Think of East Nashville as the neighborhood equivalent of a dysfunctional family. The residents bicker with and love on one another; they welcome newcomers and protect longtime borders; they boast about accomplishments and fiercely guard secret treasures. These days, the family has a lot to talk about at the dinner table.
In August, neighborhood booster Matt Charette, owner of Beyond the Edge and Batter’d & Fried, brought in a sushi chef, most recently from Ichiban, and is now adding à la carte items, platters and grilled selections to the B&F menu. Sadly, Charette’s beloved Red Sox are 10 games behind the Yankees—and seven-and-a-half games back in the AL Wild Card race—but you can still catch the end of the baseball season, as well as the upcoming NFL, NHL and NBA seasons, on one of the several televisions tuned to sports channels. 1008 Woodland St., 226-9283.
Willy and Yvette Thomas, who purchased the corner store formerly known as Chapel Bistro and—with the help of designer Kathy Anderson, chef Hal Holden-Bache and sous chef Nathan Wells—are turning it into Eastland Café, will unveil the transformation Oct. 2. All furnishings and art have been removed and replaced; a new bar has been built, and a mahogany wall separates it from the dining room, though glass inserts allow barflies to keep an eye on diners. 701 Chapel Ave., 627-1088.
Not long afterward, Margot McCormack and Jay Frein’s new market, Marché Artisan Foods, will open. Margot Café chef Matt Henson is packing his knives and moving across the street to run the kitchen, working with manager Kammy McClurg. Marché will offer East Nashvillians another option for breakfast and lunch Tuesday through Saturday (Margot Café has a lock on Sunday brunch) as well as specialty items, artisan cheeses, meats, breads, fresh meat and fish and prepared items. 1000 Main St., 262-1111.
The exhibit that is at the core of the East Nashville Tomato Art Festival has left the Art & Invention Gallery, and the last of the 2006 tomato crop is now making its farewell tour through farmers markets, produce stands and CSAs all over town. But as sad as the end of the homegrown tomato season is, there is some comfort to be found in those green hardballs that will soon be filling baskets. Several of the winning entrants in the Tomato Art Festival tomato recipe contest—which this year featured variations on that all-American summer treat, the BLT—made fabulous use of green tomatoes, including first-place winner Ashley Pinson, who says she brainstormed ideas one evening with friends over drinks at 3 Crow Bar. Among the other entries listed at contest sponsor Southern Foodways Alliance’s website (www.southernfoodways.com
, click on BLT recipes) are third-place winner Leslie Allen’s spicy Mexican fried green tomato BLT (with a vegan modification); BLT profiteroles, an hors d’oeuvres suggestion from Shreveport, La., chef David Bridges; a fried green tomato-pimento cheese construction submitted by Jason Davidson in Charleston, S.C.; and SFA’s Mary Beth Lasseter’s fried green tomato BLT with grilled pineapple. Following is the blue ribbon BLT recipe, which won for its clean flavors and simplicity, as well as the thick slices of sourdough bread Pinson purchased that morning from the Produce Place. The green tomatoes were dredged through a three-step process of flour, milk then breadcrumbs seasoned with salt, pepper and a dash of cayenne. Now is the perfect time to harvest the last of the basil crop for fresh pesto.
Fried Green BLT
Sourdough bread Applewood smoked bacon Mayo Pesto Lettuce 1 green tomato
Lightly toast 1-inch-thick slices of bread. Mix together mayo and pesto. Slice tomatoes in quarter-inch rounds, dredge in flour, then milk, then breadcrumbs, and fry in skillet with one-quarter-inch vegetable oil. Spread pesto-mayo on bread, stack lettuce, bacon and fried green tomato.
One of the hardest-working women at the Tomato Art Festival was Jennifer Hagan-Dier, a Chicago transplant, co-founder of the nonprofit Friends of the Farmers Market and the driving force behind Edgefield Uncorked!, an al fresco wine tasting and culinary event that will take place on the 800 block of Russell Street from 6:30 to 9:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 23. More than 300 people are expected to attend the second annual event, which will present fine wines from all over the world thanks to Torbreck Vintners, The Wine Shoppe, Billington Imports and Tennessee Wine and Spirits. Food tasting stations will be set up by Sharon Johnson Catering, with more edibles provided by Provence Breads & Café, the Turnip Truck, Nashville Toffee Company, The Wild Muffin and chef Laura Button, who specializes in raw foods. Live music gets the party started, and guests can purchase raffle tickets for the chance to win airline tickets, restaurant certificates and a photo shoot from Todd Stringer Photography. Edgefield Uncorked! benefits CASA, East Nashville Hope Exchange and Warner Elementary School. Tickets can be purchased for $50 at Davis-Kidd Booksellers, Urban Décor or www.edgefielduncorked.com
Mom and pop-sicles
Bongo Java Roasting Company has expanded its selection of paleta flavors carried in its freezer case for $2; BJRC owner Bob Bernstein and wife Irma Paz-Bernstein, one of the founding sisters of Las Paletas in 12South, apparently pillow-talked a mutually beneficial deal, making a sweet treat for the neighborhood in the process.
Circle the Wagon
Attention, aspiring restaurateurs and homeless chefs: if you’ve got a spare $94,000 in your account, a “trendy East Nashville restaurant” could be yours, according to a Sept. 5 posting on Craig’s List. The ad reads, “well-established Red Wagon Restaurant business is for sale, including all equipment, fixtures and inventory.” The building itself is not included in the asking price, though the business buyer has the option to purchase the baby-blue Victorian home for the appraised value. Within the industry, it has been no secret that Red Wagon chef/owner Meg Giuffrida—who had a baby shortly after opening the time-consuming restaurant—wants to gear back and re-focus on catering. Some time ago, Rick Bolsom (Tin Angel, Mirror, Zola) came on board as a partner, but even his best efforts have not resulted in the progress both parties had hoped for. At press time, there was no response to inquiries about the posting or the future of Red Wagon, which continues to do a good lunch and weekend brunch business.
There’s just time to bone up on your grape-ology before Edgefield Uncorked! as Sunset Grill uncorks the 12th year of its Basic Wine Class. Conducted by Craig Clifft, tenured member of the Sunset staff and managing partner of Sunset’s sister restaurant Cabana, with an assist from Sunset’s wine director John Woodard, classes are Tuesday nights at 5:45 p.m. in a private room at Sunset; the cost is $10 per class, payable that evening. Reservations are encouraged at 386-3663 or online at www.sunsetgrill.com
. Classes, which began Sept. 12, will focus on whites through September, then turn to reds in October and bubbly in November, just in time for the holidays. —Kay West