Husk Nashville’s Chilled Tomato Soup with Georgia Olive Oil and Radishes
My answer is now: YES.
The question: Have you eaten at Husk Nashville yet?
For weeks it seems like almost everyone I’ve come in contact with has asked me this question. After saying “no, not yet” several dozen times, I was finally able to answer “yes” last week!
Besides the fact that I was traveling a lot in May (when it opened) and June, I also wasn’t in a huge rush to get in there. I was pretty certain it would be a great meal because I’ve been to the one in Charleston and it was wonderful. Maybe that’s part of the reason I wasn’t in a big hurry– I knew what to expect. It wasn’t going to be any big surprise that the food and service were solid.
I’d read a ton of articles about the opening before it even happened. I had followed their blog to see the progress of the restaurant design as it came together. Maybe it was all just a little too much (too much hype turns me off), and that’s why I took my slow sweet time getting in there.
Smoked Chicken Wings with Scallion BBQ Sauce and Peanuts at Husk Nashville
Whatever it was that kept me from foaming at the mouth to get in the door the minute it opened, I will say, by the time I was walking out the door, I was truly thrilled with every aspect of the experience.
My friends and I chose to have a leisurely lunch on a Friday. We were seated right next to the expansive set of windows overlooking the garden. We ordered a bottle of sparkly. We chatted with our server (who, by the way, couldn’t have been more perfect for our group. He knew his stuff, but he was also fun. Amusing. I get so annoyed when my server has zero personality).
Fried Green Tomatoes with Heirloom Cape Bean Hummus at Husk Nashville
A little background on Husk (in case, unlike me, you haven’t already read umpteen articles on it): they source locally and use seasonal products, which means the menu changes constantly based on what is available each day. Some dishes might stay somewhat the same from day to day, but for the most part, you shouldn’t expect to go in there tomorrow and order anything you see here today.
That said, I won’t go too crazy telling you how amazing each dish was, because then you might be really jealous and a bit sad that you aren’t able to taste it on your visit ;-)
I will say that all three of our starters- chilled tomato soup, chicken wings, and fried green tomatoes with hummus- were excellent. I’d never even thought of putting hummus with fried green tomatoes, but that combo was a winner!
Husk Nashville’s Shrimp and Grits, Preserved Tomato Broth, Shiitakes, Poached Egg
Of the entrees on the menu, I was first drawn to the shrimp & grits, because, when they’re done well, I absolutely love them.
However, my friend Sherri was certain that’s what she wanted, so I decided to choose something else. I’ve learned my lesson in the past- when dining with friends that are willing to share, never order two of the same dishes at a table unless you’ve had it before and are absolutely positive that it is to-die-for. Since none of us had been before, and, as I’ve mentioned, the menu changes daily, we each chose a different dish.
Husk Nashville’s Catfish, roasted over embers, Anson Mills Farro, Mustard Greens, Tomato Gravy
And I am so, so, so happy about that decision. While Sherri loved the shrimp & grits, I have to say, it wasn’t my favorite entree. In fact, of the three we had, it came in third place.
My friend Charmaine ordered catfish, something she said she would never typically order but the server highly recommended it — and for good reason. This may have been the best catfish preparation I’ve ever had.
Bear Creek Beef with Bells Bend Garlic Scapes, Roast Cauliflower and Herb Dressing at Husk Nashville
But the dish that really got me? My own. It’s such a great feeling to hit the ordering jackpot!
The Bear Creek Beef was incredibly tender and delicious, but the best part was the roasted cauliflower and puree. I wanted to lick my dish. Okay, maybe I did kind of lick my dish. No one was looking, I promise.
Bear Creak Beef at Husk Nashville (full description above)
Because this was my favorite of the meal, I decided it deserved two photos. Just so you clearly understand how good it was.
Peach Buttermilk Pie at Husk Nashville
And last, but certainly not least, was the amazing Peach Buttermilk Pie made by Husk’s pastry chef, Lisa Donovan. My buddy Karl from Biscuit Love tweeted a pic of it earlier that week, so it had been on my mind ever since. Now, after eating it, it will probably be on my mind for years to come. Serious yum factor.
Something to keep in mind if you’d like to dine at Husk – if you want to go for dinner, you need to plan well in advance, as it can be a bit difficult to reserve a table for a decent hour (but if you want to do early bird dining or late night, you should be fine). However, if you’re really dying to go asap, and you have a schedule that will allow for lunch, those are definitely much easier reservations to score.
Any of you out there been yet? If so, what did you have and what are your thoughts?
37 Rutledge Street
Nashville, TN 37210
Lunch 11am-2pm Mon-Fri
Brunch 10am-2pm Sat and Sun
Dinner 5-10 Sun-Thurs
Dinner 5-11 Fri-Sat
Last week I told you guys about our new toy, the Mastbuilt Smoker, and I mentioned that I was going to attempt smoking a cabbage in it.
Well, I did, and OH MY.
Dare I say that it is now tied with Cabbage Au Gratin as my favorite cabbage dish? Maybe it even beats the au gratin?? In addition to the sheer deliciousness of it, it gets extra points for being so darn easy to throw together. In addition, the smoking gives it an almost meaty flavor, so even a carnivore like me didn’t miss having meat at my meal(s).
Wow. I’m seriously already thinking about making it again this week!
Smoked Stuffed Cabbage
Serves 4. Adapted from the Dadgum That's Good cookbook
1/2 cup diced tomato (from can, drained)
3 Tbsp chopped onion
3 Tbsp diced green chiles
2 Tbsp shredded sharp cheddar
2 Tbsp shredded mozzarella
6 Tbsp unsalted butter (3/4 stick), softened
1 tsp salt
1 tsp black pepper
1 head of green cabbage
Load the wood tray of your smoker with one small handful of wood chips (I used hickory chips) and preheat the smoker to 225 degrees.
In a small bowl, mix diced tomatoes, chopped onion, green chiles, cheese, butter, salt and pepper. Set aside.
Core cabbage, cutting out a good-sized cavity. (Make sure you don't core the base; leave the cabbage open only at one end.) Place the tomato mixture in the cavity and wrap cabbage with heavy-duty aluminum foil. Place cabbage in smoker, cored end up*, and smoke for 5 to 6 hours at 225 degrees.
Remove cabbage, cut into wedges and serve.
*Be sure you keep the top side up so the toppings don't run out!
Riffs Supper Jam
Saturday, July 13th
5 pm and 8 pm Seatings
Second Harvest Food Bank
331 Great Circle Rd
Nashville, TN 37228
$85/person with cocktail pairings
If you haven’t figured it out by now, I pretty much love just about everything the guys from Riffs create. From the food truck to their private catering and pop ups, I always leave a happy (and very full-bellied) girl.
Now B.J. (Lofback, owner of Riffs) is adding yet another concept to the repertoire, ‘Riffs Supper Jam’. Each dinner will be set up with an open kitchen, offering attendees the opportunity to interact and participate in the meal experience. In addition, there will be a rotating series of culinary friends joining B.J. in the kitchen for each dinner. For the July supper, the team from Brentwood’s popular Soy Bistro will be his guests.
Tickets must be reserved in advance, and can be purchased by clicking this link. 20% of proceeds will benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.
Hey Bartender Opening at the Belcourt
Monday, July 15th
2102 Belcourt Ave
Nashville, TN 37212
The documentary “Hey Bartender” had its world premiere at the SXSW Film Festival in March and its theatrical release in NYC last month. Now it’s our turn.
On Monday, July 15th, Nashvillians can head over to the Belcourt, grab a drink, and watch this cool documentary about the rebirth of the bartender and the comeback of the cocktail. Sounds like the perfect date night to me!
Check out the trailer here and visit the Belcourt website to purchase tickets.
Dinner Lab Nashville
Thursday, July 18th
Central Thai cuisine
Wednesday, July 24th
Puerto Rican cuisine
Cost of Membership: $100/person
Cost of Dinners: $50/person (drinks included)
Last week I had the pleasure of meeting Brian and Drew from Dinner Lab, a membership-based dinner club that holds a couple of meals a week in different non-traditional locations, announced just 24 hours before the event takes place. The guys live in New Orleans, where they first started this concept, but a while back they also expanded the club to Austin, TX. Guess what? Now they’re launching right here in Nashville!
Take a look at this short video to get a feel for the Dinner Lab experience:
The basics of how it works is this: For a membership fee of $100/year, members have access to the local calendar of events and are able to purchase an event ticket for themselves and one non-member guest for any meal. Event tickets vary in pricing based on the number of courses and complexity of the cuisine, but an average cost is $50/person. A meal is typically 5+ courses and all the drinks, tax and gratuity are already included in the price.
For the first two dinners here in Nashville, the menus can currently be viewed on the Dinner Lab site. This will be the only time that menus will be open for public viewing. After these soft launch dinners, all menus will only be accessible to members.
Visit the Dinner Lab Nashville home page for more details, to purchase your membership, and reserve your spot at one of the first meals in Nashville. I’ll be at the July 24th dinner, so let me know if you’re planning to be there too so I can say hello!
You guys, I have a new toy.
One of the major perks of having my food blog is that I get many offers to try out new products. While this is certainly an awesome thing, I often pass up opportunities presented to me. We don’t have much extra space in our house for a lot of stuff, and I just don’t have time to write much these days, so before accepting, I like to be sure we’ll definitely put it to good use.
Enter the Masterbuilt Electric Digital Smokehouse Smoker! When a representative from Masterbuilt emailed asking if I’d like to test out a smoker and some cookout cookbooks from John McLemore, the CEO and spokesperson for Masterbuilt, I was pretty darn excited.
You see, when it’s 90+ degrees outside, the last thing I want to do is turn on the oven and heat up the house, so our grill gets a lot of action in the summer. But to be honest, lately I’ve been feeling kinda bored by the grill. It seems like I’m always doing the same old things the same old way. Boredom be gone. Now I’m embarking on Adventures in Smoking!
Last weekend, while my husband seasoned and readied the smoker for its inaugural run, I was in the kitchen prepping our first test subject, a 5 pound chicken. I wanted to go fairly basic, so I followed the recipe in John’s cookbook, Dadgum That’s Good, Too!, for a smoked whole chicken rubbed with his special combination of spices and seasonings.
I think I can say without a doubt that this smoker is going to be seeing quite a bit more action than our grill in the weeks to come! It’s easy to use, brings out incredible smokey flavors, and if the chicken was any indication, leaves meats super juicy.
Today we’re planning give burgers and a head of cabbage a go, and later this week, a pork butt, all recipes from the Dadgum That’s Good cookbooks. There are also several interesting dishes I’d like to try on John’s blog, including Four Cheese Smoked Mac and Cheese. Um, yes, please!
So what about you? Do you have a smoker or have you ever done any smoking on your grill? What are your favorite things to smoke? I’d love to hear your recipes or tips as I have a feeling I’m going to be a bit obsessed with our new toy this summer!
Disclaimer: While I was given a free Masterbuilt Smoker and copies of Dadgum That’s Good! and Dadgum That’s Good Too cookbooks, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are solely mine.
If, when 2013 comes to an end, I name The Optimist as the place I had the best meal of the year, don’t be surprised. Everything about this meal was just incredible. Absolutely, positively incredible.
Maybe part of the reason I was blown away was because I didn’t go in with such high expectations as I have to some places. Sure, I’d heard some good things, but just hadn’t heard a whole lot. Or maybe it had something to do with it being called a “fish camp”. Not exactly the sexiest of terms, and doesn’t really conjure up a picture in my mind the type of spot I want to go for a girls’ night out on the town.
In fact, up until just a few days before leaving for Atlanta, I was on the fence about switching our reservation to another place.
Man, oh man. What I would’ve missed out on if I had done that.
When I say everything was incredible, I do mean everything. From the moment I stepped out of the car, I was completely enamored with this space.
While every inch of the interior of the restaurant is beautifully designed and so well thought out, it’s the exterior that had me at hello. Putt-putt golf on the front yard? Adirondack chairs, a guy strumming his guitar and little lights sparkling overhead? Yes, I could settle in and stay here for a spell.
Green Curry Mussels at The Optimist
Basically The Optimist experience already had my heart going pitter-patter even before any food touched my lips. But then, the food touched my lips and it just kept getting better and better.
I wish my photos did this meal justice, but they don’t. For once I decided to leave my nicer camera at home and only had my iphone on me. Remember – I went into this meal with not such high expectations, so I thought I’d snap a couple of pics, maybe put them on Instagram and be done. Oh well. Hopefully you can still appreciate the beauty of this meal even if my photos aren’t so beautiful!
After a round of cocktails at the bar, we began our dining experience with seared and chilled scallops with grapefruit, coriander and cilantro. A lovely light start. Then came The Mussels. Oh my gosh, the mussels. With green curry broth, chile and herbs, they were the best mussels I’ve had in my life, hands down. No competition. If they were here in Nashville, it would be hard for me to resist eating them at least once a week. Oh, mussels, I miss you. Sigh.
Charred Octopus at The Optimist
Even though I was lost in love with the mussels and focused on trying to soak up every single ounce of that green curry broth, I finally tore my attention away and moved on to the charred Spanish octopus. Can I say this might have been the best octopus I’ve ever had? Okay, now I’ll try to stop saying everything is the best ever. (But I’ll still be thinking it!)
Even the freaking sugar snap peas were ridiculously good!
Without going through every single thing we ordered – because I’d surely run out of descriptive adjectives – just know that it was all delicious. Fish is usually the dish I’m drawn to at restaurants because I don’t cook it that often at home, but the preparations on all of these seafood dishes was above and beyond almost any other I’ve had before.
For instance: Duck Fat Poached Swordfish. Yes, you read that correctly.
Duck fat poached swordfish with creme fraiche and garlic chile relish at The Optimist
Apparently we couldn’t even be bothered to pause and take a photo of this dish before devouring it. Words can’t even begin….
The Optimist Hushpuppies
And then there were the hushpuppies. Two orders of them to be exact. The corn milk hushpuppies at The Optimist are served “beignet style” with cane sugar butter. Yep. That. I do believe I died and went to heaven.
914 Howell Mill Road
Atlanta, GA 30318
Cardamom Hill’s Pork Vindaloo
For an entire year I’ve been looking forward to a meal at Cardamom Hill. In my look back at Atlanta Food & Wine 2012, I named their Indian spiced fried chicken breast the Best Bite I Didn’t Eat. After everyone and their brother was overheard at the festival talking about how to-die-for it was, I knew I HAD to have it.
So it might have be a full year later, but I finally had it- plus several other incredible dishes from Chef Asha Gomez.
From the vindaloo, a pork shoulder slow cooked in a vinegar sauce and served with appam, to the curry chicken puffs (we may have waved the server down to request a 2nd order after just one bite…), to the famous fried chicken, it was an amazing Indian feast.
Curry Chicken Puffs at Cardamom Hill – empanada style with curry chicken filling served with spicy mango sauce
So you’re probably wondering what makes the fried chicken here so special? A dish of South India, it’s served over rice and vegetable pilau and finished with a drizzle of coconut oil, then topped with a spicy mango sauce. Definitely not your grandma’s fried chicken– unless, of course, your grandma hails from South India!
Cardamom Hill’s Kerala Style Fried Chicken
Actually, there wasn’t much on our table that I’ve ever eaten before, even at Indian restaurants in Nashville and other cities. Each dish was unique and interesting. Even something that sounded so simple when reading it on the menu – Beef Curry- wasn’t simple at all. Served with a cooling yogurt rice and served on a banana leaf, it was completely unlike any curry I’d had in the past.
And then there was the goat. Yes, goat. Specifically, a rice biryani with boneless goat simmered in mint, cilantro, and green chili masala. Garnished with cashews, raisins, and fresh cilantro, the biryani was delicious, and possibly my favorite dish of the entire meal.
That is, if you don’t count my dessert… a cocktail called Lord Brown’s Estate: Bulleit bourbon, amaretto, coconut milk, allspice dram, and cinnamon syrup. Definitely the perfect ending!
1700 Northside Dr Northwest
Atlanta, GA 30318
Empire State South’s Georgia Coffee served in the coolest koozie I’ve ever seen
On our last day in Atlanta, we brunched at Empire State South, and what a brunch it was! It was a beautiful day for the short walk down the street from our hotel, and when we arrived at the restaurant, we were thrilled to see that we’d have the option to dine al fresco.
Which leads me to a question I’d been asking ever since our visit to The Optimist on that Friday night. Why aren’t there more cute outdoor dining spaces like this in Nashville???
Yes, that is a bocce ball court and adirondack chairs you can see in the window reflection of Empire State South. A bocce ball court, on the lawn, right next to the outdoor dining area. I want this. Are you listening Nashville restaurant owners? Oh wait. Maybe at least someone is…. sort of? Maybe? I guess we’ll see…
Empire State South’s Pimento Cheese with Bacon Marmalade
Alright, alright. Enough about aesthetics. (Except I’ve got to mention those koozies shown in the first photo- how cute are they??)
Honestly, I probably don’t even need to say much, as I think all of these photos paint a pretty vivid picture of the best brunch I’ve had in a long, long time.
Ham Biscuit – ESS sambal, peach butter, cilantro, brown sugar
Hanger Steak with creamed English peas, radish, fine herbs, hot sauce
Farm Egg – crisp carolina gold rice, onion puree, bologna, shiitake, green onion
English Muffin – chicken and pork sausage, arugula, candied bacon, egg, pepper jelly
Isn’t it great dining with friends and sharing food? Looking at this spread again, I’m both hungry and stuffed at the same time. Of course, I could definitely go for some of that pimento cheese with bacon marmalade right now. I don’t think there will ever be a time in life that I’m too stuffed to eat it!
Suffice it to say, if you go to Atlanta for the weekend and eat at any of these 3 restaurants mentioned here, you’d be a very happy camper. So go. Do it. You can thank me later.
999 Peachtree St NE #140
Atlanta, GA 30309
One of the many trips I’ve taken in the last few weeks included a drive down to Atlanta for the Atlanta Food & Wine Festival. You may recall that I had a great time working the tasting tents for Goo Goo last year. And while it was a blast, this time around I did things a bit differently.
Last year my kiddo was only 4 months old at the time of this event, and I had just left him at home to attend another show in Chicago earlier that week, so I hated to leave him again. When my sister volunteered to come with me to babysit while I worked, I jumped at the offer. In my off hours, we were able to go on walks, do some shopping, and enjoy a couple of good meals outside of the festival.
Of course, having a wee one in tow was definitely a little restricting. (No one under 21 is allowed in the tasting tents, so don’t start envisioning me pushing around a stroller while sipping wine. That was definitely not the case!) There was so much happening all around us that I couldn’t participate in, and yes, I’ll admit — a part of me felt like I was missing out. But this time, baby was back at home in Nashville, and my options were wide open!
Which means I woke up Friday morning and immediately began drinking champagne in the hotel lobby at the kickoff reception. Note: when your day starts this close to John Besh it’s not a bad thing.
Now, I don’t want to sound like a lush, so let me be clear- I didn’t continue to drink champagne all day. We just started with a couple of celebratory glasses (Ok, three. Four? Who was counting?), then it was time to check out some of the classes and demonstrations being offered.
View of “Give a Man an Egg” from my room at the Loews Atlanta
Classes with names like “Southern Sippers”, “This Little Piggy Got Spicy”, “Shucked Over”, “Makin’ Bacon”, “Foods of the Southern Tailgate” and “The Bourbon Show” made it extremely hard to decide what to attend.
“Butcher Renaissance” with Porter Road Butcher
One of my favorites of the weekend was “Butcher Renaissance” from the always entertaining Porter Road Butcher guys. If you’ve never been to their shop in East Nashville, you need to go. Buy some meat from them and pick up some cheese from my friend Kathleen, whose Bloomy Rind business shares their space. (If you live on the West side of town and crossing the river seems like another planet to you, just sit tight. They’ll be opening a shop on Charlotte pretty soon!)
The Goo Goo Girls!
While I told you already that I didn’t bring the little guy with me on this trip, what I haven’t yet mentioned was that I did have some other passengers on the ride down from Nashville.
You see, I needed workers to help at the Goo Goo table in the tasting tents. Last year I hired marketing reps from an agency in Atlanta. This year, my brain had an epiphany.Why not see if some of my best girl friends wanted to go and help out? From being around me all the time, they already know a lot about the product, and in various ways already promote it (both Amanda and Sherri give Goo Goos out to their clients!). Plus, the best part of the deal would be that we could have an honest-to-goodness girls weekend that we haven’t had in ages.
So that’s how I got my Goo Goo girls this year. Amanda, Sherri, and Lisa were the best helpers I could ask for. Thanks girls!
Proof on Main‘s salmon with bourbon barrel soy, radish, and ramp kimchee
To explain a little further how Atlanta Food & Wine weekend is set up, there are 3 days’ worth of activities. Starting on Friday and ending on Sunday, each day has different classes offered and each day has a 3-hour tasting tent session. Ticket options range from a “connoisseur” pass that gives you access to everything (plus some) for the entire weekend, down to a more budget friendly one day pass to a tasting tent session. You really can’t go wrong with any of the options!
Within the tents, most of the vendors stay the same from day to day, but a few swap out. Of those that are there every day, some serve the same items each day, and some have a different dish each time. What you don’t have to worry about is not having enough to eat or drink. There is SO MUCH amazing food and beverage every day!
Here I’ll share with you just a few pics of my favorites from the weekend, starting with Proof on Main Chef Levon Wallace’s delicious salmon dish above. Now I want to take a trip to Louisville just to go to this restaurant.
Ole Smoky Moonshine out of Gatlinburg – this stuff is incredible!
Lockeland Table‘s colossal shrimp
Smoked Beef Tongue Taco with Pickled Watermelon Rind, Chile-Lime Crema by American Grocery Restaurant
Beet deliciousness from Cakes & Ale – another restaurant I’m dying to visit the next time I’m in the Atlanta area
Phillip Ashley Chocolates from Memphis
We loved meeting the creator of these truffles, and we love how creative they were! He had his “Night on Beale Street” Collection which included:
The Memphis: a bbq truffle that captured the flavor of BBQ
The Mama Jean: sweet potato blended with milk chocolate ganache
Mirror Mirror: Prichard’s double barreled bourbon with dark chocolate
Coco Loco (pictured above) : coconut, pineapple, meyer lemon blended with white chocolate. Inspired by coconut pies, lemon ice box pies, and pineapple upside down cakes that can be found in BBQ or soul food joints in Memphis
And one of my favorites from last year back again: French Broad Chocolates from Asheville, NC
Spotted Trotter‘s palate cleanser – arugula cucumber custard with lemon pulp pate & peach granita
The award for the coolest display of the entire 3 days in the tasting tents goes to Spotted Trotter. (please note: this is not an official award. just my humble opinion)
Push pops with compressed brandy apple, blue cheese mousse and candied tasso by Spotted Trotter
Spotted Trotter’s meat cones!
Bettola‘s whole pig drew a crowd
All in all, an amazing weekend of food and fun. If you live anywhere within driving distance of Atlanta, you really should consider making the trip next year for this event. I know I can’t wait to go back again!
I don’t know about you, but I’ve never really liked fruit salad. Of course, the kind I’m talking about is the sickeningly sweet stuff that comes from a can that they served in the school cafeteria. Or the one that would show up on the church potluck buffet that contained mushy bananas– and was again way too sweet. I would never touch the stuff, and I’m surely not going to expect my kid to either.
But I do LOVE fruit, especially this time of year when the temps crank up a notch or two, and my appetite for warm foods goes down a few notches.
Sure, I’m happy to eat all sorts of fruit without any adornment, but there are times when the occasion calls for jazzing it up a bit- a brunch for friends, a bridal shower, or maybe even taking a meal to new parents (which just happens to be my reason).
The Peach Truck was on my street last week, so I scored a big bag of peaches, and that was my starting point for this salad. The kiddo is basically addicted to blueberries, so they were a must, and well, strawberries are both yummy AND pretty, so I needed to get those in there! You can really use any fruit that you love (as long as it’s not too mushy. Blech).
Next time around I’m thinking of adding some kiwi, and maybe even a little basil. If you experiment and find a great combo, be sure to report back!
Fruit Salad with Lime Mint Dressing
Yields 10 1/2-cup servings; Adapted from Giada
1 pint strawberries, sliced
1 pint blueberries
2 large peaches, peeled and cubed
1/8 cup simple syrup*
1/4 cup lime juice (2-3 limes)
1/2 cup fresh mint, chopped
1/8 tsp almond extract
Wash, peel, and chop fruit as desired. Place into large bowl.
In a blender, combine simple syrup, lime juice, chopped mint, and almond extract.
Toss syrup over fruit. Chill and serve.
*Simple syrup = 1 part sugar to 1 part water. Bring water to a boil, stir in sugar until dissolved completely. Remove from heat and allow to cool.