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NashVegas

29 Mar

The Best Bites in Music City

I recently had the wonderful opportunity to visit some friends who live in the Nashville area.  I had  heard many things about Nashville, most of which focused on the gold and glitter of twangy country music.  I was pleasantly surprised by the newly established indie rock wave that has set up there.  It’s given Nashville much more of an Austin vibe.

While there, our group was treated to some really amazing restaurant experiences!  I recognized some of our stops from Guy Fieri’s Drive-Ins, Divers and Dives, but all were  unique, tasty and quirky in their own ways.

 

Loveless Cafe

Mama - Rest in Peace! Your Lagacy Continues!

 

The Loveless Cafe is a must for breakfast/brunch.  Family style was definitely the way to go, with unlimited breakfast treats including fresh fruit, biscuits with jam, a variety of meats (bacon, sausage patties, Canadian bacon, etc), grits and – my personal favorite – the hash-brown casserole.  Every bite was incredible, and they are by far the best biscuits around!

 

Smoker Outside? Try a Smoker-Mobile!

 

I was once told that a BBQ joint is not legit unless it has a smoker on the property.  Well, this place has several, including one on wheels!  This is a must for tailgating in this region, for sure.  Martin’s Bar-B-Que Joint lies just outside of Nashville, in Nolensville, TN.  We walked in and the place smelled

redneckpancake

The Redneck Pancake

like home – only sweeter.  I vied for the brisket sandwich with a side of pinto beans and cornbread pancakes (yes, they legitimately look like pancakes!).  Some other highlights from the table included the pulled pork and the redneck pancakes (OMG – WINNING!).  The sides were great; just don’t eat any of the “green bean” looking items in any of the beans.  We were not sure what they were or what they were marinated in, but they were HOT!!!  Beware!  I loved how the signature sauces were sweeter than any Texas BBQ sauce I have ever tried.  They weren’t TOO sweet – just right!  Same thing with the cornbread; there were hints of sweetness compacted with the spicy jalapeno flavors.

 

If visiting Martin’s, make sure to keep on down the road a bit until you hit an Amish grocery store called the Feed Mill.  They have tons of great take-homes, like their various fruit butters (blackberry was my favorite by far), specialty pickles (mmmm bread and butter!) and honey.

 

Half Priced Wine + Champagne? Yes Please!

As the weekend involved some birthday celebrations, our trip would not be complete with out some fancy food and several bottles of wine.  Enter Rumba Rum Bar and Satay Grill.  Our waiter was tons of

stuffed peppadews

Small Favorite: Peppadews

fun and then some, and kept the wine flowing.  Because we all went there on a Sunday, we were able to enjoy their special of the night: half price bottles of wine and champagne.  FUN.  The menu set up resembled tapas – lots of flavors and interesting fusion.  We tried the flatbreads, tempura green beans, stuffed peppadews (pictures – AMAZING), mussels and fried/grilled artichoke to start.  Round 2?  Sliders, more flatbreads (they are that good), the chorizo burger, the red curry stir fry and the roasted Piedmontese beef tenderloin.  Everything was so good, and no one at our table shied away from sharing.  Sampling great food is the best!

 

All our escapades eating out should not be overshadowed by some amazing homemade pizzas my friend Susan cooked.  Her husband (and birthday boy for the weekend) is originally from Kentucky, and he had some special, spicy sausage which was local to the state of Kentucky to add as a killer topping for one of the pizzas.  Oh yeah, small other tidbit about the sausage pizza: substitute marinara sauce for mashed potatoes.  BOOM!  For the vegetarians in the group (and those observing Lent), Susan provided a roasted veggie pizza, too.

One thing I love about Nashville, aside from being Austin’s doppelganger, is how inexpensive everything is!  Food, beverage, land – everything.  It’s nice!  The weather was gorgeous.  The spread out homes with giant lawns, built upon acres and acres of land were all so pretty.  The attitude there was refreshing, too: very laid back, calm and all about enjoying the space and sounds.  I definitely want to go back soon!

 

Our Group
Eating Out

What a Fun Group to Eat Out With

 

 

Il Formaggio, la Carne & il Vino: Una Boccata

18 Mar

Jimmy’s Food Store: A Dallas Staple

Jimmy's Food Store

I wanted to take the time to pay homage to one of my favorite local spots: Jimmy’s Food Store.  It amazes me every time this locally owned and run Italian grocery store comes up in conversation and so many people pause and say, “Wait, what’s this place?  Where is it?”

Jimmy's Food Store

Jimmy's, Located on the Corner of Bryan and Fitzhugh

Jimmy’s has a rich history in Dallas, starting back in 1966.  Grandpa Jimmy DiCarlo owned a grocery store in South Dallas for over 20 years, and then he and his son (also Jimmy, also owned his own grocery with his wife, Marie) decided to open Jimmy’s Food Store together.  After Grandpa Jimmy’s passing, Father Jimmy recruited his sons, Paul and Michael, to work in the store.  Over the course of its existence, Jimmy’s served as an imports store catering to many different cultures in the community.

Marie DiCarlo

Mama Marie, Rolling Her Infamous Meatballs

It wasn’t until the mid 90’s that the brothers decided to go back to their roots and start featuring Italian products as the focus of the store.  Their mother, Marie, rolled her famous, home-made meatballs, and the boys started stocking the shelves with Italian wines.

Today, while you won’t see Marie rolling her meatballs anymore, her recipes are still in full force.  Upon entering Jimmy’s, you will see hundreds of Italian wines stocked on shelves, fresh produce, home-made pastas and sauces in the refrigerators (I highly recommend their lobster ravioli and tomato vodka sauce), Italian-imported sweets and the famous meat counter in the back where everyone finds their way.  The family still owns Jimmy’s, and nine times out of ten I see Mike when I walk through the door.  The staff is nothing but knowledgeable and helpful when you are trying to pick out the best salami for your dinner party or when you are perusing the wine section, broken down by Italian provinces.  You might be caught off guard by their cheese selection; Jimmy’s offers an array of cheeses to pair with your sausage/salami of choice.

Muffuletta

MMmmMm - Muffuletta

You can also order food from the kitchen.  If you are in the area and happen to be craving a muffulleta, you now know where to go!  It’s to die for!  Stop by on a Saturday for a meatball sub and snag a wine sample (they are always offering tastes of the different regions).  The house-made cannolis are nothing to be joked about.  Order a side of olives to take home with you – you won’t be sorry!

What really makes this spot unique and wonderful is its commitment to staying “local,” as well as its family roots.  So many restaurants in the Dallas area feature meats from Jimmy’s Food Store; you probably have no idea how many!  One of my favorites at Fireside Pies, the Hot n’ Crumbled, features spicy Italian sausage from Jimmy’s meat counter!  Parigi on Oaklawn, Bolsa in the Bishop Arts District, State and Allen in Uptown and Rise n°1 in Inwood Village all feature foods from Jimmy’s as well!  I love the atmosphere when you walk into the store; everyone is so friendly .  I can’t tell you how many dinner parties I’ve planned for and purchased food for there; the guys at the counter are so helpful and always have great tips for serving!  While Central Market might have a more extensive cheese selection, they have nothing on Jimmy’s meat options!

James DiCarlo

James, aka "Father Jimmy," DiCarlo

If you find yourself in the area and planning for dinner, needing something to do on a Saturday afternoon or if you happen to be coming into town to visit friends/family, definitely check out Jimmy’s!  You won’t be disappointed with the experience, the smells, the tastes – anything!  They also offer gift cards which make for excellent stocking stuffers around the holidays or gifts for the culinary savant in your life.

For more information on Jimmy’s Food Store and the history of the family, CLICK HERE.


Tomato Bisque Bliss

10 Feb Tomato Basil and Grilled Mozarrella
Tomato Basil Bisque and Grilled Mozarrella

Tomato Basil Bisque and Grilled Mozarrella

I am still in a soup coma after Tuesday night’s creativity session in the kitchen.  Inspired by a near and dear friend, Katie McKinley, along with Dallas Snowpocalypse Part II, I decided I wanted to make a warm and comforting soup with plenty of leftovers to last throughout the bitter cold remainder of the week.  You say potato, I say tomato.

Legs like spaghetti after Monday night’s spin class with Cindy, there was NO way I was headed back to the gym Tuesday night.  So, I hurried off to the Walmart grocery in Uptown to grab a few delectables for a soup concoction.  Go ahead and check off all materials except the basil for my tomato basil bisque.  Hmm… that won’t do.  Albertson’s? Same story!  Was everyone having the same epiphany on Tuesday night?  Evidently basil sales spiked at 4pm on 2/8/2011.

New flats rubbing my toes wrong told me it was time to head home.  I knew it was time to call in reinforcements.  Coaxing Andy with a free meal, I asked him to help out and swing by Newflower on the way over.  An hour later, poor Andy showed up with cold hands, basil, a ball of the best Mozarrella Company mozarrella (duh?) and a loaf of fresh French bread.  Oh, the plot thickens with extra ingredients, but what’s with the delay?  He had to stop by not only Newflower, but also Whole Foods AND Tom Thumb to actually locate any basil.  Wow – stock up, Dallas.

Tomato Basil and Grilled Mozarrella

Gooey, Melty Mozarrella Grilled Cheese Sandwiches

So, stealing tips from Miss McKinley’s recipe while adding my own love, I created what was possibly the most flavorful and comforting tomato basil bisque.  Andy made tasty mozarrella grilled cheese sandwiches to accompany.  Another revolutionary food movement!  The leftovers might be just as good, too.  MMmMmmmMMMm…

Quick side note: FINALLY heading out to Alma tonight!  Due to the two rounds of aforementioned Snowpocalypse, the opening of Alma had been pushed back.  However, it looks like we will still be enjoying a first taste as they are just now quietly opening to the public.  Sit tight for a review to come!