As you guys know, I’m nearing the birth of Baby Eats and along with that comes a long list of things to do in preparation. Instead of stretching myself too thin, I’m recruiting a little help here on the blog over the next few weeks. You won’t be rid of me completely, but from time to time you’ll get to meet an awesome (perhaps new-to-you) blogger as they guest post.
Today I am thrilled to introduce my first “helper”, a fellow food blogger who is also involved in some other food-related ventures here in Nashville. One of these ventures is something I’m particularly interested in, so I’ve asked her to share details of it with you today.
Please give a warm welcome to Annakate!
~Alimentum Eat & Greet Tours~
First off, I’m super excited that Beth asked me to write this guest post. As a transplant to Nashville, I refer to Eat.Drink.Smile. all the time to learn about the food and drink happenings in Nashville and the Southeast. And don’t even get me started on the recipes. That recent gooey mac and cheese post was out of this world!
When I moved to Nashville two years ago, I immediately started exploring what my new home had to offer food- and drink-wise. What I found was very encouraging – nationally-acclaimed restaurants like City House as well as interesting historic ones like Prince’s Hot Chicken, several local breweries including Yazoo and now Jackalope, artisan purveys like Olive & Sinclair Chocolates and local cheesemakers, a vibrant food truck scene, several ethnic neighborhoods and lots of farmers. Nashville has this big-yet-small-town thing going for it, and I think there’s an approachability here when it comes to artisan offerings that I’ve really come to love.
In my real life job, I do PR in the food industry. At the moment I work for an online recipe club, but previously I’ve represented food companies and cooking schools in Chicago and Mexico. Through these experiences I’ve really grown fond of culinary tourism. I absolutely love sharing food adventures and fun finds with others, to spread the good word. I immediately started thinking about how I could share what I’ve learned to love about Nashville’s food scene with others. And then I met Paulette Licitra.
Paulette is a native New Yorker, a classically trained chef, the publisher and editor-in-chief of Alimentum Journal (the first and only food-focused literary journal), and an instructor of cooking classes of her ancestral Italy and the Mediterranean. Bingo. Together, over a long afternoon of coffee and cake at Fido, Paulette and I hatched a plan to begin conducting culinary tours around Nashville. We had a ball doing “research” in different neighborhoods, eating and drinking our way into a plan for our tours, which we named “Alimentum Eat & Greet Tours.”
For the first tour last September, we took nine folks to explore the ethnic eateries on Nolensville Road. We started the day at K&S World Market (if you haven’t been, get in the car and go at once!), exploring the produce, meats, fish, spices and dry goods from all over. From there we hopscotched our way through many international cuisines including Thai, Turkish, Ethiopian and Mexican. In between these mini meals, we shopped an Indian market and stopped at a Kurdish bakery to see such spectacles as traditional flatbreads being baked in Tandoori ovens.
We ended the day with a taste of Mexico at a gas station-cum-taco joint, where the adventurous eaters in our group ordered tongue and tripe tacos, then enjoyed Persian tea and rose water and saffron-scented ice cream at a Middle Eastern restaurant while the owner regaled us with stories of his native Iraq. All in all, it was an incredible day! Keep in mind we found all of this in a three-mile strip. A short video recap of the tour is below, narrated by Paulette. (It’s worth the five minutes – Paulette did a fantastic job!)
In October, we enjoyed a farm tour, highlighting several interesting artisans and farmers. We began with a tour of Green Door Gourmet Farm, in West Nashville. After a walk through the owner Sylvia’s fields where we learned about her CSA, the local restaurants she grows for and sells to, and her impressive herb garden (more than 20 kinds of basil alone!), we zipped over to an artisan dye studio called ASK Apparel, where Ali Bellos walked us through their seed-to-spool operation. We learned about the textile dye process and how they’re working with local farmers to grow natural dye plants like sumac and indigo.
We could have stayed there the rest of the day asking questions, but we had to get on to our private lunch at Miel restaurant. Owner Seema Prasad arranged a custom menu featuring all local meats, cheeses and produce, with many vegetables grown at Green Door Gourmet, where we just were. The greens in our salad were harvested there that morning!
We finished out the day at Noble Springs Dairy, where Dustin and Justyne Noble took us through the feeding, milking and cheese-making process in the beautiful rolling hills of Franklin, TN. It was a perfect fall day filled with food and friends in Middle Tennessee. Another video recap can be found here.
Here’s the scoop on the next two tours:
- Indian Cultural Tour (Feb 4th, 9:30-3:30p) The group will take a private tour of the famous Sri Ganesha Temple and Hindu Cultural Center, enjoy an Indian lunch feast at a local favorite restaurant, and then be treated to a presentation about yoga by Nashville’s premiere yoga instructor Sujatha Yarlagadda. While the group won’t practice yoga in this session we will be in community with a very gentle, knowledgeable, and caring practitioner.
- East Nashville Artisan Tour (Feb 11th, 9:30-3:30) We’ll start with a tour of Bongo Java Roasting Company to get a behind-the-scenes look at the roasting process including a cupping, then stop for lunch at Silly Goose, a local farm-to-table restaurant. Next we’ll explore the production process of Olive & Sinclair Chocolates along with a tasting. We’ll end the tour in downtown Five Points where guests can indulge in some local shopping at Art & Invention Gallery, Wonders on Woodland and the Idea Hatchery, a small business incubator featuring gift shops, clothing stores, vintage shops and more.
For tickets and more info, click here.
All of our tours include van transportation from a group meeting point, all food and tour costs, a copy of the latest edition of Alimentum Journal, and fun times to eat and greet with local foodies.
It’s been a blast recapping the first two tours and highlighting what’s to come. There’s a lot happening in Nashville food-wise right now, and I’m very thankful to be a part of it.
What’s one of the most interesting or memorable Nashville food finds you’ve experienced?