Odds & Ends

Friday, September 4, 2015

Tuesday, March 24, 2015

Belly Acres Owner Ben McLean Takes Steps to Feed Hungry Seniors

Posted By on Tue, Mar 24, 2015 at 2:38 PM


Step into Belly Acres, and you’ll spot something a bit unusual, even for freaky-deaky Midtown: a 38-year-old heterosexual male with bright green hair. What’s even more surprising is that the guy isn’t a customer or a waiter…he’s the owner.

“I like it, but my kids aren’t crazy about it,” admits Belly Acres’ Ben McLean. “They asked me not to get out of the car when I pick them up from school.”

Of course, nobody needs a reason to go green. To be honest, the troll doll look kind of suits him. But in McLean's case, it’s more than just a fashion statement. He’s raising money to help feed hungry seniors.

“When I was a kid,” recalls McLean, “my dad drove Meals on Wheels in the church van. I got to see how it would touch these families' lives, how appreciative they were.”

MIFA is helping people who really need it,” he adds, “and I always knew I wanted to be a part of that. It just gives them one less thing to worry about, you know?”

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Friday, October 31, 2014

Pigs in a Blanket, Alton Brown, etc.

Posted By on Fri, Oct 31, 2014 at 2:01 PM


Bon Ton Cafe offers Pigs in a Blanket on its lunch menu! I have nothing left to add, except that they're $3.99.


The Orpheum looked to be at near-capacity for the Alton Brown show last Saturday night. Brown was in fine form, very funny and quick on his feet. And while I thought there was a little too much feedback from the audience, one of the funniest moments came as Brown mocked those who like vanilla ice cream, saying something about owning Honda Accords. This was met with a shout from the balcony: "It's a reliable car!"

What did you think of the show?

Here's Brown's feedback on Memphis.

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Thursday, October 2, 2014

New Craft Beer Coming to Memphis Soon

Posted By on Thu, Oct 2, 2014 at 12:49 PM


Another Tennessee craft beer brand will soon flow its amber waves to the shores of Memphis.

Nashville’s Tennessee Brew Works will make its debut here next weekend at the Cooper-Young Regional Beerfest. The company has signed with Memphis distributor A. S. Barbaro, and says it will slowly release its beers in the Memphis market over the coming months.

Beer review site Untappd shows that the Tennessee Brew Works beers most popular with its users are its Cutaway IPA, Basil Ryeman (saison), Extra Easy Ale, and Southern Wit (a witbier). No word yet on what beers they’ll bring to Memphis.

Friday, September 19, 2014

Taste of Cooper-Young

Posted By on Fri, Sep 19, 2014 at 4:07 PM

Photographer Frank Chin caught all the yummy action at the annual Taste of Cooper-Young event Thursday night. Food was sampled from a variety of Cooper-Young restaurants. The after-party featured live music by The Bouffants and Pat Register.

Wednesday, September 3, 2014

Paleo Vegan Cookbook Review

Posted By on Wed, Sep 3, 2014 at 4:21 PM

Paleo vegan — now there are two words you'd never expect to see side by side. The paleo "caveman" diet centers around meaty meals and eschews grains on the basis that our ancestors didn't eat grain. But paleo diets and vegan diets do have a couple of common threads: 1) we both eat lots of vegetables, and 2) we both avoid dairy.

By contrast, the Standard American Diet (commonly and appropriately referred to as the SAD diet) is one filled with drive-through breakfast sandwiches, packaged chips and cookies, microwaveable dinners, and breaded and fried meats. And while some vegans do enjoy processed food from time to time (Hey, I can eat Tofurky sausages all day long), the basis of a healthy vegan diet is veggies. No meat, eggs, dairy, or other animal products are allowed, but every veggie gets a green light. And that's also very important to the paleo folks, whose diet centers around lean meats, veggies, and healthy fats. Paleo dieters avoid grains, legumes, and dairy.

The paleo diet has been all the rage among athletes over the past few years, and very recently, a couple of prominent vegan food bloggers have ditched veganism in favor of a paleo lifestyle. But according to a new cookbook by Ellen Jaffe Jones and Alan Roettinger, there's no need to trade that tofu for a T-bone.


Paleo Vegan promotes a vegan diet based on whole, unprocessed foods (sadly, my precious Tofurky is out) — nuts and seeds, fruits, veggies, and healthy fats. As for that protein that traditional paleos take in through their heavy meat consumption, Paleo Vegan has an answer for that too. Sure, veggies, nuts, and seeds contain protein. But there's another answer, and that's where things get a little creative. You see, many paleo diets allow for 20 percent of their foods to come from the banished foods list. This cheating allows paleo dieters to have the occasional banana or pasta dish. But with a paleo vegan diet, a little cheating means vegans can still have unprocessed or minimally processed proteins, such as beans, legumes, tofu, and tempeh.

Now, for the record, I've no desire to trade my junk food vegan diet for an uber-healthy paleo vegan diet. But it can't hurt to occasionally eat a healthy dinner in place of my weekly vegan ice cream sundae dinner (yes, that's a real thing in my house). I chose to two recipes from Paleo Vegan to get started.

First, I made the Black Beans with Red Chard.


This is a simple saute that's bursting with flavor, thanks to chipotle chile puree and smoked paprika. The chard leaves and stems are cooked down until they're melt-in-your-mouth tender. A traditional paleo dieter would have to cheat to eat the black beans, but it'd be worth it. Loved this dish!

On the side, I made Quinoa with Leeks and White Truffle Oil.


Technically, quinoa is not cheating. Even though it looks and cooks like a grain, quinoa is actually a seed. And it's packed with protein. Leeks and chives lend this dish an onion-y flavor, and the white truffle oil really sets it over the top. Honestly, you can add truffle oil to just about anything, and it would magically be amazing.

That's all I tried from Paleo Vegan, but the cookbook is loaded with other healthy dishes that I hope to get around to making soon. There's a Roasted Pumpkin Dip (made with pumpkin, cashew butter, olive oil, salt, lemon, and garlic) that serves as a paleo stand-in for hummus. And the Avocado and Tempeh Towers with Spicy Red Pepper Sauce sounds like something I'd make for a nice dinner party. There are even tofu dishes, such as Spicy Fragrant Tofu with Peanuts, which gets its flavor from lemongrass, Thai chiles, and garlic.

And lastly, of course there are desserts. But they're super-healthy treats that you won't feel guilty over later. Think Grilled Pineapple with Pineapple-Coconut Sauce and Figs with Chocolate Balsamic Vinegar.

Paleo Vegan may include more cheats than a traditional paleo eater would be comfortable with, but without all the fatty meats, it's likely much better for your heart and your waistline.

Friday, June 20, 2014

Sweetwater Flows Into Memphis

Posted By on Fri, Jun 20, 2014 at 11:06 AM


This week marked the big, Memphis debut of the much-loved beer from Atlanta-based Sweetwater Brewing Co.

The debut is big news for hard-core beer lovers and causal fans alike. The beer has a near-iconic status, especially in the Southeast. It’s delicious, balanced, and you can drink it all dang day long. And the company’s got enough flavors for just about anyone.

Here’s what the company said about the debut on it’s web site:
“Good news Memphibians — we’re finally makin’ it to your neck of the woods. We realize we may have skipped over you a little bit, but we’re makin’ up for it by coming in hard and fast starting June 16. We’ll roll in with 420, IPA and Blue, plus our summer variety Tackle Box that includes 420/IPA with Waterkeeper Hefeweizen and our all new Take Two Pils, a spicy blond lager.”

Rivers of Sweetwater will flow from beer taps this weekend if its weekday debut is any indication. The company’s tie-dyed banners could be seen on bars all over Midtown this week. Slider Inn was packed Wednesday night and it seemed the promise of some of that much-coveted Sweetwater beer did much to bring out the crowds on a school night.

Sweetwater was available in Birmingham when Memphis Flyer music editor Joe Boone lived there and he said he “very familiar" with the product:

“Regrettably, I did live in Alabama. While there, the American craft-beer revolution hit the Southeast. Sweetwater 420 showed up at my local wing joint and thus began a love affair that lasted until I moved home. Back in Memphis, I fell in love with Ghost River and eventually dove into what's become a local-beer key party with a line down the street. Memphis should be proud to be drunk and in bed with Ghost River, Wiseacre, Memphis Made. But it's ok to spice it all up with some foreign action. There's not much to love about Atlanta, but I'll post relationship status with Sweetwater 420.”  

I make a point to grab a Sweetwater anytime I’m in Atlanta or an Abita in Louisiana or a Yazoo in Nashville. And I always grab a Busch (right from a rushing mountain stream) when I’m in “the Rockies.” (I’ve never been to “the Rockies.”)

Drinking local beer is fun for me. But when it comes to Sweetwater, it’s also always been a bit of medicine. Airports are not my happy place. That notion puts the Atlanta airport on some very low rung of Hades. But there, close to the Delta gate for my typical Memphis flight, is the lovely, homey Sweetwater airport bar. Good to know now that I can get some of that good stuff on both sides of the trip.

Sweetwater is available at bars all over town. Find one here.

Thursday, March 27, 2014

Taco Bell Breakfast Lands in Memphis

Posted By on Thu, Mar 27, 2014 at 10:48 AM


Taco Bell launched breakfast service to locations across the country today, the occasion making a minor holiday for junk food fans who have longed for their greasy morning favorites to finally be delivered in a bag, from a window, and in taco form.

Despite the anticipation, the Memphis Taco Bell location at Third and Crump was quiet and its drive through lane was empty. I paid the $4.36 for the combo and sped away to the Memphis Flyer headquarters on Tennessee Street.

Taco Bell has been flashing photos like these in the weeks-long run-up to the breakfast launch.

  • Courtesy Taco Bell

Here's mine.


The thing was a little tough to get out of the box. I’m not sure the waffle taco is really driving food.

How was it? Well, the waffle was chewy and vaguely sweet. The rest was that same warm, salty goodness of fast-food egg and sausage that you can enjoy if you turn your brain off. Oh, and the hashbrown was fried, salty, and what you’d expect.

Nutrition stats on the Taco Bell breakfast are plainly available on the chain’s website. But that’s hardly the point. If you’re getting breakfast in a bag, from a window, with a soft drink, you’re in a hurry, hung over, a fast-food fanboy, or just plain curious.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Ink Closed, Other News

Posted By on Tue, Oct 29, 2013 at 2:35 PM


It appears that Ink Bar, Lounge, Restaurant, which opened in the Cortona space in Cooper-Young in June, has closed.

Delivery of the news was low-key and came via the Ink Facebook page. A guest commented "Closed???? What???? Halloween prank??" Ink responded, "Thank you, it will be missed. Thanks for your support."

A request for comment from the Ink manager went unanswered.

Before the Italian restaurant Cortona opened in the space at 948 S. Cooper, it was Dish from 2005 to 2010.

Kathy Wakile of the Real Housewives of New Jersey will make an appearance on Wednesday, October 30th, 6 to 8 p.m. at L'Ecole Culinaire (1245 N. Germantown).

Wakile will give a cannoli-making demo, followed by a meet-and-greet. The event is free.

Wakile has launched a dessert line, Dolci della Dea; a cannoli kit is the line's first product. The cannoli kit will be on sale at the event.

Lunchbox Eats has introduced Saturday brunch.

The brunch menu features items that keep to the restaurant's school theme. There's the Cheerleaders' French Toast Pyramid, Snow Day Salmon. The Naptime Pig in Blanket is a griddlecakes stuffed with corn, bacon, chives and cheese and then topped with bacon. The Game Winning Quail Shot is deep-fried quail set in a nest of potatoes topped with mushroom demi-glace and a sunny side-up quail egg.

Saturday brunch is served 10 a.m. to 3 p.m.

Saturday, June 1, 2013

How To Start Your Food Truck Business

Posted By on Sat, Jun 1, 2013 at 2:51 PM

Ever thought of taking your own restaurant biz on the road? On Monday, the Memphis Food Truckers Alliance will host an informational meeting (with free pizza!) for anyone interested in becoming a member of the alliance and/or starting their own food truck business.

The food truckers meeting starts at 6 p.m. at Broadway Pizza, but it isn't the only mobile business workshop going on that day. From 4 to 6 p.m., the Mayor's Innovation Delivery team welcomes Nashville mobile retailer, Abigail Franklin, to discuss how to grow a retail business using mobile retail. That event will take place at NJ Woods Gallery and Design at 2563 Broad Avenue.

So if you're thinking now is the time to start your combination vintage consignment and corn dog truck — and we hope you are — then Broad Avenue has some events you might check out...

Tuesday, April 16, 2013

James Beard Dinner; Big Plans for Hog & Hominy Patio

Posted By on Tue, Apr 16, 2013 at 10:28 AM

An elegant table setting for the Friends of James Beard Dinner.
  • An elegant table setting for the Friends of James Beard Dinner.
While Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen was hosting the prestigious Friends of Beard Dinner on Sunday, sister restaurant Hog & Hominy was preparing to give sneak peeks of its next project — a new dive bar on its back patio.

For Sunday's Friends of Beard dinner, Chefs Andy Ticer and Michael Hudman welcomed five up-and-coming guest chefs from across the country to Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen: David Posey of Blackbird in Chicago, Jason Fox of Commonwealth in San Francisco, Jason Stanhope of Fig in Charleston, Jeff McInnis of Yardbird in Miami Beach, and Stephanie Prida of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA.

The theme of the evening was "Know Your Food, Know Your Roots," an exploration of hometown, ancestry, or childhood inspirations. And while the prep work was a fascinating display of some of the country's best chefs buzzing around the Andrew-Michael kitchen, the actual dinner cost $300 a person, effectively pricing out this writer. (Proceeds went to support the James Beard Foundation, whose mission is to "celebrate, nurture, and preserve America’s diverse culinary heritage and future.")

Three lambs roasting while chefs prepare for the Friends of Beard Dinner.
  • Three lambs roasting while chefs prepare for the Friends of Beard Dinner.
Chef Jeff McInnis of Yardbird stuffs quail with fois gras, grilled peaches, and cornbread.
  • Chef Jeff McInnis of Yardbird stuffs quail with fois gras, grilled peaches, and cornbread.

After the Friends of Beard Dinner, chefs enjoy a late-night dinner on Hog & Hominys back patio.
  • After the Friends of Beard Dinner, chefs enjoy a late-night dinner on Hog & Hominy's back patio.
But I was able to return once the Friends of Beard Dinner wound down, when the chefs and some of the guests moseyed on over to Hog and Hominy to get a taste of what Ticer and Hudman have been working on for the past couple of years since Andrew Michael opened. I hung out by the open kitchen, drinking an Old Fashioned and sneaking little tastes of things, which is how I found out about what Ticer and Hudman have planned for the back patio of Hog & Hominy.

What was formerly a fairly lackluster patio is already being transformed into a side concept for the restaurant: A no-frills dive bar with a seriously pared down menu. There, surrounded by distressed wood and corrugated steel, patrons will suck down oysters on the half-shell, boiled peanuts, cheap beer, and the J.T. Burger — Ticer and Hudman's homage to Oxford's ambassador of Southern cuisine, John T. Edge.

(Hudman says he and Ticer have been working on perfecting this burger for a long time, settling on a classic cheeseburger with American cheese, onions caramelized into the patty, chopped lettuce dressed in pickle juice, tomato, mustard, and ketchup. The result is close-your-eyes-and-sigh good.)

And that's it: Three menu items, cans of Schlitz and Pabst, white and brown well liquors, and old records spinning in the background. Ticer and Hudman plan to close in the currently open-air space, adding large barn doors that will open in nice weather and stay shuttered for winter use.

The meticulously tested and fussed over J.T. Burger, to be served at Hog & Hominys new back patio dive bar.
  • The meticulously tested and fussed over J.T. Burger, to be served at Hog & Hominy's new back patio dive bar.

Hog & Hominy staff preparing for chefs meal after Beard dinner. H&H is converting its back patio, shown here, into a dive bar.
  • Hog & Hominy staff preparing for chef's meal after Beard dinner. H&H is converting its back patio, shown here, into a dive bar.

We can't wait for the idea to be fully realized, which should be happening in the coming months. In the meantime, next time you pop over to Hog and Hominy, stick your head out the back door and start imagining late night revelry and cheeseburgers. Don't forget the cheeseburgers.

Thursday, April 11, 2013

Beer News, etc.

Posted By on Thu, Apr 11, 2013 at 4:05 PM


• Coors distributor A.S. Barboro is celebrating the Grizzlies' third consecutive appearance in the NBA playoffs with a free beer giveaway on Monday, April 15th at the FedExForum, starting at 10 a.m. They will be giving away 300 limited edition Memphis Grizzlies 24-oz cans of Coors Light. IDs required for the giveaway.

The Beer Tax Reform Act passed the both the Senate and House and is now headed to the governor's desk for signature. Background on the tax here.

•The Sweet on Sweden event, a fundraiser for the Church on the River, is Friday, April 12th, 5:30 p.m. There will be an auction as well as a menu of Swedish eats, including Swedish meatballs, pickled herring dip, and a salad with a lingonberry vinaigrette. Available at the cash bar will be Tuborg Gold, a popular Swedish beer. (Sweden this year's Memphis in May honored country, fyi.)

From Memphis Stew comes news that the Italian restaurant Lavoro's is closing shop, "barring some miracle," in June.

• The annual Dining Out for Life is set for Thursday, April 25th. Participating restaurants donate a certain amount of proceeds from that day's dinner or lunch service. This is a national event benefiting HIV/AIDS service organizations across the country, and in Memphis, specifically, Friends for Life. There's a great crop of restaurants participating this year. Full list here.

The Worldwide Vegan Bake Sale will have a presence in Memphis again this year, Friday, April 26th, 6-9 p.m., in front of Grawemeyer's during the South Main Art Trolley Tour. Last year's sale raised $700 for the Memphis & Shelby County Humane Society.

Thursday, March 14, 2013

Andrew Michael's Friends of James Beard Benefit, the next Dishcrawl, etc.

Posted By on Thu, Mar 14, 2013 at 11:30 AM

Phillip Ashley Chocolates
  • Phillip Ashley Chocolates

Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen is hosting a Friends for James Beard Benefit on Sunday, April 14th.

The theme of the dinner is "Know Your Food, Know Your Roots" and will feature 7 course highlighting the regional fare from 5 guest chefs: David Posey of Blackbird in Chicago; Jason Fox of Commonwealth in San Francisco; Jason Stanhope of Fig in Charleston; Jeff McInnis of Yardbird in Miami Beach; and Stephanie Prida of Manresa in Los Gatos, CA.

From the press release: "Each chef will be encouraged to use products rooted in their respective regions, and to create a dish that symbolizes their "roots” — whether their hometown, their present city, their ancestry or childhood inspirations."

Proceeds from the dinner benefit the James Beard Foundation.

Cost for the dinner is $300, Beard foundation members $250. Seating is limited. For reservations email brittney@enjoyam.com.

In related news, Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman are in the running for Food & Wine's The People's Best New Chef, Southeast.

Readers vote, and winners will be considered for inclusion in F&W's annual Best New Chefs issue.

Voting continues through Monday, March 18th. Vote here.

• The next Memphis Dishcrawl is set for Sunday, April 7th during the Midtown Opera Festival.

The neighborhood to be crawled this time is Overton Square. More information here.

• There will be a Phillip Ashley Chocolates pop-up shop on Wednesday, March 20th, from 11 a.m. to 6 p.m., in the lobby of the iBank building at 5050 Poplar.

• Doesn't look like the chocolate and coffee bar conversion of Sharon's is happening. The space has been emptied and there's a for lease sign in the window.

• Not Memphis-related, but ... The International Biscuit Festival in Knoxville is May 15th-18th. And ... Patron tequila is hosting The Art of Patron contest. Participants rework the bottle into a piece of art. The contest runs through April 30th.

Wednesday, March 6, 2013

Opening Date for Kroger Poplar Plaza, Something's Up with Sharon's, etc.

Posted By on Wed, Mar 6, 2013 at 4:04 PM

• The new Kroger at Poplar Plaza is set to open Wednesday, March 20th.

Midtown Market got its beer permit approved Wednesday morning by the City of Memphis Alcohol Commission after its first attempt was rejected.

• A sign on the door of Sharon's Chocolates & Bread reads: "Sharon's will be closed until March 11th for renovations - opening for chocolates and coffee bar." Attempts to reach the owners were unsuccessful.

Cookin' with Corky's, featuring 165 recipes from the BBQ powerhouse, debuts on QVC on Sunday, March 10th, 11 a.m. It will be in bookstores May 1st.

• A quartet of food trucks — A Square Meal on Wheels, Mark's Grill, Quincy's BBQ, and Royal Flavors — will be at 877 Ridge Lake Blvd. on Friday, March 8, 11 a.m.-1:30 p.m.

• The Southern Women's Show starts Friday, March 8th. This year, the Celebrity Cooking Stage will see a lot of traffic from Flyer family and friends, including Bianca Phillips, Pam Denney, Justin Fox Burks & Amy Lawrence, and Angela & Paul Knipple. Full schedule here.

Wednesday, February 13, 2013

Lee's Sushi Downtown, Viking Closing Date, Etc.

Posted By on Wed, Feb 13, 2013 at 4:47 PM


Lee's Fresh Sushi, famously sold in a gas station in East Memphis, is now sold in a gas station downtown. I recently spotted it at the BP on Riverside and Carolina.

• The Viking Cooking School at Park Place Centre is closing shop on March 16th. All items in its retail store are 25% off.

World in a Skillet authors Paul and Angela Knipple's new book Farm Fresh Tennessee, a guide to farmers markets, u-picks, farm stands, and more, will be released in March. The Knipples' next project involves catfish, lots of catfish.

• Next week, Memphis will be all-Oregon all the time, or just about. Joe Liquor's Passport to Oregon wine tasting on February 21st has long since sold out, but you can still get in on the Oregon action with two upcoming dinners.

On Friday, 8 p.m., Sweet Grass is holding a 6-course dinner. Wine maker Adam Campbell of Elk Cove will be on hand. Cost is $75. For reservations, call 278-0278.

On Saturday, February 23rd, 6:30 p.m., Felicia Suzanne's is hosting a dinner with a menu of Oregon-inspired fare and wines from Elk Cove. Cost is $70. For reservations, call 523-0877.

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