Last night’s Generous Helpings was my final foodie hoorah before a week of detox in preparation for my upcoming 5-day eatfest in NYC. And boy, did I make the most of it.
Within minutes of entering, my 4 friends and I noticed that among the wide array of ingredients showcased, there seemed to be one that reigned supreme- Pork. (Good thing my grandaddy was a pig farmer). Pork belly, pulled pork, Benton’s ham, fried pork skins, crispy bacon, fat chunks of bacon, and pork bread pudding- the hog was definitely struttin’ his stuff.
That is not to say that there wasn’t a sundry of other non-pork filled dishes to choose from- believe me, there was more than I could handle. I could go on for hours about all of the things that we sampled, but I also want to hold your attention, so instead, I’m just going to note the fare that, for me, stood out among the pack:
– Swiss Chard Gratinata
F. Scott’s – Grilled Flatbread with Benton’s Ham, Cherry Tomato and Bermuda Triangle Pesto
Capitol Grille – Pork Belly with Swiss Chard and Peas (pictured above)
The Culinary Arts Center at Second Harvest Food Bank- Johnny Cakes with Green Tomato Relish, Fried Catfish, and Roasted Red Pepper Remoulade
Mirror – Duck Confit McNuggets with Rhubarb BBQ Sauce
Monell’s - Jalapeno Stuffed with Cream Cheese Wrapped in Bacon
(and it had nothing to do with
the cute server boy that flirted with my friend Cathy)
The Standard at the Smith House – Creamy Asparagus Soup with Buttermilk and Crab
And last but certainly not least:
tayst’s Root Beer Braised Pork Bread Pudding with Sarsaparilla Creme and Sea Salt
The girls and I had such a fun evening chatting it up with the chefs, especially Chef Jeremy Barlow. So much so that we’re even planning a girls’ night out to visit him at tayst very soon- I’m not sure if he knows what he’s in for….
At the end of the evening, with bellies full, we converged on a picnic table to compare notes. (We all had our favorites, and I’ve told you mine. Hopefully some of the other girls will pipe up with their thoughts.) As we gabbed, the discussion turned to the many awkward moments we’ve experienced at these kinds of events. Like spinach stuck in your teeth when your favorite chef turns to greet you….standing in the middle of the room precariously close to dropping everything -wine glass, food plate, the evening’s program, your clutch purse…..ordering a drink from the bar and realizing the smallest bill you have on you is a $100…..
So we compiled a list of what we now consider our “Tasting Necessities”:
- $1 bills for tipping the bartenders
- handi-wipes/hand sanitizer
- Big bag/purse with long shoulder strap. Needs to fit the program/menu, notepad, pens, bottled water and the above mentioned necessities. A backpack or large fanny pack are also options
This next item is not a necessity, but such a brilliant idea for tasting events and cocktail parties. My friend Katie gets credit for this one, as she purchased some of these to use at last year’s Taste of Music City. You want to drink a glass of wine and you want to eat, but it’s not the easiest thing in the world to do both while standing with no tables in sight. These handy little mingling plates have a built in stemware holder which frees up one of your hands.
these nice porcelain ones are from Pottery Barn
$24 for Set of 4
and these break-resistant acrylic ones are from wrapables.com
a set of 6 with wine glasses is on sale currently for $21.99.
Order yours now so you’ll be well prepared for Nashville’s next tasting event, Taste of Music City, June 20th on the Korean Veteran’s Bridge. You’ll be able to spot us- we’ll be the girls with fanny packs, mingling plates, and a wad of $1 bills in our hands.
As you might recall, previously I made mention of a place by the name of The Patterson House. You know, the new Nashville bar that is every cocktail connoisseur’s dream? Besides the extraordinary drinks, the fabulous food and the gorgeous wallpaper, I’m also enamored with their ice.
Each cocktail is crafted to perfection, so only a fool would mess it all up by using just any old ice cube. At The Patterson House, eight different types of ice perfectly complement each beverage. Your first thought might be- that’s a bit gimmicky – but then, you get it. Or at least I did.
You see, I’m notorious for moving on to the next drink while leaving behind a good amount of liquid in the bottom of my glass. The simple reason- I don’t like to drink swill. It was recently pointed out to me that most bars use what’s called “cheater” ice- ice that melts almost immediately, watering down your drink. The bars that really know what they are doing put a little more attention into this oft-neglected ingredient, resulting in drinks that you want to savor until the very last drop.
Of the eight variations at The Patterson House, one ice in particular dazzled even the hard-to-impress boys at the table on our last visit. The Ice Sphere. After much examination, we declared this ice the coolest. (pun intended)
The next morning as I sifted through my most recent issue of Food & Wine magazine, what appeared before my very eyes? Ice sphere trays! How happy would hubby be if he had his own set to play with at home? Well, I’ll tell you- pretty darn happy. Without further ado, please meet the newest addition to our home bar-
Spherical Ice Tray Set
Who knows if our home-produced spheres will be as magical as the ones at The Patterson House, but at the very least they’ll be an interesting topic of conversation with our guests! I’m thinking flower petals or fruit suspended in ice will make for quite a lovely cocktail…….
Summer is almost upon is, and to get through the hot, sticky months, I need plenty of the cold, creamy stuff! Growing up in a small southern town meant lots of ice cream socials with family, neighbors and church friends. I can remember sitting on the porch surrounded by ice cream machines- taking turns cranking with my sister and cousins then licking the bowl clean of the fruits of our labor. Mmmm, I can almost taste that homemade peach ice cream…..
So when I heard about this cool contest by Edy’s Ice Cream, I was inspired. For the past few years, Edy’s has been recognizing American neighborhoods with it’s “Neighborhood Salute”- giving away Ice Cream Block Parties to 1,500 lucky people! The town I grew up in had a population of 2500, which meant that not only did I know my neighbors, but almost every resident. After college I found myself living in a laid-back beach community in San Diego, making friends with my neighbors in no time flat thanks mostly to the fact that we all spent alot of time outdoors. Neighborhood block parties could be found on almost any given weekend. Sadly, that hasn’t been my experience here in Nashville. I’m ashamed to say that I’ve only met one couple on our street, and to say that I “know” them would be a stretch. I’m sure there are several of you out there that find yourself in a similar situation. We’re often so busy with our own over-scheduled lives that we don’t stop to get to know the people right next door. What better way to meet neighbors than to invite them over for an old fashioned ice cream social?
Just click here to enter and write a short “essay” as to why your neighborhood deserves to win. If you’re creative and enthusiastic enough, you may be one of the lucky ones to scoop up enough free Edy’s Slow Churned® light ice cream to feed up to 100 guests, plus a free party in a box. This Friday, May 29th is the last day to enter, so get crankin’!
Photo Credit: ICE CREAM by spike55151
With my birthday just around the corner and the celebration already well under way, it’s quite possible you won’t hear from me for a few days. So before I disappear, I wanted to take some time to highlight a few great food-related items I’ve been gifted with over the past couple of birthdays. Hopefully these will give you inspiration for the foodie in your life.
Yes, that’s me and my friend Lori hanging from the chandelier. Just demonstrating the proper way to celebrate a birthday!
Delivered to my office a couple of years ago was this fabulous assortment of chocolates from Asheville, NC’s The Chocolate Fetish, courtesy of my sweet friend Rachel. I’m not sure if you can tell from the photo, but they were huge! My co-workers loved me that week. The assortment included Dark Chocolate marbled with Mint, Peanut Butter Swirl, Cookies and Cream, Dark Chocolate Espresso, and Milk Chocolate Raspberry Crunch. Yummy!
Last year my friend Melissa hooked me up with Think Like a Chef written by my current celebrity chef crush, Tom Collichio. I’ve read through it twice from cover to cover, and highly recommend it. Describing it as a cookbook does not do it justice-it’s more of a cooking philosophy book. Yes, there are recipes, and they are great, but more importantly he teaches you how to cook without recipes. This weekend I plan to bury myself in his teachings a third time so it will be fresh on my mind when I meet Tom in NYC in 2 weeks! (will report all the exciting details of that at a later date!)
For those guys out there that have been told your lady doesn’t want appliances as gifts, don’t believe it. Some of us do! My hubby knows me well- he bought me this awesome Kitchenaid food processor. Give me a good kitchen gadget over jewelry any day.
I’m not the proud owner of this particular item, but it’s on my wish list (hint, hint). What could get me more worked up than good food? Why, combining food with a board game of course! A bit competitive am I, so this Foodie Fight Trivia Game is right up my alley.
I may not know much about golf, but I’d say it’s a pretty big deal to tee off from atop the San Diego Omni hotel and hit a bullseye 230 yards below in Petco Park. PF Chang’s made a bet and now they’re paying up since some pro golfer did just that. Click here, enter your email address, and they’ll send you a coupon for a free order of their popular lettuce wraps*. Thanks Briny Baird, whoever you are.
*with the purchase of an entree, expires June 14th
Everyone has a personal preference when it comes to cocktails. Some like them sweet, others tart. Me, I prefer them either a bit spicy or kinda floral. The flowery thing all started with Mirror’s American Beauty and its essence of roses. Several years have gone by since my first, and for a long time it was rare that I could find a drink elsewhere (especially here in Nashville) that contained any sort of botanic ingredient. That is, until fairly recent years, when more and more establishments began enlisting mixologists to dream up innovative signature cocktails containing everything from lavender to elderflower.
So the scene is finally looking really good- more often than not I find a drink on the menu that delights me. But what about those nights when I would rather hang out at home with friends? Although our bar is always fully stocked, it never seems to have anything too inspiring, so I end up with a vodka soda.
That’s where the recently launched Square One Botanical comes in. Described as spicy and floral- an infusion of 8 organic botanicals: pear, rose, chamomile, lemon verbena, lavender, rosemary, coriander and citrus peel- it sounds made for me. Spicy AND floral?? Hello.
Now the only problem is I can’t find it in Tennessee and due to our archaic liquor laws, I can’t buy it online and have it shipped to me. For the rest of the civilized world, Square One has a handy little mapping tool you can use to locate their products in your city or state. (Looks like my lucky friends in San Diego can find it on every corner-jealous!) If I can ever get my hands on some I’ll definitely be whipping up a few of these concoctions, and will happily invite others to participate!
Do any of you have a spicy or floral cocktail that you love? Where- a restaurant, bar? or do you make it at home? Share with me please!
There is only one way that I can describe next week’s Generous Helpings event being held at the Nashville Farmers’ Market – foodie heaven! Never before have I seen such an impressive lineup of independent local restaurants all under one roof. Yellow Porch, Zola, Mirror, Park Cafe, Red Pony, Ombi, tayst, Flyte, Midtown Cafe….and the list goes on and on. That’s just a small sampling!
Speaking of samplings, the evening will feature tasting-size portions of signature appetizers, entrees and desserts accompanied by fine wines and beers from participating beverage distributors. Not only is it sure to be a delight to the palate, but it’s all for a good cause, raising money for Nashville’s Table
, Middle Tennessee’s prepared and perishable food rescue program. Tickets can be purchased in advance for $40 by clicking here
or can be purchased at the door for $50. Please join me for this fun filled foodie fete!
Thursday, May 28
5:30 pm – 8:30 pm
Nashville Farmers’ Market
My love affair with Zola began several years ago with a bite of shrimp risotto that I will never forget as long as I live. When someone asks me for a Nashville restaurant recommendation, those 4 letters roll right off my tongue. It’s not a place I go to be entertained, to hang at the bar (there isn’t one), or to marvel at the decor. I go for the food, plain and simple.
A while back I was perusing the class schedule of our local Whole Foods’ cooking school, Salud, and out pops Deb Paquette‘s name. Deep breath. Could this really be true? The genius chef of my favorite restaurant is teaching a class just 5 minutes from my house and it only costs $35??? I immediately recruit friends to sign up for the class with me, and then I call to make the reservation, right? Wrong. I put it off until a week before the class and then call. Stupid, stupid me. Of course it’s totally sold out. Why wouldn’t it be? She’s a genius, and I’m not the only one that knows it. So my name goes on a waiting list in case of a cancellation, but I figure my odds of getting that lucky are about as likely as me winning American Idol. (as hubby says, alien life forms would be scared back to their planet if they even heard my humming)
But what do you know? Day Of, 3 hours before the scheduled class time, I get THE CALL! Hi Beth, this is Merijoy at Salud and we’ve had a cancellation and wanted to see…..Yes, Yes, Yes, omg, Yes! Off to Salud we go. Deb is wacky and funny and kind of all over the place, and I love her even more now that I’ve seen her up close in action. Her personality spills over into her food making it exotic and unusual with all sorts of flavor combinations that most of us would never dream of attempting. White chocolate in slaw?
Deb plowed through lists of ingredients, some of which sounded beyond bizarre, but in the end, came together perfectly in each dish she created. Here’s a rundown of the spread:
Spinach Salad with Bacon Mole Vinaigrette, topped with pears, grapes, manchego cheese, and toasted hazelnuts
Pulled Pork on Sweet Potato Biscuit with peach butter, mole sauce and a sprinkling of toasted peanuts served alongside Cocoa Slaw (white chocolate in it!) and candied bell peppers
This pork on sweet potato biscuit was the best dish of the evening. Deb thinks she made a mistake by adding too much butter to the biscuits, causing them not to rise properly, but we think they turned out even better than if they had been fluffy. Bring on the butter!
Pistachio Salmon with a Butternut Squash, Apple, Poblano Pepper and Chocolate Quesadilla and lime sour cream
Dessert was Bacon Brownies with Smoked Chocolate Ice Cream
Okay Rebecca, time for your 2 cents. Was it as good as I remember, or did she just cast a spell on me? Because I’m thinking that was probably one of the best $35 meals I’ve ever consumed!
Everyone be sure to check out Salud’s just-released summer schedule to see what inspires you! The Wine and Food Pairing Class that Deb will be teaching in August has my name written all over it. Who wants to join me?