Category Archives: Lula’s for Lunch

A Nashville Birthday Part 2

Day two of my birthday celebration begins with coffee in bed courtesy of my most wonderful husband Gordon, while Susan and Michael, recently retired, got up at 6AM and waited.  Don’t blame me – they had the schedule beforehand and could have done any number of things.  We scedattled (first time I’ve written this word instead of just speaking it – I don’t believe it really exists)  (wait!  There’s google!  Yes it DOES exist!)  Did anyone see the Google monopoly expose on 60 Minutes last week?  But I digress…  🙂 OK, let’s try this again…

We scedattled off to The Loveless Café, our longest drive the WHOLE trip – of 30 minutes, to this most wonderful old-timey motel that had been turned into a smokehouse, a gift shop, and a restaurant.  Their numerous awards do not lie.  Everybody gets a picture underneath their 1950’s neon sign, lit up day and night.  We chose the cutouts (above).  Everyone was so thrilled with their food – G had catfish for breakfast which we agreed was the best catfish we’ve ever had…I even liked their tartar sauce which was NOT Frisch’s 🙂  … or mine… and I had possibly the best grits I’ve ever had (and my brother agreed).  This is a tough one because I make the best grits I’ve ever had, and many others say the same thing about MINE.  These were plain, not like mine, but their texture was heavenly.  I’ve never had someone else’s grits that did not need butter.  The Loveless is famous for their biscuits, and here I have to depart from the common folk.  Sue me, whip me, call me bad names, but Bojangles “chain” biscuits have them (and everybody else) beat in my book when it comes to biscuits.  Their country ham was to die for.  They age it on premise.  Susan had a pimiento cheese and country ham biscuit which she loved – I tasted it and did not think the pimiento cheese came close to Wallace Station – but that really is a matter of taste.  It’s the “experience” here…do not miss.  Oh!  And the best sweet tea I ever drank!  (Sorry daddy).

After unabashedly sticking our butts out, crouching down into the cutout, and begging some stranger to take our pic, we headed off to Belle Meade – a horse breeding plantation, where to this day most Triple Crown winners owe their bloodline to Bonnie Scotland.  I’ve never sought out plantations north or west of Virginia, but this is one not to be missed.  It contains a Dairy, Train Station, Mill and Blacksmith Shop, Greenhouse, Slave Quarters, and the Horse Sale Barn as well as the “big house” – and the requisite gift shop and ice cream parlor.

They very interestingly had the front parlor set up to show how a wake would be celebrated – to denote all of the premature deaths occurring at that time (cholera, measles, TB, etc) that are completely preventable today.  It is an open wicker bench to lay the body on, with space underneath for a block of ice to hold decay at bay while getting people to the event.  The body is held there for numerous days to insure the person is in fact really dead.  Sometimes they’re just really ill and climb out of it (literally) – this is why it’s called a WAKE!!!  Best piece of information I got all day!!!  Just the sort of gruesomeness that turns me on.

Last but not least, Belle Meade has a winery…we tasted 6 wines and I asked for more so got tastes of two sparklings as well (my favorite, as well as the Vidal Blanc which seems to grow very well in this region and the hands that make the wine are QUITE comfortable with the grape.

This wasn’t enough for us so we headed home to clean up and change for an early dinner at 5th and Taylor – our most hoity toity dinner of the trip.  Really cool digs “warehouse style”, a GREAT glass of Pinot Noir, great service and wonderful food made me pleased with this reservation.  I had two appetizers: Duck Pate and accoutrement, as well as a Tomato Pie.  I didn’t know it would be the size of an individual pan pizza (think Uno’s) – so I had one piece and brought the rest “home” (another great reason to Air B&B!)  Susan had THE BEST Roasted Chicken I’ve ever had EXCEPT Gordon’s.  My brother had a burger that was so damned big he liked his other burger the next night better because it was more “well proportioned”!!

THEN…we Lyfted to The Ryman Auditorium for Larry Gatlin and Friends…who turned out to be Crystal Gayle that night.  She hasn’t lost it.  I’m not very happy with Larry – he did not respond to my request to play “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’” – a song I’ve been in love with since I was 11 years old when it came out.  I highly recommend you U Tube or whatever this song from his early years.  It makes me cry every time I hear it.  The Ryman is a bucket list item I have now crossed off.  Amazing space.  Hallowed ground.  They search everything and both my brother and husband had knives on them – they were REQUIRED to throw them AWAY.  My brother had the presence of mind to hide his on top of a column, Gordon showed his badge and asked that they keep it for him, they said NO.  Not a happy man.  They were a security company vs. Nashville Police so the badge may have done more harm than good??   Regardless…NOT a happy man.  We then made it home, and COLLAPSED.  This might be my favorite day of my birthday trip.

A Nashville Birthday in 5 Parts!

57 is starting out pretty darned well.  An on-time departure on Wednesday 19h put us in Versailles KY after an incredibly lovely “horse farm detour”, for a taste of a restaurant I have been looking forward to for a couple of years.  This might be my favorite day of my “birthday trip” to Nashville – I guess the anticipation of what was to come and our first meal out of the door being fantastic contributed.  Wallace Station did NOT disappoint – GO THERE if you can!  In fact, it’s really not far and worth a drive in the country as its own destination.

Located in an old general store in an old railroad town, Wallace Station served me one of the best sandwiches I have ever had – Hot Country Ham and Pimento Cheese, panini pressed.  I’m pretty finicky about both my ham AND my pimento cheese, so high praise indeed.  My side was Bean Soup with Cornbread.  Of course I make the best cornbread in the world, but this was a close second.   Gordon got a cold sandwich and I’ve gotta tell you I was so into mine that I have no idea what he got, but he loved it.  Next time, if I can resist a re-order, I’ll get the Inside Out Hot Brown.  Don’t expect fancy; and relax about the flies.  Don’t miss their bakery case either – we were too full but had to order a lemon bar (about 5×5”) and a savory scone to go because why not?   These were enjoyed in our fabulous “home” in Nashville’s Germantown a couple of days later, because when we met my brother and his wife lo and behold she had made me a fabulous birthday cake – Butter Pecan Coconut!!  SOooooo moist!  So, lunch at 11, cake at 4, and Skull’s Rainbow Room at 6:30 for some more fabu dinner (swordfish) and jazz.   We’re too freakin’ old to be able to wait or the 11PM Burlesque Show; maybe next time I’ll force some caffeine…. And so the pounds begin.  Tune in next week for day 2.

You Want To Get To The ROOT Of The Matter, Don’t You?

Celery Root, that is!!  Also called Celeriac, this is a variety of celery that is cultivated for its root, not its stalks.  It is NOT the root of the traditional celery stalks you keep in your fridge (you have some on hand at all times for flavoring soups and stews, as well as snacking, right?!?)

Celeriac (pictured above in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s Creamy Pear and Celeriac Soup) has a knobby, dirty, formidable looking root that you will want to peel.  Because it’s starchy, in general you want to pick the smaller of the roots available to you.  The end product will be sweeter.  The more you cook it the sweeter it becomes.  It makes a great, “different” puree when you’re looking for a base for proteins (think parsnip instead of potatoes), and it provides one of those mysterious “what’s IN this?” flavors to sauces, soups and stews.  Now GET IN THAT KITCHEN and try something different!

Do You Have ANY Willpower?!?

In my house there’s very little danger of chips of any kind going stale…but just in case you have more willpower than I do, did you know…storing potato chips in the refrigerator keeps them fresher longer?!?!?!

There are 2 reasons for this:

  1. Refrigerators are a low moisture environment so there’s simply less moisture for the chips to absorb than pantry air.
  2. Potato chips are high in starch content and when starch molecules cool they crystalize to become firm.

If you like handy-dandy tips  like these about once a week from Lula’s Catering  you can subscribe here and we’ll just keep you brimming with food knowledge!!!

Purple Potatoes

These gemlike spuds are about as big as a Ping-Pong ball, but don’t let their size fool you. Purple Potaotes have many times the antioxidant power of their cousins, white and yellow potatoes. Studies have found that the plant pigments that give them their lovely color, called anthocyanins, may improve memory and prevent age-related muddled thinking. Also, their high levels of folate help lower levels of the amino acid homocysteine, which can damage brain cells. Pretty good for such a tiny tater.  Look for them in your produce section – they’re not as hard to get as they used to be!  Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering uses them not only because they’re healthy and beautiful, but because they TASTE so good.  You can see a description of them here  as Banderillas

Heidi Bright, Heidi Bright, Will You Write My Blog Tonight?

Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s Smoked Trout Salad Bites with Mandarin

Once again, my friend and author Heidi Bright (“Thriver Soup”) has offered such a simply written and informative piece that I am compelled to copy:

“Fresh, fragrant mandarins are precious, full of flavor, and full of power.  The magic lies in their peels—which are quite edible and   contain potent anti-cancer properties (see links below).  Also called clementines and tangerines, these citrus fruits are fresh and sitting in grocery stores now.

If you have a high-speed blender, mix two whole mandarins (peel on) with a quarter cup cranberries (at this time of year, try frozen, not the packaged sugary snacks), a little raw honey and/or stevia, a quarter cup raw/soaked-in-salt-water pecans, and coconut butter. Blend. Mmmm! Add chia seeds if desired.  Taste the fragrance, ingest the power.”

I would like to add my two cents worth:  Wash your fruit with a scrubbing sponge and some dishwashing liquid if you intend to eat the skins – even organic can be sprayed with color – which doesn’t taste as good!

Say CHEEEEESE, Please!

I had the pleasure of attending a tasting last week at My Artisano Cheese and boy was I delighted.  Two cheesemakers were there, Ed-Mar Dairy as well as My Artisano, and Britt Hedges of Martin & Company Wines was there to pour lovely pairing wines.

I’m so incredibly excited that our region is getting cheesy!  You can get a private tour or visit on Saturdays at Ed-Mar located in Walton KY, where you can watch the milking robot work and enjoy the healthy free range cows.  I was especially impressed with their Banklick Cream and Maddie’s Gold varieties, and Lula’s for Lunch, and More! Catering will  be picking up some of their special Queso very soon for a Mexican themed event.   You can pick up Ed Mar Cheeses at these retail outlets.

Eduardo Rodriguez, the cheesemaker at My Artisano, is so obviously passionate about his varieties as he lovingly explains his process.  He likes to name his cheese after place – a Blue Ash Airport Runway for his MOST important tasting Grisardo – a washed rind cheese – and Sharon Creek – his brie style cheese that will knock your socks off.  Click here to see where these cheeses can be bought or enjoyed at local restaurants.

I tasted all 3 wine varieties offered with the suggested cheeses, but I kept coming back to a Tempranillo from Ribera del Duero (a region in Spain) called Tamaral Crianza 2011.  I discovered that this gem can be picked up at Country Fresh Farmer’s Market in Anderson!  Yay!  So “Let’s Get Cheezy Wid It”!!

Artie Chokes 2 for a Dollar!

Zucchini and Artichoke Frittata

…and other myths…one of my favorite finger foods, the artichoke, is in season right now, and you needn’t be afraid of it!  Think of the artichoke as your well worth it high maintenance expensive girlfriend (around $2.25 each as one roughly weighs a pound).  But hard?  No.  First, let’s talk about the benefits:

  • Artichokes ROCK when it comes to vitamins and minerals: they have one of the highest total antioxidant levels of any vegetable, as well as folate, magnesium and potassium, and vitamins K & C.
  • Evidence from research shows that artichokes decease cholesterol,  increase probiotic bacteria in the gut,  and help maintain a healthy liver.
  • Artichokes are packed with fiber at more than 10.3 grams per artichoke (the edible part!).
  • You have to eat an artichoke SLOOOOWWWLY.  Need I tell you the health benefits?

Now, let’s talk facts:

  • The artichoke is part of the thistle family – it is simply the bud before it flowers.  See? (this one has flowered obviously)

  • A baby artichoke is not another type of artichoke, it’s just a smaller less mature choke on the same plant down at the bottom.  It is fully edible as it hasn’t developed a choke yet (the only part of the artichoke you can’t eat).
  • The sunchoke has nothing to do with the artichoke; it is part of the sunflower family.

You can find all kinds of recipes that, step by step, will intimidate the crap out of you from acidulation to scissoring the thorns – ignore them.  Do this:  choose artichokes that are green – not purple or bluish – those are overripe.  Take them home, slice them in half lengthwise and steam them for 20 minutes.  Heat your grill while this is happening, and transfer the steamed artichokes to the grill flat side down, for about 15 minutes, then turn over (if there aren’t any grill marks yet your grill isn’t hot enough so keep on grilling on the flat side).  If there ARE grill marks it’s time to lay them awkwardly on the grill on the opposite side for 3-4 minutes till the leaves are charred.  Plate them (1/2 artichoke per person) and either brush them with melted butter, sprinkled with a tiny bit of sea salt (the good kind that have large crystals) on them, maybe some cracked pepper if you’d like.  If you want to be fancier whip up some remoulade for dipping.  Truly, you don’t really need anything.  Just pluck each individual leaf off, put it in your mouth upside down and scrape the flesh from the leaf using your bottom teeth.  Don’t eat the fuzzy choke in between the leaves and the heart though – it’s yucky.  The heart will be your final reward.  The smokey, creamy taste and texture will make you close your eyes and sigh with pleasure.   Now, if you want to pay me to make the frittata you see at the top of the page just let me know!  There are MANY ways that Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering  incorporates artichokes into our menus, including one of our 6, to date, GREEN soups!!!

Eat All You Want and Lose Weight!

Celery does more than serve as a swizzle stick for your glass of tomato juice. The stalks are packed with a plant compound called luteolin, which calms a type of immune cell in the brain and spinal cord that works to keep the brain in good working order. Luteolin is linked to lower rates of age-related memory loss, according to a study reported in the Journal of Nutrition. Because the study was carried out in mice, more research needs to be done to see if the results can be replicated in humans.

Celery also takes more calories to chew and swallow than it contains – which makes it a GREAT diet food.  Unless, if you’re like Lula, you drown it in bleu cheese. 🙂  Celery is a chief component in flavor bases used in several world cuisines – the Latin community calls it Sofrito, the French call it Mire Poix, and southerners call it the Holy Trinity!  Believe it or not it is an ingredient in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering ‘s beauty before you : our Creole Shrimp ‘n Grits!