Wednesday, July 18, 2012

Upcoming Nashville Food & Wine Events

I rarely do these types of posts, instead leaving them to the experts like Beth and the Nashville Scene Bites blog, but a few e-mails hit my inbox recently with events that I wanted to share.

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First up, the wine tastings at Amerigo, one of which is happening tonight, July 18th, from 6-8 pm at the West End location. Joe and I are regulars at these wine tastings, in part because we love trying new wines and in part because the bar at Amerigo is our version of Cheers. Like, the waiters and bartenders know us. Tonight they’ll be pouring some Pinot Noir from around the world, including Oregon, where Joe and I were in April. It’s a great opportunity to taste the same grape made in different styles and from different terroir. It’ll cost you $15 for four wines paired with appetizers, and you can stay for dinner and get 20% off your bill.


On August 11th, our favorite Tennessee winery, Arrington Vineyards, will be hosting a harvest party. As wine club members, Joe and I try to make it out to Arrington every couple of months. On August 11th, there will be hot air balloons, live music, wine tastings, food for purchase, and a performance by Kix Brooks, formerly of Brooks & Dunn and co-founder of Arrington Vineyards. It will likely be a busy day, so get there early to stake out your spot and bring a picnic blanket in case the tables are all claimed. For more details, including a schedule, click here.

The best part of this harvest party to me is that, while the party is completely free, any proceeds from the fundraiser will benefit the Monroe Carell Jr. Children’s Hospital at Vanderbilt, which just happens to be where I’ve served as a chaplain resident for almost the past year. It’s a great hospital that wouldn’t be nearly as wonderful without all of the support that we get from the community at events like this.

So come on out and drink some wine!

Tuesday, July 17, 2012

A Wisconsin Wedding

I am road-tripped out after this weekend. Drives to Virginia, Memphis, and now Milwaukee for very short amounts of time have done me in. It was really good to get away, even if it was only for a couple of days. I’ve been up to my eyeballs with my CPE special project on child abuse, and my soul needed something happy to celebrate. Cue: my cousin’s wedding!

My dad and I drove up to Milwaukee on Friday, and I have to say, the parts north of Indianapolis were brutally boring. Flat terrain, tiny towns, and giant windmills, corn, and soy as far as the eye could see. The traffic around Chicago was a little problematic, but we arrived just in time to change quickly and head to the rehearsal dinner at Lake Park Bistro.

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Hello Lake Michigan! After some cocktail time out on the patio, we headed inside and were greeted with a beautiful cheese plate on each table. When in Wisconsin…

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The food was delicious, and even though I came with my parents, they seated me at a table with other young people, so we had a good time. It’s always a little nerve-wracking to be alone and not know anyone, but super-extrovert me kicked in and I had a great time.

The next morning, Mom and I had done some research on where to do our 10-mile long run for the week. With the help of some internet friends, we ended up piggy-backing on the Badgerland Striders training run. Everyone was very welcoming to the out-of-towners, and there was a wide variety of pace and experience levels. The route was well-planned, and we ran along the lakefront and got to enjoy Milwaukee.

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The weather was on the warmer and more humid side for the Midwest, but it felt good to us, especially with the breeze off of the lake. We had a couple of sprinkles, and the clouds kept the sun off of us until the very end. It turned out to be a flat, faster run for us. Hopefully that’s proof that all of this hot, humid summer running is doing good things for my body!

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When we got back to the starting area, there was plenty of food and beverages and even some sports medicine professionals to answer questions and help with any aches or pains. We were hungry for a real meal, so we didn’t stay too long. Thanks to the iPhone and Yelp, I found CafĂ© Corazon, an eclectic Mexican place for breakfast/brunch that was also veg*n-friendly. The giant burrito with soy chorizo was calling my name, and it satisfied my runger.

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Once we got cleaned up and relaxed for a bit, we didn’t have too much time before heading to the wedding. I wanted to make a beer stop (definitely one of the upsides of driving vs. flying) to pick up some things that don’t have distribution in Nashville, so we headed to Three Cellars for their wall of Wisconsin beer.

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They also had a beer & wine tasting going on, so we enjoyed some of the European-style beers and Spanish wines they were pouring before making our final selections. One of the beers I’m very excited about tasting is this one:

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And it was wedding time. The ceremony was at the bride’s parents’ house, and we crossed our fingers that they had a lake view and were handsomely rewarded. Though it was a little warm, they couldn’t have asked for better weather. Such a beautiful place.

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We took advantage of the scenery for a little family photo shoot as well.

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My cousin, the groom:

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My dad and his brother:

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And afterwards, at the reception, my cousins and me:

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I did not get their height.
The reception was at the Schlitz Audubon Nature Center, a really beautiful venue and perfect space for the size of their wedding. After cocktail hour on the patio, we headed inside to beautifully set tables and delicious food.

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The bride & groom. So happy!

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Being in Wisconsin, we had to make a quick custard stop before heading home for the night, and I did a great job getting red raspberry custard all over my dress. After another early wake-up call for more miles, we packed the car and headed south for Mars’ Cheese Castle.

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The first time I visited the cheese castle with Joe (almost 6 years ago!), I remember it being dark and crowded with low ceilings. But now they have a bright and shiny new building, full of cheese, gourmet meats, beer, wine, and other gourmet foods. Joe had requested some string cheese, and I picked up a few more delicious Wisconsin treats before driving the 9+ hours BACK to Nashville with my parents.

It was a whirlwind, but we got to do and see a lot, as well as celebrate with my cousin and family.

Friday, July 13, 2012

Curried Tempeh Grilled Cheese with Mango Chutney

As I’m winding down my chaplain residency at the end of August, I’ve been doing a lot of reflecting on everything I learned this past year. It’s been an incredible year of growth for me personally, spiritually, emotionally, and in my ministry. I found my “ministry legs” this year and embraced my gifts alongside with my areas for growth. I listened and cried and stayed when it would’ve been more comfortable to leave. I prayed. God, how I prayed. For peace and strength, for miracles that never came, for hope and forgiveness. I prayed with families who had lost a child to a God who knows what it’s like to lose a child. I gave and received hugs, squeezes of the hand, a hand on the shoulder. I celebrated successful heart and brain surgeries with families, and I watched as families left the hospital with all of their child’s belongings but not the child herself. I channeled anger into hard runs and spin class. There were so many wonderfully sacred and profound moments that I can’t possibly recount them all.

I also learned some more practical things, like to always have a snack in my purse, especially during on-call weekends because it’s really hard to be present with a family when your stomach is growling. I accumulated multiple bottles of hand sanitizer that I use often. And without an office to call my own, I learned the art of living out of my car. Book of Common Prayer, lunch box, gym bag, water bottle, and vestments can usually be found. And if you’re on-the-go and need something quick and preferably meat-less to eat but you forgot that snack in your purse? Sonic makes a mean grilled cheese, especially if you add tomato.

This grilled cheese is a little different from Sonic’s but still easy to make. Curry-marinated sliced tempeh, provolone cheese, and mango chutney on a hearty bread satisfies the part of me that needs something that tastes a little more gourmet than a Sonic grilled cheese. Sweet and spicy and salty, it’s just as comforting as the original but with an ethnic twist.


Curried Tempeh Grilled Cheese with Mango Chutney
source: Veggie Belly
Makes 2 sandwiches

For the curried tempeh

Half an 8 oz package of tempeh
¼-½ teaspoon curry powder, to taste
1 teaspoon soy sauce
2 tablespoons water
1/2 teaspoon oil

For the sandwich
4 slices of bread (I used Ezekiel sprouted grain bread)
1 tablespoon or to taste sweet mango chutney
4 slices of provolone or mozzarella cheese
Handful of fresh arugula or baby spinach leaves or kale leaves, torn (or tomato)
1 teaspoon butter


For the curried tempeh
1.Slice the tempeh lengthwise into ¼ inch thin pieces. You will need 6-8 slices
2.Whisk together the curry powder, soy sauce and water in a bowl. Add tempeh to the bowl and gently toss so the marinade is coated well on the tempeh.
3.Cover and marinate the tempeh in the fridge for 30 minutes and up to 2 days.
4. Heat oil in a medium skillet and add the marinated tempeh. Also add any remaining marinating liquid. Cook on medium heat, flipping the tempeh occasionally, till all the liquid has boiled away and the tempeh is brown on both sides.
Now proceed with making the grilled cheese.

For the grilled cheese
1.Use a small cast iron skillet or a garden brick as the weight for the grilled cheese. Cover the cast iron skillet or bricks with aluminum foil
2. Take 2 slices of bread and slather mango chutney on both the bread slices
3. Place one slice of cheese on top of the mango chutney. Top it with 3-4 slices of curried tempeh and 6-8 leaves of arugula or baby spinach or kale or the tomato.
4. Cover with another slice of cheese, and the other slice of bread, chutney side down
5. Heat ¼ teaspoon butter in a non stick skillet on medium heat. Place the sandwich on the skillet
6. Put the foil covered weight (cast iron skillet or brick) on top of the sandwich. Make sure it is balanced sitting on the sandwich. Let the sandwich with the weight on top cook on medium heat  till the bottom side is golden, about 2 minutes
7. Then remove the grilled cheese sandwich using a wide spatula, add 1/4th teaspoon more butter to the pan. Flip the sandwich over and cook the other side, with the weight on top, till it is golden.

Monday, July 2, 2012

Seared Scallops with Lemon Orzo

Fast, good, cheap. Pick two.
This dinner reminded me of that sign, so often seen hanging in car repair shops. Fast? Yes. Heating up the oven to roast the zucchini was the longest single component of this meal. Good? Oh yes. Even though Joe kept trying to steer me away from orzo, later he admitted he was thinking about something else and really enjoyed it. Cheap? Ha! Not so much.

Scallops are not something I frequently purchase because of the price, but when I asked Joe to pick up something from Costco that looked good, he came home with $25 worth of scallops. Even though it ended up being more than enough for 4 meals, it’s still a little pricey for an every day kind of thing.

The key to getting a good sear on the scallops is getting them dry. That way a nice crust forms. The lemon-y orzo and roasted zucchini were good side dishes. For some reason, Joe kept trying to steer me away from the orzo, but then he ended up liking it and admitted that he hadn’t really known what he was talking about. Lovely.

If you don’t mind spending a little bit more than usual, this is a very fast, elegant dish that would be great for last-minute company or if you’re just feeling fancy.


Seared Scallops with Lemon Orzo
source: Cooking Light


Cooking spray
1/2 cup chopped onion
1 cup uncooked orzo (rice-shaped pasta)
1 cup vegetable stock
1/2 cup dry white wine
1/4 teaspoon dried thyme
2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives
2 tablespoons fresh lemon juice
2 teaspoons olive oil
1 1/2 pounds sea scallops
1/4 teaspoon salt
1/4 teaspoon black pepper


  1. Heat a medium saucepan over medium-high heat. Coat pan with cooking spray. Add onion to pan; sauté 3 minutes. Stir in pasta, broth, wine, and thyme; bring to a boil. Cover, reduce heat, and simmer 15 minutes or until liquid is absorbed and pasta is al dente. Stir in chopped chives and lemon juice. Keep warm.
  2. Heat oil in a large cast-iron skillet over medium-high heat. Sprinkle scallops evenly with salt and pepper. Add scallops to pan; cook 3 minutes on each side or until desired degree of doneness. Serve with pasta mixture.