Anne Byrn's Cake Mix Doctor cookbooks made the Nashville native a trusted friend in the kitchen. She fixed a persistent problem: box mix cakes' chemical taste and unvarying rubber-sponge texture were only barely acceptable, and only because the mixes were so convenient. Her recipes turned cake mix into banana cake with caramel frosting, pumpkin cake, and lemon poppyseed cake.
Then she decided to fix what was broken in the first place: the cake mix.
Once she had formulated a yellow cake mix and a chocolate mix, Byrn set about getting them to the public. Corner Market has always carried them. Byrn did a stint on QVC in 2010, selling between 5,000 and 6,000 units in six minutes. She set up e-commerce on her website so that people without access could buy the mix online. She attended food trade shows.
Porter Road Butcher is expanding to West Nashville with a new location on Charlotte Avenue. A second shop, to be dubbed Porter Road Butcher West, will take over the former Mrs. Winner’s building at 4816 Charlotte Ave., across from Richland Park.
Opened in late 2011, the whole-animal butcher shop run by former chefs James Peisker and Chris Carter has exploded, tapping into a market for locally grown, non-industrial pork, beef, lamb and poultry. The East Nashville location on Gallatin Pike has been regularly selling out of product since this past summer.
“We opened up as a neighborhood shop and realize all of Nashville wants a neighborhood butcher shop,” Peisker says. “It’s gratifying because people have a passion for what we’ve been doing. By us growing, it shows Nashville is becoming a food city.”
But it’s also great for people who don’t or can’t consume honey (I discovered recently that honey allergies are fairly common). Hey Shuga! is just as thick as honey, so you can still get the rich flavor, texture and glaze in your favorite sauces, salad dressings, granola, and other recipes that call for honey. Not to mention it would taste wonderful in hot tea or lemonade … or in a Gold Rush. Though I have mostly just consumed it by the teaspoon. (Ahem.)
The Shuga line also includes Lil’ Shuga!, which is a blend of cane sugar syrup and stevia extract. The result is a syrup that’s much sweeter than sugar, but with only five calories in a 1/3 teaspoon serving. It’s great for people watching their weight, but not quite suitable for diabetics. It’s a happy medium, particularly in recipes where you need a lot of sweetener, because pure stevia extract in large amounts gets a little weird-tasting (almost metallic), but Lil’ Shuga still tastes great. Note: the website includes pointers for using both products in baking.
Hey Shuga! and Lil’ Shuga! are both available at the Nashville location of Whole Foods, but the product sampling this weekend will only be at the Franklin location. It’s definitely worth a try.
Whole Foods Market - Franklin
1566 W. McEwen Drive
Franklin, Tennessee 37067
Eh, notsomuch. The examples they use, including the Joe's O's seemed to be only very thinly cloaked in mystery. How could you not know those are repackaged Cheerios? And the vegetarian chili is so obviously repackaged by Amy's Organic that I didn't even realize that the can I bought from Trader Joe's was private label. Though, one of my favorites that they missed is the Trader Joe's version of Sunbutter. I've had jars of both side by side and it's easy to tell that the only difference is the label (and even then, there's a lot of similarity in color scheme and design). Right down to the best-by date printed on the lid, the products are identical. It's kind of hilarious. And the price difference varies by $1 to $1.50 per jar. Which is a lot, though not if you factor in a trip to Green Hills (hence the reason there is a name-brand jar in my house currently).
But the thing I think the story really missed is the actual name-brand products that TJ's carries at a significant price difference. Not everything in the store has some variant of a Trader Joe's label. For example, Kerrygold butter, Lightlife Smart Dogs, Morningstar Bacon, and Tofurky slices are all nearly half the cost at Trader Joe's than they are at Publix. Obviously, my shopping list is very specific, but I'm certain that there are other items in the aisles that are also heavily discounted. Though it seems the only real advantage to the beer aisle is being able to buy a single bottle of beer (in a size smaller than 40 ounces) ...
As part of the anniversary celebration, Nashville-area co-owner Lynne Warne invited me in to try out some samples. They offer bundtinis (two- to four-bite size little bundts sold by the dozen), bundtlets (4-inch mini bundt cakes large enough to easily feed two adults, though they call them "single servings") and their regular bundt cakes that come in eight- and ten-inch sizes (and can be tiered to feed more people).
Not one to turn down free cake, I stopped by this week. They had in-store samples already set out of the white chocolate blueberry. I was hesitant, since I don’t care much for white chocolate, but this cake was fantastic. And moist. So moist. (Apologies to those who hate that word, but there’s no better word in this case.) I highly recommend it. However, you’ll need to go in before the end of this week since it’s just a featured flavor which will change to the insanely popular pumpkin spice starting Monday (which is Oct. 1 — can you believe it?).
From there, I moved on to red velvet (uncharacteristically moist), lemon (excellent flavor), chocolate chocolate chip (decadent, but not too rich), white chocolate raspberry (almost as good as the blueberry), and cinnamon swirl (like the best coffee cake ever). Each one was topped with their signature butter-cream-cheese frosting and were all just as moist and delicious as the first. So moist, in fact, that little water droplets formed in the bundtlet containers I took home. Friends, that is not typical of a bakery cake.
The purveyor of Southern sweets based in Savannah, Ga., constructed a new building for its fourth location (the first outside of Georgia). During a soft opening last weekend, general manager Betsy Williams says, the hot seller was the caramel apples, with more than 200 being sold. Besides pralines and caramel apples, other specialties include log rolls, glazed pecans, peanut brittle, divinity and ice cream.
Operating hours for the summer will be 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Sunday through Thursday and 11 a.m. to midnight Friday and Saturday. Savannah's Candy Kitchen of Nashville is located at 310 Broadway, next to Earthbound Trading Co.
Fortunately, Nashville favorite Sperry's Steakhouse has an answer for you, thanks to their association with A. Thomas Meats. Now you don't have to reach out to Omaha to get some great hunks of meat for dear old Dad, since A. Thomas ships from Louisville and can get all sorts of variety packs of premium steaks to Nashville post haste. And for any order over $100, shipping is free. These are the same steaks that Sperry's serves in their two locations, so you know they're good.
Sadly, my dad is no longer among us, so I went ahead and got some A. Thomas Steaks for myself to check out the experience. All of their meats are Black Angus from Creekstone Farms. Depending on how much you want to spend, there are several different levels of quality that you can choose from. None of them are bad, but some are superior.
There are also some special assortments put together just for Father's Day if you don't want to do a lot of shopping around the website. Steaks ship via three-day UPS packed in dry ice and will arrive at the delivery address hard frozen. It's no problem to defrost all or some of the steaks in a cooler or sink full of water safely in about a half hour, the same amount it should take to fire up the ol' charcoal grill.
Hell, it's exactly what my neighborhood needs. Kroger has abandoned the strip, K-Mart is slowly crumbling, the spot that V&V Market occupied for like three weeks is basically just a repository for litter and weeds and that liquor store next to Popeye's is so shady even I won't go in there.
While I do love the scrappy and unpolished character of the neighborhood, I'd prefer that it wasn't completely populated by empty big boxes and half-abandoned strip malls. Of course, I tend to despise big boxes and strip malls even when there are businesses in them, but you know what I'm talking about. Oh, and there's nothing worse than having to go to Walmart to buy basic food stuffs. That place is the most annoying spot to buy food, especially if you only need, say, a gallon of milk or a head of garlic.
Anyway, I'm very happy that Patel Brothers have made the investment to remodel and expand. The produce section is bigger, the aisles more spacious, and the options for getting some serious grub on expanded. Their frozen food section is also bigger, and that means more frozen samosa options! And for those unaware, frozen samosa is one of the best options ever for those fuck-it-I-don't-really-want-cook nights. But ya, Patel Brothers is back, and it's a really good thing, so stop by and give them a hearty "Hoy Hoy!" for me, cuz who doesn't love a Little Feat rarities reference.
More recently, I had a very tasty spring onion, goat cheese and thyme quiche from Foxy Baking Co.. Simple, but delicious. So delicious that I kept wanting more. And I thought, "I can do this," despite having previously failed (twice!) at making quiche.
I put past failures out of my mind, found a highly rated recipe and got cooking. I subbed garlic scapes I found at the West Nashville Farmers Market for the spring onion and used a frozen crust to make it a little easier on myself, but otherwise did not deviate from the recipe.
Two hours later, I had a third failure. It took twice as long to cook than the recipe indicated, and the pie was still not very firm and definitely too eggy. The bottom crust was soggy from too much milk. So, I give up. Quiche is now officially on the list of things I will not prepare at home. Quiche has some great company on this list, which includes:
- Indian foods (all of them)
- Thai foods (most of them)
- Bread (other than no-knead breads)
- Macaroni and cheese
These are foods that other people can prepare much better and more efficiently than I can. Luckily, I can get a great quiche from Foxy just about any time I want. Katy sets up 9 a.m. to noon Saturdays at the West Nashville Farmers Market on Charlotte Avenue at 46th (in Richland Park) and has a store at 707 Porter Road in East Nashville (check the Foxy Baking Co. Facebook page for hours). You can also keep up via Twitter. Katy's pies and other treats are also fantastic. I highly recommend the shaker lemon pie and the chocolate pie with polenta crust. It's all delicious.
Foxy Baking Co.
707 Porter Road in East Nashville
The combination of rich, fragrant, tender lamb and the tingly, tangy crunch of pickled onions in a chewy, soft roll was like a one-two punch from a velvet boxing glove.
Culinary inspiration like that isn't an accident, so I contacted Jamie Kiner, the woman who, er, mans the Blackbird Heritage truck.
Livestock farmers Andy and Sherri Roddick (not that Andy Roddick) raise their heritage breeds in College Grove, Tenn, including the Gulf Coast lamb that became my lamb sandwich. They also raise turkeys, cows and Large Black and Red Wattle pigs in small quantities.
To sell more of the meat, Roddick, a former recording engineer and native of Williamson County, originally had a concession stand. He then bought an old laundry delivery truck off Craigslist and overhauled it. "I did it all myself, the paint, the sinks, the whole thing." They hired their old friend Jamie Kiner, also formerly in the recording industry, to manage the food truck.
As a smallish operation, Blackbird utilizes just a few animals at a time. The trio brainstorm ideas for using what's on hand at any given time. Most recently, Blackbird butchered a cow and combined the ground beef with Italian sausage, now being served as a meatball sub with delicate little meatballs in a tangy tomato sauce.
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