Monday, November 29, 2010

Why I Choose Memphis

My good friend Leigh Johnson (aka Dr J) asked me to contribute to her blog on the topic of Why I Chose Memphis. My beloved city has come under fire & the source of this artillery are those damn top 10 bottom 10 lists with such titles as "Ugliest City" "Unhappiest City" etc... What a bunch of fools. If these morons had set one foot in this city before compiling their lists they would have seen the city that I continue to love. So I thought instead of discussing why I chose Memphis I thought I'd blog about why I CHOOSE Memphis & continue to choose it.


Memphis is a delicious city that one outsider remarked "smells like bacon". How can you not love a city that smells like bacon??? We have brilliantly talented chefs in this city that run some absolutely taste bud electrifying restaurants. Majestic Grille's smoked salmon or array of flatbreads, Restaurant Iris' bone marrow or scallops, Tsunami's tuna "nachos" or pot stickers, South of Beale's tuna with sushi rice balls, Cafe 1912's burger...I could go on & on but I only have so much time in a day. I like to eat & so do most of the people I know in this city. We like to eat well, drink well & talk about a varied array of topics.


In the decade that I have spent here I have met some of the most interesting & fantastic people I've ever encountered. Some of these people have become very close friends of mine. Lawyers, professors, artists, photographers, teachers, chefs, writers etc. This city will support your passion & so will its people. We love to talk loudly, hug tightly & share our passions. We love to give back to our community....& did I mention we like to eat?


Memphis can get better. We all just have to help it along. While we do have a world class food scene, art scene, etc we can make it so much better. In the past few years I have seen changes for the better. Project Green Fork was founded a couple of years ago by Margot McNeeley to "contribute to a sustainable Mid-South by helping reduce environmental impacts, with a focus on strengthening homegrown restaurants." The list of PGF certified restaurants has grown exponentially & it is wonderful to support restaurants who want to be more ecologically conscious. Mayor Wharton has created a Brand Manager for the city to showcase the benefits of the city. Playhouse on the Square has opened a gorgeous new facility. These are just a few examples of what has happened recently & therefore what we can continue to work towards. Hopefully City-County consolidation is one of those things we accomplish.

Monday, November 22, 2010

It Got Me

Every once in awhile a wine will grab ahold of me. As if it's reached out of the glass & taken ahold of my heart. Last night a wine did just that. Spring Valley Vineyards Cabernet Franc "Katherine Corkrum" 2008 Walla Walla Valley almost brought tears to my eyes. The only reason I didn't let the tears flow is because I was in public with a group of people & I didn't want to embarrass myself. First of all I think I smelled this wine for a solid 10 minutes. There was so much expressive, musky, floral aromas coming off it that I couldn't stop myself. The first sip was as if I'd just experienced love at first sight. My heart pounded & the feeling spread throughout my body down into my nether regions & up into my throat. There are few wines that grab me like that & refuse to let go. I'm always thankful when one of them comes along.

Monday, November 15, 2010

8th Anniversary at Bari

Bari is celebrating their 8th Anniversary! This is one of the gems on the dining scene of Memphis. Unique, delicious, consistent & always fun. Tomorrow night they will be hosting a wine dinner that is sold out but it might behoove some of you to call & get on the waiting list just in case of a cancellation.

From Rebecca Severs at Bari:

Bari is celebrating our 8th Anniversary with a Wine Dinner on Tuesday 16th at 6:30 at Bari. Elizabeth Mall from Delta will be talking about the four wines from Dalla Terra that we have paired with four courses.
The cost of the dinner is $60 per person.

call 901.722.2244

Wednesday, November 10, 2010

Closer to Ta

Whenever I cook something from my childhood I always feel closer to my family even though the family is farther away than I'd like. That's especially true when it comes to saltanas (pronounced sahl-tehn-yas). They are kind of like empanadas. Saltanas always make me think of my Grandmother who we loving called Ta. The name stems from her trying to get my sister & I to say abuelita (meaning little grandmother in Spanish) when we were very little. I could only say TaTa & my sister could only say Ta. So the name stuck & it's the only thing I ever called her. If we wanted Ta to make saltanas we would have to request them over a day in advance so she could start preparing the filling & the dough.

After she passed away 13 years ago there was a definite piece missing that's still missing to this day. A number of years ago my mother started making the saltanas & my dad started making the hot sauce to go alongside them. Taking a bite into them would always make me smile & think of Ta. I decided to start making my own about a year or so ago but since Kelly is vegetarian I put my own spin on them. Normally they are stuffed with beef, olives, raisins & potatoes. I substituted red wine & garlic braised lentils for the beef & I must say they are pretty tasty.

Whenever I make them I feel her presence, guiding me as I add the flour or roll out the dough. She is in the kitchen with me as I fold the pastry over the stuffing & seal the edges.

I know she is proud of me when I pull them out of the oven looking gloriously golden brown. There is just nothing in the world that will ever taste as good as her saltanas. Not foie gras, not truffles, not cassoulet, not pork belly. Nothing. Ever. Never.

Tuesday, November 09, 2010

Lunch at Restaurant August

I've wanted to go to Restaurant August for years. Since Kelly & I haven't been to New Orleans in years we decided to go all out & eat & drink to our heart's desire. When we arrived at August with Max & Marlinee we were seated at a corner table right by the window. Right off the bat we knew we were in for an experience when they set down this

Fish custard with caviar & truffle. Oh my good

Up next

Handmade gnocchi with truffles, crab & parmiggiano. Heaven. Total heaven.

Marlinee got the Lobster Tempura which was absolutely delicious. That's saying a lot for me because I don't care for lobster.

Up next was a matsutake mushroom salad with duck confit, absolutely outstanding

A lovely, earthy, rustic & rich Vacqueryas was our accompaniment for the entrees which for me was

Veal grillades in a super rich demi glace with lardons. Damn, I needed a nap after all this deliciousness

Sunday, November 07, 2010

Back to Siduri

Haven't had a bottle of Siduri wine in quite sometime. I figured what the hell, it's a nice little date night so why not. So I popped a bottle open. 2005 Rosella's Vineyard Pinot Noir. I love love love pinot. Mostly I gravitate towards Oregon pinot but I've been a fan of Siduri for quite some time. The first I get off the nose are cherry pits, smoke, barrel char & a hint of cinnamon. As I'm inhaling more I'm getting some cherry conserve, cola & vanilla. Upon sipping it's striking how ripe the wine is at first. Quite a bit of sweet strawberry then the acidity spreads across my palate then some fennel bitterness comes on. It's a bit one dimensional at first but I just opened it so that could change. Another sniff brings some lavender & a hint of graphite. The wine is starting to broaden & expand with the cherry & fennel getting bolder & bolder & the finish is getting longer & longer.


Check out my latest article here.

Tuesday, November 02, 2010

The Second Day in NOLA

We were starving. Something about this city just made us all ravenous. I felt like a zombie but instead of brains I wanted po boys, gumbo & anything laced in butter. Max whisked us off to Domilise's for a true authentic po boy. This place was an original for sure. Total hole in the wall with a tiny bar, about 4 tables & an open kitchen (if you can even call it that) where the prepared amazing po boys. Kelly & I split a large fried shrimp po boy dressed with everything. Look at this beauty.

Perfect chewy bread, crispy shrimp that wasn't greasy, crunchy cool toppings. I drizzled hot sauce on mine & devoured it like I hadn't eaten in years. Absolutely delicious.

For dinner we decided on Herbsaint.

I've been reading about Chef Donald Link for years but never had a chance to try his food. Needless to say I was hungry. Thirsty too so I ordered a bottle of Henri Biliot Brut Champagne for the table. The server brought the bottle & some flutes & I asked him if he could please instead bring regular wine glasses instead. I learned from my good friend Sam that good Champagne should be treated with respect & should never be locked up tight in a flute. One sip of Champs from a normal wine glass & you'll never use a flute again. Thanks for that Sam!

Next we went Northwest for a little Oregon pinot gris.

Crisp, bright, nutty, rich but not over the top. This wine is lovely.

My first course was the most memorable. A unique spin on carbonara.

Panko fried soft boiled egg, housemade guanciale, creamy noodles. Heaven. The server actually said to me "be careful when you cut into the egg. It's been known to explode on people." To which I replied "I love it when things explode on me."

He wasn't kidding. Super creamy yolk that just ran right into the saucy noodles. Damn.

I nearly squealed with delight when I saw this bottle on the list. Again, Sam is responsible for creating a new obsession in me with this wine.

It is one of the most sensual, luscious, hauntingly sexy wine I've ever experienced. Truly something special.