The Tennessean reports on Thomas Keller (of French Laundry) eating in Nashville. I am not sure what to make about Keller’s relationship to chicken or  his description of the down home and Southern feel at his new restaurant in Napa, Ad Hoc. However, I would have paid money to see him eat hot chicken and to know what he thought of City House.

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For the Love of Chicken

March 27, 2010

I like chicken quite a bit, and in SE Asia I particularly love street vendors or restaurants that specialize and cook nothing but chicken.  In Bangkok a good friend took me to one such vendor, pictured below.  The main course is shredded boiled chicken–delicately moist and flavorful–served over rice steamed in chicken broth.  The bones are the base of a light squash soup.  Most of the dark meat is fried with an extra crispy skin, and then cut up into bite-size slivers, second picture below.

Late night in Hanoi, some friends and I ventured out into the cool, empty streets for a specific type of chicken pho–pho cooked only from chickens’ backbones.  When you first come in, they fish out the backbone and chop it up.  The pieces are then dipped into a salt, pepper, and lime sauce and then gnawed of all their goodness.  Bonelessness be damned.  Tea glasses full of Vietnamese vodka are then brought out as a compliment.  The pho is served at the end of the meal, the final dish for the night.

KFC and now Popeyes have set up shop all over Vietnam’s cities.  Not surprisingly, no comparison.

More from Bangkok

March 25, 2010

Outside Bangkok’s buildings and homes are miniature homes that the spirits are supposed to inhabit.  The details and decor can be quite amazing.  The one below is unconventional –perhaps a postmodern version of spirit housing.

There are always food and drinks left for the spirits.  Below, the spirits have a choice between a Western coffee-chain drink or Fanta-like pops.  I suppose the spirits’ taste are shaped by big-box and big-chain marketing as well.

City House

March 25, 2010

1222 4th Ave N
Nashville, TN 37208
(Germantown)
615.736.5838

Last week I returned to City House with some friends, while my better half was off eating in Asia. The Pickled and Fried team had gone to CH when it first opened and never returned. It was finally time to give City House a second chance. The place has a sense of urban cool that is lacking in Nashville restaurants , despite the bright but environmentally sound lights. We started  dinner with cocktails, two Sazeracs $9 and one “The C.C.” $10. “The C.C.,” a surprising mix of Absinthe, Prosecco, and orange zest, was delicious but would have been better as an after-dinner  drink. The anise flavor tends to coat the tongue and not relent throughout the meal. I started with the  little neck clams and cauliflower dish $11. I am not the biggest cauliflower fan, but the texture and taste of the cauliflower blended nicely with the white wine sauce. These were some of the best clams I’ve had in a long time.  Ggg had the potatoes and gorgonzola $9, which were tasty, and El had the radicchio and sweet potato salad $7, with butternut squash instead of potatoes. The squash and radicchio didn’t make the best pair. My main course was the Margherita pizza with pork belly $9. The belly ham could have been crispier, but the pizza crust and sauce were perfect.

I made a point of asking them to hold the salt. If you talk to anyone in the know about City House, you’ll learn the chef is heavy with the salt. Best to safeguard against the extra salt with a direct request.  Ggg’s Painted Hills brisket $24 was far too salty and nothing special. El’s special pasta with beef ragu was light and delicious. By far the weakest dish was the Cruze’s Chocolate Milk Panna Cotta with Cocoa Crispy Rice & Almond Granola $7. It tasted like a bland breakfast concoction of chocolate milk and cereal. I’ll keep going back to City House. Its one of the few places in town to get an excellent pizza and sophisticated Italian fare. These ambitions are definitely worth supporting.

City House, if you are reading this, enough with the salt!

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from Bangkok

March 24, 2010

I’ve already stopped by Ho Chi Minh City, but it was a bit too hectic for any bloggage.  Now in Bangkok, I’ve been so anxious to wander the streets that I’ve forgotten my camera.  But not today…

One of the most humbling things about being in Bangkok is my lack of Thai language skills.  Combine that with the determination to eat street food, and it’s doubly challenging.  I just walk in the unforgiving heat, until I see a customer eating something I want and then point to it.  There’s such an array of food that I wonder why Americanized Thai restaurants have such a limited template.

Charcoal and chicken, despite the blistering heat

A sampling of desserts

from Hong Kong

March 15, 2010

Half the Pickled and Fried team will be in Asia for the next few weeks and will posting from there. The other half will hold down the Nashville fort.

The United flight from Chicago to Hong Kong was 15 hours long. Torture. It had the leg room and service of a domestic flight, which then arced up to the Bering Strait to safely cross the ocean–taking forever. The food options were awful: bad versions of chicken teriyaki, primitive turkey sandwiches with butter, and weird concoctions of yogurt as well as 0-trans-fat butter.

A layover in Hong Kong provides time for a pint of Carlsburg, some fresh dim sum, and handmade noodles. The food, efficiency, and Muji to Go are definite signs that I’ve arrived across the Pacific.

Have to catch next flight now.

The Tennessean reports that the new restaurant on 12th South will be a “casual dining” venue with entrees ranging from $9-$16. They’ll be trying to compete with Mafiaozas and 12th South Tap. We hope they’ll put together a thoughtful menu that  expands the neighborhood offerings.