Tuesday, August 28, 2012

I'm Home

The ache for home lives in all of us, the safe place where we can go as we are and not be questioned. 
Maya Angelou
I haven't been home in nine days. Unfortunately it's not because I've been sunbathing on a beach somewhere or traipsing through Europe. Nope. I spent this past week in a little town (emphasis on little) called Bristol, TN. My job brings me to Bristol twice a year for the NASCAR races where my neck gets a little red and my southern drawl becomes more of a twang. Let's put it this way. Bristol's population is somewhere around 50,000. During race week, it's 150,000. I've never quite experienced the spectacle that is NASCAR. But that's another story for another day. Let me just say this: only at a race track would you find Aqua Net in the ladies' bathroom. Queue Jeff Foxworthy's "you might be a red neck if..."

The earlier part of this week was spent in Memphis for meetings. Fortunately, I get to see my family when I'm there and can sleep in my old room; no hotel! Tuesday afternoon, I drove three hours up Music Highway, between Memphis and Nashville - breathing deep as I walked through my front door and was greeted with the familiar scent of home.

About 20 miles outside of Nashville, Phillip Phillips' serenaded me through the rolling hills of Middle Tennessee as I made my way back home. 
After nine consecutive days of dining at restaurants, race tracks and fast food joints (one moment of McDonalds weakness), I think it's safe to say I have some serious cooking to tend to!

Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Happy 100th Birthday Julia Child

Wednesday marks the 100th birthday of Julia Child, the woman lovingly known to Americans as "The French Chef". I was just 19 when this culinary icon passed away, yet her spirit is ever eternal with each toast of “bon appétit”!

For starters, Julia and I have a few things in common: a first name, a love affair with France, and all the pleasures of cooking. But what was it about Madame Child that made her so enchanting to millions? Inspired to learn more about the person before the celebrity, I’m reading Child’s autobiography “My Life In France”. Julia and her husband’s grandnephew, Alex Prud’homme, compiled the book during the last 8 months of her life. It primarily focuses on the years between 1948 and 1954 while she and Paul lived in Paris, Marseilles and Provence.

What I have come to know of Child thus far is a contagious joie de vivre. She has a certain je ne sais quoi that puts a smile on your face and makes you want to carry that 6'2'' bundle of joy around in your pocket all day. 

Thus on the eve of her 100th birthday, I opened my copy of "Mastering the Art of French Cooking" and took to the kitchen with Julia. In less than 20 minutes, I made 2 beautiful servings of bifteck saute au beurre served with a simple green salad and sauce vinaigrette.  Thanks to the detailed instructions from Julia, the steaks were cooked properly and perfectly. There wasn't a leaf of lettuce left in the salad bowl as we used slices of baguette to soak up the last drop of vinaigrette. Julia doesn't just supply you with a list of ingredients and a recipe; she gives you the culinary lesson.

Bon appétit!

Monday, August 13, 2012

Our House is City House

Nestled in Nashville’s neighborhood of Germantown, slightly north of downtown, is City House.

Over the past 3 years City House, a converted sculptor’s studio, has been featured in publications such as the New York Times Style Magazine, Food and Wine, bon appétit, Garden & Gun, and Nashville Scene. Each story about Chef Tandy Wilson’s rustic Italian restaurant is rightfully as praiseworthy as the last. So, it should be no surprise that I had to taste what is becoming my favorite restaurant in Nashville.

I have since dined at City House three times in the past 7 weeks. One of my favorite things about City House is that amid all of its popularity, it is one of the most unassuming and charming restaurants in town. Simply put, this house is grounded on the principles of good food, good service and good company.

I was as giddy as a school girl the first evening Stewart and I walked through the front door of City House. In addition to the friendly hostess, you are greeted by the boisterous chatter among the restaurant’s clientele. Without a reservation Stewart and I sat up at the kitchen bar, overlooking the chefs preparing brick oven pizzas, pastas and desserts. It was the best seat in the house! A bowl of tomatoes and a fresh basil plant sat on the counter to my right. I watched as servers came up to the bar to take food to the other tables, and my appetite went wild with hunger. Before I knew it, Stewart and I practically licked our plates clean of 2 appetizers, 2 pizzas, and 2 desserts while washing it down with artisan cocktails and espresso. If gluttony is a sin, I bought a one-way ticket to hell with that meal. And I’m clearly not feeling that bad about it, since it’s been a repeat occurrence ever since.

A word to the wise: Do not make plans to go anywhere but home after you leave here. Your bellies will be aching (with pleasure) over the best meal you’ve ever eaten, and your brain will be on the verge of a food coma. I am 3 for 3 in going straight to bed after a night at City House.

How is that possible? Let’s examine the evidence from my visit last weekend.

We start off with the house cured salami, parm.

Followed by their brick oven pizzas…

Margherita Pizza (House Made Mozzarella)

House Made Belly Ham, Mozzarella, Grana Padano, Oregano, Chilies

Moving on to the pastas…

Linguini, Tomatoes, Anchovy, Chilies, Garlic, Olives, Bread Crumbs

Bread Gnocchi, Pork, Peppers, Cider Vinegar, Pecorino

And for dessert…


And vanilla-almond pound cake with lemon-ricotta gelato

End Scene.

Queue music with Madness' "Our House"