Archive for February, 2011

Paul’s Diner

Wednesday, February 23rd, 2011

On our way home from Greensboro we decided to take a detour through Cherokee to check out Paul’s Diner. I’d seen a segment about it on PBS and then saw someone tweet about it. Located right near the main amphitheater the diner has regular diner fare but also a section with some house specialties.

Even at 2:30 on a Sunday the place was half full. There is a specials board when you walk in and 2 jumped out: a hind leg of RABBIT (!) and fry bread pizza. We had heard about the fry bread specialties. Despite my heartfelt love of rabbit I decided 2:30 on a Sunday maybe wasn’t the time.

So we went with fry bread tacos. Fry bread, bean and meat chili, cheese, tomatoes, white onions, lettuce, and salsa. I really enjoyed eating this while eating it. The fry bread stayed crispy on the edges and was sweet. The savory items did not over power this, however, it they didn’t really balance out the way you want a sweet/savory combination to balance. After I finished I kind of thought, “that was great but I may not ever need to partake in that again.”

Check it out if you’re nearby:
1111 Tsali Blvd
Cherokee, NC 28719
(828) 497-9012

North Carolina Eating

Tuesday, February 22nd, 2011

This weekend we were in Greensboro, North Carolina basically eating with a little family visiting on the side!

Saturday we started the morning off with Chicken Biscuits from Biscuitville, a mostly North Carolina chain. It’s still family owned and according to their website: “On average, the company goes through 28,600 pounds of flour; 4,000 pounds of country ham; 11,500 pounds of sausage and 9,500 pounds of bacon every week.” Pretty impressive.

I love chicken biscuits. So. Much. And these were better than most. The chicken breast was pretty big and had a little kick to the batter. The biscuit was spectacular. I wanted about 4 more biscuits afterwords, or at least one with butter and honey.

Next stop, Stamey’s BBQ for lunch. Another thing I love, the vinegar based North Carolina style BBQ. Given my propensity to pickle everything vinegar sauce on my meat is pretty great heavenly. At the right you are looking at slaw (no mayo, only the vinegar BBQ sauce and other seasoning), crazy hushpuppies that look like fingerling potatoes, sliced pork and chicken.

After stuffing ourselves at lunch we took a wee break before dinner at my aunt Liz’s house.  She’s one of those incredible cooks that knows it’s all about ingredients. We had pizzas baked in the oven on her pizza stones with venison sausage that my uncle Joe made from a deer he shot and salad with early greens from her garden. Perfect, perfect, perfect.

Gleaning/Urban Land Scouts

Monday, February 14th, 2011

Katie Ries began Urban Land Scouts as her MFA thesis show in 2010. The project is an inspiring combination of art, food, and urban life. Katie is spending a year working at Beardsley Community Farm and continues the Urban Land Scout project. She will also be tending the Bonnaroo Victory Garden.

If you are interesting in learning more, there is a series of free Urban Land Scout workshops at CAC Beardsley Community Farm every Wednesday from 5-7 pm beginning on March 23rd and ending May 25th. The Level Four Workshop: Wild Edibles will be on April 13th. We will be joined by master forager and gardener, Jeff Ross of Blackberry Farm, and learning about some of the wild edibles growing in our city.

how did you become interested in gleaning?
I probably first learned about gleaning in Sunday school growing up in Nashville. (The Lord lays out gleaning as a rule for Hebrew farmers in Leviticus…in case you were wondering.) I returned to the idea as I was preparing for an art show and thinking a lot about land, economy, and the tensions between the ideals and practices of the various local and sustainable food movements. I later decided to host Gleaning Tours in which we would gather to scour urban neighborhoods for dropped fruit, nuts, and wild edibles. After the Gleaning Tours I started thinking that in addition to foraging in town, we could be laying the groundwork for future gleaning by planting edible perennials and trees in public and common spaces.

what is gleaning?
Traditionally gleaning is the practice of allowing the “poor and alien” to pass through harvested fields and collect what remains. It shows up in the Torah as well as the Quaran and is a pretty radical idea of how landed and landless people should interact. There are many  farms today that let gleaning groups come through post-harvest and collect food for food pantries, but  a more apt parallel for contemporary gleaning might be dumpster diving.  I think I should also distinguish between gleaning and foraging.  The Gleaning Tours could more accurately be called Foraging Tours in that we did not pick through farm land, but instead looked for what we can find in the urban wild. Most of the people who came on the tour were educated, middle-to-upper class white people–not typically the “poor and alien” as they are described in Leviticus– and I used the term Gleaning to raise questions about the social and environmental obligation that we have as privileged “landowners.”

what is your favorite meal or dish from gleaned items?
I made a great pear sauce this fall from pears I collected on 3rd avenue. I stirred it into plain yogurt with pecans from a friend’s tree. I also tried to make chestnut butter from foraged and roasted chestnuts, but it wasn’t quite what I had in mind. Might try that again later.

you have told me you don’t like to cook but you do have a very distinctive and interesting relationship with food. can you describe that?
While I can follow a recipe, I am not very confident in the creative aspects of cooking. I think I’m also a lazy modern person who waits until she’s very hungry before she starts thinking about what to eat and then wants food immediately. I think that’s the tension between my slow-foodie impulses and my contemporary life: I want the quality of slow-roasted/home grown/hand made/etc. without always being willing to commit the time, energy, or money necessary to enable that quality.

best/most random gleaned food item?
Chicory root! It has a beautiful chocolaty smell when roasted and is powerfully bitter. One of the Gleaning Tourists pointed it out as we toured 4th and Gill and now I see it everywhere. That pleasure of discovery and recognition is a big part of the appeal of foraging for me. I think it builds a new intimacy with land that typically doesn’t inspire the same kind of sublime feelings you might have in, say, the Smokey Mountains or at the ocean.

most unexpected edible you know about?
What’s unexpected is how many urban “weeds” are edible. Robert Birkholz wowed me when he fried dandelion heads on the stem. I’m excited to try making dandelion wine this spring. Booze from my yard? Hell yeah.

BaconFest Dates 2011!

Thursday, February 10th, 2011

We are excited to announce BaconFest will be September 16 and 17, 2011. Mockingbird, Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham, and Blackberry Farm will bring you all a weekend packed with bacon and general pork goodness. Stay tuned for more details, festival tickets, and surprises!

We’ll be working in the coming weeks on the website and securing the schedule. So stay tuned. The best place to find out info will be here, the BaconFest site, and the Mockingbird mailing list. If you haven’t signed up for that now’s a great time at the Mockingbird home page.


Tuesday, February 8th, 2011

We’ll be mixing up Negroni’s at the Public House on Thursday. This is one of my all time favorite classics. Like most of the classics it is easier than pie but rarely is it executed properly. There are a number of twists and turns you can take with a Negroni, a few dashes of bitters, a blood orange or meyer lemon twist, a little splash of champagne.

Campari is an Italian bitter. I first tasted it in Venice. They serve it as a spritzer at all the little walk up bars for very cheap. I drank it and wasn’t really sure how I felt about it but it seemed like the thing to do. Once I moved to Knoxville I started drinking Campari more regularly. I now love it. It’s one of the few spirits I drink year round.

The biggest thing to remember is don’t alter the proportions of the ingredients. This, as Gary Regan notes in The Joy of Mixology, “…is absolutely necessary to achieve perfection.”

1.5 oz gin
1.5 oz Campari
1.5 oz Sweet Vermouth
a few dashes of Bitter Truth Aromatic bitters

Pour all the ingredients over ice. Stir with a bar spoon. Serve. Smile.

Fresh Chutneys

Monday, February 7th, 2011

The quickest way to serve something pretty awesome? Make a fresh chutney. There are loads of recipes out there. On Friday for our office open house I made the following. Adapted from Mangoes & Curry Leaves, one of my favorite go to books.

Process the following in a food processor or blender (if using a blender you may need to do this in 2 batches):
2 cups cilantro
1 serrano chile not seeded
1/2 cup raw almonds
1 teaspoon of sugar
Juice of half a lemon
1/2 teaspoon of cumin
salt to taste

Now the fun part is how you serve these. Of course the go to, crackers or pita or french bread slices. Lately I’ve been trying to think of ways that avoid the carbs and add more color. It’s gray and brown everywhere, we all need a little extra color! So on Friday I sliced carrot rounds and soaked them in a salt brine for a few hours. The brine not only preserves and brightens the color but it also adds a little salty flavor to the carrots making them even more like potato chips!

Additional adaptations: parsley instead of cilantro, a fresh spice blend, peanuts or cashews instead of almonds, cucumber slices, celery sticks, add a little sesame oil if you want it to be a little richer. At a certain point this morphs into pesto or a salsa!

The Hemingway Daiquiri

Tuesday, February 1st, 2011

This drink looks amazing. I’ve been craving grapefruit anything the past couple weeks…feels like summer but only in the winter! Come on down to The Public House and try it. We’ll all pretend we’re on a tropical isle together. Again, from  Speakeasy.

1 3/4 oz 10 Cane Rum
3/4 oz Luxardo maraschino liqueur
1 oz fresh lime juice
3/4 oz fresh grapefruit juice
1/4 oz simple syrup

Pour the rum, liqueur, juices, and syrup into a mixing glass. Add ice and shake vigorously. Strain into a cocktail glass.