Get Sweet. Give a little taste of the sweeter parts of Nashville, why don’t ya? Not even Scrooge would be unhappy about getting and of these treats.
Goo Goo Cluster. Buy the candy and get the gear.
Walker Creek Toffee and Nashville Toffee Co. Two different brands of toffee both made right here in middle Tennessee. And both very good.
Bang Candy Company marshmallows. I’m not sure there’s anything more luxe than a handmade, artisanal marshmallow.
Olive and Sinclair chocolate. Perhaps it goes without saying, but just in case. ... Special note: O&S chocolate is vegan, dairy-free, and soy-free. A rarity and a sign of well-made chocolate.
Colt’s Bolts. Another Nashville institution. They make pies and cakes, too!
Gift tin from The Peanut Shop. The butter toffee cashews are my favorite.
Pralines by Leon. I only recently found out about these pralines, which I’ve been told are authentic New Orleans-style. I plan to visit soon to find out for myself.
Brittle Brothers. Brittle, too? Yes.
Christie Cookies. I’ve been sending Christie Cookies (made right here in Nashville) for years. They are the best. It’s also great to be able to click and have everything else taken care of for you.
Tender Loving Cake. TLC is new to Middle Tennessee, but the concept is that you buy a delicious cake (sour cream blueberry or cinnamon pecan) and they send the cake to your gift recipient and a cake to the food bank of your choice (as in, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee). Pretty nifty. Once again, all you do is click and everything else is taken care of for you. With a bonus of being able to give to Second Harvest at the same time.
Jam on. Spread the love with jams, jellies, marmalades, and more.
Perl Catering. The jams and mustards are fantastic. Word to the wise: get the balsamic onion marmalade and get it early. And get one for yourself.
Bathtub Gin. These fruit spreads aren’t cheap, but they are worth every penny. The recipient of one of these jams will feel properly loved. I wonder if anyone loves me enough to buy that Limoncello Strawberry?
Perk up. Get the coffee-lover on your list some locally roasted coffee from Drew’s Brews, Just Love Coffee Roasters, Roast, Inc., Crema or Bongo Java Coffee. (So many roasters these days — hope we didn't leave anybody out!)
Dine out. For the past couple of years, we’ve given my in-laws gift certificates to restaurants where they may not typically go. Date night places. We’ve previously given gift cards to Watermark and Kayne Prime, but I’m undecided so far this year. However, Flyte is currently running a gift card promotion where you get a bonus 20% on any purchase $99 and less, and a 25% bonus on $100 or more. A $125 gift card for $100 is a fantastic deal and will definitely pay for a memorable dinner at Flyte.
Porta Via also has a gift card promotion where you get a $10 gift card for every $100 you spend (available at the Nashville and Cool Springs locations). Give it with the gift or keep it for yourself. Amerigo and Etch are both offering bonus deals with gift cards; 10% back for gift card orders worth over $100, 15% on orders over $500, and 20% back on orders over $1,000.
Read all about it. Several local authors have released books this year that would be great gifts.
The Cookie Dough Lover's Cookbook: Cookies, Cakes, Candies, and More by Lindsay Landis
The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South Before You Die (and the Recipes That Made Them Famous) by Chris Chamberlain
Food Lovers' Guide to Nashville: The Best Restaurants, Markets & Local Culinary Offerings by Jennifer Justus
Farm Fresh Southern Cooking: Straight from the Garden to Your Dinner Table by Tammy Algood
You Be Sweet: Sharing Your Heart One Down-Home Dessert at a Time by Patsy Caldwell and Amy Lyles Wilson
Chefs Can Save the World by Jeremy Barlow
Push-Up Pops by Courtney Whitmore
And only semi-local—but part of my vegetarian agenda—don’t forget Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin’ Vegan in the Dirty South by Bianca Phillips
Get it. Many of these gifts are available online, but it’s just as easy and a lot more fun to browse the selections at several local stores.
Lazzaroli’s Pasta Shop and The Turnip Truck both carry a number of the local jams, candies, and cheeses. Lazzaroli also has an excellent collection of salts and other fine ingredients such as vanilla beans, olive oils, and balsamic vinegars.
If you’re down in Franklin, Olivia Olive Oil in Cool Springs has a wonderful selection of olive oils and related gifts (including dipping spices). The Nashville Farmers Market is also a great resource for local jams and other treats such as locally-made salsa. Or if you want to make your own culinary gifts, sign up for Laura Wilson’s class this Thursday night in NFM's Grow Local Kitchen inside the market house. Chef Wilson will teach students to make infused oils, biscotti and other great gifts inspired by Italy.
More places to check for tasty gifts include The Bloomy Rind, The Green Wagon, Whole Foods (a number of local products are available) and Green Door Gourmet, which has an extensive selection of preserved goods from the farm as well as a gourmet market.
Books are available through the authors’ websites, at bookstores, and/or on Amazon.com.
Here's an abridged version of Edge's introduction to the article:
Based on my time at table in 2012, I believe the following dishes, from both steam-table cafes and white-tablecloth bistros, will catalyze conversations in the coming year. ... I can tell you that all ... celebrate the best of Southern senses and sensibilities, histories and futures. Nota bene: Great eats are ephemeral. Here last night. Gone this afternoon. If the dish I love is not in the rotation when you arrive, call an audible, for none that emerge from these kitchens will be duds.
Tuesday is baked neck bones. Thursday is beef liver with onions. Saturday is pigs’ feet and fried chicken. But every day is fried cornbread day at this workhorse of a meat-and-three cafe, set in a dusty pink bungalow in the decidedly unhip Inglewood district of decidedly hip East Nashville.
(Author's note: Inglewood unhip?) (Author's note: Author lives in Inglewood.)
Robert Bailey and his family cook the most elemental cornbread imaginable: cornmeal, water, salt, and a pinch of sugar. Fried hard, that cornbread emerges from the roiling oil with a sandpaper crust and a creamy core.
Gaze upon that oval of goodness before you dunk it in a bowl of collard greens. You can see the handprints of the cook who shaped it. Now crack it in two and sniff the streams of sweet corn aroma that rise ceilingward. Terms like handcrafted are employed too often these days. Here, my fellow eaters, is the real thing. Also on the menu: pork chops, girded by a sweet mantle of fat and fried in a parchment-thin batter.
As far as I can tell, Bailey & Cato are the only restaurant whose dish isn't pictured in the Garden & Gun slideshow. Maybe the would-be photographer was busy. Maybe Bailey and Cato were busy (they almost always are). Maybe cornbread in and of itself just ain't that photogenic.
But maybe, just maybe, Bailey & Cato is a little slice of the real Southern experience to begin with, and a picture would only tell a second-rate story heard second-hand from the food, which, to this eater, speaks for itself.
Here are the details:
The Turnip Truck Urban Fare, located at 321 12th Ave South in the Gulch, will host a holiday open house, Wednesday, November 28, 5:00-7:00 p.m. The event, which is free and open to the public, will highlight locally and regionally made chocolates, local coffee roasters, local and regional breweries.
Participants include Bang Candy Company, Bongo Java, Drew’s Brews, Just Love Coffee, Goo Goo Cluster, Nashville Toffee, Olive & Sinclair, Raw Shakti Chocolate, Terrapin Beer Company and Yazoo Brewing Company.
Terrapin will offer samples of MooHoo, a chocolate milk stout created in collaboration with Olive & Sinclair chocolate.
“Coffee, chocolate and beer are such complex, complimentary flavors, and we thought it would be fun to host an open house featuring some of the best local creators,” said John Dyke, store owner. “As the holidays approach, we’re seeing an increased interest in shopping local — both for cooking ingredients and for gift ideas. We hope attendees will find some new favorite flavors at The Turnip Truck.”
This event is free and open to the public; advance registration is not needed. Beer samples and purchases are for customers 21 and older.
Speaking (or rather “typing”) about wine education, Salud Cooking School at the Whole Foods in Green Hills is teaching a class in “How to Pair Wine with Food” on Tuesday, Nov. 27, from 6:30 until 8:30 p.m. Here are the details, straight from the class syllabus:
Our next chance to say "we knew him when" comes 8 p.m. Monday on TLC when Waverly, Tenn. cake artist Garrett Wallace competes on the premiere of season 3 of Next Great Baker. Buddy "Cake Boss" Valastro has chosen 13 crafty cake artists to compete for a prize of $100,000, a feature in Redbook magazine and a chance to work side-by-side with Buddy and his team at Carlo's Bakery. This bakers' dozen of bakers will participate in 10 weeks' worth of competitions, which will be judged by celebrities like Lou Ferrigno (Hulk smash cake!), Peter Billingsley, Holly Madison and Joey Fatone.
Wallace bakes cakes under the nom de cuisine "The Fabulous Baker Boy," and you can view his work at a Tumblr page set up to show off his creativity. If that Angry Birds cake is any indication, he should be able to hang in this competition. Best of luck, Garrett!
Oh, did I accidentally leave that brick of low-sodium "dressing" on the kitchen counter as we sped away from Thanksgiving dinner? I'm certain it would withstand shipping. Besides, I have a refrigerator full of leftovers — a sweet-potato casserole with streusel topping that effectively functions as dessert; a summer-squash casserole that was as simple as it was simply delicious; and hunks of the amazing smoked turkey my brother treated us to from Neighbors in Sylvan Park.
So spill about your Thanksgiving. What did you fix? How'd it turn out? Any notable successes or failures? What are you going to do with all those mystery goods tucked away in Tupperware? And what's the first thing you eat to cleanse your palate of cranberry and herb stuffing? Our Open Thread is open for business.
Also, if you baked a turkey this year, we followed Bruce Dobie's gumbo recipe for leftover turkey and ended up with some of the best we've ever had. Check it out here.
Sleep too late? Dog eat the turkey? This week's Scene offers a list of restaurants that are open Thanksgiving day. A sample:
• At the Hermitage Hotel's Capitol Grille (345-7116), Chef Tyler Brown delivers a tantalizing spread of smoked Niman Ranch steamship ham with house-made apple butter and cider glaze; Ashley Farms Heritage Breed turkey with giblet gravy, cranberry and kumquat preserve; and a Tennessee wagyu beef steamship with horseradish crème fraiche and red wine jus. Sides include macaroni and Tennessee cheddar cheese, roasted sweet potatoes and red onion crumble, and brioche stuffing with foraged mushroom, leeks and bacon. $46.50 per adult for brunch, $26.50 per child under 12.
• At the other end of the dining spectrum — our end — Cracker Barrel serves up Thanksgiving dinner for $8.99 per person ($4.69 for kids) starting at 11 a.m. Choose from baked ham, sweet potato casserole, cranberry relish, your choice of vegetable, a beverage and made-from-scratch biscuits or corn muffins, with pumpkin-pecan streusel pie for dessert. Or serve up to six with Thanksgiving takeout for $54.99 — just make sure you give 24 hours' notice.
• Tennessee bourbon scallops and roasted pear bisque — beats grazing on maize, eh? Give the tryptophans a rest at the Hutton Hotel's 1808 Grille (340-0012) in favor of entrees such as bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin with apple brandy reduction ($25), lamb meatballs ($25), and spiced Moroccan halibut ($23).
See the whole list here. And please report back if you try any of these options. Happy Thanksgiving!
Another child of the South, Bianca Phillips, found herself in a similar predicament. And when she moved from being vegetarian to vegan, she faced the horror of giving up macaroni-and-cheese and ranch dressing, too. A good Southern girl simply cannot live without ranch dressing! And thus, Vegan Crunk was born, a food blog dedicated to demonstrating that you can still eat great Southern food (sometimes with a nice twist) without any animal products.
Now, Bianca’s got a cookbook so that you can make Southern and Southern-inspired vegan dishes at home. Cookin’ Crunk: Eatin' Vegan in the Dirty South includes Southern staples such as a vegan Ro-Tel dip and country-fried tempeh steak (as well as the aforementioned mac-and-cheese and ranch dressing) to Southernized versions of more international cuisine such as black-eyed pea hummus and a Southern fassolada.
Each recipe is accompanied by helpful notes, nutrition facts and charming stories about the dishes and their inspirations. She also includes a useful section at the beginning of the book to help you stock essentials for the vegan pantry as well as a note on the appropriate pronunciation of “pecan.”
There are a number of recipes that I plan to try very soon. At the top of the list is making homemade seitan, which I hope will be toddler-approved. I’m also considering this recipe for Nutty Mushroom Quinoa, which might be making its way to my husband’s family’s Thanksgiving dinner:
One important update is the target day for opening, which is Dec. 3, less than two weeks from today and a date that would give neighbors and other curious folks a chance to gather there for drinks and dinner (and to check out the new joint) over the holidays.
Hatz has also named his restaurant team: Mike Harris is the operating partner, and Frank Courreges will run the kitchen as executive chef. Harris is a 30-year veteran in the business, with experience at the Loveless Cafe, Sam’s Sports Grill, Logan’s Roadhouse and Christie Cookies.
Courreges trained as an apprentice chef in Europe and attended the Culinary Institute of America and Johnson & Wales University. He has worked in hotels and restaurants in Charleston, West Palm Beach, Fla., and Nashville.
Both Harris and Courreges describe their culinary approach as delivering classic dishes with a twist. Harris promises house-ground burgers, unique salads, hand-cut steaks and fresh vegetables, along with a few surprises.
The restaurant space, as you may remember, was originally the location of Germantown East, which closed permanently after the death of chef and co-owner Jay Luther in a freak accident in the produce cooler. The original Germantown Café remains a vital fixture in Germantown under co-founder Chris Lowry.
Hatz has pledged to honor the original owners by contributing to the Jay Luther Memorial Scholarship Fund for aspiring culinary professionals.
A version of this post appeared in my Food Biz column in this week's print edition of The City Paper and online in the Nashville Post.
Amanda was so moved by the experience that she wanted to share the story with Bites:
I read a story to my children every night before bedtime. A recent hit with the kids contained the nursery rhyme “The House That Jack Built,” which teaches memory through repetition. I daresay the method is effective, as I’ve been reciting something like the following in my mind for days now:
This is the cookie that love baked.
This is the person who purchased the cookie that love baked.
This is the money given by the person who purchased the cookie that love baked.
This is the food that was bought with the money given by the person who purchased the cookie that love baked.
This is the stranger whose belly is full from the food that was bought with the money given by the person who purchased the cookie that love baked.
Most brewpubs and several grocery stores and beer marts fill up 64-ounce beer jugs called growlers, but none of them currently offer the variety that The Filling Station has put together in their first week of operation. Currently their system can handle 24 different beers, and they are committed to always maintaining at least one offering from each of our local breweries like Yazoo, Blackstone, Jackalope, Fat Bottom and Calfkiller. They also see the chance to be the best place for craft beer fans to try out a rotating selection of new brews that aren't widely available. For example, when they opened Saturday, The Filling Station was already one of the only places in town to buy three different beers from Goose Island out of Chicago. Since the cost of bottling is the most expensive part of the craft brewing business, remote breweries are much more likely to open up Nashville as a draft beer market if they can cut the extra expenses.
If a full growler is more than you want to commit to, because hey it might be a weeknight or you can't drink three beers (wuss), The Filling Station is selling what they call Growlettes, 32-ounce bottles. If you buy a branded growler or growlette from the shop for $5, you can trade up or down any time you want, depending on whether you want a large or a small. They'll handle all the cleaning and sanitizing for you and give you a new growler of either size whenever you want to swap one out.
They ordered over 300 full-size growlers in preparation for their Saturday opening, but had already run out by Sunday. Fear not, thirsty friends, more are on the way and they have plenty of the small sizes left. In fact, Newman promised, "We'll fill up a milk jug if you bring one in." Half growlers of beer run from $5-7 with full ones available in the $9-13.50 range. Figure you'll pay double that for a milk jug.
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