Thursday, March 31, 2011

Mark your calendars--upcoming events in Nashville

There are a lot of worthy causes with some fantastic fundraisers in Nashville, but it seems that the Martha O'Bryan Center is the benefactor of the some of the very best food-related events the city. Or, at least two of my favorites--Nashville Scene's Iron Fork Nashville and Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin'. And both are coming up soon, so mark you calendars.

I'm kind of an expert (ha!) about Iron Fork, having been in a couple of times. Last year was particularly fun since Mr. Eats's long-time friend Andy Hunter walked away with the top prize. Andy has since relocated to sunny Florida, so there's no defending champion this year. It's going to be a tough competition--all the chefs are fantastic and have made some of my favorite food. The competition takes place April 20, 2011 at the Country Music Hall of Fame from 6-10pm. Your $40 admission includes three drink tickets and samples of food from the area's finest restaurants. There were several good vegetarian options last year (and a LOT of really great sweets), so it's well worth the money. And it's a great time! Find out more information here.

And go ahead and clear the calendar for Miss Martha's Ice Cream Crankin' 2011. This year, the event takes place on June 12, 2011 from 3-5pm and will be on the grounds of  First Presbyterian Church at 4815 Franklin Road. Last year, advance tickets were just $10 and were VERY MUCH worth it. Mr. Eats, Baby Eats and I had a fantastic time and I can't wait to go again.

Wednesday, March 30, 2011

A vegetarian in Gatlinburg

Typically, when I visit a new place, I scour, and to find the best places to eat. I'm looking for that great local place or that hidden gem. So when my husband's family decided to gather in Gatlinburg, I looked to see what my options would be.

Well, it seems the non-chain options in the Gatlinburg/Pigeon Forge area are pretty much steak houses and pancake houses. Lots of both. But the steak houses are generally not veg-friendly (unless you like iceberg lettuce salads, which I do not) and the pancake houses aren't open past lunch. So. For dinner one night I had a PayDay and the other night a Clif bar. Though both were enjoyable, they're not photo-worthy. So, instead, I will post a picture of one of the many "entertainment" venues popular in the area.

Yes, it's an upside-down building. No, I don't know why.

So, if you go, I recommend renting a cabin up in the mountains and bringing your food with you. And/or ordering pizza.

This photo--of yet another popular "entertainment" option--is quite representative of when I intend to return to Gatlinburg.
That's right--flying pigs.

Monday, March 14, 2011

A whirlwind of wonderful restaurant visits

I'm way behind on posting all of our outings over the past month or so. Apparently, we've had a lot of reasons to celebrate. Valentine's Day, Mr. Eats's birthday, got a babysitter day...we've had some wonderful meals. There is truly some great vegetarian (fine) food to be had in Nashville.

First up is Miel. We live nearby but have never been. The kind hostess was able to squeeze us in for a last-minute reservation the Saturday before Valentine's Day. We were excited because Deb Paquette, formerly of Zola is helping out in the kitchen.

I started with a favorite from Zola, the bowl of mixed olives, followed by the seasonal vegetable plate. It was a lovely plate with red carrots, roasted parsnips, a mixed salad, some broccolini and a lentil concoction. It was a pretty hefty plate of food--good and filling. Except I discovered I'm not much a fan of parsnips.

And we just had to get dessert and I opted for the trio of pots de creme, which I assume were prepared by pastry chef Angela Reynolds (who has celebrity fans). Even the capuccino flavor--not really a favorite of mine--was delicious. It just feels good to eat a good pot de creme. And I like Miel--it's a surprisingly quiet-but-not-too-quiet space and is very comfortable.

We also finally made it to Watermark. And in keeping with the Zola theme, we remembered our server from Zola. It was nice because he was understanding and helpful with my "dietary restrictions." Not that he needed to do much--my eye immediately went to the vegetarian special, a saffron risotto. There were some wilted greens and some spaghetti squash and roasted beets accompanying the risotto, but it was just about all I was interested in. It was as good as it sounds. Yum.

A note about Watermark--if you're looking for a really nice fine-dining option, this is the place. It's a wonderful place and the service is really fantastic.

And we (again--finally) made it to Holland House in East Nashville. I'd heard a lot about it--good things about the cocktails as well as the food. Definitely splurge on one of the specialty cocktails (the Warsaw Mule is fantastic). And were able to squeeze in during happy hour, so we got a few of the small plates to start off. I really enjoyed the fries, but the edamame-ponzu dip was a little off in context--I think it would work better in the summer with a beer. For dinner, I had the risotto with foraged mushrooms (I really like risotto) and it was delicious. The lighting is not great for food photography, but it was lovely to look at, too.

Though the dessert menu at Holland House was not really our thing, so we drove down the street to Allium, which I know will always have a great dessert selection. For Mr. Eats's birthday, he enjoyed a wonderful pistachio and chocolate mousse (um), tarte? I can't remember. I'd had several cocktails by then. But it was wonderful and exactly what he wanted. Interestingly, while at Allium, we noticed two other tables (including a large table) that we'd seen earlier at Holland House. I think they were doing drinks at Holland House and dinner at Allium. Huh. Maybe those guys need to partner up!

Friday, March 4, 2011

Wonder bread

There are a number of things from the kitchen of my childhood that I just cannot stand now that I'm an adult. Miracle Whip. Margarine. Wonder bread.

My mom loves Wonder bread. I tolerated it as a child but begged for wheat bread. It was a special treat when she'd by Roman Meal wheat bread. I loved the heels the most. I still do, though I've upgraded to whole grain and seeded breads. In fact, I blame Wonder bread for hating peanut butter and jelly sandwiches. I absolutely cannot tolerate the feeling of a sandwich bit stuck to the roof of my mouth. However, I refuse to try PB&J again (because I also don't like peanut butter with sweet tastes).

But now I have my own child. Early on, she showed a distaste for wheat breads. I'm certain it was the texture. So I tried Wonder bread. She loves it. And though Mr. Eats and I don't eat it, we love it, too. Why? No crumbs. And given how much food ends up on the floor, that counts for a lot. The tiny pieces of sandwich she eats with Wonder bread stays together even when thrown off the side of a highchair. I'm sure that the chemistry responsible for this amazing feat isn't something I'd love, but I do love a crumb-free floor.

Now, if only I could find prunes that were not sticky.