Monday, January 12, 2015

Green BEAN to Begin Nashville Deliveries Jan. 26, May Reduce Trips to the Grocery

Posted By on Mon, Jan 12, 2015 at 11:26 AM

Let's imagine you live in a neighborhood (say, Inglewood) where the fresh produce options in the grocery stores aren't great. And let's say (hypothetically) you find the idea of driving across town to Belle Meade or Green Hills or Donelson for a single head of unwilted lettuce to be a gas-guzzling time-suck you'd prefer to avoid. But it is winter. It isn't practical to grow your own, and your neighborhood farmer's market/CSA is shut down for the season.

Well then, if that were you, again, hypothetically, you might be interested to know that Green BEAN Delivery plans to open for Nashville area orders the week of Jan. 22 and start deliveries the week of Jan. 26. Green BEAN (which is an acronym for Biodynamic Education Agriculture Nutrition) is an Indianapolis-based delivery company that will bring local, organic and conventional groceries to your doorstep.

"Nashville has a cool food culture," says company vice president John Freeland of the decision to expand to Tennessee this year. The service partners with local and regional farmers, as well as traditional grocery providers, and uses produce from its own farms to deliver the goods. Because of the company's large volume, Freeland says they can offer are competitive prices for organic, sustainable and other typically high-cost items. In all its other cities combined — including St. Louis, Louisville and Cincinnati — Green BEAN delivers to about 10,000 people a week.

Green BEAN plans to work with Willow Farms for eggs, Johnson's Honey Farm and other local purveyors in season. "It takes time to develop relationships with local growers," Freeland says.

Founded in 2007, Green BEAN has an aggressive Middle Tennessee plan. From a warehouse near the airport, Green BEAN will deliver to a large Nashville area, including Davidson County city neighborhoods and suburbs as far north as Hendersonville, as far east as Lebanon and south to Murfreesboro.

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Wednesday, November 12, 2014

Help! Where Do I Get the Best Caramel Cake Around Here?

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 12:04 PM

Deans seven-layer caramel cake — seen its cousin anywhere in Middle Tennessee?
  • Dean's seven-layer caramel cake — seen its cousin anywhere in Middle Tennessee?
Tomorrow is my cousin Fonnie's birthday. I won't say which one, but I haven't ruled out the use of Roman numerals. Anyway, her one request was for her favorite cake: your down-home favorite and mine, a caramel cake.

I know where to get the best caramel cake I've ever tried that wasn't my grandmother's: at Dean's Cake House in Andalusia, Ala., a stop for many Nashvillians en route to (or coming back from) Seagrove Beach and the Destin area. Kay West once brought one of Dean's seven-layer wonders to the Scene offices, and the sugar-stoked feeding frenzy that resulted was embarrassing even for this gang of gluttons.

But Burt Reynolds in a Trans Am I ain't, and I don't have 12 hours for a round trip to south Alabama. Even this Andalusian road dog has limits. So I turn to the Bites Brigade to ask: Who has the best caramel cake in town or hereabouts? It's been a while since the topic came up on Bites — but when it did, boy, did you have some opinions.

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New Yorkers Getting a Taste of Rice's Country Ham From Mt. Juliet

Posted By on Wed, Nov 12, 2014 at 8:57 AM

  • Rice's Country Ham on Facebook
I'm a huge fan of The New Yorker’s Tables for Two column: A rotating staff of writers crafts perfect restaurant reviews, which are both descriptive of the food and atmosphere while being carefully succinct. It’s amazing how much information these guys can cram into four or five paragraphs without one word being superfluous or one detail unwanted.

Last week’s column features King Bee, a restaurant in the East Village that is “inspired by the Acadian culinary tradition.” As in, a little eastern Canadian and a little Cajun. But that’s not what caught my eye. What did catch my eye was a mention of “prosciutto-like country ham” from Tennessee. “Wait. I know this one,” I thought to myself. It’s got to be Rice’s, the Mt. Juliet pork purveyor that is a favorite of Bites commenters and mentioned by Chris Chamberlain back in August in his review of Country Ham: A Southern Tradition of Hogs, Salt and Smoke. Sure enough, a check of King Bee’s menu proved me correct.

It’s no coincidence that a Nashville-area favorite is on the menu of an Acadian restaurant. King Bee is co-owned by Ken Jackson, a Tennessee native and an original partner in Herbsaint (with Donald Link and Susan Spicer) in New Orleans, where he moved with Spicer after attending Lipscomb University and working in Nashville in the late '90s. Jackson left New Orleans after Katrina and ended up in New York, where he’s been consulting since his arrival. King Bee has been open for less than two months, but it’s already getting positive reviews, with numerous mentions of the country ham sourced from Rice's.

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Tuesday, September 30, 2014

Local Products and Cool Gear Showcased at the Music City Food + Wine Festival

Posted By on Tue, Sep 30, 2014 at 8:35 AM

Among all the small plates and big drinks served at last weekend’s Music City Food + Wine Festival, some cool products and gear were highlighted, many of which are produced right here in Nashville or have a local connection.

Goo Goo Cluster was a major sponsor of the festival, handing out treats and bags as festival-goers entered the Grand Taste and inside, there was Olive and Sinclair chocolate, Switters Iced Coffee (a crowd favorite, particularly Sunday morning) with Roast, Inc., Walker Feed Company and Eli Mason (if you don't know the latter two, they both make outstanding cocktail or mocktail mixers), along with Nashville Jam Company.

There was also a table set up for Trampetti Olive Oil from Italy, which has an interesting local connection. Nashville residents Julie and Chris Caputo bought into the hundred-year-old olive farm and bottling operation a few years ago after becoming friends with the operators, one of whom is a descendant of Eugenio Trampetti, who founded the company in the “gold coast” of Italy’s Umbrian region.

The olive oil they produce is a 100% organic “mono-varietal” (using just one olive, the Moraiolo olive) that is processed the same day it's harvested. The result is a pristine green extra-virgin olive oil that is smooth and grassy with a nice peppery finish.

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Thursday, August 14, 2014

Is Cappuccino-Flavored Potato Chip Creator Chad Scott the Most Reviled Man in America?

Posted By on Thu, Aug 14, 2014 at 7:43 AM

I first noticed the outrage on Instagram a week or so ago. I follow a lot of folks who write about, photograph, and love to share information about food. They are passionate about what they love. But there was no love for this, this … thing. That is, the bag of Cappuccino-flavored Lay’s potato chips that most people thought was a gag. It’s no gag; it’s real. And another thing that is real: the stream of hate now aimed at its creator, Chad Scott. With the voting among four new flavors and a million dollars at stake, the competition is getting fierce on social media. But things really aren’t looking good for Mr. Scott.


Chad Scott is a resident of Las Vegas, so he may a thing or two about taking his destiny into his own hands and taking risks. Twitter is filled with vitriol for the man who dared flavor a chip with milky coffee, the beverage he describes as his lifeblood.

But one has to wonder if promoting this flavor to the finals — the others up for consideration are a cheddar bacon mac-and-cheese, mango salsa, and wasabi ginger — was the result of a calculated stunt on the part of the Lay’s marketing team.

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Wednesday, July 23, 2014

Pick Tennessee Products: Peaches!

Posted By on Wed, Jul 23, 2014 at 8:02 AM

A Hale Haven peach in the orchard at Red River Farms in Springfield, Tenn.
  • A Hale Haven peach in the orchard at Red River Farms in Springfield, Tenn.
The weather and terrain of Middle Tennessee makes this area perfect for peach orchards. The rolling hillsides and river breezes are what peach trees crave to keep them protected from frosts and give them the air movement and good drainage they need to thrive.

My husband remembers eating peaches from his grandfather’s farm in Sumner County every year around July 4. This year, though, a harsh and long winter delayed and reduced Tennessee’s peach crop. We’re just now seeing them arrive at area farmers markets and local produce stores, where they should be through the end of August (after the supplies of Georgia and South Carolina peaches have already dwindled).

Everyone has their preference, and each state is protective of its peach (the big war now is between Georgia and South Carolina, which recently became the No. 2 peach producer in the country behind California, putting Georgia at No. 3, just barely ahead of New Jersey).

I believe Tennessee peaches are the best, of course. Not just because of the excellent growing conditions, but because a local peach is more likely to have been picked at just the right time: when the peach is firm, has no green, and comes off the tree with a gentle half-twist. Peaches are like tomatoes: they’re best when left on the plant as long as possible.

That said, really, the best place to get a peach is directly on the farm, regardless of what state it's in. Our state’s Pick Tennessee Products website has a list of peach farms, many of which offer pick-your-own hours or sell freshly picked peaches to the public. They also have a handy new smartphone app (iPhone, Google) to help you when you're out and about. I visited Red River Farms in Springfield last week, which has pick-your-own hours on weekdays and until “about lunchtime” on Saturdays. With any of the farms, you just need to call first to see if it’s a good time to come pickin’. Tip: if you go, take the route through Orlinda; it's a heckuva cute town. Also, Google maps will tell you that you can get to it from the wrong side of the Red River (cross the bridge and turn on Henry Road to get to Draper Road). You can also buy blackberries and Concord grapes on site.

If you don’t have the time, energy, or general desire to pick your own peaches, they’re already available locally at The Produce Place in Sylvan Park and should be available at the Nashville Farmers’ Market and other community farmers markets in just a few weeks and throughout August, and maybe even into September.

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Friday, July 11, 2014

Olive and Sinclair's Bourbon Nib Brittle Triumphs at Fancy Food Show in NYC

Posted By on Fri, Jul 11, 2014 at 11:54 AM

Remember the national Fancy Food Show I told you about earlier this year? Though it's still on my bucket list to attend, I wasn’t able to go to the most recent show, the Summer Fancy Food Show held last month in New York City. I do know a few people who went, and they said it was as awesome and amazing as it sounds.

It was a particularly great experience for Scott Witherow and the team from Nashville's Olive and Sinclair. Their Barrel-Aged Bourbon Nib Brittle won a 2014 sofi™ Award (“Specialty Outstanding Food Innovation”), the top honor in the specialty food business. The brittle was one of 125 finalists from a field of 2,737 entries across 32 award categories including Cold Beverage, Cheese, and Snack Food. The finalists are selected by a national panel of specialty food professionals, and winners are then selected at the show by retailers and food service buyers attending the event. The Bourbon Nib Brittle was selected as the winner in the Confection category.

According to Olive and Sinclair, the Bourbon Nib Brittle was created when their friends and neighbors at Corsair Distillery offered the use of their spent bourbon barrels. The barrels were then filled with a high-fat-content cocoa, which blended with the barrels’ subtle notes of apple, cherry, and oak, and then combined with caramelized cane sugar and butter for a brittle with a classic Southern bourbon finish. Though I love O&S chocolate (and the new “chocuterie” and caramels), this brittle is actually my favorite of their products. If you haven’t tried it, I recommend it.

Be sure to whet your appetite and prepare your shopping list by checking out the other finalists and winners from the show.

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Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Community Markets Make Buying Local Goods Easier

Posted By on Tue, Jul 1, 2014 at 10:31 AM

I love discovering new local products (and some not-so-new) when I visit farmers markets and local, independent stores. The West End Farmers Market has a number of local artisans selling their specialty foods and wares in addition to the farms selling produce. I’d been meaning to check out The Raw Food Warrior for a while and was lured in by the almond and spinach hummus. And though I was perfectly happy with my $2 bag of Santitas, I tasted one of the chips made by Santo Niño de Atocha Tortilleria, and I was hooked. I got a bag of the chips (and then ate about half of it) as well as some tortillas for tacos. Much better than any tortillas or chips I’ve purchased before, even at the Mexican markets.

New small businesses set up kiosks in the Nashville Farmers’ Market on a regular basis; on my last Sunday afternoon visit, I discovered tiny doughnuts from Linda’s Mini-Donuts. I was instantly reminded of the tiny doughnut shop in Pike Place Market in Seattle. These small, freshly made doughnuts were perfect for a mid-afternoon treat. Other vendors were selling cobbler, cheesecake, kettle corn, gelato, and even dog treats.

Our local independent groceries such as The Turnip Truck and The Produce Place are also great places to find local products. Last week, I finally got around to trying the very not-so-new Bobby John Henry Bakery bread during a visit to The Produce Place for a snack. By not-so-new, I mean that Bobby John Henry has been baking bread on Music Row since 1999, but I only just got a chance to buy a loaf of the soft sourdough bread he’s been making since the beginning. It’s not the kind of sourdough you just eat on its own (I still miss a special sourdough I used to get years ago in Paris, Tenn.), but it’s a perfect sandwich bread. I've eaten it every day for nearly a week now. You can read more about Bobby John Henry, the Baker of Music Row, in this 2010 profile written by Carrington Fox.

I admit I haven't gotten much of a chance to make it to all the neighborhood farmers markets this year. Have any of you Bites readers found some great, new local products at the markets (or elsewhere) recently? If so, please share.

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Tuesday, June 10, 2014

Chameleon Plant: Alien Menace or Culinary Delicacy?

Posted By on Tue, Jun 10, 2014 at 6:38 AM

Houttuynia cordata in my yard.
  • Houttuynia cordata in my yard.
Several years ago, a friend let me dig up some select plants at her house to fill out my newly acquired landscape. Among them, was a pretty little thing with heart-shaped leaves and white blooms. The plant has thrived (but not gone out of control) in an area of deep shade with absolutely no attention paid to it. It dies out during the winter, and I look forward to its return every spring because it’s so pretty.

But I couldn’t remember the name of it, so I asked about it recently. “Oh, that’s Houttuynia cordata, or chameleon plant. It’s edible!” Something edible growing in my yard that the squirrels have not decimated? How exciting! I transplanted some to another area, looking forward to a bounty of homegrown greens. That is, until I looked it up online in hopes of figuring out just how it should be prepared.

There were many garden forum posts about it. The words “alien” and “invasive” were used frequently. “It wraps around the bulbs and roots of other plants and laughs at Round-Up.” And my favorite, “Pretty, but evil; kinda like the head cheerleader in a bad teen movie.”

Aside from being a non-native and invasive plant, it’s been described as having a fishy smell to it (a nickname is “fishmint”) or as one gardener so eloquently put it, with an aroma like a “petroleum and beef stew smell from a bad cafeteria.” I suppose I am fortunate; the plants in my yard don’t have a particularly strong smell. And it’s maybe vaguely fishy, but also a bit citrus. Not unpleasant, but not pleasant, either. In the clump, there’s a distinct smell, but it’s no worse than the nearby black walnut.

However, houttuynia is a popular ingredient in many Asian cuisines — both the leaves and roots.

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Thursday, February 27, 2014

Be That Guy Who Asks About Where the Meat Comes From

Posted By on Thu, Feb 27, 2014 at 6:03 AM

Unfortunately, most of our food doesnt come from the idyllic Sequatchie Cove Farm in East Tennessee
  • Unfortunately, most of our food doesn't come from the idyllic Sequatchie Cove Farm in East Tennessee
Earlier this week, my friend, Brittney Gilbert (formerly of Nashville and now of San Francisco) pointed me to an interesting blog post, "The Meat Seeker’s Mission," in which San Francisco author Sarah Agudo describes a nearly-two-year-long quest to find out where restaurants in the Mission district obtain the meat they serve. She didn’t intend to spend two years working on this project; she had no idea that it would take as much time and diligence to find out answers to what she thought was a simple question. But as she notes, the information did not come freely. And a third of the restaurants she queried refused to tell her at all. The others, she noted, “did so reluctantly and with some suspicion.”

Why? A lot of reasons, I’m sure, but perhaps most of all because they don’t want customers to think about it too hard once they know. To think about how they’re frequently using factory-farmed meat of dubious quality (often sourced through distributors). The kind of meat some people wouldn’t even buy in the store when they have the opportunity to purchase better-quality meat. But people should be thinking about that meat and how cheap (or not cheap) it is.

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