Slow Food Nashville is hosting dinner tonight at Red Pony Restaurant, the styley place in downtown Franklin.
Appetizers of beef skewers and tostaditas are paired with Yazoo beer. A first course "sampler" of goat cheese and beet salad (attention Carrington!), boudin cake and chicken liver pate is paired with Arrington Vineyards gewurztraminer. A second course of sauteed prawns is paired with a sparkling cocktail of Corsair Gin. The entree is birria, a Mexican stew of goat and vegetables. Dessert is apple tart and a dessert martini.
A few months ago I admitted having never eaten at the Pied Piper Eatery. In the intervening time, I read this account of a visit by Eric and Katie where the vegetarian distaff half of the reviewing team was actually fooled into almost sending her vegetarian burger back to the kitchen because she thought it was made of meat. So in honor of Meatless Monday, I thought I'd check this beet burger out. Because after all, I'm not an occasional vegetarian because I love animals. I'm an occasional vegetarian because I really hate plants.
Last week in episode 4 of The Beet Beat, we chronicled the escalating beet battle between Rachel Lehman, owner of Crema, and Ben Frank, one of her most creative customers.
Ben's offering was a prosciutto-topped beet crostini that made me want to lick my monitor. Never one to shrink from a challenge, Rachel fired back with this:
She did not give up the recipe for her beet-stuffed ravioli, but even young Mr. Frank conceded defeat when confronted by this plate of buttery beetness. Maybe if you drop by Crema for a cuppa, Rachel would give up the goods. It couldn't hurt to try.
Once you train your eyes to seek out beets, you can't stop seeing them. They're everywhere, even in the potato chip aisle.
I have always championed Terra Chips, the innovative and colorful blend of root vegetables--including my beloved beets--so I was near-ecstatic to find this best-of-the-best pairing of beets and sweet potatoes given the potato-chip treatment.
The mission of the Bites Beet Beat has been to showcase summer's ruby-red diversity of beets, which I believe to be an undervalued and overlooked crop. So I applaud Terra Chips' bold gesture to showcase beets not as a starchy extra but as a leading veg.
Unfortunately, what we have in the Terra Chips Sweet & Beets pairing is the Peter Principle at play in the world of snack foods. Beets, as it turns out, do not deserve top billing in a bag of chips, for the simple reason that they taste too much like stale Frosted Flakes.
So, it is with a heavy heart that I reject Sweet & Beets. But it is with great confidence in beets and optimism for the future that I carry on in my pursuit of this great red root.
As always, if you know of any excellent beet recipes worthy of inclusion--beet cereal, perhaps?--please forward them to the Bites Beet Beat.
Me here. Still not orange.
In fact, I've given up the Carrot Zinger Orangification Journey--my quest to turn myself orange through ingesting massive quantities of Fresh Blends' Carrot Zingers. At my peak intake--almost 100 ounces of carrot-beet-ginger-lemon juice a week--I wasn't even the slightest bit peach-toned.
Over the past few weeks of the CZOJ, I've become addicted to my morning stops at the Belmont store. I just can't drink any more carrots. So it's time for a new drink. Something less orange. Less carroty. Something more, I don't know....beety!
In the spirit of the Beet Beat--Bites' salute to summer's ruby-red diversity of beets--Fresh Blends owner Tony Reall has offered to host a contest for us.
Whoever comes up with the best beet-based juice recipe--as determined by Tony and the Fresh Blends team--will win a free regular-size juice or smoothie for a week. So have at it, Biters. Submit your best beet blends and we'll have Tony and the gang, you know, give 'em a whirl.
We'll announce a winner on Monday, July 20.
Yet another in our seasonal series on Bites showcasing the rich, ruby-red diversity of beet recipes across our dining landscape. If you encounter exceptional uses of beets in your dining rounds this summer, please submit them for inclusion in The Beet Beat.
It has become apparent that much of Nashville suffers under the onslaught of piles of beets within the bushels of our respective CSA shares. But rather than complain, some competitive Nashvillagers have taken up the challenge of the Beta Vulgaris and are vying for the Mangold medal.
Rachel Lehman, the co-owner and self-proclaimed Chief of Dishwashing at Crema got to talking about the surfeit of beets in her basket with one of her regular customers, Ben Frank. They decided to put their culinary minds to the test in a good old-fashioned Beet Down. (Kudos to all involved for avoiding the obvious dirty joke here. Must! Hit! Return!)
With his opening salvo, Ben went straight for the big guns: pork. And not just any pork...Italian pork. Rachel admitted that bacon was the first thing that came to her mind when considering how to make her beet neat. But Ben's prosciutto-topped beet crostini have set the bar pretty high.
Check out this food porn.
Ben's recipe follows after the jump.
A recent birthday visit to Zola restaurant--the traditional birthday dining room for the Foxes--brought to mind one of the all-time great beet vehicles: chef Deb Paquette's Beet and Heat salad. When I asked Deb if she would share the recipe with the Bites Beet Beat, here's what the self-avowed beet fanatic said:
It is amazing how the "dirt" veg has risen to fame. And the end result being a "grateful dead" toilet visual! (Do you know how may peeps go to hospital after eating beets and freaking out? Amazing.) Maybe there should be a warning label on them: "Be Aware--Fecal Surprise" or "Consumption of this product may cause psychological anal seepage" or "After eating beets don't poop in the ocean, may cause shark attacks!"
Ah, the inaugural Iron Fork champion is quite the imagist. And, man, can she cook up a beet. In fact, she was delighted to share the formula for Beet and Heat, which, she pointed out, is published in Cooking from the Heart, a compendium of chefs' recipes to benefit Share Our Strength.
Well, no wonder she was so willing to share the recipe for Beet and Heat (printed in the book under the more generic name Roasted Beet and Cranberry Salad): It is impossible for mere mortals to reproduce. In fact, the recipe--with its various movements devoted to preparing the beets, cranberries, sage goat cheese and walnut-Tabasco dressing--takes up three pages of the book, which is, frankly, more than I can type.
So instead, I offer Chef Deb's much shorter and lesser known recipe for beet brownies, also included in Cooking from the Heart.
Does anyone else thinks it's uncanny that we launched The Beet Beat , a seasonal salute to the most red-staining of all veg, on the day that Michael Jackson precipitously beat it out of this mortal Neverland?
In honor of the King of Pop, the Beet Beat continues with chef Kristen Gregory's recipe for Beet Vinaigrette. I recently enjoyed a drizzle of this light and faintly sweet dressing over a side salad with a burger and a spiced pear martini at Curt Cole's Green Hills neighborhood restaurant. By the time I returned a few days later for a lunch of Thai-style grilled shrimp with red curry coconut broth and jasmine rice, the beet vinaigrette had beaten it to make room for a bacon cream dressing. Expect to see Beet Vinaigrette on and off throughout the summer as Cole beats a path to the Amish farmers and returns with a haul of beets and other local seasonal produce.
Firefly Grille's Beet Vinaigrette
4 cooked beets (any color), peeled, rough chopped
1 shallot, chopped
3 cloves garlic, chopped
A few sprigs basil and parsley, rough chopped
3/4 c. red wine vinegar
1/8 c. Dijon mustard
3/4 c. white balsamic vinegar
1/4 t. chili flakes
3 c. canola oil
1 c. extra virgin olive oil
Kosher salt and white pepper to taste
In blender, combine all ingredients with exception of the oils. Blend until smooth. While blender is still going, remove top and slowly add oils until completely emulsified, finishing with extra virgin olive oil.
Welcome to a seasonal series on Bites showcasing the rich, ruby-red diversity of beet recipes across our dining landscape. If you encounter exceptional uses of beets in your dining rounds this summer, please submit them for inclusion in The Beet Beat.
Our first Best of the Beets is the Pink Radio Cake from Fido. This bubblegum-colored layer cake, which sells for $4.25 a slice, is the fortunate byproduct of a beet salad that was briefly on the specials menu at the Hillsboro Village eatery. The kitchen brought in so many beets for the salad that pastry chef Lisa Ann Jones (formerly Lisa Bachman, she just married kitchen manager Pete Jones) decided to find an alternate use for them.
Bachman-now-Jones, an alumnus of the vegan bakery at Grins, adapted a recipe that Fido had already been using and that included red dye. "I didn't want to be using any more dye than we had to," she says. "I wanted to experiment with beets, and it worked out perfectly."
The result is a cake whose happy hue would imply faux color but whose crisp sweetness and subtle beetiness are alluringly natural. Jones is not giving away the Fido family recipe, but she says the cake includes puréed local beets (from the Farmers' Market), a canola-olive oil blend, buttermilk, white vinegar, eggs, sugar, cake flour, baking soda and salt. The icing is a blend of cream cheese, butter, confectioner's sugar and beet purée.
"Sometimes it turns out as bright and beautiful as you want, and sometimes the beets aren't as vibrant," she adds. So far, Jones has stuck with red beets, but the suggestion of using yellow beets gets her to thinking. "I've wanted to make a golden-orange cake. I tried carrots, and they didn't work, but yellow beets...I'm glad we're having this conversation."
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