Dale--SandwichThinsBreakfastTaco

Are you a master sandwich maker? If so, then it’s time to put your skills to the test and try to win $25,000! Arnold, Brownberry and Oroweat Bakeries’ 2nd annual “America’s Better Sandwich™” Contest launched a few weeks ago, so I’m just a little behind on spreading the word. Never fear though, as the entry period runs through August 23rd, so you’ve still got plenty of time for some R&D to perfect your creation!

Entrants can submit up to two (2) recipes per category using Arnold, Brownberry and Oroweat’s Whole Grain Breads or  Sandwich Thins Rolls in each of the following categories:

Open-Face Artistry
Breakfast in Bread
Love, Healthfully
Creative Classics
Fueling Good

All eligible recipes in the contest will be judged by a panel of experts based upon nutrition, creativity and ease of preparation. The top three (3) finalists from each sandwich category will also be posted online for public voting September 21st- October 18th, 2015 to help determine Category and Grand Prize winners.

On National Sandwich Day, November 3, 2015,  the highest scoring recipes in each sandwich category will be revealed and awarded $5,000 each! In addition, the highest overall scoring sandwich will receive a $25,000 Grand Prize and the 2015 title “America’s Better Sandwich™.”

Visit www.americasbettersandwich.com for all the details and to enter!

 

Some of the country’s most talented chefs have teamed up with the brands to create their own delicious sandwiches and help spread the word about the contest. Participating chefs include:

  • Chef Fabio Viviani- Los Angeles, CA, Chicago IL, and Miami, FL
  • Chef Kevin Gillespie- Atlanta, GA
  • Chef Tiffany Derry- Dallas, TX
  • Chef Dale Levitski- Nashville, TN
  • Chef Mike Isabella- Washington, D.C.
  • Chef Doug Adams- Portland, OR
  • Chef Edward Lee- Louisville, KY
  • Chef Beau MacMillan- Phoenix/Scottsdale, AZ
  • Chef Rocco Whalen- Cleveland, OH and Charlotte, NC
  • Chef Katie Cavuto – Philadelphia, PA

For those of you here in Nashville, you’ll probably recognize Sinema’s Chef Dale Levitski in that list. I was able to get my hands on the recipe for his delicious creation, Sandwich Thin Breakfast Tacos, so I’m sharing it with you today.

 

Print

Sandwich Thin Breakfast Tacos

4 Servings. Recipe by Chef Dale Levitski.

Ingredients:

2 Arnold® Sandwich Thins® Rolls 100% Whole Wheat roll
1/2 fresh avocado, smashed
1 tsp. olive oil
4 large eggs
6 oz. roasted chicken, pulled/chopped
1/8 c. red onion, thinly sliced
1/4 tomato, diced
1 tbsp. fresh cilantro, chopped
1/2 c. Romaine lettuce, shredded
1 radish, thinly sliced

Directions:

Heat olive oil in nonstick pan over medium-low heat. Sauté onion, chicken, tomatoes in skillet until warmed. Crack four eggs in a separate bowl and beat yolks with fork or spoon, but do not scramble. Add eggs to pan and gently stir until cooked to desired temperature.

Separate and lightly toast Sandwich Thins® rolls. Evenly distribute smashed avocado on each side. Then, place egg and chicken mixture over avocado and garnish with lettuce and radishes.

For every eligible recipe submitted during the entry period, and for every vote cast during the voting period (September 21, 2015 – October 18, 2015), Arnold, Brownberry and Oroweat will donate a loaf of bread to its official charitable partner Feeding America®, the leading domestic hunger-relief organization.

When I posted a list of events earlier this month, I told you that I just may be back with more.  There are a couple I realized I’d forgotten to mention and a couple more that just popped up on my radar, so here you go!

music-city-brisket-logo

Music City Brisket Grand Opening

Thursday, July 16, 2015
4:30 – 6:30 pm

Yazoo Brewing Company
910 Division Street
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: FREE

There’s a new food truck in town and they’re having their grand opening this week at Yazoo. Music City Brisket will focus on brisket, ribs and fish. Some menu items I’m particularly excited to try are the beef brisket tacos & Mahi Mahi tacos (happy to see they have corn tortillas!), and some awesome looking savory avocado fries and a corn, tomato, and avocado salad with honey lime dressing. Check out their Facebook page for pics of those and other dishes, and their website for a complete menu!

Anyone interested in attending Thursday’s grand opening at Yazoo can subscribe to the Music City Brisket mailing list, which will allow the first 50 subscribers to receive a free beef brisket sandwich sample at the event! All other attendees will receive half off the full size beef brisket sandwich. Yazoo will offer $1 off its beer selection for all Music City Brisket customers.

 

cornmato

NFM’s Cornmato

Friday, July 17 – Sunday, July 19, 2015

Nashville Farmers Market
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd
Nashville, TN 37208

Cost: FREE

The Nashville Farmers’ Market has a really cool weekend ahead– it’s 3 days of special events celebrating two of my favorite summer crops: corn and tomatoes!

It all starts with Night Market on Friday night (5-9 pm), followed by special events and offerings on Saturday and Sunday. We’re talking a cornmato eating contest, canning demonstrations, corn & tomato tasting contest,  live music, adult beverages, food demos, and more!

For more information and full schedule of planned events, visit NFM’s Cornmato FB page.

 

CJRrIIIUcAAK3Fx

City House Takes Prima

Tuesday, July 21, 2015
10 pm – midnight (or later)

Prima
700 12th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: varies

If you haven’t been to Prima yet, you must remedy that very soon. It has definitely become one of my favorite new Nashville restaurants. If you haven’t been to City House yet, your only excuse can be that you just moved here from another planet!

When I heard that the City House crew was taking over the Prima kitchen, I was pretty excited. Then I saw the date and was a lot bummed, as it’s the day we leave for Paris. Ah well, I still hope that many of you will go to this special dinner and Instagram the hell out of it so I can see what magic happens in the kitchen that night!

This dinner is unusual in that it will begin after regular dinner service ends, so you’re going to need to stay up late. But it’s totally going to be soooo worth it. Just grab a snack to hold you over until 10 pm.

The City House team will be creating small plates, priced $7 – 20. Reservations aren’t required but they’re definitely recommended, especially if you want to get a group together. To make a reservation, call Prima at 615- 873-4232. Free parking (with validation) will be available in the garage at the Terrazzo. For more information, visit the Facebook event page and/or read my friend Chris Chamberlain’s piece over at the Scene.

 

sugar-rush-2015

Sugar Rush

Thursday, July 30, 2015
6:30 – 8:30 pm

Cannery Ballroom
1 Cannery Row
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: $20

21+ event

Seriously can’t believe I forgot to include this in my “happenings” round up earlier this month! I’ve attended this event almost every single year (well, I’ve actually worked the event, but still got to enjoy all the sweet treats!) but am sad that this time around I’ll be out of town for it.

If you have a sweet tooth, it is a do-not-miss. Local confectioner’s, cakeries, creameries, cupcake and cookie makers will vie for the title of Nashville’s Sweetheart.  So far participants include Goo Goo Cluster, The District Bar and Kitchen, Sweet Darling Pattisserie, Ben and Jerry’s, Opryland, Sophisticakes, Fox’s Donut Den, Chef’s Market and Cookies By Keith. More competitors continue to be added, so stay tuned to the Facebook event page for updates.


Tickets to the event include 1 drink ticket to try Captain Morgan Flavored Rum or Shady Fruit Vodka and all the sweets you can possibly eat. For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the Nashville Scene’s event page.

half-christmas-beer-fest

 

Half Christmas Beer Fest

Friday, July 31, 2015
6- 10 pm

Riverwood Mansion
1833 Welcome Ln
Nashville, TN 37216

Cost: $35

21+ event

Pull out your Santa hat and tacky sweater (or a red & green tank top might be more comfortable in this heat!), and head over to Riverwood Mansion on July 31st for Lightning 100’s 2nd Annual Half-Christmas Beer Fest.

There will be over 40 beers to taste, snow machines, special holiday DJs, karaoke, and dance floor. Get your Xmas on! For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the event website.

paris-barcelonaPhotos by my good friend and world traveler, Kristin Luna of Camels and Chocolate

 

You guys, I’m in desperate need of a true vacation.

Last year I didn’t take a vacation AT ALL. In fact, just recently I realized that I only took four days off of work in 2014. 4 days! And none of them was for a vacation– just a day here and there to spend time with my kiddo or to work on home projects. And while I’m really fortunate that I at least get to travel to some fun cities for work, it’s still that– work!

As you know, earlier this year we got to go to Disney World as a family (hooray!), but again, that wasn’t all pleasure– I was there for a conference. And even if the conference wasn’t a part of our trip, you can’t really call a trip to Disney World relaxing…

The last time I had 3 continuous, leisurely days alone with my husband was when we went to  Asheville, NC  in 2013 to celebrate our 5 year anniversary. For over a year we’d been saying that we were going to plan a trip to Paris & Barcelona, but we never nailed down a date or even started researching very much. Then one day in late May, my husband got an alert from Kayak that flights to Paris had dropped drastically, so we bit the bullet, picked dates for July and booked our flights!

So, now here we are. We’re leaving for Paris in 10 days! For the last couple of weeks, I’ve been reading blogs, Rick Steves travel guides and asking for advice from friends that have visited these two cities before. I’m finally feeling like the Paris leg of the trip is shaping up, but I still have some work to do on our Barcelona plan. Of course, we have a rooftop pool at our hotel in Barcelona so that may end up being a good chunk of my itinerary ;-)

If any of you out there have been to either of these cities, I’d love to hear all about your favorite sites, adventures, and places to eat, so please do spill!

 

googoopremium_04

Goo Goo Summer Chef Series

Wednesday, July 1, 2015 – September 30, 2015

Goo Goo Shop
116 3rd Ave S
Nashville, TN 37210
615-490-6685

 

You guys. I haven’t had this much fun putting together a promo for work since the Goo Goo Desserts of 2012!

I honestly can’t remember if I’ve ever even told you about the Premium Goo Goos that are being created in our Shop, so if I haven’t, I apologize, as I’ve done you a disservice. Premium Goo Goos are very different from a regular Goo Goo Cluster. They’re 4 ounces vs a typical 1.75 oz Goo Goo Cluster, and they’re made by hand daily with the highest quality ingredients. Our confectionery kitchen manager, Lauren Garcia, is responsible for coming up with various flavor combinations for these gourmet confections.

There are typically at least 4-5 different Premium flavors offered on any given day, and a handwritten menu chalkboard above the Shop kitchen announces what’s available. Basically, they’re the reason I will always be 5 lbs heavier than I’d like to be. But man, is it worth it!

Anyway… back to the reason I’m here today. We’re launching the “Goo Goo Summer Chef Series” that will run through the end of September and will feature Premium creations imagined by eight of Nashville’s best chefs:

Karl Worley – Biscuit Love Brunch
Dale Levitski – Sinema
Hal Holden-Bache – Lockeland Table
Maneet Chauhan – Chauhan Ale & Masala House
Deb Paquette – Etch
Matt Bolus – 404 Kitchen
Matt Farley – The Southern Steak & Oyster
Trey Cioccia – The Farm House

 

The new flavors will be sold at the Goo Goo Shop and will rotate periodically with two or three featured each month. To wrap up the series, we’ll showcase all of the flavors at our table in the Grand Taste tents at Music City Food + Wine Festival on September 19th and 20th, 2015.

Now, how do you know what new creations we’ve got? Just follow Goo Goo’s Twitter, Instagram, or Facebook, or check the website, googoo.com, as I’ll be posting them all there as they launch. And, of course, you’ll probably see pics on my own Instagram and Twitter feeds as I’ll definitely be eating them all

jenis-hillsboro

Jeni’s Hillsboro Village Opening

Thursday, July 2, 2015
7 – 11 pm

Jeni’s Ice Cream
1819 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212
615-292-8636

Cost: FREE

Jeni’s Ice Cream has had a rough few months. They’ve battled a listeria issue at their production facility, and my heart goes out to them. I’ve been super impressed with how they’ve handled it all — from the completely transparent communications from their management team to paying their employees while they’ve been shut down.

Thankfully, now with a little help from some friends at a dairy in Ohio, they’re starting to slowly get up and running again. And that means the new Hillsboro Village shop is finally opening!

Tomorrow night (Thursday) is the night, and founder Jeni Britton Bauer is scheduled to host the party. There will be FREE scoops from 7 – 11 pm and the first 50 people in line will each get a ceramic mug.

 

Southern-cooking-for-company

Southern Cooking for Company Book Signings

Thursday July 2nd, 2015
6:30 – 7:30 pm

Parnassus
Hillsboro Plaza Shopping Center
3900 Hillsboro Pike
Nashville, TN 37215

~AND~

Thursday, July 9th, 2015

7 – 8 pm

Barnes & Noble Vanderbilt
2501 West End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: FREE

 

I’ve known Nicki Wood for a few years now. Our original interactions were on the Scene’s Bites blog, where she’s been contributing for quite some time, but our first real “getting to know each other” was when we took a road trip down to Birmingham together for Food Blog South in 2011. Not only is she a great writer, but she’s also a fun travel buddy! But her writing is what brings me here today.

Her new cookbook, Southern Cooking for Company, has just been released and she has a couple of signings lined up for us here in Nashville over the next few days. The first is tomorrow night at Parnassus and the second is next week at Barnes & Noble.

For the event at Barnes & Noble,  in addition to the signing, she’ll have a demo and tasting which will include pickled shrimp, country ham and angel biscuits, and it’s possible she may even be shaking up a cocktail called Rings & Thimbles (as long as she can get permission). Now, I’m not completely sure, but I think maybe she’s using mom’s recipes for some of the bites she’s putting together!

That’s right, my own mother contributed to the book, and the country ham and angel biscuits are something I’ve been eating my whole life! It’s been quite a while since I’ve had the pleasure of enjoying them though, so you’ll definitely be able to find me stuffing my face at Barnes & Noble next week ;-)

 

MLRose-Sliders-4th

 

M.L. Rose Free Sliders on the 4th

Saturday, July 4th, 2015
All Day

M.L. Rose Craft Beer and Burgers

4408 Charlotte Ave
~ and ~
2535 Franklin Pike

M.L. Rose Craft Beer & Burgers will once again celebrate the 4th of July by giving away FREE sliders! For every craft beer purchased, guests will receive one free slider. The offer runs from open to close at both locations. This is one awesome deal we should all be taking advantage of on Saturday!

In addition to the 4th of July celebration, sliders will also be M.L. Rose’s Burger of the Month for July. Guests can get 3 sliders + waffle fries for $11.95 all month.

 

11666186_1594268270836570_4835863807001862838_n

 

Steadfast Coffee Block Party

Saturday, July 11th, 2015
1 -4 pm (or maybe even later!)

603 Taylor Street
Nashville, TN 37208

Cost: FREE

Last week I checked out the new Steadfast Coffee for the first time and let me tell you, I’m super impressed!  They’re excited to be a part of the Germantown neighborhood, so they’re hosting a Block Party and have asked a few of their neighborhood friends to help with food, cocktails and some surprises.
There will be a DJ, games supplied by redpepper, cocktails by The Mountain Agency, snacks by Rolf & Daughters, as well as a presence by Nisolo, Peter Nappi, Wilder Shop and more!
Check out the Facebook Event page for more info.

 

erin-oprea-masons

Healthy Happy Hour with Erin Oprea

Thursday, July 16th, 2015
5 – 7 pm

Mason’s at Loews Vanderbilt Hotel
2100 West End Avenue
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: FREE + cost of drinks

Complimentary valet and self-parking

We’re all invited to throw on our favorite workout attire and enjoy a healthy happy hour with celebrity fitness trainer Erin Oprea at Mason Bar. Now this is a concept I can get behind — fitness and drinking all in one!

And Y’all. Erin is Carrie Underwood’s trainer. Need I say more?? If I’m going to continue to lead this food focused lifestyle, I need a dose of her in my life!

The event, which is free to the public, will feature complimentary healthy small bites from chef Brandon Frohne including Curried Portobello Fries with House-made Ricotta & Blueberry Pesto and Beet Chips with Smoked Goat Cheese & Squash Salsa. There will also be a healthy cocktail, the Mandarin Smash,  for $8. 20-ounce Bud Light drafts will be $5, and fancy fruit and herb infused water will be complimentary.

While enjoying the food & drink, attendees will get to learn Oprea’s favorite fitness moves and nutrition tips, and consult directly with Oprea on their own health and fitness questions. I’m in!

 

 

* As you’ll notice, this list only gets us through half of the month of July. It’s shaping up to be a busy month! If I hear of more things that are worth attending, I’ll come back with another list for you. In the meantime, have fun and be safe!*

jane-st-pineapple-jalapeno-vodka-soda

 

If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen a special delivery I received on my doorstep a couple of weeks ago: 4 bottles of Jane St Vodka Soda!

Newly launched in Nashville, Jane St Vodka Soda is the first to market vodka soda, a ready-to-drink carbonated cocktail.

I absolutely love this new pre-bottled offering for a variety of reasons, with the greatest being that it solves a real problem for me. Since developing a wine allergy, I’ve been the person stuck in the kitchen at friends’ parties mixing cocktails while everyone else is able to just pour a glass of wine. Now all I have to do is take along a bottle of Jane St and I can pour with ease just like everyone else!

This is the very reason that Elizabeth Wiltgen, a Los Angeles mom of two, created Jane St. The consummate hostess, she often found herself spending all of her time at parties mixing drinks when she really wanted to be mingling with guests.

 

jane-st-vodka-soda

 

Naturally sweetened with agave nectar, Jane St’s gourment vodka sodas come in four artisanal flavor combinations:

Original with Lime
Grapefruit Meyer Lemon
Pineapple Jalapeno
Peach Peppercorn

Jane St is available in Georgia, California, Colorado and, now, Tennessee as well as online for shipping in other areas. Each 750 ml bottle retails for $15.99-$17.99. (The company also has plans to offer a 4 pack of 200 ml mini bottles and an extension of flavors in the future.)

While I really enjoyed all four of the flavors, my favorite was definitely the Pineapple Jalapeno, followed by the Original with Lime. As you can probably guess, the Pineapple Jalepeno has a little kick of spice to it, and I’ve always been a sucker for the sweet & heat combination in my cocktails. I have a feeling several bottles of this delicious drink will be consumed at my house this summer!

To find a retailer near you, check their website. For those of you here in Nashville, here’s a quick list:

Craft Brewed – 2502 Franklin Pike

Nashville Daily Spirits, 708 Thompson Lane

Midtown Wine & Spirits, 1610 Church St

Metropolitan Wines & Premium Spirits, 401 Church St

Boulevard Wine & Spirits, 600 Old Hickory Blvd

Iroquois Wine & Spirits, 7063 US Hwy 70 S

Champion Liquor Store, 152 Donelson Pike

Note: there are locations in Franklin and Hendersonville too, but I didn’t include those, so if you live in those areas, be sure to check the Jane St website.

 

Disclosure: Jane St provided me with the for bottles of vodka soda seen above, but as always, all opinions are my own!

 

 

peach-french-toast

What do you do when you have a 25 pound box of fresh peaches staring you in the face?

a) eat multiple peaches daily
b) freeze bags and bags of peaches
c) make peach french toast
d) all of the above

The answer is D of course!

In the past I’ve made a delicious Overnight Caramel French Toast for group brunches, and it’s always a huge hit, so when I had to come up with something to make for Father’s Day brunch yesterday, I figured something similar was a safe bet.

Success! This recipe was awesome — kind of a cross between a peach cobbler, bread pudding and french toast. I made some homemade whipped cream to go on top and it was the perfect finishing touch with just a hint of sweetness.

 

peach-french-toast-piece2

Print

Fresh Peach Overnight French Toast

Serves 8-10. Adapted from All You.

Ingredients:

French Toast:
1 8-oz loaf French bread*, sliced
8 large eggs
2 cups whole milk
1/4 cup sugar
1 tsp vanilla extract
6-8 medium peaches, sliced
3/4 cup packed brown sugar
1/2 tsp cinnamon
1/2 cup heavy cream

Sweet Whipped Cream (optional)
1 cup heavy whipping cream
1/2 tsp vanilla
2 Tbsp powdered sugar

Directions:

French Toast:

Arrange bread in a tight, flat layer in a 9-by-13-inch baking dish.

In a large bowl, whisk eggs with milk, sugar and vanilla until blended; pour over bread. Arrange peaches on top and sprinkle with brown sugar and cinnamon. Cover tightly and refrigerate for at least 8 hours.

Preheat oven to 350°F. Remove baking dish from refrigerator 30 minutes before baking. Pour cream into a small pan; bring to a boil over high heat. Reduce heat, cook until reduced by half, approximately 10 minutes. Drizzle over peaches and bake, uncovered, until casserole is lightly browned on top and just cooked through, 50-55 minutes. Let stand for 10 minutes before serving.

Sweet Whipped Cream (optional):

Beat cream and vanilla at medium-high speed with an electric mixer; gradually add powdered sugar, beating until soft peaks form.

*I used Pepperidge Farm's "Twin French", which comes 2 loaves to a bag. Popped the other one in the freezer so I can make another batch of this french toast soon!

 

Here in Nashville we’re fortunate to have The Peach Truck bringing us luscious peaches from Georgia every week, so be sure to check out their pick up locations to make your own delicious creations!

ATL Food-Wine-2015

Another Atlanta Food & Wine Festival is in the books! This was my fourth year attending the event, and the fifth year anniversary of the festival, and I have to say, it was probably my favorite of the bunch so far!

Boti-ATL-Pig-Out-2015

We got off to a bit of a rocky start when attending the “Pig Out” dinner on Thursday night, the first day of our arrival. Let’s just say that the small number of vendors and amount of food being served did not jive with the very large number of tickets that were apparently sold, making it pretty impossible to actually pig out.

Thank goodness we purchased VIP tickets because that meant that we had access to the absolutely delicious offerings served up by our friend Karl Worley of Biscuit Love and his compatriots from Chai Pani. Karl’s lamb burger biscuit with mint chutney & pimento cheese and the pickled shrimp atop grits with curry sauce from Chai Pani crew were outstanding! Truly the saving grace of the night.

But really, even with that one little snafu at the start of our weekend, overall the festival was a ton of fun and left me feeling like I’d been hit by a truck on Monday. A sign of a great time, right?!?

ATL-Food-Wine-2015-Tasting-Tent-Day-1

For me, the best part of the entire weekend is always the tasting tents. They are open for a couple of hours each of the three days of the festival and there’s more food and drink than I could ever possibly imagine sampling, though I always try my darnedest. I feel it’s my duty.

My choices for Best Bites in the tasting tents:

Day 1 Tasting Tent Best Bites

Fox Bros Bar-B-Q Smoked Pork Taco on corn tortilla with avocado, tomatillo salsa, pickled onion, cilantro and cracklin

Duck fat poached chicken thigh with spring vegetables and smoked tomato from Saltyard (Atlanta)

Smoked Pork Rillettes with Sweet Corn Salsa (can’t remember who these were from!)

Hot Chicken Hot Dogs from Biscuit Love (TN)

 

ATL-Food-Wine-2015-Tasting-Tent-Day-2

Day 2 Tasting Tent Best Bites

Pickled Peach Salad with capra gia feta vinaigrette, shaved pistachios, and wild watercress from Paces & Vine (Atlanta)

Cold buckwheat noodle salad with smoked chicken thighs, pickled mushrooms, kimchee, radish and peanuts from The Roosevelt (VA).

Indian Shrimp & Grits from Bhojanic Indian Food (Atlanta)

 

ATL-Food-Wine-2015-Tasting-Tent-Day-3

Day 3 Tasting Tent Best Bites

One Hot Mama’s applewood smoked bacon, brisket, and blue cheese beer sauce on kettle chips (SC)

Indian Chicken Salad with coconut milk, chile oil, and pickles from Hot Joy (TX)

Colletta‘s Braised Short Rib Agnolotti topped with salsa verde and  pickled shallots (GA)

Peanut Butter Goo Goo Clusters (TN) – yes, even with all the other food options there, nothing else satisfies me like a PB Goo Goo!

 

Best Bite of the entire weekend: Colletta’s Braised Short Rib Agnolotti – man, I claim that I don’t even really like pasta all that much, but this dish was amazing. I went back for thirds, and would’ve gone back for more had I not been so completely stuffed.

 

ATL-Food-Wine-2015-Bugs-Class

As you may or may not know, each day, in the hours before the tasting tents open, there are a plethora of educational classes/demonstrations you can attend. There is truly something for everyone and I always have a difficult time deciding which ones to go to. This year I’m patting myself on the back because I made some really awesome choices.

 

Best Class of the Weekend:  Bugs & Chocolate

Yes, you read that correctly. My favorite class was Bugs & Chocolate. Led by Nicole Patel of Delysia Chocolates,  we were able to sample a selection of chocolate covered insects. And yes, I ate them and I liked them.

I’ve actually been curious about bugs as a delicacy for quite some time and for some reason, the thought of eating them really doesn’t phase me one bit. Hey, they’re a great source of protein! Don’t knock it til you’ve tried it.

 

ATL-Food-Wine-2015-Stella-Cider
Best Class of the Weekend Runner-Up: Paired to Perfection

When I walked into a giant room of tables filled with Stella beers, I knew I’d made a good choice. “Paired to Perfection” with Shaun Doty (of Atlanta) and Marc Stroobandt (Belgium) was great fun.

 

ATL-2015-Stella-Class

 

Chicken and waffles + a table full of beer = good times.

My favorite quote of the festival came from Marc during this class: “People ask ‘are you a beer drinker or a wine drinker?’ What kind of question is that? In Belgium, we’re drinkers.”

Hah! From my observations at Food & Wine, I think the majority of this crowd definitely agrees with you on that Marc!

 

Little Octopus logo

You may have noticed that I don’t talk about new restaurant openings as much as I used to. With the rate they’re happening in Nashville these days, it’s nearly impossible for me to keep up so I decided I’m not even going to try. However, once in a while a concept comes along that I’m so excited about that I can’t not talk about it. So here we are.

Tomorrow, Tuesday, June 9th, Little Octopus officially opens for business in East Nashville’s POP space. Oddly, I hadn’t even heard any rumblings about the new restaurant until a giant octopus mural was being painted on the outside of the building a couple of weeks back, and then my curiosity was most definitely piqued.

 

Little-Octopus-Lunch

 

Within a few days, I got an email from POP announcing “the next dining room residency at POP Nashville”, Little Octopus. Daniel Herget was chosen by owners Sarah and Brad Gavigan to take on the role of executive chef, and he has put together a menu of hot and cold small plates, salads, raw offerings, bowls, sandwiches (lunch) and large plates (dinner).

 

Little-Octopus-Avocado

avocado, crispy shallots, sour orange, charred scallion, cilantro at Little Octopus

Last week I had the opportunity to preview the lunch menu, so I jumped on it. After tasting just the first two dishes that were brought to the table, I was an instant fan.

Vegetable heavy, with lots of vibrant, fresh flavors, this place has exactly the type of food I’m looking for during the warmer months. Pescetarians, vegetarians, vegans, and gluten free customers will be happy to know that there are several options for them. Even voracious meat eaters like me might find themselves being drawn to the plethora of other dishes when dining here – I know I was!

I truly could go back and only eat raw fish and avocado and be the happiest person on the planet. Seriously, who knew that a simple bowl of avocado could be so glorious? This is coming from a person that hated avocado until just a few short years ago.  No doubt I will be eating bowls and bowls of avocado this summer at Little Octopus, as I’ve been craving it ever since I left lunch on Friday!

 

Little-Octopus-Hamachi

Little Octopus hamachi, green apple, truffle, lime, jalapeno

Then there are the raw offerings. The hamachi was fantastic. It reminded me of some of the preparations I fell in love with at Bar Crudo in San Francisco a few years ago. There is also a Cobia with fresno chili, jicama, cilantro, coconut, and ginger on the dinner menu that I’m dying to try, so I’ve already made plans to dine with friends one night next week!

 

Little-Octopus-Bok-Choy

bok choy, root vegetables, peanuts, nuoc chom at Little Octopus

 

The bok choy left me thinking, “Why can’t the vegetables I cook ever taste this fantastic??”, and “I could be a vegetarian if I could make my vegetables taste this interesting”.

 

Little-Octopus-Burger-Plaintains

Little Octopus farro bowl, burger, and roasted maduros

Those first three I mention were definitely my favorites of the meal, but the rest of the dishes did not disappoint either. The farro bowl with kimchee, egg, pickled eggplant, and pea shoots was similar to a  bibimbap in texture. Lime and cotija cheese were unexpected yet perfect complements for the roasted maduros (fried sweet plantains).

With all of the other creative options on the menu, I probably would not have chosen to order the burger, but now that I’ve had it, I would most definitely recommend it, particularly for those that might not be as adventurous as some of us are. Dressed with manchego and pequillo aioli, it is super flavorful and was perfectly cooked.

I can pretty much never pass up anything with coconut milk, and the valencia rice with cobia was as delicious as I’d hoped it would be.

 

Little-Octopus-Valencia-Rice-Bowl

Valencia Rice, coconut milk, cobia, red pepper, tomato palm oil at Little Octopus

Little Octopus will offer dining room and patio dining as well as a lounge and full bar for lunch and dinner six days a week.

Since it was lunch time when I visited and I was on the clock, I didn’t imbibe, but the cocktails look as interesting as the rest of their menu… so I will most certainly be partaking when I head back for dinner in a few days!

They’re now accepting reservations 2 weeks out, so send inquiries to rsvp@popnashville.com.

 

Little Octopus

604 Gallatin Ave Suite 202
Nashville, TN 37206
615-454-3946

Hours:
Tues – Sun 11 am – 11 pm

Twitter: @lttleoctopus
Facebook: www.facebook.com/LittleOctopusNashville
Instagram: @lttleoctopus