Weekend Roundup – Labor Day Staycation Extravaganza Edition

August 30, 2012 § 2 Comments

This has to be the first Labor Day weekend since birth that I have not spent at the Jersey shore–and I could not be more excited. As you could probably tell this Yankee hasn’t been in Nashville all that much this month and I am so excited to catch up on all the happenings here. Here is a look at some funtastic to-do’s this holiday weekend.

The Whole Foods of Green Hills Hill Center is hosting it’s second sidewalk farmer’s market tonight! Thursday, Aug 30th from 4-8 pm. I know I will be there.

The Nashville Food Truck Association will hold the city’s first “Nashville Street Food Awards” on Sept. 1 at Centennial Park in conjunction with the fall season kick-off of Musician’s Corner. Beginning at 11:00 AM, over 20 of Nashville’s food trucks will compete in several categories and will offer regular menu items along with “tastes”. The free live music kicks off at 3:00 with the food truck winners announced at 6:00 PM. A  portion of proceeds benefit Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee.

So to recap: Trying as many food trucks as possible in one day? Check. Free live music? Check. Booze (probably/why not?) Check. Good cuase? Check. Sounds like a must.

This weekend is the last chance to visit Cheekwood Garden’s Treehouse exhibit! The treehouses based on great works of literature will close for good Sept. 3.

Try a new spot. August saw of slew of new restaurant openings in Nashville–and not without a lot of hype. Make a resi and go check them out for yourself! Etch, Silo, Lockeland Table and Cafe Fundamental.

See some theater. The Nashville Shakespeare Festival is putting on a post-WWII adaption of the classic Much Ado About Nothing in Centennial Park. Showtimes are Thurs-Sun evenings Aug 23-Sept 16 with a special Monday Performance on Labor Day, Sep 3. Dedicated to US service men and women.

Get your art on at the First Saturday Art Crawl. Every month from 6-9, art galleries downtown host receptions (often with wine :)) presenting local and world-renowned artwork of all genres. Admission is free and the Nashville Downtown Partnership provides two free shuttles among the galleries.

Also on my list:

Game Night with lots o’ Catch Phrase

Boating on Percy Priest–because who knew there was a beach-esque place 15 minutes from downtown!

3 days doesn’t seem quite so long now…


Hummus and Arugala Pizza

August 29, 2012 § Leave a comment

Leftover arugala from your Arugala, Diced Dates and Blue Cheese salad? Lightbulb moment: I wish I thought of eating my salad in pizza form before. Recipe adapted from Gourmet Made Simple (Don’t you love when you rediscover an old cookbook fave?)

I do envision myself baking my own dough one day but I had just returned from Barry’s Boot Camp so today was not that day. I used Trader Joe’s Whole Wheat.

I favor extremely thin, crispy pizza crust so next time, I will take the time to really roll this thing out nice and thin

While the crust is going (10-12 minutes), you can whip up the hummus.

Blend the following:
1 15 oz can chickpeas, rinsed and drained
2 tbsp chicken stock
2 tbsp olive oil
2 tsp lemon zest
1 tsp ground cumin
1 clove garlic
cayenne pepper to taste


Add more chicken stock if necessary so the mixture is smooth and easily spreadable.

In a large bowl, toss 4 c. arugala with the following:

2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp lemon juice
1 tsp dijon mustard

Season with salt and pepper to taste

Top it all off with Parmesan curls and enjoy!

For whatever reason, I always think of meals in terms of entertaining. To make this less messy to eat as a party app, I would pre-cut in two-bite pieces.

Charlie Trotter’s Gala Farewell

August 28, 2012 § 3 Comments

Even though I no longer live in NYC, I continue to stalk NY Mag’s food blog Grub Street since there are always interesting tidbits about the food world, celebrity chefs, etc. Today I saw this gem and wanted to share.

After 25 years of service, legendary Charlie Trotter’s in Chicago will close its doors. After setting the bar for excellence and breaking modernist culinary ground, the self-taught chef is closing out with bang–a $2,500-per-plate 25th Anniversary Gala. The event was hosted on August 19th for 60 guests. Guest chefs included Nathan Myhrvold (Modernist Cuisine, remember that episode of Top Chef?) and Charleston’s farm-to-table and Southern cuisine champion Sean Brock of Husk and McCrady’s.

The video is a just a quick peak behind-the-scenes of the service that night. It shows the whole team reflecting on the restaurant and Charlie Trotter as a chef, working together, giving inspirational speeches… Seems like they had a great run and looking forward to their new pursuits!


Shrimp BLT Tacos

August 27, 2012 § 1 Comment

You’ll notice the “L” in BLT is missing.I guess if you are going to forget one ingredient, it may as well be the L…


File it under “easy, healthy, weeknight dinners”. These are so tasty and so quick to prepare and clean up that you can make them no matter what you have on schedule that evening.

I used about 1 piece of bacon per taco.

I have found that oven baking bacon is easiest for control. 10-15 minutes at 375° (depending on how crispy you like prefer bacon).

Just run them under water for 20 seconds and let stand for 5 minutes to thaw.


While the bacon is going, you can get started on the other ingredients. I used Trader Joe’s frozen shrimp which are pre-cooked, peeled and deveined. I heated them up in a skillet with some salt and pepper so they would be warm with the tacos.

I’ll admit it, I fried my tacos. Just a 1/2 tsp of vegetable oil and high heat for 10-15 seconds per side will puff these guys up. Make sure they are FLOUR tortillas.


Now for the avocado crème from Gourmet Made Simple.

1 avocado, diced
2 tbsp fresh lime juice
1/4 sour cream
1/4 tsp ground cumin
The ingredients call for 1-3 tbsp water depending on desired consistency which I did not include since I preferred the chunky texture. I did add 1 small clove garlic which I definitely recommend.

Blend avocado, lime juice, sour cream, cumin and garlic in blender or food processor.

I preferred the chunkier texture.

Serve with diced tomatoes and top with fresh chopped cilantro.

Best enjoyed outside on a mild August night with a glass of wine and someone to share with :)

Arugala with Diced Dates and Blue Cheese

August 23, 2012 § 3 Comments

This week I inadvertently made a transitional salad. I didn’t realize the combination would have subtle hints of fall to come while still being sweet and peppery enough for August. I used store-bought diced dates so the process was a cinch, just a matter of whipping up the dressing.

Toss arugala with diced dates. BOOM two ingredients done.

I quickly learned shredding was not the way to go–blue cheese is much easier to crumble by hand.

Dressing from Gourmet Made Simple:

1 shallot minced (unless you are a huge fan of shallots, I would maybe use 1/2)
2 tbsp balsamic vinegar
2 tbsp olive oil
1 tbsp vegetable stock 
1 tsp honey

I personally thought my shallots were not “minced” enough, I prefer a finer texture but the larger pieces provide much more of a bite.

Whisk it all together. I actually used chicken broth instead of vegetable stock since I had it on hand. I can’t imagine the overall effect is very different but it is worth a test!

The sweetness of the dates and creaminess of the blue cheese balances the peppery arugala and bite from the shallots for a perfect warm-weather-turning effect.

I think it’s good now through October.

Something about this combo is just SCREAMING for a flatbread variation…





Vegas Part II, The Food

August 22, 2012 § Leave a comment

The reason we were in Vegas was for the Garth Brooks show–which absolutely knocked my socks off. You laugh, you cry, you sing and sway as he puts on a one-man wonder show. It’s amazing and I can’t recommend it enough. I was just as excited for the food as the show though since the city is known for its amazing food.  Every celebrity chef has an outpost there and each is more extravagant than the next. With so many great choices, we didn’t even need to leave the hotel.

I love a good cheese board.

First up was La Cave, perfect for cheese boards and small plates sitting outside overlooking the pool. They have different themed wine flights like “Adventurous Whites” or “Sommelier’s Selection” which adds a really fun element to dinner.

We kept checking back to the menu: “Which one am I tasting now? Ooo the Chenin Blanc from South Africa. Definitely floral notes.”

Three Bean Salad with Fried artichokes. I definitely want to try this one at home: green beans, white beans and garbanzo beans with grape tomatoes.

The Big Guy was our dinner at Bartolotta. The focus is Italian Mediterranean and all of the pasta is handmade and 42 different kinds of fish are flown in from the Mediterranean daily. We obviously had to try the Lasagnette Con Ragu Di Crostacei, which was Bobby Flay’s pick for Italian Seafood in The Best Thing I Ever Ate. The dish was so soft and buttery, it melted. The meal was so enjoyable, I couldn’t interrupt for pictures, except for the branzino fish, served tableside. It was silky whitefish topped with a wonderful light tomato sauce.

Branzino with sautéed zucchini and roasted fingerling potatoes served tableside. All the fish are served family style because the fish are so large.

Live Jazz

We finished off our trip with a Sunday Jazz Brunch at the Country Club which overlooks the golf course. The appetizer buffet was amazing–greeted with enormous king crab legs, shrimp cocktail, prime rib… and that’s before you even choose how many entrees you want from the menu! Come with a very large appetite.

Round 1. I took FULL advantage

French Toast Bread Pudding.

So bummed we didn’t bump into Prince Harry on the trip…

Vegas Part I, The Setting

August 20, 2012 § Leave a comment

Sometimes I judge my hotel room by the bathroom. That’s where I spend most of my time in the room anyway besides sleeping! If I’m not getting ready to head out on the town, hopefully I’m already out there. In the case of the Wynn, Las Vegas, if all other signs didn’t point to over-the-top luxury (which they did), the bathroom sealed the deal.

It’s a 10 in my book

Staying at the Wynn is a two-for-one deal since its sister hotel, The Encore, is right next door and the restaurants and pools are all accessible to both guests.

There were beautiful indoor gardens with enormous rose balls hanging and twinkling lights. The sky shines through the glass above.

I am a novice gambler so even more than playing the tables, I just enjoyed people watching. Visitors run the gamut- families, old, young, foreign, american, bathing suits, cocktail dresses. Anything goes.

Only picture taken at a casino EVER. We had a very lucky roll to commemorate.

The high rollers get special rooms. Greeted by peacocks with glass tail feathers that light up. NBD

If gambling ain’t your thang, there are plenty of other ways to lose your money. Six pools in total (some even with swim-up casinos, if you want the best of both worlds), spas and high end shopping to rival Rodeo Drive. The spa at the Wynn was under construction so we headed over to the Encore which was voted one of the most beautiful by Forbes Magazine.

The spa was one amazing lounge after another inviting you to hang out in your robe and be pampered with amazing treatments, steam rooms, saunas, waterfall showers, jacuzzi, cold plunge, etc. I could spend a week in there alone

A gal could get used to this place!

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