Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

August 31, 2010

Heini's Bermuda Onion Cheddar

Front stoop

It has been a long time since I have been to Nolensville. There is no easy way of getting there from here, except for driving down Nolensville Rd. It can be a slow road for sure. The last time I went down Nolensville Rd south of Burkett Rd, there were lots of open land, farm land, and an old gas station, a couple antique shops, and a couple kitchy shops like the Nolensville Feed Mill. The Nolensville Feed Mill used to be a kitchy Amish and antique shop, but has recently put in a sandwich counter and Pied Piper ice cream counter. There are a lot of other Amish goodies, candy, butter, snacks, popcorn kernels, summer sausage, cheeses, breads, baked good, and other nice things you might want to have with your next meal. They also have Hatcher Dairy milk and chocolate milk, which is a local milk favorite of mine. Oh, and the sodas they carry Sprecher sodas, which are from a small WI soda maker, and these sodas are just delicious. I would have to say, they still need work out the kinks with the sandwich counter, as it seems to be a little confused back behind the counter. They may need to take a few lessons from the sandwich masters like Katz's Deli or Mort's Deli to understand the through put, and even Martin's down the street, who sells a lot of pulled pork and brisket sandwiches. I hope that when they have a few more weeks or months of sandwich counter under their belt, they will streamline some of the operations and get more organized.

But, the sandwiches are not what I am talking about today. Today, I am talking about Heini's cheese. I love Heini's Bermuda Onion cheddar cheese. I discovered Heini's cheese when I was in Central Ohio over the past year. For about the past year and 1/2 we had to go back and forth to Central Ohio many times to help very sick family. To get there, we drove to Columbus, OH, and then took a right and drove for another hour. Once we were in the middle of no-where, we drove for another 1/2 hour and Ta Da, we were at our destination. There is not much out there. These family live just south of Holmes Co, OH, the home of the OH Amish. These family have barely any cell phone service, and have Amish neighbors just north of them. It makes sense now why there isn't cell phone service because why would phone companies bother with cell towers when there are not people to use the the service. Amish still use the one landline community phone. The one thing I did notice about the area north of these family is that there are cinder roads, and no utility poles. The landscape of farms are uninterrupted by above ground utility lines. The roads are not paved, so horses can use the cinder roads.

As with the time I spent in east-central Ohio, I still have strove to find locally grown and made food. I found a little farmer's market, and we took a few short drives into Holmes Co. That is when we discovered Heini's Cheese and tasting room. The place were we went had all of the Heini cheese in cold cases and every single cheese had a tasting plate waiting for customers to taste. This was different from other cheese shops we went to because there was no tasting at the other places. We tasted a bunch of Heini's cheese, and found out that the Bermuda Onion Cheddar was one of our favorites. We did not buy much, only 1/2 lb, and enjoyed it while we were local to Holmes Co, but did not bring any back with us to Nashville.

Because the sick family crisis has subsided for now, we are not spending every free moment in Ohio, I had given up the idea of ever eating Heini's cheese again. So, when I was in the Nolensville Feed Mill shop, I saw Heini's brand cheese, I was thrilled! I asked about the Bermuda Onion cheese, and they special ordered a box of it just for me! They just came in, and I bought 4 bricks of cheese, and there are 8 left. It is so dang good! I cut a nice 3/4 inch thick slice of this cheese last night, and nibbled on it for a snack. This cheese is worth the nearly 2 hour round trip down the trafficky Nolensville Rd to go to the Nolensville Feed Mill. Yum. Go get yourself some of these cheese at the Nolensville Feed Mill!

Nolensville Feed Mill Deli on Urbanspoon

August 29, 2010

Eat Local Sandusky

Sandusky Bay Farmers Market
Friday 3-6 in the Jackson St Parking Lot
Downtown Sandusky, OH

Erie Fresh CSA

local organic peppers

I finally met Joshua and Lauren, the driving force for the 1st Sandusky, OH and Lake Erie Islands CSA, and the 1st Artisan local and local organic farmers market in downtown Sandusky, OH. I talked to them at length asking how this area, a farming area, could have so little local and local organic foods available for years, and I was hoping to get answers. For nearly a decade, Sandusky, Oh was a food desert with big chain and fast food restaurants. The only fresh vegetables I could find for the longest time was an iceberg lettuce salad. I stopped by the Perkins Rd farm stand to find out they were selling the same stuff form the produce warehouse that the chain grocery store was selling. I was desperate for sort of local vegetable and fruit. I saw so many farms around Sandusky, and I was so confused why I could not find a vendor or farm stand selling locally grown foods. On some occasions on my way into Sandusky, I stopped at some farms and bought direct from farmers because I was so desperate for fresh local fruits and vegetables. Then, I discovered Zinc Brasserie and Crush, owned by Cesare and Andrea, and they strive to use local organic, local and organic ingredients in every entree, and the salads and vegetables are mostly locally grown.

local corn

Last year, Andrea told me about Joshua and Lauren (who created Erie Fresh CSA) and the new farmers market and CSA they started. The farmers market is on Friday 3 - 6 pm in the Jackson St parking lot behind the downtown theater and Crush, just south of the Lake (that would Lake Erie). The farmers market is small, but all the vendors are local, they grow their food locally, or they make their products like soap, bread and cookies locally. If I lived there, I would go to this farmers market and buy my food. Joshua is only allowing local artisan cooks and bakers, and locally grown produce to be sold here. There is another Sandusky farmers market on Saturday located down the street, and the vendors there may or may not be selling locally grown or made foods. There are a few local farmers selling food at that market, but I did notice that there were some selling the same stuff the big chain grocery stores sell, and there was a flea market component as well. Flea markets are fun, but it is not what I want when I am looking for local organic food.

Erie Fresh CSA 100 shares, all in individual cloth bags

Joshua noticed the same thing I did about Sandusky. There was a lack of locally grown and made foods to be had in the area. So last year, they started the Erie Fresh CSA, bringing together a 11 different local and local organic farmers to supply food and flowers to 100 households. They have eggs, fruits, vegetables and flowers to offer over 22 weeks of the growing season. Not only do they supply the mainland Sandusky area food, they also offer the CSA to the residents of the islands in Lake Erie. After the mainland farmers market shuts down at 6 pm, they rush over to the last ferry of the evening to deliver the shares to the islands. Wow, that is dedication.

Joshua and Lauren not only started the all local farmers market, and all local CSA, they also have been trying to move forward to reclaim empty urban lots to start growing foods. There are a lot of hoops to jump through, and strange policies that make no sense, but they keep on pressing forward. Local residents seem to like having empty over grown lots transformed to a bounty of food. There is nothing more fun that walking out the door, and cutting food for the evening meal. Another idea they are working on is to open a local and local organic farm-to-store in downtown Sandusky. There is one farm-to-store in Wooster, OH they may model their store after. I look forward to this venture in the future. Another venture Joshua and Lauren are doing are trying matching up local restaurants interested in serving locally grown ingredients with local farm foods. Crush, Zinc Brasserie, Red Gables and Jack's Deli source some of the foods from Joshua and Lauren's local farm sources. They provide locally grown eggs, bread, fruits and vegetables and it is fun to see which one ingredients in a dish are from Joshua and Lauren's farm partners.

the wall at Jackson St Parking Lot

It is definitely getting easier to eat locally where ever I go. It may take time to and a little googling before going to the destination, but it can be done. While in Ohio, I travel with a plate, plastic fork and knife and zip and steam bags to microwave food. I also eat out at delicious restaurants who are sourcing some of their food from local and organic farms. I have another trip coming up to a far off land, I have already researched farmers markets, and a local organic shop and deli. It is possible to locally where ever I go.

Why do I try to eat locally? It isn't for any political reason. Quite frankly it is because locally grown food is usually picked and sold ripe, and farm ripened foods tastes so much better than the veggies and fruit sold in chain grocery stores. The stuff in chain groceries are picked green to ship, and red fruits are gassed (liked tomatoes and strawberries) to turn red, but the fruit still tastes like cardboard because it was never ripe. I also like locally raised free range eggs because there actually are tighter controls over small flocks, so there is less risk of deadly bacteria. Lastly, it is a control issue for me, I just like knowing a lot about where my food come from, and I like knowing the farms and farmers who grow my food.

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August 27, 2010

Baby, You're a STAR!

The Next Food Network Star


Season 7 in Nashville!

Do you think you have what it takes to host your own show on the Food Network?

Calling all Chefs, Line Cooks, Home Cooks, Caterers and Culinary Enthusiasts!


Strong Culinary Skills

Personality that Pops

Passion for Cooking Food Knowledge

Lots of Energy, and Enthusiasm

Nashville Open Call

Monday, September 13, 2010

Time: 10am-3pm

Location: Hutton Hotel

1808 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203

What to Bring:

1. Two recent photos

2. A copy of your resume

3. A COMPLETED application

(found at

For more information or questions please e-mail us at or visit

***** Note, the application needs to be filled out in full and it is 11 pages long. So, go get your application now and start filling it out. You will need all that time to write your essays answers. See you on TV!

August 24, 2010

Where Can I get a Great Steak?

bread puff balls and honey butter

I was going to make a fresh pasta dish for dinner, and that required a specific shape from the fresh pasta store, but when I got the pasta shop, there was none to be had. On top of that, I had a few other set backs in trying to make this dish, and I got so frustrated that I gave up. It was a situation when I said, "Show me a sign, do I cook or go out to dinner?" The answer was clear, there were so many road blocks with gathering ingredients to cook, that going out was the only option.

steak salad

My go-to weekend comfort meal is a good steak on grill with a side of corn and potato. This has been my birthday dinner request for years, from when I was probably 5 or 6 years old. It has been my summer weekend treat meal since we moved into a house where we are allowed to have a grill. Prior to my house, I lived in an apt in Nashville, and it is a city ordinance that it is illegal to have an open grill at a multi-home dwellings like apts and condos due to fire hazards. So, for years, I did not grill. Now, we can grill, and we can have grilled food now.

But, because I was to frustrated to cook anything, I wanted to go out, and I wanted steak, and there was no ifs ands or buts about it.

Pittsburgh rare steak and spinach

I decided on Stoney River Steakhouse because I was determined to get a steak cooked perfectly in the way I wanted it cooked. There are only 3 places in Nashville that can REALLY Pittsburgh and excellent cut of beef, and one of them is Stoney River. A Pittsburgh steak is a hot charred steak on the outside, and a red rare steak on the inside. The origins were in Iron City Pittsburgh during the big iron mining days, and Pittsburgh-ing a steak included a sheet of steel and a blow torch. The steak was placed on the steel, and then the blow torch would char the outside and leave the inside rare. That is what I wanted for my steak. This is really hard to do at home because you need a lot of BTUs to start the char on a cold steak, and there just are not enough BTUs for most conventional home cooking equipment.

I interrogated the waitstaff about the kitchen and if they can Pittsburgh a steak. He looked at me and said, "We are a steakhouse, of course we can Pittsburgh a steak!" I said that I wanted it red rare cold in the middle and charred on the outside. If it comes out medium or well done, I am returning it to the kitchen. I was thrilled when my steak came to my table, it was exactly how I wanted it. The waitstaff has to understand why I asked so intently. It is because I have been burned before at restaurants who claim they know what Pittsburgh-ing a steak is, yet deliver a well done piece of ruined steak. Stoney River does know how to make a steak, and can deliver it correctly.

There are some other things that Stoney River does very well besides delivering a great steak. The details of the decor I noted were the ceiling in the entry was painted a dark moss that went with the stone fire place and the tan leather couch, and set the mood of entering a well kept mountain lodge. The ceiling in the dining room is wood, that went with the matte finish of the table we were seated. The acoustics were well done such that we could not hear anything that was being said at adjacent tables, and I assume they could not hear us. The acoustics were such that there isn't that terrible tinny roar you get with other concrete hard surface restaurants. The placement and delivery of water, straws, and lemon wedges for water were perfect. The delivery of the steak knives were also done with precision. The bathrooms have really nice doors, marble sinks, and a nice used towel basket. What came with the meal is complimentary bread. They are little puff balls served warm with a nice honey butter. And of course, the chocolate cake to finish the meal was deliciously sweet.

After I got home, I made the announcement that when I really want a steak, a Pittsburgh rare steak, I believe Stoney River is my go-to place. I have seen other reviews of Stoney River claiming it is expensive, and for Nashville, I guess it is. However, I think there is a value here because the quality of the meat is great, and they preparation of the meat is great! Sure, I can spend about 1/2 as a lesser restaurant and have a terrible experience, poor quality meat, and poor preparation. I think it is worth saving up, and going to Stoney River to get an excellent steak.

Stoney River Legendary Steaks on Urbanspoon

August 22, 2010

Dim and Den Sum

the truck - can't miss it

Before February 2010, Chris and Jeremy had to jump through hoops to change old Cleveland ordinances and rules about mobile truck food. Finally in February 2010 permit in hand, the Dim and Den Sum truck, the 1st mobile food truck in over a decade, rolled onto the roads of downtown Cleveland to feed hungry and adventurous lunchers from City Hall to the Cleveland Clinic, to the Cleveland Art Museum. People of Cleveland love this food truck. Ever since I caught wind of this truck, I have been on their Facebook and Twitter feeds to let me know where they are going to be each day they are making lunch. Actually, that is the only way to find out where lunch is from Den and Dim Sum, it is by electronic means, Twitter, Facebook, or the banner on the front page of the website.

rib sammich

The gig at Dim and Den Sum is that they try to use some locally grown food in every sandwich or wrap they sell. The food is Asian Fusion. On this day, I got a Rib Sammich which is pulled pork rib meat with Asian fermented black beans, topped with marinated heirloom local tomatoes and fresh local sweet pepper slaw. I also got homemade bison gyro wrap with local heirloom tomatoes, homemade fresh local cucumber pickles which were lightly brined, spinach and gyro sauce. They also offer jarritos sodas. I really liked the fresh locally grown vegetables on my sammy and wrap. I think the vegetable preparation and marinades or pickling added to the success of the sandwiches. I wish this Asian Fusion food truck would come to Nashville because it is not just another taco truck.

I was told that I was trying the "new menu" items. There seemed to be a little confusion from the regulars mulling around. Every single regular asked where the PBLT was. There wasn't a sammy like that on this day. The PBLT is a pulled pork, bacon, lettuce, tomato and sriracha mayo sandwich which seems to be a favorite. The air around the the truck seemed to be resignation to try another sandwich, but every single regular requested the PBLT be put back on the menu. One week after this lunch day I had, Dim and Den Sum put the PBLT back on the menu. Judging all the chatter amongst the diners about the PBLT, I would suggest that the PBLT be a regular item, and never be taken off the menu, even if the other items change.

Austin - one of the 2 1st customers ever

On this day that I happened to be flying in to work in N. OH, I had just enough time to find the Twittered location and get lunch. This particular day, Dim and Den Sum was parked in the shade by the CIA, the Cleveland Institute of Art. Lucky for me, school was not in session yet, so I was able to find street parking quickly. CIA is across the street from the Cleveland Art Museum and next to Case Western Reserve. The roads in and around the museum, CIA and CWR are part of an old-school (literally and figuratively) city park layout. It is an oasis from the multi-lane urban roads such as Euclid and Chester. This little section of Cleveland does not follow the grid pattern of roadways, rather all the roads are curvy and windy, and it is possible to get a little turned around inside this oasis.

I met a couple of Den and Dim Sum regulars including Austin and Stuart. Stuart takes a lot of photos of his food, and his flickr site has over 17k. It is rare for me to run into people who photograph their food like I do, so it was really a pleasure to meet someone else who likes to do the same. He eats out a lot in Cleveland and he knows of tasty places to eat. He recommended a couple places to me, which I will have to catch on my next trip to N. OH. Austin was also eating from this food truck, and he happened to be the very first customer with his buddy in February 2010. He happens to work near CIA, so he just biked over to the truck for lunch, and got the same exact food I did. We both really liked the rib sammy because the flavors are just so perfectly balanced with sweet, salty, and sour. It was fun to learn a little about Austin's life style, he does not have a car and bikes everywhere, even in winter. The buses in Cleveland like Nashville have bike racks, so in the winter Austin will take the bus with his bike, or just take the bus. He lives on the west side of town near an area with a bunch of ethnic restaurants, and a bar, restaurant, nightclub that has been continuously open and running for over 40 years. I did not get a chance to go to that establishment, and forgot to write down the name. Is it Steves? Anyone out there who can help me out with that? I would like to go to some of the restaurants he mentioned and this nightclub in the west side, so anyone? anyone? I didn't write any of these down. Austin, if you read this, comment and tell me again!

Get on the tweet, get on the facebook, get on the website, and find out if Dim and Den Sum is going to be in your neighborhood. Go get yourself a tasty treat, meet people in your neighborhood or other working stiffs near you. It is a lot of fun.

Dim and Den Sum (Mobile Cart) on Urbanspoon

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August 18, 2010

Matanzas Creek

There is a Matanzas Creek that runs through Bennett Valley. There is a Matanzas Creek Reservoir on Matanzas Creek and created by a really nice grass covered earthen dam. The waters of Matanzas Creek eventually go into the Pacific Ocean. The winery Matanzas Creek is obviously is named after Matanzas Creek, and the winery is located across the street from Matanazas Creek. We discovered Matanzas Creek Winery when we were visiting N. CA in 2005. We were able to taste a 2003 cab and I discovered that I liked, at least this one, CA cab! The only other cabs I had before this were big bulk cab wines from KJ, RM, and others that are not even worth writing in initials. Since I liked the cab so much, I wanted to find out a little more about this vineyard and winery.

The vineyard was founded by Sandra MacIver in 1978. SM was the heir to the Sears Roebuck lost all of her inheritance, but finally dug herself out of debt with Matanzas Creek Winery. SM priced her wines, and the Merlot at unheard of prices at the time (approx. $70/bottle) and led the wine status snob to believe that her wine was so exclusive, that they would be A-listers if they were deemed worthy to have a bottle of SM wine. (Women of Wine: The Rise of Women in the Global Wine Industry, A. B. Matasar, 2006). Well, SM did it, and put Merlot on the map of California wines. Then, I thought I read somewhere that the Matanzas Creek Merlot fields met with disease that wiped out the grapes. In 2000, Jess Jackson of the Kendall-Jackson empire bought the winery, and Sandra MacIver went into semi-retirement. JJ brought back the vineyard and winery to all its splendor, and expanded the varietals to be had, including producing a really nice cabernet sauvignon.

the library tasting room

I believe it was 2002 that was the first year JJ produced the Matanzas Creek cab, and in 2005 is when we first tasted this wine. We were so happy with it, and bought a couple of bottles to bring back with us. 2010 is the year when I believe the 2002 is really ready to enjoy. The 2002 is a big full flavored wine with dark berry flavor, some tannins and significant oak from being aged in French oak for about 2 years. Over the five years of drinking the 2002, the tannins have mellowed out as time has gone on, and 2010 seems to be the perfect time to drink this wine because of the perfect balance of fruit and tannins. We have a couple 2005 cabs in waiting, and I am wondering how the 2005s will be. I was told that 2005 was a late, but the absolutely perfect growing year with exceptional wines in both Sonoma and Napa valleys.

cheese plate during the tasting

We have talked about Matanzas Creek wine on and off for 5 years, we have gotten Matanzas Creek wine from the store now and again, and we are always pleased with our wine. When we found ourselves on the the west coast recently, we had a rather full schedule, but I scheduled a day off for us, so we could get back to Matanzas Creek, and taste some wine. To my surprise, the man, not only scheduled a wine tasting, he scheduled The Wine Tasting, in the Matanzas Creek special tasting room with the perfect cheese pairing and Marcona almonds. We were glad to hear about these wines as we tasted them. What I really enjoy about hearing about the wines is that our wine host talked about where the grapes are grown, how the grapes grown, what the weather was like during the growing year, and how the juice was fermented and aged. When he talked about the wine, it is very much like how I talk about my food (if people will listen). I will talk about what farm or my yard, what soil and compost is there, if the seed is heirloom or not, how the seed was planted, if the growing practices are organic or not, and does the farmer (or me) irrigate. For some geeky reason, I really like knowing the details of where food and grapes are grown, how they are grown and how they are harvested. It makes me feel like I am in touch with my food and drink.

feet which stomped the Helena Bench Sauvignon Blanc 2008

Matanzas Creek Winery has changed our minds about Sauvignon Blanc. At one time, we thought we did not like this type of wine, but we enjoyed both the SB at Matanzas Creek so much, that we gotta have it. This SB is sold out, and it is not sold in any retail store. We are a bit S.O.L. But, I can remember how it is, it is the perfect balance of all qualities of wine, it is not too sweet, it is not too sour, it has a nice aroma, it has a deep yellow color, it is perfect to just sip on, and it also perfect with a fresh wine country inspired meal. This wine is the only wine at Matanzas Creek that is not mechanically juiced, it is juiced by stomping. All of the staff at Matanzas Creek claim they have stomped these grapes in 2008 to create this wine. I recently called them and talked to someone I had not spoken to before, and she said that she did stomp the grapes, and the staff had a great time doing it. If ever the Helena Bench comes on the market again, you bet I will be there to get some, feet and all.

August 13, 2010

What's cooking?

5 lbs tomatoes, 4 lbs are of the San Marzano variety

My CSA has grown a San Marzano type of tomato, and I got 4 lbs of these, and an additional 1 lb of other type of tomatoes from my CSA and my garden. I have been having an issue with critters eating my tomatoes from my yard, but there are a few that I have saved from the mouths of birds and squirrels. I made a sauce based on the video on YouTube because these folks had a ton of San Marzano varietal tomatoes in their garden. The instruction is good, and when I squished the tomatoes, I saved the seed, and hopefully I will grow San Marzano next year.

mayo made with farm fresh egg yolk and olive oil

I watched a lot of making mayonnaise videos on YouTube, but I opted for the good ol' Ratio method that Michael Ruhlman has in his book Ratio. The ratio for mayo is 20 oil:1 liquid (+1 egg yolk). That is 20 oz oil to 1 oz water/lemon juice (+1 egg yolk). Then, as I read on about mayo, there is an easy food processor method. That is 1 egg yolk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice and 1/2 cup of oil. I made a slight adjustment, and used 1 egg yolk, 2 teaspoons lemon juice, 1/2 teaspoon dry mustard powder, salt, pepper and 1/2 cup oil. When I was at Farm Day, I got a few farm fresh eggs and used one very orange yolk. the oil I used is really flavorful olive oil, which is not necessarily the best choice, I will need to find a good light tasting oil next time.

How I used the very bright yellow mayo is to take some, mix it with a handful of chopped basil, a a crushed clove of garlic, and added lemon juice, and I spread it on top of a piece of Coho Salmon, and then the salmon was grilled over wood coals. It was a really nice way of making salmon. Usually, I make grilled salmon with smoked paprika, and red spices, but this time it was classic basil and garlic. I really liked this on the salmon because the mayo gave a little extra moisture to the lean Coho Salmon.

August 9, 2010


shrimp and chive dumpling

It had been a rocky start for lucky bamboo, the first few months were tough because the food was not up to par for months, but I believe things have made a turn for the better for the dim sum. Dim sum is served on Saturday and Sunday only, and the Lucky Bamboo folks have some carts, tray and you can special order as well. I am guessing that Dim Sum is only a morning and brunch thing on Saturday and Sunday, and dim sum is usually not served during the dinner hours in most anywhere.

The last time couple of times we were there for dim sum, we got chive and shrimp dumplings, chestnut and sweet potato dumplings, red roasted duck, green beans in fermented black bean and chili sauce, lo bak go taro cakes, har gau shrimp dumplings, soup dumplings, char siu bao red pork buns, and winter melon with shrimp and scallop to name a few, and I am missing a few. The owner claimed that all the dim sum besides the char siu bao red pork buns were made in house. It is unlikely they are making the duck, rather I am guessing they are importing from somewhere else, and they have figured out how to re-heat the duck to serve it. The last time we were there, everything tasted good, except for the industrial made frozen char siu bao red pork buns. Don't get those red pork buns at Lucky Bamboo because the frozen ones they are buying are not good. You and I could get better frozen pork buns from Wang's Market on 3rd Ave N in Germantown, and steam them myself..

Chinese winter squash topped with shrimp ball and scallop

I was told that the husband and wife owners are Asian, but neither of them are from the Hong Kong or South China which is the origin of dim sum. He is from Shanghai and she is from Korea. Shanghainese and Korean food are completely different than Hong Kong dim sum. It is akin to me trying to make Mexican food. Mexico and the USA are neighbors, and both are a part of the Americas, so I must know how to make Mexican food... NOT. It is like saying Korea and China are neighbors and on the same land mass, so Koreans should know how to make Chinese food or Chinese should know how to make Korean food... NOT. It was apparent that the dim sum they originally offered a month after they opened were all frozen pre-made food that they microwaved to heat up (not good at all) because they had no idea how to prepare and serve dim sum. Now, I believe they have gotten some help by someone in the know about Hong Kong dim sum, they have some form of steamers now. The roasted duck now is nice and roasty red with crispy skin and a nice glistening fat layer on top of smooth duck meat. Most of the dumplings are made with rice flour noodle covering which I like because of the sticky and stretchy dough quality. There are dishes that are not traditional dim sum dishes, but are house made and are delicious. The winter melon with shrimp and scallop was served on a small plate, tapas or dim sum quantity, and was tasty. I love the savory winter melon which melts away in my mouth. The shrimp meatball is always good, and the slice of sea scallop is a treat.

For the only dim sum place in Nashville, Lucky Bamboo has come a long way in a short amount of time. I appreciate that Lucky Bamboo is trying hard to keep improving the dim sum. I believe they have hit a stride that is appropriate for Nashville, and accessible to most.

Lucky Bamboo on Urbanspoon


August 4, 2010

Farm Day

So lucky for me, I got invited to Farm Day - Farm and Dinner Party! It is really amazing, less than 15 miles north of my home, and about 10 miles from the Capitol Building on Nashville is Davidson County farmland. Some friends of mine, both formerly city slickers from the Northeast Corridor, decided to give up the city life, good buy Park Ave, and hello to Green Acres!

Donkey (I call it the fury little ass)

On the farm lives the donkey. Donkeys are usually hard working pack animals, but this little one has the life of leisure. Donkey's only job is to be best friends with her big horse pal.

Belgian Draft Horses

On the farm lives 2 huge Belgian draft horses. These 2 weigh about a ton each. The donkey is best friends with the big light color horse. They pal around the yard together. Belgian draft horses were breed to be hearty and sturdy farm horses. These two are sturdy for sure, but they live the life of leisure as well.

the old wise llama

There are llamas that live on the farm too. There is the old wise one who spends a lot of time in a cool ditch next to the barn during the summer heat.

the baby llama

There is the baby llama who loves to meet new friends. She just tromped up to us as we walked into the llama yard. She was like a golden retriever. She was happy to see new people, she wanted to be petted and she wanted to see if there were any treats in our hands, just like most good natured golden retrievers are like. This baby was so happy to be there.

the middle aged llama

There was the middle aged llama who has been around the block once or twice, and she too likes getting petted, but she was more reserved in her in her way.

The one thing I noticed is that the summer air and breeze was much more forgiving on the farm than in Nashville downtown. All of the downtown hard surfaces, such as concrete, asphalt, and building absorb the summer sun and heat, and then turn around and spew it back out to passers-by like myself. On the farm, the grass, trees and soil buffer the heat, and the breeze is allowed to flow freely on the farm, so it feels about 10 F cooler on the farm.

deviled eggs made with farm fresh eggs
and farm egg yolks and oil homemade mayo

My farm friends have free range chickens who lay eggs. I was not able to get photos of the chickens because they were roaming around the farm somewhere and did not come back to the roost until about 7 pm, and I had already gone inside. At my request, my farm friends made food from their farm fresh eggs. They made mayo made with their own egg yolks and oil, and then adding another layer of basil pesto flavoring. I could drink this stuff, it was so good. I am not drinking mayo out of a jar with a blue lid, that is for sure, but this fresh pesto mayo was heavenly. Embarrassingly to say, they had to take the mayo container out of my sight to make me stop eating this stuff because the next course was ready to be eaten, and I had to give up the mayo.

farm fresh grilled veggies and tomatoes
farm fresh egg made mayo, Kenny's local cheese

The hosts also made deviled eggs with the pesto mayo. I could not get enough of these either! As most people know, I can eat a lot of deviled eggs. A lot. I had to hold back from eating all the deviled eggs, so all the other guests could try at least one piece. It really does make a difference in flavor, texture and aroma when farm fresh free range eggs and farm fresh free range mayo are used to make a dish. There is no comparison. That is why I need to be able to have chickens within the Nashville city limits, and I too can have access to eggs everyday. Mmmm fresh eggs.

pho noodles being prepared

Another set of guests brought pho made the traditional way, no cheating. The broth was made with beef and beef bones. The rich brown broth was flavored with traditional pho spices including star anise. The aroma was delightful. The guest said that this was not best broth they have made, and it was only ok. Well, it was the best pho broth I have ever had, so I hope to be able to have their best pho broth some day.

the best pho I have ever had

To make pho, the broth and meat is created separately from the rice noodles. The broth days many hours to make. Once it is done, the noodles are boiled in a separate pot and placed at the bottom of a serving bowl. The broth and meat is then ladled onto the noodles. The soup is then served with a side of onions, limes, cilantro, basil, mint, and other aromatic herbs to be used at the diner's liking.

toppings for pho and peanut sauce noodles

The meal was accompanied with a dish from chez Lannae. It was not 100% successful because I could not find the right noodles for the peanut sauce dish. I made spicy peanut sauce, which was Arnold Myint and his PM Resturant inspired. I love Arnold's peanut sauce, and I really love my variation on the peanut sauce just a little better. I julienned carrots, summer squash, and scallions and sauteed them briefly to keep a crunch to them, and I used the julienned veggies to contrast with soft noodles. I made a mistake on the noodles, and I got mung bean noodles because I could not find soybean noodles to use. Eh, the mung bean was too toothy, and there is not enough boiling to be down with a mung bean noodle to get it to be the right texture. I would have been better off using a regular wheat noodle. Oh well.

peanut sauce noodles

So the peanut sauce, julienned veggies, basil and bean sprouts were all tossed with the mung bean noodles. I love that spicy Thai inspired peanut sauce!

I can't wait to go back and hang out and pet the llamas again. I had such a great meal and such a great time at farm day! I love it out at the farm!