Open Thread

Friday, July 24, 2015

Open Thread Wants to Know Your Best Farmers Market Finds

Posted By on Fri, Jul 24, 2015 at 8:18 AM

click to enlarge adirondack_blue_potatoes.jpg
On Saturday, as I was perusing the produce at the Forest Hills UMC Farmers Market, I encountered "Adirondack Blue" potatoes. When I inquired about them, I was told they are good, creamy potatoes that work well for mashing and retain their color after cooking. And indeed, they did! My daughter was thrilled to try some purply-blue mashed potatoes, which had a beautiful color and great texture even with the skins (which were thin) included.

These blue potatoes were just the latest among a number of great foods I've discovered at our local farmers markets. Among my other favorites are "Mortgage Lifter" tomatoes, gold watermelons, cabbage sprouts and other great produce, as well as local vendors such as Karla's Catering, Nutrisha, and Santo Niño de Atocha Tortilleria.

So, Bites Nation, I've asked before, but do you have any new discoveries at the farmers' markets this year? Or favorites you'd like to mention again? What else is going on?

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Thursday, July 16, 2015

The Scene's Burger Week Stacks Up With a Citywide Platter of Fine $5 Burgers

Posted By on Thu, Jul 16, 2015 at 8:52 AM

click to enlarge burger_week_instagram1.jpg
The Nashville Scene’s inaugural Burger Week kicks off this Friday, running through July 24, and it’s a pretty meaty celebration — 20 or so participating restaurants are each offering a $5 specialty burger during the week. And the most popular burger will be crowned via online voting, with the winning burger makers earning a spot competing at the World Food Championships coming up in November in Kissimmee, Fla.

There’s also a social media contest for burger patrons. To enter: Check in at participating Burger Week restaurants, take a photo of your burger and tag @nashvillescene on Instagram or Twitter using #SceneBurgerWeek.

Every diner who does this will be entered to win the grand Burger Week Patron Prize — the winner will be selected based on most Burger Week restaurants visited and most likes received.

For more details, including a list of participating restaurants and a rundown of the succulent-sounding special burgers each restaurant plans, visit the event page.

(That page is also where you'll be able to vote online for your favorite burger, but that link won't go live until Burger Week officially launches on Friday.)

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Friday, June 26, 2015

Weekly Open Thread: The Quest for Effective Hangover Cures

Posted By on Fri, Jun 26, 2015 at 8:43 AM

click to enlarge ILLUSTRATION: MOLLY BROOKS
  • Illustration: Molly Brooks
In this week's Scene, our glorious leader Jim Ridley takes on a natural sequel to last week's "Adventures in Drinking" issue: the quest for efficacious hangover remedies. His colorful description of the dreaded ailment:

The skull that throbs like Deadmau5's helmet. The aching limbs. The lurching, gurgling stomach, pounding its shoe to be recognized ahead of your pickled liver and your straining kidneys. Every movement plants a knife blade behind your eyes. Every noise amplifies like someone crunching that canoe-sized stalk of celery Woody Allen lugs around in Sleeper. You try to sleep it off, but when you close your eyes you might as well be in Mammoth Cave with a marching band and a horny rhino.

Now, we at the Scene never endorse overindulgence (it's better to live to drink another day, and a hangover will make you feel worse than dead), but we are curious about what miracle cure might ease a hangover should we ever accidentally suffer one.

Ridley consulted a few experts and pored over Nashville's ancient hangover lore to come up with a few suggestions, including Pedialyte (to ease alcohol-induced dehydration) and an old bartender remedy: angostura bitters and soda water (a combo that apparently settles a rocky stomach). Meanwhile, he notes that generations of Nashvillians have sworn by hot chicken (particularly, "in the wee-morning weekend hours when the skies over Dickerson Road were lit by the glow of Prince's blazing iron skillets") and also a loaded-up plate of eggs and extras, like the venerable Grill Cook's Medley at Pancake Pantry.

But I want to crowd-source this sucker. A commenter at the bottom of Ridley's story, a sage by the name of "theanony" suggests this: "Beef pho, all the raw jalapenos added to the bowl, and a Vietnamese iced coffee. Back in business in no time."

What's your advice, Bites folk? And what else is on your mind this week?

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Friday, June 19, 2015

Weekly Open Thead, Drinks Issue Edition: What's Your Favorite Cocktail or Mocktail?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 19, 2015 at 9:04 AM

click to enlarge Last Year in Odessa, Holland House - PHOTO: MICHAEL W. BUNCH
  • Photo: Michael W. Bunch
  • Last Year in Odessa, Holland House
This week's Scene is the Drinks Issue, subtitled "Adventures in Drinking." To quote the intro:

"In this week’s cover story, check out a few of Nashville’s most adventurous drinks, discover which beer goes best with hot chicken, and go on the hunt for some of the South’s most sought-after bourbon. And on the non-booze front, see the results of the Scene’s blind coffee taste test, find out what you get when you order a mocktail in Nashville, meet some creative baristas, and read the story of a dangerous beverage cart girl."

It was really one of the most delightful issues to research. Under the "daring drinks" headline, I was tasked with trying the Last Year in Odessa cocktail at Holland House, made with egg white. (Frankly, my assignment really wasn't that daring; despite raw-egg fears, the chance of getting salmonella from a fresh egg white is pretty slim.)  The cocktail was delicious and  remarkably complex.

On a slightly more adventurous note, we also learn about the art of sabrage — opening a bottle of bubbly with a sword — with Friend of Bites Vivek Surti.

Another great segment is penned by Laura Hutson and Megan Seling, two non-drinkers on the Scene staff, who investigate what happens at various restaurants when you ask for a non-alcoholic cocktail. Some responses were surly, but some of the "mocktail" offerings were sublime.

So anyway, Bites readers, here's the question: What's your favorite cocktail around town? (It can be either spirits-filled or alcohol-free.)

And what else is on your mind?


Friday, June 12, 2015

Weekly Open Thread: Do You Shop Organic?

Posted By on Fri, Jun 12, 2015 at 9:06 AM

Amid the news that Costco appears to have overtaken Whole Foods as the No. 1 seller of organic groceries in America, Open Thread's curiosity starts to wander.

We know shopping local is growing more and more popular in Nashville — our recent boom in farmers markets proves that. But do convictions and enthusiam stretch to shopping the organic options at area mega-marts and grocery stores? Everybody from Costco and Whole Foods (obviously) to Aldi, Fresh Market, Kroger, Publix, Trader Joe's and Walmart stocks organic items these days.

Tell us, Bites readers: Do you shop organic? And if so, where do you like to shop? Does an extra price premium matter? (Although it seems like the sticker price gap between organic and conventional is closing a bit these days.)

And what else is on your mind?

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Friday, June 5, 2015

Open Thread Wants to Know Where to Go for Late-Night Dining

Posted By on Fri, Jun 5, 2015 at 9:24 AM

The lush patio at The Treehouse (but not for parties of 2)
  • The lush patio at The Treehouse (but not for parties of 2)
Last weekend, I finally got to try The Treehouse in East Nashville. The experience did not start out great, but the staff, service, food and cocktails were fantastic. I took my compliments and complaints to Instagram and Twitter, which sparked some conversation and questions.

In sum, my complaints included the fact that the restaurant did not open until 6 p.m. (which was not very clear on their website). And after doing laps around Five Points for 45 minutes, we had to wait to be seated because they did not want to double-seat a section (we were third in line). They have a section just for two-tops and seated a larger party ahead of us because we had to sit in a particular section (note: the patio section for parties of two is at the side of building, which is not as lush as the back). However, the staff was very kind and polite in explaining their policy, and once we were seated, the service we got as well as the food and cocktails made up for it. But we probably won’t be back. Primarily because on the rare instance we have a kid-free night, we still have to be back in the ‘burbs by 7:30 for bedtime (so we go out pretty early), but also because crossing the river is just kind of a hassle now, particularly when Melrose and 12South have so many great options and are much closer.

I doubt The Treehouse will miss us, though; we just don’t seem to be in their target market. They open the doors late, but they also serve food late, which caters to a segment of the population that prefers to eat at a time when I’m fast asleep. Several people I know were happy to find out that there was a place still serving great food late (though the menu changes after 10 p.m.) without having to endure painfully loud live music or hang with the tourists on Broadway. As in, a place to grab some good food after concerts, hockey games and other events.

I figured this would be a great Open Thread topic. My days of late-night dining at Sunset Grill and Bound’ry are long gone, so where are the great places to have a civilized meal (good food and good service) after 9 p.m. now? I would certainly recommend The Treehouse (they do reserve some seating for walk-ins), and I suppose Bound’ry is still an option as well as the bar at City House. Chris Chamberlain recently recommended The Sutler, too. But when Sean Maloney asked just a few years ago, answers were mostly about places in the past. So, Bitesters, what places do you like for casual, reservationless late-night dining? And what else is on your minds this week?

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Friday, May 29, 2015

Weekly Open Thread: What's Your Favorite Birthday Cake Alternative?

Posted By on Fri, May 29, 2015 at 9:19 AM

Megans birthday treat
  • @MSeling
  • Megan's birthday treat
Scene colleague (and Bites' resident sweets freak) Megan Seling has a birthday coming up, so a couple of co-workers whipped up a hilarious birthday-cake alternative: Rice Krispy treats fashioned into a likeness of Megan's cheerful face. It might not have been the most sophisticated portrait, but with homemade icing dolloped on to represent eyes and mouth, it tasted good and was a big hit.

Some people don't even like cake — I know of another person with a summer birthday who demands a fresh, juicy watermelon when her special day rolls around. And some people (gasp) don't even like sweet things. For them, there's always the meatloaf-and-mashed potato "cake." Here's Martha Stewart's version.

I was lucky this year: On my birthday I was presented with a plate bearing the letters of my first name — fashioned out of homemade chocolate chip cookie! Too bad my name is only two syllables.

New celebratory ideas are always welcome, so I appeal to you, Bites Nation. What's your favorite birthday cake alternative? And what else is on your mind this week?

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Friday, May 22, 2015

Weekly Open Thread: What's Your Favorite Farmers Market?

Posted By on Fri, May 22, 2015 at 8:05 AM

Hip Donelson Farmers Market
This week in Dining, we've got a recap of community farmers markets opening for the season across the Nashville area, from Amqui Station to the Factory at Franklin, from a new spot on Vanderbilt campus (sharing an intersection with the shops of Hillsboro Village) to the ever-popular market serving residents of Hip Donelson.

We also got a chance to report the growing number of markets that accept SNAP/EBT (aka Food Stamps) as payment, a great move to help increase access to fresh local produce. (Thanks, Community Food Advocates for help identifying the list.) And we hit a few highlights of the current changes at the grandaddy of markets in our city, the municipally owned Nashville Farmers' Market just north of the capitol.

Personally, I hope to hit a many markets as I can — especially the ones I can walk to, 12South and the new version of the Vanderbilt market. (I hear it has some unique merchants selling internationally popular produce varieties.) But since every market is slightly different, I'd ideally love to visit every one.

Not that it's fair to compare, but it's unlikely I'll find anything similar to the amazing breakfast I once had at a farmers market in Marin County, Calif.: fresh Humboldt Bay oysters cooked to order over a wood fire in the back of a guy's truck. Two of those oysters, drizzled with butter and chives, filled and sustained me for the astronomical price of $2.50

Please chime in, Bites folk. What's your favorite farmers market? And do you have any farmers market memories to share?

And what else is on your mind?

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Friday, May 15, 2015

Weekly Open Thread: What's Your Favorite Restaurant Patio?

Posted By on Fri, May 15, 2015 at 9:50 AM

The patio at The Pharmacy
This week's issue of the Scene is the annual Summer Guide, and in the food section of the guide, our own Megan Seling lists some favorite patios for dining outdoors — surely one of summer's most relaxing pastimes.

She's a little hesitant to mention one of her favorites — the adorable little hidden patio at the back of Headquarters, the coffeehouse on Charlotte Pike, because it's so small and intimate. Other patios she recommends include Bella Napoli in Edgehill Village, The Pharmacy in East Nashville and the venerable Baja Burrito on Thompson Lane.

I personally have to give the edge to Rolf and Daughters, not just because Germantown is a nice neighborhood for hanging out, but also because the food is so darn good.

How about you, Bites Nation? Where do you like to dine alfresco? And what else is on your mind?

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Friday, May 8, 2015

Weekly Open Thread Wants to Know: What's Your Favorite Retail Cookie?

Posted By on Fri, May 8, 2015 at 9:33 AM

In this week's Dining column in the Scene, Lesley Lassiter visits the new Christie Cookie Co. retail shop inside the company's headquarters in Germantown.

Christie Cookie, which started in the mid-1980s, moved to Third Avenue North in Germantown in 2000.

"At the time, that part of Germantown was still mostly industrial and largely vacant," Lassiter notes. But before long, the neighborhood would become one of the hottest in Nashville for residential (and eventually restaurant) growth.

Christie Cookie's president, Fleming Wilt, says the location proved better than they ever dreamed: "When we located our headquarters in Germantown 15 years ago, we never imagined the culinary, artistic and family-friendly neighborhood it would become." Now Christie Cookie is taking advantage of the fired-up vibe of the neighborhood by adding a charming little retail store.

So, let us raise the Open Thread question: What's your favorite retail cookie? Your answer need not be limited to Christie products. (Though if I were to make that judgment, I would assuredly choose white chocolate macadamia.)

Continue reading »

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