Sunday, January 30, 2011


I've been thinking a lot about food lately......Oh who am I kidding? I think about food all day everyday. But particularly I've been thinking about food segregation. When I hear or see discussion of vegan this or vegan that I want to vomit. In my opinion there is nothing more hollow or soul crushing as veganism. Vegans seem mirthless & sallow to me.

Yet last week I cooked a lentil stew that was vegan if not for the parmiggiano that I grated over the top. Not once did I stop & think "hey, I'm going to eat vegan this week." or "hey what a great vegan stew."

Tomorrow we are going to Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen for their vegetarian No Menu Monday. All I'm excited about is getting some outstandingly delicious food. The fact that it's vegetarian is an afterthought to me. I love dining there & know without a doubt I'm going to enjoy my meal greatly tomorrow.

I realized that it's the labels I have a problem with. That & the pigeon holing that people subject themselves to. No one should ever define themselves by how they eat. Now of course that is entirely different than making positive choices to eat food that is better for you & better for the environment. What I mean to say is that defining your personality as "vegan" or "vegetarian" or "porkaholic" is the same as simply defining yourself as gay or straight. Each & every one of us is so much more than that. Sure, sharing your ideas on food, what you cook, what you eat is exciting & fun & sort of political but it shouldn't define who you are.

Sunday, January 23, 2011

Happy Cassoulet!

Our friends Jeff & Kristi invited us over for a night of cassoulet, pate, cheeses & other culinary delights. Winter in Memphis is the perfect time for such a rich hearty dish. When we arrived they greeted us with J Cuvee 20 Brut. Nothing better than beginning with bubbles! The pate were rich, succulent & earthy & a perfect match with the J. The bubbly cut through the pate like a razor blade.

Our night's lineup is as follows

The Cristom 2005 Syrah was gorgeous. Earthy, resiny with this beautiful preserved mandarin pell note. The hint of smoke & meaty quality really made this a truly sensual wine.

Chateau Lafon du Berger is a Bordeaux house that I've never had before so I was excited to try it. Bordeaux is a region that I've not explored much & I know I need to. The thing is I've just been kind of bored by Bordeaux. However, this bottle was gripping & full of finesse with an underlying power & grace. Quite tasty.

Bunnell Family Cellar "Vif" 2006 is from one of my favorite producers & from one of my favorite regions. This Chateauneuf du Pape style wine was smooth, luscious, round, earthy, spicy & quite unique.

Mollydooker Two Left Feet is a big, brash Aussie wine & it's no secret that this region is not one that I drink from often. Every wine has it's place right? The bold sweet fruit was quite delicious with Kristi's outrageously delicious chocolate dessert. Those things were insanely tasty & I could have shoveled in handfuls of them.

This little beauty has been tucked in the back of my cellar for a number of years & every time I see it I start to drool a bit. I thought this was the perfect time to pop it open. With Kristi's chocolates it absolutely sung. There isn't much ice Cabernet franc out there so when I saw it years ago I knew I had to have it. Filled with dark fruit, nectar, dark floral blossoms, honey & nuttiness.

Perfect end to a perfect meal. Thanks Jeff & Kristi!

Thursday, January 20, 2011

A Year in Tastes pt 5

This gorgeous bottle, but crappy picture, is a lovely Bordeaux style blend from fellow Tennessean Christian Sparkman. Christian & Kelly Sparkman are rising stars in the wine world & produce very expressive & bold wines from some of the best vineyards in Washington.

California does produce quite nice wine. Even I, the Pacific Northwest freak, have to admit that. However, the quality for what you pay is not on the same level as Oregon & Washington. This bad boy is pushing $65 & is absolutely delicious....however is it worth $65? I'll let y'all be the judge.

This was one of my favorite finds of 2010. Arneis has been one of my go to "unique & interesting" wines for awhile but this Seriously, it's outstanding. Bright, crisp acidity, citrus & stone fruit with a hint of herb & marzipan. Out of this world. Thank you Currado Family for producing one of my favorites.

Three friends brought three bottles. That's usually how it goes. These three, killer. Totally killer. A Barolo with some age on it is like no other. Incredibly expressive & sensual. Dolcetto "the little sweet one" is usually pleasant, but this one was more than just pleasant. It had a ballsy grip that some dolcettos just lack. Ponzi, my dear Ponzi rosato. What is there to say that I haven't already said? I can't wait for summer to roll around so I can get my hands on some more.

My Delicious Memphis

I love Memphis for a number of reasons but one that is near the top of the list is how food obsessed this city is. Last week I had a conversation with my friend Joe & it was entirely about food. What he just cooked in the kitchen at Tsunami & what he was going to be cooking at a underground dinner in the Spring. I haven't been able to stop thinking about this conversation because it made me think about how we all talk about food here in Memphis. We talk about what we just ate, we talk about what we want to eat, we talk about what we are cooking or want to cook, & we wax poetic about what we are eating. Or sometimes we just make guttural noises or say "" while we are tucking into whats in front of us.

Monday, January 10, 2011

At The Table in G'town

It takes a lot for me to leave Midtown Memphis. Seriously. I just don't do it. My friend Brandon Eubanks is a personal chef & has been asking me to come to dinner at he & his partner's house for awhile. However, its outside of Midtown kind of took awhile.

Last week I took the long drive out to Germantown for dinner. I'm glad I did. He threatened me with braised beef shortribs to get me out there & boy did he deliver. Gaze upon this delicious plate.

The ribs were braised beautifully, with lovely texture, nice toothsomeness & a rich unctuousness. Brandon reduced the sauce perfectly so it coated the ribs & orzo. "What's the unique spice in the sauce?" "Cinnamon," Brandon said. Very cool. I love spices like cinnamon that are typically thought of as being used in baking sweets. When implemented into a savory dish cinnamon can really be delicious in addition to being that flavor profile that can make the diner go "hmmm, what IS that?"

Lovely dinner. It was worth driving to G'town.

Wednesday, January 05, 2011

A Sneak Peek at ACRE Restaurant

Arguably the most anticipated restaurant openings of the year has to be ACRE, Chef Wally Joe's new restaurant. Wally's food is so unique, so inspired & absolutely delicious. He has without a doubt garnered a following in Memphis as well as national clout. There is a coterie of people that are hounding him on a constant basis "when are you opening?" "when are you opening?"!! That is a testament to the man himself.

This afternoon Chef Wally Joe showed Kelly & I inside the building & behind the construction plastic. As we perused the space he talked us through the restaurant design & lay out. Outside in the back tucked between the parking lot & the showcase dining room will be a hidden oasis patio laid in stone nestled adjacent to what looked to be a dry stream bed & amongst tall trees. I instantly imagined myself sipping on delicious cocktails at a table right in the corner with friends.

We went back in the building through the kitchen & sounds of knives, searing pans & kitchen clatter began to ring in my ears. Its as if I could see a brigade of cooks preparing what will be some of the best food in town. We walked out the kitchen & passed a large private dining room big enough for 12-14 people. The side dining room will have a cozy fireplace & plush round banquette tables for diners to get comfortable in. When we walked into what is slated to be the main dining room I was in awe. The space is big! Tall ceilings, rough hewn wooden walls, tons of natural light & an insane amount of windows to gaze out of.

The small bar area will seat a few people at the bar itself along with tall tables to grab a bite & a quick drink at. The cocktail list is sure to impress & make people want to sample their way through it.

Even though the space is still being worked on I could see every detail that Chef Wally Joe was describing.

I can't wait for it to open!