Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

February 23, 2011

New Asian Market

Bangkok Market
3207 Powell Ave
Nashville, TN

Driving today I saw this sign, Bangkok Market, a sign I have not seen before. Well, it is a new Asian market in Nashville. It is located in the one-story industrial buildings on the south side of 100 Oaks Mall area, south of the movie theater, south of the Staples and Home Depot, off to the back of this strange set of buildings is this new Asian market. If you have never renovated your home, or kitchen and used one of the design firms or kitchen design firm in these buildings, you many not have given this industrial set of buildings a second look. So, south of the Staples on Powell Ave, there is a small street that has a ragged street sign with the cross streets of Hardison and Powell, and there is this store. It is hard to see from the road.

What was striking about this Asian market is it's design, layout, beauty, and cleanliness. This place is so orderly, pretty, and obviously set up by someone with an eye for design. The family who owns the store also owns the international interior design firm on the 2nd floor of this building, so that is where the beauty of this store comes in. The store is also located in a space that used to be a design firm office, so again, that is where the beauty of the space comes in because it stills has the bones of the design firm. There is really nice lighting and natural light coming into this market that it feels more like a spa experience rather than a grocery shopping experience. Most groceries have fluorescent lights that makes is feel like chore rather than a treat. And of course, most Asian markets here in Nashville, and I would say almost anywhere in the USA, are purely utilitarian shopping, with no design or beauty involved in stocking shelves. This Bangkok market really is a place of beauty.

Now, about the prices. I think everything I looked at are priced competitively to any other Asian market in Nashville. For example the various Asian made ramen noodle packs are about $0.60 per pack at most other Asian markets in Nashville. Bangkok Market sells them for $0.35 or 3 for $1. The fish sauce prices are the same as anywhere. Bangkok Market will sell cases at a discount, so if you wanted a case of coconut milk you will get 10% of your case, otherwise you will get a competitively priced can of coconut milk.

The Bangkok Market is family owned business, so the kids were in the living room area where I believe Asian magazines and other media are for sale. This is common at any family owned market, there are the kids hanging out while the parents work, and maybe one day the market will be their after school job. About the living room area, it feels almost like a book and magazine preview area at the Borders bookstore.

This market is in a soft opening right now, and there will be a grand opening in a few weeks with specials everyday to celebrate the new store. Go check it out. It has such a nice feel to it, like you just spent a day at an Asian Grocery spa.

February 19, 2011

No Balking at the Balkans


If you want to taste some Balkan region inspired food, this is the place for you. If you are at all like me, I have not visited the Balkan region, the Balkan Mountains, Pindus Mountains, the Adriatic nor Aegean Seas areas, so I am not at all familiar with Balkan food. It was a quick learn for me, as I sat down in this stark restaurant converted from a house.

I am guessing this is a family owned business, and there appeared to be only one woman working on the day we tried Euro Grill. There also seemed to be some of the woman's family there as well, as they has a familial way about them. There was also a couple work men with a circular saw outside with an extension cord running to the inside of the restaurant, thus causing the door to be open a jar. In this weather, it was quite cold in the restaurant. There was another couple dining, and they looked a bit confused, and seemingly having to wait a long time for their check. It was a seeming disorganized scene on the day we went, but all doubt was alleviated when the one woman, and only person seemingly working in the restaurant, finally came to our table and recommended a couple dishes for us. When the food came out, I was very pleased.

We started our lunch with a burek, which is a bread roll stuffed with spiced meat, and then baked in the oven. The meat was ground meat that was mixed with spices, just enough to be tasty, but not enough to be overwhelming. The bread roll on the outside was rolled very thin, so it was almost like won ton wrapper, rather than a bread roll. This was yummy, and we will be getting this again.


We also got a pljekavica which is a beef and lamb patty that is mixed with spices and served in a homemade bun that was half way between a chibatta and a pita, then topped with lettuce, tomato, onion, feta and some white sauce like a mayonnaise. All of the bread are homemade. You cannot find these in the grocery store, and the bread of each dish are central to the deliciousness of each dish. The other major contributing factor to each dish is the spices in the meat, and the texture and flavor of the meat. The pljekavica patty was tender and flavorful. The flavor was not familiar, but familiar. It is like a giant hamburger, but with flavor like gyro meat. This little restaurant makes their own bread and has extra bread for sale, so we bought 2 to take home to make our own creations. I tried to make something similar to the pljekavica at home using her bread, and I did not quite get this outcome. I must head here again to try and understand how they make pljekavica.

The 2 dishes we tried while there are definitely Balkan style food. There are many other menu items including other Balkan style dishes and then there are the hamburgers, fries, pizza, salads and quesadillas for those who want American fare. There is something there for everyone.

Euro Grill on Urbanspoon


February 11, 2011

Chinese New Year in Nashville

There is not much going on in Nashville with respects to celebrating Chinese New Year like there is in China (of course), and state-side, New York, Boston and Los Angeles. But, there is one small group of people promoting and celebrating Chinese New Year - The Chinese Arts Alliance of Nashville (CAAN).

the Lion Dance

Every year, I really like going to this event because it is the only event in Nashville, that I know of, that celebrates the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year. It is something that is important to me to remind me of my ethnicity and heritage. As always, CAAN sponsored the Lion Dance team, and I love the lion!

Traditional Chinese fashion show

Also this year, CAAN sponsored a fashion show of traditional garb from 6 regions of China. It was surprising to me to see some of the traditional clothing, such as the one pictured above. The one above must be from Western China where there may be more of a Persian influence. There was another outfit that was more traditionally Chinese in the way I think of Chinese, there was another one that was more like a modern sari, and yet another that reminded me of a traditional Korean woman's dress. I really enjoyed the traditional fashion show because it showed there is a continuum of people in China, and China isn't just one big singular country with only one type of person and dress.

fried shrimp

The dinner was the highlight of the evening. It included an 8 course meal prepared by Wild Ginger Restaurant in Franklin. The best part is that there were 3 vegetarians at my table, and the restaurant did very well catering to their dietary needs because the regular menu is so meat heavy, and that just would not do for them.

veggie dish

The 8 courses on the menu were 1. beef, lop chung and egg drop soup, 2. a trio app, 3. flounder and scallops, 4. deep fried prawn in the shell, 5. stuffed eggplant with black beans sauce, 6. baby bok choy and shitake with oyster sauce, 7. egg noodles with veggies and a brown meat gravy, and 8. sweet joy luck tapioca soup.

noodle dish

But, this event isn't really about the lion dance, the fashion show or the food really. It is just the vehicle for me to have a meal, break bread, and celebrate one day that means a lot to me, and be surrounded by friends who "get it". Chinese New Year, Lunar New Year is one day of family celebration that means a lot to at least 1/4 of the world's population, including me. It is about friends, family, and sharing food to make sure your fellow human is taken care of. It is a celebration of wishing well to your loved ones. I loved that I got spend the evening with 4 of my closest friends here in Nashville. Thanks buddies for making Chinese New Year special for me.

February 5, 2011

Who doesn't like pizza?

The homemade pizza party
it was a great evening of friends and food

antipasta dish #1

This has become an annual thing, and I was so glad to be on attendance list for the 1st time this year. It is the world famous Bill and Tanya's homemade pizza party. Who doesn't love pizza? OK, people who are allergic to wheat or milk may not love pizza, and actively avoid pizza. But, for those of us, like me without allergies and raised in the USA, there is a feeling of childhood giddiness when there is mention of pizza.

antipasta dish #2

When I was a kid in the early 19^*'s, there wasn't the same access to pizza. There wasn't the big chains like Dom, Papa, and the Hut on every corner. Pizza was not served everyday in the school cafeteria. We only went to the local pizza joint, Regular John's (anyone from Brentwood, California remember delicious Regular John's?) only a few times per year for very special occasions like a birthday. It was a rare treat to have pizza from Regular John's. At the school cafeteria, it was pizza day only once per month (3 times per semester) at the L.A. Unified school system, and all of us kids would beg our parents to let us buy the school lunch on pizza day. That school pizza was terrible, it was a rectangle of tasteless white flour soggy cardboard with a thin smear of tomato paste, some sort of diced up cheese and sometimes diced up pepperoni. The school pizza wasn't good, but because it was so rare for the school lunch, we kids always thought of this rare lunch day as a treat. Even today, I still have that momentary flashback to my childhood brain when there is a pizza party, and I just am so excite about the prospect of a pizza treat.

flipping the pizza dough

So I get to the pizza party, and Bill is flipping the pizza dough, there are 2 pizza stones in the very hot oven, and there were 2 big bowls of antipasta. Bill and Tanya printed out the menu for us, and here is the list:

The Antipasto
*Fresh baby green salad including romaine and arugula
*Mozzarella salad including mozzarella, hot pickled peppers, grape tomatoes, Italian flat leaf parsley, artichokes, olives, roasted peppers, and sauteed and marinated onions

The Pizzas
*Yukon gold potatoes, rosemary, garlic, oil, truffle salt, Fontina
*Wild mushrooms, caramelized onion, comte (French Gruyere), rosemary
*Pesto, fresh tomatoes, mozzarella
*Butternut squash, caramelized onion, gorgonzola
*Olives, roasted peppers, goat cheese
*Walnut Hill Canadian Bacon, pineapple, onion, mozzarella
*B&C smoked chicken, barbecue sauce, mozzarella

The Dessert

my 1st of many plates

When I got to Bill and Tanya's house, Bill was making the truffled potato pizza. He got some truffled salt, and opened up the jar, and the aroma of truffles filled the air. I live the scent of truffles. At one time, I was tossing my home popped popcorn with very expensive truffle oil, but I had to stop that habit because it was getting a bit pricey. The truffle aroma from the truffled salt was a lovely way to start the evening.

wild mushroom and caramelized onions with comte

The next pizza was the wild mushroom pizza with caramelized onion. I have decided that there are few things that always make a dish better, and one of them is caramelized onions. Just delicious. The onions added a very slight tartness, a sweetness, and a umami quality to the already umami earthy mushrooms on this pizza pie. Delicious. I thought this was my favorite, but there were more to come.

fresh tomato pesto

Then Bill made the next and the next and the next pizzas. I tried them all. I liked the bbq chicken, the pesto, and Canadian bacon pineapple pizzas. At Regular John's some # decades ago, I was introduced the Canadian bacon and pineaple pizza during one of my family's rare pizza outings. It was a hit with my mom, and I think it was one of her favorites. I think the Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza might have reminded her of a nice memory of days gone by. It has been um-teen years since I have had a Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza slice, and tasting this pizza just took me back to that first time of tasting this pizza. I could see the sawdust on the Regular John's floor, the picnic tables, the rustic wood interior, and my mom smiling like a kid, saying how much she enjoyed the Canadian bacon and pineapple pizza.

butternut squash, caramelized onion and mozzarella

To top off the evening was the unanimously voted best pizza of the evening - the butternut squash, caramelized onion and mozzarella pizza. I have never had a pizza like this, so it did not evoke a memory from my childhood. This is the new memory having been made. There was a sweetness from the squash and onions combined with the umami from the cheese and onions which made this an unforgettable pizza. If ever I have this pizza again, I am sure the aroma and flavor will remind me of this fantastic pizza evening. I will remember the striped tablecloth, friends sharing the table, and reaching for the 2nd slice of butternut squash and onion pizza while I was stuffed, but I still could not get enough of this pizza. I hope I get to be on the pizza party list next year - just delicious and fun!


February 3, 2011

Happy Chinese New Year!

Happy Chinese New Year of the Rabbit!
May the year bring love, health, joy
and prosperity into your life.

If nothing else, you can restart those New Year's resolutions
that might have fallen to the wayside.