For 2013, I resolve to eat more Bi Bim Bop ($8.99) at Kwik Chek.
This justly lauded dish — rice and stir-fried veggies, topped with an egg — hits all the senses. It's an eye-catching treasure trove of tastes — spicy, sometimes sweet or bitter, always a bit different with each order, and served popping and sizzling hot, a sort of culinary drum roll to what awaits.
The event comes courtesy John Currence, who owns Oxford’s celebrated City Grocery as well as Bouré, Big Bad Breakfast, Snack Bar, and the Main Event catering company. City Grocery is undergoing renovations during the month of January, so, says City Grocery’s chef de cuisine Jesse Houston, “We wanted to make sure the staff kept busy, involve our friends, and have fun with it too.”
Those friends include chefs who’ll have the run of the Main Event site for four days each, Wednesdays through Saturdays, to create cheap and portable eats. Participating in Big Bad Pop-Ups: Eli Kirshstein of Top Chef fame (January 9th-12th); chefs from City Grocery (January 16th-19th); Andrew Michael Italian Kitchen/Hog & Hominy’s Andrew Ticer and Michael Hudman (January 23rd-26th); and Restaurant Iris’ Kelly English (January 30th-February 2nd).
Kirshstein will serve up Israeli street food. The folks from City Grocery are doing Americana staples like hamburgers and hot dogs. Ticer and Hudman will bring their unique Hog & Hominy-style of Italian-meets-Southern fare to Oxford, while English’s take will be Louisiana-style truck-stop food.
“It’s going to be fun for us fancy chefs to do food we wouldn’t normally do,” says English, who’s planning on serving boudin hot dogs and chicken red beans and rice, among other fare. “It’s really filthy food, just filthy,” he says. “I mean that in the most positive way.”
For more information, go the event's Facebook page.
Also at MemShop and less gouge-y is this Santa beer coozie, $12.50.
Sweet tooths will like this box of pretty chocolates by Memphis-based Frantic Chocolates. At the Booksellers at Laurelwood, $20.
Also don't forget the books by my compatriots: Bianca's Cookin' Crunk ($20) and Pam Denney's Food Lovers' Guide to Memphis ($15), both available at area bookstores. You can also early-order Justin Fox Burks and Amy Lawrence's The Southern Vegetarian.
Also at Kroger are these snacks by Blue Bird. Looks like they've got most of the Hostess line covered.
I showed this image to Hostess fan to reassure him that everything would be okay. But he wouldn't even acknowledge it. He's not ready to move on and see other snack cakes.
Now available for a limited time: Graeter's Peppermint Stick Ice Cream.
Graeter's, a small-batch, hand-packed ice cream company based in Ohio, sent me a sample to try and it is very good.
For the past several years, the Majestic Grille has hosted Sunday Suppers during the holidays. The evenings include special Christmas dishes and, in a nice nod to the site's past as a former movie theater, screenings of holiday classics such as It's a Wonderful Life and Miracle on 34th Street.
And then there's the Annual Clark's Christmas Dinner, happening this year on Thursday, December 20th, 7:30 p.m. The event, says Deni Reilly, who owns the Majestic with her husband Patrick, was created as a thank-you to the restaurant's regulars. This affair eschews seasonal sentimentality in favor of outrageous fun that come via the particulars: the screening of National Lampoon's Christmas Vacation, the Christmas Vacation character costume contest, and the tackiest Christmas sweater contest.
"It gets crazy," Reilly says.
As for those tacky Christmas sweaters, Reilly says they've evolved from the more staid tops most certainly gifted by grandmothers to homemade numbers decked out with popsicle sticks and cotton balls and the full-on assaults featuring lights and music.
The menu that Patrick has put together for this year's dinner has a Southern angle: chopped house salad, fried chicken, stewed beans, mac-and-cheese, and homemade pie. (The regular menu is available as well.) There are also specials on Clark's eggnog, of course.
Cost for the dinner is $26.95 per person. Reservations required: 522-8555.
Chili freaks, take note.
The fare at E's 24 Hour Cafe is happily straight-ahead diner, though the chili ($1.99) is a stand-out.
This bowl of beans, beef, and spice has just a bit of sweet. Comes with onions and cheese by request.
E's 24 Hour Cafe, 1308 Union
Lazy Cakes, the Memphis-made "relaxation brownie," received attention from everyone from Gawker to NPR. There was scrutiny further still when the FDA sent the makers a warning letter regarding the melatonin contained in the brownies. Some of the stories written about Lazy Cakes noted concern that this "for adults only" product might be consumed by children and prove to be harmful.
Well, that's all past tense because Lazy Cakes are no more ... sort of. They have been re-branded Mellow Munchies.
They've also been smartly repacked in an opaque orange wrapper (with the tag "Chill out, Dude"), so kids won't be necessarily be drawn to the brownie.
But this is not breaking news, which perhaps is a reflection of another smart move by the makers to avoid negative attention. There has not been a peep about Mellow Munchies as compared to the flurry of coverage received by Lazy Cakes.
Here are a couple cookbooks that earn the shelf space. Proceeds from the sales of each go to worthy charities.
Griese Spoon is available at local book stores and amazon.com.
The book is $10 and being sold at Dillard's. Proceeds from the book go to the local Ronald McDonald House.
Finally got a chance to check out the new Local in Overton Square.
The space is great-looking ... lots of tall windows, nice wood floors, little seating areas tucked here and there for intimate gatherings.
We started with the baked pretzels with a beer cheese fondue ($11). No complaints there.
Here are a few upcoming events that won't put too much strain on your holiday schedule ...
First up, there's the Gingerbread Fantasy at the Children's Museum of Memphis on Saturday and Sunday, December 8-9 at 10 a.m. and 11:30 a.m. Kids build and decorate their own gingerbread houses. The kits and the candies are included. The cost is $25. Kids must be registered by Wednesday, December 5th. To register, go here.
Next, it's the Great Cupcake Giveaway at all four area Gigi's Cupcakes on Friday, December 14th, 6 a.m.-7 p.m. Customers who bring in at least 3 non-perishable items to donate to the Mid-South Food Bank will receive one gourmet cupcake as a thanks. The Q 107.5 Morning Crew will be broadcasting live, and there will be games and prizes.
Finally, Imagine Vegan Cafe is one of four restaurants across the country that is up for a Libby Award for Best Vegan Local Restaurant from peta2, PETA's youth division. To vote, go here. Voting continues until December 17th. Winners will be announced December 19th.
For those local chefs, sous chefs, and caterers with star power, a new food competition TV show is currently casting. The pitch: "Do you want to represent your city with your unique culinary creations?"
A rep from the casting company was mum on much of the details, but she did say that this is a chance for chefs "to show off regional foods," that the show is not a spin-off of an existing show, and that it will be on a cable network.
In addition, chefs within the city would be competing with each other for the prize of being named the "Culinary King or Queen of Memphis."
She did say that they would be filming in the chosen chef's city but would not elaborate on which other cities they are casting in. (It should be noted that, via the firm's Facebook page, they have done work for the Food Network.)
Those interested should send name, location, phone number, current occupation, a short bio (including culinary background and "what makes your food represent your city"), a current photo, and resume to email@example.com.