Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

November 29, 2010

"THE" Rooster's

Roosters Texas BBQ and Steak
123 12th Ave North
Nashville, TN

smoked tomato salsa and chips

I want to say this, Rooster (that is his name) really smokes all the meat he serves. The rig he uses is all wood smoke, and there is no propane or natural gas "help-me" addition. Some lesser BBQ joints have a propane fire feed to rigs to keep a constant temp without constant attention from the pit master. Nope, Rooster and employees make smoked BBQ the real way with real hickory wood. Also, I have confirmed that many of the sides served are truly housemade! There is no skimpy, there are no bad food distributor products. The food is truly Rooster made food. For example, there is kitchen staff whose job it is to thinly slice the onions, dredge them in flour and fry them to make a pile of onion straws as a side. There are also other kitchen staff whose job it is to handcut potatoes to make the French fries as a side. The green beans are also cooked with one of Rooster's recipes and added smoked brisket for flavor. This is a real deal BBQ joint.

brisket plate

The 1st I heard of Rooster's was back in height of summer from Rooster's ex-bro-in-law. Yup the ex-bil's sister used to be married to Rooster, but no longer. No hard feeling, the ex-bil still is friends with Rooster, still respects Rooster's honest BBQ, and has been telling me that I needed try the Rooster's BBQ because Rooster's is true 100% wood smoked BBQ in town. My buddy the ex-bil I do trust to tell me where there is good food in and around Nashville and TN, he has not steered me wrong, and again, he is correct, I do like Rooster's.

Rooster's used to be in Franklin, and Rooster closed the Franklin location a good while back, and had been looking for an appropriate place to open again. It took a while, but finally Rooster settled on 123 12th Ave N. I was a little nervous for the location of this restaurant at the former Jody Faison's Cafe 123 at 123 12th Ave N. When Judge Beane (Rooster's brother) opened Judge Bean's here years ago, I did not like the Judge because the energy in the room was still a little too much like Cafe 123, and not enough BBQ joint, so I did not go there much. I really liked Jody Faison's concepts from 12th and Porter to the Pub of Love to Jody's Boxcar and Faison's. I credit Jody Faison for demanding more from Nashville restaurants and also delivering more. Jody was the King of the "new restaurant scene" dining in Nashville. Thanks Jody for paving the way for the current Nashville food scene. So, years ago, when the Judge moved into one of Jody's former pretty and urban space at 123 12th Ave N, I was not ready to give up Jody's urban dining concept and accept the down and dirty Judge Bean BBQ concept. So, I only went twice to the eat at Judge Beans because the energy of the space was still Jody Faison, I wasn't ready for BBQ. Now, many years later, Rooster's moved in and had not done much to the space, but it feels right now because I am ready to move on from the old Faison days, and accept the BBQ joint now. Actually, I really like Rooster's and the space has become completely his, and it is a great energy of BBQ now.

I guess I should mention this, Rooster's Texas BBQ on 12th Ave N has nothing to do with Red Rooster's up the street on Demonbraun (which is a food and nightclub joint), nor Rooster's on 8th Ave south (which seems to be a dance club with meat and 3 food, and used to be a strip club, and had a shooting there last year). Be clear, Rooster's Texas BBQ is north of Broadway on 12th Ave, and Rooster's Texas BBQ serves true housemade food. The others, not so much.

the room and entertainment

How I see this place, there is a flat screen TV, so I can see it will be a place I would feel comfortable to grab a beer (from budlight to Yazoo), a plate of chips with smoky tomato salsa, a side of onion straws, a side of fries, maybe a brisket sandwich, and watch a football game. Rooster also has some sort of battle of the bands and singers contest going, but I am not sure what that was about. The 1st evening I was there, it was like a cruise ship karaoke with a live band. There were a few women who cycled up on stage and started singing some old country western songs, and I think that was part of the singing contest. I am not sure because I was just there for the brisket, onion straws and salsa.

the 1st guy to try the 72 oz steak challenge
at this location

We went to Rooster's soon after it opened in 12th Ave N. location, and was able to witness a 1st. Yup, a family walked in to take on the food challenge, and this guy pictured above is the 1st one to take on the challenge in this new location. The challenge is to eat a $70 meal in completion, and get the meal for free and a claim to fame at Roosters. The meal is a grilled 72 oz steak, a giant iceberg lettuce salad, a giant potato with a giant glob of butter, and buttered Texas Toast. Eat it all and you win the meal for free! If you don't you gotta pay $70. The fellow above walked in with his family, who did not tell him what he was doing there. The family only told him he was going to eat a special meal. So hush went the crowd, and the man was in the dark until the plates started coming. This 1st contestant, well the outcome was he actually did eat all 72 oz of beef, but he could not swing the sides. No room for the salad, potato or toast. So, he did not win the challenge.

Who is next for the 72 oz beef challenge? Who will it be? Will it be you? Or will you be like me with some snacks and a beverage watching the sport of it all.

Rooster's Texas-Style BBQ & Steakhouse on Urbanspoon


November 26, 2010

Kien Giang Coffee

Vietnamese coffee and sweetened condensed milk

As the weather cools, I crave hot beverages and soups, and you can get that at Kien Giang. I love the Vietnamese coffee. How the coffee is made is that there is a mini-drip coffee maker on top of a cup with sweetened condensed milk at the bottom. When the coffee stops dripping, take the coffee maker off the cup, and stir up the coffee with the condensed milk. Delicious.

November 25, 2010

That's my Manna!

1104 Charlotte Pike
Nashville, TN

kalbi with kim chi sides

Manna has been around for a long time. Manna Korean restaurant and Manna grocery store are on the corner of Charlotte and Industrial Way (11th Ave). The Greyhound Bus Station is now across the street from Manna, and the Greyhound Station used to be Hansen Chyrsler Plymouth Jeep Dealer located downtown. It is a strange location amongst an industrial area. The Manna grocery store is a bit " Down home Asian-esque" in that it is tight, cramped, a little messy, and not picturesque. It is Asian utilitarian. Don't be scared because there are some decent Asian products focused on Korean products at the grocery side. On the restaurant side, it seems a little worn, utilitarian, but clean enough. The chairs are old style convention center chairs, not the most comfortable, but they do their job. Neither side, grocery nor restaurant, is going to win for style or fashion. These places are purely about Korean food.

What me and my friends agree on is that Manna has the best and most generous portion of kalbi (also written in English as galbi). Kalbi is a thinly sliced marinated grilled short rib steak. I find this one to be my favorite flavor of kalbi in all of Nashville. Me and my friends agree that we like the side dishes very well here. Fire eater friend likes the variety of kim chi here, and my friend of Korean origin likes the value, kalbi and kim chi sides. I personally like the kalbi for its flavor as well as portion vs cost ratio. I also like the sides because they seem to have had small Korean style dried anchovies for a side dish every time I have gone to dine. It is hard to find these mini-anchovies at any other Korean restaurant in this town because the others don't normally have them in stock. I think other Korean restaurants in town have a more diverse client base which frowns upon eating dried mini-anchovies, and there must have been a lot of waste of this relatively expensive side dish. So, the other Korean restaurant owners are smart enough to know that throwing away dollars of fish every night is not a good policy for making money, so they just don't serve the stuff anymore. I love that Manna has the little fishies for me to eat with my rice.

The last few times I have been in Manna's, we were the only ones dining, or there were only one or 2 more tables being served. But, overhearing other tables, it is usually someone who has dined at Manna's multiple times and introducing friends to the place. That is how I feel, I want to bring no people to try this place because most people would just pass by this joint because it looks a little funky from the outside, and it is in a funky location. It looks like h*ll on the outside, and so plain on the inside, that it could be off-putting to some. But, enduring what it looks like, you may be pleasantly surprised with your meal.

Manna on Urbanspoon


November 23, 2010

Not About Food - Women's Levi's Suck

UPDATE: I called Levi's customer service over my lunch break. The lovely young phone clerk confirmed that there are no longer any women's Levi's made from 100% cotton. All of them have Spandex Lycra in them, they are stretch pants that will fall down when putting an amount of tools or weight in the pockets. Then the clerk continued to say that many women have called with the same complaint. Levi's orginally made the change to have an "appeal" to women and have more women buy their jeans, but what this did was drive away customers. Now, if it isn't just me complaining about these HORRIBLE Spandex Levi's for women, then why won't Levi's make at least 1 style, the original 505s in regular 100% cotton. Levi's you lost a whole household of customers. Levi's suck. I am boycotting until Levi's makes real 100% cotton jeans for women again. Join me in the boycott. I hate the Spandex Levi's.

Also, the clerk confirmed that there a a couple men's Lev's 505s and 550s that are made with 100% cotton. But, I said, that I tried on those already, and they have extra room "down there" so it makes me look like I am packing a sock. NOTE, this is a BAD look for women! The clerk said that the men's Levi's are cut differently than women's Levi's, and that I should basically look like I am packing sock - i.e. an idiot, if I want to wear 100% cotton Levi's. I am boycotting Levi's until they stat making 100% cotton jeans for women again. Join me. I hate Spandex Levi's.

Now back to the Original Blog Post:
What happened to Levi's women's jeans?
OK, 505s and 550s are standard Levi's.
My old jeans, 505s and 550s are made of 100% cotton.
I wanted to replace my old aging jeans.
I went to the store to buy a pair of good ol' Levi's.
What did I find?! ALL of the FREAKING women's Levi's 550s are made with SPANDEX! NOT GOOD LEVI'S! I am sick. I hate the spandex. I did a little investigation, and there is not one pair of women's Levi's made with just 100% cotton. All that I looked at have spandex.

So, there are a couple men's Levi's that are still made with 100% cotton. The problem is, men's Levi's are cut with extra room in an area where I don't need extra room. Yes, that is correct, men's Levi's are cut differently down there from women's pants. I bought the damn pair of real cotton pants anyway. ARGH!

Levi's can you please make at least one type of 505 and/or 550s women's jeans in just plain old cotton! Please!?!

Peanut Butter

Thought this was a cool peanut butter graphic.

Peanut Butter Infographic.

Infographic by Culinary

November 20, 2010

Wonderful Osaka Part 2

My favorite Japanese Guest Blogger had a wonderful lunch hosted by her Uncle at an Osaka restaurant, one of their favorites, called Harimaya House. I believe there are shoji screens or room dividers so each large party can have their own dining room in this efficient 65 seat restaurant. This restaurant has been around since 1949, and has been a family favorite for a long time. Harimaya totes itself as a restaurant with a long Japanese history, good food, and family and kid friendly. Just look at this restaurant 4 course lunch, it is quite intricate, beautiful and diverse. I am amazed at all the flavors and dishes that came with this lunch. Here is my Friend and she is describing each dish.

hors d'oeuvre

Hors d'oeurve course: clockwise from right top
-Steamed white stump (of tree) with spinach with ginger
-Nappa or some other greens with white miso (fermented soybean paste)
-Raw white fish meat with soy sauce for a taste
These three dishes are a lovely way to begin any meal.

main dish

Main Course: clockwise from top center
-Steamed shimeji mushroom with ginkgo nut
-Egg-based pudding-like with crab meat on top
-Tempuras of lotus root (white) and burdock root (not sure) with dough made with extra-colorful "arare" (rice crackers)
-Steamed lotus root and taro potato
-Baked yellow-tail tuna
-Inside green leaf wrapping is sushi cake with ever so colorful vegetable ingredients
-Lastly, inside blue bowl is chives and ginger for tempura.
My Friend says: Per my uncle and aunt, there are old ladies who bring to restaurants these huge leaves for presentation purposes. The ladies show up with loads of leaves and make cash transactions with them. This may be my part-time job here... to be a leaf lady, or a Happa Obasan.
My Friend continues: Aaaa forgive me, how dare I miss the salad? It was tiny, in a white boat-shaped plate, with a few leaves and miso paste (fermented soybean paste)

maitakegohan and osuimono

Maitakegohan and osuimono course: clockwise from top center
-Pink is pickled white radish, sliced and folded in a triangular shape, along with cucumber and pickled and colored (brown) more cucumber
-"Osuimono" is literally "thing to suck" (no, not like that...) meaning soup. This one has a "hanpen" or pounded fish cake (per on-line dictionary) with shimeji mushroom and greens, featuring a very subtle howenver no fishy taste
-Rice is steamed "maitake" (type of mushrooms/bomboo family), with free second servings!

petite dessert

Petit Dessert":
-Tofu-based chestnut cake with bitter coffee.
In my excitement I asked the family if coffee is locally harvested, and got a reply of "oh, don't know, maybe Columbia?" To visually reiterate the smallness of these yummies, my cousin decided to place one of my super-American souvenirs on the side. Now that I think about it, they have not yet mentioned if they even tried this peanut butter puppies.

strangers - having a kid related celebration at the next table

Harimaya Strangers: The photo above is of total strangers having a traditional kid-related celebration lunch in the room next to us. Do you see the level of sophistication of this restaurant? My cousin might have implied to them that they may be superstars in the US.

Cousin and her 1-yr old (for the cute factor)

Yuina chan: Here is my cousin and her 1 year old. Just showing this place is kid-friendly, as long as they do not punch through shouji doors pictured in the back.

My Friend, she is an architect with a great eye for design, including a eye for taking food photos. I had to do nothing with these photos, but post them to this blog. Also, this Osaka restaurant has an eye for artistry as well, and the dishes are beautifully designed. I like all the small tasting plates, and would like to have meals made for me that way all the time. Here in the USA, many dishes are giant portions of one thing, and monolithic. I like the idea of tapas, dim sum, small plates, and small tastes. Can you imagine the mise en place this restaurant must have?

I am having so much fun seeing my Friend's food adventures in Osaka. I would like to go there with my Friend one day and eat our way through the wonderful city. OK, I await Part 3!

November 18, 2010

On the Edge Take 4

Welcome to the new iteration of the Edgehill Cafe!

tea bar - there are a bunch more now

Edgehill Cafe is under new ownership (again), and the owner wants to and has made Edgehill Cafe into a REAL Respectable Coffee Shop! They are selling Drew's Brews, loose leaf tea, homemade granola bars, dessert bars, housemade curry chicken salad, salads, sandwiches, sodas, bottle water, breakfast bagels, and the other items you expect to find in a breakfast and lunch coffee cafe. The big step up is Drew's Brews and real leaf tea. Now, the only problems are to fix the hours of operation, and to sell coffee beans ground or un-ground by the pound. This place is only open M-F 7am-6pm, and Sat 9am-6pm. M-F I never get out of work before then, so I cannot possibly make it to this coffee shop. There is no Sunday, there is no evening time, which is when I would go to a coffee shop. When I was there, they were not equipped to sell coffee by the pound. That poses a problem because when I stop in for a cup of coffee, and want to buy beans for my home, I want to do one stop shopping. At the old tried and true competition, I actually get a free cup of coffee with every pound of beans I buy. Also at the tried and true place, I can go at 9:30 pm, see a bunch of college kids drinking coffee and studying, get my free decaf and pound of coffee, and fight for parking on the street because there is no parking for this joint. If Edgehill were open later, say to 10 pm, advertise to the Belmont and Vandy crowd to come and drink coffee and study, and sell coffee beans, I would probably make Edgehill my coffee shop of choice because of all the parking available near Edgehill. Also, one Friday evening I met friends at the restaurants across the street for drinks and a bite, we wanted to continue socializing over some coffee before driving home. Alas, we found Edgehill closed after 6 pm. If they were open, there would have been a bunch of us grabbing a coffee or tea and maybe dessert before closing our evening.

some desserts

Other than being closed at all the convenient hours I would go to a coffee shop, there is a lot going for the "Under New Management" Edgehill Cafe. 1st being, the concept is clear. This is a breakfast, lunch and coffee and tea place. It is clear where you go to the counter to order, it is clear where you can go sit and enjoy your food and beverage. It is clear where you can go to the bathroom. It is a clear concept.

The above paragraph may seem strange, but if you had been to any of the previous permutations of past Edgehill Cafe, you would know the former owners were mis-firing at best. Version 1 was a copy shop coffee shop serving generic bad coffee no better than Folgers. It was odd and uncomfortable, and it was impossible to tell who was working, and who was a client. Version 2 was a issues documentary viewing and coffee shop. Yet again, it was not clear where you would order a drink, the seating was uncomfortable, and they never had anything in stock that I wanted. I wanted to like this place, but every single time I went in, it was bad Seattle's Best (aka WORST) coffee, and they never had the sandwich, cookie bar, or soda I wanted. I never bought anything because they never had it in stock. Bad sign, so they went under. Version 3 was some version of a singer/song writer venue. The only people singing at Version 3 were bad song writers singing dribble that no one wants to hear. Also, Version 3 had issues with keeping the fundamental menu items in stock to sell. I grimaced at Version 3.

seating nook before, seating nook after I arranged pillows

Version 4, and current Version 4 is the best permutation of the Edgehill Cafe so far. I really want Version 4 to succeed. I really want to have a nice coffee shop place to go to and relax in. This Version 4 space has been made into something really comfortable and nice. Version 4 is really trying to make decent food (it still as a little ways to go), but if I were ever in this part of town for a quick grab and go lunch, I would stop in and grab some chicken curry salad sandwich and maybe a soda or a coffee or a tea.

more seating

Forget all the bad experiences you may have had at Version 1, Version 2 and Version 3. There is a new Version in town, and it is the all new Edgehill Cafe. Now, if only they could stay open later, I would be really happy.

Edgehill Cafe on Urbanspoon

November 16, 2010

Leipers Fork Chili

The Leipers Fork Chili Cook Off was on Oct 18, 2010, a beautiful fall day. If you missed it this year, be ready for 2011 on the 3rd weekend in October for the 10th Annual Leipers Fork Chili Cook Off. Here are some highlights of this years Chili Cook Off.

Chili #18 has smoked home grown peppers and chilis in their chili.
This one was my favorite because of the wonderful smoky flavor.

Pocho's was the judges #1 favorite. He used grass fed beef and home grown veggies.
Pocho's makes his own hot sauce too, and has a special event catering biz.

These devil darlings served up Cincinnati style chili. Mmm Good!

The Boar's Nest, you know what theme they were dishing up.

After all 18 chilis, some needed to see this guy.

After smoke smoking hot chilis, some needed to see this!

November 14, 2010

Guest Blogger from Osaka

Hello form the land of The Rising Sun!
Osaka, Kansai Region, Japan
aka "Japan's Kitchen" because
it is the center of Japan's gourmet food scene

My dear friend, who was born in Japan, but moved to the USA as a young child with her parents, is currently visiting Japan. My Friend has spent her formative years in the USA, has spent more years in the USA than she ever has in Japan, and she is as red white and blue as you and me. Recently, my Friend scraped together her pennies, and decided to go visit Osaka, the city of her family's origin. Friend told me she would chronicle her Osaka food adventures while she was there. So, here is Osaka Part 1 from my Friend the Guest Food Blogger from Osaka.

Kotan Ramen - fresh made in the traditional manner for over 400 years

Here is the deal. After rice, the noodle is revered and taken very seriously in most East Asian nations, including Japan, and the city of Osaka. Ramen and Saimen noodles are so bastardized here in the USA, and are actually not good food. Just because I actually do like and embrace the Maruchan and Nissin noodles ($0.10 per pack) does not mean they are actually good food. Mauchan and Nissin style noodles are one of my comfort foods when I need a quick meal (like mac and cheese from the blue box [which also is not good food, but I like it too]). I think most starving college kids know about the Maruchan ramen noodle, and when they graduate and years after, they will have some sort of relationship with (either avoid or embrace) the Maruchan ramen noodle package.

The above photo of my Friend and her mom is at a little ramen restaurant in one of Osaka's train stations. It is Friend's mom's favorite noodle soup joint. The noodles, broth and accompaniments are freshly made, not out of a plastic wrapper. The soup base is a fermented soy bean base similar to a rich miso, the toppings include real seaweed, and the ramen are fresh made wheat noodles. This is a real satisfying meal. This noodle served here has been made the same way for a thousand years, and will continue to be made in the traditional noodle manner. There is nothing that resembles that dried noodle packages here in the USA. This noodle soup joint in Osaka warms the tummies of many travelers, and residents alike.

Dried fish snacks

Another East Asian yummy is the dried fish snacks. Japanese, Chinese, Koreans, etc all have some form or dried fish snacks. I grew up with dried squid as a potato chip meets beef jerky snack. I have also has some forms of preserved fish when I was a kid too. My Korean friends have the same thing. Apparently the Japanese have dried fish snacks too. I suppose Japan should have a tradition of fish because they have a lot of Pacific Ocean shoreline and plenty of fishing opportunities. Pictured above are dried fish snack packs you can find everywhere in Osaka. My Friend points out how the maker preserved the fish to look like a natural fish, and then they shrink wrapped the fish, so the snack can have the shelf life of a whole new emperor's lifetime.

otsukuri chicken - raw

Apparently yakitori (grilled food on a stick) is very popular in Osaka. I mean, what is not to love about fun food on a stick? Here in the USA, grilled chicken on a stick is very popular at Thai, Chinese and Japanese restaurants. Food on a stick at county fairs is also very popular. Look at the corn dog on a stick, pineapple on a stick, mango on stick, fried twinkie on a stick, we love food on stick! The Osakans seem to love food on stick too! There are ton of yakitori and beer joints all over Osaka. I think grilled chicken on a stick and a cold one sounds like a great idea! But that is not all that is served up at these places. There is the otsukuri course, or the raw meat portion of the dining and drinking experience. This raw chicken thing basically freaked out my friend because she is as USA as any USA citizen, and she is accustom to fully cooking chicken. My friend, up until a couple months ago was a vegetarian who ate eggs, milk and honey, but no meat including chicken. Luckily, she changed her ways when she needed more protein in her diet, so eating chicken in Japan would not freak her out. I admit, I am a bit freaked out at the thought of eating raw chicken.

What you see in the photo are raw chicken meat and raw chicken organ pieces. Before she tried the raw meat, she asked her relatives 10 times and more about e-coli and other diseases we have in the USA based on the industrial chicken. Japan has not had any e-coli with regards to domestic chicken, so my Friend gave a taste. What she said was that the raw chicken tasted like chicken. Who knew?

Stay tuned for more Osaka food adventures!

P.S. after I posted this blog post, it was time for a snack. I was jones-ing for some ramen after writing about the ramen, so I went to the pile of Maruchan packs and cooked myself up a package $0.10 ramen. It resembled nothing like the fresh ramem my Friend has. Oh, but it is the best worst food in the world.

November 12, 2010

Braised Lamb

Jason McConnell - The Red Pony

I went to a Viking Cooking School demo cooking class given by Jason McConnell, Chef, at the Red Pony, Sol and 55 South in Franklin. It is a little funny that all of Jason's restaurants are all on the same corner in Franklin, but it seems to work. Jason is very popular amongst the Franklin set, but I don't get down there much because it is about a 1/2 hr drive for me to get there. I have actually only eaten at the Red Pony once and just have not been able to get down to Franklin for dinner again. But, people like Jason and his food and drink, so I thought I would take a class from him, Jason offered a class showing us how to make 3 course dinner including rotolo, which was similar to a butternut squash gnocchi, braised lamb over polenta, and a cranberry bread pudding made with croissants rather than bread. I am just not a fan of bread pudding. I hate mushy bread that has sugar on it, so it was not my thing. It isn't because it wasn't good, I think it was good because other people ate it, I just don't care for bread pudding. The rotolo requires quite a bit of prep, fresh pasta sheets and cheese cloth that you would only use once. Cheese cloth for the layman cook like myself is relatively hard to find and expensive (at a brick and mortar) and I am not about to make sheets of pasta, so I am unlikely to make this dish. It is a signature dish for the Red Pony, so I want this dish again, I will just have to go to the Red Pony and get it.

Braised lamb in mirepoix and red wine
over polenta

The one dish that I would make would be the braised lamb shank served over polenta. The lamb shank is 1st dredged in flour, salt and pepper, and then browned on all sides. The browned lamb is then put in a crock pot or dutch oven. The sauce pan is deglazed with red wine and a mirepoix. Then the deglazing liquid is poured over the lamb, and more liquid like water, wine, or stock is added until the lamb is completely covered by liquid. The lamb is covered and the the crock is turned on low for 2 to 4 hrs, or the covered dutch oven goes into a 350F oven for about 1/5 to 2 hrs.

Jason made polenta with 2 cups polenta, 2 cups stock, and 2 cups cream, and salt and pepper. Jason said that polenta is always 1 part polenta to 2 parts liquid by volume. It doesn't matter what liquid, it could be water, milk, stock, or a combination there of.

I tried this dish at the demonstration, but it was clear that the demo helpers did not reduce the braising liquid to make the sauce for the lamb and polenta. The braising liquid probably started out with a little wine from the deglaze and the rest of the filler was water. It was ok, but I think the braising liquid reduction need to actually be reduced to concentration the flavor. I figured I could do this, so over the weekend I gave it a shot.

My braised lamb in red wine, chicken stock, garlic and olives
over polenta and mashed potatoes

Every year I get a couple lbs of freshly stone ground corn from the corn guy at the Wilson County TN fair. Every year I have no idea what to do with it. Hoe cakes, corn cakes, corn bread, etc have all been a bit of a failure for me (I am guessing one needs a Southern mom to help teach one how to use corn meal, and I don't have a Southern mom). The closest I got to teaching me how to use this ingredient is Jason. Perhaps he will lend himself to occasionally be my Southern mom to teach me how to cook some things. So, for my polenta I used this fresh ground corn meal I got from the Wilson Co Fair.

Just for insurance I made mashed potatoes just in case the polentas came out bad. So, for my polentas I used 1 part ground corn, 1 part milk, and 1 part homemade chicken stock with salt, pepper and a little garlic. The mashed potatoes I used butter, milk, salt, pepper and a little garlic. So, just as Jason said, 1 part to 2 part will always work, and Ta Da! It did! The potatoes are from my organic CSA, and are always good. The milk I use is JD Milk from reusable glass jars so the milk doesn't have that plastic container flavor. Very good.

The braised lamb, I did exactly what Jason did. I dredge the lamb shanks in seasoned flour and browned it on all sides. I placed it into a dutch oven. I deglazed the pan with Newton Claret, onions, carrots, tomatoes, and peppers. The tomatoes and peppers are heirloom organic veggies from my garden that I pick the last fruits over the weekend before turn the plants into compost. The carrots are from my CSA and are a nice small flavorful variety. I put chicken stock, a bunch of kalamata olives, cloves of garlic, the deglaze wine and veggies, extra wine and some water to finish covering the lamb. I put the covered dutch oven into a 350F oven for about 1 hr 45 min. While that was going on, I went outside to start winterizing my veggie bed. That took longer than I thought. So when I came back in it was time to start the polenta and mashed potatoes.

For the gravy, I took the braising liquid and removed all the veggie matter, and the lamb, and put the braising liquid, on the stove to reduce. In the liquid I added a little tomato paste, diced onion, diced peppers from my garden, garlic, and diced kalamata olives. I let that all reduce until it was a consistency that I wanted to serve. It was really good!!

Mushroom ravioli with braised lamb

The volume of lamb I made (2 lbs of lamb) was enough for 3 hearty dinners for 2, or 6 meals. The first was lamb and polenta. The second was lamb over bowtie pasta. The third was lamb over mushroom ricotta ravioli that I got from Lazzaroli's Pasta shop.

I really liked this dish because we could have 3 good dinners in a row, and not be bored with it. Sometimes we just get so burned out by leftovers, we just don't want to see it again for a long time. Not this time We were happy to have it again and again.

November 10, 2010

Eat Locally Maui

Farmers Market
Nautral Food and Deli
3636 Lower Honoapiilani Rd
(North of) Lahaina, Maui, Hawaii

Turkey, sunflower sprouts and Farmer's Market guacamole on whole grain bread

It is actually really easy to get locally grown, caught or raised foods on Maui. There is coffee, fruit, and fish that are rather easy to get. It gets even easier at the farmer's market in West Maui located in the parking lot of the Farmer's Market Store and Deli on Mondays, Wednesdays and Fridays from 7 - 11 am, and the Farmer's Market store is open from 7 - 7 everyday of the week.

salad made with avocado

We got food from the Farmer's Market and the Farmer's Market store including locally grown green beans, corn, sunflower sprouts, and papaya. The specialty of the Farmer's Market store are avocados and guacamole, which we got some guacamole. The guac was so good, just basically avocado mashed up with a little citrus and salt and pepper. Perfectly simple. We made sandwiches with the guacamole, with sunflower sprouts, sliced turkey and whole grain bread. These sandwiches came with us on our road trip to Hana, and everyone who had some really enjoyed the sandwich.

Maui locally grown corn

The green beans and corn were cooked up for one of the dinners we had made. For the dinner we made fresh fruit salad with locally grown pineapple and papaya, fresh green salad with avocado from the Farmer's Market, Mahi Mahi seasoned with smoked paprika then broiled, tri tip seasoned with a savory mix from Penzey's spices, corn, green beans, grilled sausage stuffed jalapenos wrapped in bacon, and I am missing some other dishes we made. We just had a ball cooking with the ingredients we got mostly from the Farmer's Market store.

It is just so easy to eat well, eat healthy, eat enjoyable, and eat locally on Maui. I think back to the snacks, sandwiches, and this big dinner we made, and how delicious and wholesome all the ingredients were. Yum. There is no reason ever to go to a generic chain restaurant on the island of Maui.

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November 7, 2010

I need a Mother

I need a red wine vinegar mother. Anyone in Nashville got a mother? Can you share your mother with me?

what is a vinegar mother?

here is Kim's take on vinegar:

here is the man's take on vinegar:

November 6, 2010

Same in Saimen

McD's saimen noodles

So, I got Saimen (about $4) from the Maui McD's menu when we stopped to get something to drink and a mid-afternoon snack. I saw saimen, and had no idea what it was, and it was the most expensive thing on the menu. Well, it is a large paper cup of ramen noodles, dehydrated eggs and dehydrated tofu rounds. The McD's staff puts hot water in the large cup, just like those styrofoam cup of noodle soups. The only difference is that this cup of noodles at McD's Maui costs about $4, where the styrofoam cup of noodles cost about $0.59. Yeah, live and learn. I should have stuck to the program and got a value menu drink $1, and a value menu French fry $1. I suppose McD's had this saimen dish for the Asian tourists who might be jones-ing for some noodles. I mean McD's saimen is probably the worst noodle soup I have ever had, and I love those $0.12 square packages of dried ramen noodles (and those are really bad). Yeah, save your money and don't order the saimen at McD's, order the regular stuff if you must. I mean, a big mac and small fry combined cost less than this cup of noodles, and it would have been more satisfying to eat a big mac and small fry. Oh well, so much for different menu offerings on the McD's menu.


November 4, 2010

The Heavy - How You Like Me Now?

November 3, 2010

Turnip Truck Urban Fare

The Turnip Truck
311 12th Ave South
The Gulch
Nashville, TN

up the street from Ru Sans and Urban Outfitter

Never thought it would happen in Nashville. It is a dream come true! There is a decent grocery store exactly on my way to and from work where I can either buy ingredients for dinner, or buy some prepared foods if I am lazy. Not only that, the ingredients and some of the prepared foods are made with local and local organic ingredients, which fits into my chosen lifestyle of eating something local or local organic everyday. The Turnip Truck downtown is my favorite store now!

I have been everyday since I have gotten back from my biz trip. I was not in town for the grand opening, and I am sorry I missed the great event. I like the small but efficient meat counter, and the meat we have gotten has been good. I like the hot bar, the salad bar, the prepared foods, and the juice bar for goods that I can grab and go for breakfast, lunch or dinner. As I was taste testing some Hawaiian inspired octopus salad, I was thinking to myself, oh this reminds me of Poke on Maui, and it is some of the best octopus salad I have ever eaten from a grocery store prepared food counter in Nashville. This octopus salad ranks up there with the best octopus I have eaten. I ask who made it, and the counter guy said, our executive chef Laura Wilson. I was so excited because she is one of my favorite chefs in town, and my other favorites are Tyler Brown and Tandy Wilson. A little FYI, my favorite home chef in Pittsburgh also shares the last name Wilson. Perhaps I need to seek out locally owned Chef Wilson restaurants where ever I go. Anyway, Laura Wilson, chef and co-owner of Ombi, one of the best yet under appreciated restaurants in Nashville, is now creating really awesome chow for the Turnip Truck downtown. Yay for me, as I plan on buying fresh nearly daily from the Turnip Truck downtown. Yay for me that I get to eat food cooked by Laura!

Here are more thoughts on this store, and how it has changed my life as I know it in Nashville. It has been a challenge in the mornings, as I drive to work, I drive through a very densely populated area, yet it is an urban food desert. For 8 years, along this stretch of densely populated road, there was not one place along the way that I could pick up a banana, milk and maybe some yogurt for breakfast to eat at my desk. When I leave the house, I wanted to just quickly grab something at "the store" on the way into work, there wasn't anything, and I would get to work and end up eating junk from the vending machine. Now, there is easy in and easy out Turnip Truck with not only bananas, milk and yogurt, there are organic bananas, local organic milk and Greek yogurt with live active cultures. It is all the stuff I want to start my day.

When I lived in Phila, all the goods were just out my door on the way to work. I would stop into the bagel joint for a bagel, the news kiosk for the paper, and the local grocery store for a pint of milk. It was just part of morning routine, and all of it was just out my door and on the road to work. It was so convenient, and did not add to my morning commute. Many people walking to work in Phila pass by enough shops, dry cleaners, bagels, groceries, etc that they all just hop into the store and get what they need and hop and never lose a stride. When I moved to Nashville, it was a rude awakening because there are no shops along the way. It is an inconveniently set up city where there are bedroom communities, and then a traffic ridden inconvenient shopping area.

Anyway, The Turnip Truck Downtown is exactly what I wanted, I feel I needed, and will most likely frequent everyday. It will feed my need to buy and cook what I need, and not have to stock up in the pantry or freezer. It will feed my need for wholesome convenience when I don't have time to cook, and I can get some delicious Laura Wilson takeout. Rock on Turnip Truck!

Turnip Truck Urban Market on Urbanspoon

November 2, 2010

Hawaii Five 0 rocks