Friday, May 30, 2014

It's My Bitesaversary!

Posted By on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 8:12 AM

I got crazy eyes, yall!
  • "I got crazy eyes, y'all!"
I'm actually in Atlanta today covering (read: eating and drinking my weight in bite-size samples at the tasting tents) the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival, so I'm unfortunately not in town to celebrate a somewhat auspicious occasion with you wonderful Bitesters. You see, it was five years ago that I wrote my first contribution to Bites and officially joined this exceptional online Nashville food community. Since then, I've made so many great friends of Bites readers, local and regional chefs and fellow food enthusiasts (see, I didn't say "foodies"), and it's been a great ride so far.

Running the numbers, I figure I've published about 1,575 posts about restaurant news, wine, beer and spirits tastings, chef profiles and some generally silly stuff that I thought might be of interest. I've also made 725 comments in an attempt to insert some snark or moderate streams of contributions from you entertaining and passionately opinionated readers. I am proud to admit that I have finally made it to the five restaurants I was embarrassed to have never visited when I first started this gig.

I've gotten to meet and interview food luminaries like Thomas Keller, Anthony Bourdain and Alton Brown, as well as television personalities like Adam Richman and Paula Deen. In my five-minute talk with Paula, I got about four intelligible words on my voice recorder. "LOVELESS! BISCUITS! FRIED CHICKEN!"

As far as occupational hazards go, I've probably gained about 10 pounds, mitigated by almost daily trips to he downtown YMCA. I've endured a few painful gout flare-ups and a nasty little bout of diverticulitis, but the food I've eaten, the friends I've made and the opportunity to share in the culinary conversation with y'all has made it more than worth it.

Here's to another five years!

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The Open Thread Wants to Know What Bourbon You're Drinking

Posted By on Fri, May 30, 2014 at 6:35 AM

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I'm not on the spirits beat (we have the accomplished Chris Chamberlain for that), but one thing I've noticed is how passionate people are about their bourbon. Knowledgeable, too. And there's so much to learn — tons of history and backstory, and some of the details are even kept secret by the bourbon makers.

Lately I've been trying to bone up on bourbon myself. I've been asking around about what folks are drinking. I know I'm probably not likely to join the Pappy brigade anytime soon, since tracking the elusive elixir seems ambitious for a relative newbie. But I sure enjoyed Steven Godfrey's piece about it.

I sampled Four Roses at Iron Fork — good stuff. At last year's Music City Eats, I tried Willett — very smooth. My colleague Steve Cavendish says he's partial to Weller — a bit like Pappy with less age and a lot more affordable. Several people in my informal poll mentioned Bulleitt 10 Year, but I haven't tried it yet.

Two tasty bourbon products are sold by Nashvillians whom I've actually met: the Nelson brothers of Belle Meade Bourbon, and Carey Bringle of Peg Leg Porker Bourbon.

Further afield, I hear that Brooklyn hipsters (and narrators of Drunk History) like Basil Hayden. Blanton's is apparently popular in Manhattan. Years ago a buddy from Bardstown, Ky., said Maker's Mark is what native Kentuckians actually drink.

But why am I rambling on? I want to hear from you, Bites Nation. What do you drink in the bourbon department? Do you enjoy it straight or in famous concoctions with cherries or muddled mint?

And since this is the Open Thread, what else is on your mind?

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Thursday, May 29, 2014

Koi Sushi & Thai Coming to East Nashville; Ken's Sushi Closing on Division This Saturday

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 3:35 PM

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There was much excitement last year when it was announced that the building at 923 Main St. in East Nashville was set to become the new location of Ken's Sushi & Japanese Restaurant, a venerable sushi joint that must give up its longtime home on Division Street to clear the way for Buckingham Cos.' massive mixed-use development.

Now we've learned that another local restaurant, Koi Sushi & Thai, will be filling that East Nashville space instead. Koi, which has locations in Franklin and in Nashville's Melrose neighborhood, expects to open on Main Street later in the summer.

East Nashville is somewhat underserved when it comes to sushi, so the new future neighbor will fill that niche, along with offering Thai specialties. You can see the menu here.

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  • Ken's Sushi on Facebook
Ken's Sushi, meanwhile, is closing this Saturday. According to the Facebook page, the restaurant has some leads on finding a future location, but has been told by the current landlord to shut down this week. (It's unclear why the East Nashville plan fell through, but we hear there might have been some sort of problem with a contractor.)

Ken's is now looking for a space that won't require much renovation, to minimize the amount of time the business will be closed.

If you would like to make it to Ken's on Division before it shuts down, the Facebook page promises customers 15 percent off the check through the final dinner on Saturday, May 31. They'll even take 20 percent off if you pay cash.

The Ken's folks are asking customers to watch their Facebook page for updates on the future location.

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First Bite: Actual Brunch at POP

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 9:50 AM

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Last week I shared news of a new Sunday brunch option, Actual Brunch, at Sarah Gavigan's new pop-up restaurant and event space in East Nashville, POP.

The brunch is the brainchild of Dan Forberg, owner and chef of Actual Food Nashville, a catering and personal chef company. Forberg's description of the food in last week's post definitely piqued my interest, so I checked out Actual Brunch on Sunday.

Perhaps I should call this a "First Nibble" instead of a "First Bite," since I was flying solo and only got to sample a little of the menu. Then again, there are only four entrées on the menu, so I sampled 25 percent of the fare!

I went with the Super Classic French Omelette — according to the menu, "fancy cheese, extraordinary herbs, truffle butter, green salad" — and it was quite fabulous. The omelette itself was light and fluffy, filled with Gruyère and speckled with herbs. The hint of truffle was a nice, slightly decadent accent. The salad featured well-seasoned kale, and it was notably better than most omelette side salads, which are too often just a perfunctory pile of greens with a sprinkle of olive oil.

I also tried what Forberg calls the hash brown, which is really more like a potato latke — and a very tasty one at that. It was served with a condiment that at first appeared to be some sort of ketchup, but was actually a puree of guajillo chilies blended with sugar and spices. Whatever you order, I'd definitely recommend a hash brown on the side.

Actual Brunch serves from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. every Sunday. When I got there at 2, there was no wait, but Forberg said there was a big crowd earlier, so if you'd rather not wait, you might want to go on the later side.

It's worth noting that the prices on the menu include tax. Price-wise, it seems to be in line with similar brunch offerings around town. Main dishes range from $8 to $12. I'll definitely be back soon.

POP is at 604 Gallatin Ave., Suite. 201.

Forberg is also presenting a Mexican pop-up titled "Una Noche en Oaxaca" tomorrow night (Friday, May 30) at Sky Blue Cafe, 700 Fatherland St. There are two seatings (6:30 and 8:30), and tickets for the four-course meal are $50. For tickets, call Sky Blue at 770-7097 or email chad@skybluecoffee.com.

The menu for "Una Noche en Oaxaca," after the jump ....

Continue reading »

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Hattie B's Opening on Charlotte Is Imminent!

Posted By on Thu, May 29, 2014 at 6:23 AM

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  • Hattie B's Facebook
As of press time (which is whenever my esteemed editors hit the "publish" button on this post), Hattie B's Hot Chicken had not officially announced the specific opening date for their new location at 5209 Charlotte Pike, but inside sources tell me it should be in days, not weeks. The sign is officially installed, and they are down to just final details and inspections before they open the doors. West Nashvillian hot chicken aficionados are positively giddy at the prospect of a fiery fowl joint close by that will actually have a real parking lot!

If you can't wait, Hattie B's executive chef John Lasater has been gracious enough to share his recipe for a home version of their excellent fried chicken.

While I'm guessing these versions aren't exactly what they do at the restaurant, the recipes at bonappetit.com and katiecouric.com (really, Katie Freakin' Couric gets the recipe before we do?!) look like pretty good facsimiles that are doable in the home kitchen. Just don't spend too much time looking at the nutritional information at the Bon Apetit page.

Ms. Couric's recipe appears to be similar to Hattie B's medium, while Bon Appetit apparently likes it hot. If you want their "Shut the Cluck Up" heat level, you'll have to find some of the insane pepper extracts that Hattie B's specs from their spice suppliers.

So get out that skillet and fry up some chicken. Or you can just wait a short while and let the masters fix it up for you at their new location.

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Wednesday, May 28, 2014

Free ‘Wine by the River’ Tasting Tonight at New Puckett’s Boat House Wine Bar

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 10:08 AM

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Puckett’s Boat House in downtown Franklin now has a wine bar overlooking the Harpeth River. Formerly the “Bait Shop” space in the restaurant, the wine bar offers an extensive list of hard-to-find wines and high-end boutique spirits. Also available are gourmet coffees and sweet treats and humidors stacked with cigars. Exposed wine cabinets allow patrons to peruse rare blends from the world's most notable wine regions.

The wine bar will be the setting for a special free wine tasting event this evening; “Wine by the River” is the first in what is planned to be a series of tastings at the wine bar that will highlight wines offered there. Puckett’s beverage director, Jon Yeager, says the objective of this educational series to help grow and cultivate the wine culture in Franklin.

Tonight’s event will feature Burly Vineyards from the Napa Valley area of California, and wine lovers who attend will have the opportunity not just to sample the wines, but to meet and discuss the wines with the vineyard owner, Hank McCrorie. The event is designed to be educational and casual, allowing guests to ask questions as they taste.

For information about future Wine by the River events, be sure to follow Puckett's Boat House on Facebook and Twitter.

Wine by the River

Wednesday, May 28
5:30 to 7 p.m.
Puckett’s Boat House Wine Bar
94 East Main St., Franklin
Free (21+)

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Local Chefs to Throw Down at the 'Challenge to the Chefs' Brunch This Saturday

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 9:25 AM

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It didn't take long for new Nashvillian chef Dale Levitski to jump right into the local community with both feet. First, he was a last minute sub for Deb Paquette at the Generous Helpings Patrons Dinner, and now he's volunteered to take part in the annual "Challenge to the Chefs" Brunch this Saturday, May 31, from 10 a.m. to noon at The Bridge Building downtown. Levitski will square off against a roster of local favorites using locally produced ingredients provided to them by event organizers.

Here's the full roster of competing chefs:

Karl Worley, Biscuit Love
Jamie Watson, Cafe Fundamental
Andrew Little, Josephine
Derek Fulton, M Restaurant & Bar
Jonathan Humphrey, Mason’s
Chris Futrell, Music City Tippler
B.J. Lofback, Riffs Fine Street Food
Jason Slimak, Saint Anejo
Larry Carlile, Silo
Dale Levitski, Sinema Restaurant & Bar

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Enjoy Beer and Barbecue for a Good Cause at 'Yazoo Brew & Our Kids Too'

Posted By on Wed, May 28, 2014 at 6:29 AM

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On Tuesday, June 10, you can enjoy some good beer and barbecue for a great cause at the fourth annual Yazoo Brew & Our Kids Too at the Yazoo Brewing Company taproom. Served with the Yazoo beer will be barbecue from B&C BBQ, best known for their fragrant locations in the market house of the Nashville Farmers' Market and in Melrose as well as for their catering. This special event benefits Our Kids Center, a local organization that aids victims and families affected by child sexual abuse, as well as working to prevent it.

Discounted tickets are available online until June 9 or until they sell out. If they don't sell out in advance, you can take your chances at the door. Be warned, however, that only 200 tickets are available, so you ought to hurry up before it's too late.

Yazoo Brew & Our Kids Too
Tuesday, June 10
5:30 to 7:30 p.m.
Yazoo Brewing Company Taproom
901 Division St.
Advance tickets: $25 per person, $45 per couple ($30/$50 at the door, if available)
Group of eight tickets: $150 in advance; $180 at the door

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Tuesday, May 27, 2014

Medley Brothers Bourbon Returns After 55 Years With Relaunch Party at Husk

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 9:07 AM

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Fifty-five years is a long time to go without bourbon. But that's exactly what happened to fans of Medley Brothers Bourbon, a Kentucky favorite that was dropped from the market soon after the brand was sold by Wiliam Medley (and his brothers) in 1958. Recently, father and son distillers Charles and Sam Medley decided to re-release the brand, making them the seventh and eighth generations of distillers in the family.

The new bottle label still features the portraits of William and his family, and hopefully they would be proud of the bourbon inside. The 102-proof spirit is aged for four years and retails in the mid-$20s range. The Medleys actually do distill their product in the old Medley Distillery using what they claim is the old family recipe.

Since it's new to the Nashville market, I haven't personally had a chance to sample it yet, but there will be a perfect opportunity coming up this Thursday, May 29. Husk will be hosting a launch event from 5:30 until 7:30 p.m. at the Stables at Husk; $30 gets you cocktails crafted with Medley Brothers Bourbon plus samples of all the Medley Bros. Distillery's products. The kitchen at Husk will provide the snacks, but you'll need to make a reservation to get in on the fun.

Call (615) 256-6565 to hold your spot.

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Savory Spice Shop in Franklin Is a Cook's Playground

Posted By on Tue, May 27, 2014 at 8:10 AM

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A couple of weeks ago, I drove to downtown Franklin to visit the Savory Spice Shop. I needed to pick up a nifty gift set that I won from Zest and Zeal and took the opportunity to learn more about the shop and check out what it’s all about.

First, it’s different from the Stardust Tea & Spices store in West Nashville that I wrote about last year; Savory Spice Shop in Franklin is a franchise of a Denver store and spicerie (if you will). Yes, they sell a huge selection of individual spices and herbs, but a large portion of their business is in selling spice blends. Of the more than 400 items available in the stores, roughly 160 are spice blends from sweet to savory, Middle Eastern to Mexican, and from mild to hot.

There are dried and powdered chilies, pickling blends, tea blends, curry blends from all over India and Africa, multiple types of cocoa powder, flavored sugars, vanilla beans, and extracts. The shop is helpfully divided into sections based on the type of seasoning and/or what it’s used for. For example, the ingredients generally used for baking sweets are all in the same general area. I even saw organic arrowroot powder, an ingredient I often see in recipes for vegan ice cream to help with a creamy consistency.

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