Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

June 30, 2013


local veggie salad

Matt Lackey, Executive Chef of Flyte, is the real deal.  He is excellent.  He is so good at what he does. I am in love with Flyte and Matt Lackey's food.  There was a dark period for Flyte before Matt Lackey came to run this kitchen, and everyone knew it.  People, that time is over, and the the light is shining bright on Flyte once again because Matt Lackey is at the helm. 

local tomato salad
 Early on, about a year ago, just about the time when Matt Lackey came to Flyte, I was at a going away party for my friend Marne.  Marne was all about promoting local farmers at the farmer's market, urban chickens, bike Nashville, and sustainability.  Many of her friends at the going away party are about the same thing.  We were and are sad to see her go to her next life adventure, but happy she is happy doing what she is doing.  While at the party, I was talking to Nancy Vienneau, caterer, food blogger, and food writer for the Tennessean.  We were chatting about what restaurants are good and if there were any best kept secrets out there.  She said to me that she finally tried Flyte with the new chef Matt Lackey and she said it was really really good meal, and she was wondering why she did not try  Flyte earlier.  Then a few weeks later, I was chatting with Laura Wilson, who is really my all time favorite chef in Nashville, and asked her if there was any good restaurant of note.  She said, hands down, Flyte, and that Matt Lackey is so good, and I need to go.  Then through the winter and early spring, I was chatting with my farmer friends from Bells Bend Farms, and everyone there said that I must try Flyte because Matt Lackey is so good, and he really respects local, local organic, and local organic biodynamic ingredients, and Matt Lackey will be totally on the up-and-up when it comes to his ingredients.

local pea and radish soup
For many years, my household has been using locally sourced ingredients in everything I cook, and prior to that, for many years in Massachusetts, in both Boston and Northampton, I enjoyed locally sourced ingredients.  My neighborhood in Boston had a real farmer's market ever since I could remember, and we would stop in to the market on market day.  And anyone who has ever been to Amherst and Northampton know that there are many residents there who are very particular about the local, organic, sustainable, and ethical growing practices.  These areas are what formed by food habits.  And those fortunate (or unfortunate in some cases) enough to dine with me know that I do not tolerate lies such as the words farm-to-table, when the food is sourced from industrial Sysco which uses GMO industrial complex.  I will eat GMO industrial complex ingredients, but I want to know when I do, so I can choose accordingly.  I just ask for the truth.  For example, on occasion, I will eat, and enjoy thoroughly McD's French fries because they are truthful of the industrial potatoes, and the fries are designed to be addicting.  I probably would not eat them if they claimed they are local organic potatoes because that is a lie.

local pork three ways
It is so refreshing to go to Flyte, and have Matt Lackey tell me the truth behind the sourcing of the ingredients in the restaurant.  When I first seriously started to source ingredients locally, there wasn't all the the farmer's markets we have now in Nashville, there wasn't the Local Table magazine, there weren't an abundant number of CSAs, and the only games in town was the Produce Place, which is so helpful and honest about where the ingredients come from.  I ended up asking Produce Place who I could talk to to meet farmers, and slowly I started meeting local farmers, and my circle grew and grew.  I have met the farmers and have gone to most of the farms I source my meat, veggies, eggs, and milk.  Matt Lackey does the same, he knows his farmers, he knows his ingredients and he knows what is in season.

sustainable single diver scallops 

This midweek evening, I have to admit, I may have tricked the original waitress who was assigned to our table.  I asked her where the duck is from, knowing very well Ecotone no longer has duck, and I know of no duck farm within 100 miles.  She claimed that it was Wedge Oak Farm from Southern KY.  I know Wedge Oak Farm, I love Wedge Oak, and I love the meat I get from Wedge Oak, they are in Mid-TN and do not raise ducks.  I made her go ask the chef where the duck is from, and funny thing, she never returned to my table, and Matt Lackey came out to set the record straight.  Wedge Oak is in TN, and duck is currently being sourced from Indiana, and prior to that New York, which makes a whole lot more sense and is the truth.  Thank you.  Matt took time to explain some of the ingredients, including the scallops.  He sources them from a single diver who harvests scallops sustainably.  He leaves enough scallops in the beds to reproduce, and does not wipe out the whole population.  The beets this particular evening were from Bells Bend Farm, my CSA, and I love beets especially Bells Bend.  The chorizo is house made using local, hormone free hogs, and the chorizo was delicious.

local berry rhubarb dessert
This evening we started off with the beet salad and the spicy tomato salad.  The beet salad was sweet from the beets, tart from the strawberries and balanced with goat cheese.  The tomato salad was Farmer Dave (he only sells to restaurants) tomatoes with spicy dressing and goat cheese.  Again, the goat cheese comes into play, but this time to offset the spiciness of the dressing.  I really wanted to try the peas soup because I think I missed spring peas while I was traveling out of town, and this may be the only time I could get local peas this year.  This pea soup was a whole pea soup in a broth with sliced radishes, and Oregon morels.  I love peas, and I loved this soup.  For our main courses, I got the single diver scallops, and the Man got the pork three ways.  My scallops were seared beautifully, and perfectly  cooked.  The scallops came with a cream and chorizo sauce.  I did not eat too much of the the cream sauce because the scallops were so delicate and I wanted to just enjoy the natural flavor.   The Man's pork dish included pork three ways.  One way was smoked and the the pork had a pleasant smoke and slight vanilla nose to it, and in my mind was just perfect.    I love the fava beans that came with the pork because in the light of the Flyte dining room, they glowed green.

special dish for us
For dessert, we shared strawberry sorbet with a yogurt cream and strawberry rhubarb sauce.  I believe it was the last day for this dessert because it was the end of the strawberry season.  I loved it because it was light, not too sweet, and the true fruit flavor really came through.  On top of the dessert, Matt Lackey sent out a special one bite treat for us, it was a strawberry jelly candy.  He reduced down the strawberries into a very big and bold strawberry flavor and then made it into a jelly candy a little bit like a Turkish delight.  I wonder how many berries went into the little bite sized candy.

This meal will go down in the history of memorable dinners.  It was so nice, to finally meet Matt Lackey and try his food.  Everything about the evening was so special and nice, and we felt like a million bucks during the evening.  The memory of the meal puts me in a good mood.   I will say this, the price point at Flyte is on the higher end in Nashville, but it worth every last cent.  We will have to budget well while I am sequestered on furlough, and save our pennies to be able to go back to Flyte, but I will.  Believe me, Laura, Nancy, and Loran when we say that Flyte is one of the most exceptional meals we have had.

Flyte World Dining & Wine on Urbanspoon

June 25, 2013

Fermentation is Good

I went to a couple Sandor Katz (fermentation guru) workshops before I started fermenting my own food.  So, here is the fact that Sandor said:  There have been no deaths or food borne illnesses from fermented food.  Real kraut, real pickles, real kimchi, real fermented food will not cause death or food borne illness.  Yes, you read that correctly.  There are incidents when fermentation stops or never started, and bad organisms take over like certain molds, e-coli, and botulism that is when bad things happen.  When fermentation goes bad, it is not longer fermentation, and you will know that is is bad, so you throw it out.  When fermentation is good and continues on, then it is SO GooD!

my kim chi
Current era, for at least 40 years (that I am aware of), the USA general society has been all about pasteurization, sterilization, killing the food we eat.  At one time, yogurt, pickles, kraut and kim chi were live active cultures making food fermented.   Commercial pickles, kraut and kim chi are now just sour with sterile vinegar and heat sealed to kill any bacteria, and commercial yogurt some sort of xantham gum, cornstarch and corn syrup thing.  The commercial products resemble very little of what the real fermented foods taste like, and commercial products provide no pro-biotic benefits, only calories.

Sandor's kraut
 Fermentation has been happening all around the world for thousands of years.  Fermentation was probably the first way of preserving food.  Throw in a little salt and water, and the food magically became safe to eat for days on end. What a big step in human's food history.  No longer do you have to fight and forage everyday just to get calories, you can fight and forage once per week, toss a little salt and water on the extra food for the week and ta-da, preserved food for the week, and the invention of the couch potato.  With not having to work all the time  to getting food into our family's gut, that left us plenty of time to invent other things to make our lives easier and more comfortable.

To make my life more easy and comfortable, I learned how to make kraut and kimchi.  When I was in a workshop with Sandor, we sliced up red and white cabbage.  Sprinkled salt on top and massaged the cabbage until water was let from the leaves.  Then we put the cabbage and water packed tightly into clean glass jars.  The jars do not have to be boil, just washed like normal dishes.  Then for about a week, the jars sat open with cloth tied on top.  Everyday for the week,  I would press down the cabbage to make sure there was liquid covering the cabbage.  That is it.  I tasted the kraut daily, and a week or so was perfect. So, I put the kraut in the fridge.

The kimchi was just as easy.  I got a bunch of napa cabbage and garlic from the Barefoot Farmer, a bunch of ginger from Foggy Hollow, and I got a bunch of Korean chili peppers and Korean sea salt from Manna Grocery Store.  First I cut the napa in quarters and sprinkled salt in the leaves, and left them over night.  The next morning, I rinsed the napa of the salt sprinkle.  Like the kraut, I sliced up the napa cabbage and massaged in some salt until there was liquid.  I put ginger, garlic and the Korean chili peppers in a food processor and pulsed up a paste.  Then I mix chili mix with the napa mix, and put the kimchi into jars on the counter, with cloth covers. For 2 to 4 mornings, depending on the kimchi flavor, I pressed down the kimchi to submerge into the red liquid.  At about day 2 to 4, the kimchi is ready to cover and put in the fridge to eat later.

Fermentation is so awesome! Give it a try!

June 15, 2013


special country pate
Bottom Line Up Front:  If you want to go to Rolf and Daughters, it is best to go mid-week like Tuesday or Wednesday.  There is no wait, the staff is less harried, and you can sit and enjoy the meal at your own pace.  The first time we went, we went on a Tuesday, and the place was only 1/3 full.  We had a "new" waitress.  She said she only worked at Rolf and Daughters for two weeks, and please bear with her.  She was awesome taking care of us.  We had all the drinks and refills we wanted.  She gave us a lot of good advice and descriptions of menu items we asked her about.  We ordered in confidence because of her help. While we dined, she quickly assessed where we were in our 1st course, and then she put in to fire our second course for perfect timing.  Then she came to check on us at the perfect time, and put in to fire our third and last course for perfect timing.  If only we could have this delightful young lady wait on us everyday, we would never cook again.  

The food we had was good. We got the pork ragu pasta, country pate, shaved Brussels sprouts and a steak.  As warned, the pasta plates are small-ish volume.  The pasta portion is small-ish, so that you can make a fuller rounded meal with sides and salads.  The small pasta portions are good for me.  If I eat too much pasta, there will be a battle in my GI tract later.  I also like small plates, so I can taste a variety of dishes at one time.  We really loved the  country pate (it is a special and not on the main menu).  This country pate was almost as good as the pate we had in Pommard, Burgundy.

special country pate bite

 The second time we went, it was a rainy Saturday with a party of 8, and with no reservation.  It is our mistake for no reservation.  We waited outside in the rain for over three hours to be seated at 10 pm, and we fully take responsibility for the wait, and we had a nice time chatting with each other for 3 hours.  Then things took a bad turn after we were seated. Our waiter (not the nice young lady from mid-week) was harried, was NOT on his game, and I just can't go into it because it just would not reflect well of Rolf and Daughters, when it was just this waiter who was causing many problems and issues for us.

Had we had the rainy Saturday's waiter first, we would never recommend this place to anyone.  But we had our 1st experience which was completely delicious, wonderful and lovely.  If you are planning on trying Rolf and Daughters, go mid-week. Rolf and Daughters is open 7 days, so go Monday, Tuesday or Wednesday with kitchen and staff are on top of their game, and can give every plate the loving care and detail that we experienced on Tuesday.

Well now that I told all of you to go mid-week, I am guessing Rolf and Daughters is going to crazy packed mid-week now.

June 9, 2013

Forage South

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.

June 2, 2013

Berry Berry Good

What an awesome week!

I graduated high school some thousands of days ago.  When I was in high school, my mom cooked for me and my family, and she was really picky about the ingredients she go for the house.  She went to the farmer's market, hand picked the best produce, she would pick the chicken (still clucking, none of this plastic wrapped boneless stuff) that we would have for dinner etc.  On occasion, we would go berry picking in the spring. The frustrating part about berry picking was that the berries would be rotting and moldy within a day or 2 of picking them.  So, while in high school, and berry picking, I learned it was better to taste test 3 and pick one, and only take a few home and eat them before they rot.

So last weekend, I learned something new about berries, and just in time.  The fun part was who I learned it from!   Out of the blue, my old prom date (and his family) called me, after not seeing him for some thousands of days, since the last day of high school, him and his fam were making the 1000+ mile trip to Nashville to spend part of their summer vacation touring the delights of the South!   The prom date and his fam arrived on Saturday, and we did touristy stuff like get Nashville Hot Chicken at 400 Degrees, Country Music Hall of Fame, RCA Studio B, City House for dinner by Tandy Wilson, a 5 years out of 5 years nominated for a James Beard Best Chef, and of course seeing the full scale replica of the Parthenon and Athena.  But before my old buddy arrived in Nashville, I was up at the West Farmer's Market picking up my CSA and nearly a gallon of fresh, local, organic, ripe strawberries from Foggy Hollow Farm.  I had so many berries, I had to share with my old buddy.  So, I sent them off with two baggies of berries.  As my old prom date looked at my fresh, local, organic berries that were picked on Friday, and already showing signs of distress, he said, "Ya know, a quick dilute vinegar rinse stops the berries from getting moldy and you can keep the berries all week."

I said, "What?!" with whole hearted interest, and wonder.  Then I thought - how did I not ever know this for thousands of days, since I was kid!  I also thought that he must hold all the secrets of food!  I had to know MORE!  So, for the berries, it is super easy, gently place berries in a bowl with 1 part vinegar and 3 to 10 parts water; drain, rinse, dry and store in the fridge.  Then, before the old prom date and fam left for their hotel for the night, they sprung on me a whole jug of Dark Amber maple syrup from Massachusetts maple trees!  I was elated!  Could this day get any better?  I have not had real New England maple syrup for thousands of days (since moving to Nashville), and I  covet New England maple syrup everyday I live in the south, and now I have the precious golden-amber sweetness in my home again!  I learned how to rinse local organic ripe berries to keep them fresh for a week! Mine lasted 6 days before I ate them all, and I had only 1 berry spot a tiny bit of mold.  I got to do all the fun things in Nashville, that I normally don't get to do. And I got to see my old prom date thousands of days later!  We are both more comfortable in our own skin now, we don't have the zits, the braces are gone, and the teenage-worries are a thing of the past.  It was great to see him now because I don't know about you, but my high school days were a bit awkward, braces, bad hair, bad fashion, bad zits, pressure to fit in, pressure to get good grades to get into a good college, standardized tests up the hoo-ha etc and it was basically the same for the old prom date too - awkward.  Seriously kids out there, high school is NOT the best time of your life (Don't believe anyone who says it is!!).  Being 30+ something with a good education done, and in a good job making money, no braces, no more zits, no more standardized tests, no more classes, no more final exams, most of the student loans paid off, and being able to afford yummy food and vacation is the best time of my  life!

I had so much fun with the old prom date and his fam.  When they rolled out to head to Memphis to see  the Pyramid, Beale St, taste some of the best BBQ, and hear some Stax Music history, I looked like this :-/.  I certainly did not want to see them go, and asked if there is any possible way they could move here to be closer to me, but they can't.  They mutter something about silly me, house, jobs in New England yadda yadda.  And, I am not moving to New England either, I muttered something about too much snow and cold in New England, the Man, house, and jobs here in Nashville.  Perhaps on another day, we all can meet up in a vacation location and take part in all the fun things that place has to offer, I can learn more secrets of food, and we enjoy our time together as non-teenagers :).  I just hope that "another day" isn't in another thousands of days, but rather sooner.