope to contribute to that scene and help spread the gospel of hot chicken.

Hattie’s Hot Chicken, 1816 Broadway, Suite B, is expected to open in mid- to late July.

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Wednesday, June 20, 2012

In Defense of the Term 'Hipster' (and The New York Times)

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 1:56 PM

A rose by any other name ...
When I heard the redoubtable Sean L. Maloney was going to take on the The New York Times piece on the East Nashville food scene yesterday, I was (to borrow a term from skateboarding parlance of yesteryear), totally stoked. For one thing, Sean is one of my favorite writers and co-workers. And I knew he'd make a compelling case for whatever view he had. Third, I suspected that his post would home in on the excessive use of the word "hipster," strike a chord with a lot of folks, and in turn spark a lively dialogue.

And that suspicion proved correct. As I write, the post has 62 comments and more than 1,200 Facebook likes since going live 24 hours ago.

I have to confess that like many other readers, I was compelled to count the number of "hipster"s in Kim Severson's Times story. (The answer: six.) And while I agree the story might have leaned too heavily on the term, I think it's a perfectly valid (and in this case accurate) word for a certain phenomenon the writer is trying to describe.

Furthermore, a certain co-worker of mine shared two salient observations. First, if you get outraged by the use of the word "hipster," you more than likely are a hipster. Second (and this is really just an extrapolation of No. 1), using said term in a forum hipsters are likely to read is like waving a red flag in front of a bull.

That same co-worker, by the way, offered the best definition of "hipster" I've yet heard:

A hipster is someone who dresses like you, talks like you, and likes the same music you like, but isn't as cool as you are.

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Did Fried Chicken Change Your Life, Man? Vote for the Most Life-Changing One, as Males Do

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 12:05 PM

Winner, winner, chicken dinner.
Esquire's Eat Like a Man blog has a poll going for the most life-changing fried chicken in America.

Forgetting for a moment how much I loathe the phrase "eat like a man," I encourage all of you to go vote for the most existence-reorienting hot oil-submerged poultry in your estimation. My dearly departed grandmother's — an impossibly delicious, dark brown-crusted delicacy I've never seen the equal of — isn't on the list, so I'll have to choose from the eight presented.

Of those, I've had three — Ezell's in Seattle, Harold's in Chicago and Prince's here in Nashville. Only one changed my life, and I'll let you guess which one. (For what it's worth, Harold's would win for Most Bullet-Proof Glass Between Me and the Person Serving the Chicken, and I swear the best I had in Seattle was actually a honey-drizzled dish at the 5 Spot on Queen Anne, though I may be remembering wrong — it's been a while.)

Gus's Memphis location — the subject of some recent debate here at Bites — is the other Tennessee bird fryer to make this particular elite eight.

So go forth and vote for whichever joint has the most fixed-gear bike shops nearby, or something like that.

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Dining Lot Street Food Festival Rolls Into Centennial Park Saturday

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 10:59 AM

This Saturday, June 23, the place to be for great food is Centennial Park. The Wanderland Urban Food Park folks have organized the Dining Lot Street Food Festival, happening from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., with more than 20 of Nashville’s food trucks serving up their specialties.

The trucks will compete for two awards. The Critics’ Choice Award will go to the truck voted best by members of the Nashville Food Bloggers (a sponsor of the event along with Yelp). The People’s Choice Award will be decided by festivalgoers. Each time you make a purchase, you get one ballot to vote for your favorite truck.

It’s a family- and pet-friendly event, and attendees are encouraged to bring chairs or blankets to hang out and enjoy the food and entertainment. In addition to music, there will be a bounce house and games for the kids.

Advance tickets are available online for $5 (plus a convenience fee) or you can buy them at the gate for $7 (cash only). Children ages 6 and under are admitted free.

A portion of the proceeds will benefit Hands On Nashville's Urban Agriculture program, which works to make food sourcing, nutrition and gardening accessible to communities. Please note that all of the fun and entertainment is included with your admission, but the food from the trucks is not. See the festival’s FAQs for more information.

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Wine Wednesday: BBQ and Barolo? Pork and Pinot? Your Summer Grilling Wine Guide

Posted By on Wed, Jun 20, 2012 at 5:55 AM

Well, it's summertime, and you know that means many of us would rather grill outside than heat up the whole house by cooking in the kitchen. At least that's my excuse. However, just because it's hotter than blue blazes, that's no reason to give up on the vino. But pairing wine with barbecue and grilled meats? That's sometimes a puzzler. For some solutions, I turned to two sources for advice.

The first was from a timely e-newsletter from Maria Pia De Pasquale and her husband Andrea Danti from 100% Italiano. Their suggestions were spot-on, especially if you're willing to limit yourself to wines from "The Boot," which I usually am fine with.

To complement the spice and sweetness of tomato-based barbecue sauces, they suggest a wine that is heavy in Sangiovese. As with a great red pasta sauce, Sangio is the perfect match, and they recommend Morellino di Scansano Poggio TreValle DOC. I drink this wine frequently and love the bold cherry and spicy notes that have made it one of our house "pizza wines." I'm ready to try it with some good barbecue now.

If you're grilling fish or shrimp, naturally you'd want a lighter-bodied white. 100% Italiano suggests a bottle of Bianco di Custoza Falasco-Valpantena DOC made from the Garganega, Chardonnay and Cortese grapes. This very affordable wine from the Veneto region of northeast Italy is surprisingly complex for such an inexpensive bottle. At around $10, you can afford to keep a few on ice.

Even though crawfish boiling season is just about over, you may still be hankering for some Cajun spice in your life. But it's difficult to find a wine to stand up to that delicious assault on your taste buds. Traditionally Rieslings are the go-to wine for really spicy food, but Maria and Andrea have a different suggestion for you: Benavides Vigna di Cecilia IGT. This 50/50 blend of Moscato and Garganega has the sweetness to compete with the salt and spice of Cajun food, but also the minerality and body to stand up on its own.

Since few people agree on what sort of sauce they want on their barbecue, it's extra difficult to pick an accompanying wine for your grill guests. When I attended the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival last month, I got some great tips from two experts in the fields of barbecue and wine.

Chris Lilly is a championship pitmaster at Big Bob Gibson's in Decatur, Ala. Heath Porter is the director of wine at the Greenbrier resort in White Sulphur Springs, W. Va. Together, these two mad geniuses put on a seminar titled "BBQ & Wine." You knew I wasn't gonna miss that one.

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Tuesday, June 19, 2012

The Unbearable Hipness of Being East Nashville: NY Times Discovers Our Food, Bikes

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 2:09 PM

Excuse me, waiter, but theres a beard in my soup.
  • Excuse me, waiter, but there's a beard in my soup.
Groan. I get it, we have a lot of beards around here. But don't you think there's a better angle for covering the Nashville food scene than “hipster this, hipster that,” New York Times?

Maybe something about, oh, I don't know, the fact that this city is really just a big bunch of nerds — music-nerds, food-nerds, word-nerds, ag-nerds, booze-nerds, Jesus-nerds. It might be my view from inside, but I'd say this town isn't really a hipster magnet so much as it is Nerd Central. Take anyone of these so-called hipsters and drop them into a small town, and I bet you would hear the entire population of Podunk, USA scream like Ogre in the locker room. I can guarantee that all the “hipsters” Times reporter Kim Severson saw walking about were the least cool kids in their hometown. And I feel confident in saying that because I know a great deal of them.

Don't get me wrong, I'm very happy to see all of the establishments mentioned get some shine on the national circuit, but it seems like there's a better way to describe the city than “hipster hipster hipster.” Is it some sort of coded language to tell the outside world, “Don't worry, it's safe; you won't be eaten by moonshine-and-meth-crazed hillbillies”? I mean, we're a city like any other — people ride bicycles, get tattoos and eat food. Maybe it's been so long since I left the city limits that this has changed in the rest of the country, but I'm pretty sure it's typical of urban living in the 21st century. That there is a strong community of people who like to make things and other people that enjoy the things they make shouldn't be a surprise. Is civic pride and community support in such short supply in modern America, that we're notable just for having it?

And what's up with asking the self-proclaimed squares about Jack White?

“He’s kind of a god around here,” Mr. Scott said. “Where he goes, the hipsters follow.”

That's some bullshit.

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The Jarring Truth: You Can Pickle That

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 8:51 AM

I should probably feel a bit embarrassed that I see myself in so many episodes of Portlandia, but I’m simply too busy overthinking pre-school and standing in lines for new restaurants (after trying to navigate bridge closures) to muster the energy. One of the things keeping me busy right now is pickles.

Inspired by friends — and the pickled okra at The Wild Hare — I started pickling last summer (note: before We Can Pickle That). I got some jars, some vinegar, herbs and spices, and set about pickling. I started small and simple. I sliced some cucumbers and put them in a solution with dill and put whole okra in a solution with pepper flakes. After two weeks in the refrigerator, I had pickles!

This year, I'm branching out a bit. I'm still pickling cucumbers, but I've also pickled scapes and have an entire jar devoted just to pickled mustard seeds. Next up will be carrots and green beans, and maybe even some squash. I'm still sticking with refrigerator pickles, but I am quickly running out of room. I missed Nicki Wood's last pressure canning class at the Nashville Farmers Market, but I will be keeping an eye on the upcoming events to see when she's teaching again. Tip from the teacher: Follow NFM on Facebook to stay informed about upcoming classes. (The next should be in late July or August.) I'm a bit intimidated by the canning process, but I need to be able to get my pickles out of the refrigerator.

There are as many pickle recipes as there are pickles in the world, but I use a basic one:

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Capitol Grille Chef Tyler Brown Hosts Another Share Our Strength Dinner

Posted By on Tue, Jun 19, 2012 at 7:07 AM

Last year's Share Our Strength dinner at the Hermitage Hotel brought together some of the best chefs in the South to create a multi-course meal to raise money for this worthy cause, which works to address issues surrounding childhood hunger. As host and sponsor, Chef Tyler Brown invited some of his friends to help out in the kitchen, and the results were outstanding.

This year on Sunday, July 15, he'll be repeating the party with some of the same chefs as last year and a few exciting new guests. Tandy Williams of City House will be back in the kitchen, reuniting the powerhouse Team TnT with Tyler. Any time these two talents get together, you'd better loosen your belt a notch. Local favorite Hal Holden-Bache will also be taking a break from the process of starting up his new restaurant at Lockeland Table (which might even be open by then, fingers crossed!) to contribute some of his inspiration to the menu.

The out-of-towners are an impressive lot as well. Ed Lee, the lovably cranky contestant from last season's Top Chef: Texas will be heading south from his restaurant 610 Magnolia in Louisville. I've met him a few times and can vouch that he's not nearly as prickly as he came off in the show's edits, and he is a remarkable chef.

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