Grays-Franklin-Mule

Mae Love Mule at Gray’s on Main in Franklin, TN

For those of you that have been hanging around here for a while, you might remember that I used to work down in Cool Springs (for over 9 years!). Back in those days, I dined in downtown Franklin quite often. However, now that my job and location have changed, I rarely ever get down that way anymore, and that’s really too bad. It’s too bad because there is an absolutely awesome new restaurant and bar that I probably would have been going to at least once a week if downtown Franklin was still only 5 miles miles away from me!

Gray’s on Main has found its home in the historic building (1876) that for many years housed Gray’s Drugs, a pharmacy and meeting place for local residents. The 3-story building now has a first floor devoted to dining, a second floor where the bar and stage reside, and a top floor with a private members-only supper club.

   Grays-Franklin-Shrimp-n-Grits-Pimento-Cheese-Balls

Gray’s Shrimp & Grits, Fried Pimento Cheese Balls, and Roasted Brussels Sprouts

Not only do I love the atmosphere and history behind this place, but the food and drinks are incredible as well. If I just say “fried pimento cheese balls with moonshine pepper jelly”, would that give you some understanding of what I’m feeling? And the shrimp and grits…oh, yes. Completely unlike other versions of shrimp and grits I’ve had before, they’re served as individual little grit cakes with a shrimp on top. Actually, a better description: shrimp with mustard butter on top of braised collards on top of smoked cheddar grit cakes. Yum.

After enjoying my nibbles on the first floor, I headed upstairs to the bar to finish my experience with a drink overlooking Main Street. As I made my way toward the staircase, I noticed something really interesting. The hallway was wallpapered with hundreds of what seemed to be old prescriptions. Turns out they are definitely old- from the 1930′s to be exact! When renovations on the building began to create the new restaurant, those prescriptions were discovered, so they decided to decorate with them. How cool is that?

Grays-Franklin-French-Press-Cocktail-Bar

Now, to the drinks. I’ve pretty much admitted that I’ve become a cocktail snob in recent years (though I really hate to use the word snob). I like to think that with age comes wisdom, so as I grow older, I become ‘wiser’ with my cocktail choices.

Mixologist Jon Yeager of Pour Taste created the cocktail program here, and it’s outstanding. One section of the menu is particularly interesting and absolutely perfect for this cold, dreary time of the year: French press cocktails. On my visit, I chose the Cider Press, a comforting mixture of apple brandy, rum, allspice, organic cider, clover, and cinnamon.

These are hot cocktails created in a French press right in front of you, so you can actually watch the magic as it happens. And then, within a matter of a few short minutes, taste the magic –the best part!

Not only does Gray’s serve really interesting, inventive cocktails, but they have also started offering cocktail classes for the curious cocktailer.

Gray’s Cocktail Classes

Back in the fall, they launched a “Vintage Spirits Series” for their private club members, and they were so popular that they decided to open the courses to the public. For $35 per person, attendees will sip on spirits and corresponding craft cocktails—all the while learning about the featured spirit. Information for the next upcoming class is below:

What: Vintage Spirits Series- focus on Marquis de Montesquiou Armagnac
When: Thursday, March 6th, 6-8 p.m.
Where: Gray’s on Main, 3rd floor Society lounge
Cost: $35 {Food is not included in the price}
To Reserve Your Spot Call : (615) 435-3603

Can’t attend this Thursday? Well, how does your calendar look for March 13th? That’s when the next class will be held, and it’s focus will be on French and Italian wines. To keep up to date on all future classes, be sure to check out Gray’s on Facebook!

 

Gray’s On Main

332 Main Street
Franklin, TN 37064
(615) 435-3603

Hours
Closed Mondays
Tues–Thur 11 am -10 pm
Fri–Sat 11 am – midnight
Sun 10 am -9 pm

 

giveaway
A couple of weeks ago I had the pleasure of meeting several local product makers at a special happy hour held at the Batch Nashville headquarters. The reason for the gathering was more than just to chit chat and hobnob — we were bringing goodies for a giveaway!

And believe it or not, my presence there was not for my awesome food blogging skills (ha!) but instead for my day job with Goo Goo Cluster. We are just one of about 20 Nashville makers taking part in this incredible giveaway, made up of over $700 worth of locally made goods! You can see from the photo above that there is some really great stuff in there, but for the line by line details and to enter for your chance to win, visit Batch.is/nm.

The contest ends at the stroke of midnight on March 1, so be sure to do it soon!

 

Sea-Salt-Chocolate-Chip-Cookies

Last weekend was the Tiny But Mighty bake sale, and I had really good intentions to come up with some outrageously creative treat to donate. But as often seems to be the case in my life these days, time got away from me.

Approximately 48 hours before the sale, I realized that I wasn’t even exactly sure when I was going to have time to bake, much less concoct some amazing creation that would have everyone talking for weeks after. So what did I do? I went to my pantry, opened it up, and took inventory. There sure were a lot of chocolate chips in there. Oh yeah, those were left over from all those Christmas treats I never got around to making. (I’m telling you, this is my life now. Always great intentions….)

Then from the far recesses of my mind, I remembered one time reading somewhere that the #1 item that sells at bake sales are chocolate chip cookies. And our goal was to raise as much money as possible, so really, it was a no-brainer: I had to make chocolate chip cookies.

Of course, they needed to be the very best chocolate chip cookie ever. And they had to have some sort of unique spin – I couldn’t resist.

 

Sea-Salt-Chocolate-Chip-Cookie

I’ve mentioned my love for salty sweet things many times before, so a sea salt chocolate chip cookie was my vision. After combing the internet for the best of the best recipes, I finally settled on The Best Chocolate Chip Cookie Recipe Ever. The writer was very confident in her cookie, and I liked that it already had some sea salt incorporated into the dough. I just knew I wanted a little bit extra sprinkled on top.

One of the other changes I made was only out of necessity – I didn’t realize until I was preparing to mix all of my ingredients that I didn’t have enough vanilla. So instead of using the full measure of vanilla, I subbed in half almond extract. I ended up loving the hint of almond it gave the finished cookie and even though I now have enough vanilla on hand, I’ve since made a second batch the same way I made the first.

So were they a success? Well, I was happy to receive some very complimentary feedback. Words like “holy crap”, “amazing”, “magic” and maybe even some x-rated things were referenced…. so yeah, I guess you could say they were a success!

Print

Sea Salt Chocolate Chip Cookies

Adapted from Savory Sweet Life
Makes approximately 40-48 cookies.

Ingredients:

1 cup (2 sticks) salted butter, softened
1/2 cup sugar
1 1/2 cup packed brown sugar
2 eggs
1 tsp vanilla extract
1 tsp almond extract*
2 3/4 cups all-purpose flour
1 1/2 tsp coarse sea salt, divided
1 tsp baking soda
1 1/2 tsp baking powder
2 1/4 cups semi-sweet chocolate chips

*can use 2 tsp of vanilla extract and no almond extract if you choose

Directions:

Preheat oven to 360 degrees. Cream butter, sugar, and brown sugar until it is nice and fluffy (approx. 3 minutes on medium-high speed). Add both eggs, vanilla, and almond extract and beat for an additional 2 minutes. Add baking soda, baking powder, 3/4 tsp salt, and flour until cookie batter is fully incorporated. Finally add chocolate chips until well distributed.

Use a medium cookie scoop to measure and drop the batter onto a baking sheet lined with parchment paper. (if you don't have a cookie scoop, a scoop should be about 2 Tbsp).

Bake for 14-17 minutes until the edges are nice and golden brown. Remove from heat, immediately sprinkle all cookies evenly with remaining 3/4 tsp sea salt. Allow the cookies to stay on the cookie sheet for an additional 2 minutes. Pick up the parchment paper with the cookies still on top and transfer to a cooling rack. Allow the cookies to cool on the paper for at least 3 minutes before serving.

 

pairings 2013

 

Happy Valentine’s Day y’all!

You may have noticed that I didn’t create a Valentine’s specific post this week. I figure there are enough images of heart shaped cookies, cupcakes with red and pink icing, pizza with heart shaped pepperonis, and heart shaped carrots for soup – yes really. I’m not making this up - that I don’t need to add to the clutter. Just visit Pinterest if you want some of those tutorials.

As for restaurant recommendations for dining out on Valentine’s Day – I don’t have any of those either. Honestly, I could not tell you the last time I dined out on February 14th. Nope. Not interested. Instead, my husband and I usually choose to have a special dinner on some night shortly following the big day.

And that’s why I’m here today. I’ve got an awesome idea for those of you that are like me. That idea is Pairings! While it’s a week away, it’s still in the month of February, so if you ask me, it’s a perfectly acceptable way to celebrate your love for your honey. And, of course, there’s wine. Lots and lots of wine. And that’s something to celebrate in and of itself, right?

Saturday, February 22, 2014
1 – 5:30 pm

Pairings by Nashville Wine Auction

The Factory at Franklin
Liberty Hall
230 Franklin Road
Franklin, TN 37064

Cost: $125/person, Casual Attire

At Pairings, you’ll have the opportunity to taste over 70 different wines, and all are $30-$150 bottles being poured, so we’re talking quality stuff here. There will be awesome Silent and Live Auctions full of cool trips, luxury items and dinners/tastings (Josh Habiger cooking for 14, Lisa Donovan making dinner for 10, Matt Bolus doing a lunch for 22 people just to name a few!) that will raise money to fight cancer in Middle Tennessee.

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So, all that said, I encourage you to buy tickets and participate in this special event.  Of course, you might first want to enter for your chance to win 2 tickets to the event- my Valentine’s gift to you!

~Contest Closed~

Congratulations to the winner!

#1 Kristen

All you have to do is this:

Mandatory

1. Leave a comment telling me who the special someone is that you’d take to Pairings with you if you win. Will it be your honey, your BFF, your brother, your sister? Who loves wine as much as you do?

Optional

For up to 2 additional entries, you can do either or both of the following. Note: You must leave a separate comment for each optional entry.

2.  Follow @NashWineAuction on Twitter and tweet “Love is in the air, and wine is too! Win tickets to #Pairings2014 from @betheats! Enter here: http://bit.ly/1bRy98X ” then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

3.  Like Nashville Wine Auction on Facebook and come back and tell me you did so (or just tell me you already do if that’s the case!)

 

Contest ends on Monday, February 17th at 9 pm CST. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll make contact via email and post the name here on the blog. If that person doesn’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!

Flank-Steak-with-Parsley-Horseradish-Dressing-above

If you follow me on Instagram, then you may have seen my declaration last Sunday that I had just prepared perhaps the best steak I’d ever grilled at home before. In fact, I can’t wait to make this exact dish again. And again. And, well, again.

It’s hard to say exactly what made this steak better than any other. Was it the marinade? Was it the topping? Or was it the meat? Actually, I’m sure every part of it played an important role. But I definitely do need to give proper credit to the meat.

A couple of months ago, 44 Farms, an institution in the world of Black Angus production, reached out to me and asked if I’d like to try some of their steaks. After I spent some time reading about their history (they’ve been based in Cameron, TX for more than 100 years and are still family owned) and their philosophy (ethically raised, 100% natural steaks, aged a minimum of 28 days), this red meat lovin’ girl couldn’t pass up the offer.

Before 2013, 44 Farms only supplied to the restaurant trade, but then they launched 44steaks.com, where home cooks like me (and you!) can now purchase their awesome steaks. Since I was so impressed with the product- and told them so- they’ve allowed me to share a special, exclusive promo code with my readers for FREE shipping. If you’d like to order, just use EATDRINKSMILE when you check out.

 

Flank-Steak-with-Parsley-Horseradish-Dressing

 

Now, back to the recipe. The marinade is one that I came up with after tweaking a couple I’ve used in the past. The topping is a recipe that  44 Farms shared with me. The steaks that I used for this were their 8 oz Flank Steaks, so a total of 16 oz of meat in the marinade. That said, I think you could probably put up to 2 lbs of meat in this marinade, as there was plenty of it.

I think a big part of my love for this dish was the tangy topping. I’m so soooooo tired of this rainy winter we’re having, and really craving not only sunshine, but also the foods that come with warmer weather. This steak’s bright flavors definitely provided a little ray of sunshine in our house on an otherwise dreary day!

Print

Grilled Marinated Flank Steak with Lemony Parsley Horseradish Dressing

Serves 2-4

Ingredients:

2 8 oz flank steaks

Marinade ingredients:
1/3 cup olive oil
2 cloves of garlic, minced
2 Tbsp red wine vinegar
1/3 cup soy sauce
1/2 tsp freshly ground black pepper
salt

Topping/Dressing Ingredients:
Zest of 1 large, un-waxed lemon
1/4 cup freshly grated horseradish
1/4 cup fresh flat leaf parsley, minced
1 Tbsp fresh squeezed lemon juice
1 Tbsp olive oil
Salt to taste

Directions:

Combine the marinade ingredients. Place steak and marinade ingredients in a large ziploc bag. Seal the bag and make sure steak is coated well with the marinade. Marinate for at least 3 hours (or up to overnight).

While the steak is marinating, mix all dressing ingredients together. Set aside.

Preheat the grill with high, direct heat. Take the steak out of the marinade bag and sprinkle generously on all sides with coarse salt and freshly ground pepper. Place steak on the hot grill. If you are using a gas grill, cover the grill. Grill for 4-6 minutes on each side. (We prefer our steaks medium rare, and that is what I would suggest for flank steaks or else they could get a little tough).

When the steak has cooked to your preferred level of doneness, remove from the grill and place on a cutting board. Cover with aluminum foil and let rest for 10 minutes.

Slice the flank steak against the grain and top with desired amount of dressing before serving.

Disclaimer: While I was given free 44 Farms steaks to sample, I was not compensated for this post and all opinions are solely mine.

otaku south XLRG 2013 bowl

 

If you saw my post on Monday with the round up of food & drink events happening here in Nashville this month, then you saw Otaku South’s EXTRA LARGE in the mix. What I didn’t share in that post was this  awesome lineup of participating chefs:

Sarah Gavigan/ Otaku South NASHVILLE

Shigetoshi Nakamura/ Sun Noodle & Ramen Lab NEW YORK

Edward Lee/ Milkwood & 610 Magnolia LOUISVILLE

Yuji Haraguchi/ Yuji Ramen NEW YORK

Mihoko Obuni/ Mibo Loves Ramen ATLANTA

Jessica Benefield/ Two Ten Jack NASHVILLE

Akiko Moorman/Gohan Society NEW YORK

Seriously, I’m super stoked about this group! How in the world do I decide which bowl of ramen to eat??? Hmmm, I guess the smartest plan would be to round up 6 friends so the 7 of us can get one bowl from each and pass around….

What:

Otaku South EXTRA LARGE 2

When:

Saturday, February 15, 2014
5  – 9 pm Ramen is served
8 – 10 pm Music from Guilty Pleasures

Where:

Marathon Music Works
1402 Clinton St
Nashville, TN 37203

How Much:

Varies ($11 – $23 for individuals). Purchase tickets here.

otaku south XLRG 2013 tables

Last year’s EXTRA LARGE event

And guess what? One of you lucky ducks is going to get to go for free!!! The lovely folks at Otaku South have provided me with a set of two (2) combo tickets to give away (which means you & a friend get to eat ramen AND see Guilty Pleasures!).

~Contest Closed~

Congratulations to the winner!

#43 Kelly

All you have to do is this:

Mandatory

1. Leave a comment telling me about the best ramen you’ve ever had – OR – tell me which of the participating chefs’ ramen you’re most excited about eating.

Optional

For up to 2 additional entries, you can do either or both of the following. Note: You must leave a separate comment for each optional entry.

2.  Follow me on Twitter (@betheats) and tweet “Slurp for a cause at #OtakuXLRG event with @betheats & see Guilty Pleasures! Enter here to win tix: http://bit.ly/1exbAdS” then leave a comment telling me you’ve done so.

3.  Like Otaku South on Facebook and come back and tell me you did so (or just tell me you already do if that’s the case!)

 

Contest ends on Sunday, February 9th at NOON CST. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll make contact via email and post the name here on the blog. If that person doesn’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!
Images courtesy of Otaku South Facebook page.

LOGO_HORIZONTAL

 

The Skillery’s Food Lover’s February

 

The Skillery, a coworking space and marketplace for workshops here in Nashville, has lined up an entire month of food and drink related classes!

Food Lover’s Month involves some of Music City’s favorite culinary gems like Juice Nashville, Olive & Sinclair, Hey Rooster and the Sycamore duo, Tony and Caroline Galzin, just to name a few. Click here to see a full list of what’s being offered along with the associated costs. A couple of the classes have already sold out, so don’t delay. If you see one you like, reserve today!

 

Bourbon-Party-Antiques-Garden-Show-2014

 

A Bourbon Party

Friday, February 7, 2014
6 – 8 pm

Music City Center
201 5th Ave S
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: $50/person

I’ll be honest, I’ve never been to The Antiques and Garden Show of Nashville, though I’ve heard great things. With the addition of a new kick-off event, A Bourbon Party, there is definitely more incentive for me to go this year!

Described as an evening filled with the finest Southern food, drink and decor for home entertaining, guests will be able to pick up a few tips and tricks for the perfect party while tasting fine bourbons and nibbling Canal House recipes. Visit the event website for more information and to purchase tickets.

 

tiny-but-mighty-bake-sale

Bake Sale Benefiting Tiny But Mighty

Saturday, February 8, 2014
9 am – noon

Atmology
2320 West End Ave
Nashville, TN 37203

Tiny But Mighty, a new Nashville non-profit benefiting homeless animals, is hosting a bake sale this weekend and several bloggers around town (including me!) are creating treats for the cause. There will be loads of options – cookies, cupcakes, bourbon balls and whoopie pies…even doggie treats!

Drop by and pick up some sweets for yourself or your sweetie. Cash sales only. For more information on the event and Tiny But Mighty, visit their Facebook page.

 

otaku xlrg

Otaku South EXTRA LARGE 2

Saturday, February 15, 2014
5  – 9 pm

Marathon Music Works
1402 Clinton St
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: Varies ($11 – $23 for individuals)

Last year, Otaku South chef/owner Sarah Gavigan invited five chefs to join her for the very first EXTRA LARGE. 800 bowls of ramen were sold in five hours! Hopefully this year it will be even bigger, because it’s all going for a great cause.

The Pablove Foundation, whose mission is to fight childhood cancer with love, was founded by friends of Sarah’s who lost their 6-year-old son. Not only will we be slurping ramen for a cause, but there is also a charity concert by local favorites Guilty Pleasures!

Click on this link for more information, a breakdown of ticketing options and to purchase.

 

pairings long

Nashville Wine Auction – Pairings

Friday, February 21, 2014
7 – 10:30 pm

The Rosewall
120 McGavock Street
Nashville, TN 37203

Cost: $200/person, Cocktail Attire

~AND~

Saturday, February 22, 2014
1 – 5:30 pm

The Factory at Franklin
Liberty Hall
230 Franklin Road
Franklin, TN 37064

Cost: $125/person, Casual Attire

This year’s Pairings by Nashville Wine Auction is a two day celebration of wine and food instead of just one!

Friday night’s event features award-winning chefs and vintners pairing their creations. We’re talking wine sampling, hors d’ouevres and a full gourmet dinner. If you want in on this, HURRY, because it’s almost completely sold out.

Saturday’s party will showcase 25 California wineries pouring multiple bottles of their vintages, all of which are rated 90+ points! While you drink you can nibble on meats, cheeses, breads and specialty sweets and popcorn. During the live auction, you can enjoy a sit down picnic lunch with one of the vitners sitting at your table!

To see a full line up of the chefs and wineries, and to purchase tickets to either or both events, click here.

Our Kids Soup Sunday

Our Kids Soup Sunday

Sunday, February 23, 2014
11 am – 2 pm

LP Field – Club Level West
(parking is free)

Cost: Family Package -$40, Adult- $20, Children (ages 2-17) -$8, Children under 2 – Free

I simply ADORE  this event and cannot wait to go again this year. And, for the first time ever, the kiddo will be coming with me! Our Kids Soup Sunday is actually perfect for families (though it is also equally as awesome for singles). There will be more soups there than you can possibly eat, and some absolutely fantastic ones at that. Check out this list of participating restaurants.

For more information and to purchase tickets, visit the event website. Note: the prices I’ve listed above are the discounted advance purchase tickets that are available until noon on Friday, February 21st. After that, tickets can still be purchased online or at the door the day of the event, but the price increases to $45 for the family package, and $25 for the adult ticket. (children stay the same)

If you do plan on going, be sure to check out this post that my buddy Nicki wrote a couple of years ago, “Our Kids Soup Sunday Tactical Training Tips“!

 

404-Kitchen-Cauliflower

The 404 Kitchen’s Cauliflower
spaghetti squash, puttanesca, grana padano

I’d been hearing great things for weeks. The 404 Kitchen opened back in October and it took me wayyyy too long to get there for a first visit. Finally, a couple of weeks ago, over glasses of wine at my own dining room table, my girlfriends and I booked our reservation. It would be a celebration of one friend’s birthday, and it needed to be special.

And special it was!

 

404-Kitchen-burrata-w-truffles

The 404 Kitchen’s Burrata
Burgundy truffles, leeks, Benton’s ham

First, I love the vibe of the space. It’s small. Actually, tiny. It reminds me of some restaurants I’ve been to in NYC and Chicago. Definitely nothing like I’ve been to here in Nashville. Making it completely unique to any dining establishment I’ve ever been to before: it’s built around/within a recycled shipping container. Yes, one of those big metal containers that haul product across the ocean from China and other far away lands!

Pretty cool, IMO. To get an idea of what that looks like, check out this post from Southern Living with pics by Nashville photographer Ron Manville. As you can see, it’s probably best that you limit your dinner party to 4 when you go. It’s not the sort of spot you want to go for a big group celebration (unless of course, you rent out the entire space)! But for a romantic night out with your sweetie or cozy dinner with 3 friends, it’s perfect.

404-Kitchen-chicken-liver-pate-plate

Kennedy Farms Chicken Liver Pate
arugula, asian pears, pecan, benne wafer

Okay, now the food. We ate so soooo much, and all was good, but today I’m going to focus only on our favorites. First, the burrata. This is one of the dishes that you simply need to order when you visit. So fantastic.

Now, hang on to your seats, because I’m about to declare chicken liver pate the best dish I’ve eaten in a restaurant so far in 2014. I know, I know, we’re less than 4 weeks into the year, but never mind that. I have a feeling it will hold that ranking for quite some time. This dish absolutely blew us away! In fact, I could definitely see myself dropping by, bellying  up to the bar, ordering some cocktails, eating only this and leaving there a very happy girl.

I’ll be completely honest, when this plate arrived at the table, I didn’t even take a photo because I wasn’t expecting to like it all that much. You see, I’m not a huge fan of pate. Thus, the picture you get is after we’ve started to destroy it. A couple of minutes after I snapped this, the plate was empty. Not a spec left.

Chicken. Liver. Pate. Never in a million years would I have believed I’d be dreaming of a liver pate (?!?!?), but I am!

404-Kitchen-steak-and-risotto

 

We had so many appetizers to start that we were really pretty full before even getting around to the entrees. Luckily, we’d made the smart decision early on to only order 3 to split between 4 of us. Perfect, because the portion sizes are pretty substantial. There is no way that after eating multiple small plates we could have each tried to tackle our own large plate.

I ordered the beef (tri tip?) on risotto. I really wish I’d made notes that night or taken a pic of the menu so I’d be able to give you a better description than that, but alas, I didn’t. And since the menu is ever changing, it’s likely that this exact dish won’t be there when you go anyway.

What I can tell you is this: I’m a risotto lover. But, that also makes me a very picky risotto eater. I don’t always think it’s done well, but this dish was perfection. Definitely my favorite entree of the night, though the Sheepshead (fish for those that aren’t familiar) served on Hoppin’ John with collards and ham broth, was a very close second.

404-Kitchen-dessert

 The trifle at 404 Kitchen

We ended the evening with a couple of desserts, this trifle being our favorite. Again, can’t tell you much more than that, as I didn’t write anything down (plus I’d had 3 cocktails by the time we got to this so my notes probably would have been chicken scratch anyway). Just don’t skip dessert. Trust me.

The 404 Kitchen

404 12th Ave
Nashville, TN 37203
(615) 251-1404

Hours:
Tue-Thu 5 – 10 pm
Fri-Sat 5 – 11 pm