by Chef Brandon Frohne
|Cheese and charcuterie table|
I don't go to a lot of pop-ups, or underground dining because it is a lot of money (always worth it, but a lot none the less), I am out of town for one reason or another, or I have a prior engagement or meeting and cannot attend. On this night, I actually was home, had a bit of extra cash and I signed up for Forage South, an Underground Culinary Experience by Chef Brandon Frohne.
|Lamb sausage and house made mustard|
Forage South started out last year when Brandon Frohne was cooking for an assisted living residential community in Mt Juliet. This community was a great culinary place to be. We heard of it because of the food, but we did not know the chef was Brandon, we just knew it was a great place to have family if they need to live in an assisted living community. Our needs for our loved ones was to extensive, and beyond what an assisted living facility can offer, so we sadly had to pass on the great food, and had to go to a higher level of skilled care. Brandon proved that it is possible to make delicious nutritious meals on a budget, and serve elderly and special needs folks some really nice meals. His culinary skill made a lot of residents and their visiting family happy. It is a loss to the assisted living folks (sorry) but it is a gain for greater Nashville that Brandon is now Executive Chef at Mason, the Loew's Vanderbilt restaurant open to everyone for breakfast, lunch and dinner.
|Salad course with watermelon radish|
Forage South pop-up helped Brandon Frohne transition from the assisted living community to the rest of Middle TN by way of the World Chef Challenge November 2012 held in Las Vegas. So, Brandon, with the help of our friends James and family, raised enough money to get Brandon to Las Vegas and cook like a madman. Well, Brandon was able to make it to the final round, and he was a semi-finalist. That is when Nashville really took notice of Brandon and he became a super star in the culinary scene of Nashville. Brandon is so sweet, humble and likable, that you just want to be around him, and the food he cooks is just bonus.
|Trio of duck|
Since I was in town for Forage South in May, I decided to dive in and take part. This night was guest chefs, and Brandon got to eat dinner with us. Larry from Silo, Robert from Perl and James from James' House created a lovely 5 course meal.
Course 1 was a cheese and charcuterie course. The cheeses came from Bloomy Rind, and the meats came from Porter Road Butcher. The item I really liked a lot, and is very hard to get is the PRB English Bacon. I have heard of this bacon, I have friends who nearly camp out outside of PRB waiting for the English Bacon to be ready for sale. PRB sells out of English bacon within 15 minutes, when they have it. I can see why they sell out so quickly, and why they have a waiting list. The English bacon is made from only local, hormone free pork, and is something I now covet, having finally tasted it.
Course 2 was a lamb sausage with home made mustard. The lamb was fairly salty, so it was appropriate to eat it with the mustard which cut the saltiness.
| Mini eclair and lemon ice cream|
Course 3 was the salad course with endive, watermelon radish and asparagus. I love watermelon radishes. I have not gotten any in my CSA yet, but I love how they look. The look like mini watermelons with the center having a rosy color. Watermelon radishes are less spicy than the little red radishes you normally get in the grocery store, so watermelon radishes lend themselves to a refreshing salad better than conventional radishes.
Course 4 was the meat course with duck made in three ways. There was roasted duck breast, smoked duck confit, and crispy duck skin crumbs. We all liked the smoked duck confit, as we never had anything like it before. We have had smoked duck, and we have had duck confit, but not smoked confit. The duck was smoother and nicer to eat that smoked duck.
Course 5 was the dessert course. The mini strawberry eclair was not too sweet and a nice treat. The lemon ice cream was something else, out of this world. Do I admit that I finished the ice cream then picked up the lemon rind it sat in, and then I was licking the rind for the last bits of ice cream. Yes, I admitted it to all of you. It is out there in the universe now. But, hey, I liked it, it made me feel like a kid again, and I did what a kid would do.
This was a really nice evening for me. I got to meet a lot of nice people who enjoy good food too. I got to talk to Brandon and hear how Mason at Loew's Vanderbilt is going. I got to spend time with nice friends who are genuine people. As I said before, it is a little pricey, but it was worth it as it fed not only my tummy, it fed my soul.