|Connor and June, buds *shout out to Kate and Ashley and their awesome store, Oldmadegood for letting me use their sign.|
Some things I know about myself are 1) I love a good challenge. 2) I like to change careers (often). And 3) I need to be surrounded by people whom I esteem and respect. If the above things are not true for me, we are dead in the water.
This little list is relevant because I am happy to announce I will be starting a new job as the pastry chef at Lockeland Table, the neighborhood restaurant just a few blocks from my house that is eagerly anticipated by East Nashville and beyond. This job will get me back in a kitchen doing something I love to do, which is baking. I think it will be a good fit for me because the backbone of the restaurant's philosophy is local, seasonal and unpretentious food in a neighborhood setting open to all. It will be a family-run business that will also appeal to families, as the partners in this venture are long-time colleagues from Eastland Cafe (another great East Nashville mainstay) and have young children of their own. I believe they'll take that experience of caring for and feeding their own families and translate it to feeding the neighborhood. What better place for me to be?
The desserts I would love to make are ones in which seasonal fruit features prominently, things like handmade tarts, pies, gelato and other simple Italian-inspired baked goods that let the ingredients speak for themselves. I am super excited to be embarking on this new professional phase for myself, and to play a small part of Chef Hal's and Cara's dream.
Here is a rustic peach and blueberry crostata that I hope will be featured on the opening, late-summer menu. As long as peaches are still available, I'm making this. It is so simple served room temperature, alongside a scoop of vanilla bean gelato and cup of good, strong coffee. It's my favorite breakfast actually (minus the gelato).
And this zucchini-olive oil cake with lemon glaze I tested out recently (from Babbo's Gina de Palma's cookbook), and it was loved by all who tried it. It's moist without being too rich but with complex flavors of olive oil mixed with lemon and spices. It would be a great late summer-early Fall dessert when zucchinis are plentiful.
Last Sunday I attended a charity dinner at the Hermitage Hotel benefiting the national organization Share Our Strength. They work to end childhood hunger and one of their big fundraisers is a traveling dinner / live auction with local and regional chefs where patrons bid lots of money for, among other things, a chance to have Tandy Wilson or Tyler Brown cook dinner for 12 in the winner's home. My favorite dishes were Brown's first course of heirloom beets, green olive vinaigrette, biscuit crumble and Cruze Dairy ricotta salata; and the "community plate" --a collaboration of all the chefs (chef Hal was one of them) that really spoke volumes about the honest, meaty, Southern-inspired and fresh food these chefs are serving now.
Then, Steven Satterfield of Miller Union in Atlanta (where I recently enjoyed a fabulous farm-to-table dinner with friends) made this blackberry cobbler with Cruze buttermilk ice cream. Love that miniature skillet, but the blackberries made all the guests' teeth purple! (note to self: look up the science behind this and find out if there is anything to be done about it).
It has been a fruit-filled and fruitful summer for me. And as the temperatures and the oppressive humidity rise alongside each other, making us all move a little slower and long for the crisp, cool days of fall, I look forward to the challenges that lie ahead. For me, August always brings change and a new beginning and this one is no exception.