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Friday, October 25, 2013

Food Friday Chattanooga Edition: Public House

Public House restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee
Last weekend Steve and I went on a trip to Chattanooga to see Neutral Milk Hotel. We made a vacation of it by visiting Rock City, staying in an awesome Bed & Breakfast (Stone Fort Inn) and going out to eat. I did a bunch of Yelp searching for a dinner spot that was both close to our hotel and the venue, reasonably priced, and had a good selection of yummies. Public House met all my criteria, and the fact that we were able to get a reservation at the time we wanted didn't hurt either.
Public House restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee
Public House restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee
Located in the cool rehabbed buildings of Warehouse Row, Public House looks inviting. The decor involves a lot of light wood and white curtains. The place was much bigger on the inside than I expected and it's connected to the bar next door, The Social, which provides a greater bar atmosphere with a snack-heavy bar menu.
Cocktails at Public House restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee
We ordered our drinks off the Social's cocktail menu. I had the Alex Eile which is vodka, grapefruit, elderflower and some champagne. This drink was very girly and pink. I liked its sweet and refreshing effervescence and I'm always a sucker for the little glasses. Steve ordered the gigantic which had whiskey, ginger beer, smoked cider and apple butter. Yes, you heard it right, they put a giant dollop of apple butter on top of the drink. When you mixed it all up it tasted like apple pie. This was not my cup of tea, but Steve really enjoyed the cinnamon flavor.
Pickle plate at Public House restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee
For an appetizer we started out with the pickle plate. It came with pickled green beans, pickled onions and chow chow. We both agreed that we did not enjoy the green beans. I thought they were too crunchy and not pickled enough, and Steve found them too sour. Our favorite was the pickled onions; they were tangy and sweet, and went nicely with the toasted crackers.
shrimp and grits at Public House restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee
For dinner I chose the shrimp and grits because people said it was good in online reviews, and a friendly person had recommended it to me. I wasn't impressed with this dish and felt that it just fell flat. There were tons of red bell peppers, which I'm not used to seeing in shrimp and grits (I'm also not the biggest fan of red peppers overall- except in moderation). The whole dish tasted like roasted red peppers and not much else. This made me miss the wonderful shrimp and grits I had at Silo.
Bacon burger at Public House restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee
Steve ordred what I assumed he would order when picking Public House, the pimento cheese and bacon burger. Steve really enjoyed this hearty sandwich and I agree that he picked wiser. The cheese itself had a nice flavor and was very creamy. The burger was served on a hearty poppyseed bun that held up under all the toppings. My favorite part was the side of shoestring fries. They were tiny and crisp and the fresh chives they put on top made them all the more addicting.
Public House restaurant in Chattanooga Tennessee
Overall I would say that Public House was just kind of average. I wasn't really impressed by anything here; it was all pretty standard. The place is lovely, the staff was friendly, and the menu does offer a wide variety of southern food favorites for those that like the classics. I guess if I go back I'll try something other than the shrimp and grits.
Public House on Urbanspoon

Thursday, October 24, 2013

Tonight: Farm to Fork Dinner

If my Thursday night wasn't already filled with plans, you'd better believe I would be at the Cumberland River Compact's 3rd annual Farm to Fork dinner. This event helps raise money for Cumberland Compact, as well as awareness about the impact of a clean Cumberland River for local farms. What could be better than supporting our local river and getting some great food!? Not much. Some of the chefs are:

Deb Paquette from Etch
Laura Wilson from The Nashville Farmer's Market
Guerry McComas of the Yellow Porch
Cheese from the Bloomy Rind and Noble Springs Diary
BONUS: Yazoo Bells Bend Preservation Ale and Wine from the Wine Chap

Tickets are still available and can be purchased here. The feast is tonight at 7pm at The Green Door Gourmet. I hope some friends go so they can tell me all about what I missed!

Friday, October 18, 2013

Nashville Food Friday: Sunflower Cafe

 Vegetarian and Vegan food at the Sunflower Cafe in Nashville Tennessee
This might come as a bit of a shock to my regular readers, but I spent about 6 years being vegetarian and I was vegan for about 1.5 of those years. Just because I re-embraced my love of meat doesn't mean that I can't get behind some seriously good vegetarian fare. Honestly, sometimes it feels good to eat something that seems much healthier than bacon (not to knock bacon- just sometimes I can feel my ventricles closing if I eat too much). The Sunflower Cafe, a vegetarian and vegan restaurant in Berry Hill, opened about a year ago. Steve and I checked it out for dinner before a movie on a recommendation from my best friend Jeff, who also happens to be a vegetarian.
Vegetarian and Vegan food at the Sunflower Cafe in Nashville Tennessee
Sunflower Cafe serves their food cafeteria style. Normally I don't like this type of food because mass produced items are never as good and they lose their flavor the longer they sit in the trays. But for some magical reason, the food at the Sunflower Cafe didn't taste like regular cafeteria style food. Maybe it's in the cooking, I don't know. Basically you look at all the goodies down the line and pick what you want. Our server was very nice and super helpful. I asked for recommendations and I got them in abundance. Nothing makes me happier than when I encounter a genuinely affable server.
Vegetarian and Vegan food at the Sunflower Cafe in Nashville Tennessee
The decor is simple, bright and clean. Long dining tables reminiscent of college dining halls populate the place. I dig this set up because it allows you to make new friends if you choose. This might be the cleanest restaurant I have ever stepped foot in. Everything was SPARKLING, even the bathroom. Plus, I totally love the little Sunflowers they have dotted around the place.
Vegetarian and Vegan food at the Sunflower Cafe in Nashville Tennessee
I chose the the tofu buffalo sliders with sunflower rice and sweet potato casserole. Each night there's a rotating cast of entrees and sides. You have an option to pick an entree and two sides, or a whole bunch of sides as your meal. The food bar was packed with tons of options- making the decisions hard! I enjoyed the sliders and was impressed with the crisp layer of breading they were able to get around the tofu. It created a really nice crunch. Since I like spicy food I think they could stand to put a bit more spicy buffalo sauce on the tofu. I liked the bread to filling ratio of this dish and the blue cheese dressing just knocked it out of the park. Buffalo sauce and blue cheese are a match made in heaven. The sunflower rice was just OK. I enjoyed the nice crunch of the sunflower seeds, but besides that it didn't have any distinct flavor. The sweet potato casserole was hearty, thick and sweet without making your teeth hurt. Overall, I was really impressed with this plate and what turned out to be a huge portion.
Vegetarian and Vegan food at the Sunflower Cafe in Nashville Tennessee
Steve had the Thai ginger tofu over sunflower rice with a side of sweet potato casserole (great minds think alike). I really liked the curry. It was thick and had a lovely creaminess about it. The tofu was firm without being hard, a difficult line to walk when it comes to soy. Both Steve and I ordered kombucha on tap from tealixir. I keep ordering it, so I guess I like it.

Overall I really enjoyed my experience at Sunflower. The food was fresh and there were tons of options. The staff was friendly and helpful, and they keep the space itself super clean. The best part was the fast service; we were able to make our movie with no problem!

Sunflower Cafe on Urbanspoon

Friday, October 11, 2013

Nashville Food Friday: Rolf and Daughters

Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
I feel like a terrible food blogger. Rolf and Daughters had been on my must-go list for what felt like an eternity but I just finally made my way around to it last week. This is totally 100% my fault due to poor planning and begging for last minute reservations. But my last minute perseverance finally paid off last week with a table for two at a reasonable dinner hour!
Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
Located in Germantown, Rolf and Daughters is charming and beautiful. They have a romantic outside patio lit by fairy string lights. Inside, it's dark and filled with lovely handcrafted wood pieces. The ceiling was even covered in wood planks. For a small place, they do seem to be able to fit a good amount of diners at once. I did think that the noise level was a bit loud, so it might not be a great place to take your parents (if they're the type who love to complain about noise) or someone who is hard of hearing.
Cocktails Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
Of course we started off with cocktails! I chose the colony collapse which consisted of bourbon, honey liquor, and spiced cherry bitters. This was a stiff drink, just the way I like it. I love a cocktail that doesn't mask the alcoholic nature of the beverage, but enhances it. Steve chose the Spiker and Sponge which was rye, peach shrub, IPA beer, honey, lemon and bitters. To both of us, this drink was just a tad too tart and bitter for our palettes.
Chicken liver pate at  Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
For our appetizer I picked the chicken liver pate with green tomato jam and cacao. There are few things I love more than bird livers, so I always pick the pate if it's offered. This dish was absolutely perfect; I couldn't get over how much I loved it! Jewish mamas everywhere might weep, because this isn't your traditional chicken liver. The green tomato jam was really sweet and nicely balanced out the inherent bitterness of the cocoa. I know the idea of chocolate and liver sounds gross, but trust me, this dish is spot-on.
Squid Ink Pasta at  Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
Their menu is designed around sharing. There are pasta, entree, and side options that are served in large bowls with proportions for two. Steve and I decided to order one pasta, one protein, and one side and make a meal of it. For the pasta I picked the squid ink canestri made with shrimp, squid, pancetta and chili. It had been a long while since I saw squid ink pasta on the menu so I jumped at the chance. The pasta was al dente and the squid ink added a delicate salt flavor. The seafood added another layer of fish flavor which made this dish utterly amazing. I would be hard pressed to go back to Rolf and Daughters and not order this again!
trout at  Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
For our protein we went with the trout with heirloom beans and cucumber. The fish itself was tender and not the tiniest bit overcooked, but it was a tad too salty for my palette. And I know I must be sensitive to salt, because Steve thought the salt content was perfect. My favorite part had to be the pickled cucumbers that were hiding under the trout, adding a bright fresh flavor to complement the fish.
Fingerling potatoes at  Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
For the side we chose fingerling potatoes with chili mayo. The potatoes were the cutest! Little bite size morsels with a crispy skin. But honestly, it was the chili mayo that made this dish. It added a layer of subtle spice and creaminess that coated the potatoes and left you craving more.
Dessert at  Rolf and Daughters restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
I have a sweet tooth and when it came time to choose a dessert, I couldn't, so we opted for two. Since Steve had never had one, we went with the bomboloni with vanilla cream and a side of chocolate sauce for dipping. They came out nice and hot and the dark chocolate sauce wasn't overly sweet like many tend to be. For our second dessert we chose the Olive and Sinclair chocolate tart with caramel and bourbon barrel nibs. While I didn't recognize the nibs, the tart was dark, rich and lovely. My favorite part was the sprinkling of rock salt on top adding that salty crunch that accompanies dark chocolate so well.

I totally get the hype; Rolf and Daughters is a positively wonderful restaurant pumping out creative and solid food in a lovely romantic location. I doubt anyone would be disappointed with a dinner there. Just make your reservation in advance so you don't get caught in the lurch like me!

Rolf and Daughters on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 7, 2013

Alley Cat Allies: National Feral Cat Day + Giveaway

If you are like me, you love all the cats. ALL THE CATS. This includes all the furry little darlings that don't have loving forever-homes. And if your neighborhood is like mine, you have a variety of local homeless favorites. Your local feral cats and any offspring they have could end up in shelters and are normally euthanized because they are wild, unsocialized and therefore not adoptable as pets. Bummer- BECAUSE I LOVE ALL THE CATS.
Because of this the wonderful people at Ally Cat Allies, the only national organization dedicated to the protection and humane treatment of cats, created National Feral Cat Day to raise awareness of feral cats and promote the humane trap-neuter-return program. National Feral Cat Day was started in 2001 and is held every year on October 16th. There are expected to be over 450 events this year to bring awareness to the humane treatment of feral cat populations.
If you're an AdvoCATe like me, you'll be happy to know the lovely people at ACA are offering one Old Red Boots reader the opportunity to win one of their 2013 National Feral Cat Day t-shirts and show your love for ALL THE CATS.

Enter below. The contest is only open to US residents (sorry international readers) and the winner will be announced in a week so you can show your pride on National Feral Cat day October 16th!

Friday, October 4, 2013

Nashville Food Friday: Edley's BBQ

Edley's BBQ restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
When I'm traveling and tell people I meet that I'm from Nashville, they often say they want to visit for music and the BBQ. I totally get the music statement, and encourage everyone to come and listen to all the great stuff this town is pumping out, but the yen for Nashville BBQ baffles me. You mean you want to go to Memphis, St. Louis, Kansas City, or Texas for BBQ right? Not Nashville; we have BBQ but we DO hot chicken. I have no idea how we have become a rumored BBQ mecca, but it happened. And until lately, I would have to shoot peoples dreams down, telling them that we have a few mediocre BBQ joints, but nothing remarkable. But after having visited Edley's BBQ in East Nashville a few times now, I can confidently tell people to come here.
Edley's BBQ restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
The original Edley's is located in the 12th South neighborhood, and they opened up an east side location earlier this year. While I have been to both, I frequent the east side spot because of its proximity to my house.
Edley's BBQ restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
The decor is wood-heavy with lots of bench seating and open windows. The bar is well stocked with a lot of local brews as well as a delicious version of the bushwhacker. You wait in line to order your food at the counter and then take a ticket back to your table and wait for your food to arrive. While it isn't fancy service, it works well for them. And let's face it, BBQ isn't really supposed to be fancy, just good.
Edley's BBQ restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
I absolutely adore their outside patio space. It's spacious with room for plenty of guests. I'm quite a sucker for twinkle lights and I love the ambiance they provide. The only downside is that the wooden benches are really hard on your bum. The wood slats are just a tad too far apart, making them uncomfortable, such that they'll possibly put your rear to sleep. Just go for the regular old chairs or booths.
Rack of ribs at Edley's BBQ restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
For dinner I ordered the rib plate which comes with a half rack of ribs, cornbread and a choice of two sides. I feel like BBQ should always come with cole slaw so I picked that and their mac and cheese, which is so delicious, creamy, and thick that I can't stay away from it. Their cole slaw is the non-mayo, vinegar type which is far and away my favorite. The slaw has the perfect tang to complement the sweetness of the slow cooked meat and BBQ sauce. Their cornbread is fresh, spongy and has a slight kick to it. I really enjoyed the ribs. the meat was fall-off-the-bone-tender and they had a nice spice rub on it. I wish it had a tad bit more smoke flavor, but despite that I still really enjoyed the meat. Their BBQ sauce tends to be on the sweeter side, which I enjoy. I'll be ordering this exact same thing again.
Pulled pork plate at Edley's BBQ restaurant in Nashville Tennessee
Steve ordered the pulled pork plate with green beans and potato salad. I think everyone at our table agreed that the potato salad was a downer. It was rather flavorless and tasted just like eating a baked potato. We're pretty sure we've both had the potato salad before and really enjoyed it, so we think the kitchen may have just had an off-night with their potatoes. Steve loves the green beans and gets them every time. As a man raised on southern-style green beans, these exceed his standard. The pulled pork is the star of this plate, being tender, fatty and well-seasoned. The meat has such good flavor and is so soft that you don't need to drown it in sauce to make it edible, like some BBQ. When it comes down to it, that's the fundamental test that a BBQ joint must pass- is their BBQ good enough on its own to not require loads of sauce? Edley's passes with flying colors!

Overall, I really like Edley's and I'm happy to recommend it to anyone who is looking for some BBQ in Nashville.

Edley's Bar-B-Que on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, October 2, 2013

Baking Bad: Breaking Bad Cake

I don't know about you but I was super bummed that Breaking Bad ended this weekend. And don't worry, this post won't contain any spoilers! Anyway, I always invite a small group of good friends over to watch the show, and I wanted to do something special for the last episode and "bake bad." I decided to do a variation on an Angel Food Cake, because Walt is anything but an angel (juxtaposition, y'all). This is a variation on the Martha Stewart Angel Food Cake Recipe found here. If you don't watch Breaking Bad, 1- you should! and 2- the blue coloring has to do with the show, you'll just have to watch it to find out why. 

  • 1 cup plus 1 tablespoon cake flour (not self-rising)
  • 1 1/2 cups granulated sugar
  • 12 egg whites
  • 1 tablespoon warm water
  • 1/2 teaspoon coarse salt
  • 1 teaspoon cream of tartar
  • 1 teaspoon almond extract
  • blue food coloring
  1. Preheat oven to 325 degrees, with rack in lower third of the oven. Sift together flour and 3/4 cup sugar. Martha recommends sifting 4 times, and I agree. Sifting is really important for angel food cakes, as the finer your ingredients are the lighter your cake will be.
  2. Beat egg whites and the warm water with a mixer on low speed until foamy. Add salt, cream of tartar, and almond extract, and beat on medium speed until soft peaks form; about 3 minutes. With mixer running, gradually add remaining 3/4 cup sugar, 1 tablespoon at a time. Raise speed to high, and beat until peaks are stiff and glossy. If you want, you can add a bit of the blue food dye at this point.
  3. Transfer mixture to a large bowl. Sift flour mixture over egg whites. Once again, sifting is VERY important. Take your time doing this and fold in after each 1/4 cup of the flour mixture with a rubber spatula. 
  4. Once everything is all mixed in, add any additional blue food coloring you want. I added A LOT.
  5. Gently pour batter into a 10-inch tube pan. Run a knife through the batter to release any air bubbles, and smooth with an offset spatula. Bake until cake is golden brown and springs back when touched; 40 to 45 minutes. I had to cook my cake about 10 minutes longer than Martha recommended- about 55 minutes for me. It's best to keep checking. Remember that the cake is supposed to come out soft, so don't bake it until it's rock hard.
  6. Invert pan on a wire rack, and let cake cool about 1 hour or more.  As the cake cools it will naturally separate from the pan. Use this separation as a guide for your knife. Carefully run a paring knife around side of cake to loosen, then unmold onto the wire rack.

But I wasn't done. Cake isn't officially finished until you add some fresh whipped cream! This is my traditional go-to recipe for fresh easy whipped cream. (Minus the blue food coloring.)
  • 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  • 1 teaspoon powdered sugar
  • 1 teaspoon vanilla extract
  • blue food coloring
  1. Using a cold mixing bowl and cold whipping cream, add all your ingredients together. Add blue food coloring to your taste. I chose to dye the whipped cream a lighter blue than the cake. 
  2. Beat until stiff peaks form, but no more. Don't over-beat or it will be buttery and gross. 

Serve a slice of cake with a dollop of whipped cream. I even found some blue sugar crystals in the baking aisle to add for that "authentic" meth look. Serve and Enjoy!
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