My husband knows the way to my heart is not diamond heart pendants, red roses, or stuffed bears holding chocolates. For Valentine’s Day, all it takes to make me happy is a nice dinner. But I never want to go out ON the actual holiday, so we always end up doing something a few days before or after. This year that something is going to be not one, but several nice meals. In a different city.

Ravi and I are taking a trip to Savannah! Neither of us have ever been and both have always wanted to go. I’ve already started researching and have a few things on my list, but haven’t really come up with a final game plan. So I thought I should take advantage of this forum and ask for your help. Have you been to Savannah before? If so, what are your favorite things to do? Places to eat? Drink?

Here’s a few of the restaurants and bars that are on my radar so far:

Breakfast: Firefly Cafe, B Matthews Eatery

Lunch: Vic’s on the River, Mrs. Wilkes Dining Room, Zunzi’s

Dinner: The Olde Pink House, Elizabeth’s on 37th, Sapphire Grill, Cha Bella, Local 11 Ten

Drinks: Molly McPherson’s, Seed Eco Lounge, Circa 1875, Rocks on the Roof

We don’t plan on going to all of these, and are completely open to adding to the list if there is someplace that’s a must. If you’ve been to any of the ones listed above, I would love to get your feedback - both positive and negative. We’re also contemplating doing a ghost tour or an architectural tour, so if you have any experiences with tour companies, please let me know.

We don’t leave until late next week, so you’ve got plenty of time to comment. Help a girl out!

Photo Credit: The Gardens of Savannah by Patrick Fowler1

If you’re planning to go out to dinner tonight, or even just kicking around the idea, let me suggest Cabana. Thanks to the great response to their restaurant week special, they’ve decided to offer this incredible deal every Tuesday!

3 courses for $20.10
First Course

Crab Stuffed Mushrooms with White Wine Herb Butter

Warm Spinach Salad with Mushrooms, Parmesan Cheese, Hard Boiled Egg and Bacon Vinaigrette

White Bean & Country Ham Soup with Griddle Corn Cake

Second Course

Blackened Mahi Mahi over Creamy Cheddar Grits, Wilted Spinach and Tasso Cream Sauce

Grilled 12 oz Pork Porterhouse with White Cheddar Mac & Cheese, Fresh Broccoli & Sorghum Gain Mustard Butter

Potato Gnocchi with Mushrooms, Spinach & Artichoke Hearts Tossed with Parmesan Cream Sauce

Third Course

Key Lime Pie

I don’t know about you, but I’m drooling! This menu looks delicious, and too good to pass up for the cost of only twenty bucks!

UPDATE 2/17/10: I’ve been informed by one of my “tweeps” that took advantage of the special last night that this wasn’t the exact menu. So apparently this is a sample menu, and could change week to week. Still a great deal and she said definitely worth the money!

1910 Belcourt Avenue
Nashville, TN 37212

My friend City Girl Chicago tagged me to post 7 random facts about myself, so here goes!

1. When I was a little girl I wanted to be a clothing designer and still have the notebooks I used as sketch pads. This might give you some idea as to why I didn’t follow that career path:

2. I’m a pretty happy, positive person in general. It’s hard for me to relate to people that are negative and grumpy all of the time. Just smile! It works wonders.

3. My hometown didn’t get its first traffic light until I was a senior in high school. Yep, it’s pretty small. There is one school for the entire county. The elementary, middle and high school are all on one campus, and my graduating class was less than 100 students.

4. My eyes are different colors. The left one is kind of hazel/brown on the top half and blue/green on the bottom half with a grayish dot in the middle. My right eye is mostly greenish grayish with a dot of brown on the outer right side.

5. My closet is organized in Roy G. Biv order.

6. I’m a bookworm. I love, love, love to read and am currently in the middle of 3 different books.

7. Several years ago I moved to San Diego without ever having stepped foot in it before. I knew there was a beach and the sun was always shining, so that was enough to get me there. As much as I love Nashville, a little part of me thinks I might end up living there again some day….even if it’s not until I’m 75!

There’s my 7. Now I tag Love and Olive Oil, JayeWalking, Erin’s Food Files and Tennessee Locavore to share theirs because I think they’re all pretty cool and should have some interesting things to say. Plus, I love their blogs, so even if they don’t have time to participate, you should at least check them out!

Photo Credit: Smiley Face Suckers by Shirley B
San Diego Sunset by Michael in San Diego

As most of you know, recently I visited Chicago for the second time in what most would consider a short time frame. But this trip was completely different than the last – it wasn’t the crazy-busy girls shopping weekend I did back in November. This was all about hanging with my friend Lib, catching up on some much needed girl time, and relaxing a bit.

And of course, getting a few really good meals in my tummy!

Instead of going through every meal and every dish I ate on this trip, I’m just going to recap the two restaurants where we had the best experiences. Here goes…..

Friday Night
The Bristol
2152 North Damen Avenue
Chicago, IL 60647

(773) 862-5555

Started off the evening in the upstairs bar of The Bristol, as we had about an hour wait (they don’t take reservations). My drink (pictured above) was fan-freakin-tastic.

Rustic Rose
Domaine de Canton, Bombay Sapphire, Honey-Rosemary Syrup, Fresh Lemon, Ginger Ale

By the time we moved down to the dining room, we were starving, so I was thankful that dishes came out quickly. First up was one of their signature items -

Monkey Bread
with Dill Butter and Sea Salt

I’m still seriously thinking about this bread days later. I need to find a recipe and try to recreate it at home. Anyone out there point me in the right direction?

And speaking of something that I’m still thinking about…that’s the case with this salad too. Libby says she’s going to attempt to recreate it herself and then share the recipe with me. Hurry up Libbers!

Apple Salad
with Toasted Hazelnuts, Marinated Manchego


Ricotta, egg yolk and brown butter
Here’s the funny thing about this dish- neither of us like runny eggs. How we didn’t catch this before we ordered is beyond me. Perhaps too many Rustic Roses?

But alas, I put my aversion to runny egg yolk aside and ate. With abandon. The brown butter sauce was so incredible that it drowned out any apprehensions I had about the dish.

with beets, sour cream, and fresh dill sauce

I love beets. Some think they taste like dirt. So be it. I still love them.

Saturday night’s restaurant was one that I’ve been wanting to try for a while. It was actually going to be on our agenda for the girls’ trip in November, but we waited too long to make the reservation and couldn’t get in. Both food and service were top-notch!

Saturday Night
Graham Elliot
217 West Huron Street
Chicago, IL 60654

(312) 624-9975

The Holy Grail
Benedictine, espirit orange liqueur, grated ginger, tonic

Again, another outstanding cocktail. I wasn’t sure exactly what Benedictine was, so I inquired with the waiter. All he was able to tell me was that it’s a liquor made by Benedictine monks. Well, you know that didn’t satisfy my curiosity, so I came home and researched it for myself.

If anyone else out there cares—it’s a Cognac-based liqueur made with various aromatics, fruit peels and herbs. Developed in 1518, it is believed to be the oldest liqueur continuously made.

Although I was more than happy drinking it with dinner, I actually think it would be doubly wonderful for brunch, so it’s been added to my “must-make-at-my-next-brunch” list.

In addition to my interest in this drink, I was also quite fascinated and surprised that crack was served free of charge. Yes, crack. Of course, it’s hard to recognize it as crack because it’s disguised as popcorn. In place of the bread basket that most restaurants serve while you’re perusing the menu, Graham Elliot gives you a big basket of truffle oil infused popcorn. Totally legal I suppose, but addictive nonetheless.

On to our appetizers. This first one was not only a party in my mouth with all it’s textures and flavors, but also completely visually stunning. My photo does not do it justice.

Duck Ravioli
pomegranate seeds, tuscan kale, crumbled gorgonzola, port reduction

followed by another appetizer:
Cheddar Risotto
bratwurst, green apples, glazed onions, cheez-its
and then our entrees:

Sea Scallops
french lentils, marcona almonds, raisin chutney, cauliflower puree
Beef Stroganoff
peppered spaetzle, chanterelle mushrooms, shallot compote, sour cream

Oh my goodness, the Beef Stroganoff. This is not your Mama’s stroganoff. Deconstructed and recreated with a shallot compote and sour cream on bottom, then a layer of chanterelle mushrooms and peppered spaetzle, topped with slices of medium rare, melt-in-your-mouth beef. Divine.

The one thing I dislike about Chicago? I don’t live there.

Since I don’t live there, I don’t have the opportunity for repeat visits to these establishments. Residents of Chicago- I hope you are frequenting these places OFTEN.

What will it be the next time I’m in the Windy City? Whatever it is, I’m quite sure it won’t disappoint.

Photo Credit: monkey bread by The Bristol

Surely by now you’ve heard of Groupon, the discount gift certificate company that launched in Nashville a few months ago. Well, if you haven’t, it’s time you did! So far I’ve scored some great deals on places like Flyte, ChaChah, Miel, Allium, and Cabana.

And then of course, today’s deal – Amerigo!

For $25 you get a $50 gift certificate!

I have a bit of a soft spot in my heart for Amerigo…the one on West End hosted our family dinner the night before our wedding, and I go to the location in Cool Springs quite often for business lunches. I can vouch for both locations, and lucky for us- the gift certificate is good for either one!

Hurry, the offer is only good for TODAY, so click here to get your gift certificate now!

Do you know what’s just a day away???

~Advanced Wine Class 102~

The course outline was delivered to me via email last week (this is serious stuff folks) so I thought I would share because I know you’re just dying to know what we’ll be drinking….

Week 1: Chardonnay and Cabernet Sauvignon
Week 2: Sauvignon Blanc, Pinot Grigio/Gris, and Pinot Noir
Week 3: Riesling, Chenin Blanc, Syrah & Shiraz
Week 4: Alternative Whites and Reds
Week 5: Italian Whites and Reds
Week 6: Spanish Whites and Reds

Pick the classes that interest you most, whether it be two, three or all six! Pay in advance or pay as you go. Which brings me to the best news of all:
The class price has been reduced to only $20, and believe me- that is a screamin’ deal! You’ll get great food and plenty of generous pours!

7 – 9:30 p.m.
Wednesdays from February 3rd to March 10th

1812 21st Ave S
Nashville, TN 37212

Photo Credit: Wine by rogersmj

Last week when I was picking up lunch at Whole Foods they were sampling this dish at the front of the store, so I stopped to get a taste. Completely surprised at how delicious it was, I promptly purchased all the ingredients so I could make it this weekend.

I’ll admit that greens have never really excited me much, but knowing how nutrient-packed they are, I really should eat them more often. Now that I’ve discovered this tasty, easy-to-cook dish, that won’t be a problem!


Winter Greens with Carrots, Feta Cheese and Rice

Serves 4. Adapted from Whole Foods.


1/2 red onion, finely chopped
3 cups of shredded carrots
2 bunches kale*, stems removed, leaves very thinly sliced (or use 16 0z bag of ready-to-cook)
1/4 cup water
Salt & ground black pepper to taste
1/4 lb Feta cheese, crumbled
2 cups whole grain brown rice, prepared according to package directions


Heat a deep non-stick skillet over medium heat. Add onion and cook for 3-4 minutes. Add carrots, greens, water, salt and pepper and toss well. Cover and cook over medium heat, tossing once or twice, until greens are wilted and tender, 10-15 minutes. Toss with Feta cheese and spoon over brown rice. Suggestion: serve with lemon wedges for even more flavor.

*any dark leafy greens will work (Swiss chard, collard greens)


Kale on FoodistaKale

Photo Credit: Whole Foods

Snowed in by what is being called “The Situation 2010″ here in Nashville, I concocted a new cocktail I dubbed:

Snow Cream

1/2 cup of espresso*
1 jigger vanilla vodka
1 jigger 1921 Tequila Cream (pictured at left)

Put espresso, vodka, and cream in a cocktail shaker with ice. Shake. Strain into martini glass and serve.

Delicious, delightful. And will give you a buzz in more ways than one. Fantastic as an after dinner drink if you have just one or great as drinkS (plural) if you need to wake up. Not suggested to consume in large quantities if you would like to rest your weary eyes.

*I do not have an espresso machine at home, so I use instant espresso powder

1921 Tequila Cream can be purchased in Nashville at The Wine Chap