Viva NoshVegas!

Viva NoshVegas!

Food Fun in Nashville, TN

I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA, things are a little crazy in my world… but then again, when aren’t they? I have a zillion things to post, but this one is quick and easy. I have family in town, and I’m not going to be able to make this… but I REALLY think you should.
This Thursday at the Franklin Whole Foods.

I’m sorry I’ve been so MIA, things are a little crazy in my world… but then again, when aren’t they? I have a zillion things to post, but this one is quick and easy. I have family in town, and I’m not going to be able to make this… but I REALLY think you should.

This Thursday at the Franklin Whole Foods.

Catbird Seat makes #5 on GQ top 10 New Restaurants

The entire list is intriguing, including a Voltaggio brother at the top, a trendy new Nashville gem in the middle, and an Austin hot spot on the bottom. 

The cuter/younger Voltaggio, Michael, tops the list with his new INK. You may recall that he and his big brother Bryan competed together on Top Chef Season 6. Hunky Foodies/world class chefs top my list of must see things in any city. Sign me up.

I put “Odd Duck Farm to Table” on my list of must hits on my Austin Truck list, I guess this explains why it was never open… it’s now Barley Swine, and number 10 on the list. Guess where we’re going when I get home Mom & Dad?

Oh, and if you’re coming back to visit me, I hope your platinum card is ready. I still desperately want a Catbird Seat :) 

Suzy Wong's House of Yum Groupon

I’m shocked that I have not blogged Suzy Wong’s House of Yum. I was positive that I had, I even took my big girl camera on my last visit.

Some things on the menu are positively delightful, and others make me lament the cash I shelled out for so little. I promise I’ll bang out a full blog later this week, but I highly recommend the purchase of this Groupon.

Nashville (I mean actual Nashville, don’t tell me about anything in Hendersonville, Gallatin, Goodletsville… I’m not going that far) really needs a nice stuck in the 80s cheap Chinese place with a typo riddled menu and an $8 dinner that is serviceable and moderately authentic. Why must every decent bowl of hot & sour soup come from a bistro? 

Until then, if I’m going for frou frou, I want Suzy Wong’s or Basil. May as well go 1/2 price. Arnold Myint’s penchant for phenomenal cocktails hold true at this establishment as well. 

Play With Your Food

I’ve probably blogged and tweeted about Riffs more than any other place in town. (herehereherehere… oy. now here ;))

I told myself I’d hold off on more coverage, no one else really gets a repeat blog. This time I simply cannot help myself.

Part of the appeal of Riffs is the magic that happens when owners Carlos and BJ get together. They really are like Yin and Yang. 

Another plus is that they are constantly changing the menu. If what they are offering that day sounds good, you better get your butt in the car and find them. It won’t be the same the next time and lord knows you may have to wait a few months before they offer it again. (I’m lookin at you Banh Mi. Which by the way, courtesy of my mother’s scolding, they now pronounce correctly)

But my favorite part of the Riffs magic is how much they LOVE to play with food. These days they aren’t really staying true to their original concept. A fresh, locally driven “riff” on street food. They have an admirable mission to make elevated, fun, dynamic, and super portable food.  The food has been delicious, but not strict on their concept. 

Good news! They are back and better than ever. Check out what they served up for lunch in Cool Springs today.

I could have eaten 5 of those Korean BBQ tostadas. I probably wore more than I digested, but every bite of that drippy mess was delightful. The ginger scallion sauce was the perfect foil to the kimchi refried beans… YUM. The Greek chicken with lemon saffron rice and a wedge of pita were fantastic. I’m pretty sure I could have happily sat there with a big spoon and the whole tub of herbacious tzatziki. 

If there’s anything I’ve learned on this food blog adventure is that everyone deserves a shot or two. Everyone has their off days, and Wanderland was one for many of the Nashville’s trucks. My love of Cha Chah is a complete 180 from my previous feelings on the place. The boys are back and better than ever. It seems an open mind is just as important as playing with your food ;)

Happy Friday!

L

Anonymous asked: have you ever been to Martin's BBQ in Nolensville?

I have! Before I started the food blog. I was inspired by the Triple D episode to visit. The wedge salad and the sliders were fantastic and they had a great beer selection on tap. We’ve been meaning to head back out on a Saturday for Whole Hog day and to try the now famous Alabama White Sauce, we just haven’t gotten there yet.  Thanks for asking :)

Also on the list to hit are Edley’s BBQ and I’ve sadly not been to Hog Heaven either. I’m usually a Beans Brothers BBQ fan, but as great as those boys are at starting restaurants, they aren’t so good on consistency. The food wasnt great on our last few visits. 

Restaurant Week extended at Sunset Grill

I can’t really in good faith encourage you to go. Sunset Grill used to be one of my favorite haunts but the food quality had declined so much I stopped going about a year ago. I was back in December for a meeting and not much had changed. 

If by chance you were dying to make it there this week but couldn’t fit it in, you can now play foodie tetris with next week :)

Mama Myint’s Miraculous Salad

I’ve been wanting to try Patti Myint’s famous salad for quite some time. It just kept slipping my mind and wrangling enough people willing to take the challenge proved tougher than I thought. My Belmont days aren’t THAT far behind me and I’m still in horror of their parking situation. It keeps me from visiting the Myint Miracle Mile as much as I’d like. You have to hit International Market at the right time if you want to park legally. (If you CAN find a parking spot, run in and get the Tom Yum soup with shrimp and chicken. Stir in a side of rice… you can thank me later. Her epic salad isn’t her only good one, the Crying Tiger spicy beef salad is no slouch.)

I wish you could have seen my face when I read that Cha Chah would be serving her salad for Restaurant Week. I made our reservation the very next day.

Arnold Myint is offering an abbreviated version of his mother’s famous dish at my new favorite restaurant, Cha Chah. BONUS: they valet.

Patti Myint’s salad at International Market (via Nashville Scene)

According to the diagram, the streamlined version differs from hers by the exclusion of mango, cucumber, tomato, lemongrass, shrimp and squid, pork with ginger, and plain garlic.

Arnold’s Restaurant Week version at Cha Chah. It’s a spectacular looking mise en place, even Iron Chef Garces would approve. (Food Network geek inside joke, sorry)

This meal was so reminiscent of my mother’s tremendous spring rolls. I was in HEAVEN. I’d been looking forward to it for weeks and could barely concentrate all day. Usually that sets me up for failure. Nothing ever lives up to that kind of expectation.

Until now. Everything about it was amazing and surpassed my alarmingly high culinary expectations

Let’s back up a little. Two weeks ago I got tweeted a restaurant recommendation from Tom Colicchio himself. Tonight I walked into Cha Chah and saw Kevin Sbraga sitting at a table by the bar. He’s the winner of Arnold’s season of Top Chef, DC. As we were seated I heard heavily accented English that could only come from Patti Myint. Turns out Patti was dragging Chef Sbraga across the street to sample HER version of the famous salad. Alright, now I’m really excited. Then I see Chef Vito. Then I see Arnold. Then the ever fabulous Metropolitan (pseudo Manhattan) arrives. The night is already awesome. Then I see that Vivek has tweeted that Tiffany Derry (also from Top Chef DC) liked the salad so much, she put it on the bar menu at her new restaurant, Private Social in Dallas. Talk about making a Top Chef addict’s night! At this point I’m smiling like an idiot and I haven’t even eaten yet!

(via Arnold’s Facebook)

Ok, I’m beyond ready. BRING IT.

They DEFINITELY brought it. First you get a nice tray of romaine hearts, leaf lettuce layered with rice paper, and a mound of rice noodles. It took considerable effort to stack and arrange those properly; even more to keep the rice paper at the right consistency throughout. I was impressed before my first bite.

2 cheese boards lined with ramekins of vegetables and a vast variety of accoutrements followed by two bowls of protein round out your experience. 

Patti and Kevin returned at the same time the plates started arriving at our table. She told us to “Put in one of the meats and then ONE of everything else in the lettuce. Then eat it all in one bite. It’s the best way to savor the “flavor explosions.

I’m a rebel and this one has both proteins. Shhh, don’t tell Patti.

When she came back to check on us, she noticed all of the mini lime wedges discarded on our plates. We mistakenly assumed that you were meant to squeeze the lime on the toppings… not so. You’re supposed to chew up the whole thing, rind and all. I never in my life would have thought a sweet lady would demand I chew and swallow a lime. Listen to your elders. The woman knows her stuff, it brought everything to a whole new level.

It was a LONG day. Please ignore my second chin & stringy hair and focus on the delightful Miss Patti.

From the background to the foreground, left to right you see:

row 1) Beef Pork and onions 2) chicken salad with rice noodles

row 2) sweet chili sauce, basil leaves, celery leaves, Thai chili

row 3) cilantro and Kaffir lime leaves

row 4) pickled garlic, toasted coconut, carrot, fresh pineapple

row 5) pickled ginger, roasted unsalted peanuts, red onion, tiny lime wedges (eat whole)

The chicken was good, but nowhere near as delectable as the beef pork.I swear our server told us it was pork, but we were convinced our favorite protein was in fact beef. Matching to the labeled Patti picture, I’m pretty confident it was beef. Either way, it was hands down our favorite part of the meal and precisely like my mom makes it. Incredibly flavorful and rich, it’s well balanced by the bright array of veggies. Arnold’s comment proves in that it was, in fact, pork. Color me sheepish.

We were instructed to try one of everything all at once, at least once. Not a single one of us changed up the line up. Go round and round with the cute wooden tongs and load up that lettuce cup. We were never able to master the one bite thing, but we happily chowed them down in two. Not to say your skill can improve at dumping things in lettuce, but the flavors steadily progressed throughout our gluttonous eat-your-own-adventure. Every bite was better than the last.

I don’t know if Chef Myint knew I was a huge Top Chef fan, but I was positively delighted when he brought Chef Sbraga to our table. He was sweet, charming, and warm. We swapped notes on the Myint Empire’s delectable cocktails. Say what you will about the revolutionary Patterson and Holland Houses… the House of Myint’s been shaking up some inventive and fantastic drinks for years. I recall sneaking out of a night class between the exam and the lecture for a Lychee Martini across the street at PM. It’s one of my favorite acts of collegiate rebellion… you know besides spiking my Sonic diet cherry limeades in Business Management ;)

By the way, when I told Chef Sbraga he couldn’t leave without the Elk Osso Bucco if it was still on the menu, Arnold informed me it is for now, but they are having trouble sourcing it due to their high demand. So get your buns to Cha Chah TWICE in the immediate future.

Our sweet server, Evan, worked HARD for his money tonight. That poor guy barely made it back to our table with a few refills before we needed another round. I think we had 4 trays of lettuce. We were not shy, and they were happy to help us out. I finally told him enough with the small bowls of cilantro, bring us a big one. We killed that too. In an effort to keep up, Chef Myint finally sent him back out to collect our ramekins so he could wash them. Yeah, the owner was back there washing dishes… one of many reasons he’s a bad ass. 

Check out a fraction of the damage…

I picked the perfect friends to accompany me on this incredible culinary adventure. We had a fantastic time and savored every bite. I begged Chef Vito to find some of their salted caramel so we could really make a lasting impression on the girls’ first visit.

I think they liked it, I know they’ll be back. I’m sure I will. :)

My only words of wisdom are:

  • Thai chilis are by no means mild, do not try to be a hero.
  • The pickled ginger is a bit overwhelming if you use a full slice, feel free to break it down a bit more.
  • Short of a food allergy, there is absolutely no reason to not try every ingredient at least once. 
  • Do not be shy, they will bring you more so just GO FOR IT
  • Standard table manners do not apply to this dish.
  • Listen to Mama Myint and eat the whole chunk of lime.
  • Thank the Myints for introducing you to this fantastic experience… and bring friends!
  • Hurry to Cha Chah before you miss this once in a lifetime experience
  • Haul your big camera and invite a proficient photographer if you can’t seem to capture decent low light food photos like me… Thanks Laura!

Arnold’s right. Everything is better with a hint of Myint.

Cheers-

L

ChaChah opens for dinner at 5 PM Tuesday-Saturday. That means you have 3 more nights to try this. Keep in mind it is $20 a person and you need a minimum of 3 companions to participate. You know, unless you want to shell out $100 and try this beast on your own… but then you have to explain to your conscience how you ate a three figure salad. 

Restaurant Week!

It’s that time again :) RESTAURANT WEEK! 

I usually make time for at least one Restaurant Week excursion, this year I’ve got a reservation for the famous Mama Myint salad at Cha Chah tomorrow AND I snuck in a lunch special today.

Beware, some restaurant week menus aren’t really a deal at all. And if you and your dining companion have completely opposing tastes the limited menu can be more hassle than its worth. 

My friend Nick talked me into escaping the office to finally get my hands on The Local Burger. Nick is launching an awesome bow tie company, and I’d been dying to learn more. The food could have tasted of cardboard and I’d have still enjoyed myself. Check it out, Brier and Moss has some really exciting things coming. 

Fido is doing 2 lunch specials and 2 desserts for $20.12 this week. Our plan was to see if the specials looked good and do that, otherwise we’d get The Local Burger. 

Lucky us, the burger is on the special board! Actually all of the specials sounded delicious, but the time had finally come for that burger. 

I’m proud to report that the hype holds true, the Local Burger is divine. It may not be my favorite burger in town, but it was definitely delicious. 

The specials this week

The burger comes with a side salad, kettle chips or the soup of the day. 

I lucked out because the soup of the day was very appealing as well. Roasted cauliflower, butternut squash, and gruyere in a creamy warming concoction perfect for the complete downpour we waded through en route.

It was well seasoned and herbaceous. I’d go back for a big bowl with some crusty bread. 

Burger purists need not apply. This is definitely a gourmet burger laden with layered flavors. I feel some of it gets muddled as I didn’t taste the fig or much fennel and I had trouble discerning much over the pickles and fried onion. The meat was delectable and the top bun was great. The bottom just wasn’t up to the challenge of collecting the runoff from the incredibly juicy burger. Maybe the solution is to eat it upside down next time ;)

I found myself wishing for some freshness after the burger and creamy soup.

Unfortunately the smore’s cheesecake didn’t really fit the bill. I’ve saved it for later but it looks delicious.

For me, The Local Burger was a great one time meal. It was good, but I think I’ll have to satisfy my burger craving elsewhere. I’d gladly go back to try any of the lunch specials for the week, they all sounded fabulous. 

Happy dining!

L

Cha Chah your way to Belmont Blvd

I have a confession to make-

I’ve been a major food funk. I have liked almost nothing I’ve come in contact with the last few months. I’ve been disappointed by just about everything I’ve encountered and the blog went on the back burner. There have been a few good things here and there, but nothing that ignited the kind of passion required for a full post. Old favorites like Riffs (holy jesus the Buffalo Mac & Cheese) and Jonbalaya (yay parfait!) gave me a glimmer of hope. A few dishes at Cha Chah even sparked an interest. I was beyond due for a rock your socks off meal.

If it’s confession Tuesday, I’ve got a few more….

2) I have a little foodie crush on Arnold Myint.

I have another confession to make-

3) I usually leave his restaurants underwhelmed. I want to love it, I try so hard… but I usually leave a little sad I stepped outside my price range for what I wind up getting. No offense to Arnold, I’m just broke… and if I’m going to spend that much I want to rave about it.


Last one…

4) Cha Chah BLEW MY MIND on Friday night. I thought I knew what to expect, but I didn’t have any idea. Are you ready for this?

It was perfect timing that the invitation to come try Cha Chah’s new menu items popped up about the same time the boyfriend’s mother’s 50th birthday popped on my radar. I woke up anxious every morning thinking about dinner. Would it finally break my food funk? Chef Francesco Vito had me cautiously optimistic after our last visit. I was SO ready to get there.

I apologize for the photos, I have NEVER been able to take a decent food shot in Cha Chah.

These fried tomatillo pickles ($6) rocked my world. I love vinegar. I love pickles. I LOVE fried pickles. I genuinely adored every bite of these delicious nuggets. I tend to think they let the fry go too dark at Cha Chah, but the smokey nutty flavor really enhanced this dish. The aioli was delightfully paired.

While the bacon and bleu cheese stuffed dates ($6) slightly resemble something Andrew Zimmerman chases… they were perfectly balanced. The sweet date was the perfect vehicle for the savory/creamy/salty filling.

The ginger crab cakes ($11) with homemade chow chow and Harissa aioli were a completely fresh take on my standard go-to dish. The pickled mustard seeds served up the perfect pucker atop the breaded sweet crab meat.

We didn’t know if we should order the flat bread, how could we possibly eat this many starters and still tackle our dinners? Our server assured us the rabbit confit ($11) was not to be missed. The heirloom potatoes quickly became my number one shopping obsession. I have GOT to get my hands on some of these babies to play around with. Not typically a fig fan, the boyfriend plucked every spare fig he could off the table. They were perfect. When Chef Vito came to visit at the end of our meal, he gleefully informed us that he even makes the ricotta in house. What a busy man! They cure their own meats, bake their own bread, they even make their own cheese? Did I hear that right?

Twitter informed me that the Mushroom Crock Pot ($9) was a must have! Farm house egg, house made bacon, delicious house baked bread… it was a perfect bite when shared 3 ways. No one was upset that the boyfriend detests mushrooms. More for us!

I loathed brussels sprouts as a child, but as an adult I cannot pass them up.I’ve ordered the sprouts on all but one of my visits. The one time I gave them up in favor of trying other things I left feeling bereft. To the standard diner, they may over do it on the smoked vinegar a hair, but I delight in the tangy broken buds with Marcona almonds. They have revamped my stock Cha Chah favorite with the addition of Thai chili, red onion, and a sprinkle of shaved parm. I rarely share, that night I just had to. If that’s not love… no really, did you LOOK at the amount of food on our table? We haven’t even gotten to the entrees!

*deep breath*

Usually I talk the boyfriend into ordering whatever second entree it was that I was dying to try. I did him a solid this trip and backed up his order with the meatloaf ($17). I grew up in a no-meatloaf household, and I’m far from a connoisseur. Even with my limited bank of meatloaf expertise, I couldn’t help but wonder… Lamb? Bacon? Duck Jus? These are things that aren’t found in even the most adventurous Mama’s meatloaf. Good thing we have Arnold and Vito to introduce us to such culinary genius. While I’d have preferred a shallower slice with more crusty surface area, it was a delicious hunk o’ meat. A savvy vegetarian might ask for an entree of just the parsnip puree and roasted carrots as they were my favorite savory bites of the night. Lucky for the vegetarians, they were serving a vegetarian meatloaf option that night.

I love pig… I really do. I NEVER order pork. Ever. I somehow always seem to glaze over it on the menu. I know I read “Ginger Tea Pork Loin ($17) Bok Choy, Sesame Soy Reduction Heirloom Potato-Mushroom Hash,” but it didn’t register. Good thing our companion, Michelle, noticed it. That plate stole the show. It was delightful in its simplicity. The sides were fantastic, but that pork was perfectly amazing.

We loved the Elk Osso Bucco ($19) so much last time, the boyfriend had already decided on a repeat performance before I’d even reserved our table.

The rosemary polenta outshone its previous iteration and the spaghetti squash made more sense this time around. The Chinese broccoli was a welcome addition to the plate. Do I really need to say more than ELK OSSO BUCCO? Where else are you going to get that? Just a hint of gaminess and a mouthful of well developed flavor.

I almost ordered the Cornish Game Hen ($16) last time just to get the my grubby mitts on the sweet potato gnocchi. I was glad Boyfriend’s Mama decided to give it a whirl. The hen was juicy and tender, but the plate was a wealth of soft brown. I was hoping for some crispy skin or perhaps more char on the veggies. On any other night the plate could have curled my toes, but everything else on our overladen table outshone the hen. So Lesley may be right in this case. Hens are friends, not food.

Aren’t they cute? Give her a great birthday gift and check out her charming lifestyle blog here. I wish I looked that good now, forget ringing in 50.

We made a HUGE dent in that menu. I need to go back with seafood lovers. I was anxious to try the paella and the arctic char.

I was about 30 seconds from a food coma by the time dessert came out. This was a delicious warm spiced apple confection with walnut ice cream.

The chocolate parade with house made marshmallows, hot chocolate… smore something, chocolate torte something.. I don’t know, I couldnt focus. I could barely keep from just putting my face directly into this next one.

The clouds parted and angels sang when this landed in front of me. For real, how lucky am I? The Salted Caramel Panna Cotta with toffee knocked my world off it’s axis. I thought Vito had rendered me speechless with his spicy pumpkin ice cream… I literally lost my power of speech after my first bite. My molars might have been fused together with the salty sticky heaven, but I was so happy! Very happy. I was painfully full by the time these came out, but it just may have hurt me more to leave half of it on the table. 4 of us barely made a dent. Ive seriously considered coming back and asking for parsnip puree for dinner and then going right to this and calling it a night.

Vito came to visit with a tray of rosemary ice cream. It was even better than the last batch. I told him my companions didn’t believe me that his spicy pumpkin beat Jeni’s ice cream for me. So he dug around his freezer until he found us some.

If I hadn’t just eaten my face off, I’d have sat there until all of this ice cream got taken down. I’m not even a dessert person. I take salty over sweet any day, but I really could not get enough of these confections.

I don’t remember what we were laughing at to make this photo so awkward, but there was nothing funny about how incredible our dinner was. Chef Vito, Arnold, and the entire Cha Chah family did an absolutely fantastic job.

If you would have asked me if I’d recommend Cha Cha for a special occasion before, I’d have been hesitant. I’d readily throw it into the mix for a happy hour pitcher of sangria and a few tapas. For a special occasion I’d have probably directed you elsewhere. Nothing on the menu tops $20, but if you’re as epicurious as we are it really racks up! I can say with absolutely no reservation that our meal on Friday was one of my top 5 favorites in the states. (I’m a carb-aholic, nothing competes with 10 days in Italy…)

We ate so well Friday night, we didn’t eat until almost 10 PM the following day. I don’t usually over indulge, but I could NOT force my fork down on Friday. We couldn’t stop gushing to anyone who visited our table about how delighted we were about the whole thing. I’ll continue to sing Cha Chah’s praises, and I’ll have one eye on the bank balance until its comfortably high enough to go back ;) The brunch menu had a bunch of interesting selections, we’re tackling that next.

RUN to Cha Chah for a nice warm plate of comfort and camaraderie. The space is lovely and this menu is divine.

2013 Belmont Blvd
Nashville, TN 37212
Open dinner Tuesday-Saturday starting at 5
Sunday Brunch 10:30-2:30
Dont forget Happy Hour is from 5pm - 7pm with 1/2 price tapas and wine.

Cheers!

L

**EDIT**

Reason #476 why you should hit Cha Chah:

AND #478:

If you make your reservation here and use code HINEIGHBOR in the notes, you get 50% off your food (alcohol/gratuity excluded) until the end of the year.

In honor of the new Chuy’s opening right by my office in Midtown…
I hear this is a fantastic recipe… but let’s be real. I’m going to go get mine from the trunk of a vintage car at the bar and take it down with my Mexican Martini ;)

I snuck in a quick visit last night. My companion didn’t enjoy his quesadilla, but my standard Tortilla Soup order didn’t disappoint.

In honor of the new Chuy’s opening right by my office in Midtown…

I hear this is a fantastic recipe… but let’s be real. I’m going to go get mine from the trunk of a vintage car at the bar and take it down with my Mexican Martini ;)

I snuck in a quick visit last night. My companion didn’t enjoy his quesadilla, but my standard Tortilla Soup order didn’t disappoint.

On a Roll…

First up- My sincerest apologies that I’ve been AWOL. The new job is KILLING ME. There may be slightly more money but there is infinitely less time and passion for anything. So I’ll own it, the overtime being good for the blog turned out to be a big fat lie.

In other news- I have some pretty rockin’ stuff in the queue to edit and post, including some Food Blog Forum highlights to share.

Next- truth time. I’ve been so worn out and tired lately, I pretty much just go home to a glass of wine and pass out. There is very little food in my life… aside from the Jimmy Johns my boss brings into the office. (Ew) It’s always well after dark and well beyond any reasonable time to eat dinner when I get home. If the bf is in town, he takes great care of me and does most of the cooking. Sometimes I can bring myself to eat it.  These days I only know where my kitchen is because it is where I stock the bar. This is one of my new favorite recipes. I’m excited to share it despite the unconventional pairing. I’m actually in the process of making it again at the moment.

Zucchini Rolls

We’re the kind of freak shows that consider an extended visit to Whole Foods a great date night. On one of those occasions at the new Franklin store, I found this incredible Peach Balsamic vinegar in the bulk section. It inspired my lazy butt to get into the kitchen to play.

Some gorgeous farmers market zucchini and a new “white” variety brought me to this next dish.

I marinated thinly sliced zucchini in a mixture of garlic, olive oil, said Peach Balsamic, the Kirkland No Salt Seasoning I use on everything, and my omni-present Rudy’s Rub. I use both in pretty much every item that leaves my kitchen. They are very versatile and make fantastic pantry staples. 20 minutes was plenty of time to marinate while I cored and sliced some pineapple that needed love. We put everything on the grill and I did some recon in the kitchen.

The fruit bowl turned up one last heirloom tomato and a cursory glance in my minimally stocked refrigerator brought me thinly sliced pastrami and caramelized onion dip. My thought was “Welp, we can’t just have zucchini and pineapple for dinner, let’s give it a shot.”

Winner winner rolled up dinner. For real.

(If that’s not keeping it real, I don’t know what is ;) Sorry it’s not pretty. )

It was kind of a pain in the butt to sit at the table and wrap all these buggers for just a thrown together weeknight dinner… and in the interest of full disclosure, I did a LOT of snacking while I worked. That zucchini must have taken a secret dip in crack because I couldn’t stop eating it. I just cut everything into roll-able  pieces, swiped a bit of dip on the zucchini, added tomato, pastrami, and sometimes some pineapple and rolled… and rolled… and rolled.

I assure you, it was well worth the effort. That’s saying a lot from the girl who’s biggest effort in the kitchen lately has been opening a bottle of Two Buck Chuck or stirring Tito’s vodka into whatever was on the top shelf of my fridge.

This night, I plopped on the couch with a glass of Pinot Grigio and ate my rolled up masterpieces with a big old dopey grin on my face. The meat and potatoes boyfriend asks when we’re making them again at least once a week.

If we’re still playing the truth game… the pineapple ones were my favorites :) Sounds gross… but definitely worth a shot. If he’d made them, I’d have crinkled my nose and taken my wine upstairs without dinner, But I made them, and I’ll take ownership that they ROCKED.

Cheers and rolls-

L

Bartender Bash 2011

Bf and I gave each other admission to Bartender Bash as our anniversary gifts to each other this year. We’ve been wanting to go since Beth raved about it last year. (PS Beth, nice optimization lady, you’re the first results for Bartender Bash in a google search.)

I had a horrific cold and had one of those soul destroying days at work. I take layoffs especially hard now that I’ve experienced them on the exiting end. Smiling, making conversation, and to be honest, blogging, just seemed entirely too daunting. But the tickets weren’t about to go to waste, bad days were meant to be washed away with a cocktail. Being a vodka girl and attending a Grey Goose sponsored event… there are worse ways to end a day.

Lucky for us some familiar faces were judging the event. Christy, Morgan, and Vivek had a table lined with beautiful cocktails. It was definitely an auspicious start to the evening.

Photo Courtesy of Morgan Levy

Best. decision. ever.

(Abram Bottoms of Sperry’s mixing up some UT Vols concoction. I promise I tried it despite my disdain for the other UT)

We had an absolute ball. Everyone was so lovely. We had a great time chatting with locals that enjoy a good cocktail just as much as we do. Some drinks were much better than others and I was barely aware that there was even food. By the time we made our way through the throngs of people in the lobby there was very little left to soak up the alcohol. But lets be honest, this food blogger was in this for drinks, food was secondary to me for the first time.

I wont lie, I got blitzed. I’ve never had $25 knock me around quite like that. Those bartenders had absolutely no problem doling out heavy doses of Goose. Each $25 admission granted you 2 Grey Goose cocktail tickets, appetizers, and tastings from the 11 competing bartenders. Meet them here.

Bonnie Johnson from Cantina Laredo made a watermelon margarita and a lavender champagne cocktail. They were the first two we tasted and we knew then and there that we made a great decision in coming. 

Kasey Tamkun from Prime 108 made a Gibson Flier with the Grey Goose Pear and a whimsical Root Beer Float. Two tables down and I was giddy, my bad day forgotten.

Then we got to table three and visited Charlies FIelds from Rumba. He definitely got my vote for fan favorite. The Get Behind the Mule was as refreshing and delightful as the mixologist. Photographic evidence below.

He shook up a “Jeffrey,” for the boyfriend and being good Get Him To The Greek fans, we couldn’t quell our laughter. That could have been the straight shots of Chartruse he poured me too ;)

Get Behind the Mule
1 ounce Grey Goose Original
1 ounce ginger flavored liqueur
½ ounce ginger snap liqueur
3 ounces ginger beer
Garnish with lime wedge and mint sprig

The other side of the gorgeous lobby didn’t fare as well for us, but I was intrigued by Lauren Lowry’s collection of light cocktails from Morton’s. Rumor has it she won the whole shebang. The Skinny Minnie Cosmo with Tyku Orange was light on the sugar and high on taste. The agave fueled No Blue Mortini was definitely a keeper. I’d have no trouble taking down a few of these martinis with some $5 bar bites.

No Blue Mortini
1 ½ ounce Grey Goose Original
½ ounce superfruit puree
1 ounce pomegranate
Squeeze half of a lime

And obviously my love of M Street didn’t disappoint. Jeremy Meador mixed up a Ginger Agusto, a delicious concoction of  ginger, basil, and grapefruit.

So really, the only thing left to say is… Is it mid-August 2012 yet?

Get your tickets and join us next year for the seventh annual Bartender Bash!


Word to the wise… take the next day off work. I knew it wasn’t a coincidence with all the trains around. I felt like I got hit by one the next morning. Getting old bites.

Cheers!

Food is important in every culture, but for the Vietnamese it is the ultimate sign of welcome. Pho is my family’s welcome home gift. I’ve never come home and not had it. I’m so grateful for the things that never change.

Food is important in every culture, but for the Vietnamese it is the ultimate sign of welcome. Pho is my family’s welcome home gift. I’ve never come home and not had it. I’m so grateful for the things that never change.

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your grills.
Can you really pass up this Whole Foods Labor Day grilling special? I have a pantry full of Rudy’s rub that would make great friends with a $20 2.25 pound slab of ribs, potato salad, and apple pie….

Ladies and Gentlemen, start your grills.

Can you really pass up this Whole Foods Labor Day grilling special? I have a pantry full of Rudy’s rub that would make great friends with a $20 2.25 pound slab of ribs, potato salad, and apple pie….

Since you bought all the ingredients already, you wanna see the worlds best BLT?
I picked up some focaccia bread at Kroger, prepped the bacon the same way, sliced up more of those glorious tomatoes, and rocked the boyfriend’s world.
Ever been to Fabu? Sweet little boutique in a blue house on the almost scary part of Sylvan Park? They sometimes have these charming trunk sales with cocktails and appetizers while you shop. They once had these perfect little BLT bites. Tiny toast rounds were topped with a creamy basil and bacon spread topped with a perfect, tiny sweet tomato. I dreamed about those things for months, so I started experimenting last summer.
I finally perfected it today.
Combine one heaping tablespoon of mayo (I use Hellman’s light with olive oil), a healthy squeeze of spicy brown mustard, garlic, a fistful of chiffonaded basil, a few dashes of traditional Tabasco sauce, and a nice sprinkle of season salt. If I was still on team turkey bacon, I’d go ahead and crumble the bacon into the spread.
Lucky for you, I’ve switched to the dark side. Benton’s thick cut bacon is just too beautiful to disrespect that way.
Aforementioned mayo was spread onto the nicely toasted focaccia, then thick slices of tomato, well washed and dried lettuce, and three of the best pieces of bacon of my life.
Voila!
Enjoy :)
L

Since you bought all the ingredients already, you wanna see the worlds best BLT?

I picked up some focaccia bread at Kroger, prepped the bacon the same way, sliced up more of those glorious tomatoes, and rocked the boyfriend’s world.

Ever been to Fabu? Sweet little boutique in a blue house on the almost scary part of Sylvan Park? They sometimes have these charming trunk sales with cocktails and appetizers while you shop. They once had these perfect little BLT bites. Tiny toast rounds were topped with a creamy basil and bacon spread topped with a perfect, tiny sweet tomato. I dreamed about those things for months, so I started experimenting last summer.

I finally perfected it today.

Combine one heaping tablespoon of mayo (I use Hellman’s light with olive oil), a healthy squeeze of spicy brown mustard, garlic, a fistful of chiffonaded basil, a few dashes of traditional Tabasco sauce, and a nice sprinkle of season salt. If I was still on team turkey bacon, I’d go ahead and crumble the bacon into the spread.

Lucky for you, I’ve switched to the dark side. Benton’s thick cut bacon is just too beautiful to disrespect that way.

Aforementioned mayo was spread onto the nicely toasted focaccia, then thick slices of tomato, well washed and dried lettuce, and three of the best pieces of bacon of my life.

Voila!

Enjoy :)

L

Group Members

Member - Nashville Food Bloggers