Thursday, May 26, 2011

I'm moving!

It's not all pretty yet, but I'm moving to! I'm saying goodbye to the bunny and the lettuce, but I'll still be eating plenty of rabbit food. So please update your feeds, bookmarks, and whatever else and join me over there.

Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Vegan dining in Memphis

The Memphis Commercial Appeal has a nice feature on vegan dining options in Memphis. Be sure to read not just the article, but the comments as well. Certainly, some comments--like those on just about every newspaper site--are, um, unhelpful but a number offer a couple of other options.

I grew up in Memphis, so I'm happy to see that not only are vegetarian options expanding (I had some difficulty when I moved back in 2000 as a new vegetarian) but that there are vegan options, too. I'm disappointed that Imagine Cafe has chosen primarily to make vegan versions of traditionally critter-centric foods, but I suppose that's either what they like to eat or they think it will be the best way to get non-vegans in the door. But my experience has been that non-veg*ns are best converted with foods that really taste great but are also (hey!) veg*n. Prime example: Pure Food & Wine in New York City. Y'know, except without the hefty price tag.

But I'm really glad to see Fuel Cafe getting some love. I've mentioned before that I'm a fan. So if you're in Memphis or are going for a visit, try to give some of these guys a try.

UPDATE: Many thanks to Morgan of Nashvillest for noting that I Love Memphis blog just posted "11 Ways To Eat Meat-Free in Memphis" yesterday. I missed that and it is a fantastic list. It's got a list of vegan and vegetarian (often shortened to "veg*n," if you've ever wondered what that means). Though I'd like to note a few vegetarian favorites of mine that didn't get mentioned:

1. Panda Garden--fantastic vegetable soup and you can get spring rolls vegetarian if you request them. It's nice that they're made to order. And they're baby-friendly.

2. Raffe's Deli--the Veggie Delight is my favorite; it's just a muffuletta without the meat and a few things added. Their falafel is wonderful, too.

3. The Majestic Grille--several veg*n-friendly items and adding more all the time. Their french fries are small, crisp and delicious. Be sure to get them. Also, this place is baby-friendly.

4. Memphis Pizza Cafe--one of the places I miss most.

5. Okay, there are just too many to list and so many new places! Coming soon, I hope: a review of Three Angels Diner. In short: Memphis is getting more veg-friendly, despite being the barbecue capital of the world. And despite what you read in the comments section of

Monday, May 16, 2011

New Whole Foods Market in Franklin--Grand Opening May 18th

Yesterday, I took a tour of the new Whole Foods Market in Franklin, Tennessee with the Nashville Food Bloggers. The new store is a significant upgrade over the old one with more floor space expanded offerings, and most importantly for local lunchers, a much larger hot/cold bar and prepared foods area.

Along with the usual sections you'd expect in a new Whole Foods (cheese, sustainable seafood, bulk foods, grind-your-own nut butters), it's got something I've never seen before--bulk herbs, spices, and seasonings that you can buy in any amount. As in, if you only need a teaspoon of, say, kelp granules or juniper berries for a special recipe (and you don't want to buy a lot), you can! I haven't seen this at the Green Hills Whole Foods, but I'll look closer next time since it's more convenient to where I live. Because that is a really neat concept.

Bulk seasonings
Another feature is their Health Starts Here section that employs "Healthy Eating Specialists" to help customers make informed choices and will highlight dishes and meals made with the Health Starts Here principles, one of which is that each meal should have a majority of plant-based foods. I definitely support that.

And yet another great convenience for those who work or live in the Cool Springs area is that the store will be hosting the Franklin Farmers Market on Tuesdays throughout the summer from 3pm until 6:30pm. Additionally, WFM carries a number of items and food from local sources so if you have a product you'd like to sell, just contact the department manager who will direct you on the way to get your product in the store.

The old WFM in Cool Springs closes at the end of the day today and the new store at 1566 West McEwen Drive (on the southwest corner with Mallory Lane) opens at 7:30am Wednesday morning with free breakfast and a grand opening at 9am.

Monday, May 9, 2011

Generous Helpings May 19th

Friends, if you missed Iron Fork last month (and if you did, I'm sure you're regretting it), don't despair! You have another chance to attend a great food event, benefitting a great cause.

Generous Helpings--a wonderful event benefitting the Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee--is coming up next week and you can still get tickets for just $40 each here. Or buy them for $50 each at the door the night of the event at the Nashville Farmers Market.

Once again, many of the city's restaurants will be serving tastings including one of my favorites from Iron Fork, Perl Catering, plus Holland House, Miel, Watermark, tayst, Amerigo, Park Cafe, Porta Via and many, many more.

It's going to be a great event. Don't miss it!

Tuesday, May 3, 2011

A tale of two failures

A Tale of Kale

I'd read several posts about kale chips and how wonderful they are, so when I saw some nice-looking kale at the farmers market, I bought a bag.

I was a bit apprehensive; I don't like cooked greens much at all. I'll eat chard if someone more qualified than I am prepares it, but even slightly warm spinach makes me gag. But the raves!

So I washed it, tore it into bite-size chunks and towel-dried each individual piece (note: would have been easier to dry and then tear apart). I tossed it with a little olive oil and placed a baking sheet full of it in my 350° oven. I checked it at 12 minutes. Not crispy yet. And at 14 minutes. Nope. And then at 16 minutes. Crispy! So I pulled it out salted it lightly and waited a minute for it to cool. I was going to eat healthy cooked greens that taste good!

Ha ha, no. After all that, I discovered that these cooked dark greens still tasted like cooked dark greens even when they're crispy and salty. In other words, yuck. If you like kale or if you have a lot of it you just really need to use and eat, then by all means, go on ahead and make you some kale chips. But I don't. This batch of kale chips when right into the compost. Not even Mr. Eats--who is not terribly picky--didn't care for them.

A Tale of Bread
In preparation for a trip back home to Memphis, I started the dough for some no-knead bread to take to my mother (she loves it). I know the recipe by heart. I made it up and the following day, poured it out on my generously-floured towel to fold a couple of times. But it was a wet, soggy mess. Huh? Did I forget the third cup of flour? I kept adding more flour and kneading the dough in hopes of salvaging it. I got it to the consistency I was familiar with and set it aside to rise again. Two hours later, no. So I made a new batch. The following day, it looked great, but I poured it out and it was again a soggy mess.

Have I forgotten how to read? Count? Sure, we were in the midst of several days of nasty, relentless rain, but I'd never read any notes about this dough being picky about humidity. But it was if the water was multiplying in the mix instead of the air. I tried my best with it but again, it would not rise an appreciable amount on the second rise. I cooked it anyway and it came out like a giant, hard focaccia (which I have unintentionally made before). The yeast is not bad. I can only assume that this bread is just not meant to be made when the air is thick with water. Which--here in Nashville--means I may not be making this bread again until October.

And so today, as I look outside at yet another day of rain I wonder what to make in my kitchen. Something that is supposed to be wet, that's for sure. Soup.