04/29/12

Overnight in Asheville, NC

Asheville is nestled between the Blue Ridge Mountains and Great Smoky Mountains in Western North Carolina. A breathtaking five hour drive from Nashville, Asheville is my ideal long weekend getaway. I look forward to further exploring the food and art scenes, as well as the unlimited opportunities for outdoor excursions in the future.

Tupelo Honey Cafe
Tupelo Honey Cafe
12 College Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Tupelo Honey Cafe is a unique Ashe-thentic creative Southern farm-to-table restaurant located in the heart of downtown Asheville. This restaurant is reasonably priced, exceeds the reviews and is worth the wait. I ordered the sweet potato pancake, goat cheese grits and rosemary peach lemonade. I was also served a warm biscuit with Tupelo honey.

Tip: I purchased the Tupelo Honey Cafe cookbook at Malaprop’s. Amazing food photography.

Early Girl Eatery2
Early Girl Eatery
8 Wall Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Early Girl Eatery is a locally inspired Southern comfort food restaurant. Serving breakfast all day, I ordered the waffles with raspberry compote and walnuts. The atmosphere was light and casual.

Malaprops
Malaprop’s Bookstore & Cafe
55 Haywood Street
Asheville, NC 28801

Malaprop’s Bookstore and Cafe is Asheville’s favorite independent bookstore. There are great local and staff picks sections and the cafe has a drink named after Walt Whitman! It was rumored that this store also possesses a “banned books” section and allows customers to browse and read with their dogs.

Screen Door
Screen Door
115 Fairview Road
Asheville, NC 28803

Screen Door is one of the hippest, most eclectic and unique vintage antique malls I’ve ever visited. The prices are competitive and there are numerous inspiring displays. Although I wanted all of the quirky objects on this table, I left with just the phrenology head pictured above.

08/29/10

Thai Phooket – Nashville, TN

Thai Phooket
207 Woodland
Nashville, TN 37213
(615) 248-7933
Thai Phooket Facebook Page

I love this place! It’s the best authentic Thai food in Nashville with the freshest ingredients and friendliest service. Don’t be fooled by the building exterior or seemingly desolate location. It is an extremely convenient lunch destination for anyone who works downtown, in Germantown or East Nashville.

I ordered the PAD PUK with tofu. It contained stir-fried mixed vegetables with garlic, bell pepper, crushed hot pepper and fresh basil in a house brown sauce. It also came with a large serving of white rice. I tried level four in spiciness. Everything was expertly sauteed, fresh and delicious. No vegetable was left behind, but I was only able to eat about half of the rice. I could eat this every day for lunch. It’s almost under priced at $7.95.

Pad Puk

My date ordered the KAO PAD. This Thai fried rice was also stir-fried perfectly. Again, the fresh vegetables make this dish stand out. This is another favorite with enormous portions. The vegetarian version is priced at $7.95.

Fried Rice

The great food is the standout characteristic of this restaurant, but the great service is also very enticing. It’s a family owned restaurant and they always act appreciative of their customers. They recognize the regulars. Visit often and you will not be disappointed.

Thai Phooket on Urbanspoon

08/28/10

In Praise of Canning

After months of searching for canning classes in Nashville, I was fortunate to have the opportunity to take two classes this week.

I learned about the first from the East Nashville Crop Swap. This group gets together every other week to discuss organic gardening and trade herbs, fruit and vegetables. The owners of All Seasons Gardening & Brewing Company were generous enough to offer to host a free class in their store.

The second class was organized by Green Wagon. Green Wagon tweeted the announcement and the demand was so great, they were forced to hold two classes. Alan Powell (Long Hungry Creek Farm) taught the class. He will also teach pickling and fermenting classes in the future.

After these two, I’m excited to learn more and start preserving all the delicious produce for the winter!

Canned Salsa

It’s fascinating that the art of canning seemingly skipped a generation, however, it has recently become popular again. I believe the resurgence is a combination of factors – the nation’s desire to move closer to sustainability, the slow food movement, a larger population of health conscious individuals, the DIY movement, the ever-growing “foodies” who desire to enjoy fresh produce all year round and lastly, the economy.

NPR posted an article yesterday about canning:

http://www.npr.org/templates/story/story.php?storyId=129402166

Interested in canning?

University of Tennessee Extension, Canning Foods

Ball Blue Book

08/15/10

DC Vegetarian – Portland, OR

DC Vegetarian
430 SW 3rd Ave
Portland, OR 97204
(503) 317-4448

http://twitter.com/DCVegetarian

www.dcvegetarian.com

Everyone knows one of the greatest things about Portland, Oregon is their abundance of street food carts. According to FoodCartsPortland.com, Portland has over 200 food carts available at any given time. As a city that strives to continually provide fresh produce, especially in the summer months, it seems only natural that a vegetarian street food cart would exist. Aren’t we all a little vegetarian in the summer?

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It was a warm spring day when I visited. People were wandering around this block on SW 3rd Avenue (between Washington and Stark) trying to decide what to have for lunch. There were a few people in front of me, but I only waited about 10 minutes to eat. I liked that this cart also offered call in orders – perfect for the busy person who can barely escape for even 30 minutes during their workday.

The menu was mostly soups and sandwiches with plentiful vegan options. I opted for the vegan grilled cheddar cheese with tomato, vegetarian bacon and avocado. The cost was $4.50. There were a few picnic tables available, so I sat outside and enjoyed this tasty sandwich. It wasn’t as light as I would have preferred, but it was delicious! The vegetarian bacon added the perfect amount of crunchiness to an otherwise soft, yet crisp, sandwich.

I also may have hit up a group of food carts in another area later that night and devoured some of the most decadent macaroni and cheese I’ve ever tasted, but there is no photographic evidence of this, so did it actually happen?

D C Vegetarian on Urbanspoon

08/12/10

Gojo Ethiopian Restaurant – Nashville, TN

Gojo Ethiopian Cafe and Restaurant
415 Thompson Lane
Nashville, TN
(615) 332-0710

http://www.gojoethio.com/

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First, I love a good Ethiopian meal. I very much enjoy the experience of the meal with others. It’s great to share food with each other, by hand, from a centerpiece platter. It’s an intimate and unique experience. And it’s one of the only types of food that I can eat the plate!

We waited for at least 10 minutes before anyone at the restaurant acknowledged we had walked into the door. The service didn’t really improve after we had been seated, but I loved this place too much to care. The decor was eclectic, but casual. It was warm and comfortable.

The spiced tea (hot or iced) was refreshing and delicious without sweetener. It was the perfect start to the meal. I ordered the four vegetable combination. After reviewing the image above, it has come to my attention that I received all five! My favorite was the Tikle Gomen – fresh cabbage sauteed with garlic ginger and lightly seasoned with turmeric. The other items included lentils, split peas and chick peas – all perfectly seasoned. The five items were also great mixed together. The enjera (flatbread) that accompanied the food was even delicious by itself. I had to share with my date to finish my meal.

This was practically under-priced at $10.50. They also offer a $7.99 lunch buffet.

Gojo Ethiopian Cafe and Restaurant on Urbanspoon

08/3/10

Watanabe – Nashville, TN

Watanabe
1400 McGavock Pk
Nashville, TN 37206
(615) 226-1112
http://www.watanabesushibar.com/

Watanabe is an Asian restaurant nestled in Inglewood’s hottest corner – Riverside Village. It’s the best of Matt Charette’s East Nashville restaurants. The decor is simple, dark and cozy. I love the booths. It’s a great atmosphere for a date, complete with flickering paper lanterns that dangle above the dining room. I don’t know; I just like it.

The food is decent. I’ve tried a number of the rolls, fried rice, vegetable gyoza and tempura udon. Most dishes can substitute tofu for meat. It’s the type of place you feel comfortable ordering something small and it’s all reasonably priced. The service is somewhat slow at times, but redeems itself in friendliness. The staff takes pride in the place and it shows.

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It’s a great Monday or Tuesday night kind of place that I will continue to frequent on Monday and Tuesday nights. I’m happy to have this restaurant in East Nashville.

Watanabe on Urbanspoon

07/29/10

Mas Tacos Por Favor – Nashville, TN

Mas Tacos Por Favor
732 Mcferrin Avenue
Nashville, TN
http://twitter.com/mastacos

Everyone is talking about Mas Tacos and I am included.

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Nashville’s infamous taco truck opened up a shop on McFerrin Avenue on Tuesday. I was initially overjoyed about the opening because of the extended (and permanent) hours for devouring delectable tacos. For many months I have obsessively checked twitter waiting for a hint that she might be out serving her sinful recipe of fresh and addicting food. I have lamented, ached and suffered symptoms of real withdrawal during the weeks she carelessly wrote “see y’all next week!”

Once, I visited the store, I was excited for much more.

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I love the decor. It’s an intimate, rustic room with far too many lovely vignettes to take in at once. From the mismatched chairs huddled around small round tables, cacti placed sporadically throughout, kitschy Mexican art, and bright colors – it’s a unique and hip space. And songs on the jukebox are free! Best of all, my favorite quinoa and horchata lunch combination is available in about 1/4 of the wait time.

Go often.

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07/29/10

Tomato Mozzarella Salad

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1 heirloom tomato from Avalon Acres CSA
1 handful of fresh picked basil leaves from backyard
2-3 ounces organic mozzarella
2-3 tablespoons of olive oil
2-3 tablespoons of balsamic vinegar
1 pinch of salt & pepper

Perfect late lunch Saturday afternoon.

07/25/10

Bless Your Heart – Lubbock, TX

Bless Your Heart
3701 19th Street
Lubbock, TX 79410-1204
(806) 791-2211
http://blessyourheartlubbock.com/

When I initially learned I was going to Lubbock, I worried about what I would eat. I had been to the city once before and couldn’t remember any healthy options. After a quick search on Yelp, I realized my perception of this sleepy West Texas town was only half correct.

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Bless Your Heart opened in Lubbock in 1989 and was one of the first to offer healthy dining options. It’s lighter meals – soups, sandwiches and salads featuring fresh fruit and vegetables. Everything on the menu is low fat. The atmosphere is casual and the service is friendly.

I tried a simple meal – a bowl of vegetable soup, slice of fresh baked wheat bread and unsweetened green tea. It was light, refreshing and less than $5. It was the perfect lunch.

Bless Your Heart Restaurant on Urbanspoon

07/18/10

Cafe Gratitude – Berkeley, CA

Cafe Gratitude
1730 Shattuck Ave (@ Virginia)
Berkeley, CA 94709
Phone: (510) 725-4418
Hours: 10 am to 10 pm
http://www.cafegratitude.com/

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To the average diner, the attitude of this restaurant might seem a little intimidating. The concept began with a couple who challenged one another to “live their lives together following and trusting intuition.” Their commitment inspired the development of the Abounding River Game. It’s an interactive game to share with a partner based around what they believed were important qualities to aspire to: Love & Acceptance, Generosity, Worth, Gratitude, and Creation or Responsibility. Cafe Gratitude was created initially as a meeting place for others to play this game.

Then, one of the owners stumbled upon a book about live foods and they experimented with this lifestyle for a month. They felt so good, they decided to create a menu for the cafe. Most of the food at this restaurant is organic, raw and vegan.

Sound like a lot to take in? I thought so, too, but once I arrived with my family my skepticism subsided. The Berkeley location isn’t large. Most of the tables were full on a Saturday for a late lunch. We were offered a cozy area with two couches and large coffee table connecting the space. Overall, the ambiance is calm, even soothing and casual.

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We started with the I AM ABUNDANT sampler plate. For $16, you’ll receive sprouted almond hummus, Asian kale-sea vegetable salad, hempseed pesto crustini, spicy cashew nacho cheese w/ flax chips, olive tapenade, buckwheat crackers, spring roll & mini house soup served on a large plate for sharing. These items taste great paired together. I especially liked the house soup and almond hummus.

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For my entree, I tried I AM WHOLE. This macrobiotic bowl contained shredded kale, sea vegetables, house made kim chee, sprouts, teriyaki almonds, quinoa, brown rice and a garlic-tahini sauce. I strongly recommend the 1/2 order ($10). Despite my best efforts, I was unable to finish. I felt satisfied, but not like I had overeaten.

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I AM RAPTURE completed our meal, with a scoop of creamy vanilla nut-milk ice cream. It was extremely had to believe this chocolate layer cake was vegan or raw. Bravo!

Without experiencing this place, the concept seems easy to ridicule, however, I encourage skeptics to open their mind and try it. The food is delicious and you’ll experience of the best feel-good meals you’ve had in a long time.

Cafe Gratitude on Urbanspoon