Spent some time bonding with Bangkok Market, which I love for many reasons that I will now share with you.
Bangkok's exterior blends with the warehouse surroundings, but inside it's as much a visual feast as a culinary one. Owners Camille and Pornchai Rajbundit opened Bangkok in a space on Powell Avenue once occupied by a design business, which you can see in the coordinated finishes and attractive design of the layout.
The freezer section is stocked with nice-quality fish, seafood and poultry; traditional ingredients like pandan leaves, black Silkie chickens, and frozen coconut in various formats plus extras like Indian naans and parathas. The shelves and doors are spotless, and the stock is well-merchandised and replenished often.
Groceries and merchandised on pretty shelving. The Rajbundits are savvy merchandisers, so there are also a few non-Thai and non-food goodies, like the frozen Indian breads, single-press maple syrup, cookware and gifts. (Full disclosure: the Rajbundit and Wood girls attend school together.)
Bangkok been open about a year — Yelp's loving it, and so is Lannae. Have you been? What treasure did you discover there?
3207 Powell Ave. (behind Ferguson Enterprises)
But to work out the kinks, Cotter is opening quietly for a few hours on a few days this week and next. Buy cheese and what she terms "an extremely limited selection" from Porter Road Butcher, which itself isn't yet open as it works to perfect its operation as the city's new dedicated butcher shop.
Cotter asks customers to "please bring a healthy supply of patience," while she streamlines her procedures. Being a one-woman temple of cheese is harder than it looks.
Soft opening hours are:
Wednesday, Nov. 16: 5-8 p.m.
Thursday, Nov. 17: 5-8 p.m.
Tuesday, Nov. 22: 10 a.m.-8 p.m.
Wednesday, Nov. 23: 10 a.m.-4 p.m.
But Porter Road Butcher chef-owners Chris Carter and James Peisker are keeping us all in the loop, sharing updates on the store's Facebook page, including the news that they expect to open sometime in December. A new Porter Road Butcher website is up, with expected hours, a phone number and most intriguing, a menu prototype for future online ordering of their meats. Check it out.
Meanwhile, Drew McDaniel and Carolyn Manney, the husband-and-wife team behind carpentry and remodeling company Space Lift, have used their blog to post some pictures of their work on the Porter Road Butcher project, including the one-of-a-kind 16-foot wooden counter topped with maple butcher block from John Boos & Co.
The store is going into the Greenway at Belle Meade retail strip at 21 White Bridge Road (also home to Porta Via Italian Kitchen). Nothing Bundt Cakes sells the cakes in various flavors and sizes, including the single-serving "Bundtlet." (The chain's website proclaims: "Sorry Cupcake! Bundtlets are Bigger, Better, Blissful.")
The cake chain is also known for its "signature frosting" made with cream cheese and butter, which tops the cakes in thick petals radiating from the cake's central hole. An alternative is drizzled frosting, which is less thick.
Nothing Bundt Cakes stores are almost like boutiques, with giftie merchandise as well as cakes. The bundts can be ordered for various occasions, with the cakes hole serving as a handy receptacle for decor items like a bow or a flower. (There's a workplace celebration cake with the slogan "From the 'Hole' Office.") Cake sizes range from one serving to 26.
The guys at in.gredients have another idea: they're looking to start a package-free store in Austin that offers groceries without the wrappers.
Brothers Christian and Joseph Lane imagine a store that offers groceries in bulk, which you (or they — the model is still in development) weigh and take home in either your or their containers. They plan to carry produce, grains, baking supplies, oils, dairy, meat, beer, wine and household cleaners. Imagine being able to take home meat without all the packaging. (And wine! And beer!)
Since 50 percent of the U.S. plastic waste stream is product packaging, offering bulk buying without packages is a logical place to start. GOOD magazine recently put numbers to the cost of packaging.
Americans add 570 million pounds of food packaging to their landfills each day, while prepackaged foods force consumers to buy more than they need, stuffing their bellies and their trash bins: 27 percent of food brought into U.S. kitchens ends up getting tossed out.
Being waste-free is another goal of in.gredients, so they're aiming to build green, collect rainwater and waste water and, naturally, feature local products that require the fewest food miles.
Their indiegogo campaign to raise start-up funds is going well — they've raised $11,000 of $15,000 needed.
Of course, they're in Austin, not Nashville. But the idea is so great that maybe a local entrepreneur will pick it up and make it work here. What do you think Bites? Would you shop there?
(It's funny how Nashville is in the midst of a fine Ohio ice cream invasion. Jeni's, the artisan brand with the haute cuisine flavors, opened its East Nashville shop today.)
Graeter's touts its "French pot method," preparing the ice cream in small 2-gallon batches. “Our secret recipe of fresh cream and egg custard is gently swirled along the chilled sides of a slowly spinning French pot freezer,” the company says. “A blade softly scrapes the sides of the pot, folding the ice cream into itself.”
The gentle folding keeps air out of the ice cream and makes it dense and rich, they say, claiming that a pint of Graeter’s weighs nearly a pound, almost twice as much as some other brands.
Unlike some other brands found on the supermarket shelves, Graeter's uses sugar, not corn syrup. Scanning the ingredients' lists, I noticed an absence of phony flavors. The strawberry, for example, has an intense berry flavor that comes from strawberries alone.
And some of Graeter's varieties are quite unique, like the black-raspberry-dark-chocolate-chunk. Graeter's can be found in Nashville-area Krogers and The Fresh Market in Brentwood. For a little more detail, check out what I wrote a couple weeks' ago in my Food Biz column in The City Paper and online at Nashville Post.
The Kroger at Gallatin Pike and Eastland doesn't get much love from East Nashville residents, who complain that it's small, crowded and has a poor selection of goods compared to other grocery stores, including others in the Kroger chain.
Well, the store's footprint won't change anytime soon, but it will get a new amenity: a fuel center so shoppers can fill the tank and not just a grocery basket.
My colleague J.R. Lind reports on the Nashville Post site that Kroger has purchased acreage
adjoining the store for $675,000.
Initially, it appeared that the store might be expanding, but Kroger spokeswoman Melissa Eads said today the land will be used for a Kroger fuel center, something she says patrons have asked for.
Construction on the gas station will begin in September, and should be completed by the end of the year. Eads said Kroger has no plans to expand the grocery store at this time.
The Painted Cupcake shifted its locale from the Arcade to Green Hills last week, bringing joy and gladness to neighbors — for one thing, there isn't a cupcake place in GH, and for another, it isn't piling on the 37215 load of frozen treat purveyors.
Of the three we got — chocolate mint, chocolate peanut butter (decorated with half a Nutter Butter) and Cookies and Dreams, the latter was my favorite for the cake texture and light chocolate touch.
Each day several of the flavors are also available as babycakes, little mini two-bite cupcakes, for $1.10, which is easier on the calorie count.
The Painted Cupcake closed its Arcade location May 26 to move to Green Hills but kept its arty orientation. Besides the prettily decorated interior, they're selling adorable aprons — instant gift for the cook in your life.
The new Green Hills location is at 2014 Glen Echo Road, next to Fast Signs and Relax, The Back Store. It's open most days 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. Phone is 279-8055.
When she lost her job as regional marketing manager for retirement communities, she turned her skill into a venture making Chilly Pops treats suitable for cancer patients, diabetics and other specialty diets like ADHD and suppressed appetites. Many of the flavors are sold in grocery stores and cafes around town.
"My orders got to be so big that I had to stop making them out of the house. I had to make my own manufacturing shop," says Bartosh.
Working from the Nashville Business Incubation Center on 10th Avenue North downtown, Bartosh produces more than 200 flavors stashed in three freezers. Thirty-one flavors are sugar-free, 52 are dairy-free, 21 combine fruit and vegetables, two include nuts, and 21 are yogurt pops.
Functional flavors pack maximum nutrients in one treat, for example, avocado-parsley-asparagus-orange, or offer a super-dose of antioxidants in a berry-rich pop. Others soothe a sore mouth, a common side effect of chemotherapy, with creamy ingredients like avocado and coconut milk (my favorite flavor of the three I tried).
Whole Foods' Franklin/Brentwood outpost is relocating from the Cool Springs store to a spiffy new 40,000-square-foot place on West McEwen Drive, an exit or two south of the former location.
The grand opening is tomorrow morning, Wednesday, May 18, with free breakfast for customers at 7:30, bread-breaking and sharing at 8:30, and doors opening at 9.
Prior to the big day the store has been offering tours — a great opportunity for them to tout their commitment to nutrition and the neighborhood.
There's a strong showing of local and regional products, such as these pretty offerings from Nashville's Loveli jewelry. (If you know a local craftsperson or food company who hasn't been in contact with WF, tell them to get busy.)
The bulk bins are back, complete with ANDI (Aggregate Nutrition Density Index) score listings, and all the varieties you can't find elsewhere — eight varieties of quinoa, for example, and gorgeous Verdina beans. WF and Food52 will be partnering to develop recipes and spread awareness of the ANDI initiative.
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