Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

May 30, 2011

Gulf Shores

It is a new year for the Gulf Shores. The beaches are super clean, bright and white. The oil removal teams did their job, and continue to do so when little globs come ashore. The jellyfish have not yet hatched. The seaweed is to a minimum at this time. The sand spurs have been cleared. There is very little litter. NOW, is the time to go to the Panhandle of FL, AL, LA and TX Gulf of Mexico.

view of the beach

view of sand and a little sea weed

view of the ocean in the Gulf of Mexico

view of the beach waiting for you

sun setting as we ate dinner

pelican enjoying the sunset

Note, I did not "doctor up" or "Photoshop" any of these photos. Out of my camera they came, and up on this webpage I put them. This is exactly what I saw and my camera captured the photos. The Gulf Shores area is better than ever. Come on down to your next vacation spot. It is lovely and relaxing.

May 27, 2011

Get Ready for Good Taste

June 4th and 5th, it is time for the 1st Inaugural Savor Nashville Event!

photo from Nashville Lifestyles and Savor Nashville

photo from Nashville Lifestyles and Savor Nashville

In conjunction with the Taste of Music City, Nashville Lifestyles will host a series of Savor Nashville events for a fun-filled weekend of food on June 4-5, 2011

Savor Nashville has attracted some of the most famous and notable chefs and food personalities from across the country. Not only will the festivities include a number of our city’s top culinary experts, but is attracting visits from other famous faces interested in showcasing their talents to Nashville’s growing audience of fine dining enthusiasts.

Celebrity Chef Dinner

Saturday, June 4th, 7pm, Hilton Nashville Downtown

Numerous celebrity chefs will be paired with local culinary talents to design a high-end dinner where each pair of chefs creates a course for an inventive gourmet meal. In addition, guests will enjoy wine pairings by Concannon Vineyard and live entertainment from Grammy Award winning songwriters – Tim Nichols, Craig Wiseman and friends.

Visiting celebrity chefs to include: Lydia Shire, Norman Van Aken, Larry Forgione, Robert Del Grande, Bob Kinkead and Bradley Ogden. All are winners of the prestigious James Beard Award and have numerous accolades.

Participating local restaurants to include: Capitol Grille, Midtown Cafe, Sunset Grille, Cabana, Watermark, and more.

Sponsored by: Audi, Concannon Vineyard, Hilton Downtown Nashville, and The Daily Meal.

Challenge to the Chefs: Shrimp & Grits Cook-Off

Sunday, June 5th, 2-4pm, The Hutton Hotel

Local chefs will compete in this shrimp and grits cook-off, where the visiting celebrity chefs from Saturday’s dinner will judge to determine the winners. Guests will get to sample the chefs’ creations, while enjoying Bloody Mary’s, mimosas, and wine. Plus, guests will get to vote on their favorite for the People’s Choice Award. 

Participating local restaurants to include: F. Scott's, Fish & Co., 1808 Grille, Bound'ry, Red Pony, Midtown Cafe, Sunset Grille, Cabana, Union Station, The Dogwood Room at Park Manor, Delicioux and more. 

Sponsored by: Audi, Martini & Rossi, Hutton Hotel, and The Daily Meal.

Find out updated information at or

May 25, 2011


center piece flowers from the garden

I have some friends, they are couples, there is Angie and Paul and Angie and Paul, so it is easy for me to remember their names. There are only two names to remember. And, conveniently, Angie and Paul are very good friends, maybe best friends even with Angie and Paul. AND conveniently it is the birthday month for both Angies. So, the Angies decided to throw a brunch celebration to celebrate their birthdays.

prociutto wrapped asparagus

On the brunch menu was pastry wrapped stuffed olives, no knead bread, pear and feta spinach salad, butter and more butter and cheese hash browns, 4 types of homemade quiches, chocolate cake and a fresh fruit and lemon curd triffle.

Quiches - lorraine, shrimp, mushroom, and spinach

We lucked out with a beautiful day. Sometimes in the south, it can be rather hot, and on the Angies' birthday brunch day, it was a pleasantly light breezy day with lovely sun. Happy birthday buddies! I am looking forward to next year!

May 22, 2011


A study in strawberries still life.

strawberry view 1

strawberry view 2

strawberry view 3

Pick your own strawberries:
P and P Farms
Stephen Pearcy
2841 East Jefferson Pike
Lascassas, TN 37085
Rutherford County
Phone: (615) 895-4708 OR (615) 812-8788
Fax: (615) 895-4708

May 21, 2011


Finally, in my neighborhood, the 13-year cicadas are so plentiful and loud, that it actually hurts my ears. They are fairly harmless little critters looking to mate and then die. There are a ton of the dead bugs in my lawn and trees. I wonder what inhabitants did to reduce hearing the noisy cicadas why back when there were no decently sound proof homes.a photo of a 13-year cicada from
WSMV Channel 4 Nashville News, Working for You

my favorite local news station in Middle Tennessee

May 17, 2011

Helping Japan

On April 21st, 2 of my favorite Top Chefs, my homeboy Arnold Myint, and our household favorite Tiffany Derry, offered a 6 course sake pairing dinner for Tsunami Relief. The event was held at Arnold Myint's Cha Chah restaurant, which I enjoy on any day of the week. The proceeds went to JETAA USA Japan Earthquake Relief Fund to help rebuild affected areas in Japan, and you can learn more by visiting; and went to Japan America Society of Tennessee which administers the Tennessee Tomodachi Fund for Earthquake and Tsunami Relief and you can learn more by visiting

Arnold also arranged for a silent auction including obis, tee shirts, art, kimonos and other really lovely Japanese clothing and art. I won a lovely orange obi with a golden ginko leaf on it. Yay me! OK, onto the highlight - the 6 course sake pairing meal.

the menu

Snow Beauty Nigori Sake
an unfiltered sake

Course 1 - Halibut Ceviche - Tiffany
Poochi Poochi Sparkling Nigori sake
perfect pairing with both being citrusy

Course 2 - Miso Mustard Cod and Wild Mushroom Flan- Arnold
Tyku Junmai Ginjo sake

Course 3 - Black and White Risotto and Fried Chicken Liver - Tiffany
Hakatsuru Namachozo Junmai sake

Course 4 - Lamb Naan - Arnold
Zipang Sparkling Junmai sake

Course 5 - Chocolate Cake and Raspberry Port Sauce - Tiffany
Snow Beauty Nigori sake

Course 6 - Pineapple, Blackberry Sake Ice, Lemongrass Gelee - Arnold

My favorite dishes of the evening was Tiffany's halibut ceviche and chicken liver with risotto, and Arnolds "fruit salad" dessert. The ceviche was lemony and citrusy and fresh with the perfect pairing with a light lemony and citrusy and bubbly sake. I loved this pairing. Tiffany's chicken liver was so delicate and rich, making it so irresistible. I loved the chicken liver. I normally don't like eating fried chicken liver, but if it is Tiffany making it for me, I am loving it. Oh, and Arnold's dessert was beautifully striking on the plate that I had to keep photographing it over and over again form different angles. Not only was the dessert striking to see, it was a blast of real fruit flavor in every bite. None of the components were over sugared (yay! I hate icky sweet) so the flavors of the fruit can come through honoring the traditions of Japanese food where the natural flavors of food are allowed to shine. I think Arnold's dessert was a nice light way to end the meal.

The sakes served with each course were more like wine varieties rather than the USA boxed sake I know and have grown to hate. Yes, I don't drink much, so the sake I know from USA Japanese restaurants is some terrible boxed sake run through a heater, taking on the taste of aluminum and rubber. Well folks, there are many sakes out there, and the ones paired with this fund raising dinner were so delicious like a good French wine. I think I love sake rather than loathe sake! I can't wait to go back to Arnold and ask him about sakes and maybe go to a sake tasting. I am still not going to drink that terrible boxed sake, but I would like to learn more about small bottle sake and find a couple new ones to try.

AND last but not least, Tiffany came out of the kitchen to say hello to some tables including ours. So, our impression of Tiffany on TV was that she has an inviting and magnetic personality, she is a heart of the south, and she is fairly laid back. We watched her as at other tables and the body language of the guests were all leaning in to get that little bit closer to Tiffany. They want to be friends with Tiffany and go hangout with her. When she came to our table, I was just star struck, and thrilled to meet Tiffany. Then she moved on. Then, everyone at my table nearly said at once, Tiffany has that aura that pulls you in and you just find yourself really liking her and wanting to be around her. She is was probably that kid who had all the neighborhood kids hangout at her house after school. The other big news about Tiffany Derry is that she is going co-open the all new Private Social, P.S. for short, Dallas Uptown restaurant. Keep an eye open for it, due to open in August. Break a leg Tiffany, and the next time I am in Dallas, save a seat for me at P.S.

May 14, 2011


morel #1

morel #2

morel #3, 4, 5

morel #6

morel #7, 8, 9...

It was my 1st time morel hunting. It was fun. It was almost addicting looking for these things. Every time we found one, we wanted to stay for a few more minutes to look for another one. Anyway, to find morels, look for a moist wooded area with walnut trees, and a lot of rich decaying natural compost material on the ground. Look for morel that look like these and are hollow. If you see ones that are brainy like solid ones, they are poisonous. We did not see the fake morels.

How to cook morels and I am guessing any other mushroom:
cut morel in half and rinse
sprinkle with salt and pepper
dip in egg wash
dip in seasoned flour with whatever you want for herb and spices
skillet fry mushrooms in shallow butter or oil


May 10, 2011

Stepping Gingerly

As I publish this blog post, the menu on the Ginger website isn't the right menu, it is a menu from a CT restaurant. There is a photo copy of the real menu on the Urbanspoon website.

fresh spring rolls with spicy peanut dipping sauce

I have heard that this place was tasty and good from many people in town. But, then again, the people telling me to try this place don't have an Asian food tradition, they claim they don't know much about Asian food, but they say they liked Ginger. I am so weary of claims of good Asian food in this town because there is so many bad places that I stopped counting. This is why I was in absolutely no rush to try Ginger Thai Restaurant because I did not want to be burned again by bad Asian food. If I want some bad Asian, I could go to any one of the dozens of bad buffets in this town, I don't need yet one more bad Asian food place on my list.

But, I gave Ginger a shot anyway. The reason why I gave Ginger a shot was the word from a former cook at at a Chinese restaurant in the DC area. There are some decent to delicious Asian restaurant in the District as well as the 'burbs, and he was a cook in a restaurant there, so I trust him. He said the food tasted good at Ginger, it wasn't the best Thai food because his family lived in Thailand for many years and that is where the best Thai food is, but for Nashville standards, Ginger is a nice oasis from the bad Asian. So, I asked him quite frankly, "Is Ginger blog worthy, or what?" He said, "Yes, it is a tasty Thai style restaurant for Nashville."

chicken red curry with pineapple

So, after that conversation, I had Ginger on my mind. The man and I gathered a couple friends of ours to go with us, and give it a shot. There is one buddy who is a wonderful cook, and grew up within a multiple generation Asian household with lots of delicious food made by Grandma. This buddy knows food and good Asian food. There is another friend who is allergic to peanuts and milk. It is always good to bring a buddy who I enjoy hanging out with, and who has dietary needs that restaurants need to work around, and show they can be versatile while maintaining yummy food.

There we all met, and walked into this small restaurant. I would say there aren't more than 10 tables mixed of 2 or 4. We ordered a few dishes, fresh spring rolls, a special red curry with pineapple, pad pak and a fried rice. The fresh spring rolls were really, what do I say, Fresh! The name Fresh spring rolls really describes the dish accurately. The rolls have 1 shrimp in each, so the price of these are a little pricey for just rice noodles, lettuce and a few basil leaves. But, they are tasty though. We all agreed, the special curry with chicken and pineapple was our favorite. It is a coconut based red curry that we all couldn't get enough of. We all took that gravy and poured it all over everything on our plates. There was not one drop left. We were not wow-ed by the fried rice, but ladling some of that special red curry on it made it taste really good! The pad pak was tasty with beef and basil. The pad pak was made better by ladling on some of the special curry.

As we were leaving, we all commented that we were not expecting much, and we were pleasantly surprised that we had a decent meal, and we had one really good dish that perked us all up. We decided that Ginger can be on our list to go back to sometime.

Ginger on Urbanspoon

May 5, 2011

Flib Flip

I am a fan of Top Chef on Bravo TV, and I really enjoyed season 8 Top Chef All-Stars. I must say, I scheduled my gym workouts on Wednesdays to end in time to get home to turn on Top Chef and be at the end of the couch waiting to see who will be voted off, and who will stay. This season, I routed for Tiffany Derry, Carla Hall, Fabio Viviani and of course Richard Blais. As my top four were being picked off one by one, there was Richard Blais left as one of the final 2.

local burger with Gum Creek pastured beef

Then, Top Chef came down to Richard Blais and another chef. Richard Blais wins Season 8 Top Chef All Stars, beating out some of the best (or at least good characters for tv like Tiffani, Stephen and Marcel). I was thrilled, one of top 4 picks won! I was happy to see him win, and I was happy to hop into my car and drive the 4 - 6 hrs (6 hrs in Atlanta beltway traffic) to West Midtown Atlanta and try one of Richard Blais' Flip Burgers. I arrived at Flip Burger Boutique, and it is a first come, first serve place, there are no reservations. The concept here is excellent burgers, sides, fries, shakes and a bar in a chic building on the edge of Midtown with a hip Soho vibe. There are a wide range of burgers from turkey, chicken, chorizo, shrimp, beef, lamb, chickpea, and local organic pastured beef. There are a wide range of toppings including lettuce, tomato, cheese, smoked mayo, ketchup, caramelized onions, house made pickles, mushrooms, fried egg, sprouts, curry mayo and spicy Sriacha ranch. The bun appears to be homemade as well. There are sides including salads, roasted seasonal veggies (this trip was cauliflower), fries, onion rings, fried okra, and other yummies. The really fun part about this restaurant are the drinks from real milk shakes to a nice wine, specialty beer or martini. Take your pick for the perfect drink with the perfect burger.

fries, onion rings, and fried okra

We all got different burgers, sides and drinks. I got the local organic Gum Creek beef burger with cheddar, caramelized onion, lettuce, tomato, and a homemade pickle. Very good, and less than $12. Actually, all the burgers seemed to be less than $10. It is an a la carte menu, so some of the best fries and onion rings I have had cost extra. Oh, and there was fried okra to, which is a nod to the south, and southern food traditions. I really liked the fried whole okra. They were not slimy at all, and the okra reminds me of a really delicious veggie chip.

All said and done, I think I spent about $20 including tax and tip for my meal. That is a fairly good deal for dining at a "celeb chef" restaurant. I want to say that this place is accessible for the average tourist visiting Atlanta with a few extra dollars to spend on dining out. Actually, Flip Burger Boutique for me was the cheapest dinner I had for the week I was in Atlanta, and Flip Burger Boutique tasted better than many of the meals that I had in downtown Atlanta. I will even go out on a limb, I have to say I would love to go back to Flip Burger Boutique again! There are some "celeb chef" restaurants I have been to that are not all that they are cracked up to be, say ones in Newton MA, New Orleans LA, Phila PA, and NY NY, and I will not go back to any of them and I feel burned spending $50+/pp for averagely to below averagely prepared food. I felt different and happy at Flip Burger Boutique. I want to go back to Flip Burger, the burgers and sides start with good quality ingredients, and are well prepared. The presentation is wonderful giving the humble burger its just props, and the price point is affordable for many tourists, including me. I really think that Richard Blais has a nice concept in Flip Burger Boutique.

FLIP Burger Boutique on Urbanspoon

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May 1, 2011

Local Organic Travel

grass fed short ribs, mashed potatoes and gravy

I had to go to Maryville, TN the other day and I was not expecting much from this small town. This town is a suburb to Knoxville, and Oak Ridge, TN, and Maryville, TN as of 5 years ago, had the highest average standardized test scores of all school systems in TN. I suppose that means Maryville, TN is raising some smart people. Maryville, TN is a small 15 sq mile town at edge of the Great Smoky Mountains. There is a motel complex on the edge of town, and I assume it gets pretty packed during the spring, summer and fall when there are the visitors to the Great Smoky Mountains, because the Great Smoky Mountains National Park is the most visited national park in the nation with nearly 10 million visitors every year. I had never been to Maryville before, and I really enjoyed seeing this town. The library is wonderful, and the downtown area has some locally owned shops and restaurants that gives this small town an Ashville feel. I was hopeful when I went to look for places to eat.

As many know, everything I cook in my house has a local or local organic component to everything I cook in my house. I don't normally eat locally or local organically when I eat out because it is nearly impossible to do that at most restaurants, especially at big box chains. When we rolled into Maryville, TN late in the afternoon, we spied a shop called the The Market, and we decided that we were going to go to The Market for lunch the next day. I am glad we did. Wow! The Market has a substantial lunch counter with meat dishes created from Laurel Creek Farm, a local organic, grass fed farm. When I went in for lunch, I had to get the braised short ribs with mashed potatoes and gravy. The short ribs were braised with a mirepoix, possible some red wine and the result was a buttery soft piece of beef with a deep umami flavor. It has been a long time since I ate mashed potatoes, and I remember that I love mashed potatoes! There are plenty of other items to choose from for lunch, like salads, sandwiches and other hot items. There are also options to takeout these foods for dinner at home. What a great thing, the food here is delicious.

Indeed, the next time I am in Maryville, I am bringing a cooler to bring back wonderful aged beef from from The Market meat counter which sells Laurel Creek meat. I am bringing bags to bring back other delightful canned and jarred goods like specialty sauces, preserves and other wonderful ingredients to cook with. Delicious. The whole place is just delicious. I can't wait to go back to Maryville, and visit The Market.

The Market on Urbanspoon