Thursday, December 12, 2013

Katie on Ice!

Katie (who is playing a toy soldier - she's dressed largely in black and her friend Marissa is one too) is getting ready for a Christmas show at Centennial Sportsplex. NewsChannel 5's Talk of the Town and The Tennessean's Mary Hance did a segment on that show today: | Nashville News, Weather

Friday, June 7, 2013

Sunday, March 17, 2013

Starring Holly!

She's the pointer puppy wearing the green handkerchief! Look for glimpses of Ann and Katie (who is wearing a yellow sweater) when Holly is playfully fighting with another dog. | Nashville News, Weather

Monday, February 11, 2013

Viener Fest Offers So Much More Than a Meal

Buying meals in America long ago became more about a quick drive-thru than a leisurely sit-down experience. That’s a shame, too, because the stimulating and refreshing experience of sharing food and drink with family and friends away from worldly cares provides so much more than mere nourishment. In the right circumstances – or more to the point in the right restaurant – it can even be a saving grace.
The wind storms on January 30 hit home literally for my family when a large tree in our backyard was lifted from its roots and fell, totaling our two vehicles as well as doing minor damage to our house while bringing down power and cable lines. One of our cats, Otis, was even missing for eight days afterward.
All that came the day after my wife’s 50th birthday. It understandably made the situation more depressing since she couldn’t really savor the occasion as much that week as she (and Katie and I) would have liked. And it was with this calamity firmly in mind that we went to Viener Fest for the first time just two days later.
The new restaurant is located at 117 28th Ave. North near Centennial Park. It has a crisp, clean modern feel as you walk in, big enough to be comfortable but small enough to be intimate. And with the friendly staff overseen by General Manager (it would be accurate to call him “Gentleman Manager” as well) Jeffrey Ellis the establishment certainly feels like the next best thing to home.
We fortunately went on the first night that alcohol was available at Viener Fest thanks to their just-approved license. While Katie drank her Sprite Ann and I shared a lovely and very affordable bottle of fruity 2011 Mezzacorona Pinot Grigio ($19) made from grapes grown in the Dolomite mountains of Northern Italy that came from Wine Enthusiast Magazine's 2010 European Winery of the Year.
Since German-Austrian cuisine is the emphasis at Viener Fest I decided to also have an Erdinger Pikantus Wiekenbock ($7). It’s a strong wheat lager that went down quite smoothly with the food brought at just the right pace to our table by our kindly server, Nashville actor Andrew Derminio.
For vorspeisen (appetizers) we chose the Sausage Sampler ($7.95). It included a delectable array of three mouthwatering sausages accompanied by house-made mustard that Ellis says Viener Fest may sell separately in the near future. I certainly hope so – its sweet and savory taste was the perfect complement to the sausages, and it would go well with a host of other foods.
Ann and I had the Weiner Schnitzel ($10.95) for our main course, though with variations – hers was made with eggplant while I opted for veal (one of the people sitting near us had the Holstein Schnitzel [$13.95] with a lemon/caper sauce and fried egg as pictured above, which certainly looked like a great choice as well). Both were well-prepared and quite tasty. And among the side dishes we thoroughly enjoyed their tender Braised Red Cabbage (in a perfectly balanced balsamic/brown sugar reduction), their wonderfully tangy Sauerkraut and some melt-in-your-mouth Spaetzle, which are egg noodles that are served plain or as I had them with spinach.
Viener Fest provides menu items for those who might want something else, and our 13-year-old daughter happily sunk her teeth into a Fried Bologna Sandwich ($6.95) that features a good-sized slab of meat between two slices of sourdough bun with American cheese and mustard. She enjoyed the accompanying French fries as well.
Last, but certainly not least, was dessert. I chose their version of the Sacher Torte ($5.25) while Katie and Ann tucked into Viener Fest’s Apfelstrudel ($4.95). I have tasted the bittersweet-chocolate torte at its home in Vienna’s Hotel Sacher, and theirs instantly took me back to that sublime memory – the apricot jam filling alone is a shot of joy. And our other finishing selection featured a delectable flaky pastry, apples, rum-macerated raisins and a smooth caramel sauce that made it all go down so sweetly.
While we obviously enjoyed all we ate and drank it’s the atmosphere fostered by Ellis and his team that really made the experience so positive. At Viener Fest you’re treated like family from the moment you walk in until you depart. It meant so much to my family during an otherwise difficult week. Hopefully you’ll go there in happier times, but no matter what’s happening elsewhere when you enter Viener Fest expect to forget your cares. It's truly a place where one can savor family and friends while enjoying excellent food and drink prepared and served by convivial professionals.
Viener Fest Hours:
Monday – Wednesday: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm, Thursday - Saturday: 11:00 am - 12:00 am, Sunday: 11:00 am - 10:00 pm
Attire: Casual
Phone: (615) 730-5085

*Logo and photos courtesy Viener Fest.

Monday, July 16, 2012

Anthony Bourdain Hits Town in November

From a press release issued today:



NASHVILLE – With new, uncensored material, Anthony Bourdain travels to Nashville with stories that are sure to make your ears burn.

Chef, author of Kitchen Confidential and Medium Raw, and internationally renowned television host, Anthony Bourdain, will visit the Tennessee Performing Arts Center for one night only, Saturday, November 3, at 8:00 p.m. Bourdain will spend the evening sharing candid, and often hysterical, insights about his life’s work and travels, including an open question and answer session with the audience. The appearance is part of his 11-city tour this fall.

Bourdain, the chef at large at New York’s famed Brasserie Les Halles, is the author of the bestselling Kitchen Confidential: Adventures in the Culinary Underbelly, a hilariously blunt and sometimes shocking portrait of life in restaurant kitchens that has been translated into over 28 languages. His book, A Cook’s Tour, published in conjunction with his series on the Food Network, was also a bestseller in the U.S. and the U.K.

A contributing authority for Food Arts Magazine, his work has appeared in The New Yorker, The New York Times and Gourmet. He has also been profiled by CBS Sunday Morning and Nightline and has appeared on The Late Show with David Letterman, The Colbert Report, Real Time with Bill Maher, and Late Night with Jimmy Fallon. Bourdain will also debut a brand new show on CNN in early 2013, expanding the network’s coverage of food and travel.

Tickets range from $15 - $65 and will go on sale Friday, July 27, at 10:00 a.m. CST. Tickets will be available at, by phone at (615) 782-4040, or by visiting the TPAC Box Office at 505 Deaderick Street in downtown Nashville.

VIP Tickets Available

A limited number of VIP tickets are available. VIP tickets include: premiere seating and an exclusive meet and greet session with Bourdain featuring hors d’oeuvres, a photo opportunity, a limited edition Anthony Bourdain tour poster and a limited edition tour VIP laminate. The meet and greet will be held at The Nashville City Center, featuring a menu by Chef Tandy Wilson of City House Restaurant. Promotional partners Corsair Distillery, Yazoo Brewery and Olive & Sinclair Southern Artisan Chocolates will be providing selections of their specialty spirits, beers and chocolates for all in attendance. Other promotional partners include Nashville Scene and YELP.

Copies of Kitchen Confidential, as well as several other titles from his catalog, will be available for purchase onsite via Parnassus Books.

Thursday, June 28, 2012

‘Two Heads’ Memoir: Faith-Strengthened and Sweet

Chris LaddI’ve known Chris Ladd for several years; we met during a gathering of actors represented by the Talent Trek agency, and I’ve had the privilege of serving with him on the Screen Actors Guild Nashville Branch Council and now on the initial SAG-AFTRA Nashville Local Board. From that first encounter through today I’ve known Chris as a fellow “big man” with a very big heart.

He’s just published a short sweet-natured memoir called Two Heads Are Better Than One: A Story of Success in a Life with Christ through LifeWay’s CrossBooks imprint. And just like its author, there’s a mix of humility and humor that begins with the dust jacket and threads throughout the volume – that jacket displays a title that gives credit to the Son of God while also sporting a picture of a beaming Chris with his beloved cocker spaniel Laddie resting his head on Chris’ head.

We all know the street-corner-praying hypocrites that make a big show of their religion for others; we may even come to see that surface sanctimoniousness in ourselves because it’s so easy to say the words and much harder to live them every day. Chris knows that; he’s the first (in person and in his book) to admit his flaws. I can say I’ve crossed paths with very few people that appear to consistently practice what they preach from moment to moment, hour to hour and day to day. Chris, though, is one of those rare individuals.

It would have been so easy and understandable for Chris to have taken a different path; his parents divorced when he was only five and life for him as for others has had plenty of struggles. But in surrendering himself to Christ, Chris found a way to survive the lows and celebrate the highs while understanding our human existence is merely prelude to a larger life: One of the verses he quotes more than once in Two Heads essentially serves as his mantra – “For me to live is Christ, to die is gain.” That passage from Philippians 1:21 puts the life and writing of this faithful servant in its proper context.

Through that context Chris tells us about his life in the same easy-going style that I’ve heard him use when speaking to others. Sometimes what he talks about is tough to relate, like his mother’s battle with cancer, and sometimes it’s funny, like his anecdote about not being the only actor on set of TV’s Barnaby Jones who really wanted to call the gentlemanly Buddy Ebsen “Jed” after his famous character on the long-running comedy The Beverly Hillbillies.

Chris has worked in many fields besides acting; he’s produced records and spun them as a disc jockey; he’s been a salesman and an ambulance driver. His various professional walks have brought him into contact with many people, and some of them figure prominently in his story: Doris “Cousin Tuny” Freeman, a West Tennessee television personality that Chris first met when he appeared on her show as a child, has gone on to be “like a second mom to me” and provides the book’s foreword; now-deceased country music singer/comedians Jim and Jon Hager, Grand Ole Opry member Billy Walker and soulful singer Dobie Gray; and country music living legends like Jim Ed Brown and Jan Howard.

Those well-known folks aren’t mentioned in a self-serving “name-dropping” fashion; they’re noted with affection and respect by a man who’s long been a true friend to them and so many others. There are also loving tributes to the four-legged companions Chris has had over the years; from Shane and Lad to Buddy and Laddie, each has found place in his spacious heart. I’ve often thought one could tell a great deal about someone from the way they treated animals and children; between his care for dogs and such endeavors as his work for cerebral palsy, his shining character is readily revealed.

Chris also examines the destructive force of greed, the health care morass and the need for honesty in his memoir. His thoughts about each mirror the man who writes them – straightforward and grounded in a true desire for peace and harmony with God and His creation.

It’s been a blessing to read the words of this kind and gentle soul just as it’s been a blessing to know him personally. Get a copy of Two Heads Are Better Than One and I think you’ll quickly find all I’ve written about this force for good is true.

Chris Ladd’s book is available now from several sellers; offers it in various formats, including hardback, paperback and Kindle (click here for the paperback version).