Wednesday, May 18, 2011

Naoko’s, Karla’s, Clear Creek Smokehouse and 3 Crow

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Naoko’s, Karla’s, Clear Creek Smokehouse and 3 Crow

Farmers Markets have become a location for folks to set up shop to sell all sorts of prepared food- sandwiches, soups and desserts. Often it’s an opportunity for caterers to reach or a larger audience or aspiring restaurateurs to start-up a new concept. We had excellent snacking on Saturday at the West Nashville Farmers Market in Richland Park.

Our first stop was Naoko’s Delights. These Japanese ladies from Franklin have a variety of bread based items for sale: green tea pound cake, sweet red bean pan and a veggie curry pan. The pan are Japanese filled buns. In the case of the curry, it's a lovely, Indian blend of spices inside a light bread. They were also cooking up Yaki-onigiri, which are basically rice balls. They’re grilled up, brushed with soy sauce and sesame and then topped on each side with seaweed wrappers. It’s a delightful, light snack that you can eat like a small sandwich. They have only been in business a short time and at the West Nashville Farmers Market for the last few weeks.

Next up was Karla’s, run by Chef Karla Ruiz, where the empanada is taken to new levels. We sampled the raja: a spicy and savory blend of roasted poblano peppers and cheese inside a delicate masa empanada shell. It’s topped with pickled onion, crema, farmer’s cheese and salsa Verde. It’s excellent and one of the best empanadas we have had in Nashville. Catering is Karla’s main gig, but man we would love to see those empanadas featured at a sit-down restaurant. Check out her pan-Hispanic themed summer catering menu and tell us you wouldn’t be dying for a restaurant serving this in Nashville:

Another Farmers Market buy was Clear Creek Smokehouse hickory smoked pulled pork. It comes frozen in shrink-wrap plastic. I love the list of ingredients on the package: pork, sweet paprika, brown sugar, kosher salt, spices, apple cider vinegar and natural wood smoke. Simple and the end result is outstanding barbecue. It’s a perfectly balanced smoke and the tender pork has bits of spicy bark throughout. I put it to work on a pizza (thanks for the awesome dough Mike…you really should open a pizza joint!) and the result was quite good.

A gray, drizzly day is made for whiskey sampling. We did just that at the 3 Crow Bar in East Nashville on Sunday. The Veggie Eater downed a Bourbon Barrel Stout from BBC and a fine Rasputin Imperial Stout from North Coast Brewing Company. I settled in with a Collier and McKeel sour mash whiskey. It’s made here in Nashville at the Corsair facility. It’s strong, smoky and reminiscent of Pritchard’s Double Barreled Bourbon, but with the sour mash twang. A Rogue Dead Guy Whiskey caught our eye. The West Coast brewer puts out legendary beers, but who knew about whiskey? It’s a light whiskey, perhaps due to the white oak barrels they use. It’s named for the ale and uses the same grains. It’s smooth and clean. I also had a little taste of Michter’s Unblended American Whiskey out of Bardstown, Kentucky. It’s mellow, sweet, smoky and silky. Nothing new here, people have been enjoying both of these for years. I appreciate that 3 Crow makes it easy to find a new favorite by stocking so many whiskeys. I also appreciate one of the best Bloody Mary’s in town. The 3 Crow version is dark, rich and spicy. The little hit of Guinness stout on the top is a nice touch. Thanks for helping us warm up on a dreary day folks.


mIKES said...

Eric, Kate: Thanks for the kind words re: pizza. I will also alert Mike Williams and his assistant Ryan at Collier and McKeel to check out your endorsement.

Lesley said...

I'm a huge fan of Naoko's veggie curry pan as well as Karla's potato and cheese empanada. Mr. Eats and I had a great breakfast at the market a couple of weeks ago!