Wine Time: Robin Riddell Jones, La Tavola/Raising the Glass

If you’ve followed this blog for awhile, you’ve likely seen and heard of Robin Riddell Jones. We were fortunate enough to have her on board for all of our Sunday Suppers – smartly pairing wines with our courses and doing a damn fine job of it at every turn.

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Buttermilk Road Sunday Supper at Catbird Seat. Robin Riddell Jones and I about to get it.

 

Robin’s resume is impressive but what has really always impressed me is her down to earth nature when it comes to educating people about wine. In a world where people are occasionally and outwardly incredibly impressed by their own knowledge of wine and regions (and moreover, how much more they know about it than you do), Robin has always been open, wide eyed, enthusiastic and generous about the vast wealth of information and experiences she has had with wine both academically and personally. I’ve learned so much from her myself and I’d go as far as to to say that many, many chefs and Nashvillians will tell you the same thing.

And she’s done the thing we were all hoping she would do! She’s offering classes for the community at large. Her first series is dedicated to Italy. “The first series will run from April 2nd to May 14th with classes taking place every other week. Each week guests will experience six different wines paired with small bites.”. You can sign up for individual classes or the entire series. There aren’t many seats left, so go get ya a seat tout suite! It’s truly a great addition to our growing Nashville food scene!

You can follow her website, sign up for classes and in general keep keep up with a great wine resource in our city HERE: http://www.raisingtheglass.com

 

ADDITIONAL SOUTHERN BAKING CLASSES FOR APRIL

Wow. Alright then, guys! Let’s do this. There is a substantial waiting list for the April 25th Southern Baking Basics Class which booked up in a flash, so I’ve decided to add two more classes to April. Once you register, you’ll receive a confirmation email within 24-48 hours. Thanks everyone!

SOUTHERN BAKING BASICS, ADULT CLASS: Saturday, APRIL 18TH, 10am-1pm

Come learn the secrets of a Southern Baker. Biscuits, pie dough, hand pies and her well loved Buttermilk Pie will be covered. Supplies will be provided and you get to take home everything you make! Seats will be limited to 10 students. $80/per student, all materials included. THIS CLASS IS FULLY BOOKED! 

ALL PIE, ALL DAY: SATURDAY, APRIL 18TH, 230P-530PM

We’re gonna get down and dirty about all things pie. Ingredients, dough, building techniques to include crimp styles, lattice styles and hand pies, filling (how to get the perfect fruit viscosity) and variations. Seats will be limited to 12 students. $80/per student, all materials included. REGISTER HERE!

 

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See you in the kitchen!

LD and the Buttermilk Road Team

 

APRIL BAKING CLASSES

Our March classes filled up in a flash – thanks guys! For those of you that missed last month’s sign up – April classes are here! Hopefully, April will usher us into warmer times and bit saner routines.

The start of this year has been weird. Transitioning from full time chef to a freelance writer-chef-teacher-consultant has been interesting, to say the least. I’ve been busy – which is so, so good for me. But, it’s also been strange to teach myself to go with this much easier flow. I get a full night’s sleep. I eat sitting down. I go for walks. It’s weird, you guys. I’ll learn to enjoy it, but for now it just feels like I’m floating in space.

All of these changes, though, have reopened the channel to my brain that was a bit quiet for many years. I can now say that I’m a contributor to Food and Wine, Saveur, Southern Living and Garden and Gun and with any luck, I’ll continue to make strides in those arenas. And, recipe testing and research aside, I’ve been cooking in the most meaningful ways with good chef pals all over the place. Last week I was french butchering and grilling 2,000 pieces of chicken with Ashely Christensen and her right hand gal Charlotte Coman as an honorary Poole’s Diner member. Tomorrow I leave for Charleston, SC for the Food and Wine festival to cook with the formidable Angie Mosier: baker, photographer, food stylist, general badass of all the lands. It’s been the most meaningful kind of busy there is.

The Poole's Diner team gearing up at SOBE.

The Poole’s Diner team gearing up at SOBE.

As I’ve said before, I’m taking each month as they come as I’m also juggling some big decisions that could change the course of all of this “well-rested” nonsense. If my schedule will permit, I will be offering more classes in the Summer and am even considering a week long baking class for the youngins (ya’ll should let me know if you’d be into that). As it stands right now, I will be teaching in San Francisco with the wonderful folks at 18 Reasons in May and then will host a series of classes in New York at two different places (top secret still, as I finalize the details). So, for my out of town pals, stay tuned as it appears I’ll be heading to a city (hopefully) near you, soon.

Below is the list and sign up links to our April classes. Just click on the link, sign up and you’ll receive a confirmation email within 24-48hours confirming your seat(s).

Baking Class with kiddos.

Baking Class with kiddos.

SATURDAY, APRIL 25TH, 10AM-1PM: CHILDREN’S BAKING BASICS, AGES 10+

The most requested class of all time! We will cover basic baking skills such as accurate measuring, leavening, understanding butter through cookie baking, and we’ll bake and build a mini-layer cake like grandma used to make. Class will be capped at 10 students. $85/per student, snacks and all materials included. REGISTER HERE!

SATURDAY, APRIL 25TH, 230PM-530PM: GENERAL BAKING 101, ADULT CLASS

This class is for all the folks out there who have said “I can’t even begin to sign up for your Southern Baking Class because I mess up instant pancakes and biscuits from a tube”. We will cover the basics, the utter basics, and you – you sweet, darling, brave heart – you can ask as many revealing questions as you’d like in our safe haven baking class. Consider it a support group with skill building exercises. You CAN do it. We’ll get you fit as a fiddle and restore your confidence. Class will be capped at 12 students. All materials (and refreshments) included. $75/per student. THIS CLASS IS FULLY BOOKED!

SUNDAY, APRIL 26TH, 2PM-5PM: SOUTHERN BAKING BASICS, ADULT CLASS

Come learn the secrets of a Southern Baker. Biscuits, pie dough, hand pies and her well loved Buttermilk Pie will be covered. Supplies will be provided and you get to take home everything you make! Seats will be limited to 10 students. $80/per student, all materials included. THIS CLASS IS FULLY BOOKED!

See you guys in the kitchen!

LD and the Buttermilk Road Team

A New Road for Us

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2015 has ushered in so many opportunities, changes, endings and beginnings. A bit of hibernation, r&r, family time and regrouping was in order for me, personally. I learned a lot about what I’m seeking – as a chef, as a writer, as a woman, as a person. I think you can, through emphatically saying “YES” to everything, learn a lot about what you can eventually say “no” to. For me, getting back to the “why” of cooking has been imperative – the egoless, the pure and simple, the joy inducing, the academic nerdiness I’m prone to, the reading of old cookbooks, the discussions about food with other people who are more interested in the realness of it than the power it has over our culture at the moment. I’ve been able to truly sit and think about all of the wonderful things that have lead me to a place where, holy hell, I actually CAN sit and think. The time for rediscovery is a really luxurious thing.

I’ve been afforded several opportunities to write again. Kate Krader, my editor at Food and Wine magazine took a snipit of a piece I spoke about at the Southern Food Writer’s Conference last year and put it here. I’ve been working with Garden and Gun as well as Southern Living and all of my writing dreams seem to be fleshing themselves out, slowly, over time. Working with people like Kate, John T. Edge, Jennifer Cole and Jessica Mischner has been an education and an honor. I want to continue down this path as long as I’m allowed to.

But, making the shift from “survival mode” to having a slight amount of control over where your future may be heading is at once a terrifying and wonderful thing. I was thrust, pretty early on, into having to be a grown up (cue the world’s smallest violin). There wasn’t a lot of time to think about dreams, but I did anyway. My fixation on only doing work that I cared about has made for nothing but pure hustle. I don’t mind hustling. In fact, for better or worse, it’s probably the thing in this world I’m best at. But, switching gears from that – saying “yes!”, being on point, keeping your eyes open for every opportunity to be better and live better – to being strategic and entrepreneurial is not as easy as I thought it would be. My brain wants action. My body hates sitting in meetings. I don’t want to talk about spreadsheets. I loathe reading contracts. I don’t do business speak. Altogether, what I’m saying is, I’m being a brat. A big, fat, arms crossed, foot stomping brat. But I’m learning. And growing, I guess. I’m learning how to be more than a hustling, free form, reactionary who follows her every flight of fancy – even if this learning feels like I’m playing dress up in my daddy’s shoes. And good things will come of it. But, and luckily, I have good friends and an impossibly good family to remind me that I’m best when I’m moving and making and writing – not just sitting in meetings waiting for people to say “yes” to me. I’m no good to anyone when I have to wait for things to unfold. I’m not a patient person. Waiting is not my jam. And, for the record, neither are spreadsheets. I mean, dang. Who invented that noise?

I digress. My point is this: there is so much to do besides that, you know? To offset the slight misery it brings? Yes. Yes is the answer. And, after many conversations, invitations, emails and the like from people who have said “When are you doing another class?!” to “Can you come to New York and do a BMR dinner?” – I think I’m ready to start emphatically saying “YES” again. But not in a hustling kind of way. In a choosy and right way. Because, after much deliberation, Buttermilk Road *is* the core of why I cook. And saying “yes” to it, is not reactionary or a flight of fancy. It’s where my heart is. It came out of the sincerest part of my love for food. And it’s the best reason I can think of, at this moment, to say “yes” to something.

So. Here is the news. While I wait for the details of many things to unfold, as they do, I’m no longer going to let Buttermilk Road fall by the wayside.

As I work out the details of Buttermilk Road/OnTheRoad and our Online Bakeshop, to be shared this week, I wanted to go ahead and offer up our first series of classes:

Southern Baking Basics in New York City

Southern Baking Basics in New York City

As usual, our baking classes are limited to a small group to provide the best and most detailed approach to teaching. All materials will be provided and you, the student, need only bring yourself, a notebook and a pencil (and comfy, cooking clothes).

You will receive a confirmation email within 24hours from BMR, in addition to your paypal receipt. Your email confirmation will contain pertinent information, including location, regarding our class. Tickets are nonrefundable. As seats normally fill up quickly, I will keep a waiting list in the event a student needs to resell their ticket.

NASHVILLE MARCH BAKING CLASSES WITH LISA DONOVAN, 

SOUTHERN BAKING BASICS: SATURDAY, MARCH 28TH, 10AM-1PM

Come learn the secrets of a Southern Baker. Biscuits, pie dough, hand pies and her well loved Buttermilk Pie will be covered. Supplies will be provided and you get to take home everything you make. Seats will be limited to 12 students. $80/per student, all materials included. THIS CLASS IS FULLY BOOKED. 

FRENCH PASTRY PRIMER: SATURDAY, MARCH 28TH, 230PM-530PM

Students will work in teams as I discuss the importance of French pastry technique in my baking. Incorporating simple basics like tempering for pastry creams, fraisage for tart shells, browning butter for more complex flavors and making choux can help any baking bring their product to the next level. Seats will be limited to 12 students. $95/per student. All materials included. THIS CLASS IS FULLY BOOKED.

ALL PIE, ALL DAY: SUNDAY, MARCH 29TH, 2PM-5PM

We’re gonna get down and dirty about all things pie. Ingredients, dough, building techniques to include crimp styles, lattice styles and hand pies, filling (how to get the perfect fruit viscosity) and variations. Seats will be limited to 12 students. $80/per student, all materials included. THIS CLASS IS FULLY BOOKED.

YOU WILL RECEIVE AN EMAIL CONFIRMATION WITHIN 24HOURS FROM ONE OF US HERE AT BMR. 

Glad to be back. See you at the table!
Lisa and the Buttermilk Road Team

Forks in the Road and Spoons in the Thanksgiving PIES!!!

I had big plans, you guys. I had plans to ship pies to the corners of the world this year. But things change. Life happens.

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There are many changes on the horizon for me. The biggest and most dramatic change for me is that on November 21st, I will be moving on from my post as Pastry Chef of Husk Nashville. When Sean called and offered me the job, my admiration for him and my desire to learn from him in a kitchen trumped my knowledge that the restaurant industry was not necessarily the easiest industry to sustain a family life, a writing career or a healthy physical state of being within. I did it anyway and it has been such a rewarding ride. I feel proud to have built the menus I built and so honored to have worked along side Sean – what I have learned from him as a chef and as a friend in this industry (and life at large) has been something that is invaluable to me. I’ll carry these last nearly two years with me in a really special way. But, finding a more sustainable way to both work and be with my family while I build my career is paramount to me in this phase of life. The graciousness with which Husk is sending me out into the world is so loving, kind and understanding. I’ll definitely miss my little corner of that kitchen.

In an effort to not jump from one intense work cycle to another, sending pies to London and Portland is not going to happen (Sorry Dylan and Rebecca and Lisa and all!). I’d really love to spend that Thanksgiving week simply and easily being with my family. But! So many folks are asking and, honestly, for me, knocking out twenty or thirty pies is nuthin’. Truly. SO, to my Nashville family at large, I’m taking a few pie orders to be picked up Wednesday, November 26th,  at a set time a location TBD amongst the orderers and myself. I’m keeping the options reaaaaaally simple. Each pie will be 10″, semi-deep dish and $35 each. If you prefer to have it delivered versus meeting us at the pickup time, I can deliver for an additional $10 to your home, within city limits. I’ll only take 30 orders max this time.

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Your options are:

My traditional Buttermilk Chess Pie (as served at Husk)

Sweet Potato Buttermilk Pie

Bourbon Molasses Georgia Pecan Pie

SOLD OUT!

Please NOTE: Simply purchase the total amount and in the “Special Instuctions” field, make a note of which pies you’d like. You will receive notification and a personal receipt from me within 24hours. I’ll take the link down once I’ve maxed out.

And happy holidays guys!!!

 

XOLD

To Remember a Friend

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The first time I ever heard Etta James was in his restaurant. At the end of a shift, after serving pizzas and pasta and some of the best New York style Italian food that you could ever imagine (in Niceville, Florida of all places), we would put all the chairs on the tables to sweep. Most nights, before I got too far into sweeping, Tom would have Etta James’ song “In the Basement” playing loud on the speakers. He would come, take the broom out of my hands and we would dance like wild, mad, feverish teenagers. Every time he played that song, it was like it was the first time either one of us had ever heard it. I don’t think that floor was ever properly swept.

I waited tables at Tom’s restaurant Tradewinds for so many years, I can’t even remember. I came and went and he took me in every single time I needed some cash. Sometimes I’d hang out for a year. Sometimes just a few months. He always had a place for me, even when he didn’t. He was maybe one of the strongest forces in my life from the time I was 19 until I was 25. Art school, first loves, bad relationships, unplanned pregnancy, college drop out, college graduation, young adult turmoil – he saw me through it all under his bespectacled and “well, of course” gaze. If I think really hard about how the hell I ever learned how to roll with the punches, it was because Tom watched me go through some of my toughest punches and taught me how to take each hit with grace, style, a bottle of wine and a good bowl of pasta. He never pretended to know the answers to anything. But he would listen. And he would fill my wine glass. And he would tell me that life was all about the “obstacles” and that getting back up was the best part of getting knocked down. He was a tough Italian from New York with an unrivaled temper, a great loud laugh, a sloppy kiss on the cheek every time I saw him and I just adored him. I adored his utter flaws and I adored the complete perfections that he maintained. I adored how the principle of the matter was, in fact, all that mattered. I adored how he banned smoking in the restaurant when I was pregnant and literally dragged a man out by his collar for lighting up a cigar in front of me and told him to not come back, ever. I adored how he was impassioned and full of light and fire. I adored him. Just him.

We never actually cooked together. I was a waitress. He taught me about wine and he would let me occasionally poke around in the kitchen. I made bread once or twice at the restaurant because I was teaching myself how at home and he was curious about what I was doing and learning. Had I wanted, he said, I could bake for him. I never did. He knew me only as Lisa Rierson, writer, painter, art student, single mom, wild idea chaser, a “bright eyed dreamer” he would call me. After I moved to Nashville, when I would come down to see my family, I would do my best to go see him and his wife Terry (a life force of a woman) at Tradewinds. We would hug. He would give me the best wet cheek kiss ever invented. He’d show me what was different or new at the restaurant. He would tell me how proud he was of me, every time. We would talk about food in a way that we never had or could before when I was just a kid who had not yet learned I was actually a cook. We were the same in so many ways and there was a connection there that was bigger than I think we even really understood. We honored each other and the impact that we had each had on one another. Above that, we silently acknowledged, just with a gaze, that we were simply just better off for having met each other.

And, tonight, even after having never cooked together in the seventeen years of knowing that man, I prepared his Chicken Principessa and Linguine con Vongole, simply by taste memory. I don’t know if I got it right, it was my fist time making either dish. But, I sat with my son, whom I learned I was pregnant with on the phone in Tom’s restaurant and cried in his office with my head in his chest fourteen and a half years ago, my daughter whom he hugged each and every time as if he were her long lost friend and my husband, who admitted to me tonight that he felt as much like he needed Tom’s approval as my father’s when asking me to marry him, and served them all his food. My son asked, “Why haven’t you ever made this before, Mom?” and I said that I guess I never knew I could. But really, it was because I only wanted it when it was in Tom’s restaurant. It was a homecoming food for a time long passed and when I would go to his place, he would bring me my favorite glass of Sangiovese and my favorite pizza and my favorite Linguine. And that was the only way I wanted it. I told my family over our dinner tonight, albeit through a teary choke, about our stories. I told them about the dancing, the Otis Redding and Etta James albums he would play, the food, the wine, the laughing, the many tears and the sadness I feel for having lost someone who was so much a part of who I am today. Despite the many years and distance, I knew that Tom was always rooting for me. And I was always up here, adoring him for all that he was and remembering all the advice and lessons he would nonchalantly pass on in his take-it-or-leave-it way, like a cigar or a glass of wine he wanted you to try but wasn’t going to force on you.

This is the part where I’m supposed to say that now he is just “up there” rooting for me, but nah. I can’t right now. I’m just sad. I miss my friend. I’m sad that I didn’t get to hug him one last time. I’m sad that there were too many years between our visits and, most especially, since the last time I saw him. I’m sad that my cheek isn’t wet with a sloppy Italian kiss but, instead, with hot tears. I’m just sad.

But damn we ate well tonight. So much of my body feels comforted and healed by that. I suppose my heart will catch up soon enough.

Lisa

High Demand Classes: An August Southern Baking Class and Another Layer Cake Class!

Southern Baking Basic in Nashville, The Stables at Husk

Southern Baking Basic in Nashville, The Stables at Husk

Due to an incredible demand for two classes (the Southern Baking Basics Class and the Layer Cake Class), I have scheduled two more dates in August for any of you on the waiting list or for any of you that might have otherwise missed the boat!

This month has truly been some kind of damn fun. Sean and my pals at Husk have been allowing us to use the separate private dining house, The Stables at Husk, for our classes. It’s been a beautiful space to work out of. This weekend, one of our more intimate classes will take place at Sarah Gavigan’s POP! here in East Nashville so that we can have more access to oven space and fire and freezers and the like. All in all, I’d say that our location has been a really great tone setter for our classes and people have really enjoyed checking out these places outside of having classes in them. So, thanks to Sean and team at Husk and another thanks to Sarah for providing such great classrooms for us!

Please see below for the opportunity to sign up for our August classes!

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Saturday, August 23rd, 2PM-5PM: SOUTHERN BAKING BASICS, ADULT CLASS

Come learn the secrets of a Southern Baker. Biscuits, pie dough, hand pies and her well loved Husk Buttermilk Pie will be covered. Supplies will be provided and you get to take home everything you make! Seats will be limited to 10 students. $75/per student, all materials included. NOTE: This class is partially booked again. There is limited seating available. Thank you!

RESERVE SEATS HERE!!

Southern Baking Basics in New York City

Southern Baking Basics in New York City

SUNDAY, August 24th, 130PM-530PM: LAYER CAKE SUNDAY

We’re going to continue the layer cake badassery right on through to August. We’ll make coconut cake. And caramel cake. And holy hell it’s going to be awesome. That is all. Seats limited to 8 students, all materials provided. $95/per student.

RESERVE SEATS HERE!!

My contribution: The Alabama Lane Cake.

The Alabama Lane Cake.