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Every year for Mr. Eats’s birthday, we go out and have a very fine, civilized meal. Last year was 404 Kitchen; the year before that was Kayne Prime. This year, I decided on Prima. Like Kayne Prime, Prima is a steak house, which seems like it would be an odd choice for a vegetarian, but like Kayne Prime, there is much more to Prima than just steak. In fact, if I hadn’t been told it was a steak house, I wouldn’t have known.

And that was the issue that Steve Cavendish had with the restaurant when he reviewed Prima for the Nashville Scene. His review was titled, “Prima is a really good Mediterranean restaurant, and a so-so steakhouse,” which gave the impression that it was not a good review. It was, in part, a great review of everything on the menu except the steaks. But let’s be honest: it’s not difficult to cook a steak. It is difficult to cook a steak that will wow you. Because it’s just steak. I asked my husband what was the best steak he’s ever had and he said it was the sous vide/pan seared steak that was served at a friend’s house recently. Not a steak in any restaurant. But they have to have steak on the menu, because the Bill Braskys of the world want a $50 steak when they’re dining on the company dime.

So there’s the background on Prima. And why I thought it would be a good choice for dinner. The menu changes frequently based on what’s seasonal and available, but I knew that they would accommodate me if there was nothing on the menu that suited me. Indeed, most of the sides had some sort of non-vegetarian component (such as pancetta or beef fat), but that was just fine because there was a good selection of salads and soups that would make a good meal. No need to ask for a vegetarian entrée at all.

I started out with the sweet potatoes appetizer. The potatoes are cooked in the skin to the point where it’s crispy and the flesh is creamy (not stringy at all; how do they do that?) and served with grilled onions and fig jam and topped with shreds of ricotta salata. It’s a huge portion, definitely meant for sharing and very delicious. The onions have just a bit of heat that is cooled by the delicate pieces of ricotta. Mr. Eats had the octopus starter, which I recommended based on friends tasting it an event a couple of months ago. The citrus zest really sets it off and Mr. Eats commented that the texture was perfect; not rubbery at all.

sweet potatoes with charred onions, fig jam, ricotta salata
sweet potatoes with charred onions, fig jam, ricotta salata
octopus with corona beans, olives, orange zest
octopus with corona beans, olives, orange zest

For dinner, I had the corona bean soup, which was a vegetable stock based hearty soup that also included bits of carrot, wilted arugula, and I think parsnips or potatoes as well. It was a heavy soup that I couldn’t even finish; it could be a meal on its own (and it will be because you know I brought it home with me). I also had a swiss chard and farro salad with dried cherries and pistachios. The chard was cut into ribbons, tossed in a vinaigrette and mixed with the farro, cherries, and pistachios and then topped with two scoops of deep fried goat cheese. The goat cheese was a substitution that I requested since I’m not a fan of blue cheese. This was one of the best salads I’ve ever had. I’m not sure what else to say about it other than you should try to go there soon before it disappears (though it is a recent addition to the menu, having replaced a kale salad). My husband got a grilled trout (not pictured, for obvious reasons) that was fileted and plated tableside and was huge. As a side, he ordered the grilled broccoli salad, which apparently is lightly seasoned with Beach Road 12 sauce from Martin’s BBQ Joint. He said both were fantastic.

corona bean soup with wilted arugula, seasonal vegetables
corona bean soup with wilted arugula, seasonal vegetables

 

chard salad with cherries, pistachios, and goat cheese
chard salad with cherries, pistachios, and goat cheese
grilled broccoli salad
grilled broccoli salad

By the end of the meal, I was too stuffed for dessert, which is too bad because there was this chocolate orange and olive oil concoction that sounded as if it were made just for me. Not a fan of the chocolate and citrus combination, Mr. Eats opted for the dulcey chocolate bar, which was actually milk chocolate and mousse-like. He loved it because he prefers milk chocolate to dark. Even better—the staff made sure it was specially-prepared for the occasion.

dulcey chocolate bar
dulcey chocolate bar

This seems like the time to mention how fantastic the service was. It’s team service with different staff members for refilling your water (still or sparkling, both complimentary), bringing you a linen napkin (your choice of black or white), and bread service (do not skip the bread; it is delicious). The service was knowledgeable, helpful, and attentive without being intrusive. Other little things that made it nice included that though the restaurant was about 75% full and the kitchen is open to the restaurant, it was not loud. I also didn’t feel crowded up against the tables nearest us. And of course, the gorgeous light fixtures gave us something to gawk at between courses. There is also a valet and complimentary self-parking in the Terrazzo garage. Dress is business casual and up (it's Nashville; men are almost always in jeans, though).

dazzling light fixture in Prima
dazzling light fixture in Prima

Prima
700 12th Avenue South
Open for dinner nightly

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Now that my kitchen is functional (and I’m getting deliveries from Green Bean Delivery every other week), I’ve been busy in the kitchen. I have several great recipes with mediocre photos to share, but I thought I’d do a round-up of others’ recipes I’ve either made or tasted recently and really liked.

romanescoRoasted Romanesco. The romanesco is a broccoli/cauliflower hybrid that is milder and tastier than either of the two. I got one in a Green Bean Delivery box and cooked it up using this simple recipe from The Kitchen Snob and it was great! This is a particularly good recipe to try when having guests since the vegetable looks so great on a plate. And they were definitely better than roasted cauliflower steaks. I just can’t seem to roast them at home so they taste like the cauliflower at Etch.

Baguettes. During the recent snow/ice storms, we were stuck in our house for nearly a week. Our driveway was covered in a thick sheet of ice. The steepness was great for sledding, but not so much for getting out without possibly careening into a tree. So I decided to make some bread in anticipation of actually running out! My friend, Amy at Fearless Homemaker has made these baguettes often and loves them.

Eh, I didn’t love them. But it’s not the fault of the recipe. Somehow (perhaps the arid conditions in our house because of the heat being on all the time), the dough was too dry, so we had to add water. I also had trouble mixing the dough initially (almost burned up my mixer’s motor). My husband swears he did not measure inaccurately, but anyway, the result was a bread with overworked dough that resulted in a tight crumb (like sandwich bread). So I wasn’t blown away. But if made properly, I can see how this bread would be really great. It’s a huge recipe, though (makes four loaves), so keep that in mind.

Freekeh with Brussels Sprouts, Apples, Cranberries, Cherries and Pecans. This is the dish that Beth of Eat. Drink. Smile. brought to our Nashville Foodbloggers post-holiday potluck. I loved this dish. I’ve got to skeedaddilydoo over to the store and get some freekeh, though. I’ve never had it before and certainly never bought it. But it is fantastic. Plus, I’m always up for a new way to use Brussels sprouts.

Butternut Squash and Goat Cheese Empanadas. My favorite dish from the foodblogger potluck was Tracey of Single Grrl in the Kitchen’s empanadas. Oh, man, these things were good. I snagged several to take home afterward, too.

Also at our potluck, Angela of Spinach Tiger brought some of her famous biscuits as well as this triple layer chocolate fudge cake and Phillip of Southern Fatty brought these delicious ginger beer cupcakes.

I’ve also made a really great Brussels sprouts salad (several times), some fantastic waffles, and a “cookie salad” (my contribution to the foodblogger potluck). Those are the recipes I plan to post soon (I hope).

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Fans of Nashville’s dearly-departed Plumgood grocery delivery business can now rejoice! No, Plumgood isn’t returning, but Green BEAN Delivery is expanding from the Midwest to the Nashville area and offers an extensive selection of produce and groceries for home delivery.

Green BEAN’s PR team reached out to me and asked me if I’d like to receive a trial bin to check out the service. Well, sure! Despite the fact that I have a flexible schedule, I sometimes have difficulty making it to the grocery store. Frankly, I really don’t enjoy shopping for groceries at all. And to completely stock my kitchen requires trips to the farmers' markets (plural), Publix, Whole Foods, and Trader Joe’s. I spend way too much time shopping for groceries. So I was happy to discover that Green BEAN carries a lot of the items I like (except TJ’s, of course) and they’ll deliver right to my door!

credit: GreenBEAN Delivery on Facebook
credit: GreenBEAN Delivery on Facebook

Of course, it’s not super cheap, but the prices are on par with Whole Foods and the better quality items at Publix. And they even carry some items that aren’t at my other stops, such as Provence breads and Bourbon Barrel soy sauce.

Here’s how it works: you sign up, put in your credit card info and between noon on Thursday and noon on Monday, you browse the shop and decide what you want for the upcoming week. There’s a $35 minimum and if you choose a combo bin (which is a mix of produce and groceries, which most of us would get), you just have to commit to $28 of produce and at least $7 of grocery items. Essentially, they want you to eat your fruits and veggies (and herbs) and support farmers.

The produce is a mix of conventional and organic, mostly sourced from the U.S., but some from Mexico and Tropical regions (ginger and kiwi, for example). A lot of the produce comes from the company’s own farms in Indiana and Ohio. And they try to incorporate grocery items from local markets as well. In Nashville, not only can you get Provence breads, but also Hatcher milk, Bongo Java coffee, eggs from Summertown’s Willow Farms, local honey, and treats from Nashville Toffee Company. The selection of goods (including meats, if that's your thing and bulk goods and other groceries) is outstanding (though you may not be able to see it until after you sign up and after Thursday at noon).

Green BEAN's CEO/owner on his farm credit: GreenBEAN Delivery on Facebook
Green BEAN's CEO/owner on his farm
credit: GreenBEAN Delivery on Facebook

If your favorites aren’t available, they also take requests and try to accommodate when possible. For example, in the future, I’d like to see perhaps some prepared foods from Corner Market Catering and Lazzaroli Pasta (particularly since I think this service would benefit busy folks who don’t have a lot of time to cook) as well as produce and even flowers from local farms. Though I’ll still have to go to Publix for my Santitas, it seems.

Anyhoo, it’s pretty cool. There are no registration or membership fees and you can cancel any time or suspend if you don’t want anything for a week or two or go out of town. And if your address isn’t in the delivery area (which is actually pretty big and extends even to Hendersonville, Lebanon and Murfreesboro), you can opt to have it delivered to your workplace or pick it up at their warehouse out by the airport. I did have a snafu with my first week suspended not getting recorded properly, but the customer service team got me squared away.

My first bin arrived around 6pm; though it says arrival between noon and 8pm, they strive for later deliveries to accommodate folks who work outside the home (which is likely most of their market). I got some avocadoes, bok choy, broccoli, grape tomatoes, sweet potatoes, and a few other items as well as the aforementioned Willow Farm eggs and Bourbon Barrel soy sauce. The quality of the produce was very good. The only thing I didn’t like was not being able to pick my own sweet potatoes. I cut mine raw, so I prefer skinny ones. This is a minor issue, of course that I will remedy by just not ordering sweet potatoes! There are plenty of other items to choose from.

Everything was packaged well and very fresh and all of it fit in their cool green bin with a giant freezer pack in it. You hang on to that bin until your next delivery, put it outside on delivery day, and they take it back with them. For people who cancel, they'll just come get your bin at an appointed time.

If you’d like to try Green BEAN for yourself, I have a code for you to use to get a $15 credit on your first bin (it’s also good for reactivations). This code is good through May 2, 2015, so you have plenty of time to decide! Just enter bc6leea in the promo code section when you've configured your first order (remember; you can only do that between noon Thursday and noon Monday; you can sign up any time but you can only configure the bin/cart during that time frame). I think it's a great service, not just for busy people, but for those who might have some other reason for less access to fresh, good quality produce and food.

For more information, check out their guide to getting started (it's so easy) and see the "about" page to learn more about the company's (admirable) philosophy, how they got started, and how they intend to grow. And finally, 5 Reasons You'll Love Green BEAN (Biodynamic Education Agriculture Nutrition).