Monday, December 31, 2012

Food & Wine's Best Plates in Nashville, Featuring Chicken Liver Pâté At Lockeland Table

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 3:58 PM

Food & Wines top 10 plates in Nashville
  • Food & Wine, iPad edition
  • Food & Wine's top 10 plates in Nashville

Flip through the January issue of Food & Wine and you'll find a piece called "Nashville In 10 Plates," by Catbird Seat's Erik Anderson, as told to F&W's Kate Krader.

There's a lot of good stuff in there — octopus at City House, the chicken salad sandwich at Coffee, Lunch, Sarah Gavigan's ramen pop-ups — but first on the list is the chicken liver pâté at Lockeland Table.

Now I don't know if Anderson gave them in order or was just listing off 10 things (my guess is the latter), but it was numbered 1 through 10, and that pate was first, and HOLY CRAP DO I AGREE WITH THAT AT NO. 1.

The pâté — $9 on the starters menu — comes in a small mason jar under a layer of Benton's bacon fat with smoked peach preserves and toast.

I tried it for the first time last week, having been tipped off by someone to make sure and order it. I'll go ahead and confess that I might not have ordered it otherwise, because my first reaction to chicken livers is not usually, "Wow, that sounds fantastic." It spread so smoothly on the toast, and I lopped a bit of the preserves on top and took a bite. It's just the textbook definition of umami. (Yes, I know. I used the "u" word. I should go to foodie jail. Sue me.) I might have even elbowed someone out of the way to scrape the last bit out. If we hadn't been in polite company, I would have licked the jar.

The entire list, in a slightly altered (and annoying) slideshow version, can be found here.

The Next Evolution of the Resolution

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 8:28 AM

Every day. Every day!
  • Every day. Every day!
I don’t typically make resolutions, but I have found myself thinking I need to set up (or, more accurately, reinstate) some general rules about eating in order to be healthier. I doubt I’m the only one who gives myself a free pass for the second half of December, but it’s time to bring the madness to an end. So, here are the rules that will (again, ahem) be effective starting Jan.1, 2013:

1. Drink more water. For my height, weight, and activity level, I should be drinking just over two liters of water a day. I currently drink about one. And I don’t know why; I like water. I did better at drinking water when I had a regular desk job, I suppose because taking a break to get water was a way to cut the monotony. [How much water should you drink?]

2. Eat less white stuff. I’m not joining in on the War on Wheat, but I do need to cut back on white pasta and white bread and certainly on refined white sugar.

3. Limit dining out. My friends in food service probably won’t be happy to read that, but we’ve been eating restaurant food far too often in the past two months (including more Taco Bell than I'm willing to admit). If we had a lot of evening activities or if I worked full time, I would take no issue with our enthusiastic support of the restaurant business. But more often than not, we get takeout or go out because I’m just too lazy or uninspired.

4. Related: Do a better job of meal planning each week. We don’t dine out as often if I’ve got dinner already planned. I have a fairly exhaustive list of entrees and side items to mix and match to create meals as well as a nifty weekly planner white board on the refrigerator in the kitchen. Now I just need to use them again.

5. Buy some farro. Why have I never bought and prepared farro at home? I don’t know, but I plan to change that.

I think that’s about as ambitious as I really need to get. What about you, dear readers? Do you have any food-related resolutions for the new year? Special bonus points if any include “eating less factory-farmed meat or meat-ish products.”

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New Beer Growler Filling Stations at Kay Bob's and Craft Brewed

Posted By on Mon, Dec 31, 2012 at 5:45 AM

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Nashvillians' take-home beer options continue to grow with growler filling stations popping up all over town. In addition to The Filling Station in 12South, Kay Bob's Grill & Ale in Hillsboro Village and the new Craft Brewed Bottle Shop and Tasting Parlor on Franklin Pike offer excellent varieties of craft brews for your home drinking pleasure.

Kay Bob's has been serving their take on flatbreads and kebabs for a little over a year now, but have only recently begun to offer growler fills. They have 25 different craft brews on tap, including local favorites from Calfkiller, Jackalope, Fat Bottom and Yazoo, as well as other notable beers from across the country. If you're aiming low, you can even pick up a half gallon of Bud Light for the road. (Well, not really for the road; drink it when you get home.) Empty growler jugs can be purchased for $5 and refilled for the really reasonable price of $8. During their Wednesday growler happy hour(s) from 4 to 7 p.m., you can save two bucks on your refills.

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Friday, December 28, 2012

Late Gifts from the Prize Vault — We Have Winners in the StreetSmart and Local Palate Contests

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 8:06 AM

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Even if the last of the wrapping paper is in the recycling bin, there's still the chance for a few late holiday presents. As promised, we've picked winners in our Local Palate magazine caption contest and from the entrants who told us which of the participating restaurants in the holiday StreetSmart promotion they'd like to eat at.

Of all the entries imagining who said what to make a tableau of Nashville culinary talent guffaw so hard, longtime Bites commenter Pogo came the closest to the truth by guessing, "either Margot made a 'pork' joke or someone's about to get their rooster spatchcocked..." The actual story is that Pat Martin had just told a long dirty joke, which he'd probably repeat for you if you have five free minutes. But when Pogo said "spatchcocked," we knew we had a winner. Plus anybody whose manifesto on the Bites commenter page is "Those who forget the pasta are doomed to reheat it" is a winner in our book.

The winner of a $25 Amerigo gift certificate and two tickets to a Nashville Symphony Orchestra concert was Wallace, whose desire to visit Edley's and Marche was selected by the cyber-random number generator as the lucky one.

So Pogo and Wallace, send me an email to cchamberlain [at] nashvillescene [dot] com and I'll send you your magazine and hook you up directly with StreetSmart for your certificates, respectively. Thanks for playing!

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Open Thread Wants Some Hot Tamales

Posted By on Fri, Dec 28, 2012 at 5:57 AM

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A few days ago, I was driving home from Louisiana with my girlfriend Wendy and her son Graham. We took back roads through Arkansas and Mississippi, and then up through Memphis. As I drove through the tiny town of Lake Village, Ark., with Graham and Wendy asleep, I passed a little shack with a sign "Rhoda's Famous Hot Tamales." I went a few blocks farther, and a hunch told me to turn around and check it out. I woke Wendy and Graham and said, "I'm going in. I'll report back."

Inside, I found a charming place, with a couple of folks making tamales at a table in the back, then wrapping them in corn husks. Assorted pies sat on the counter. I got six tamales for $5, and some mini-pies that were $1 each. The tamales were divine, and the pies — coconut cream and a combo pecan/sweet potato — were exceptional, by any standards. It was just a snack, as we'd eaten recently, but it was delicious, and Rhoda was delightful.

First off, if you find yourself within 25 miles of Lake Village, make a detour to get to Rhoda's. Check out a video interview with Rhoda here.

Second, does anyone know where to get good hot tamales here? I haven't eaten them often, but I think I feel a major food crush coming on.

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Thursday, December 27, 2012

This Week's Dining Column: Hangover Brunches

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 4:51 PM

Enchiladas from The Stone Fox
In this week's issue of the Nashville Scene, plucky reporter Abby White scouts locations for the perfect balm for the overindulgent soul: "hangover brunch."

Here were her criteria for restaurants serving such a meal:

Time investment: The restaurant cannot have a long waiting list, because anything more than a 15-minute wait could literally kill us when we have the shakes.

General ambiance: The restaurant must be free of triggers from the night before — cigarette smoke, the scent of bar mats or vomit. Low lighting and noise levels are preferable. Bonus points if we don't have to sweat out vodka in front of screaming children and post-church crowds.

Hair-of-the-dog quotient: The restaurant must serve some type of alcohol for the truly infirm.

She investigated two new West Side spots: The Stone Fox and M.L. Rose, and one Nolensville Road stalwart, the venerable Salvadoran restaurant and market Las Americas.

Check out her adventures here.

On a more somber note, this week's cover story is In Memoriam, the Scene's annual recounting of the many notable Nashvillians we have lost in the past year, "vibrant threads we will miss in the city's tapestry." Sadly, that list notes the loss of members of the restaurant community, including Jay Luther of Germantown Cafe, John Dean of McCabe Pub, Mario Ferrari of Mario's, and more. Read the entire package here.

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Spend a Little Time at BunkyCooks

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 1:10 PM

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Not only did much of Nashville's culinary community descend on the recent Thomas Keller/Sebastien Rouxel event earlier this month, but there were plenty of out-of-towners there as well. Two interesting non-natives that I met that evening were Gwen Pratesi and her husband Roger. Together they publish a blog called BunkyCooks.com, and were recently named a James Beard finalist for best individual food blog.

initially, Gwen set up the blog as a place to share recipes with strangers and friends, but soon she found herself sharing more and more about her life at BunkyCooks. About a decade ago, Roger was diagnosed with Stage 4 cancer, so the two of them have plenty of inspirational stories about his battle with the disease and the adventures they have shared along the way.

Roger is doing much better and has certainly outlived that initial pessimistic diagnosis. His outlook remains positive, and he says his whole attitude toward life has changed. "I'm no longer the hard-charging businessman. I now care more about relationships and stories of people's views and what they care about." Roger mans the camera to document his and Gwen's travel and culinary adventures while they seek out these stories.

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Kickstarter Alert: Nashvillian Aspires To Make Energy Bars, Employ Refugees

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 12:59 PM

Trying to break into the energy bar market is a daunting task by any measure. Supermarkets, convenience stores and health food stores sell a wide variety of products made by Clif Bar, PowerBar, Power Crunch, Promax and many more. Attempting to compete with such established brands might seem like a steep hill to climb.

But Nashvillian Kipkosgei Magut, who recently began a Kickstarter campaign to help fund his chia-seed energy bar business, TribEndurance, is used to climbing steep hills, literally and figuratively.

Magut grew up in a small village in rural Western Kenya in a traditional Nandi community. His family had a few dairy cows on a small plot of land. "The options for young men in my village," Magut says, "were to become farmers (of which I had no luck considering the size of our land) or drunks, or to pay a bribe to obtain a college intake — or get out of Kenya."

Though Kenya is known for producing some of the world's greatest long-distance runners, Magut wasn't aware of the opportunities running could provide — that is, until his friend Noah Biama introduced him to the sport. "He told me that if I wanted to get an education in the U.S., I needed to get a scholarship, because the U.S. education is expensive," Magut says. "He told me that the best option I had was through running. He said that our people, the Nandi tribe of Kenya, are known for their running, and had great success in the international arena."

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Mambu To Close and Reopen as Rosebud Bistro

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 11:19 AM

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Veteran chef Anita Hartel, whose restaurant Mambu has been a Midtown staple for creative, eclectic cuisine since 2001, is renaming and reinventing the restaurant with the help of a new business partner.

Hartel has been running the place solo since co-chef Corey Griffith left a while back, and she’s ready to recruit some help in the front of the house.

“I’ve taken on the restaurant by myself for three years, and I realized I need a guy around here who can do things out here [front of the house] better than I can,” she said with a laugh. “The whole thing is more cohesive when we’re doing it together.”

It’s also just the kind of opportunity her new business partner, Jan Firek, has been looking for ever since he moved to Nashville two years ago.

Firek started out as a schoolteacher in Michigan, but eventually landed in the big-city restaurant biz, working his way up the ladder in New York and Los Angeles. He doesn’t like to name-drop the famous restaurateurs he’s worked with, but he will mention a couple formative workplaces: August, the popular bistro in New York’s West Village, and the acclaimed Pizzeria Mozza in Los Angeles.

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Memphis Beckons With Carnival Food Year-Round

Posted By on Thu, Dec 27, 2012 at 10:29 AM

Just imagine, 24-hour access to funnel cakes all year round!
  • Just imagine, 24-hour access to funnel cakes all year round!
It's technically still Christmastime for me, so once again, I have more to tell you about food in Memphis than in Nashville. But it seems to me that Nashvillians like to poke a little fun at their fellow Tennesseans down the Delta way, so I'm here to assist. Today's dispatch is to inform you that you can get carnival food — year-round! — right in the very geographic heart of Memphis at — wait for it — Carnival Food. That's right, now that there's no longer an actual fair held in Memphis (the Mid-South Fair relocated to Mississippi several years ago), some enterprising folks are making sure that you can still get your favorite fair/carnival treats whenever you want it. The drive-through is even open 24 hours a day, which may or may not be a huge bonus to the students of Rhodes College just three miles down the street.

The menu includes — but is not limited to! — funnel cakes, corndogs (referred to by Memphians as "Pronto Pups," a brand name), deep-fried Oreos, Sno Cones, Polish corndog (the mind boggles), candy apples and turkey legs. My favorite fair food, frozen chocolate banana on a stick and hot apple dumpling are not on the menu, but I suppose I could comfort myself with a deep-fried honey bun and some fried pickles.

If your first thought was like mine — "wow, what a fantastic idea!" — and your second thought was, "I wish we had one in Nashville," you should note that the 24-hour Carnival Food restaurant at 3349 Jackson Ave. is the last of the restaurants still in operation. Google tells me that there were three or four other locations in the Memphis suburbs that have shut down over the past few years. So I suppose if you can't get a location somewhere along the eastern perimeter of Vanderbilt or maybe MTSU, then it might be best to scrap any carnival food plans for the Midstate. Then you could just add this to your growing list of Memphis food destinations to try!

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