Thursday, January 14th, 2010

Mochi is a glutenous/sticky Japanese rice cake. It is traditionally served in Japan around the Japanese New Year. It is used for sweets and ice cream but also served with soup and other dishes.

How it’s made according to the all knowing Wikipedia:

Mochitsuki is the traditional mochi-pounding ceremony in Japan.

  1. Polished glutinous rice is soaked overnight and cooked.
  2. The cooked rice is pounded with wooden mallets (kine) in a traditional mortar (usu). Two people will alternate the work, one pounding and the other turning and wetting the mochi. They must keep a steady rhythm or they may accidentally injure one another with the heavy kine.
  3. The sticky mass is then formed into various shapes (usually a sphere or cube).

Check out this:

And this super fast mochi making that is also on the Mochi Ice Cream site:

A Birthday Dinner

Wednesday, January 13th, 2010

On January 4th we went to Matsuhisa for my Mom’s birthday dinner. There were 4 of us and we probably had about 12 dishes between us all. Everything was pretty amazing. One of the most unique combinations was asparagus tips with a hollandaise sauce and salmon eggs. Fish eggs have become my favorite food this winter. The hollandaise was not too thick so all the textures combined just perfectly. My 2 favorites though were the oysters and the Mochi ice cream.

We ordered a half dozen of oysters, they never told us what kind they were, but they were amazing. This one had a cilantro leaf, lime juice, and touch of sriracha. The red/pink in the background is a Japanese peach. It was delicious.

Then came the house made Mochi Ice Cream. More on Mochi in the next post. I’ve only recently discovered this amazing food item. You can buy loads of different Mochi at Sunrise here in Knoxville and Nama serves it sometimes for dessert. Yum. This was mango and vanilla.

Southern Foodways Alliance

Monday, January 11th, 2010

In my previous post I linked to the Southern Foodways Alliance site. I learned about them years ago when my dad was involved in food-writing. His area of specialty was Appalachian food. On Saturday I was lucky enough to attend their annual fundraiser dinner at Blackberry Farm. Blackberry hosts the SFA and attendees for the weekend but we were only able to make the dinner.

The dinner is the culmination of the weekend and featured 6 course featuring the hottest Southern chefs: John Sheilds, Adam Cooke, Ashley Christensen, Joe Truex, Edward Lee, Karen Urie Shields. Each course was extravagant and layered in it’s complexity. There was Smoked Steelhead Roe in a Scrambled Egg Mousse. There was a Braised Pork Shoulder served with a Wild Boar Chop. There was Carolina Gold Rice with Wild Snails that was part of a duck dish. But the course that was the most amazing, in my mind all the parts worked together to make a whole dish was a Rabbit Sausage with Cider Braised Collards and Caramelized Apple. The Rabbit Sausage was served sausage patty style but it was thick and light. The greens had a bit of a spicy bite to them at the end. It was a perfect dish.

SFA is a great group to support and get involved in. Check out their site:

Knoxville Food Finds

Tuesday, December 22nd, 2009

Here’s a round up of Knoxville Food Finds from some local eaters.

Anna Bogle:
I discovered Aroma Cafe – Cuban restaurant in Eagleton Village (between Vestal and Maryville) – they have ridiculously good Cuban snadwiches, Tostones, and Papas Rellenos.

Aroma Cafe
2570 East Broadway Ave

Eagleton Village, TN 37804
(865) 982-4933

Katie Ries:
Super Asian Market on Sutherland. I’ll go there just to look at packaging.

Oriental Super Mart
3800 Sutherland Avenue, Knoxville, TN

(865) 588-9411

Kevin Clark:
This is random but the first thing off the top of my head is about my love of philly cheesesteak sandwiches.  oddly enough, the best i’ve found in town is at Holy Land Market.  add jalepenos and you have my favorite sandwich in town.

Holy Land Market
3609 Sutherland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37919-4309
(865) 525-4659

Joseph Lenn:
Favorite places in K-town…. Butler and Bailey for quality meats and Hong Kong house is one of my favorites for real Chinese food.

Butler and Bailey Market
7513 South Northshore Drive
Knoxville, TN 37919-8002
(865) 691-8881

Hong Kong House
8079 Kingston Pike # X
Knoxville, TN 37919-3909
(865) 670-8819

Charlie Jennings:
My favorite restaurant is by far the Northshore Brasserie.  I don’t think many people know about it due to location / lack of advertising. I like the Yacht Club for cheap & dirty beer.

Northshore Brasserie
9430 South Northshore Drive
Knoxville, TN 37922
(865) 539-5188

Fort Sanders Yacht Club
721 South 17th Street
Knoxville, TN 37916-2403
(865) 673-3500

Sarah Bush
Let’s see, Holy Land Grocery, I Love New York Pizza, and the fried green tomato cart lady in front of AmVets- if she is still there.

I Love NY Pizza
6518 Chapman Highway
knoxville, TN 37920
(865) 577-9191

Jesse and Lauren Wagner:
Full Service BBQ in Maryville and Ali Baba’s.

Full Service BBQ

113 South Washington Street
Maryville, TN 37804
(865) 981-4414

Ali Baba
8361 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37919-5450
(865) 693-1446

Comfort Food

Thursday, December 3rd, 2009

About 5 years ago I took a year off. The travels began in February in Paris where it snowed for the first time in 15 years. It was cold, I had a big sleeping bag of a jacket looking as unfashionable as you can in the most fashionable city in the world. I was warm though. Walking the streets of a somewhat recently internationalized Paris, I found an amazing Japanese Ramen restaurant. I had to talk myself out of going everyday, it was instant warmth when you walked in. The steam from all the noodles, the small space, the bustling. Japanese noodles became my new comfort food.

Last night in was getting cold, it was late, and we at Mockingbird headquarters were hungry. Japanese noodles, chicken broth, a poached egg, and an old standby cornbread did just the trick. It was full on comfort.

comfort food

Maldon Sea Salt

Wednesday, November 18th, 2009

Every Thanksgiving it seems my Dad and I get into an argument about salt and how it tastes. He says salt, is salt, is salt. It all tastes the same. Every year we do a tasted test because I have no less than 6 different kinds of salt at my house right now, and every year he admits that different salt does indeed taste differently. For a while I was obsessing over pink Himalayan but now I’ve discovered Maldon Sea Salt. It’s a British salt and is flaky and salty and wonderful. You can eat the flakes by themselves it is so utterly perfect.


According to the press section on Maldon’s excellent website (

“Maldon Salt relies on the favourable conditions which have given east coast sea salt its unique flavour for centuries. The pyramid-shaped salt crystals, characteristics of Maldon Salt, are soft and fragile enough to crumble easily between the fingers.

Product quality is excellent, the production process is based on traditional salt-making techniques which date back almost two thousand years, but uses modern technology to ensure the highest levels of quality and consistency.

Since 1973 Tidman’s range of salt products has been marketed by the Maldon Crystal Salt Company. Tidman’s range of bath, table, sea and rock salts is sold alongside Maldon Salt in supermarkets, delicatessens, chemists and health food shops all over the world.

The Maldon Crystal Salt Co. is now in the capable hands of the fourth generation of the Osborne Family, and has occupied the same site on the banks of the River Blackwater since 1882. Recently the Company has expanded into new premises where packaging, distribution and administration takes place, enabling additional salt pans on the original site, increasing productivity.”

You can find Maldon Sea Salt at the Fresh Market for about $4.00. There’s a lot of salt in there.