sushi

Birthday Feasts

Last Friday, I celebrated my 22nd birthday! The week leading up to it, I had four friends stay with me because it was their spring break. It was great because I got to play tourist in my own city and celebrate my birthday with them as well! I took them to the Country Music Hall of Fame, some iconic Nashville spots, and the Jack Daniels Distillery. And of course, we ate some pretty amazing food. We didn’t eat out every meal so stay tuned for some new recipes I tested on my village people.   10422920_10152832039623237_6489192471436421229_n1620788_10152833828918237_554891954402108823_n 11081135_10152832037508237_301153506368428946_n

Wild Cow

This entirely vegan restaurant in East Nashville is easily one of my favorites (shocking!). Their intricate menu items show just how easy and delicious it can be to go dairy-free and meatless! We shared the nacho and spinach and artichoke dip appetizers. The spinach and artichoke dip got it’s creaminess from cashews rather than pounds of parmesan cheese, mayo, and/or cream cheese. It gave it a rich taste without being too heavy. For my entrée, I got my favorite salad of theirs – the Market Veggie – loaded with fresh vegetables, nuts, and seeds, and topped with their grilled tempeh. It blows my mind how they make such a seemingly simple salad so outrageously tasty.

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Blvd

On St. Patrick’s Day we rented out a backroom in Blvd as an early birthday celebration for myself and my KD little who turned 21 two days before my birthday. We started off with the butternut squash salad, and then I got the quinoa falafel wrap with a side of kale. Everything was extremely tasty and well priced and having the room was a great way to be able to mingle with all of our friends.

20150317-IMG_9903 20150317-IMG_9906 The Row

No visit to the south would be complete without biscuits, and I couldn’t let my village leave without trying some from The Row. Their four homemade jams – tomato, peach, strawberry, and blackberry are a perfect condiment for their flaky, warm biscuits.
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Fido

I can’t believe I’ve never blogged about Fido. Easily my favorite and most frequented breakfast/lunch spot. Their coffee is top notch, their banana nut pancakes are arguably better than Pancake Pantry (gasp!), and their hash browns could end wars (or at least massive hangovers). My go-to’s are the simple eggs (nothing wrong with a classic), the village scramble, or the huevos rancheros. But don’t forget about the baked goods! If you’ve never tried their Sweet Potato White Chocolate Chip muffin, you’re missing out.

20150319-IMG_0894 20150319-IMG_8046 20150319-IMG_5146Wild Ginger

I first visited this place back in May when my dad visited for the weekend, so I couldn’t pass up the opportunity to have dinner with my roommate and her mom on my actual birthday here. We tried the edamame hummus (delicious!) a few new rolls (The R2D2 will definitely be a repeat offender next visit!) and of course I had to get the Amazon roll (shown with the huge shrimp on top) and the key lime pie.

20150320-IMG_0009 Mack and Kate’s

My wonderful friends, Alex and Stacey took me out for an amazing brunch out in Franklin. Alex has been multiple times and hasn’t stopped raving about it since, so I was eager to try it out myself. Our waiter gave above and beyond service with complimentary mini muffins and a huge piece of cake once he found out we were celebrating my birthday! The salad I had was so fresh with big chunks of crab meat, juicy mango pieces, and creamy avocado.

20150321-IMG_0013 20150321-IMG_0014 20150321-IMG_0017Merchants

Saturday night, I went out with my KD little’s family to Merchants downtown. The menu upstairs is drastically different than the one downstairs so I was excited to try new things. My favorite appetizer was their tuna tartare because it had olives and capers mixed right in, giving a new twist on the classic. My dinner was the roasted cauliflower salad with pine nuts and golden raisins, which made for a delicious dish with interesting combinations of flavors and textures.

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So unfortunately I didn’t take any pictures, but probably because I was so overwhelmed by the amount of different menu items we all tried as a group. We literally ordered every appetizer and every side dish and each one was better than the next. My favorites were definitely the grilled octopus with avocado and peanuts and the stewed swiss chard. Fun fact – it’s the first time I’ve ever liked octopus!

Gulps and Strokes

Birthdays are by far my favorite celebration. I think everyone deserves that Queen (or King) for the Day moment, and it doesn’t hurt that I also love to plan. This past Friday was my good friend Stacey’s birthday. We started off the evening with an incredible meal at Virago. This is not your ordinary California and Spicy Tuna roll type place. These sushi rolls were so unique. They included a variety of seafood, fruit, nuts, veggies, and sauces, and the different combinations of flavors and textures were simply amazing. We were so obsessed that we made a pact to try every roll by the end of the summer (I’ll keep you posted on how that goes!). The cocktails were cool, refreshing, and deceptively strong, which allowed for a pretty decent head start to Sips and Strokes, our next stop of the night.

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Appetizers: (front) Crispy Rice with Spicy Tuna and Pop Rocks (back) Lobster Shooters with Spicy Coconut Curry

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Hawaii Five-O Roll: soy wrap, hamachi, escolar, hearts of palm, avocado, cream cheese and mango inside, rolled in toasted coconut, wrapped in kiwi, topped with honey fire sauce and macadamia nuts

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Kiwi-Cucumber Cocktail: muddled kiwi, cucumber-infused Stoli, soda water…the most refreshing and delicious drink I’ve ever had

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By recommendation of our awesome waiter, Tanto Roll: tempura lobster, avocado, pickled carrot, topped with tuna and fresh salmon sashimi, tempura crumbs, seared jalapeño, spicy yuzu, eel sauce

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Dessert: Green Tea Mochi

Sips and Strokes (or as we renamed it – “Gulps and Strokes”) is a BYOB painting class in the gulch. They rotate artwork themes daily, and Friday night’s was wine bottles. At the start of class the instructor asked us who would consider themselves to be a Type A personality. Of course both of our hands shot straight up, but at least we were in good company with the rest of the class. The instructor’s advice to us crazy perfectionists was to just keep drinking wine and it will look better and better. I have to admit that the key to my immense enjoyment of the class, rather than pure frustration at my lack of painting skills was due entirely to my wine (and partner in crime, Stacey). Even so, I kept joking that my painting was going to turn out to be abstract wine bottles a la Picasso rather than the realistic example canvas. Fortunately, with some liquid courage (and the aid of the instructor) I’m pretty impressed with the finished product, not to mention that I didn’t stop laughing the entire time (#typical). I absolutely cannot wait to go back or recreate the idea in my apartment with some friends, blank canvases, a lot of wine, and maybe a good Ashton Kutcher movie too.

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The night ended in typical college fashion down Broadway at one of our favorite bars, Rippy’s. We even got Stacey up stage with the band when we told the leader singer it was her birthday. Happy birthday, stace!