Food Fight

Monday, March 10, 2014

Swallow, Don't Spit: 'Oil Pulling' Is a Crime Against Food

Posted by on Mon, Mar 10, 2014 at 6:06 AM

Oh, super, another fad is making the rounds on Facebook. This time, it’s oil pulling. I've seen numerous shares of a blog post claiming amazing health benefits from swishing coconut oil around in your mouth every day. Listen, I love me some coconut oil. One of the few things I have in common with the Paleo and Whole30 diet craze folks is that I buy coconut oil by the bucket at Costco. I cook with it, but I also spread it on toast like butter and even eat it straight because the unrefined oil is damn tasty. But swirling it around in my mouth and spitting it into the trash? Why would you do that?

I’d link to the offending post that’s been making the rounds, but you’ve likely already seen it, and I don’t want to give it any more clicks. In short: Oil pullers say “pulling” oil through your teeth and swishing it around in your mouth for 20 minutes daily will, among other things, result in whiter and stronger teeth and fewer cavities, alleviate gingivitis, provide headache and hangover relief, improve sleep, clear sinuses, get rid of skin conditions such as acne, eczema and psoriasis, relieve general pain, resolve hormonal issues and detoxify the body. Other sites have even claimed that it will help with migraines, arthritis, meningitis and heart disease.

I don’t mean to be a Debbie Downer here, but there is absolutely no scientific information that supports these claims aside from a few small studies in India that showed a positive relationship between oil pulling and reduced cavities and gingivitis. And that makes sense; coconut oil has some antibacterial and antimicrobial properties, so swishing it around in your mouth might possibly remove some harmful bacteria that causes cavities and gum disease. But the same thing can be done with mouthwash (for a much shorter time), vinegar and even water.

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Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Your 2014 Iron Fork Competitors: 404 Kitchen, Porter Road Butcher, Firefly Grille, Lockeland Table

Posted by on Wed, Mar 5, 2014 at 6:53 PM

The Nashville Scene is proud to announce the chefs competing in this year's Iron Fork competition:

* Matt BolusChef, The 404 Kitchen. Last month, The 404 Kitchen was named a 2014 semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation.

* Chris Carter & James PeiskerCo-owners, Porter Road Butcher. Listed as one of the five best artisanal butcher shops in America by Bon Appetit in 2012.

* Kristen GregoryExecutive chef, Firefly Grille. Winner, 2013-14 season premiere of Chopped.

* Hal Holden-BacheExecutive chef, Lockeland Table. Lockeland Table was named a 2013 semifinalist for Best New Restaurant in America by the James Beard Foundation.

That's a helluva group of chefs.

The rules are simple: Each chef (and his or her sous chef — the Porter Road guys won't get one since they're competing as a duo) will have one hour to prepare plates for a panel of judges based on one secret ingredient.

Last year, Jessica Benefield, then of Virago, won with maple syrup, while in 2012 Laura Wilson triumphed with a trio of mushrooms.

The event is 6 to 9:30 p.m. in the Commodore Ballroom at Vanderbilt University, and tickets are on sale now. The event has sold out in the past, so if you want to see the chefs compete, eat some great food and drinks and hang out with fellow food lovers, get them soon.

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Monday, February 3, 2014

Thief Breaks into Porter Road Butcher; No Bacon Was Harmed

Posted by on Mon, Feb 3, 2014 at 2:52 PM

Then there was the time that Porter Road Butcher owner James Peisker bolted a bread tray from Provence to his door.


I'll back up.

So. Darned. Good.
I went over to Porter Road Butcher's west location on Charlotte to grab a sandwich. I love a good French dip and theirs is pretty spectacular. Slow-cooked beef on a soft, but firm roll, topped with falling-apart onions and melted cheese. It's one of my favorite things in town for lunch and even at $10, it's a steal.

As I pulled up, I noticed a garbage bag on the window. New drive-thru? Nope. Somebody tried to break in.

Sometime after midnight, a would-be thief threw a rock through the window of the door and let themselves in to rob the cash register. "Dude must have had one hell of an arm," said co-owner Chris Carter. The softball-sized rock went through the window, and made it all the way across the store, coming to a rest in front of a magazine rack.

Of course, when the window was broken, it tripped the alarm. Peisker said Metro cops responded within a minute and the burglar fled without getting anything.

The vandalized front door
And, in a truly 21st century moment, he used his phone to replay for Bites the entire incident as recorded by the security camera.

I was kind of amazed at watching the amateur try to break into the cash register. Wearing gloves and using a towel, so as to avoid fingerprints, he fumbled with it, but he didn't try to drop it on the floor to break it open.

"You ALWAYS spike the register," Peisker said. Bites asked him how he knew that. He's been watching reruns of The Wire, perhaps? It wouldn't have mattered, anyway. There wasn't anything in it.

With Home Depot and the like closed at that time of the morning, Peisker improvised a cover for the broken window in the form of a delivery pallet from their bread guys.

Across the market on the floor, the rock remained in place, taped off and marked "Official Butcher Crime Scene."

The crime is that the guy walked out of there without the French dip. I'd risk jail for one of those things.


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Thursday, November 8, 2012

Local Hero Frohne Represents at World Food Championships in Las Vegas

Posted by on Thu, Nov 8, 2012 at 10:27 AM

Brandon Frohne works ferverishly as sous chef  Johnathon Humphrey watches on
  • Brandon Frohne works ferverishly as sous chef Johnathon Humphrey watches on
Last month I gave you the heads up that Nashville chef Brandon Frohne had been nominated to compete in the World Chef's Challenge at the World Food Championships in Vegas, and that he was setting up a fundraiser to help pay his expenses.

Well, he was able to raise enough money to travel out to represent Music City last weekend against a roster of others chefs from around the country in this multi-round elimination event. Chefs traveled from as far away as Boston to compete in cooking skills events as well as several rounds of dish preparation, some of which demanded the use of last minute secret ingredients.

The judging panel was quite esteemed with Colman Andrews, the founder of Saveur, and Barbara Fairchild, the former editor-in-chief of Bon Appétit, scoring the chefs on skills like onion dicing, chicken butchery and tournée cutting a pile of potatoes. Chef Frohne, who was born with fingers missing from his right hand, demonstrated remarkable knife skills under pressure and advanced through the skills competitions to the cooking portion of the event.

As a small crowd of supporters looked on (this was Friday morning in Vegas, after all ... not everybody was awake yet), Frohne received his first assignment form the judges. The cheftestants were split into flights of six to prepare a "Twisted Eggs Benedict." Frohne took the "twisted" part to heart, creating a pasture egg benedict with charred pepper romesco, fried hollandaise, grass-fed fed beef, oyster mushroom and watercress. The result of his mad scientist kitchen alchemy wowed Andrews and Fairchild and pushed him on to the next food challenge ingredient, salmon.

While the rest of the competitors made some sort of grilled salmon during this 30-minute challenge, Frohne threw down the gauntlet with a salmon boudin blanc with eggplant and corn ravigote, crispy pancetta and saffron essence. Making sausage is always challenging; attempting it outdoors on essentially a camp stove in half an hour is crazy.

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Tuesday, July 10, 2012

When I Seafood I Eat It: Clam Chows Down on Some Chips

Posted by on Tue, Jul 10, 2012 at 2:14 PM

OK, so somebody got a clam to eat potato chips. That's crazy and kind of adorable. It's also sorta weird. But what I'm wondering is if that clam had eaten Humpty Dumpty's Sour Cream & Clam Potato Chips, would that clam be a cannibal? And mind you we're not even going to consider where/how this clam could get a time machine to take him back to the days before said chips were discontinued because my grandparents died and there was nobody left that was crazy enough to eat clam-flavored potato chips.


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Thursday, April 26, 2012

Iron Fork 2012: Chef Laura Wilson Repeats as Champ in Humongous Fungus Showdown

Posted by on Thu, Apr 26, 2012 at 1:12 PM

  • Photo: Eric England
  • Chef Laura Wilson and her team cooking furiously in the floor-level kitchen area

If it is possible to have a food hangover, that is definitely what I’m experiencing this morning. Mr. Eats and I celebrated our anniversary last night at Iron Fork. It may seem odd, but it’s such a fun event that it makes perfect sense for us. We do love food. Lots of food. Plus, the proceeds from the event benefit Second Harvest Food Bank, a wonderful and worthy organization. This year, the event was held at Marathon Music Works, which I think is now my favorite of all the venues. It was much easier to see the chefs at work, and there was a good amount of room to get to the vendors’ tables.

And two very large and well-staffed bars, which is, of course, very important.

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Monday, April 23, 2012

Caption Contest: Win Tickets to Iron Fork! [Updated]

Posted by on Mon, Apr 23, 2012 at 6:00 AM

Winning caption goes here.
  • These aren't the fluffers I requested.

UPDATE: We have our winner! Thanks for playing, everyone. A little birdie told me there might be another chance to win tomorrow. Check @BitesBlog on Twitter or the Scene Facebook page.

The 2012 edition of Iron Fork — Nashville's best culinary showcase/showdown — is just days away, and if you don't have a ticket already, here's the chance for you (and a friend) to go for free, courtesy of Bites.

Winning this contest is as easy as leaving a comment, but you have to do it before 4:30 p.m. today. We'll choose the funniest caption then, and notify the winner via email. Go!

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Monday, February 13, 2012

The Great Fish-and-Chip-Off of 2012: First Report

Posted by on Mon, Feb 13, 2012 at 7:33 AM

As promised, my little group of Luncheros has been nibbling our way around town trying some of the best fish and chips searching for the creme de la cod. Did I mention that this group usually consists of me and three to four attractive young female food bloggers. "My name is Charlie, and these are my angels."

Occasionally another dude crashes the party, and his attendance is always welcome since he tells us stories about the stars that cannot be repeated in this space. But the core group of four of us are serious about our task of finding the best fish and chips in town. However, we're not serious about much else, so the lunch conversation is always lively.

So here are the results of rounds 1 to 3:

Dan McGuinness Pub
1538 Demonbreun St.
(615) 252-1991

All of us had tried the fish and chips at Dan McGuinness previously, and with easily accessible parking and the benefit of a $6 Thursday special, it was a logical spot to start our investigations. The lunch deal included two large fillets and arrived within five minutes of our ordering, despite the fact that there were lots of other diners there to take advantage of the cheap eats. Instead of the expected thick-cut "chips," the fish came accompanied by seasoned french fries, which were in fact nicely seasoned. Also well-spiced was the batter on the fish, and that added a nice counterpoint when lightly doused with malt vinegar — as God intended.

The tartar sauce was deemed to be a little bit sweet and lacking in the pickle relish department. There was a random sprinkling of parsley all over the dish, so maybe it missed the tartar sauce bowl during prep. Overall, the Luncheros considered Dan McGuinness a strong offering, especially for the price on Thursdays. Taking the price into account, we gave it an average score of 4.125 fillets out of a possible 5.

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Tuesday, January 24, 2012

House-Made Potato Chip Crunch Match

Posted by on Tue, Jan 24, 2012 at 5:45 AM

Loaded potato chips at Yolos
  • Loaded potato chips at Yolos
The trend toward house-made potato chips gets my vote. Whether they're cooked crisp or still slightly chewy, the deep browning gives an extra layer of flavor, with plenty of hefty crunch. Each batch seems to have a couple of thicker-cut chips that still have some chew to them toward the center, which is a whole other pleasure.

Cut thin and properly cooked, they're great plain, as served to a lunch group recently at Fleet Street, a reminder of how good potato chips can be. Maybe a bit of seasoning — the truffled potato chips at Cha Chah are just the thing with a cocktail. And they're also great jazzed up, as served to a dinner crowd at Yolos. Dolloped with with sour cream and sprinkled with bacon, green onions and blue cheese, these chips rose to the level of appetizer rather than snack.

Homemade potato chips are so innately good that it's hard to pinpoint the best in town. But let's try — where have you had some incredible homemade chips?

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Thursday, January 12, 2012

Capitol Grille's Tyler Brown and Cole Ellis Engage in a Country Fried Challenge

Posted by on Thu, Jan 12, 2012 at 8:12 AM

Recently Southern Living magazine launched a Comfort Food Cook-Off, asking 10 Southern chefs to come up with recipes for classic comfort foods to share with their readers. Then they matched up the chefs and their recipes against another regional restaurant and challenged both to actually put the item on their menu, to the delight of their patrons. Finally, the two versions of the same dish were matched up online in a sort of Southern Smackdown.

Locally, Chef Tyler Brown of the Capitol Grille was asked to challenge Chef David Bull of Second Bar + Kitchen in Austin, Texas. Brown's Country Fried Steak and Uncle Ellis Cornmeal Gravy (pictured right) are competing against Bull's Chicken Fried Steak and Red Eye Gravy. But really, where's the competition in that? Tyler's steak and his sous chef Cole Ellis' family recipe for white gravy — versus some Texan trying to pour old coffee on a rib-eye? Pshaw.

Plus, Chef Bull's version takes more than twice as long to prepare. You could have made Tyler's dish, eaten it, done the dishes and be a quarter of the way through watching the Texas Longhorns lose another college football game by the time that Texas shoe leather was ready to gnaw.

So if you want to see the winning recipe (IMHO), visit the Southern Living website here for the steak and here for Cole's gravy recipe. If you must attempt to compare Chef Bull's his valiant effort is here.

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