February 26, 2012
February 23, 2012
Symon Says Burger
Update: On Feb 24, 2012 Michael Symon, for the 3rd time in a row, wins the South Beach Wine and Food Festival's Amstel Lite Burger Bash. Judges like Michael Symon's pork burger the best of all the entries. I admit, Michael Symon does make a good burger.
It is pretty obvious Michael Symon, Iron Chef America, wants to have a nationwide chain of burger joints serving local ground beef, locally made buns, shakes, fries and onion rings, so he started B Spot. B Spot had some starts and stops, opening in wrong locations, but now there are 3 locations and the Q in the Cleveland area. We went to the newest location in Westlake. The interior is predictable, the room is lined with some wood giving a country barn like feel, the tables offer a feel of a country diner, and adornments is going for an old timey look even though the B Spot is in a strip mall. The food is al a carte. I suggest that a table of 4 get only one serving of fries and/or onion rings for the table because it is a huge serving. There is a pickle bar that you serve yourself if you want pickles on your burger. On my trip, there were only 4 choices, dill pickle slices, pickled green tomato slices, banana pepper slices, and sweet pickles. The pickles looked like they were not house made, rather they looked like something I could buy off the shelf in a grocery store. The pickle bar was a pretty large bar (like a salad bar) that looked sad with 4 small crocks in it. I was hoping a bunch of pickled items like pickled okra, pickled onions, pickled garlic, etc, but no, it was just 4 ordinary pickle offerings. The other burger adornment is 6 different sauces available including BBQ, ketchup, mustard, steak sauce, to name a few.
We each got a burger and drink, and we shared one order of fried and one order of onion rings for the table. The burgers have a high fat content which makes for a juicy burger. It is a really good burger. The fries and onion rings were well made also. It was a really good burger meal which left me feeling a little grease covered. I suppose, if one is looking for low fat health food, one should not go to a burger joint with fatty beef, deep fried foods and milkshakes. I can see the appeal for Iron Chef fans to go to a B Spot and feel like they got a taste of Michael Symon's culinary vision and work. I am a Michael Symon fan, and I wanted to go to the B Spot because it is an accessible concept and price point for a meal while I am on vacation.
For me, it was fun going to Michael Symon's B Spot once. If ever it catches on as franchised chain and makes it to Nashville, I will likely go once for the experience, but probably not more than that. I will continue to go to locally owned places like Gabby's, Burger Up and Melrose for local ground beef burger and fries.
February 18, 2012
Silo, what's to come
USN, a private school in Nashville, fund raises for scholarships for underserved students, and the fund raising is so awesome! USN provides adult learning classes of all sorts from arts to zumba classes, and all the profits go to scholarships. I love the cooking and dinner classes. I took sushi, Thai, and Chinese tea to name a few, and this year I took a dinner class to introduce Nashville to Silo, a restaurant due to open in Germantown in late spring 2012.
Chris and Caroline Farren donated their kitchen and dining room to a bunch of us diners to have the 1st taste of what Silo is going to offer. Business and chef partners Clay and Paul are merging their expertise to bring an upscale but humble Southern food experience to Nashville. There is going to be artisan bakery goods from Paul, who comes from the traditions of his Normandy Farms Bakery in Charleston, SC where Southern Slow Food has been embraced and perfected. Clay, originally came to Nashville seeking country music fame, but luckily quickly understood food and the restaurant business is where he could be appreciated most. Their gig is going to Southern food made in a European old world tradition, served with appropriately humble beverages from lemonade to bourbon.
The plan is to source some of the ingredients locally, including ground beef, eggs, and veggies. At this dinner, the kale and beets salad was sourced incredibly locally, right from Clay's own garden. I was thrilled for beets because I just did not get enough beets this year from my CSA. I love beets. I hope Silo has this on their menu because it will be a staple for me for years to come.
I sat with some friends, and I discovered we all have a love of pork belly. Silo's dish had sliced pork belly served with cornbread croutons and black eye peas, a very nice Southern inspired dish. We enjoyed the fresh pork belly entry from Silo on this evening. We also talked about one of Silo's restaurant neighbors, City House and the belly ham pizza that is made there. It is so good!
I did notice Paul's contribution to the Charleston, SC fresh, seasonal and local cooking ideal. The parsnip soup and the brussels sprouts are seasonally fresh right now. With the mild winter we are having in Nashville, my brussels sprout plant is thriving, as well as my root veggies. I have a bunch of parsnips in my fridge, and I am so inspired by the parsnip soup, that I may try making my own parsnip soup too.
When we were in Pommard Burgundy France, we had the best pate de compange , country pate. It is a rustic farm dish that does not seem to be in vogue in the USA, but I think it should be. Silo will be making a country pate similar to the one we had in Pommard. I hope Silo has a nice red wine to go along with the country pate. Clay said they are not really focusing on wine at Silo, but I think they should grow the wine list as Silo grows. It seems as though the food preparation at Silo will be of a similar tradition as Burgundy farm food, and in Burgundy, it is all about the local wine to have with every meal.
As we finished our meal, we tasted some bourbons that Silo will have for sipping on the bar patio. What fun. I have never done a bourbon tasting, so it was actually a good learning experience for me. Not all bourbons taste alike!
February 9, 2012
That Pizza Party
no knead dough - 00 flour
Again this year, we go the winning ticket to the pizza party of the year! The pizzas were made with fresh made dough using 00-flour from Italy giving the crust a lighter mouth feel. If you are in Nashville and want some 00-flour, go visit Lazzaroli's up in the Germantown section in Nashville. Our pals made a lot of really varieties of pizza:
butternut squash, caramelized onion and stilton
truffled wild mushroom with Gruyere
sausage, yellow pepper
ham and brussel spout
apple, benton's bacon, asparagus
Our pals looked online for ideas to make pizza, including the use of Benton's bacon. There are a bunch of TN pizza joints using Benton's bacon on pizza, which is no surprise because Benton's is in TN. The surprise was that Benton's bacon pizza is being made in Los Angeles, the town of Venice, the home Venice Beach at Larry's which opened in the summer 2011. While they were looking for bacon pizza recipes, they found Larry's which has a benton's bacon and brussel sprout pizza, and they decided to make a pizza like this. Maybe the next time I am in LA, and have time, I may head to Larry's and get a little benton's bacon hometown flavor.
February 3, 2012
Grammy Party 1
the Giant Grammy
his lovely wife Nancy and
Scott Brochetta (head of Taylor Swift's label)
The man is nominated for 2 Grammy's this year, so we got to go to the local Grammy's party at the Lowe's Vanderbilt Hotel. The food was terrific, the bars were open, and we got to see George Jones and his very beautiful wife Nancy. Thanks National Academy of Recording Arts and Sciences for a lovely evening.