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A few stops in Nashville, TN

Chalkboard at Las Paletas

Shady Lawn Truck Stop

Route 65 North from Birmingham to Nashville has its share of iconic roadside attractions–the Ave Maria Grotto, former President James K Polk’s home, and the shrine of the Most (!) Blessed Sacrament–but the Shady Lawn Restaurant and truck stop’s giant, well-armed chicken seemed a good enough place to stretch my legs as any. Didn’t stick around long enough to try the food because it was predictably seedy. Interestingly enough, I noticed no lawn and even if there were one it wouldn’t have been shaded (however shady).

Heavily armed chicken

West Nashville Farmer’s Market

I got to visit the inaugural showing at the West Nashville Farmer’s Market. A handful of purveyors has a decent variety of produce–giant white cucumbers, local honey, tomatillos, corn, peppers, and orange Turkish eggplant (below). Richland Park seems like it’s in a neat neighborhood. I’d like to go back the next time I’m in town. Excellent post over at The Charlotte Parker. The market currently runs Saturdays from 9am until noon.

Turkish Orange Eggplant Local Honey by Paul Kidd Timbertop Farms Shitake Mushrooms Continue reading →

Market Update: Holding Pattern

I’ve been terribly pleased with the response to the Pepper Place Market Report since its introduction back in May. It’s been a lot of fun talking with the farmers and providing the produce list, but I will be heading to pasture, so to speak, and won’t be able to publish the report for the remainder of the 2009 season.

If anyone would like to take up the reins, leave a comment and I’ll hook you up with the necessary details. Here are the requirements: arrive at Pepper Place around 7am, make a list of available produce, talk with farmers about interesting details, and publish the post by 8:30.

That’s not so bad, right? And you’ll get first dibs on the market’s bounty, not to mention my eternal gratitude. And maybe some ice cream.

It’s been a great season and I hope to keep the report going. I’ll post some details when I get them.

Red Delicious Apples Azoychka Tomatoes (again) Brown Turkey Figs Brown Turkey Brandywine Tomatoes Celeste Figs German Johnson Tomatoes Ginger Gold Apples Ox Heart Tomatoes Habersham Farms Azoychka Tomatoes Sunburst Tomatoes Squash Summer Fruits Snow's Bend Vegetables-2 Snow's Bend Vegetables Mixed Tomatoes Peaches Shitakes Okra Eggplant Squash and Multicolor Okra Breakfast Radish Mixed Tomatoes Blackberries Bunching Onions Green Onions Plum Burnette Farms English Peas Sprandlin Farms Chandler Strawberries

Local Produce: The Sun Jewel Melon

Sun Jewel Melon On Cutting Board

When I picked up my first pair of Sun Jewel melons back in early July, I have to say I was underwhelmed. They were beautiful, smelled vaguely of banana and mango (as advertised) but they lacked a definitive taste and were somewhat mealy. Snow’s Bend Farm doesn’t usually disappoint, so when they suggested that I try another, I did so without reservation.

This past week, the Sun Jewel had a fuller flavor as well as a firmer texture. It is still very subtle taste, though. When you try one, don’t go in expecting the sugary punch of a honeydew or cantaloupe.

Try one while they’re around. Or read about them. Or grow some. They’re apparently quite productive and resistant to some common melon issues.

Sun Jewel Melon Whole Sun Jewel Melon Cut

Dan is the producer of ‘Ham Sandwich. Read about his cooking adventures as Skip on The Gourmetro and learn about him on aisle-9.net.

Market Update: What’s Hot at Pepper Place

Red Delicious Apples

Week 13: August 8, 2009
Weather: 80 degrees and sunny

Apples (Ginger Gold, Red Delicious, Ozark gold, and gala)
Arugula
Basil (green and purple)
Blueberries
Cilantro
Cantaloupe (Athena)
Carrots
Corn (peaches and cream, and silver queen)
Cucumber (long green, pickler)
Eggplant (Italian, white, Japanese)
Figs (LSU Purple, Lemon, brown turkey)
Leeks
Melon (Sun Jewel)
Okra (green and red)
Onion
Parsley
Peaches (Flame Prince, Encore, Tyler) Continue reading →

Market Update: What’s Hot at Pepper Place Market

Heirloom Tomatoes Week 12: August 1, 2009
Weather: 75 degrees and cloudy

Apples (Ginger Gold, Red and Yellow Delicious)
Arugula
Basil (green and purple)
Blueberries
Cilantro
Broccoli
Cantaloupe (Athena)
Corn (field, and silver queen)
Cucumber (long green, pickler) Continue reading →

First Bite: Za Za Trattoria

Za Za BLT Pizza I have been silent about Za Za Trattoria for too long. It was selfish, really, to have sat on such a fabulous new restaurant, but you’ve got to understand how I might want to keep those bready bits of pizza and fabulous BYO brunches to myself for a little while? Yes? No? Well, here we go anyway.

I lost count of how many time I’ve eaten at the trattoria in the last five or six weeks, but let’s suffice it to say that I have been thrilled with everything they’ve served so far. From their focaccia-like pizzas to, surprisingly enough, their grits (which are the best I’ve had: neither too cheesy nor greasy, with a true corn taste and milky, smooth texture), Brian, Geoff, and Braxton present high quality products simply. The sausage cornbread, the salads, especially the caponata and peach/arugula. As they are both Chez Fon Fon alums, Frank Stitt should be proud of their elegant and economical approach to local food. Continue reading →

Market Update: What’s Hot at Pepper Place

Mixed Okra

Week 11: July 25, 2009
Weather: 71 degrees and sunny

Arugula
Basil (green)
Beets (red)
Blackberries
Blueberries
Cilantro
Broccoli
Cantaloupe (Athena)
Corn (peaches and cream, and silver queen) Continue reading →

Bar-b-Coma ’09 – A Contest

Fresh Ribs Daily

Practically everyone I’ve met in Birmingham has a barbecue story, and I’d like to hear yours. Comment below or send a tweet to @skipinbhm with your favorite Alabama barbecue spot (and why) or your earliest ‘cue memory to win lunch with me at your favorite Birmingham barbecue restaurant. Fancy, huh? You’ve got until 11:59 July 23, 2009. Complete rules below. Continue reading →

Market Update: What’s Hot at Pepper Place

Watermelon Week 10: July 18, 2009
Weather: 65 degrees and sunny

Arugula
Basil (green and purple)
Beets (Chiogga, golden and red)
Blackberries
Blueberries
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cantaloupe (Athena)
Collard Greens
Corn (peaches and cream, and silver queen)
Cucumber (long green, pickler)
Eggplant (Italian, white, Japanese)
Figs (O’Rourke, Lemon, Celeste) Continue reading →

Market Update: What’s Hot at Pepper Place

Peaches Week 9: July 11, 2009
Weather: 73 degrees and sunny

Arugula
Basil
Beets (Chiogga, golden and red)
Blackberries
Blueberries
Broccoli
Cabbage
Cantaloupe
Carrots
Collard Greens
Corn (merit, peaches and cream, and silver queen)
Cucumber (long green, pickler)
Eggplant (Italian, white, Japanese) Continue reading →