Wednesday, August 22, 2012

Nashville Grown, a Nonprofit 'Food Hub,' Aims to Connect Farmers and Restaurants

Posted By on Wed, Aug 22, 2012 at 5:43 AM

Some dedicated local agriculture advocates are working to launch a nonprofit “food hub” next month, a first for Nashville's farm-to-table movement.

Food hubs, which already exist in dozens of cities, assist small local farms by providing them with services to help them market their products. In this case, that means launching an online store to connect Nashville-area farms with restaurants and renting refrigerated space at the Nashville Farmers’ Market where produce can be stored for pickup or delivery to restaurant customers.

The project is called Nashville Grown, and organizers hope the system will go live near the beginning of September. I first heard about it from Laura Wilson of the Grow Local Kitchen at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. As a chef, she knows firsthand how eager restaurants are to secure fresh produce but how difficult the logistics are when it comes to connecting chefs and farmers. “They both work 60-hour weeks already, and they’re on opposite schedules,” Wilson says.

Wilson is serving as a volunteer consultant for Nashville Grown. Another key person is Sarah Johnson, a 2009 Stanford University grad who studied international food policy in Washington, D.C., before moving to Nashville to work on urban food initiatives here.

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Tuesday, August 21, 2012

Hail Mauritius: The Pink Pigeon Rum Packs a Punch

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 5:51 PM

At last month's Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans, I tasted a lot of different products. A. LOT. Thanks to a colleague's suggestion to mainline Pedialyte to stay hydrated, I was able to stick it out to the bitter end this year, and I'm happy I did. One of the last products that I sampled was the best new spirit I discovered, The Pink Pigeon Original Rum from the tiny island nation of Mauritius off the southeast coast of Africa.

This unique product has a really special taste profile, arising from its manufacture from molasses instead of sugar cane and the fact that it is blended with handpicked Bourbon vanilla, fresh orange peel and orchids. Considering vanilla itself comes from an orchid, the strong floral components of the nose was not surprising, but flavors and mouth feel certainly were. The vanilla contributes a creamy component to the rum, which is delicious neat or very versatile in mixed drinks. The natural nutmeg-and-tropical spiciness raises The Pink Pigeon so far above the level of other spiced rums that I may just have to give up my Titans' game day tradition of "Breakfast with the Captain."

The Pink Pigeonʼs strikingly designed black bottle and signature white “crest” is accented by a delicate pink band around the bottleʼs neck, an understated homage to the tag placed around the ankles of the spectacular pink pigeons that fly above Mauritius. Or so I'm told. They could totally be making that part up.

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Slow Down and Eat Well with Robin Riddell at Fido Slow Food Dinner — UPDATE Cancellation

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 3:32 PM

  • HerNashville (sniffle, sob)

Update: Fido chef John Stephenson said he's been forced to cancel this event: "Due to an unusually light response to the dinner, we have to cancel this Thursday's Slow Food Dinner. We hope to reschedule soon and look forward to seeing everyone again at that time!" Stephenson says he's working to plan another dinner, possibly in October. Read Chris' original post below for details on what sounded to Bites like a very enticing event:

After hearing Robin Riddell's name for years, I finally got to meet her a few weeks ago at a fabulous impromptu red beans and rice cooking party at my house. I had known that she was big in the local Slow Food movement and also involved with the wine biz, but I had no idea what a fun, engaging young lady she is. Since then, I've encountered Robin again at the Burger Up Farm dinner and found out that she is going to be co-hosting a Slow Food dinner with chef John Stephenson on Aug. 23 at 7 p.m. just down the street from my house at Fido in Hillsboro Village.

Besides the fact that she is now obviously stalking me, this is really good news because you know that the food and wine will be outstanding at this dinner. If you don't believe me, just check out the menu:

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Attend 'Wine and Wishes' This Thursday to Help Out Make-a-Wish

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 3:28 PM

I have several friends who volunteer for the Make-a-Wish Foundation, and to a number they say it's one of the most rewarding things they've ever done. This very worthy organization is hosting a fundraiser this Thursday, Aug. 23, at the Waller Lansden Conference Center downtown, and it looks like it should be a fun event to help them get closer to the $30,000 goal that the Make-A-Wish Young Leaders Board has set for themselves this year.

The event will feature a variety of wines and appetizers in a business casual setting, and will include live entertainment and a silent auction. Since the sponsors include Capitol Grille, Classic Party Rentals, Lipman Brothers Inc., Merchants Restaurant and Morton’s, I'm guessing it should be a pretty tasty spread. See below for the rest of the details:

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Two Special Dinners Coming Up at Burger Up

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 7:42 AM

As if Burger Up in 12South wasn't already popular enough, they are opening their doors for two special dinners on upcoming Sundays. I attended their first Farm Dinner last month featuring Triple L ranch, and I can attest that not only was it a wonderful meal, but it was a helluva deal with many full-size courses and a very generous pour on the wines and cocktails.

Burger Up is following up with a less meaty dinner for this month, featuring their partners at Delvin Farms. Long known for one of the most popular CSAs in town, Delvin's 96-acre certified organic farm located in College Grove is also an important purveyor for many area restaurants. The dinner will be held this Sunday, Aug. 26 at 6:30 p.m., with Amy Delvin kicking off the proceedings by giving a short talk about her family farm’s history and their commitment to organic farming. Chefs Nick Melvin and Shane Devereux of Atlanta will create a five-course meal using Delvin produce. For just $50 per person, diners will enjoy a delicious dinner and dessert accompanied by wine and cocktail pairings. Get tickets here.

The following Sunday, Burger Up welcomes the third edition of Lisa Donovan's Buttermilk Road Sunday Supper. Formerly the pastry chef at Margot's and City House, Donovan has sold out two previous suppers to great acclaim. Combining forces with Robin Riddell to pick out some interesting wines, Donovan has been experimenting with many aspects of Southern cuisine for an exclusive group of diners that she caps at 30 participants. A "suggested donation" of $65 for the meal and an additional $15 for cocktail and wine pairings earns you an invitation to what should promise to be a fantastic meal. If this menu doesn't scream Southern, I don't know what would:

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New Grimey's Annex Will Have Books, Coffee and Food Trucks

Posted By on Tue, Aug 21, 2012 at 5:33 AM

My colleague D. Patrick Rodgers got a great scoop over at the Cream blog: Cherished local record store Grimey's is adding an annex on the same block on Eighth Avenue South, and it's going to encompass a bunch more records, a bookstore, a coffee bar, outdoor seating and space out back that will host food trucks. There aren't many details yet on the new place, dubbed Grimey's Too, but here's what Rodgers reports:

Big news for local audiophiles, bookworms and coffee junkies: We've just confirmed via Grimey's co-proprietor Doyle "D-Funk" Davis that the oft-lauded record store plans on expanding into a second location two doors south on Eighth. They'll christen the spot Grimey's Too (see their logo above). Grimey's Too — an annex of sorts, as it won't be directly connected to the current Grimey's location — will feature a coffee bar run by a local coffee business, a "full-service indie bookstore" by the name of Howlin' Books (headed up by Jessica Kimbrough) and, as you might expect, more records.

Davis tells the Cream that all sales in Grimey's Too — books, records, all of it — will be "seamless," with "everything in one place." The new spot is two stories and roughly 6,000 square feet, with "almost a full acre" back lot for more parking and potentially even bigger music events. Davis also indicated that a handful of local vendors are interested in participating in regular food-truck food courts back there, and that there will be room for al fresco seating on a patio. Davis says they have some work to do readying the place, but they've already begun moving in, and hope to open later this year. Stay tuned, there are more plans and news to come.

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Monday, August 20, 2012

Why Bother Ordering Fancy Roasted Chicken in a Restaurant?

Posted By on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 1:53 PM

Roasted chicken is a reliable choice for the most finicky restaurant patrons.
  • Roasted chicken is a reliable choice for the most finicky restaurant patrons.
Last week, I had a lively discussion via Twitter regarding my friend Beth’s first trip to Lockeland Table. I haven’t been, but I tweeted, “Just don’t get the chicken. #badfoodie”

Whoa. Chicken lovers protested! And others thought I had some secret intel on Lockeland Table’s chicken. “Why? WHY NOT GET THE CHICKEN, LESLEY?”

I was merely referencing a “foodie” rule of thumb, one that not everyone is familiar with and one I realized I had seen written about with particular grace and efficiency recently in The Atlantic magazine. In it, Tyler Cowen, author of An Economist Gets Lunch: New Rules for Everyday Foodies excerpted his book in the article, "Six Rules for Dining Out."

The first rule: "In the Fanciest Restaurants, Order What Sounds Least Appetizing." Cowen goes on to explain why: It’s often what the chef can cook best. And the most mundane (roast chicken) is often there because it’s expected, not because it’s necessarily a great item.

In defense of Lockeland Table (and as Beth noted), they have included some very tasty-sounding side items with the chicken. And it’s not necessarily a fancy place. Though if going by the rules, one might order the catfish tacos instead.

Incidentally, when vegetarians browse menus, their version of roast chicken is the roasted portobello mushroom cap. While I appreciate a restaurant’s effort to accommodate those of us who don’t eat critters, I can roast a mushroom cap at home for a dollar. Why would I want to spend $14-$20 for someone else to serve one to me? I’ll answer that: I don’t.

This conversation among food bloggers, of course, provides a nice reference to a tip from one of the other rules, which is, if you’re going to visit a restaurant that has been hyped for whatever reason (celebrity chef, for example), do so as soon as possible.

“The famous chef, or some competent delegate, will be on hand early in the history of the restaurant to make sure it gets good reviews from sophisticated food critics and smart food bloggers; because the chef is famous, these reviews will appear quickly. Then everyone will want to go there, and the place will become a major social scene. The laughing and the smiling will set in. Beware! That’s when you need to stop going.”

I can't say that's untrue, though there are more than a handful of very good restaurants around Nashville whose quality has survived the hype and can be relied upon for an excellent meal with every visit.

Read the whole piece. It’s not only informative, but entertaining as well.

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Rolf and Daughters, a New Chef-Driven Restaurant, Coming to Werthan Lofts Site

Posted By on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 1:26 PM

The Werthan Lofts, the high-profile redevelopment that's turning the 100-year-old Werthan factory building in Germantown into an “eclectic and vibrant urban community,” is getting an equally ambitious restaurant neighbor. It’s called Rolf and Daughters, and it’s taking over the Boiler Building that long ago provided power for the factory.

It’s the project of chef Philip Krajeck, who has an impressive resume that includes a few years at Fish Out of Water, the restaurant at the posh WaterColor Inn in Santa Rosa Beach, Fla., where he landed on the list of James Beard Foundation nominees for Best Chef in the South.

At a time when many chefs talk of melding Southern foodways and ingredients with Continental-style standards of preparation, Krajeck seems especially suited for that philosophy.

He was an American kid who grew up in Brussels, Belgium, where his father worked for NATO. His education included a high-end hotelier school in Switzerland (where he trained in French culinary methods with a cohort of Italians who whipped up “really pristine classic Italian dishes” for the staff meal) but he also studied at the University of Alabama-Huntsville. Later he did educational stints (chefs describe these using the French word stage) at places like Blue Hill Stone Barns and Gramercy Tavern in New York.

Krajeck says he’s been working toward opening his own place in Nashville for three years. The restaurant name was especially tricky to brainstorm, he said. In the end, he chose Rolf and Daughters — his middle name is Rolf, and he has two daughters, ages 12 and 14 — because the generational name invokes an Old World, heritage feel.

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Yelp Helps Features Local Charities and Great Food, Too!

Posted By on Mon, Aug 20, 2012 at 5:40 AM

If you've never met Marcia Masulla, the Nashville community manager for Yelp, then you're clearly not hanging out in the right places. Because this spitfire of a marketer seems to be everywhere in town where folks are having fun. A tireless event organizer, Masulla is involved with many local fundraisers and was one of the founders of Nashville Fashion Week.

But Yelp Helps may be her most ambitious undertaking of the year. Coming to the Cannery Ballroom on Aug. 28 from 6 to 9 p.m., the event showcases Nashville nonprofits including: Adventure Science Center, Agape Animal Rescue, Arts & Business Council of Greater Nashville, Conexion Americas, the Frist Center for the Visual Arts, Girls on the Run Nashville, Nashville Children’s Theatre, NeedLink Nashville, Operation Stand Down Nashville, Sports 4 All Foundation, The Sexual Assault Center, The Tennessee Charter School Incubator, Tennessee Performing Arts Center, Transit Now Nashville and Urban Green Lab.

Attendees will have the opportunity to learn more about these worthy charities at displays and even sign up to volunteer for the coming year. But it's not just about altruism — Yelp Helps is also a helluva party thanks to a sponsorship by Heroes Vodka. The 21-and-over event is free, but reservations are required. Each RSVP'd guest will receive two drink tickets, and donations will benefit the participating nonprofit organizations. With a $10 minimum donation per RSVP, guests will receive an extra Heroes Vodka drink ticket, a “Hero Tote” filled with goodies, and private bar and lounge access throughout the night.

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Friday, August 17, 2012

Wandering Wino: Back to School Edition

Posted By on Fri, Aug 17, 2012 at 10:40 AM

It became immediately apparent during the morning commute that the kiddies are back to school. Well, at least, that's what I heard from all you civilians on Twitter. Your Wandering Wino's commute is from the upstairs bedroom to the coffee maker in the kitchen, and the dogs don't seem to be delaying my commute any more than usual.

But since it's time for the chilluns to get back to class, then maybe Bitesters should indulge in a little book learning themselves. Fortunately, the Skillery continues to offer some great courses for you to further your knowledge of all things boozy.

First period for you should be their brewing workshop this Saturday, Aug. 18, at Brick Factory, 209 10th Ave. S., from 10:30 a.m. until 12:30 p.m. Kendall Joseph will be teaching the class, and he is well-qualified to be your instructor with years of home-brewing experience. As he says, "It's not hard to make good beer, it just takes practice."

Here's the syllabus for you:

Gain the knowledge needed to kick-start your personal brewing adventure. Brewmaster Kendall Joseph will demonstrate proper technique and process overview by brewing a batch from scratch using malt extract and tasting various home brews. Participants will then have an opportunity to test their skills with the bottling process.

Participants will leave with the knowledge necessary to start their own home brewing experience and an opportunity to return and taste the brew made during the workshop.

To register for class and pay your $25 tuition, visit the event website.

If you're more of a whiskey student than a beer fan, then consider Holland House mixologist extraordinaire Jeremiah Blake's American Whiskey III: The Rest of America class. I've been a student in the first two semesters of Blake's classes and can attest that he is an extremely knowledgeable and engaging teacher. The class will be held at Holland House on Tuesday, Aug. 28, from 6 to 8 p.m. and costs $45, but you'll definitely get your money's worth in education and tastings.

Here's what to expect in class:

In this installment of our popular American Whiskey series at Holland House Bar and Refuge in East Nashville, bartender Jeremiah Blake will focus on introducing American whiskey made outside of Kentucky and Tennessee.

The night will begin with snacks, Haymaker punch (bourbon, choc/strawberry tea, citrus and champagne), and an opportunity to order food from Holland House’s bar menu. Servers from Holland House will be on hand, providing table service throughout the evening.

Our journey will begin in earnest at 6:30 p.m., with a whiskey overview, a discussion of key figures, and an exploration of how different climates and water sources affect the taste of the popular spirit. Of course, you’ll sample several classic and unique whiskeys from craft distilleries across the United States, including Hudson, High West, Stanahan's and a few surprise selections.

Class registration is available here.

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