Lannae's Food and Travel

I hope you like my food and travel blog.

May 27, 2015

Happy Lao New Year

Lao New Year 2015

video

One thing I know for sure, I know that Lao Americans in the Nashville Area know how to ring in the new year!  Lao New Year makes it seem like Lao Americans invented the festival of great food and dance.  The traditional Lao New Year is celebrated over 3 days.  The 1st day is the last day of the year.  The 2nd day is the no-day or the day that is neither last year nor next year.  The 3rd day is the 1st day of the new year.


A quick history of Lao Americans in the Nashville area is that many Lao Americans came here as refugees right after the Vietnam War began.  Individuals and families found their way to Tennessee, and a large population of Lao settled in the southeast of Nashville.  Due to the war and other factors, many Laos came with virtually nothing but the clothes on their back.  Nashville was a good place to settle for many Laos because Nashville is a hard working and family oriented area, and Laos share those qualities as well.  At one point in time (1990s), Lao was the 3rd most spoken language in the Nashville area after English and Spanish. 


There are multiple wats, Lao Buddhist Temples in and around Nashville.  The leadership of the wats cooperate with each other and each wat picks a weekend different from each other, and those are the weekends which Lao New Year is celebrated.  I know of 3 wats in Nashville, and they spread out their celebrations with one every couple of weeks.  The biggest wat is located about 25 miles south of Nashville, and the Lao New Year celebration was the last one in the series of celebrations, and happened over the Memorial Day weekend.


This big celebration included live music, a parade, food, toys, beverages, and dancing.   Some of the food offered at this celebration included grilled squid, squab, chicken, duck, craw fish and pork belly.  There was also sticky rice, fruits, veggies, pho, and noodle dishes to be had.  There were beverages also, and the one I love so much is the fresh sugar cane juice.  The cane is put through a press designed to press cane, and the flat dry cane fiber comes out on one side, and the refreshing juice came out of the spigot on the other side.  I sipped on the juice over ice all afternoon long, and it felt refreshing, energizing, and delightful to my body to drink this juice.


For this celebration, just like many cultures new year celebration, it is meant for family and larger groups to come together, and partake in a meal together in joy and well wishing.  There are lots of tables under tents and a pergola, so guest and revelers can enjoy a celebratory meal.  I got smart this year, and I brought a big shopping bag with tupperware and plastic bags to take home leftovers for later.  I took home with me a couple pounds of Lao style BBQ pork belly, a whole Lao style duck, and a bunch of sticky rice.  These items I cannot make at home, or at least not in the expert way they are made at the New Year celebration.  Next year, I will remember to bring a large wide mouth bottle, so I can take home fresh cane juice.


Happy New Year to my dear Lao American friends!   Thank you for letting me be a part of your circles.  I am forever grateful for you kindness and letting me be a part of your lives.  Let us celebrate New Year next year!  xoxo

March 31, 2015

Iron Fork #8

proceeds benefiting Second Harvest Food Bank


This is one of the funnest food charity events in town.  Not only are there going to be a bunch of restaurants offering delicious tasting plates, there will be delicious beverages to taste as well.  Come hungry and come thirsty!  All the whilst, there will four of the top Nashville Chef's will battle it out to be the 8th Annual Iron Frok Winner.

Get your ticket, and cheer on your favorite:  Last year's champion, Hal Holden-Bache of Lockeland Table defends his title this year, Crystal De Luna-Bogan of The Grilled Cheeserie food truck, Robert Grace of Kayne Prime and Dale Levitski of Sinema.

And, if it wasn't enough for proceeds to go to 2nd Harvest Food Bank, and all the tasting plates you could want to try, and all the beverages you are going to want to taste, your ticket will give you admission to the Musician's Hall of Fame Museum!  Yes, you and all the other guests can go and view the museum all evening during the event!  It is like getting a free ticket for after hours viewing of the entire Hall of Fame!  That is a nice bonus!

It is going to be a tough race for Iron Fork Winner #8!  Get your ticket and enjoy the evening!

March 29, 2015

Bone Broth

It seems like the new big thing in food is "bone broth".  Back in the day, it was just called broth or stock.  Bone broth seems to be the trendy health food now, and some people are paying a lot of money to have their daily drink of bone broth made by someone else.  This is akin to when juicing was all the rage. And before that, protein shakes. There always seems to be the "cure-all" drink du jour. 

The reality is that our grandmas, great grandmas, and great great grandmas probably made broth or stock when they had left over bones from the meat they had at dinner (this practice seems to be universal for most cultures).  Those roasted bones with bits of meat, cartilage and marrow, when simmered with water and aromatic veggies, make a lovely base for soups and stews.  Making the broth really uses all the bone and ingredients to their utmost potential, and does not waste one bit of the animal from which the bones came from.   I am happy that bone broth is the new trend because it one way to really use the livestock animals and not let parts go to waste, and not just throwing out the bones and not re-using the bones. 

This is how I am making bone broth:
1.  Eat the roasted lamb off the lamb bones (These bones are from a City House lamb dish, which I ate the lamb and took home the bones.  The original lamb was a well cared for local lamb from Williamson County 4H).
2.  In a crock pot add the lamb bones, water, onions, carrots, salt, pepper, 1 cayenne, garlic, and a tablespoon of soy sauce.  I got the garlic from the Barefoot Farmer, the cayenne is organic from my garden (and from originally organic heirloom seed) and the water is filtered from my tap.
3.  Turn on the crock pot, low over night.  In the morning, you have luscious bone broth.


 Broth can be made from any roasted bones.  Beef, chicken, duck, goose, pork, lamb, venison, buffalo, ostrich, even roasted shrimp shells and fish bones, can be made into a nice broth.   At one of my favorite Vietnamese cafes, the spicy seafood broth seems to have been simmered with more cayenne than I used, and lemongrass to give the broth a bright lemony aromatic character without the bitterness from the lemon pith.  To have a more Chinese brothy feel, I would use roasted chicken or duck bones, a little ginger, soy sauce, and garlic as my broth base.  A Western European broth would have the classic mirepoix and thyme in the broth.

After my lamb bone broth is done, I am going to use it as an Asian noodle soup broth.  King Market and InterAsian Market both have fresh made udon noodles.  King Market folks actually makes the noodles and are usually available near the cash register.  Fresh udon is so delicious.  InterAsian also has fresh ramen too, in the refrigerated section in the back of the store.   For the soup I make, I usually like adding peas to the soup, maybe some Chinese dumplings (from the frozen food section at King Market or InterAsian Market), and a sunny side up fried egg on top.

My last batch of lamb bone broth I made, I used some for noodle soups during the week, and I froze a pint of broth for later.  I am probably going to use the pint for a stew.  I am not sure yet.  Any suggestions?

March 15, 2015

Chinese Food Adventure

Are you looking for a Chinese Food Adventure in Nashville?  I have a fun dinner club for you!  The Chinese Dining Adventure Club is free to join, and meets every 1st Monday of each month at Lucky Bamboo China Bistro on Upper Charlotte Pike.  It costs $25 per visit and includes a Chef's Choice multi-course dinner, tea, water, tax and tip.  The meal is Chef's Choice, and the dishes are not on the menu, rather they are Chinese regional delicacies that you cannot get anywhere in Nashville.  In past months, the Chinese Dining Adventure Club had themes of Hunan, Schezuan, Malaysian recipes.

All you have to do is email Sallie at SallieMayne1@comcast.net and let Sallie know you want to reserve a seat at the next Chinese Dining Adventure.

The next Chinese Dining Adventure details are:
RSVP to SallieMayne1@comcast.net by April 3rd.
Dinner:  1st Monday April 6 6:00 pm
Where: Lucky Bamboo China Bistro

salliemayne1@comcast.net

A disclaimer, this is a Chef's Choice no restrictions dining experience.  As the flyer says, if you are vegetarian, vegan, celiac, have ingredient restrictions, are a picky eater, THIS IS NOT for you.  There will be no special requests or restrictions at any of the meals.  If all you want is just the same old General Tso's Chicken, Hunan Beef, or Sweet and Sour Pork,  you can go to almost any other Chinese restaurant for that, and you will not get that here at the Chinese Dining Adventure Club. 

If you are adventurous, and willing to try authentic Southeast Asian dishes you cannot get anywhere else in Nashville, this is perfect for you.  If you are open to a Chef's Choice experience, give this dining experience a shot. 

I have been to past dinners, and the food has been really good.  A couple months ago, in the height of winter cold, of of Chef's courses was a winter melon soup with seafood, and it was a big hit.  A winter melon is a large green gourd with white lightly flavored flesh inside.  The flesh is chunked up and combined with vegetables and seafood to make a a light brothy soup that is perfect for a winter's day.  Winter melon soup is anecdotally is considered a soup that helps stave off common colds, akin to chicken soup.  The most recent meal was a nod to Schezuan hot and spicy dishes.  One of my favorite dishes was a mung bean noodle, fish and vegetable dish seared in hot chili oil.  The Schezuan chili oil made my brow sweat from the heat, the savory flavors of the fish and vegetables was inviting, and the toothy texture of the mung bean noodles made me want to go back for more.

This is a fun food adventure for true adventurous eaters.  Hope to see you on 1st Monday in April!  RSVP to Sallie and let her know if you are coming!




March 12, 2015

37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario, Canada After Planting Large GMO Corn Field

37 Million Bees Found Dead In Ontario, Canada After Planting Large GMO Corn Field

March 6, 2015

TN Flavors Yummy!


Taste all the best restaurants and libations in the Nashville Area
Thursday March 12, 2015
5:30 -8:30pm
Nashville State Community College
White Bridge Road, Nashville, TN

To get tickets ($50-$150) visit TNFlavors.org
 your ticket benefits scholarships and equipment for the 
NSCC Culinary School Program

This is one of my favorite events like this in town.  There will be over 80 tasting tables set up including some of my favorite restaurants and caterers (City House, Cork and Cow, The Corner Market, Yellow Porch, Pucketts, Margot and Mason's at the Lowe's Vanderbilt to name a few).  There will be a bunch of local libations to taste as well (Prichards, Jack Daniels, Yazoo, and Corsair to name a few of my favorites). 

Get your tickets, come hungry and thirsty.  There is plenty PLENTY of free parking in the back of NSCC.  Also, NSCC is fairly centrally located, so cab, Lyft, Uber and other ride shares are fairly cheap from downtown Nashville.  For those of you who want to take the bus from Downtown Nashville, it is Route 3 that starts at Bay 5 in the Center City Terminal. Checkout the bus route schedule here.

February 18, 2015

Bailey's Meows and Barks




Are you and your critters feeling a little cabin fever after the ice and snow storms that have hit Nashville?  Well, do I have a good deal for you, while you get out of the house.  Bailey's Downtown Nashville is partnering with the Nashville Humane Association on February 25th, when Bailey's will donate 10% of sales to the Nashville Humane Association


That is not all!  If you go to Bailey's on February 25th between 6 pm- 9 pm, you will get to sample some of Bailey's specialty dishes including Greek hummus, drunken chicken tenders, tavern wings, Napa spinach salad, and Black Forest sliders.  This deal gets even better, Bailey's is offering $2 draft beer, and $4 specialty drinks including Irish 'Rita, twisted bitter, strawberry blonde and MORE!

Get out of the house, go downtown, have some fun, and have some good fun food and drink to benefit pets waiting for homes at the Nashville Humane Association!  Here is the summary  of the details:

Where:  Bailey's Downtown Nashville, 408 Broadway
When: Wednesday February 25th
Food Sampling and Drink Specials: 6-9 pm
What: Bailey's is donating 10% of sales (from all day)
to the Nashville Humane Association


February 15, 2015

VN Pho


condiment plate
VN Pho and Deli is located in a little strip mall, which is perpendicular to Charlotte Pike, rather than running parallel to Charlotte Pike.  You can't see the VN sign while driving east on Charlotte Pike, but you can while driving west from White Bridge Road.  If you are driving west from the White Bridge Road direction, VN is on the right hand side of Charlotte Pike, right before Charlotte Pike turns from 4 lanes to 2.  VN is across the street (Charlotte Pike) from the shopping plaza with Lucky Bamboo, Kien Giang, the K&S Market and the big green Storage sign.  VN is a little hard to find the first time there.

#13 spicy pho
VN Pho and Deli is a small Vietnamese restaurant, maybe 8-10 tables, and is owned by a really nice family originally from Vietnam, with a Southern Hospitality demeanor.  I have become somewhat of a regular here.  When I see friends in the areea, or shop in the Upper Charlotte Pike area, I usually stop in for lunch or dinner at VN.  Because of their Southern Hospitality, I get greeted with the sweetest, "Hello Darling! How many are with you today?"  I love being called Darling, it makes me feel special, and it causes me to smile :). 

#12 bun
Being a bit of a creature of habit, I have been getting the same things over and over at VN.  I get the fresh spring rolls (not the fried ones), bun with charred pork and egg roll, and spicy pho.  The fresh spring rolls come with a homemade peanut, coconut, hoisin dipping sauce which is delightful.  The bun (rice noodles) #12 is my favorite.  It is rice noodles over lettuce, and topped with pickled root veggies (carrot and daikon), egg roll and char-grilled (char siu) pork.  The pork is marinated with a house made marinade, which I cannot decipher specifically.  Most other restaurants in town who serve a char siu style pork, use a pre-packaged red flavor packet (fake chemical flavoring) to make marinate and make the pork.  Not at VN, VN makes their own marinade, and makes the best char siu pork in this town (IMHO).    And the spicy soup #13 is served with or without a pork foot.  We order without.  But, for those hipsters who are into "bone broth", this is the original Vietnamese style spicy bone broth soup.  The broth is slowly made from bones and bits of meat on the bone, and cartilage that slowly lets go of its thickening and flavoring qualities to the broth.  The broth has absolutely no fake flavor enhancers (unlike overly processed foods), so it is smooth and delicate.   As I do sometimes, I want to add a little heat to my meal.  Here, there is a house made chili oil made with oil steep lemongrass and cayenne, and it is outstanding, and I really cannot get enough of it.  The chili oil sits on the condiment plate in little glass jar with a little spoon and silver cover on it.  If you can take a little heat in your food, take a few drops of this chili oil with your meal.  You will not regret it.

VN is open everyday for lunch and dinner, except Tuesdays.  VN is open until 9 pm during the week, 8 pm Sundays.  The kitchen closes a little before closing time, so I suggest for the late eaters, go at least 1/2 hour before closing time.  So for Sunday, get there by 7:30 pm, and during the week get there by 8:30 pm.

VN Pho & Deli on Urbanspoon

January 2, 2015

What is old is new

Happy New Year!
 May you find delicious and healthy food in 2015!
 

To usher out the old and bring in the new,  I decided to make a a fermented salsa verde, which uses new ingredients until they are old.


I fermented chunks of tomatillos, jalapenos, garlic and onion to pickle them for a week, and then put the jars in the fridge.  Fermented veggies can keep for a long time, years in fact.


Then when I am ready to serve the salsa, I whirl up a jar of the fermented chunks of goodness in a food processor, and then stir in a ripe avocado.


The result is outstanding.  It is so delicious, that I want to lick the bowl.

December 3, 2014

Hot Tamale Capital

Greenville, MS is the Hot Tamale Capital of the World. 




Greenville, MS is a little sleepy Delta town next to the river, but in October every year, Greenville, MS is transformed into the Hot Tamale Capital of World!  Activities include literacy fundraising dinner, cocktail celebration, and all day street festival.  At the street festival, there are all sorts of arts and crafts vendors selling gifts and trinkets, lots of Delta Blues music, and there are the Hot Tamale competitors and their booths with their own hot tamales.


There were over 40 Hot Tamale competitors from all over the Delta, including home cooks, caterers, restaurant owners, and hot tamale enthusiasts competing for the title of Hot Tamale Grand Champion.  There were over 10,000 visitors coming into this little town of Greenville, MS to taste and judge for themselves, who should be Hot Tamale Grand Champion.


And this year's Grand Champion, for a second  year in a row: Jodie's Hot Tamales by Hattie Johnson from Greenville, MS.  Jodie is Ms Hattie's lovely daughter, and this home business is named after young Jodie Johnson.  Hattie's hot tamales during the year are by phone order only, and you take them home and steam them when you get home.  I conducted a poll of a bunch of locals, young and old, and from all parts of Greenville, and they all say Jodie's is where they call to get their tamale fix during the year.  Everyone from Greenville says Jodie's is their favorite.   


I took a dozen of Jodie's tamales home to try these beauties for myself.  The are spice ground beef surrounded by corn meal and wrapped in a corn husk.  They are bundled 6 tamales to batch, and that is a perfect size for a meal.  The ground beef is ground to a small diameter similar to the cornmeal. The texture is smoother than what we think of as a Central American style tamale, the texture is like polenta all the way through.  The way these tamales are constructed, it is hard to tell where the spiced meat ends and the spiced cornmeal begins.  It is a cohesive dish, that combines the ingredients to make one distinct dish.  The spices are more of a traditional American chili flavor, but that is the big secret spice mix Hattie makes.  I am guessing there may be paprika, chili peppers, garlic powder, onion powder, salt and pepper, and probably more spicy goodness in the spice mix.  When I ate steamed and ate 6 of Jodie's tamales, I kept 6 frozen for later.  These little gems are so tasty, spicy, and wonderful, that I thought I made a mistake of only buying 12.  My next trip to Greenville, MS, I am taking a completely empty cooler, and buying multiple dozens to take home. 


The history of the Southern Hot Tamale is actually unknown.  This style of tamale has been around for over 100 years in the Delta.  It is thought that Mexican laborers working in the Delta brought their tamale expertise and shared it with their other laboring co-workers including African Americans, Lebanese, Italians, etc.  Folks thought this was a great way to stretch their meat budget my mixing in the much cheaper and abundant cornmeal in with the meat.  And with a variety of spice traditions, the Southern Hot Tamale was born.  


I love this Southern Hot Tamale Festival.  I am already planning on attending next year, when the City of Greenville, MS announces the dates.  I can't wait.  I long for the delicious flavor, texture and tradition.  See ya in October 2015!