Tuesday, December 31, 2013

The Vandy Fan's Guide to Birmingham Eating

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 1:12 PM

  • facebook.com/sawskitchen
So you're headed to Birmingham, Ala., for the bowl game? We're here to help you eat.

Let's get one thing out of the way, though — don't go to Dreamland (or, if you really want to, have the good sense to drive to the one in Tuscaloosa). I realize that this will border on heresy in some circles, but the legendary barbecue place is past its prime. But don't worry, we've got alternatives for you.

I reached out to some Birmingham folks I trust for recommendations, and they came flooding back. On our mini panel: Erin Shaw Street, a senior editor at Southern Living; Joel Gamble, native of Birmingham, founder of the Roll Bama Roll blog and general man about town; Scott Pierce, lifelong friend, documented genius and a man with whom I once spent an weekend eating at all of Frank Stitt's restaurants.

I asked them for some options. I trust them and you can, too:

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Eat Right To Be Lucky in the New Year

Posted By on Tue, Dec 31, 2013 at 6:02 AM

A typical southern New Years dinner
  • wholeyum.com
  • A typical Southern New Year's dinner
If you grew up in the South — or you’ve been here any length of time — you know that on New Year’s Day, there are several foods you just have to eat in order to have good fortune for the rest of the year. It’s pretty easy to figure out the traditional foods just from a trip to the grocery. You’ll find the requisite blackeyed peas, greens and ham on sale and probably at the front of the store.

As the legends go, blackeyed peas represent coins and greens are dollar bills, and eating them is supposed to bring good financial fortune in the new year along, with the cornbread that is said to represent gold. Eating ham or pork is supposed to bring general good luck. Those of us who are vegetarian tend to stick with the marzipan pig in hopes of it satisfying Lady Luck (though my mom is still convinced that I am doing myself an extreme disservice by not eating ham on New Year’s Day).

Though a meal of blackeyed peas, stewed greens, ham and cornbread is perfectly acceptable for a New Year’s Day meal, those of us who’ve been observing the tradition for many years like to change it up a little bit. My sister-in-law likes to make a blackeyed pea gumbo, for example; though a lot of people prefer Hoppin’ John. I might have a blackeyed pea burger on corncakes with a chopped kale salad instead. I’ve also subtsituted pan-seared Brussels sprouts for greens.

What’s on your plate for New Year’s dinner?

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Monday, December 30, 2013

Bacon and Bourbon Festival Returns to Loveless Barn on Feb. 6

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 7:33 AM

My compatriots in the marketing department at SouthComm certainly know how to throw a party. From the annual Best of Nashville event to Iron Fork to the Sugar Rush party, the event planners at the Scene, Nfocus et al. really know their stuff.

Last year, SouthComm put together the inaugural Bacon and Bourbon fest, and it was a resounding success. Organizers smartly limited the number of tickets so that attendees could actually spend some time talking with the various purveyors and enjoying the bluegrass rather than just running from long line to long line in the pursuit of a porky buzz. Because of this limit, the event was a hard sell-out, and I expect this year's edition to do the same.

Bacon and Bourbon will return to the Loveless Barn at 8400 Highway 100 on Thursday, Feb. 6, from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. The bourbon sponsors are an auspicious lot, including Blanton's, Buffalo Trace, Eagle Rare, W.L. Weller, Colonel E.H. Taylor and Elmer T. Lee. Astute bourbon fans will notice that those are all brands in the Sazerac portfolio, and that's a good thing.

The roster of food vendors that will be providing samples of bacon-y goodness is still expanding, but early commitments include Loveless, Pub5, Perl, The Local Taco and more. Just to make the evening perfect, there will also be more beer and bluegrass. Like I said, this event will sell out, so if this sounds like porky-vana to you, head over to the event website right away and buy your tickets.

See you there!

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Celebrate New Year's Eve Vaudeville Style at Music City Tippler

Posted By on Mon, Dec 30, 2013 at 6:07 AM

If you’re looking for something that’s a little bit different and a lot special, don’t miss New Year’s Eve at Music City Tippler. The Tippler is hosting a celebration to “party like it’s 1899.” The festivities start off at 9 p.m. and include Vaudeville style entertainment provided by Music City Burlesque. Along with burlesque dancers, there will be fire eaters, belly dancers and pole acrobatics.

Advanced tickets are $30 per person ($40 at the door) but there’s also a VIP area in the loft where $150 will buy you three hours of open access to a premium bar, hors d'oeuvres, and a champagne toast at midnight. VIP bottle service is also available. For ticket information, visit their website.

Earlier in the evening, the restaurant is hosting two seatings for dinner; the first at 5 p.m. for $65 per person, and the second at 7 p.m. for $85 per person. The prix-fixe dinner menu includes three courses with multiple options each, including vegetarian selections. Both seatings include a champagne toast and require advance reservations.

Music City Tippler is a magnificent space and an excellent option for a truly special and fun evening. Even on a standard weeknight, the vibe is festive. And the food and drinks are fantastic.

Vaudeville Affair
Music City Tippler
1922 Adelicia St.
Tuesday, Dec. 31, 2013
9 p.m.-3 a.m.
Ages 21 and over only

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Friday, December 27, 2013

Big News From Green Brier Distillery

Posted By on Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 7:49 AM

It's been almost two years since Nashville whiskey-preneurs Charlie and Andy Nelson released Belle Meade Bourbon to consistent acclaim from the market. From the very beginning, their intent has been to use this purchased whiskey to make a name for themselves in the crowded brown liquor world and then begin to actually distill their own product based on the historical recipe from their family's Green Brier Distillery.

They are now about ready to start boiling some corn at their own facility near Marathon Village and plan to open Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery and Tasting Room sometime in early 2014. They will still market the Belle Meade brand, but the addition of a true Tennessee product that is distilled and aged locally should be a positive development to the whiskey scene.

According to their past statements on the matter, Green Brier Tennessee Whiskey could be a whiskey with a higher wheat content than Belle Meade, which is a rye-heavy bourbon. Wheated whiskeys are certainly the rage right now, with Pappy Van Winkle leading the charge along with other brands like Weller and Maker's Mark. It will be a few years before truly aged and complex Green Brier should be available on the shelves of your favorite bar and liquor store, but now that they have officially put shovels in the ground, whiskey lovers can start watching the clock.

Until then, the new tasting room should be a great place to try out their products and learn more about the venerable history of the Green Brier brand.

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The Weekly Open Thread: New Year's Resolution Edition

Posted By on Fri, Dec 27, 2013 at 6:07 AM

Barnwood is high in fiber and many other essential nutrients
  • Barnwood is high in fiber and other essential nutrients
It's that time of year, folks, when we resolve to start the new year by setting aside our bad habits, working out more, paying our bills on time, watching less TV, entering more online sweepstakes, tweeting more ... you get the idea.

Here at Bites, we offer you a simple New Year's resolution multiple-choice question. If none of the answers is correct, pick the one that comes closest to your particular resolution. Or feel free to share your own answer.

In 2014, I resolve to eat more:

a) kale
b) bacon
c) Prince's hot chicken
d) reclaimed barnwood

And what else is on your mind?

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Thursday, December 26, 2013

New York-Based City Winery to Open Restaurant, Music Venue in SoBro

Posted By on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 6:01 PM

City Winery, an "urban winery" and nightlife spot with locations in New York and Chicago, has purchased a warehouse on Lafayette Street in SoBro with plans to turn it into a winery, restaurant and 350-seat music venue, opening by September 2014.

The company had announced months ago that it was looking for a Gulch location for its Nashville outpost. But in the end it went for a 30,000-square-foot warehouse space at 609 Lafayette St., near Seventh Avenue, which is part of the former Sears complex downtown.

The company press release notes that the location is two blocks from the Music City Center and one block from Jack White's Third Man Records.

Part of City Winery's concept is "concert dining," combining fine dining and live music, something that's actually not that common in Music City. A glance at the music schedule for the Chicago location reveals it's currently hosting a multi-night stand from Poi Dog Pondering, and Los Lobos will be performing on New Year's Eve. Prince performed an after-hours set at the Chicago location in June.

My colleague William Williams reports more on the City Winery deal over at Nashville Post.

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Food for Thought: Eating Healthier in the New Year

Posted By on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 9:59 AM

The green stuff should be more than just garnish.
  • The green stuff should be more than just garnish.
'Tis the season for New Year’s resolutions to eat healthier and lose weight. If you need a push toward healthy eating, a study recently released by Harvard University in the journal, Nature might do the trick. The study looked at two “extreme” diets: one that was strictly animal-based (meat and cheese) and the other strictly plant-based. Scientists looked at the results of the diets on the trillions of microbes present in the human digestive system. NPR’s food blog, The Salt reported on the findings from the study last week:

The change happens quickly. Within two days, the types of microbes thriving in the gut shuffle around. And there are signs that some of these shifts might not be so good for your gut: One type of bacterium that flourishes under the meat-rich diet has been linked to inflammation and intestinal diseases in mice.

That is, the increase in animal proteins consumed led to blooms of bile-loving microbes as more bile was produced to process the increase in animal fats consumed. It’s believed these are the microbes that cause inflammation.

The key takeaway from this report is that dietary changes resulted in rapid changes within the gut, so it’s never too late to start getting healthier. And you can see and feel changes within days of altering your diet. So, if you experience issues related to inflammation in the gut, it might be a good idea to add some dietary changes (away from meat, cheese, and other animal proteins and fats) to your list of resolutions. Among other things, poor moods, bad skin, and arthritis are all thought to be linked to how your body processes your food.

Though, if you don’t wish to remove animal protein altogether, introducting probiotics could be—at least — a step in the right direction. Probiotics come naturally in fermented foods (yogurt and kimchi, for example) or you can get them in supplements such as Goodbelly drinks.

Other resolutions that should be on your list for a healthier lifestyle include drinking plenty of water (how much?), which helps prevent overeating and aids in digestion as well as getting more exercise and eating fewer calories. It’s important to remember that if your goal is to lose weight, the only way to do so is to burn more calories than you consume. It’s really that simple. But it is important to eat the right calories (food) to be healthier overall.

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Rodney Scott in Exile Barbecue Tour Coming to Husk

Posted By on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 8:27 AM

Rodney Scott - A Man and His Pig
  • Rodney Scott — A Man and His Pig
If you've never heard of Hemingway, S.C., pitmaster Rodney Scott, you're in for a treat. Rodney is a member of the vaunted Fatback Collective crew, an assemblage of chefs, barbecue masters, purveyors and even writers who are committed to preserving and promoting the use of heritage breed animals. Another part of their credo charges them to "assist imperiled businesses and organizations that are rooted in place and rich in culture."

That's where Rodney and Nashville come in. Scott's Bar-B-Que makes some of the most amazing smoked pork I've ever had the pleasure to eat. As chronicled in the SFA documentary short "Cut, Chop, Cook," Scott cooks multiple hogs on the simplest of pits at his joint and sells out every day that he's open. He even cuts all the wood that he uses to add the delicious smoke to his meat, and his fried pigskin (don't call it crackling in his presence) is so addictive that folks line up to order plateloads of the stuff as a side dish.

Rodney is one of the most personable and intelligent pitmasters I've ever met, with a personality that lights up a room and deep scars up his forearms which he calls "pitmaster tattoos" to demonstrate his longtime dedication to his craft. It's no surprise that a character like Rodney would be great friends with Nashville's own member of the Fatback Collective, Pat Martin. Get these two together, preferably around a fire and a cooler of beer late at night, and frivolity is guaranteed to follow. That high giggle you'll hear in the background is probably from yet another semi-Nashvillian Fatbacker, chef Sean Brock of Husk.

Now it's time for the sad part of the story. On Nov. 26, the pit house at Scott's Bar-B-Cue caught fire and burned to the ground. This was not a totally unexpected event, since as another Fatback friend Sam Jones once told me, "When you cook pigs for a living, stuff's gonna catch on fire every now and then." But it's no less tragic just because it is a frequent side effect of the operation.

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CAAN's 10-Course Chinese New Year Banquet Jan. 26 at Lucky Bamboo

Posted By on Thu, Dec 26, 2013 at 6:15 AM

From the 2011 banquet
Once again, we approach the lunar new year with word that Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville will be holding their annual multi-course dinner. The 2014 banquet will be 5-8 p.m. Sunday, Jan. 26, will consist of 10 courses (last year's had eight) and will happen in a new location: Lucky Bamboo.

CAAN board member Jen-Jen Lin tells Bites via email that the decision to move to Lucky Bamboo came down to a few different factors. One, the board felt that after several years at Wild Ginger (and Golden Coast before that), "It's good to change to another quality restaurant." Lin says they also considered Chinatown — a 2013 BON winner — but were concerned about the amount of space. (Elbows have been pretty close together the past few years, as the event always sells out.)

So when they heard that Chinatown's owners were taking over Lucky Bamboo, Lin say they chose the re-upped Charlotte Pike restaurant for "fine and fresh food, easy parking and bigger space." She adds that there will be a new menu this year. "CAAN's board has tasted the new menu at the Chinatown," she says, and owner Jack Ting has promised even better at the new location. "We are expecting ... excellent food from Lucky Bamboo!"

OK, some details: Early bird tickets — purchased by Dec. 31 — are $70 per person, $650 per table of 10; after that, prices go up to $85 per person, $800 per table of 10. (Must purchase by Jan. 15.) Order tickets at this link or see the info below. In my experience, worth every dime — though a few caveats apply since it's a new chef and location this year.

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