Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

January 27, 2013

A Lotta Lobsta

Twin Lobsters

When I lived in New England, we would just go to the waterfront, get lobsters from the lobster fishermen, and then go home and cook them up.  There was no middle man, no holding tanks, no bait and switch.  It was cheaper to eat lobster per pound than it was to eat a decent cut of beef.  Going to the grocery store there were lobster tanks, and my mom would have nothing to do with those lobsters.  She said that you don' t know how long the lobsters are in there, they are not being fed or cared for, you don't know when the water was changed if ever, you don't know if they ever clean the tank, and you don't know what kind of parasites live in the water.   When I first moved to Nashville (before the internet is what it is and before smart phones), I remember seeing one grocery store with a lobster tank.  The water was yellowish-brown, I did not know the conditions of lobster shipping to the store, I did not know how long the lobsters were in the tank, I am sure the kid behind the counter did not know how to care for the lobsters, and what parasites live with those critters.  I was so wanting a lobster flavor and texture, and against better judgement, I bought one.  It wasn't the best lobster I have ever had, and I remember grimacing a bit because I wasn't sure if I was going to poison myself with grocery store tank filth and parasites.  I did not buy another lobster in the state of TN for a decade.


That was then and this is now.  Now we have the internet, you can search and research lobsters suppliers, you can even search and order on little handheld machines.  Lobsters can be part of my dining life again.

Some friends of our who live here, also from New England, have parents who found this great Maine lobster delivery company, and sends a lobster dinner to their kid for his birthday every year.  He, like me, grew up in a lobster tradition, and he too likes the taste of lobster every once in a while.  A few years ago, our friends invited us over for a lobster dinner and it was so good, it tasted just like how it was when I lived in New England.

I enjoyed the dinner so much that I asked for all the details, and if we could make this a yearly tradition.    Our pals parents trust Maine Lobster Direct ( and shipping is included in the price of the purchase.

Lobster meat in home churned butter

Now, we try to get a lobster dinner for the four of us about once per year.  Right now, market price through Maine Lobster Direct is about $140 for four HUGE large lobsters and a quart of clam chowder, and the price includes next day shipping.  This is actually too much food for the 4 of us, so we can enjoy the lobster over 2 days.  The gig is, order by 5 pm Eastern, and the lobsters will be FedExed to your door around 10 am local time.  It is almost as good as going to the docks myself, except that I don't have to buy an airline round trip ticket, get a cab to and from the dock, send the lobsters through XRay, get felt up by TSA, pay for BNA parking, and drive home.  It would take me longer and cost way more to go pick up the lobsters myself.  

It is just so nice to have our lobster tradition.  Of course, I have to add my locavore stint to every meal made at home, so I hand churn my own butter to dip the lobster in.  I use JD Milk Cream and Hatcher Dairy Cream and make butter.  Butter is super easy to make, and if you don't have your own churn, you can use a food processor to make butter.

Lobster Finger Puppet
Yes, lobster finger puppet was there to watch up devour lobsters.  He always has a smile on his face, and was smiling while we dined.

January 21, 2013

Love More

Loveless Cafe legendary biscuits

When I was growing up out west, and then in the northeast, I did not eat biscuits, and when I did, they were the kind out of the blue paper can.  The blue paper can biscuits are ok right out of the oven, but they have a funny flavor that does not occur in nature.  After the blue paper can biscuits sit around for 20 minutes and cool off, they get a strange stale texture, and are really not good.  And, if you have ever been the west or northeast where I have been, it may be the temperature, the humidity, or just people who did not grow up making biscuits, but there was never a biscuit in my past that wow-ed me.  Then I moved here over a dozen years ago, and everyone at work told me to go to the Loveless Cafe for breakfast, and try their biscuits.  So, over a decade ago, I went to the Loveless Cafe where they put biscuits down on the table with big jars of fruity and chunky preserves.  I ate a biscuit, and was wow-ed.  I ate a basket of biscuits by myself with real butter and big piles of the preserves.  Wow, the Loveless biscuits have been my favorite for the past decade, and I have never had a biscuit that has come close to the goodness you can get at the Loveless.

Loveless Cafe legendary preserves and butter
The history of the Loveless Cafe and Inn is that it was open in 1951 at the Nashville end of the 444-mile long Natchez  Trace Parkway, which is a National Park.  I am sure, at the time in the 1950s, when people would drive to the end of the Trace, there was nothing but farms and open land.  It was probably really nice to see the Loveless Cafe and Inn to wary travelers who just wanted a bite to eat, and a place to rest.

Loveless Cafe country ham and bacon
Sixty+ years later, the Loveless Cafe is still around and thriving.  The Loveless closed down the Inn portion of the business  years ago, and transformed the Inn rooms into a general store showcasing Loveless products like hams and preserves, smoke house, bike shop (for those bicyclist who ride the Trace), and event space called the Loveless Barn.  This year is the 1st year I have been to the Loveless Barn, and it is really a nice function space.  I was so lucky to be invited to the Nashville TV Show (ABC Wednesday Nights) Holiday X-Mas brunch catered by the Loveless Barn.  

house made crisps
At The Nashville TV Show X-Mas Brunch, they had all my favorites including the Loveless biscuits, country ham, bacon, preserves, butter, three variations of mac and cheese with a mac and cheese topping bar, three variations of sliders with a side of homemade potato chips, dessert bar with chocolate covered strawberries, yule log, Italian donut ball trees, cupcakes, an open bar, and coffee bar.  The place looked great, and there was enough food to feed an army.

Bowl of smoked Gouda mac and cheese
The only problem was that the army of people working on the Nashville TV show worked until 3:30 in the morning the night before, and probably no one got home at the earliest 4:00 am, and it takes time to wind down from the day, say another hour or 2, so most people working on the show did not get to bed until about 6:00 am.  So, most people were snoozing, catching up on all the lost sleep and couldn't and probably shouldn't make it out to breakfast a few hours after 6:00 am.

So, while the cast and crew caught up on their beauty rest, I enjoyed the breakfast for them.   

January 15, 2013

Mad Platter

Recently, I went to the Mad Platter for dinner with a bunch of other people.  I haven't been to the Mad Platter in years.  The Mad Platter has been around since 1989, and next year, the Mad Platter will be 25.  That is longevity, and I am wondering if this is one of the longest continuously running restaurant of this caliber in Nashville.  I hope the Mad Platter sees another profitable 25 years, or as long as the owners and chef would like to run the Mad Platter.


Back in the day, some double digit years ago, when The Man and I first met, we went to the Mad Platter for our 3rd date and it was winter.   I remember a couple things about what we got back then.  There was a daily special appetizer that was rabbit stuffed morels (3 giant ones on the plate), and a side for the entrees was sea bean stalks.  Back then, it was the "fashion" to have really unusual ingredients cooked by using molecular gastronomy to create a plate.  I am so glad that fad is over, and now the fashion is farm-to-table.  Anyway, back then, I had only had rabbit twice before, and why not, we gave the app a shot, and was my 3rd time and last time eating rabbit.  The rabbit was dry and stringy, and zapped all the moisture out of my mouth as I tried to eat one of the stuffed morels.  With no moisture in my mouth, it made it hard to swallow, so I just sat their chewing and chewing enduring until I could get it down.  I am guessing The Man didn't like it either (and he has not ordered rabbit since then either) and insisted that I eat the 3rd rabbit stuffed morel.  Being raised as to never waste food, I endured the last rabbit stuffed morel.  I think I don't like rabbit because every time I have eaten rabbit, it is dry and stringy.  I think we lied when the waitstaff asked us if we liked it, and we said yes.  I don't lie like that anymore.  If waitstaff really wants my opinion, I am telling them.  If it a dish is fine in my opinion, I am going to let them know things are fine.  If I am gagging through the 1st bite, and they ask, I am going to let them know.  Oh, and the sea beans, outside of a coastal Asian preparation with classic coastal Asian flavors, sea beans shall never be on my plate again.  The texture and flavor, in my opinion is not good just boiled and put on a plate.


That was then and this is now.  The menu is now is more down to Earth, and accessible.  None of the ingredients were from local farms within 100 miles of Nashville during this visit, but since it is winter and not growing season, I give them a pass for my desire to be a locavore.  The waitstaff said that in the summer, they do try to source locally.


The current concept and dinner menu is divided into courses, so you can mix and match as you desire, and is quite versatile.  If all you want is an entree plate, that is doable, but if you want soup and salad before your entree, you can do that, or if you want to make a 5-course meal, you can do that.  One gal at the table created her dinner out of two appetizers and a salad.  Some decided to get an entree only which is plenty of food for dinner.  Others of us made our meal in French style of a 5-course meal.   How the 5-course meal works is to choose a entree, and for only $20 more, add a soup, salad, appetizer and dessert.  I opted for the rack of lamb (rare, that is how I roll) and I opted for the turkey and rice soup, a spinach bacon salad topped with a fried egg, wild mushroom ravioli with a truffled cream sauce, and for dessert a creme brulee.

The turkey soup was outstanding.  The soup was like spoonfuls of the best parts of Thanksgiving.  It made me feel so warm and homey to eat this soup.  Every spoonful made me smile and have images of Norman Rockwell Thanksgiving, and an overall feeling that everything is right in the world.  I do like the fried egg on salad.  I like the rich texture and flavor when the warm egg yolk mixes with the salad dressing.  The ravioli dish was also outstanding.  The truffled cream sauced ravioli is quite rich, and to cute the richness and balance the dish, a sweet an sour chutney was served along with the ravioli.   And the rack of lamb was cooked perfectly and accompanied with chickpeas and a grape confit.  Again, the lamb dish was well composed with a nice flavor and richness balance between the lamb and grape confit.  And for dessert, I opted for a creme brulee.  But, the dessert of the night that really wow-ed everyone was the Elvis flourless chocolate cake.  Oh yea.  The layers of this cake were beautiful shades of chocolate, and was so visually appealing.  The slice was thin, and appropriate for a serving of dessert.  When I go back to Mad Platter, I am definitely getting the Elvis cake.

Overall, my meal at Mad Platter  was outstanding, with a couple of the dishes I got I will remember, in a good way, for days, weeks and years to come.
Mad Platter on Urbanspoon

January 7, 2013

December 2012 in Review

Happy New Year!

A week into the New Year, and I want to look back to how much fun I had last month with events and parties all through Nashville.  Here are some of the fun things I got to do in December. 

City House, my favorite restaurant turned 5 this year, and they threw a rocking birthday party.   Pat Martin made cinder block pick roasting oven in the back yard of City House and offered up a slow roasted whole hog to City House and guests.  Tandy made an Italian meets Mexican meets Greek spit.  The meat had Italian flavors, but made in the tradition of a gyro-like meat spit.  Delicious.  Happy Birthday City House, and I look forward to your 6th birthday.

For the first time, the Tennessee's Governor and First Lady have opened up their  home for tours.  During the 1st two weeks of December, with loaned decorations from significant museums and music academies across the fine state of Tennessee, the Governor and First Lady decorated their home in the Music City and Tennessee themes.  The Haslams actually live in the Governor's Mansion, and they were generous enough to have anyone take a tour of their home.  Also, not only did they allow us to see their Christmas and holiday decorated home in December, they are allowing tours all year-round.  There are certain times during each month set aside for public tours, and all you have to do is get online to the TN First Lady's website and schedule yourself a tour.  The tours are free.  Also, I want to mention that the Governor's Mansion isn't that big compared to some of the monster mcmansions being thrown up these days.  If you get a chance, go see for yourself.

I am a big fan of the Nashville TV Show on ABC Wednesday nights.  Those who know me well enough know that I am home on Wednesday nights watching the Nashville TV show real-time, not recorded, on demand or on the website, I am home with a drink and a snack enjoying my this really good TV show.  I love am having a lot of fun watching for local artists art on the walls, and local friends who get to be extras, and speaking parts on the Nashville TV show.  So, when the Opry came to the Ryman with Nashville TV Show musical actors, and one of my favorite bands Old Crow Medicine Show, I had to get a ticket!   So we got one of the last 10 tix available, and I had such a good time. The Opry is worth seeing and hearing for any guest and local of Nashville.  This one, I feel so lucky, was the 1st time that Hayden Panettiere (character Juliette Barnes) has ever sung live in public.  She did a great job.  Also, I was so lucky that Hayden and Chip Esten (character Deacon Clayborne) sang my favorite song from the Nashville TV Show "Undermine" and I got to be the 1st person to hear them sing that song live!  And lastly, Jonathan Jackson (character Avery, and also General Hospital fame) really hit it out of the park with an Elvis cover.  Impressive.  

I was lucky enough to be invited to the Nashville TV Show Holiday Christmas Breakfast Party catered by the Loveless Barn behind the historic Loveless Cafe at the end of the Natchez Trace.  The Loveless Cafe is know for biscuits, preserves, and anything that goes with biscuits and preserves.   The space is great, the food is completely from the Loveless Cafe, and I enjoyed myself.  Before the Loveless, I thought I did not like biscuits.  Then I had the Biscuit Lady's biscuits, and I knew right there and then, I do like biscuits as long as they are good.  So far, the Loveless Cafe biscuits I like, and I await to try others just as good, but I have not yet.  And about all the stars from the Nashville TV show showing up to the holiday breakfast?  Well, the word is, the show was taping until about 3:30 am in the morning, and most everyone was home sleeping, so most people did not show up.  And, the men were on call at a magazine interview in another part of town.  If you think the life of actors is glamourous, just spend one day on set - it is long hours (start at 6 am Monday and ends at 3:30 am Saturday morning).  Then during the little free time the actors have, they are asked to sing on the Opry, be interviewed for magazines, do general good PR for the TV show, and always put their best foot forward while in public.  

Oh, there was that awesome homey hot pot dinner that I so loved.  xoxo my friends!

And again, I am so lucky to have great girl friends who like to eat and drink and be merry!
xoxo girlfriends!  When is our next outing?

Yeah, I don't ride a bike.  I had a bad experience with a bike once, and I will not go into it because I was traumatized.   But, The Man bicycles, and is a member of the Harpeth Bike Club.  We love the Harpeth Bike Club because there are some really good people in the club and we enjoy their company very much.  I like the Harpeth Bike Club because they know how to throw a party.  This year's Christmas party was located at and catered by the McConnell House.  The McConnell House is an old brick building, and used to be the Franklin, TN jail house where inmates were hanged.  There still is the upstairs platform where inmates took their last breath, and now it is a place where tables are, and guests can sit, chat and partake in tasty treats that McConnell House has to offer.  

January 5, 2013


Bacon.  The best Xmas gift ever - bacon.  Bacon is often the gateway meat converting vegetarians back to being an omnivore.   The former staunch vegan sister in law was taken down by thick cut smokey bacon.   Bacon is so tasty to me.

January 1, 2013

Hot Pot Holidays

Beautiful Christmas Table Scape
I got so lucky this year, and I got invited to "THE" Hot Pot Christmas dinner hosted by a couple of friends of mine.  Well, actually, my pal Terry Vo moved away, and I got to be the replacement player!  As much as I miss Terry, I am sooo happy to fill in where she used to sit!  (Terry, you do believe me that I miss you right!)

Ingredients on the Ready
This Christmas dinner was so elaborately created by a couple sets of friends of mine who know how to make Hot Pot.  Hot Pot aka Shabu Shabu, is a southeast Asian family dining tradition.  There is a communal pot filled with water or broth.  All the ingredients are prepared by cutting them into bite sized pieces.  And at the table, everyone uses the hot pot to cook what they want for their dinner.  Over the course of the dinner, the broth becomes a richer broth from all the ingredients being cooked in it, and it is so tasty and nutritious at the same time.

Homemade Special Sauces

When I was a kid, my mother would make Hot Pot for us on occasion.  She would cut up vegetables into bite sized pieces, and slice up meat really thin, and arrange the ingredients on a tray to bring to the table.  Then, in an electric skillet in the middle of the table, my mom would have hot broth waiting for us.  I loved this as a kid.  Then, when my father passed away, my mom had to go to work, and there wasn't time anymore to prep all the ingredients for hot pot, and we never had a chance to have hot pot again.  Arriving at my friends' home this Christmas season reminded me so much of those good old days when we time to sit down as a family for a shared meal, a shared hot pot.


My friends prepared so many ingredients and sauces for this event.  There was a beautifully crafted beed plate, a lovely seafood plate including prawns, cuttlefish and mussels, Asian style vegetables including watercress, various choys, mushrooms and onions, and there was also a side of rice noodles.  The sauces were awesome, they made a soy based sauce, and garlic and scallion sauce, a spicy fermented black bean sauce, a peanut sauce, and there is the Sriracha hot sauce too.   I really love cuttlefish, and spicy fermented black bean sauce, two flavors I have not had since I was a kid, and really can't find at any restaurant in Nashville.  Lucky me to be invited to this Christmas holiday dinner event and be able to taste these wonderful flavors again.  I also love watercress soup, which my mother used to make for us when I was little.  I too don't often eat watercress soup anymore because the other in my household doesn't love watercress nor watercress soup like I do, so I don't make it much.  I have to wait until he is out of town, and there are list of foods that I make when he is out of town (like salmon roe, squid and cuttlefish, stinky preserved fish, and other stuff stinky he doesn't like), and I generally never get to the watercress soup.

Hot Pot 

At this Christmas celebration, this hot pot meal, old friends and new were invited to partake in this heart warming family meal.  We laughed a lot, we ooed and aahed at a very special gift made for a recently married couple.  We admired the Christmas tree our house family so beautifully decorated. The best part about the meal was the joy and friendship we all felt, and how lucky we are to have been invited.

My Soup Bowl
Seasons Greetings and Happy New Year friends and loved ones.  May your New Year be filled with love, joy, well-being, and prosperity!  If you make any Solar New Year's resolutions on January 1, and don't succeed, you can have a do-over on February 10th which is the Lunar New Year, Chinese New Year of the snake.