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Friday, June 29, 2012

Food Friday: Mad Donna's

I don't talk about it often, but my favorite meal is probably breakfast. My favorite meal to go out for is brunch and my favorite dish of all time is eggs Benedict. Why am I sharing this? Not sure, as I'm not reviewing eggs Benedict this week. But I am reviewing brunch. There are many brunch places in Nashville and most of them are packed by 10am. On a hot Sunday morning, Steve and I decided to try a place that is famous for the brunch, but one that we had only been to for dinner. We drove the long three blocks and arrived at Mad Donna's. I had only been their for parties upstairs in the loft and drag queen bingo. I pass Mad Donna's twice a day and it was about time we tried the brunch!

When we arrived we noticed the dining room was busy, but a few tables were opening up. We asked the hostess for an estimate and she said five minutes. Not even a minute later a different gentleman told us that the woman we spoke to was not the hostess and it would be a 20 minute wait. 20 minute wait for brunch in Nashville isn't terrible, it just wasn't what we were told or what the open tables suggested. We didn't even wait outside five minutes before we were offered a table. I don't know what kind of confusion was happening at the waitress stand- but I don't care. I got my brunch quicker than estimated.

Mad Donna's has a drinking brunch. They offer a make-your-own bloody Mary bar and a variety of mimosas. On Saturday and Sunday the mimosas are two for one. That sounded right by my wallet so I ordered the peach and Steve got the pineapple. I have to say that I won the mimosa picking contest. Peach just goes naturally better with Champagne. Better luck next time, bubs. The best part was that our waitress was awesome and we got our coffee and drinks right away! I love good service.

Mad Donna's did have a crab cake Benedict on the menu, but the $15 price tag was more than I care to spend on brunch. Also, I'm old fashioned when it comes to bennies and I prefer Canadian Bacon. Instead I opted for the chorizo hash. The eggs on top were cooked perfectly. The yolks were super runny when I cut into them. Eggs need to be runny on hash in order to properly coat the meat and potatoes. A properly cooked egg is one of tastiest things one can eat, so I was already sold on this dish. The potatoes and chorizo were tasty. The waitress said that it was spicy and that Sriracha was added, but I didn't find it that hot. The nice dollop of sour cream on top really added a much needed creamy texture to the dish. The hash was served with a crisp side salad that was a good balance to the heaviness of the main dish.

Steve ordered the Donna's Omelet, which is basically an egg Mexican burrito. I guess he really liked it because all I got was a tiny bite. Since I don't even remember tasting the omlete, I will say that it was uneventful for me, but enjoyable for Steve. I tried the cheese grits that came with it. The flavor was spot on, but the consistency not so much. It was slightly watery and not thick like I prefer.

I have to say that Mad Donna's was an easy brunch place. The wait wasn't terrible, the staff was friendly and the food was good. What more can you ask for on a Sunday morning?
Mad Donna's on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 28, 2012

Porter Flea Recap

A few weeks ago I wantered around the Porter Flea, a very unique Nashville craft fair. There are tons of talented local vendors that showed off their fine wares. I just want to mention some of the ones that knocked my socks off:

Acorn + Archer

This group sells cute geometric wooden jewelry. They even had some lucite neon necklace bowties (which I LOVED). I don't see them on the site yet- but I'm hoping to get my hands on a pair. They were selling those like hotcakes and they sold out of the yellow ones!

Boss Construction

The art of the very talented Andy Vastagh. Not only are his prints beautiful- he is an amazing person to boot. My house is covered with Andy's show poster art. He even made cute little holiday cards for the winter Porter Flea.

Sabrosa Vintage

Run by a friend and fellow hula hooper, Sabrosa always has a great selection of vintage clothes, shoes and housewares. I always find she has a really good men's selection. So good that Steve actually purchased a really cool new-to-him shirt from her! He looks really good in it. Check out her Etsy store- you don't have to be in Tennessee to enjoy this!


The Honeybean is a super cute mobile boutique and vintage store in one small sweet place. It is run by fellow Nashville blogger, Little Chief Honeybee Kaelah. The coolest part is they managed to fit their little camper inside of the venue! They have tons of great things for hair- including bows, ribbons and doo-dads. They even carry my favorite thing lately- Lady Ties. (Hint for upcoming present giving holidays). I really wanted to say hello to Kaelah in real life- but I think I showed up a little to late to meet her. Next time!

Sally Harless

I'm a sucker for well done art involving animals. Usually I'll buy something if it has a bunny or a cat in it or on it. Sally makes great animal art, and not always using the usual suspects. Like Buffalo? Elk? Squid? She is your lady. Steve got me this lovely knitting Narwhal piece for my house! He is quite the creative gift giver.

Do I really have to wait for December for the next Porter Flea?! I hope not- back to school craft fair please?

Wednesday, June 27, 2012

Farmer's Market #2

This week at the farmer's market we got more of the same. Squash was everywhere and there was a trickling in of tomatoes. I even treated myself to an Izzie's Ice while I walked around. The ice is made by two sisters who use real fruit! Steve and I split a large, with three scoops of strawberry, watermelon, and mango. The mango was far and away my favorite flavor. Mango just feels like summer.

This week's CSA from Flying S Farms

After my post last week, I received additional information about the market from Amy who's family (Delvin Farms) started the East Nashville Farmer's Market 6 years ago (I was way off). This is what she has to say about ENFM:

The market was started 6 years ago by Devlin Farms to provide healthy food to the East Nashville community. It started in the parking lot of the Turnip Truck but quickly outgrew that space.  We strive to make it an organic market, but do allow a few conventional produce farms who grow their own produce. The farmers who grow the food and the people who make the goods are present at our market- there are no re-sellers.  Vendors who are certified organic or certified naturally grown get 10% off their vendor fee. We are the first market in Nashville to accept EBT/Food stamps as a whole. Customers can also use their debit card at the market info booth to get "cash" in the form of wooden nickles to spend with the vendors. It has become very popular and allows customers to buy what they need with vendors who may be unable to accept credit or debit cards. The food stamp program has really taken off as well, and providing healthy food in the community (especially the food desert areas) was the goal from the beginning. We're currently working with the Martha O'Bryan center to provide transportation to the Casey housing residents to the market. The center also brings out groups of children and teenagers once a season to learn about vegetables, how they are grown and to meet the farmers who grow them. Delvin Farms has paid for the market for the past 5 years (insurance, rent, live music, etc), but this year the market is beginning to pay for itself! We're pleased that it has become a popular market, not only because it is finally becoming self sustaining, but because our goal of making it a community market, providing good produce and locally grown, producers only market has reached its goal!

This week's basket contained lots of squash, onions, green and yellow cucumbers, lettuce and green beans. The green beans were the standout of the box. I just boiled them lightly for 8 minutes and they were perfect- nothing needed to be added to the naturally sweet taste. This week I tried a very southern style squash casserole in order to use everything up. It contained lots of butter and cheese so it wasn't very good for my waistline, but boy was it delicious. I have a feeling the squash casserole will be making a reappearance.

This week's splurge purchase was Hawaiian sausage from West Wind Farms. They have a large variety of sausage and meat available. I guess they are really popular, because when we were at the booth they were out of milk and eggs! The sausage was tasty, but I wouldn't go as far as calling it Hawaiian. There weren't any chunks of pineapple like I was expecting and I didn't really taste any fruit sweetness.  Don't get me wrong, I loved the sweet brown sugar taste. But if you are looking for something tropical and fruity, this isn't your tube of meat. I plan on trying some of their other other options this season!

Tuesday, June 26, 2012

Photoshoot: Love East Nashville

Because Steve is a talented photographer, he knows other talented photographers, like Jamie Goodsell.  Jamie is working on a photo project and wanted Steve to be one of his subjects.  Put the photographer in front of the camera! After he was done with Steve, he decided to do an adorable shoot with us around the Barista Parlor, one of my favorite coffee joints.

I think Jamie is quite talented. He let his subjects just BE and didn't force us to do anything cheesy or anything that we didn't want to do. He used only natural light and got us to act silly and giggle.  Below are a few of our favorite shots. Jamie- you are very talented. 

All Photos by Jamie Goodsell

Monday, June 25, 2012

I'm still in Kindergarten

Most of the time I want to feel like a kid and dress like a kindergarten teacher. This is my current favorite summertime outfit. I've been so hooked I've worn it a few weekends in a row already! The dress was a goodwill find (in the children's department). The back is open and tied with bows- perfect for the Nashville heat. It also has a very high waste band which really makes it look like a kid's dress (which it is). Just felt like letting my inner-child romp around!

The necklace was something I stole out of my Mom's jewlery box when I was in middle school.  She purchased it sometime in the 80s when I didn't appreciate how AWESOME it was. I think we have family pictures of a trip to Disneyworld where my Mom rocked this necklace. I kept borrowing it and eventually my Mom just let me take it with me to college. I wear it constantly and I always get compliments on it. I feel really proud when I get to say that my Mom picked out this amazing, unique piece of jewelry. I have a cool Mom!

The hairbow was something I whipped up last winter. Its a little knit piece that I was hoping to put on a hat or earwarmer that just never found its real home.  I took some extra yarn and crochet looped it to make it more of a headband.  I really think it fits great on the top-bun. I'm inclined to make more for this summer out of felt! I have a TON of project felt.

Dress: Thrifted $2
Necklace: Mom's
Hairbow: Made by me!
Boots: Old Tan Boots
Galsses: Costal

All photos by Steve Cross

Friday, June 22, 2012

Food Friday: Korea House

In my mind, Charlotte Pike is known for a few things: Pawn Shops and Vietnamese Food. Tucked in among the check-cashing and Pho houses is the best Korean Food I have ever had. Korea House is a no-frills jewel. It's not much from the outside and inside certainly isn't much better. But if you just want good food and friendly staff, this is your place.

We started off with some edamame because I was starving and couldn't wait for the whole meal.  Notice the spot with fewer pods? Yeah, I dug in before I took the picture. Couldn't help it.

What I love most about Kroean food in general is the wonderful side dishes that they bring along with your meal. Normally it's various types of pickled vegetables, potatoes, fish, and egg pancakes. I love the variety and the taste at Korea house. The Kimchi is spicy but not so overpowering that you can't taste the cabbage.  The potatoes soaked in a sweet brown sauce is a calming balance to the heat of everything else. My personal favorite is the salted fish.

The following dishes are great. Trust me. I just think it is hard to photograph Korean food and make it look appealing with an iPhone. Steve and I split two entrees. The portions are so huge here that they could be for competitive eaters like myself. You can probably split one dish or save some for leftovers. I usually rotate between a few dishes: the rice fingers and fish, dolsot bibimbop, and potato noodles did not make the cut this time. Sorry other delicious foods!

After some tense negotiations, we agreed on pork belly with kimichi and tofu and bulgolgi. Pork belly is a nice way of saying thick cut fatty bacon. There are few meats that I enjoy better than pork belly.  The meat-to-fat ratio is just right, with a good amount of the soft chewy stuff. The tofu on the bottom is soft and silky. It just folds away like butter and soaks up all the spice and fat. This dish is greasy, no lie. If you wan't something healthy that will make you feel light- don't order this. If you want to grub like I usually do, stick with the pork fat. 

The second main dish that we ordered was the bulgogi, which is Korean BBQ beef. The meat is thinly sliced and cooked up with a good protion of onion and served with hot sauce, rice, and lettuce leaves.  Don't let the lettuce confuse you, this is another greasy dish. The meat is soaking in oil and there is a nicle amount left in the dish when you are done.  Make's you feel real good about your food choice. But you know what? I don't care. Every once in a while you need food that tastes like a state fair and you deserve it. That oil soaks into the rice and makes everything glisten with flavor. This is Steve's favorite dish and the boy always orders it. I have a bulgogi-addict in the making.

This is a mustache of a man who just had a great meal!

Korea House on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 21, 2012

Market Cats

I'm not the only one in my house who likes getting a CSA every week. My boys love the basket that the vegatables come in. 

Sawyer enjoying a basket ride

Special Agent Dale Cooper copying his older brother

Wednesday, June 20, 2012

East Nashville Farmers Market

Every Wednesday my little part of the city holds a farmers market. The East Nashville Farmers Market is located on a little plot of land next to a church in five points. This might be the second or third year of the market, I can't remember. What I do know is that every Wednesday night on my way home from work I stop by to look at the beautiful produce, pick up my CSA, and enjoy some outdoor entertainment.

Squash from Flying S Farms

This year after much research, Steve and I decided to get our CSA through Flying S Farms. We found their price pretty reasonable. Also, I could personally attest to the quality, as I have been buying from this vendor for a while now. A sweet older gentleman in overalls and a trucker hat always helps me out. He always greets me with a smile and recommends ways of cooking that week's produce. Since it's late spring/early summer we have been living on squash. Every BBQ I have attended I have brought along a pile of roasted summer squash. It is very tasty, but I'm running out of ideas on how to cook the little buggers. Anyone have any creative squash recipies?

Flying S Banner

After picking up my basket and seeing my veggie options for the week, I like to walk around and find other good things that I could use in cobbling together a meal. I'm proud to say that Steve and I are cheese obsessed and I always have to sample the goodness from Kenny's Farmhouse Cheese. The lady who staffs the East Nash booth is super friendly and always lets me sample as many as I want. I normally buy the Garlic Paprika Jack, but I wanted to branch out so I asked for the Garden Herb Havarti. Apparently many other people had the same idea and they just sold their last slice. So after sampling a few more, I decided on the Cumin Gouda. This cheese is delicious and addicting. Whole Cumin seeds are dotting throughout and the cheese melts nicely (I made a quesadilla with the stuff). I hope I am courageous enough to branch out again and try something new next time.

Alfresco Pasta also has a booth. Get some veggies, some cheese and some pasta and you have a complete meal. I've purchased from Alfresco in the past. Everything comes frozen with simple cooking directions. I recently made the Southern Sweet Corn and Mascarpone Ravioli in Beet Pasta and loved it. I really wanted to get two servings of the squid ink pasta, but they only come frozen in bulk portions of 12.  I like squid pasta and all, but I don't want a whole freezer full of it. Alfresco, if you are reading, go back to selling single pasta portions of your noodles! Also, if you don't have time- they sell pasta sauce too!

Besides Flying S, there are a handful more produce vendors at the market. Most people carry the same things, but sometimes you find some unique to one vendor or the price is just much better. I wanted small onions to cook up with some kale and I purchased those from the Devlin Farms booth. They looked the freshest and were the cheapest. Good deal for me.

Devlin Farms Produce

Devlin Farms CSA Basket

Nashville Foodscapes- Gardening with food!

Finally, I think it might be good to take a look at what was in our CSA basket this week. As you can see the basket itself was overflowing with green goodness.

This week's CSA included lettuce, kale, a whole ton of squash, cucumbers and blueberries. What will I get today? Tune in next week!

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