Entrée-nous II

This week’s interview with Samantha Blake of Entrée-nous is so good, we have to give you an extra portion.

Here’s Part II of that interview, where we continue to talk about food sourcing, nutrition, meal prepping, and several other topics.

Tuck your napkin in your shirt and get ready to dig in! Enjoy!

“Make lunch, not war”!

Entrée-nous

There are a lot of caterers out there. They all have their own unique take on what they offer and how. Some specialize in weddings and special events. Some provide bulk food for more down home events. Some do meal prep and some do take and bake family style.

Entrée-nous is a catering and meal prep service that offers a service I’ve yet to find anywhere else. Its owned and operated by Samantha Blake, and she is a nutritionist by trade. If you care about knowing what goes into your food and where it’s sourced from, this is the place to get it.

This article is a video interview with Samantha, conducted here at Hippie Haven Studios. My guest was so knowledgeable and diversified, I’m going to have to split the interview into two parts. 

Here’s Part I. Enjoy!

Make lunch, not war!

Catfeine, the area’s first cat café!

Timing is everything. It sets the stage for everything that follows it, and builds on everything that came before it. Knowing when to do something is as important as knowing how, where, and why. Combine these elements and you have the recipe for success.

Curtis and Tara Byrd think they have the purrrrfect timing to introduce Catfeine, the area’s first cat café.

I had the pleasure of hosting them at Hippie Haven Studios in a video interview, where they tell us all about this unique concept. Enjoy!

The Country Gourmet

Valentine’s Day. If there is one day that says chocolate, it’s Valentine’s Day.

Life at Hippie Haven Studios is no different than anywhere else and when it comes to The Missus, no expense was to be spared in giving her the very best confectionaries. Where does HHH find the very best chocolates?

The Country Gourmet.

I stopped in to pick up a smattering of the sugary sweet proof of my love and devotion and by the power of Grayskull…something new was in that incredible case of delicacies.

Truffle bars.

Owners Chris and Karen Gerbman explained what these treats were and helped me select flavors The Missus was sure to swoon over.

How did she like them? As befits our romantic sensibilities, we videoed a taste testing just for you guys! Watch and see what unfolds!

Warning! This video was shot after a long 12 hour day for both of us, and to be honest…it’s shoddy. But you guys seem to respond well to our honest, genuine presentations flaws and all. This one will be played to type. Enjoy!

Make lunch, not war!

Mimi’s

I like breakfast. A LOT. I like breakfast for dinner most of all. Eating breakfast for dinner is sneaky…you feel like you’re getting away with something you shouldn’t. Eating an omelet at night and all…

I’ve tried a lot of different breakfast and brunch places around town. One that kept flying under my radar was Mimi’s Café, located on…you guessed it…The Med, at 2625 Medical Center Pkwy, Murfreesboro, TN in The Avenue.

Mimi’s is a Franco-American cuisine spot, that’s a fairly large chain restaurant with locations from California to Colorado to Maryland to Florida. The style and set up is kind of like an Olive Garden or Carraba’s, only for French-ish fare. One of their sayings is “Designed to be a classic”. For my money, “classic” is a title you earn and its bestowed on you by adoring fans. You don’t hardwire “classic” into your idiom. If you do, you’re faking it. Is this the case with Mimi’s Café in The Avenue? Let’s say “Bon Apetite” and dig into today’s article to find out.

First Impression:

Location, location, location. Mimi’s did well when they scouted this one out. Near one of the main entrances to the area’s premiere shopping experience, Mimi’s Café is easily spotted from the road, looking like a cottage nestled in the Alps right here in the muggy southern winter. Easy to spot, easy to get into, and plenty of parking. Upon walking up to the building, signs of age crease the façade. Bits of mold or something drip down from one of the signs in stark contrast to the cream colored wall. The red awning was dirty. The outside just looked worn and weathered, like an old boot left out in the rain. When we went to go inside, the glass on the door was badly streaked with something. An attempt to clean it maybe with a greasy towel? None of this is damning, and a ton of people I am sure walk right past these flaws without even noticing. This is why you guys are paying me the big bucks however, to pan the river for the gold in the dirt.

Atmosphere:

It’s like a ski lodge and an Applebee’s had a kid, with a dash of my grandmother’s living room thrown in. I know that sounds bad, but its not that bad. It’s quaint and cozy just inside the door. And the feel of the antiques speaks to the historian in me. Still, it feels…manufactured. Like they were “designing a classic”. The layout was well done. The waiting area blended with the bar area, with each still maintaining their own identity. The bar even has a little “hobbit-sized” end, similar to The Green Dragon Pub and Brewery. 

We were sat in the dining room to the right, and one of the things I hate most happened…We were sat right next to the kitchen door so that I could hear the clatter of dishes, the voices of staff, and my field of vision was directly into the server alley.

For whatever reason, we were seated in an enormous booth that far exceeded our needs when smaller tables in more desirable locations were right next to us. I’ve read articles about restaurants seating less than skinny people or odd looking guests in the more undesirable areas of establishments. The Missus and I ARE on the plus side of our dippie hippie love and I often look like a tie-dye yeti, but I think I am going to start keeping up with how many times this happens to us cause it happens a lot. Hashtag investigative reporting…

Service:

Pleasant. That’s the defining characteristic of this experience. Pleasant. Our interactions with our server were genuine and friendly, but lacked any enthusiasm. We asked several questions about the menu and all answers were prompt and informative, but we had the feeling later it had been a long morning for our server. There was really only one transgression that I will have to touch on in the food section. Speaking of which…

Food:

On this visit, The Missus and I ordered an appetizer. Something we do infrequently, but felt was in the cards today. There was a guac and chips app, and my wife loves avocado. I eat it often too, for its diabetic benefits. Unlike the avocado/guac experiences we had with some other places of late, this was plated with a vibrant, very green guacamole. It tasted fresh, looked fresh, and by golly it was fresh. A good start. The chips were light and crisp as well. Double whammy!

Breakfast isn’t breakfast without eggs for me. I am an omelet lover, and the high fiber from the avocado mixed with the veggies in my dishes and the proteins suggested a victorious blood sugar reading later. (and it was) I chose something a little spicy…The Santa Fe Omelet. 590 calories was right in my zone too. For a side, I got the potatoes and added sautéed veggies to them for that perfect carb/fiber/protein mix I like to get. The only problem? This brings us full circle to that little issue I mentioned above. It took a bit longer for us to get our food than I felt it should have. After 37 years of this work, I have a pretty good grasp on how long it takes to cook eggs even on a busy day. When the food came out, it was barely warm. All of it. The chipotle sauce had begun to dry on top and the tortilla strips were crunchy. All the signs of food that sat waiting to be carried out for too long under a heat lamp. My experience is heat lamps don’t really keep food that hot, they just keep it from cooling down as quick if that makes sense. The shelf life for eggs or potatoes after you cook them is only a few minutes at best. I do not feel at all like our food was brought out promptly. Particularly if the “buddy” system is not in place and servers are responsible for running their own food, having to do ‘running side work” like rolling silverware or filling ice bins can distract from more important tasks. Regardless of my speculations on the cause, cold food that had sat in the window was brought to me and The Missus. 

It wouldn’t be a French breakfast without quiche. Mimi’s offers a choice of two classics: Quiche Lorraine (traditional ham and swiss) or Quiche Florentine (traditional spinach and swiss). Channeling her veggie muse, The Missus chose the Florentine. Her experience was much like mine. The top of the quiche was dry, and her potatoes cold. The internal temperature of the quiche was just warm. It wasn’t terrible she said, but our overall experience would have been much more positive with fresher entrees.

Cleanliness:

I’ve already remarked on the outside. The inside? I didn’t walk the dining room but I did keep an eye on my area…the area right next to the kitchen and server alley. There was a mat leading into the kitchen, but fully laid out in the dining room that was filthy.

The bar by the waiting area was completely empty, but was littered with Styrofoam cups, wrappers, and bottle caps. Again, the whole place felt kind of worn and threadbare.

Mimi’s is at least 10 years old, one of the first establishments built in The Avenue. Once a restaurant hits the 10-15 year mark, they show their age. They take a beating. If the owners are invested in maintaining the health of a place in their trust, then they can look great for a long time after. If not, then the enfeeblement of the location becomes very apparent. Managers and staff can’t see the forest for the trees, and walking right past a filthy mat in your dining room or bottle caps on an empty bar becomes a habit.

Final Thoughts:

At one point, this was probably one of the better experiences in town. Time and the complacency that comes with chain ownership have taken their toll, and the little things that spell doom in the current HIGH competition environment along The Med are chum in the water for the sharks infesting the waters of local dining.. Maybe Mimi’s will read this and up their game. That’s the ideal scenario. If not, there is the example of Peter D’s and McAlister’s to observe.

2 out of 5 peace signs! Dig it!

Speaking of dropping bait in the water…now’s the time when you can help HHH land the big ones. Please share a link to this article with friends and family. (not the entire article please) OR…share the teaser link to this article from the FB page if that’s easier. Remember, I still want your feedback too so please comment on the teaser post for this article on my FB page, or in the new group I made just for you guys…The Hungry, Hungry Hippie Groupies. You can find it from the FB page too. And remember to hit the follow button for this site. You’ll get an email notification every time I post something new.

Make lunch, not war!

Jefferson’s

Restaurants are often the place where we make our fondest memories. Its where we break bread, raise our glasses, laugh, cry, and even sing. Pictures, merchandise, and most of all memories all blend in the melting pot that our eateries and bars provide.

It’s the same for HHH here. When The Missus and I first met, we were about to celebrate my 50th birthday, and she asked some of my closest friends where I might like to be treated to.

The answer was Jefferson’s located on 1916 E Main St, Murfreesboro, TN.

It was my favorite spot. I took my sons there when we would meet for dinner. I met my best friend there every Monday night. Its one of the first places The Missus and I ever ate together.

Slowly, over the next two years, the service, cleanliness, and quality of the food began to deteriorate. Finally, they hit the third strike in a row with me and I sadly called it quits for this once hidden gem.

However, I always keep a candle lit in the window on my “second chance” list. It might take a while, but I always revisit a place for that second chance. Staff changes, managers/owners change, menus change. These things can sometimes bring redemption. When I go back and they do not, that’s when they move to the “last chance” list and one day far down the road I may go back.

Jefferson’s had languished on the second chance list long enough. A colleague of mine had told me things had turned for the better. That was a couple of months ago, so I made the turn into the parking lot just past Sir Pizza and before Slick Pig to see where things had gone. Here’s what I found:

First Impression:

Nothing has really changed here in two years. The front part of the parking lot only has a few spots and the asphalt here is not in the best repair. Cigarette butts and small pieces of trash litter the front of the building. Other parking is in the rear of the building and most of it pretty far from the entrances. There is a handicap ramp at the front of the building, but I don’t actually recall seeing any handicap spots. We walked past an open storeroom on the outside of the kitchen, and debris and equipment littered the ground.

Atmosphere:

This is one of my favorite aspects in the past. I remember back in the early 80’s when this was a small dive bar I used to frequent, made out of an old house. There’s a lot of that nostalgia still in place. Dollar bills decorated by guests adorn the walls, ceilings, and other surfaces like monetized wall paper. An old fireplace provides ambiance in two rooms, and the abundance of old wood and tile completes the scene. Instead of one large room, seating takes place like it would in grandma’s house on Thanksgiving…a little bit of everyone spread across every room in the house.

Service:

The service was adequate. Neither stellar nor terrible. The Missus never got a drink refill or offer of one. I have to say, there is just nothing memorable about the experience either good or bad.

Food:

I’ve been taking a look at burgers of late, so we decided this night would be in tune with that. I had remembered the burgers here being awesome and I felt I could not go wrong here.

I had eaten very little this day, and I decided to treat myself with a double burger. The bun would be a bit of a challenge for me, but my blood sugar had been very low that day so I felt I could have it and be ok. The tricky part? Sweet potato fries for a side is something as a diabetic I am still trying to figure out. Sweet potatoes are diabetic friendly, but it depends on how you cook them. I decided to try them, and asked if there was no sugar on them. They came with a side of maple sugar sauce which I did NOT partake of! The burger itself was hot and juicy, with a fair amount of cheese and the LTO garden was crisp and fresh. All in all, a pretty good burger. Not my favorite, but pretty good.

The Missus ordered the Fried Pickle Burger. Its just what you think it is, a burger with their fried pickles loaded on top and a ranch dressing sauce. This sounded like a great burger and I guess it wasn’t bad. However, The Missus said the end result was the moisture from the burger took the crisp out of the fried pickles and it ended up just being a burger with a LOT of extra pickles.

Cleanliness:

This is one of the things that drove me away previously. The interior is not too bad off. A few pieces of food under tables here and there. The outside continues to evidence a lack of attention. The patio was set to be used (yes, in January because…Tennessee) but was full of leaves, trash, and other debris. Cigarette butts, straw wrappers and the like were not difficult to come across.

Final Thoughts:

Did it go down the hole to the “last chance” list? I don’t think so. Did it move up to the frequent visit list? Nope. It did not. Jefferson’s has neither gained nor lost ground. It just kind of chugs along being adequate. I would not think to myself “ugh” if someone I was with wanted to go here. However, unless I hear of something different happening there than what is currently the status quo I won’t drop in again for quite some time.

3 out of 5 peace signs.

I was going to give two, but decided to give them the extra star for old time’s sake.

After all, I did turn 50 there.

I know this is a web site now, but its more important than ever for you to share these articles using a link to my site. I need all my groupies to follow the site like the FB page. HHH needs content traffic and it helps me to gauge how my articles are doing now.

As always…make lunch, not war! 

Voodoo Smokehouse

Some places have a touch of that old black magic.

Some places “jerk” you around.

Some places do that voodoo that they do so well.

There’s one place located at 104 N Maple St, Lebanon, TN that’s all these things.

Voodoo Smokehouse, tucked away in the side streets of downtown Lebanon, is making the dead rise up and order up some spicy, Caribbean flare that will make them come back to life for a second helping.

I had to make a trip to Lebanon to meet some family and we wanted dinner. I picked this place at random purely on the strength of its awesome logo and a quick scan of the menu to see if they had anything diabetic friendly.

Winner, winner, Caribbean jerk chicken dinner!

This is a very small no frills place in what appears to be an extremely old building. The old cliché “greasy spoon” comes to mind. Run down and beat up, but clean and welcoming like the lines around your grandmother’s smile.

There were a lot of differtent menu options. Everything from jerk wings, to tacos, to burgers, and more. My daughter-in-law got a sausage and peppers that looked amazing while my youngest son got a burger piled sky high with all kinds of good things.

The owners were very polite and friendly, and the food came out in short order.

Since this was a family outing for me, I wasn’t going to do an article on them but the food was so good that I just had to do a short one.

One day I’ll go back and do a proper review. For now, take my word that if you want something spicy and delicious give these guys a try.

Make lunch, not war!

3rd Annual Battle of the Brews

Benefiting Kymari House

The dust has settled, and Kymari House’s third annual Battle of the Brews is over. HHH was lucky enough to be able to lend his judicial skills to the judging in this epic conflict of home brewer skills.

Kymari House sold out the event this year, and was able to raise over $23,000 for their charity. That’s gonna help them to help a lot of families.

There were more things going on in this event than I could keep up with since I was involved in it, so I don’t have a lot to report. The Missus was on hand to take pictures fortunately, so this article will be heavy on the pictures this time.

I’d like to mention some of the food that was there:

1)   Deezie’s Food Truck

2)   Muay Thai Tacos Food Truck

3)   Buttermilk Sky Pie Factory

Finally, here’s the list of home brewers that participated:

1)    Cedar Glade Brews

2)    Mos Alesley Brewing

3)    Panther Creek Brews

4)    Vitruvian Artisan Ales

5)    The Emerald Abbey

6)    Mid-State Brewsters

7)    The Green Dragon Pub and Brewery

8)    Smackdab Brewing

9)    Steel Barrel/Mantra

 Every one of them was a winner in my mind, but each judge had to pick one favorite. Mine was a white chocolate cream ale by The Emerald Abbey. I picked them because this was a brew that ordinarily I would not have picked, but out of left field it surprised me. I am friends with nearly every brewer here, and knew that I would love anything they put out. This ale surprised me by making me like something I normally wouldn’t. Well done Emerald Abbey.

That’s my story for this event and I’m sticking to it. Enjoy the pictures!

Al Rayan part II

Today’s article takes us back to Al RayanMarket by way of Hippie Haven.

While we were there, we bought a bevy of tastygoodies hailing from various countries, but allsold by our good friends at Al Rayan. Since Ihave to watch my diet a little more closely thesedays I brought in some taste-testing help in theform of Eric and Nicole Ford of GoodnessGracious at The Mill, and rounding out our courtwas our granddaughter Selma.

Special thanks go to my wonderful step-daughter Sami Behles for the amazing camerawork that allowed HHH and The Missus both tobe on camera at the same time. Perhaps therarest treat at the table. Occasionally you mayhear one of our grandsons off camera keepingan eye on his dad, Justin, for us. Someone hasto keep him out of trouble.

Take some time to watch this one folks. Its alittle long, but we cover a lot of ground and a lotof foods in this video and we didn’t even scratchthe surface of all the wonderful things you canfind at Al Rayan Market and Restaurant.

Enjoy, and make lunch…not war!