A couple of weeks ago I had the opportunity to do a construction tour of The Hook, the soon-to-be opened fast casual restaurant in the Melrose neighborhood of Nashville. I’m really excited about this new concept, as the team behind one of my absolute favorite restaurants in town, Sinema, is responsible for the development: Colin & Brenda Reed, sons Ed and Sam Reed, and Dale Levitski.
Speaking of Sinema, The Hook is located about a half a mile from there, on Franklin Rd/8th Ave, pretty near another popular spot, The Smiling Elephant. If you’re ever over in that area, you’ve probably noticed there’s a construction boom happening (uh, as I suppose can be seen in a number of areas around town at the moment). With hundreds of new residential units being added, there is definitely a need for more fun lunch and dinner options, and I have no doubt the food is going to be off the hook. (see what I did there?)
The menu will feature regionally inspired chicken and seafood, sandwiches, salads & sides and the bar will offer craft beers, batched cocktails, and frozen drinks.
Executive chef and culinary director Dale Levitski just announced today that Vasisht Ramasubramanian will be The Hook’s chef. Chef V comes from Chauhan Ale & Masala House (another one of my Nashville favorites!), where he served as chef de cuisine since the opening.
Chef Vasisht Ramasubramanian (photo credit MA2LA)
Mark Your Calendars:
The Hook pop up preview
Saturday, January 9, 2016
10:30 a.m. until sell out
Nashville Farmers’ Market
900 Rose L Parks Blvd
Nashville, TN 37208
While an opening date has not yet been announced, the chefs will host a pop up preview of The Hook menu on Saturday, January 9th, at the Nashville Farmers Market. From Chef Levitski: “Previewing The Hook’s menu at the market is a unique opportunity to get face to face feedback from guests. I look forward to what’s certain to be a fun day cooking alongside Chef V.”
Stay tuned for the opening date announcement as I have a feeling it’s coming very soon!
2222 Franklin Pike
Nashville, TN 37204
Open 7 days a week, 11 a.m. – 9 p.m.
Happy New Year everyone!
While I had really good intentions of pulling together a list of my top meals of 2015, it simply didn’t happen. I’m wayyyyy behind writing a few blog posts that would need to be included (Paris & Barcelona, hello!), so instead I decided I’d just share my Instagram #2015BestNine. I spend much more time on there these days than here, so if you don’t follow me already, please do!
Oddly, the top photos don’t involve much food, but they do a pretty good job of capturing my daily life: my blog, my choice of pie over cake (always), my job, my love of cocktails, and my silly, sweet, smart, and full-of-energy kiddo.
Looking forward to many more happy times and delicious adventures in the year ahead. See you in 2016!
Were you naughty or nice this year? Or maybe a bit of both, as my little elf admitted to Santa?
No matter what, I hope all your Christmas wishes come true. Happy Holidays!
Last night I kicked off Christmas week with some of my best girlfriends at our annual holiday potluck and Dirty Santa gift exchange. It’s one of my favorite get-togethers of the entire year, not just for the great company but also for all the incredible food! Last year’s butternut squash and farro dish I contributed was such a huge hit that I almost made it again, but decided last minute that I really wanted to experiment with something new this time.
The menu was noticeably lacking in green, so I opted to give this recipe I’d found recently on Southern Living a shot. I love simple roasted Brussels Sprouts, but it’s Christmas, and fattening everything up is what you’re supposed to do, right? I tweaked the recipe just a little, increasing the amount of some ingredients to accommodate our group of 12. Since we had so many other sides to eat too, this made the perfect amount. In the recipe below I’ve noted it yields 8-10 servings, which is about right if you don’t have quite as many side dishes being served alongside it (we had 5 or 6).
Several of the girls requested the recipe, so I’m posting quickly today and apologize for the not-so-great iphone photo. If I’d known they were going to be this good and I was going to write a blog post, I would have worked on getting a better pic!
Roasted Brussels Sprouts with Rosemary Parmesan Cream
Serves 8-10. Adapted from Southern Living.
4 pounds fresh Brussels sprouts
2 Tbsp olive oil
2 tsp kosher salt
1 tsp freshly ground black pepper
2 cups heavy cream
5 fresh rosemary sprigs
4 garlic cloves
1/2 cup freshly grated Parmesan cheese
Toppings: shaved Parmesan cheese and sliced fresh chives
Preheat oven to 425°. Remove discolored leaves from Brussels sprouts. Remove and discard stem ends, and cut sprouts into quarters (or halves if they are fairly small). Toss with olive oil, kosher salt, and freshly ground black pepper. Place in a single layer on baking sheets (I needed two). Bake 25 minutes or until golden and tender, stirring halfway through.
Meanwhile, stir together cream, rosemary, and garlic in a medium saucepan. Cook over medium heat, stirring occasionally, 20 minutes. Discard rosemary and garlic. Stir in grated Parmesan cheese. Drizzle over Brussels sprouts. Top with shaved Parmesan cheese and sliced chives and serve immediately.
The Farm House opened over 2 years ago, and while I often verbally recommend it to people as a great downtown dining destination, for some reason I’ve never written about it before!
A little background on The Farm House:
Owner/Chef Trey Cioccia, a native of the area, spent time in the kitchens of Capitol Grille and Cantina Loredo before opening this, his first restaurant, located on the bottom floor of the Encore in SoBro.
The focus is on Southern cuisine with locally-sourced ingredients that come from over 20 farms in Tennessee and several more products from close surrounding areas.
Roasted Brussels sprouts, fennel, sliced apples, and peanuts in mustard vinaigrette topped with aged white cheddar at The Farm House
Because I work downtown some days of the week, I’ve eaten there for lunch more than I have for dinner. While lunch never disappoints, I think where they really shine is dinner…or as they (and my parents) say, supper.
In fact, on my most recent “supper “visit a couple of weeks ago, I was absolutely blown away by how delicious everything was. Every single dish was outstanding, starting with the Brussels Sprouts Salad. Oh my goodness, this salad can convert any Brussels sprouts hater, I’m sure of it.
Seared Scallops over cauliflower pureé with charred fennel, shredded corned beef, and arugula/brown butter cream at The Farm House
In addition to the Brussels, my other favorite dishes were the scallops, fried green tomatoes, lamb shank on sweet potato gnocchi, and the pumpkin cake (made by pastry chef Jessica Collins).
Needless to say, I highly, highly recommend The Farm House. I also highly recommend making reservations before going because on the Monday night we were there, the place was packed and I actually saw them turning people away at the door. On a Monday night!
Oh, and important to note because we all know that parking downtown can be a bit insane these days– they have free valet.
Pumpkin Cake. Brown sugar icing, cranberry compote, coffee chicory pudding, molasses vinaigrette, root beer sherbet at The Farm House
Another fun little tidbit is that Trey and staff are currently at The James Beard House in New York preparing to cook a “Tennessee Christmas Dinner” tonight! Inspired by old local menus (particularly Christmas party menus from Riverwood Mansion), the 6-course meal will feature sweet breads, rabbit stew, brussels sprouts, squab and a short rib hand pie.
“We looked at menus from local Christmas parties going as far back as the late 1800s to the present,” Cioccia said. “Our Beard House menu showcases how several local dishes have evolved over the years from family to family and also with a little twist from our kitchen. I love Christmas time because it’s all about family, friends, food and drink, and there’s so much history and tradition behind the food we eat at the holidays so I wanted this menu to reflect not only some history of Christmas in Tennessee, but Christmas with my family and friends.”
You can see the full menu and even watch a live stream of the event on The James Beard website.
The Farm House was kind enough to share a really great holiday party recipe with me, so I wanted to share with you. I love sausage balls, and I love blue cheese, so you better believe these Blue Cheese Sausage Balls are going to be on my next party menu!
210 Almond St
Nashville, TN 37201
Dinner: 5 – 10 pm
Tues – Fri
Lunch: 11 am – 2:30 pm
Dinner: 5 -10 pm
(Happy Hour 4 to 6 pm Mon-Fri)
Dinner: 5- 10 pm
Sun (brunch only):
10 am – 2 pm
The Farm House Blue Cheese Sausage Balls
1 1/4 cup white lily flour
1/2 tsp salt
1/4 tsp pepper
1/4 tsp red pepper
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 cups crumbled blue cheese
1 lb breakfast sausage
1 Tbsp sage
3 Tbsp melted butter
1/4 cup buttermilk
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In a bowl, add flour, salt & pepper, red pepper, baking powder, sage and blue cheese. Mix well and add sausage; mix again. Last, add the butter and the buttermilk and mix well.
Spoon the mix into balls and place on a sheet pan until all mix is used. Bake at 350 for 15 minutes.
TIPS: Dipping your hands in a bowl of ice water will keep the mixture from sticking to your hands and allow you to mold a perfect ball.
NOTES: You can use All Purpose flour, as well as subbing any cheese that you prefer.
Note: first 2 photos on this page are courtesy of The Farm House Instagram, as the restaurant was so dark when I was eating that my own pics did not do the dishes justice.
Holiday Lights at Cheekwood
Open Now – January 3rd, 2016
Open nightly from 5-10 PM (except December 25th)
1200 Forrest Park Dr
Nashville, TN 37205
$12 – $25 for adults
$7 – $20 for youth
Free for Children 2 and under
Parking is $5
Note: advance purchase online will save you $5. Visit Cheekwood.org for more information on pricing.
For the first time ever, Cheekwood has decorated their beautiful gardens with hundreds of thousands of lights and I for one CANNOT WAIT to experience it! Not only do they have lights, but they also have other fun things, including yummy food and beverages. Check it out:
• S’Mores Pits
• Christie Cookie Sweets Shop
• Drinks and Hot Toddies for Purchase
• LIVE Reindeer every night
• Glow goodies in the Gift Shop
• Holiday Carolers
• Pineapple Room Restaurant open every night (reservations recommended)
Visit Cheekwood.org for more details.
Porter Flea Holiday Market
Friday, December 4th (Preview Market)
6 – 9 pm
Saturday, December 5th
10 am – 5 pm
NOTE: VENUE CHANGE!!!!
OZ Arts Nashville
6172 Cockrill Bend Circle
Nashville TN 37209
$20 for Preview Market (21+)
FREE for Saturday Market
Purchase tickets for the Preview Market on Eventbrite.
Porter Flea Holiday Market will feature the largest lineup ever with over 140 vendors!
Thanks to Hey Rooster General Store there will be artisan food products and dry goods from 15 makers, millers, and bakers, also making it the largest-ever Porter Pantry.
You can shop for free at Porter Flea on Saturday, or you can be an early bird and call first dibs on items by shopping the Preview Market on Friday night for just $20. With that $20, you get complimentary local craft beer from Jackalope Brewing Co and an after party hosted by Bar Luca. There will also be food trucks serving all night including: Street Provisions, Smore Love, and Bang Candy. See you there?
Southernaire Shop & Sip
Friday, December 4th, 2015
6- 8 pm
150 3rd Ave S
Nashville, TN 37201
If you don’t plan on attending the Preview Market of Porter Flea this Friday night, then perhaps you’ll want to drop by Southernaire downtown for their Shop & Sip event. They’ll be hosting a special open house with wine, small bites and 20% off purchases*. Worried about parking downtown? Never fear! They are also offering free valet at The Southern on 3rd and Demonbreun.
*does not include purchases of artwork, beer or cigars
It Came From The North Dinner
Monday, December 7th, 2015
6 pm and 8:30 pm seatings
Fifty First Kitchen & Bar
5104 Illinois Ave
Nashville, TN 37209
Cost: $50/ person
You guys may or may not remember a glowing write up I did on Chicago’s Ada Street restaurant a couple of years back. If you don’t recall, you should take a sec, click on the link and read once you’re done here. Why? Because that chef from Ada St. is coming here to Nashville for a pop up dinner!
Chef Zoe Schor’s Chicage-themed “It Came From The North” dinner at First First Kitchen will include three savory dishes and one dessert paired with beers from Chicago-based Goose Island Brew Company. I just got some intel on the menu, so thought I’d share with you:
The Welcome Drink
Matilda Belgian Style Ale, Local Hickory Nut Syrup, Lemon, Old Forester 100, Allspice Dram
Chef Zoe will decide the dishes after arriving in Nashville and shopping local markets. The dishes will be paired with Lolita Wild Ale and Sofie Farmhouse Ale.
Roast Pork Loin (Stuffing Croquette, Butternut Squash Puree) – Paired with Festivity Brown Ale
Matilda-Infused Belgian Waffle (Bourbon County Stout Syrup, Bacon-Vanilla Bean Ice Cream) – Paired with Bourbon County Brand Stout 2015
Call (615) 712-6111 or email firstname.lastname@example.org for reservations.
Cured & Curated
Wednesday, December 9th, 2015
5 – 7 pm
2100 West End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203
There is certainly no shortage of fun shopping opportunities this month! Mason’s is hosting Cured & Curated on Wednesday, December 9th with 26 local vendors offering samples and selling their wares. In addition, there will be live music and free food from Mason’s.
Some of the food vendors who will be in attendance include:
Walker Creek Confections
Sunday Morning Pancakes
The Caramel Theory
Walker Feed and Co.
There will also be several décor, fashion, home items and other local craft items as well. Samples while shopping? Count me in!
Music City Winterfest
Saturday, December 12th, 2015
10 am – 4 pm
2500 West End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203
Has there been a Music City Winterfest in past years and I’ve missed it??
It popped up recently in my Facebook feed, so I clicked and found out that it’s “a free day of holiday cheer, activities, and entertainment for the whole family.” Sounds good to me!
There will be shopping (promises of unique gifts from Nashville craft artisans), live music, and my favorite, food trucks. In addition, there was mention of s’mores stations (but I don’t like smores, so you guys can have all those) and a beer garden. Oh, and Santa. And princesses!
Some of my most vivid memories of childhood revolve around books and reading. I can remember exactly where the Amelia Bedelia books were located in my elementary school library and how many hours I would pore over the order form for the Scholastic book fair. I remember that glorious blast of cold air as I opened the door to the bookmobile that was parked in the church parking lot at the end of my street on sweltering summer days.
Books and writing have always been my escape, my outlet. These days I may not have time to devour two or three books a month for pleasure like I did pre-child, but when I get the chance, I love to lose myself in a good cookbook for an hour or two.
Over the last few years, I’ve been fortunate enough to meet and become friends with some very talented food writers and chefs here in Nashville, and a few of them have come out with some really fantastic books. Most of these I haven’t even had a chance to mention yet here on the blog, but as the holidays approach I wanted to share with you, as they would be awesome gifts!
by Jennifer Justus
Nashville Eats is the latest and greatest in my collection. I just received a copy a couple of weeks ago, so while I’ve thumbed through the entire thing to see all the photos, I haven’t actually had a chance to read it in its entirety. That said, I’ve read enough that I’m in love! If you’re a fan of Nashville (and who isn’t these days?), you will get lost in these pages that showcase our history, people, and food.
From Amazon: In Nashville Eats, more than 100 mouthwatering recipes reveal why food lovers are headed South for Nashville’s hot chicken, buttermilk biscuits, pulled pork sandwiches, cornmeal-crusted catfish, chowchow, fried green tomatoes, and chess pie. Author Jennifer Justus whips up the classics—such as pimento cheese and fried chicken—but also includes dishes with a twist on traditional Southern fare—such as Curried Black Chickpeas or Catfish Tacos. And alongside the recipes, Jennifer shares her stories of Nashville—the people, music, history, and food that make it so special.
by Nicki Wood
This book is near and dear to my heart because my own mother is one of the contributors! Southern Cooking for Company brings both tried-and-true Southern recipes from people like my mom who have many years of experience in the kitchen and new, inventive dishes from a younger generation of food bloggers, several that I’m fortunate enough to call friends.
From Amazon: Nicki Pendleton Wood has gathered recipes from more than 100 Southerners that they prepare when company is coming. These are the show-off recipes hosts pull out when guests are on the way, whether for an intimate evening with another couple, a party for 100 people celebrating a milestone birthday, or anything in between. In addition to the recipes, contributors share their secrets for making guests feel at home.
by Timothy Charles Davis
Hot chicken is Nashville. It may have spread across the country and into other parts of the world recently, but it will always be ours.While I haven’t even seen this book in person yet, I’m eager to read it.
From Amazon: Entrenched in the city’s history, Nashville Hot Chicken is an addiction of sweet, spicy salvation to those who’ve had it. In The Hot Chicken Cookbook, Timothy Davis, a Nashville resident and Hot Chicken devotee, traces the dish’s origins back to the 1930’s and follows the trail to its white-hot buzz of today. Featuring over two- dozen recipes from the finest Hot Chicken restaurants in Nashville and beyond, The Hot Chicken Cookbook tells the tale of Music City’s fiery bird going global to influence a world of chefs and eaters.
by Chris Chamberlain
Paperback/ 320 pages
Chris Chamberlain and I met six years ago not long after I started this blog. If I remember correctly, he was responsible for getting me my very first food judging gig. Since then, we’ve shared many dining and judging experiences, some more memorable than others. Back in 2012, Chris came out with his book, The Southern Foodie: 100 Places to Eat in the South. If you’re doing any traveling across the South, this book needs to go with you to serve as a reference guide. Last year, his book The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig was released, and much like the first book, it serves as an excellent guide, but this time for all things pork.
From Amazon: The Southern Foodie’s Guide to the Pig takes you on several journeys. An anatomic survey of the pig introduces readers to all the parts of this versatile animal and teaches procedures and recipes to prepare all sorts of wonderful dishes. A geographic tour of the Southern states will showcase restaurants in the region that have particular talents when it comes to pork. The chefs and pitmasters have shared some of their most sacred secrets, the actual recipes for the best pork, barbecue and bacon dishes that emerge from their kitchens. Finally, since man cannot live by pig alone (unfortunately), there is also a selection of recipes that are great accompaniments to the pork dishes contributed by the fifty Southern restaurants that are featured.
by Nancy Vienneau
Every Sunday afternoon of my childhood we’d gather at my grandmother’s house after church for a potluck with all the family. To me, it was just a typical Sunday lunch, but looking back, I realize now how lucky I was to experience that shared meal every week. My grandmother would fry the chicken (plus livers and gizzards- my favorite!) and bake sourdough rolls (also my favorite). The kitchen bar would be covered with dishes my mom and four aunts had made that morning before church. Over on the counter by the back door there would be at least three or four pies, cobblers, or cakes. Though it was all delicious, those lunches weren’t just about the food — it was about spending quality time together. The Third Thursday Community Potluck Cookbook brought that all back for me, and inspires me to begin a similar ritual. Who’s in?
From Amazon: When Nancy Vienneau started a casual potluck celebrating good food and goodwill, she had no idea it would be going strong five years later. The ever-changing group of diverse people who attend have one thing in common: a dedication to good food. As a result, every month, a non-scripted parade of seasonally inspired dishes appears—dishes that draw on ingredients from the participants’ own gardens, their neighbors yards, or the farmers’ market. These dishes celebrate their provenance and their history. Roasted tomato goat cheese tart with Tennessee Bradley tomatoes, Me-me’s chocolate cake inherited from a beloved grandmother’s recipe. Chicken baked with fresh plums from a neighbor’s tree. Acorn squash filled with Southern sorghum and pecans. Pimiento cheese made with local farmstead cheddar. Crowder pea salad flecked with Benton’s country ham.
Like a sourdough starter made from flour, yeast, and water, this simple get-together has grown into a lively, rich event full of interesting folks and food. Between these covers you’ll find glorious dishes, heartfelt stories, plus tips and ideas for starting your own community potluck. Did someone say it’s Thursday?
For more information on this December 7th dinner and the new book, click here.
Disclosure: I received copies of some of these books free of charge, but was under no obligation to mention any of them. As always, all opinions written are purely my own. This post contains Amazon affiliate links, which means that if you click on one of the product links and purchase the product, I will receive a small compensation.