Friday, May 26, 2017

Ghost River's Grindhouse Headed to a Can Near You

Posted By on Fri, May 26, 2017 at 10:16 AM

The Ghost River crew spent Thursday and Friday canning its popular Grindhouse Cream Ale.

Once only available at the FedEx Forum, Grindhouse is now now headed to a can near you. (Look for it in stores in the next few days.)

Brewer Tyler Nelson told me all about it, showed me his sweet new shirt, and said "sessionable" (even though he hates that word).

Thursday, May 25, 2017

Shipt Launching June 1st

Posted By on Thu, May 25, 2017 at 10:59 AM


, an app-based grocery delivery service will launch in Memphis June 1st.

Shipt will deliver from Krogers initially and hopes to add other stores later. Subscription to the service is $99 a year, with free delivery of orders over $35.

Right now, they are offering a special $49 membership deal for those who sign up before June 1st.

Shipt is a Birmingham, Al, based company currently in 40-plus cities. Julie Coop, a rep with Shipt says the company is always looking to expand. They determine which cities would make a good fit through member feedback. She says the Shipt customer is "time-starved," busy.

Shipt was originally supposed to launch in Memphis last winter, but, according to Coop, the timing, between Thanksgiving and Christmas, was bad. But she says, the company made a commitment to Memphis.

Coop says the key to Shipt's success is its shoppers. Shoppers must be food-savvy and have the availability. Deliveries are done within an hour of ordering.

Customers select what they want through the app and can leave specific instructions as far as brands or if they want green bananas. They then schedule a time for delivery. A shopper can let customers know if a product is out or ask for more information through the app. The shoppers' training and the use of UPC scanners leaves little room for error, says Coop.

Shipt will deliver throughout the city, reaching some 400,000 potential households. And one final think to note, Shipt cannot deliver beer or wine or prescriptions or tobacco. Coop says Tennessee law doesn't allow it.


Tuesday, May 23, 2017

On the Scene at Barbecue Fest

Posted By on Tue, May 23, 2017 at 3:19 PM


Another Barbecue Fest is the books, folks.

Here are the winners:

Big Bob Gibson's took home the World Championship prize for a record fifth time.

Patio Porkers: (1) Bad Pig BBQ, Bartlett, TN; (2) It’s About Time, Memphis, TN; (3) 4UWEQUE, Memphis, TN; (4) Smokin’ Spiders, Memphis, TN

Whole Hog:
(1) Yazoo’s Delta Q, Hernando, MS
(2) Mac’s Smoke Shop, Charlotte, NC
(3) Southern Hoggers BBQ Company, Germantown, TN
(4) Will-Be-Que BBQ Team, Cordova, TN
(5) Salty Rinse BBQ, New York City, NY
(6) 3 Taxi Guys, Pittsburgh, PA
(7) The Shed BBQ, Ocean Springs, MS
(8) Jack’s Old South, Unadilla, GA
(9) Grilla Grills, Cunningham, KY
(10) Whole Hog Café, Heber Springs, AR

(1) Big Bob Gibson Bar-B-Q, Decatur, AL
(2) Red Hot Smokers, Olive Branch, MS
(3) Cool Smoke, Richmond, VA
(4) Pork Illustrated, Memphis, TN
(5) Moe Cason Barbecue, Des Moines, IA
(6) Pork Me Baby, Southaven, MS
(7) The Pork University, Memphis, TN
(8) Delta Porkers, Marion, AR
(9) Sweet Swine O’ Mine, Olive Branch, MS
(10) Victory Lane BBQ, Olive Branch, MS

(1) 10 Bones BBQ, Olive Branch, MS
(2) 901Q, Arlington, TN
(3) Emily’s Tennessee Prime, Chicago, IL
(4) Dirk Piggler’s Porkographic BBQ, Memphis, TN
(5) Blues Hog, Washington, MO
(6) Pitmaker- BBQ Addiction, Humble, TX
(7) Rowdy Southern Swine, Oxford, MS
(8) Meat Mitch, Mission Hills, KS
(9) Fat Side Up, Collierville, TN
(10) Slabs A’ Smokin’, Memphis, TN

Kingsford Tour of Champions:
(1) The Shed, Ocean Springs, MS; (2) Too Sauced to Pork, Grand Island, NY; (3) Blue Collar Smokers, Olive Branch, MS; (4) The Other Team, Olive Branch, MS
Poultry: (1) Smokin’ with an Attitude, Rossville, TN; (2) Greaseland Porkers, Arlington, TN; (3) Bryce Boar Blazers, Memphis, TN
Seafood: (1) Uncle Murle’s BBQ Team, Cordova, TN; (2) Fat Side Up, Collierville, TN; (3) Smoking Yotes, Memphis, TN
Exotic: (1) Swinos, Memphis, TN; Sweet Brown Smokers, Memphis, TN; Ribdiculous Bar-B-Krewe, Astonia, NY

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Wednesday, May 17, 2017

Bluefin's New Korean Menu

Posted By on Wed, May 17, 2017 at 2:07 PM

Bluefin recently added a new Korean menu, and the owner Mr. Woo invited us to check it out. 

There's spicy chicken Korean tacos ...

And Korean beef barbecue ...
We sampled the vegetable dolsot bibimbop ... This dish was stacked with veggies and tofu and served with a hot sauce. The broccoli was nothing less than perfect.
Bluefin also serves beef and chicken bibimbop and dolsot bibimbop (dolsot refers to the stone pot).

We went a bit off script, as well, because, of course, we did ...

Veggie tempura and fried rice ...

I not a huge sweet potato fan, but this fried sweet potato roll is fantastic ...

Here's a pretty salad with grilled tofu. Served with a fine ginger dressing ...

Go try it yourselves and let me know what you think!

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Friday, May 12, 2017

Lucky Cat Opening in Crosstown

Posted By on Fri, May 12, 2017 at 2:53 PM

  • Lucky Cat, Facebook

Zach Nicholson and Sarah Pardee, owners of the pop-up ramen restaurant Lucky Cat, announced today that they are opening a permanent restaurant in the Crosstown Concourse building.

But, first, Lucky Cat will open another pop-up in corner space at Cafe 1912, which served briefly as a wine and tapas bar. The pop-up is set to open on June 2nd.

Nicholson and Pardee, who are married, are both trained chefs with experience in high-end dining. Nicholson worked for Erling Jensen. It was move to Austin that opened their eyes to ramen.

Nicholson says he's eaten in the best restaurants around the country, but the really good ramen he was eating in Austin was like a brand new cuisine. And it was affordable.

The pair eventually returned to Memphis (Nicholson is from here). Pardee designed the menu for the Hollywood Feed bakery, Nicholson worked for Catherine & Mary's.

They wanted to work for themselves, though, and a food truck seemed viable financially. Before they could get a loan, however, they were told to do some pop-ups first to test the concept. The first was in December 2016, and it's been gangbusters since.

  • Lucky Cat, Facebook
  • Lucky Cat, Facebook

The success can be credited to those tasty ramen bowls that range from traditional to creative —  Tan Tan, Miso Pork, Yuzu Veggie. Nicholson says he sometimes goes Southern with a bowl featuring collard greens and bacon or with the Memphis BBQ Pork steam bun.

The pop-up restaurant will offer five to six bowls (3 or 4 pork, 1 or 2 veggie, and a rotating chicken bowl), plus a vegetarian bun and a pork bun. The space seats about 50 and will have at-counter ordering. The decor will have an Asian look and dim lighting.

The pop-up will be open for dinner Thursday through Sunday.

Nicholson says the Crosstown restaurant will be more polished, refined. It will be located at the front of the building near the Cleveland entrance. They hope to have it open in about 8 months.

Nicholson considers Erling Jensen as sort of a father figure. It was Jenseon who hooked him up with Glenn Hays of Cafe 1912. Jensen thinks of Glenn as his own father figure.

As for what Jensen thinks of the ramen, Nicholson says he loves it and has given Lucky Cat his blessing.


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Thursday, May 11, 2017

Mama Gaia Announces Second Location

Posted By on Thu, May 11, 2017 at 9:00 AM


The folks behind Mama Gaia, the all-organic, vegetarian restaurant in Crosstown Concourse, announced today that they are opening a second location in Ballet Memphis' new headquarters in Overton Square.

Diners at the new location can expect the same menu, though more compact. And, the Ballet Memphis location will offer organic wine and local beers, perhaps some cocktails as well.

The new Mama Gaia will be open concurrently with Ballet Memphis' new headquarters, sometime in August.

From the release:

Visitors will have something extra to look forward to when they visit Ballet Memphis’ new purpose-built headquarters scheduled to open this summer in Overton Square: Mama Gaia, a Memphis-based, fast-casual organic vegetarian restaurant, will operate the cafe inside.

This will be the second location in Memphis for Mama Gaia. Mama Gaia at Ballet Memphis will offer a select food menu each day (including breakfast items) as well as coffee drinks, wine and beer. The cafe is open to the general public.

“Part of my vision and mission for this new building always has been to provide creative and imaginative experiences for everyone in the community. By bringing more people to Ballet Memphis, we are providing not only the experience of our art form but also the opportunity to spend time together and to encourage exploration, whether it is watching the professional company rehearse, taking a child to ballet class, or attending one of our special creative events or movement classes,” Dorothy Gunther Pugh, CEO/Founding Artistic Director, said. “It was always an important part of this vision to have a food and beverage offering; to have the right partner was critical.

“Mama Gaia’s food is delicious, healthy and made with care and commitment; it’s the perfect complement to Ballet Memphis’ programs. It’s also the passion and dedication to the brand that drew us to them.”

Created and owned by Philipp and Cru Peri von Holtzendorff-Fehling, Mama Gaia opened its first location in the Crosstown Concourse in March 2017. The inspiration to launch Mama Gaia came after Cru was diagnosed with Lyme disease. After she self-prescribed changes to an all-organic and plant-based diet as part of her treatment, Cru noticed a remarkable difference in her health. The couple wanted to provide delicious fast-casual options for the marketplace.

“Partnering with Ballet Memphis to bring Mama Gaia to the new headquarters fit wonderfully with our mission,” Philipp said. “We have already seen tremendous success in Crosstown Concourse, so to open a second location where more community members can experience healthy and delicious food at an affordable price was an easy decision.”

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Tuesday, May 9, 2017

About that Tom's Tiny Kitchen Cheese Dip

Posted By on Tue, May 9, 2017 at 3:48 PM

Do you think the folks at Tom's Tiny Kitchen will pay for my therapy?

The peddlers of some excellent pimento cheese recently expanded with a new line of cheese dip: Classic White, chipotle bacon, and Not So Spicy Thai. I'm into it. A bit too into it.

The company sent us some samples last week and we had it then and also the next day. To kick off the week, I had some more yesterday and today it served as a side with a peanut butter sandwich and the only reason I'm not having any now is that I've run out of chips. :(


So why has Tom's Tiny Kitchen expanded now?

"We're late," says Tom Flournoy, the Tom of Tom's Tiny Kitchen.

Flournoy says they're always thinking of new products, and when it came to the cheese dip, they thought it was pretty much a no-brainer.

"We thought there was a need for innovative cheese dips," he says.

What they hadn't considered was how long it would take to perfect the dip. Jill, Tom's wife, was in charge of creating the dip. It took a month or so.

"We wanted a dip that tasted good," Flournoy says. "We came up with three."

Each dip starts with the same cheese base, and the flavors are added in. One thing Flournoy says they wanted was heat (such as in the chipotle bacon).

The dips, like the pimento cheese, are carried by Kroger's Delta division, which translates into about 120 stores. Kroger will donate 15 cents for every tub sold of the dip to area food banks through May 16th.

The dips are also sold at locally owned grocery stores, SuperLo, Miss Cordelia's, and High Point.

Flournoy says they're pretty pleased with how the dips came out. "Taste is the single most important thing to us," he says.

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Monday, May 8, 2017

Majestic Owners Plan New Concept for Beale Street Landing

Posted By on Mon, May 8, 2017 at 11:30 AM

The new logo for the Front Porch, a pop-up restaurant coming to Beale Street Landing. - THE FRONT PORCH
  • The Front Porch
  • The new logo for the Front Porch, a pop-up restaurant coming to Beale Street Landing.

The Riverfront Bar & Grill, the restaurant at Beale Street Landing, will be transformed next month into The Front Porch, a new, pop-up concept from the owners of The Majestic Grille.

Deni and Patrick Reilly, owners of the Majestic, announced the five-month agreement with the Riverfront Development Corp. (RDC) during a meeting Monday morning. The restaurant will be completely rebranded, with brand-new menu and beverage choices, and new seating options, which will include a row of red rocking chairs that face the Mississippi River.
Beale Street Landing
  • Beale Street Landing

The Front Porch will be open for lunch and dinner during the weekdays and for brunch during the weekends. The restaurant may also feature grab-and-go options. Permanent hours for the spot have not yet been set.

Many details remain unknown so far, including the final menu, days of operation, and more. The Reillys will have about a month to hire staff, complete a marketing plan, and ready the space to their liking. Patrick Reilly explained that the pop-up concept is working with what you have and that the pair were not yet planning to make “any huge investment” at Beale Street Landing just yet.

The answer to many of the details, Patrick Reilly said, would come as The Front Porch got off the ground.

“It’s all a matter of economics,” Reilly said. “We’ll know pretty quick what works. We feel pretty confident in the research that we’ve done. We think that there’s a market for business lunch Monday through Friday.
“The items that sell, we keep. The items that don’t [sell], we don’t. If people don’t show up then, we’ll have to reevaluate whether we’re open for lunch or not. But we feel pretty confident that we can — with the right mix — get people down there.”

Many RDC members wondered about parking, physically getting customers to the space. RDC president Benny Lendermon said the reserved parking area next to Beale Street Landing contains 52 spaces and that parking there is now complimentary for restaurant guests. Also, the Reillys said they are considering using golf carts as a tram to take guests from Peabody Place to Beale Street Landing.
The bar inside the current Riverfront Bar & Grill.
  • The bar inside the current Riverfront Bar & Grill.
Jen Andrews, RDC board member and executive director at Shelby Farms Park, asked the pair what happens after the five-month pop-up agreement is over.

“Let’s say is wildly successful and people love it,” Andres said. “What then? Then, it goes away?”

Patrick Reilly joked that “if the biggest problem we have is that we’re a roaring success, I’ll take that any day.” But, he said that that decision, too, comes back to economics.

“Our plan is — with everything we do and with every decision we make — is to create a business model for the future,” Deni Reilly said. “This is not just for the six months. We are looking to make this something for the future that is viable for the riverfront.”

The Reillys said they are also working with Memphis-based Victory Bicycle Studio to possibly create a bike station on the Riverside Drive side of the restaurant. There, visitors could get their bikes ready for a ride along the riverfront, Downtown, or to Big River Crossing, and come back after their rides for food and drink.

Majestic managers will set up the Front Porch, hire and train servers, and oversee the restaurant, the Reillys said, noting that it would be a “Majestic operation down there.”

The Reillys are working on a marketing plan with Red Deluxe, which designed The Front Porch logo, on a website and social media elements, all which will launch in a few weeks.

“The Front Porch, much like The Majestic,” sPatrick Reilly said in a statement, “will be grounded in offering our community a place to call home. Just instead of historic Main Street, this will be rooted in the magic of the Mississippi River.”

Wednesday, May 3, 2017

Best Bets: Savory blueberry goat cheese flan

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 2:32 PM

Chef Josh Steiner prepares his savory blueberry flan. from Michael Donahue on Vimeo.

I recently tried chef Josh Steiner’s savory blueberry goat cheese flan at his restaurant, Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar.

It’s by far one of the best things I’ve eaten - ever. I’m a sweet-and-savory guy, so this is right up my alley.

There’s a good story about this dish, which doubles as an appetizer and a dessert and, beginning Friday May 5, it will be featured as a special at the restaurant. It’s a Chaine de Rotisseur winner.

I know about Chaine de Rotisseur because a photo picturing the late Justine Smith receiving an award from the food and wine organization is included in Janet Stuart Smith’s book, “Justine’s: Memories and Recipes,” about the legendary Memphis restaurant owned by Justine, Janet’s mother. The white tablecloth restaurant, which was the place to go for fine dining back in the day, closed in the mid 1990s.

The photo shows Justine being knighted with a sword at a Chaine des Rotisseurs ceremony in 1950.

So, I was impressed when Steiner told me he won a bronze medal in the Conference de la Chaines De Rotisseures Jeunes Commis Rotisseur (Young Chefs Competition) at the International Culinary Institute of Myrtle Beach (Florida).

Steiner and about a dozen other chefs from five states participated in the event. “It was a mystery basket competition,” he said. “We had no idea what we were getting into. And we had to do an appetizer, an entree and a dessert.”

Savory blueberry goat cheese flan at Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar - MICHAEL DONAHUE
  • Michael Donahue
  • Savory blueberry goat cheese flan at Strano! Sicilian Kitchen & Bar

Ingredients in his basket included goat cheese, blackberries, cream, flour and fish products. Steiner concocted a dinner that included charred flounder with pickled shrimp and burnt citrus and stuffed quail with pancetta black lintels.

But, Steiner said, “My favorite thing that I made was a savory blueberry goat cheese flan. I thought it was a little complex and it went over extremely well. And you know what? It turned out just the way I wanted it to.”

Steiner showed me how to make this flan. In one bowl he mixed up goat cheese, fresh blueberries, egg yolks, heavy cream and sugar. He added a savory seasoning mixture that includes salt, pepper, granulated garlic, dried basil and dried parsley.

He then moved to the stove and made a roux from the flour and butter “as a stabilizer to help firm up the flan. You want to cook it ‘till it smells like popcorn. So, you want to brown the butter a little bit.”

Steiner added the blueberries-goat cheese mixture to the roux and stirred it until it was smooth. He then ladled that mixture into ramekins and baked them for 15 minutes at 325 degrees before removing them from the oven. “I let them chill and heat them up to order.”

What’s even more impressive about this story is Steiner prepared his dinner after his plane landed - after five flight cancellations trying to get from Memphis to Myrtle Beach - at 3 a.m. The competition was at 7 a.m. “I didn’t have time to get nervous,” he said.

No sword was handy in Steiner’s kitchen, but I felt like knighting him on the shoulder with a Ginsu.

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Margarita Festival Tickets, etc.

Posted By on Wed, May 3, 2017 at 9:00 AM


The Flyer's 3rd Margarita Festival, presented by Don Julio Tequila, is set for June 17th in Overton Park!!!

There will be live music. There will be food trucks. There will be games.


Ticket buyers get 15 samples from area restaurants competing for the coveted Golden Sombrero.  (Blue Monkey claimed the prize the first year, Babalu the second.) The voting is via text.

Early bird tickets ($25) are going fast. You can get 'em here.

• Have you heard? Old Dominick opened for tours and tastings on Monday, and bottles of Memphis Vodka, Honeybell Vodka, and Memphis Toddy are available in the gift shop. Expect Old Dominick products in stores and restaurants and bars in about a week.

City Silo + Pantry has beer and wine. The menu includes a vegan wine and a gluten-reduced beer.

Check it out  ...


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