Monday, March 30, 2009
With that said, A Man's Gotta Eat will next be updated on Friday, April 3rd.
Stay tuned ...
Saturday, March 28, 2009
Last week, I met some friends at Urban Flats for dinner. To say that I was unimpressed is an understatement. First, the place was full of overdressed 20-somethings who probably couldn't have defined "poke salet" if they'd had guns pointed at 'em. Second, Urban Flats' dining room chairs were the most uncomfortable chairs I've ever encountered in a restaurant. Third, I ordered a grilled pork chop, only to be told by my server that the grilled pork chop was "unavailable" ... and then she proceeded to tell me that "[Urban Flats'] grilled pork chop is the best in Nashville." (id I need to freakin' hear that?!) And finally, the grilled salmon I ate was okay; however, I'm pretty sure the "mustard glaze" was nothing but Grey Poupon, and the steamed vegetables had not the first hint of salt or pepper or anything on 'em.
Anywho, Metromix.com's Will Ayers recently penned a review of Urban Flats. He has a lot more positive things to say about the place than I do. Indeed.
Friday, March 27, 2009
Earlier this week, I name-checked the King Market Café in my comapany's newsletter. One of my co-workers went there for lunch the very next day ... and she went back for dinner. (If that don't tell you something, well, I can't tell you nothing.)
I ate a big bowl o' phở at the King Market ce soir (see above pic), and, oh, my, it was good. Of course, everything at the King Market is good!
King Market Asian Grocery Lao/Thai Café
1801 Antioch Pike
Nashville, TN 37211
Thursday, March 26, 2009
The West Michigan Whitecaps minor league baseball club -- West Michigan is the Detroit Tigers' Class A team -- recently announced a new addition to their 2009 ballpark menu: The Fifth Third Burger.
What's a Fifth Third Burger? Well ...
The Fifth Third burger features a whole lotta grilled ground beef ("five thirds of a pound" to be exact), nacho cheese, chili, salsa, tortilla chips, lettuce, maters, onions and refried beans on an 8-inch sesame seed bun.
"The Fifth Third burger is not for the casual eater," said Matt Timon, director of food and beverage for the Whitecaps. Ain't that statement a candidate for understatement of the year?!
At nearly 5,000 calories and costing 20 bucks a pop, the Fifth Third Burger is truly a meal for two, or three, or four, or five ...
Wednesday, March 25, 2009
I talked about Sir Pizza last August, and I'm about to repost my recount of that particular visit. First, however, he're some things you need to know about the Bell Road Sir Pizza:
● It looks, smells, and feels like and old-school pizzeria ... right down to the tight booths and checkered tablecloths.
● What would hot pizza be without cold beer? Draft beer in old-school pitchers is available therein.
● We couldn't have asked for better service. After taking our drink orders, our server returned to ask if we'd like a "bowl" of banana or jalapeño peppers (!). Our pizzas came out quick as a whip, and the boxes we requested for our leftovers were delivered even more quickly.
That said, here's what I had to say about Sir Pizza some six months ago. Please pay particular attention to what I had to say about the quality of Sir Pizza's pies ...
When I was a little kid, and by "little" I mean 5 or 6-years-old, there was a Sir Pizza restaurant on Nolensville Road near what is now the Nashville Zoo. I remember going to that restaurant several times, but I don't really remember anything about the pizza served there. What I do remember is the cartoon booth - that is, a little booth in which a child could sit and watch a cartoon for a quarter - that enticed me and my friends to keep jumping out of our seats as our parents told us to "Sit down and eat!"
Last night, I ate at Sir Pizza for the first time in many, many years. Sir Pizza is a bit of a fixture in Middle Tennessee, and I even did some business with 'em a few years back, so I'm a little bit embarrassed that it took me so long to go back there and get me some pizza pie. But last night, get me some pizza pie I did. Let me tell you 'bout it.
A good buddy and I went to the Sir Pizza just across the Davidson/Rutherford County line (in Lavergne, TN). When we placed our order - for a 14" with pepperoni, Italian sausage, onions, green peppers, and black olives - the kid behind the counter said, "Do you want two-for-one?" What he was asking was: Did we want two large-ass pizzas with pepperoni, Italian sausage, and onions for the price of one? Of course, we said "Yes!"
We ate one pizza, boxed-up the other, and then went to my parents' house where we presented a big-ass free pizza to my father. Oh, and then we went bowling. (There's a brief mention of my bowling adventure over at The Nigh Seen Creeder.) Now, 'bout Sir Pizza's pizza ...
I've always been a sucker for thin crust pizza, and it pleased me to learn that Sir Pizza only sells thin crust pizzas. Now, by thin crust I don't mean a Pizza Hut-style thin crust that looks and tastes like a saltine cracker. Instead, I want a thin crust that's not only thicker than a blackjack hand, but also can hold a lot of toppings. And that's just what I was served at Sir Pizza.
Sir Pizza - and this is the one thing I remembered from my last visit there - puts a one-of-a-kind-tastin' Italian sausage on its pies. Not only is the sausage in question one-of-a-kind, it's also incredibly tasty. Indeed, more than once whilst eating tonight, I picked pieces of sausage off my slices of pizza to eat alone 'cause, well, Sir Pizza's sausage is unique among Nashville-area pizza restaurants.
Finally, let me say this: If you order a pie from Sir Pizza, expect a thin crust that'll have toppings almost to the very edge of the crust. And the toppings will not taste mass-produced. Instead, they'll taste ... well, you'll be eating something that tastes like it came from the I-talian joint down on the corner.
I'm gonna do two-for-one again at Sir Pizza next Tuesday. Who wants to join me?
Tuesday, March 24, 2009
I wouldn’t have thought about making homemade sausages ... if it weren’t for a great diner breakfast I had, complete with homemade pork sausage patties. Patties don’t require sheep intestines. And if I bought pre-ground meat, I wouldn’t need a grinder.
It’s true that without the skins, sausages don’t have the juicy snap of biting into the end of a good kielbasa (or hot dog for that matter). But I’d be able to put them together in the same amount of time it would take to make a burger. And here’s something you can’t take for granted: I’d be able to control what, exactly, goes into them. I started experimenting with regular ground pork. Although most sausage recipes call for added pork fat, I figured my pork was fatty enough, and without a grinder, extra lard would be hard to incorporate into the meat.
I seasoned the pork with red wine, rosemary and prunes for a little sweetness, then formed it into patties and fried them. Served with a toasted baguette, it was the easiest and tastiest meal I’d made in a while.
Next I played with ground lamb, turning it into fiery merguez with loads of cayenne, garlic and cilantro. I served it over couscous tossed with harissa and chickpeas.
For the merguez, I chose to form them into long cigar shapes instead of patties, for aesthetic reasons. Looks are important when it comes to skinless sausages. Make big fat patties and you’ve got what amounts to intensely seasoned hamburgers. Roll them small and round and they’re meatballs. (Not that that is at all bad.)
Most recently, I delved into chicken sausages. Those that I had bought at the market were always bland and dry, and I wanted to do better.
I started with ground dark-meat chicken, which has more fat and flavor than white meat. Unable to decide between a chipotle-laced sausage with cumin or a Chinese-inspired one with star anise and soy, I made a half-batch of each. Both versions fried up crisp on the outside, tender within and flavorful all around.
And though they require little effort, they are still something to brag about.
Monday, March 23, 2009
I've never been the world's biggest Hooters fan. The food is average -- I can name a half-dozen different places in which you can get better chicken wings and/or pub fare -- and the famous Hooters hooters are ... well, let's just say that most of 'em are overrated and leave it at that.
After a looooong week last week, I joined a couple o' co-workers on Friday at the Hooters on Harding Place for some drinkin' and eatin'. I didn't really want to go. One of my co-workers, however, promised to buy me "a couple" of beers, and that's all I needed to hear to drag my arse there.
Hooters is currently celebrating its 20th anniversary. Last Friday, the 20th of the month you see, the Hooters gang were in full anniversary mode. They had drink and food specials, and the Hooters gals were all dressed in 80s-era garb: leg warmers, Flashdance-style ripped sweatshirts, denim skirts, etc. (For the record, Hooters is offering "specials" on the 20th of every month in 2009.)
To make a long story short, I left Hooters Friday swearing that its truly gonna take something special to happen for me to go back. The Hooters gals were more interested in posing for pics in their 80s gear than tending to their customers. (I had to wait almost 30 minutes for a take-out burger that I'd promised to deliver to an ailing family member.) The onion rings were so greasy they left a small puddle of grease in the dish in which they were served. And the chicken wings were so overcooked that some of the drummettes could've been used as rivets ... yes, they were that hard.
If I'm hell bent on seeing young ladies parade around in skin-tight clothing, I'll go to a Nashville Predators game and watch the Ice Girls. And if I want damn-good chicken wings, I'll go to ...
Joltin' Django will soon reveal his favorite chicken wings in all o' Nashville.
I received a $10 gift card from Hooters coporate office today. That should be enough for me to have some wings and a beer.
I'll tell you if the service -- and the food -- improved any when I make use of my gift card.
Sunday, March 22, 2009
If the answer is yes, then you are considered to be part of a minority, or so claims a recent study of 3,000 eaters by the NPD Group, a marketing-research company. According to an article from the Chicago Sun-Times, the reason why people are not using recipes is because the No. 1 food for dinner in the U.S. is the sandwich. Can this really be true?
Perhaps, a lot less shocking is the trend towards using online recipes instead of cookbooks. Fellow blog, The EpiLog is also surprised by NPD Group's "sandwich theory" to explain the fact that people are not using recipes. The EpiLog states that people may not be using recipes, because they are cooking family meals from a "basic stable of a few standard dinners that are familiar, easy, and keep everyone happy." But, to me, what also seems a huge factor is the little time that people have to devote to meal planning.
Just because someone is not following a recipe that does not mean we should assume that this person just eats sandwiches. Perhaps, people are cooking omelets, pasta and a number of other dishes that do not necessarily require a recipe.
Check out the entire article here.
Saturday, March 21, 2009
I grilled some chopped steaks and mashed some taters ce soir. I poured my can o' Dawn Fresh by Giorgio sauce into a pan and "cut" it with some beef broth and fresh-cracked black pepper and ...
I've been making beef gravy from scratch all these years, and Dawn Fresh by Giorgio sauce has been out there all along ... for less than a dollar, no less.
Yours truly has learned his lesson, indeed.
Friday, March 20, 2009
Once upon a time, I had a part-time job at a Nashville-based trucking company. I was 20-years-young then, and my job allowed me to experiece a whole lot of things that I probably would not've been able to do otherwise. Like this ...
The company for which I worked leased trucks to a trucking outfit whose primary "route" was East Tennessee, North Carolina, Virgina, and West Virginia. One Saturday I was approached by a driver from said "outfit" who'd just come back from Virginia. He beckoned me out to his truck, and he showed me the half-dozen gallon jugs of moonshine he had in his side-box.
"Go getcha a cup," Mr. Truck Driver said. And I did. And he filled it with about two ounes of moonshine that was crystal (and I mean crystal) clear.
I gulped that moonshine in one shot. It tasted like vodka that'd been cut with rubbing alcohol, and it rested in my belly like a hot coal. Literally.
'Bout 5 minutes later, however, my lips and toes were tingling, and I could feel my ears getting read, and I felt warm all over. "No wonder people drink this ****!" I remember saying to myself.
That said, Tennessee's finest moonshiner has passed on. Slashfood tells us 'bout it:
The nation's best-known moonshiner has died just days before he was to report to federal prison.
Marvin "Popcorn" Sutton, 62, died Monday in Parrottsville, Tenn., of an apparent suicide from carbon monoxide poisoning. His fourth wife, Pamela, told the Associated Press that he was supposed to report Friday to federal prison to serve an 18-month sentence.
Legal or not, Popcorn -- who got his name by destroying a bar's 10-cent popcorn machine with a pool cue -- practiced an artisan's craft producing thousands of gallons of white dog in handmade stills hidden in the hillsides of North Carolina and Tennessee.
"He was one of a kind," documentary filmmaker Neal Hutcheson tells Slashfood. His latest film, "The Last One," featured Popcorn in action.
Popcorn embodied the moonshiner aesthetic with his ragged beard, overalls and feathered fedora in a part of the country where moonshiners are considered more hero than criminal.
"People take a lot of pride in having been related to somebody who made moonshine," Hutcheson says. "It seems like everybody over a certain age has a story about an uncle, or they heard tell their grandparent made moonshine. It was very, very common of course, back in the day."
He wrote a book, "Me and My Likker" and found fans in the likes of "Jackass" star Johnny Knoxville, who called Popcorn "a sharp, defiant, and funny old man and now he's gone. And it's an understatement to say he won't be forgotten."
When feds arrested Popcorn last May, they found three stills capable of making 1,000 gallons of moonshine, more than 850 gallons of hooch, hundreds of gallons of mash and other materials used to make white dog as well as firearms and ammo. He pleaded guilty to what was his fifth conviction.
Hutcheson told Slashfood he last spoke to Sutton on March 13.
"I knew something was different," he says. "I really felt like he expected to die when he went to prison, but now it's very easy to see that this was his plan all along when he ran out of legal options, legal challenges. He just had set all this up very carefully."
Hutcheson says people shouldn't judge Popcorn on how he chose to end his life.
"It's very difficult to take this news, but it would have been more difficult I think to watch him sort of wither away and die in prison," he says. "The way he ended his life was totally in character with who he was and it was, I don't think, completely out of hopelessness -- he was just determined to do what he wanted to do, and he didn't want to go to prison."
Remember him instead as the artisan of the still.
"Some people have questioned whether he was a showman or a craftsman or a professional hillbilly," Hutcheson says. "More than anything, he really took pride in the quality of his liquor, and as he would always tell people, that's the only thing that he had to brag about."
Thursday, March 19, 2009
Joltin' Django's Cornbread
1 cup self-rising corn meal (preferably Martha White)
A little less than a full cup of milk
1 teaspoon vegetable oil
Pour oil into an 8-inch skillet and rub into all "corners." Put skillet in oven and preheat to 400 degrees.
Mix corn meal, milk and egg in a shallow mixing bowl.
When oven is "ready," remove skillet and pour corn meal-mixture in.
Bake for 12-15 minutes (remove when the top is golden brown).
... has a catchphrase that's fitting for so many occasions: "Don't say I didn't try to warn you!"
Ol' Eric was spoutin' his catchphrase today when folks at work were eatin' bowls of my cabbage soup, which had a a double-dollop of Hungarian hot paprika in it.
By popular request ... here's the recipe:
Joltin' Django's Cabbage Soup
8 slices lean bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 large cabbage, cored and chopped
1 large white onion, large-diced
5 carrots, pealed and diced
5 potatoes, pealed and large-cubed
1 tablespoon hot paprika
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons course-ground black pepper
Brown bacon over medium heat in a Dutch oven, 6-8 minutes. Add onions and cook until clear.
Add cabbage, carrots, and potatoes; stir well and just cover with cold water.
Throw in paprika, thyme, salt and pepper; cover and bring to a boil.
Reduce heat to simmer-low and cook for 2 hours.
Wednesday, March 18, 2009
My grandfather loved mountain oysters. My grandmother would slice 'em thin, coat 'em in flour, and fry 'em until they were golden brown. I always thought them oysters looked like fried fish - good fried fish - but I wouldn't eat 'em for nothing. Still won't.
In May 2000, I went - nay, I was practically dragged - to a family "reunion" in Montana which involved not a single blood relative of mine -- the less I say about said gathering the better. I had to fly into Seattle and drive in a rental car to the western edge of Montana. Whilst driving through Idaho, I snapped several pics of a billboard inviting locals and visitors to attend a "Testicle Festival." The pics are tucked away somewhere, where I don't know.
I couldn't help but think about those billboards when I read this (trés intéressant, n'est-ce pas?):
The judges gathered around the pool table at the Union Brewery Saloon, their palates attuned despite thick nicotine haze. They were here to assess the taste, texture, appearance and creative flair of a not-for-the-faint-of-heart culinary tradition known as the mountain oyster — the Wild West on a plate.
A Feast of 'Oysters' Of all the country’s gastronomic competitions, from "Top Chef" to pies at the county fair, perhaps none compare to the challenge facing the harried chefs assembled here in a parking lot for the 18th annual International Comstock Mountain Oyster Fry. Classically dipped in cornmeal and then fried, or artfully concealed in scrambled eggs, bordelaise sauce or sushi, these oysters were not of the Chesapeake or bluepoint variety but, rather, a cornerstone of Western ranching culture involving testicles from gelded lambs and calves.
Read the rest here.
Tuesday, March 17, 2009
I'm not, nor have I ever been, a breakfast-eater. I know breakfast is - according to various "experts" - the most important meal of the day; but when I get up in the morning, after having only slept four or five hours, the last thing I want is something to eat. (Drinkin' something with a little caffeine in it is another story!)
I broke tradition this morning. I stopped off at a local BP for gas, on Bell Road in South Nashville, and I had to go inside to get me a pouch of stuff that some fellers like to put between their cheeks and gums. Upon entering I spied a couple-dozen breakfast sandwiches being warmed in a heat lamp display. When I seen the sign promising that the various sandwiches were "fresh," well, I just had to have a close-up look-see.
Amongst the sausage-biscuits, and the bacon/egg/cheese on toasts, I spotted a lonely English muffin with what appeared to be country ham stuffed inside. I picked it up and, indeed, it was a big slice of juicy country ham in an English muffin. It had a slice of cheese on it, too. "I'm buyin' this thing," I immediately said to myself 'cause, as regular AMGE should know, I freakin' love country ham. (The fact that it was only $1.49 had something to do with my buyin' decision as well.)
I can't tell you how pleased I was with my $1.49 BP country ham 'n' cheese on an English muffin. The ham was juicy and was not overly salty; the English muffin was crisp on the outside (see above pic) and soft on the inside; the cheese - oh, the cheese - was thick and full of "melted" goodness; and the whole shebang only cost one dollar and forty nine cents!
As much as I enjoyed my bre'fast this morning, I don't think it'll become a regular habit. It is nice to know, however, that a fine, cheap country ham breakfast sammich is waiting for me whenever I'm in the mood.
Monday, March 16, 2009
I went there today, and I had one hell of a tasty burrito ...
First thing you should know 'bout Las Ricas Tortas is that they can flat pack juicy meat, tomatoes, onions, rice and re-fried beans into a burrito; and they pack their burritos with enough cilantro to choke Mexico City's No. 1 bull-fighter. (That's a good thing.)
Las Ricas Tortas has a "salsa" bar with assorted pickled vegetables (all very good); a Peruvian-style "green sauce"; and hot sauces that will make you sweat like Britney Spears, or Keith Richards (take you pick), at an AA meeting.
Get thee there, sooner rather than later ...
Las Ricas Tortas
4930 Linbar Drive
Nashville, TN 37211
Sunday, March 15, 2009
Before you make these casseroles for yourself -- and I'm speaking from experience here -- you need to season 'em with additional salt, pepper, chili powder, cumin, and maybe some fresh chopped cilantro. You'll be glad you did ...
Spicy Nacho Bake
2 lbs ground beef
2 large white onions, chopped
2 large green peppers, chopped
2 cans (28 ounces each) diced tomatoes, undrained
2 cans (15 1/2 ounces each) hot chili beans
2 cans (15 ounces each) black beans, rinsed and drained
2 cans (11 ounces each) whole kernel corn, drained
2 cans (8 ounces each) tomato sauce
2 envelopes taco seasoning
2 packages (13 ounces each) spicy nacho tortilla chips
4 cups (16 ounces) shredded cheddar cheese
In a Dutch oven or large pot, cook the beef, onions, and green peppers over medium heat until meat is no longer pink; drain. Stir in tomatoes, beans, corn, tomato sauce and taco seasoning. Bring to a boil. Reduce heat; simmer, uncovered, for 30 minutes (mixture will be thin).
In each of two greased 13-in. x 9 -in. x 2-in. baking dishes, layer 5 cups of chips and 4-2/3 cups of meat mixture. Repeat layers. Top each with 4 cups of chips and 2 cups of cheese. Bake, uncovered, at 350 degrees for 20-25 minutes or until golden brown. Yield: 2 casseroles (12-14 servings each).
Saturday, March 14, 2009
I'm gettin' hungry, I just can't wait
Not just any kind of burger will do
I'm being hit by those
White Castle blues
-- The Smithereens, "White Castle Blues"
White Castle came to Nashville about 15 years ago. I'd never tried a White Castle hamburger until tonight. Yeah, I'm Music City's biggest Smithereens fan and I'd never been to White Castle until ce soir. Sorry, Pat.
Lemme just tell you ... White Castle burgers taste just like Krystal burgers, 'cept White Castles don't have mustard on 'em.
Did I like the White Castle burgers I ate today? Yeah ... but they needed mustard.
Will I go to White Castle again? Perhaps if a White Castle opens in Southeast Nashville and my local Krystal closes.
Friday, March 13, 2009
I ain't a big fan of pre-cooked meats -- hell, I ain't a big fan of pre-cooked anything.
I gots to tell you, however, that Hillshire Farm's Miller Beer-soaked, pre-cooked brats are ... well, they're pretty damn good. Indeed.
I picked up a package of Hillshire Farm's Miller brats at Wal-Mart this evening. I brung 'em home and put two of 'em in a shallow pan with 1/3 cup of water. I covered the pan and let my brats cook on "low" for about 20 minutes. When they were cooked to my satisfaction, I put 'em in buns and ate 'em with some Hebrew National spicy mustard. They had a pre-cooked texture 'bout 'em (not so good), but I could actually taste the Miller beer in 'em (very good).
Next time you're at the grocery, get you some Hillshire Farm Miller-soaked brats. You'll be glad you did.
Thursday, March 12, 2009
There's a convenience store on the corner of Haywood and Ezell. It's just a hop, skip and jump from my place of employ. 'Bout a year ago, said convenience store put in an Aunt M's plate lunch place. Aunt M's sells fried chicken, fried taters, and ...
I'd never even thought about eating something from Aunt M's until Mr. Jimmy told me that Wednesday is meatloaf day at Aunt M's. (The whole meatloaf thing was a revelation to Mr. Jimmy, too.)
Now, regular AMGE readers know that I like -- nay, I freakin' love -- meatloaf. Whenever I hear-tell of someone selling a loaf a meat, well, I just gots to try it. When Mr. Jimmy told be 'bout Aunt M's meatloaf, we agreed on a lunch date. Wait ... "lunch date" ain't very A Man's Gotta Eatish; what me and Mr. Jimmy did was eat us some Aunt M's meatloaf, and then we talked about it whilst pickin' teeth and hikin' legs. (That's what men who had to eat, and who just ate, do. So there.)
Here's my verdict on Aunt M's meatloaf: It's densely-constructed with quality ground beef; it's very, very juicy; and it's topped with a great spicy ketchup/tomato sauce. Aunt M's meatloaf, however, has a long way to go before it cracks my list o' Top Five Meatloafs. It needs more onions and peppers, and it don't need to rest in an orange-grease-lined serving tray before its served.
Now, that was was just my personal opinion. I know o' two folks who disagree wi' me. Indeed, Mr. Jimmy said Aunt M's meatloaf is better than the Belmont Bi-Rite's meatloaf (that's a bold statement); and Mr. Franklin, aka Frank, said this 'bout Aunt M's meatloaf: "Scrumptious, mouthwatering meatloaf ... guaranteed to satisfy the most finicky palate."
Tuesday, March 10, 2009
Today, a co-worker took a look at my tasty lunch and asked if I'd be willing to reveal my "secret recipes" for juicy pork coooked in a pot and smashed taters. I told her tain't no secret to neither one; indeed, I posted my recipe for Crock-Pot® BBQ 'n' mashed taters last month ago. To wit:
I slow-cooked a Boston butt in my Crock-Pot for six hours. It simmered in onions, carrots, garlic, Cavender's Greek Seasoning, paprika, cayenne, salt and pepper. When it was done, I removed it from the Crock and strained the remaining liqued into a large bowl.
When the meat was cooled enough to touch, I shredded it into large pieces and returned it to the Crock-Pot. I covered it -- this time -- with Nick's mild sauce and a healthy "plop" of Howton's sauce, and I put the Crock on "warm."
Meanwhile, I boiled a half-dozen good-sized taters and mashed 'em with butter, salt and pepper. In a separate pot, I made a roux with two tablespoons of butter and two tablespoons of flour. I put about three cups of strained pork butt juice (!) into the pot and reduced it until it was a thick gravy.
And that's my secret (apologies to Peter Clemenza).
Monday, March 09, 2009
Exactly ten years ago, I was enjoying the first day on my first trip to New Orleans. I remember that day quite well: I got off the plane at 1 p.m. and hailed a cab; I checked into my French Quarter bed-'n'-bre'fast; I got drunk in a bar; I consumed about a gallon of gumbo at the Gumbo Shop; and I stumbled back to my room some 13 hours after I'd arrived.
The Gumbo Shop was but a jumping off point for my many culinary adventures in New Orleans. Indeed, during my four trips to the Crescent City, I've put legs under tables of its bestest restaurants (Acme Oyster House, Mother's, Deanie's, Tujagues, etc.). I know there're are dozens, and dozens, and dozens of groin-grabbingly fine restaurants that I've not yet been to in New Orleans, thus I'm gonna enter the Top Chef Culinary Dream Vacation contest 'cause, well, nothing would please me more these days than a free trip to New Orleans.
Winners of the Top Chef Culinary Dream Vacation contest will receive round-trip airfare to New Orleans, three nights in the Omni Royal Orleans Hotel in the French Quarter, tickets to the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience events, a special Vintner Dinner at the Commander's Palace restaurant, and a cooking class at the New Orleans Cooking Experience.
Contest deadline is April 16. For more information on the New Orleans Wine and Food Experience, click here.
Sunday, March 08, 2009
Tennessee's legislative Booze Brigade has two beefs with wine sales in grocery store: They say it'll lead to increased drunkenness, and they say that a great many mom-and-pop liquor stores will be run out of business. Let's talk about both beefs ...
Shoppers at my local Food Lion - corner of Antioch Pike and Richards Road - can purchase chilled 40-ounce bottles of Colt .45 malt liquor . As we all know, the only reason folks drink malt liquor is to get tipsy, and the only reason folks drink 40-ounce bottles of malt liquor is to get very tipsy. That said, I cannot understand why it's okay for Tennessee grocery stores to sell malt liquor, and beer by the case, but not bottles of quality red and white wines. Perhaps one of the state legislators who've gone on record to state that they're agin' wine sales in grocery stores for "moral" reasons can explain it to me. (And maybe they'll also explain why they've not sponsored legislation to ban all alcohol sales in grocery stores.)
As for the Booze Brigade's second beef, lemme say this:
I cook, a lot. I also cook with wine and drink wine with my meals, a lot. It is a colossal pain in the ass to buy groceries and then drive a mile, two miles, or more to get a bottle of wine. Many's the time that I've been planning a meal whilst shopping in a Nashville supermarket whilst thinking, "If I were in Florida, I could buy my wine RIGHT HERE!" Now, I've spent a lot of time in the state of Florida (I often vacation in Ormond Beach), and I can tell you that the Sunshine State's towns, villes, and cities ain't lacking in liquor stores. So long as there're folks in Tennessee who want to buy fifths of whiskey and vodka -- and there are lots o' folks in this state who often buy fifths of whiskey and vodka -- Tennessee's liquor stores ain't got nothing to fear from the middle-aged couple who'd like a deli-baked chicken and a Chenin Blanc.
If you're like me and you want to see Tennessee's laws changed so that grocery stores can sell wine, I urge you to voice your opinion at Red, White and Food.
Saturday, March 07, 2009
There're not many things in this world that I hate more than pre-packaged alfredo sauce. If a feller's gonna eat pasta with alfredo sauce, in my opinion, he ain't a proper feller unless he's eating stuff that's scratch-made.
The first time I ever made a batch of alfredo sauce. It was for a young lady I was dating when I was an undergrad; and if memory serves me correctly, I served my alfredo sauce with thin spaghetti. Since then, I've made my sauce several dozen times using the same basic recipe that I (mostly) came up with on my own way back in, well, way back when. My recipe follows.
Note: I snapped a pic of my sauce before I added cooked pasta. For the record, I used Barilla's mini penne.
Joltin' Django's Alfredo Sauce
6-8 boneless, skinless chicken breast tenders, pounded thin
3-4 slices prosciutto cotto, cut into thin strips
1 shallot, minced
2 cloves garlic, minced
1/2 cup flour
1/4 cup olive oil
2 tablespoons unsalted butter
1 cup fresh-grated Parmesan cheese
1/2 cup white wine
1 small carton heavy whipping cream
Salt and pepper
Red pepper flakes
Heat heavy-bottomed skillet over medium-high heat. Add olive oil and butter. Season chicken with salt and pepper and dredge in flour. Add chicken to skillet and cook until it's well-browned on each side -- 2 minutes per side -- and remove.
Add shallot and garlic to skillet and cook 1 minute (do not allow garlic to brown). Add wine and scrape up any brown bits left over from the chicken.
Return chicken to skillet and add prosciutto, Parmesan cheese, cream, and a healthy pinch of red pepper flakes. Lower heat to medium-low, add 2-3 cups of preferred al dente pasta, and cover skillet. Cook for ten minutes, stirring well before serving.
Friday, March 06, 2009
I got together with some guys this evening to pick-'n'-sing, bluegrass-style. For our dinner, one of the pickers broke out several cans of Beanee Weenees. We "sauced" each of our dinner cans with a lot of hot sauce, and then we proceeded to get pretty sauced ourselves. Beanees 'n' booze ... as good as strawberries 'n' cream as far as I'm concerned.
That said, Mr. Jimmy once told me a Beanee Weenee story, and here 'tis:
When I was a Boy Scout I remember being on a camping trip and getting caught in a deluge, the whole weekend was one long, cold rain storm. But we had a cast iron skillet and some beans and some hot dogs and we fried those dogs and threw in the beans and the dogs got hot and kinda crusty and the beans got hot and you stir it all up, dip it up in a bowl and huddle up in your tent and one will think one is thrice blessed! The key, aside from being cold, wet and hungry, is having everything fried up and heated in a heavy skillet.
[Y]ou got me wanting to make up some honest to goodness home-style beans n franks!
Beanee Weenees: honest to goodness good!
Thursday, March 05, 2009
I met a friend at Shoney's this evening to talk b'iness. I had a hamburger, and it was a pretty darn good hamburger.
Here's something I posted 'bout Shoney's back in November 2007:
Before my grandmother entered a nursing home, my mother and I often took her to our local Shoney's after church on Sundays. I was never a big Shoney's fan, but my sainted Granny Ruby absolutely loved the Shoney's Breakfast Bar.
From 1997-2002, I reckon that I ate at Shoney's well over 200 times -- no kidding. During that period, the quality of most of the food served there declined precipitously. The dining room's floor was often dirty, and the bathroom floor was even more dirty. And if the entire staff of servers had been replaced by monkeys, customers probably would've enjoyed better service.
When my grandmother could no longer get out and about, I vowed that I would never, ever go back to Shoney's -- unless I was starving to death and that was the only place in which I could find nourishment.
Well, I broke my vow. Last month, my mother and I went to Shoney's after visiting the Nashville Flea Market. I ordered a cheeseburger and fries, and let's just say - I'm borrowing a line from Pulp Fiction here - it was a very tasty burger. The fries weren't bad, either. What impressed me the most, however, was the fact that the restaurant (the same one I used to visit with my grandmother) had been spiffed-up since the last time I'd dined there, and both the dining room and the bathrooms were clean. Upon leaving the restaurant I made a new vow:
Whenever I have a hankering for a quick, cheap, quality hamburger, I'm going to Shoney's.
Be sure to check out the profile of Shoney's, Inc.'s new owner in this morning's Tennessean. A sample:
The Nashville-based res taurant chain's new owner, CEO and Chairman David Davoudpour, said he is determined to bring the brand back. Since he acquired the company in January, Davoudpour has taken over several underperforming franchise locations and turned them into company-owned restaurants. He has vowed to use fresh — not frozen — meat and fruit products and try to improve service through spot checks of stores and better employee training.
"We want every restaurant to shine," Davoudpour said. "Basically, I want to be the model of excellence."
Here's another story 'bout the boozy popcorn:
KMBC's Bev Chapman reported that a local entrepreneur has come up with a new snack that's bound to appeal to some party-goers: alcohol-flavored popcorn.
Cary Silverman, who created the new flavors of corn, has always been a salesman.
"I started a lawn-mowing business in 1996," said Silverman. He was 9. "By sophomore year in high school, I had 500 weekly accounts and over 1,700 yearly accounts."
Two years ago, as a college sophomore, Silverman started Grade Genie, an online company where students from 2,700 schools across the country can form cyber study groups.
Silverman explained, "Users can put notes, old study guides, and old papers on the site, and other users can download them."
When Silverman saw college students sneaking alcohol into a theater to drink with their popcorn, he saw an opportunity. He tried many ways to flavor the popcorn.
"I soaked kernels in a fifth of Evan Williams whiskey," Silverman said. "I poked a little hole in the microwave bag, injected whiskey in there. I put it into a squirt bottle."
Finally he partnered with a company that helped him develop a non-alcoholic alcohol flavoring. Silverman said the product, which he calls Pub Corn, is the next best thing to the real thing.
"They really do taste like the drink," Silverman said. "If you like pina coladas to drink, you'd probably like pina colada. If you like beer, you'd like beer."
As a senior, Silverman will graduate in May with a degree in business marketing and three companies under his belt. When asked about his future, he responded, "Bring it on. Present the challenge in front of me and I'll do everything I can to overcome that challenge."
Pub Corn can be purchased online at www.Pub-Corn.com
Tuesday, March 03, 2009
Last May, I published my recipe for cabbage soup. Unfortunately, the pic I posted then wasn't very good.
Up top you see a pic of the cabbage soup I cooked tonight (which I served with a crusty baguette I got at Publix). Here's the recipe:
Inspired by my recent visit to Tatry Polish Restaurant, I cooked up a pot of cabbage soup this evening. Here's how I did it ...
Joltin' Django's Cabbage Soup
8 slices lean bacon, cut into 1/2-inch pieces
1 cabbage, cored and roughly chopped
1 large white onion, large-diced
5 carrots, pealed and diced
3 potatoes, pealed and large-cubed
1 teaspoon paprika
1 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons salt
2 tablespoons black pepper
1/2 teaspoon red pepper flakes
Brown bacon over medium heat in a Dutch oven, 6-8 minutes
Add onions and cook until clear
Add cabbage, carrots, and potatoes; stir well and just cover with cold water
Throw in paprika, thyme, salt and pepper
Cover and bring to a boil
Reduce heat to simmer-low and cook for 2 hours
My pot o' cabbage soup was pretty good. Not quite Tatry-good, but pretty damn good nonetheless.
Favorite foods in 2009
1. Locally-grown fruits and vegetables
2. Crispy garlic-ginger chicken wings
3. Mac 'n five cheeses
4. Vietnamese Pho soup
5. Green tea and pomegranate smoothies
6. Crab cake sliders
7. Mini samosas
8. Tilapia Veracruz
9. Goat cheese salad
10. Chicken Molé
Favorite foods in 1989
1. Fruit and cottage cheese plate
2. Chicken nuggets
3. Turkey Tetrazini
4. Chicken Chop Suey
5. Egg, bacon and cheese English muffin
6. Half sandwich and cup of soup
7. Taco bar
8. Spanish beef and rice
9. Vegetarian bean chili
10. Algerian lamb stew
When I was an undergrad at Middle Tennessee State U. in the early 90s, my buds and I didn't eat no chop suey or chicken nuggets or vegetarian bean chili or Algerian lamb stew (?!). In fact, we didn't eat on-campus food at all (save for the occasional cheap cheeseburger in the main campus cafeteria). Instead, we ate chicken wings and drank beer at Toot's; we ate meat, beans, taters and corbread at Kleer-Vu; we ate meat, beans, taters and rolls at the City Cafe; we filled up on pulled pork and the world's finest tater salad at Goff's; and we ate pizza, lots and lots o' pizza (didn't matter where it came from).
As for today's college kids' culinary preferences, I give 'em props for liking pho soup ... but that's all I'll give 'em credit for.