Sunday, April 20, 2008

Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine
3415 West End Ave.
Nashville
615-463-3005

It’s amazing to see a buffet where every item is carefully crafted and tasty. There are only a couple in Nashville that manage to take the buffet to a higher level. Woodlands Indian Vegetarian Cuisine is certainly one of them. The restaurant is tucked away on the bottom floor of an apartment building that sits perched at West End and 440.

The interior is a fairly pedestrian space. It manages a casual and homey feel. The staff was sampling the food before the lunch rush when we arrived. When that rush did come it was family after family and every one appeared Indian. That’s always a good sign at an ethnic restaurant. We’ve been to Woodlands a few times now and each time the food seems to get even better.
There’s a delicate touch to each dish. Masala Dosa bread comes out like a crisp crepe rolled up and filled with potato and onion. Spinach Pakora is light and crispy just like the fried lentil Medhu Vada donuts. The soups are simple and well balanced. The tomato is a light broth with just a hint of tomato and a real afterburner from whole chili peppers. The lentil veggie is savory and simple. The entrees move to heartier fare, like the Malai Kofta: veggie balls in a rich tomato based curry; or the Chana Palak made of chick peas and spices. Kadai Bendi Masala blends okra into a stew of mellow flavors. Pongal is like a rice casserole with lentils.

Veggie Eater: It is a wonderful day when I go out to eat someplace where I can have every single thing on the menu without a thought. No quiz show antics with the wait staff prior to ordering. It is a fabulous day when I get to eat at Woodlands. Once again, not very near us (what is near Joelton, anyways?). I literally sampled every single item from the buffet, minus the Americanized lettuce side salad. And I’ve got to tell you, the only item I didn’t like was some odd chutney thing (some sort of pickled something and lemon; sounded good in theory; wasn’t). There were no fewer than 8 chutneys and sauces available. Raita is smooth, calming. The mint chutney had a bit of fire. Tamarind to add a little sweetness and tang. A peach/mango combo. Well, you get the idea. 2 different fried apps to use all those chutneys and dips on. They brought us freshly prepared masala dosa; a delicate crepe surrounding a potato filling. Eric and I both like the Malai Kofta best; the veggie balls are in a silky red sauce. Multiple rice choices. At least 2 types of breads. The dessert balls in rose water were sublime. And then there was some sort of a yogurty, pudding like dessert thing which was also great. Even after all of that sampling, you don’t feel awful afterwards. I have to stop now so the meat eater is left something to report on.

Meat Eater: Apparently we’ve decided to stop using common conventions of the English language. Sums it up for me. Winner all around. Buffet only at lunch. Big menu to choose. Paid $29 with tax,tip.
Woodlands on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 14, 2008

Whites Creek Farmers’ Market Update

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Whites Creek Farmers’ Market Update

Okay, first the bad news. It seems many of the growers that sold at the Whites Creek Farmers’ Market last year are not coming back. The Whites Creek Saturday morning market was a true delight: just five or six stands, a nice mellow crowd and occasionally another couple of vendors. The produce was great, the sellers incredibly nice and the atmosphere laid back and friendly. It was on a lawn, under the trees, next to Earthman’s General Store near the corner of Whites Creek Pike and Old Hickory. You could buy some produce and check out stuff in the store.

Last week Nancy Van Winkle with Bramble Hill Farm announced that several growers are dropping out, mainly due to personal reasons or other business concerns. This includes other good operations like Eaton’s Creek Organics, Sonfarm, Natural Fields and Paradise produce.
Lannae Long at Lannae's food and travel blog http://lannaelong.blogspot.com/ e-mailed us as soon as she heard. There were a bunch of us who really enjoyed the market and we were rather stunned to find out people were dropping out. The crowds seemed really good and on a number of times we arrived late to find everything sold out.

The real bummer is that these growers are all from the area…the furthest coming in from Springfield. For once we felt like Joelton/Whites Creek was getting the identity it deserved for being home to so many high quality craft growers.

Now the good news. The Hungry Gnome Farm will still be at Earthman’s on Saturday mornings. We called Cookie from Earthman’s and she says they hope the market will still be good this year …so if there are other growers interested they should contact Earthman’s to set it up. Alicia and Bert with Hungry Gnome will be sending out an email for notices about the market. You can reach them at crackerlake@comcast.net

Here is the list of the growers who were at the market, in case you want to do CSA:

Eaton's Creek Organics
Tana Comer
Joelton, TN
(615) 299-0979
ecorganics@bellsouth.net
Sells produce and honey at Franklin Farmer's Market (Sat.) and through a subscription CSA

Sonfarm
Jason Adkins
Joelton, TN
(615)207-4330
jasonmadkins@yahoo.com
Will sell at Turnip Truck Market in East Nashville on Wednesdays. Call for more info

Natural Fields Farm
Stuart Say
Springfield, TN
naturalfields@aol.com
Subscription orders in Hendersonville area

Paradise Produce
Stacy Geny
Pleasant View, Tn
paradiseproduce@yahoo.com
CSA and e-mail subscription and Turnip Truck market (Wednesdays)

Hungry Gnome Farm- read message below:

Hi Everyone,
The peach blossoms and wildflowers are telling us that spring is here. We are so excited to get into the garden, though still waiting for the soil to dry out a bit more before tilling.
Though I'm sad the Whites Creek Farmers Market won't be returning as it was last year, Hungry Gnome Farm still has plans to sell at Earthman's General Store in Whites Creek on Saturday mornings. If you would like to be on our email list for notices of the market, our CSA and on-farm events, please email me back at
crackerlake@comcast.net and give me your name and email address. We really appreciated your enthusiasm and support last year and look forward to another season of providing you with fresh, local food.
Sincerely,
Alicia Batson and Bert HartmanHungry Gnome Farm4712 Lickton PikeWhites Creek, Tn 37189615-299-1661
crackerlake@comcast.net

Monday, April 7, 2008

Nashville Farmers’ Market

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Nashville Farmers’ Market
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
Nashville
615-880-2001
http://www.nashvillefarmersmarket.org/

On a summer Saturday morning at the Nashville Farmers’ Market you can smell the sweet, earthy perfume of produce from the parking lot. Inside the shed shoppers will be packing the aisles looking for that perfectly ripe tomato or firm squash. The best part has always been the variety. Once you worked your way through the produce you could shop for some of the best frozen biscuits in town or pick up a half-pound of really fresh shrimp. Then you could finish it all off by wandering around the Market House, spying all of the various food available at 10 or more different vendors. You’d get your lunch and sit down in a comfortable environment and be very happy that you lived in Nashville.

Well, you know the rest of the story. Somewhere along the way it was decided that change was needed at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. We can’t argue with that. Every place needs an update every now and then, and there have been plenty of those since people started having market day on the site in 1828. But please, someone please explain to me why all of the great merchants had to be chased out and why, after all of this time, the construction moves at a glacial pace? It’s sad and has been hard to take.
We still mourn the loss of Gulf Pride seafood. We still look for the hot sauce guy, just hoping. Even worse we get continually sucked in by the so called festivals and special organic produce days. The result is usually less than spectacular, with just a couple of lonely sellers. Sometimes there is absolutely nothing there, even when advertised for weeks ahead of time.

There are a couple of signs of life. The wonderful Jamaicaway restaurant has a new location with seating. The new B and C Market BBQ is a good addition. We like the look of these places and it’s obvious someone has put thought into how the new farmers market will look. Nooley’s Louisiana po-boys, Chicago style gyros and Swett’s continue to hang in there. You can still get your tahini or spicy ajvar at the International Market. But the huge blue tarp and empty space is kinda depressing.

It’s time to get this project finished. The Farmers Market was one of the things that convinced us that Nashville would be a good place to live when we first came here. Now we cringe when we see tourists strolling through. You just want to stop them and say “It used to be really cool here, and maybe it will be again….someday.”

Anyway, enough of the diatribe; what follows are reviews from a recent lunch trip.

B and C Market BBQ

Nashville Restaurants and Food
B and C Market BBQ
900 Rosa L. Parks Blvd.
615-770-0032
http://www.baconandcaviar.com/files/index.php?id=17

B and C stands for Bacon and Caviar, which is the catering company that has now expanded to include this new restaurant at the Nashville Farmers’ Market. There was a pretty good line when we arrived on a recent Saturday. The menu is simple enough: pulled pork, pulled chicken, ribs and smoked salmon. There’s a range of sides, a few of which strive for trip off the usual barbecue joint path.

I ordered up the pulled pork and garlic grits plate. I’m a sucker for interesting grits. They’re served here next to the pork and in lieu of bread, which is kind of different, but a good idea. The pork is quite good with full flavor and solid smoke; moist enough but still firm. The barbecue sauce is also a winner. It’s tomato based, a bit sweet and with a nice bite and peppery pop. The final item in the plus column is the cornbread which is sweet, fluffy, cake-like and tasty.

I wish I could say the same for the sides. Those garlic grits were okay, perhaps a bit cold. They lacked any real garlic zing. The mac and cheese was also kinda bland. Sadly even the promisingly named Chipotle Corn Salad was rather boring; not bad, just not much chipotle kick.

There were no ribs this day or I would have sampled those. I guess they were having some issues with getting them cooked right, and pulled them off the menu rather than serving sub-standard food, which you have to respect.

Veggie Eater: The grits were well cooked, but not well seasoned. The mac and cheese appeared to be of the Velveeta variety. The chipotle corn only hinted of chipotle. An additional aside, for anyone venturing down, please be sure to stop by Geraldine’s Pies in the produce shed. I used to work with her and would always put in my Thanksgiving order for a phenomenal sweet potato pie. She now has a regular site at the Farmers Market and has a variety of wonderful homemade pies.

Meat Eater: I hope they consider spicing up those sides. The staff was friendly and fun, and the barbecue itself top notch. We split one order and paid $8.50 with tax, tip and a drink.
B & C Market BBQ on Urbanspoon

Chicago-Style Gyros at Farmers’ Market

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Chicago-Style Gyros at Farmers’ Market
900 Rosa Parks Blvd.
Nashville
615-255-8283


Usually we don’t review chains but we had to give these guys a shout out for their falafel. It’s firm, moist and cooked on the spot. The tabbouleh is also a stand-out: spicy and very fresh. The hummus seemed watery and lacking the richness of good tahini. The Moroccan rice was okay.

Veggie Eater: My standard spot when visiting the Farmers Market is Chicago Style Gyros. Eric has informed me this is a chain, but I was completely unaware as it has a hole in the wall feel. I always opt for their falafel, as it really is quite good. On this visit, I had the falafel plate; it was somewhat delayed as my falafel had to be freshly fried. It was served up with hummus (kind of plain), tabbouleh (very good; garlicky, lemony, lots of tangy punch, but no bulgar), Moroccan rice (turmeric seasoned with peas), and pita. Had Eric not been along, would have made a great left over lunch for today (he polished it off for me). Of note, Jamaicaway has lots of wonderful veggie options, but is not open on Saturdays due to religious issues. I’m rarely at the Farmers Market on a weekday and we tend not to go on Sundays, so I rarely get to enjoy their great food.

Meat Eater: We split one order and spent $6 with tax.