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!

Game Meat

Did you know that game (venison, boar, etc) are healthier for you than other kinds of meat?  They are much higher in good Omega 3’s and lower in bad Omega 6’s.  In addition, you can eat them with a clear conscience (IF you’re an omnivore, that is!)  knowing for sure they lived well and naturally.  The next time you have an opportunity, open your mind (and mouth) and give them a try. – Lula 

De Arbol Chiles (Cayenne)

Ground Cayenne comes from the De Arbol Chile – which is found in abundance in New Mexico.  I’m currently reading a book about chiles (yes, there are whole BOOKS written about chiles!), and it made me remember a time long ago when I traveled to New Mexico and experienced many things for the first time.  I was so excited about the chile wreaths and decorations they make there that I purchased one and brought it back home to Cincinnati.  I hung it in my catering kitchen.  It was beautiful!  A couple of months later, I noticed what appeared to be “fruit flies” but smaller, one at a time, floating around the house.  A swat here, a swat there, no problem!  But within days, they were getting in my eyes, and crawling up my nose, when I walked into the kitchen.  I called mom.  They know everything, right?  Well, if they don’t, they care enough to find out.  After 2 or 3 calls back and forth after she consulted with friends, and alot of questioning, it turns out the chile wreath had been the host of thousands of microscopic eggs, which hatched and became fleeting residents of Cincinnati Ohio.  The remedy:  freeze the wreath.  It was winter by then so I just set it out on the back deck overnight and voila!  Problem “debugged”.  Wreath rinsed and back in place for all to enjoy!  Moral of the story: rinse your chiles before eating – even if you’re not a caterer!! – Lula