He came back without the bourbon, but with one of my favorite pieces.
Mirroring the nation’s bourbon craze of the moment, Nashville’s Pappy hysteria crosses subgenres: sorority girls, hipsters, housewives, entertainment industry minions trying to secure a bottle for musicians and actors breezing through town, naïve everyguys who saw it on an episode of Justified and plenty of yuppie couples trying to build a home bar using dog-eared pages of Garden & Gun.
A product that once used to sit on shelves for months at a time is now sought with zeal, largely for a variety of non-bourbon drinking reasons, thus feeding a nasty black market. A note to hunters: After more than a week of calling Midstate liquor stores, I could find only one bottle for sale, at a liquor store in downtown Nashville. The price tag is five times the former going rate.
If you’re willing to abandon the pretension of “Pappy or bust,” all is far from lost: Right now at any number of local stores or bars, someone can assist you in purchasing a similar bourbon with similar results, depending on your palate. This is a renaissance for bourbon, and the choices have never been greater. Even rye whiskey, once the rotgut of choice for true salt-of-the-earth blue-collar laborers, has been smoothed, spiced and repackaged for curious new fans.
Nashville is at a particular disadvantage for an honest drinker looking for elusive bourbons. Multiple merchants I spoke to admitted that tourists frequently seek out an expensive bottle of whiskey simply to say they bought it in Nashville, the home of … bourbon?
“Yeah, they don’t quite get this isn’t Kentucky, or don’t know it comes from Kentucky, or just don’t care,” one floor rep grumbled.
“Man, I hope they don’t mention it on the TV show,” a store clerk across town worried.
Damn all that equity in our municipality’s “it” status. With Pappy leading the way, the high-end booze wave of demand has crashed down on otherwise unpretentious, humble local boozehounds.
Two high-profile spots from veteran restaurateurs drawn to Nashville from bigger cities have opened their doors along the West End corridor.
As I reported in July, Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante is the second location of a popular Italian restaurant and wine bar in Miami Beach.
Sardinia co-owners Tony Gallo (general manager) and Pietro Vardeu (chef) have staked out a 7,000-square- foot space at the Park View Towers, just off West End and Elliston Place. (It’s the same building that houses Kobe Steaks.)
They tout fresh touches on the Sardinia menu like mozzarella and burrata (a buttery fresh cheese) made in house. Meat and seafood entrees are grilled in a wood-burning oven. The Sardinia team also emphasizes the wine program, offering wines by the glass, the bottle and the relatively new (to Nashville) quartino-size portion — it’s a carafe that is a quarter-liter of wine, around 8 ounces or roughly one-and-a-half glasses.
Sardinia Enoteca Ristorante is at 210 25th Ave. N. The phone number is 320-9147. The hours are 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. daily.
The menu focuses on “French comfort food,” in a neighborhood bistro atmosphere. The menu focuses on the cuisine of Southern France, with a bit of Italian influence. (In his youth, Jacques Hourtal spent time with relatives in the Piedmont region of Italy.) Lunch looks especially affordable, with sandwiches and entrees in the $7.50 to $12 range.
Riviera Provincial Grill is at 1812 Hayes St. The phone number is 835- 2912. The restaurant is open Monday through Saturday. Hours: lunch 11 a.m. to 2:30 p.m.; dinner 5 to 9 p.m. (Sun- day hours will be added later this year.)
A version of this post appeared in my Food Biz column in today's print edition of The City Paper and online in the Nashville Post.
Though it’s rather old news now, I just saw The Colbert Report's assessment of the horsemeat scandal in Europe. And it’s hilarious. In case you missed it, watch now:
My own husband asserts that he’d eat anything as long as it tasted good. The requirement is that I have to find proof that cockroaches, wasp larvae, bushmeat (read: other primates), dogs and other meats(?) that are objectionable to the delicate Anglo-American palate are actually good before he’ll taste any. That is, it’ll probably have to be served in a restaurant with a respectable health inspection score.
But I’m curious about the thoughts of other omnivores on this issue. Why rabbits but not most other rodents (farm-raised rodents, that is)? Why cows and sheep but not horses? And though we eat what seems to be most water-dwelling creatures, we draw the line at dolphins. I’m just curious as to where these seemingly-arbitrary lines were drawn, other than in the Bible, which included many dietary guidelines that were mostly meant to avoid poisoning, it seems.
Some years I make bad jokes about giving up my New Year's resolutions for Lent or to stop throwing rocks at whales, but this year I'm really trying to do some things that would be good for me. First of all, I gave up swearing. That's a tough one, and I have slipped up more than once. But at least being cognizant of it means I try to pay more attention to what I say. Gosh darn it.
I'm also doing Meatless Monday and Fish on Friday, with the caveat that next Friday I'll be at the Charleston Wine + Food Festival, so that one goes right out the window for one night. I enjoy the minor challenge of menu planning and restaurant selection to fall under these two criteria, and it's nice to cook new dishes and try out some dining spots that I don't frequent.
Surprisingly, not many local restaurants are making a big deal about Friday fish specials. In the areas of the country where Catholicism is more prevalent, you can't swing Benedict's hat without hitting a sign for a Friday parish fish fry. It's a bad time to be a walleye in Wisconsin. ... Does anybody know of any Friday fries in the Nashville area? I'd love to check one out.
The restaurants that are plugging fish deals lately are mainly the national fast food chains. Bites reader Love and Nachos née HungryHippo reports that she has seen McDonald’s, Arby’s, Backyard Burgers, Captain D’s, etc. all boasting about serving "real" fish sandwiches. I'll admit I hadn't noticed this trend, since I rarely pay much attention to that list of fast food joints, two of which I have been boycotting for more than a decade for personal reasons I won't bore you with here.
One place that is pushing some Friday fish deals (actually all week long) is McCabe Pub. They were nice enough to share that their kitchen in Sylvan Park is pumping out quite a roster of fish dishes including:
When Sostrin lived in New York, she bought challah for her Friday night family dinners. Or, she did until one year during a wheat shortage when prices skyrocketed. She figured it had to be cheaper to make it on her own, and learned that she found the process of baking bread therapeutic. Sostrin started braiding and baking every week. When she moved to Franklin she kept on baking, and later started Sweets Melissa, which cooks out of the kosher kitchen at the Thyme Cafe at the Genesis Campus for Jewish Life in Bellevue.
After Alpha shuttered its doors, demand for Sweets Melissa’s challah grew, both in the local Jewish community but also among customers who just wanted a loaf to make tasty French toast on the weekends. Sostrin bought 1,000 bread bags, enlisted her son to help with deliveries and started baking. Customers order the braided bread by e-mail (email@example.com) or phone (752-0639). She bakes on Thursday nights and delivers the $6 loaves on Friday (before the Sabbath) and for Jewish holidays. Sweets Melissa is in the market for a used industrial mixer. When Sostrin finds one in her budget, she’ll expand her offerings and capacity.
Until then, she’s sticking to the basics: “I think in this 24-7 kind of world, it is nice to stop and have a tradition you can look forward to,” Sostrin says. “There’s something about the magic of bread. It is flour and yeast and salt and becomes something else.”
Kathy Joseph is the winemaker for Fiddlehead Cellars and has been making wonderful Sauvignon Blancs and Pinot Noirs since 1989. Joseph actually lives in the middle of one of her vineyards to better connect with the grapes. She is coming to Nashville for a whirlwind tour of several wine shops, so you can take advantage of the opportunities to meet her and learn about her boutique wines.
Today, she’ll be pouring at Brinkmann’s in Cool Springs at 6 p.m. Tomorrow you can catch her at Red Spirits and Wine in Bellevue from 3 to 6. On Monday, Feb. 25, she’ll be featuring four wines and small bites for $20 at the new Rumours in the Gulch, so that should be a great chance to check out the new location. Finally, Joseph will wrap up her tour in Franklin with stops from 5 to 7 p.m. on Tuesday and Wednesday at Franklin Wine and Spirits and the Bottle Shop at McEwen respectively.
This Saturday, Feb. 23, from 3 to 4:30, Grand Cru is having a tasting of some small batch rye whiskeys, including Rittenhouse Rye 100. Rye is hot right now, so head on down and try some out.
Speaking of rye, if you’re interested in learning more about this spicy whiskey, there’s still room in my upcoming USN Evening class "All About Rye" seminar I'm teaching on March 13 with the fabulous Kim Totzke. Go here and sign up for a guaranteed fun evening of food, drink and door prizes!
Atlanta, Memphis, New Orleans, Louisville, Greenville, S.C.? I got you covered. Charleston, Asheville, Birmingham? I have enough experience, and more importantly, informed foodie friends who can confirm what's good and bad. But when it comes to New York CIty, Chicago, L.A. or San Francisco, there are so many options that I in no way consider myself a credible source of information.
Sure you can Yelp it, and I do that often when I visit a new town, but there's something to be said for having access to a curated list of restaurant picks by professionals. Enter a free new iOS app for iPhone or iPad called "Find. Eat. Drink."
This program has compiled the favorite restaurants from chefs, pitmasters, bartenders, sommeliers and authors from all over the world, including Aaron Franklin of Franklin BBQ in Austin, Allan Benton, Bobby Flay, Donald Link, Ed Lee, Hugh Acheson, John Besh, Jonathan Waxman, Marcus Samuelsson and many others from the bottom half of the alphabet. (You get the picture.) Our own Chef Margot McCormack contributes her love for Benton's bacon and Prince's in her list of superlatives. Pat Martin gives a shout-out to Siler's Old Time BBQ in Henderson, Tenn.
Yazoo Brewing Co., in collaboration with Calfkiller Brewing out of Sparta, Tenn., is getting ready to release their newest brew: The Beacon — A Tennessee High Tax Ale. (That is, if they can get the feds to approve the dang label.) The Yazoo folks are clearly a little miffed by Tennessee's beer tax, which they say is the highest in the nation — so miffed, in fact, that they have a Fix the Beer Tax website.
Tennessee has the highest beer tax rate in the nation, 12% higher than No. 2 Alaska, and rising higher every year. It is so high that if you cut it in half, it would still be the 11th highest. The current law, enacted in the 1950s, taxes beer based on price rather than volume, making Tennessee one of only two states in the country that burdens its businesses — and ultimately its consumers — this way.
Me, I'm not a beer drinker. (I know — that's MY problem.) But it does seem a little excessive. What say ye, Bitesters? Is it exorbitant? If so, where is it on your List of Things to Be Indignant About? Just below overpriced ramen?
If nothing else, the tax has spurned an amusing beer bottle label, right?
This is the Open Thread. What else ya got?
Jesse Hamilton, who owns the Village Pub and The Hop Stop with his wife Tracy and kitchen manager Jim Latham, said The Hop Stop will have 36 American craft beers on tap. It will have a relaxed pub atmosphere, including darts.
There aren’t many details yet on the menu, but Hamilton said it will differ from what they serve at Village Pub. The Hop Stop, to be located at 2909B Gallatin Pike in the former Red Dog Scooters building, is gearing up to open in late spring.
I'll admit that while I was intrigued, I wasn't as excited as some Bites readers who've been all atwitter, including on Twitter. I expected something similar to Cori's around the corner, with a walk-up counter serving some of the best wurst if we were lucky.
I was very surprised when I first walked through the side door (after searching a while for parking) and discovered I was in a nicely decorated, tasteful room of a refurbished bungalow. There's a full bar that features a happy hour I haven't experienced yet and several rooms comfortably furnished with tables of various sizes. Currently, they are serving wine, liquor and high-gravity beers while they await a variance from the beer board due to their proximity to Centennial Park. It sure would be nice to have a pilsner with a wurst.
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