Our featured brewery for May: Black Abbey Brewing Company

We have a few new Belgian-inspired brews on tap for you this month by way of Black Abbey Brewing Company from Nashville.

Their work is inspired by monks, namely Martin Luther, his wife, and the Trappist Monks. Martin Luther advocated drinking for pleasure as he boasted his infamous, large stein. His wife, Katherine, went a step farther. She was known for brewing Wittenberg’s best beer. However, instead of brewing traditional German lagers, she created Belgian style ales with ingredients from her immediate locale. The tradition of brewing Belgian style ales with ingredients from their immediate surrounding was emulated by Trappist Monks in Belgium who brewed distinctly for their monasteries.

While Black Abbey doesn’t play home to Belgian Monks, they do host the character of brewing for their brothers (sisters and gender neutral family members) and for their neighbors with high quality ingredients in the Belgian style. We are happy to join in.

At the Tomato Head in Market Square, we are featuring four Black Abbey brews: the Rose (a Belgian blonde made with wheat malt), the Special (a traditional monastic Belgian Mild), the Champion (an American pale ale made with English and smoked malts), and the Chapter House (a Belgian red ale).

The Tomato Head located at 7240 Kingston Pike in the Gallery of Knoxville Shopping Center is serving up the Rose, the Special, and the Potus 44, a full bodied porter bursting with notes of Kenyan and Hawaiian coffee from the Frothy Monkey in Nashville.

On May 22nd, the brewery sends us their new summer release, the 5 points IPA. Make your way downtown or out West to join us for a Black Abbey brew and head home with a cool Black Abbey pint glass (while supplies last). This is an all-day event.

Don’t worry, you don’t have to be a Lutheran to enjoy these beers, just a follower of beer.

Black Abbey Brewing Company

Join us for our pint day at both locations on May 22.

 

Striped Light at the Tomato Head

Now until May 3rd, the Tomato Head art show is featuring prints from two of the founders of Knoxville’s newest creative outlet: the Striped Light.

The Striped Light is a hands on printing press founded by Bryan Baker, Sarah Shebaro, and Jason Boardman that offers rad prints and ephemera from artists as well as print making classes and workshops open to the public. The Striped Light is also Knoxville’s newest record label, with a focus on signing local artists from our city’s talented music scene. Collaborative works by Bryan Baker and Sarah Shebaro are currently on display at the Tomato Head in Market Square.

After receiving a graduate degree from the University of Tennessee, Bryan Baker began teaching adjunct classes at UT and for Yee-Haw Industrial Letterpress. He has held workshops at Penland and Arrowmont, and spent a year at Clarion University in Pennsylvania. Baker moved to New York City in 2008, where he taught at the Center for Book Arts, helped run the Arm Letterpress in Brooklyn, and worked at a commercial printshop. While in New York, Baker set up his own successful print shop, called Stukenborg Press. Having success with his press, Baker moved to Detroit where he honed in on teaching the public how make prints. Now he has brought his passion for teaching talents for print making back to Knoxville.

Sara Shebaro also received a degree from the University of Tennessee, a Masters in Fine Art in 2008. Before that, Shebaro received her BFA from the University of Iowa, spent time in Chicago, and took a non-degree assistantship position at Bucknell University in Pennsylvania. In 2009, Shebora relocated to Brooklyn for an assistant professor and technician position at the Pratt Institute Printmaking department, where she spent four years building up their print studios, in particular the letterpress facilities through donations of type, presses, and equipment. By the end of her tenure, she had facilitated a fully functioning type collection. She left Brooklyn in late 2014 to join Striped Light.

Jason Boardman, founder of the Pilot Light and software engineer and systems architect for McKay Books, has also been involved as a founder of the Striped Light. Boardman has been heavily involved in Knoxville’s music scene through the Pilot Light, a Music Composition degree at UTK, and his own career as a musician. In 2010, Boardman opened Hot Horse, a record and vintage store. Now, he is driving face behind the Striped Light’s record label that recently signed Knoxville band, Daddy Don’t.

If you miss the Art Show display in the Market Square location, do not fret. You’ll be able to catch up with them at the Tomato Head located on Kingston Pike from May 5th through June 1st. The collection is a unique set of playful prints that show off the talents of both Shebaro and Baker. If you’re interested in taking classes, using the printing press, or learning more about the record label, visit www.stripedlight.com.

Striped Light_IMG_9544 striped light flip flap flop

Tomato Head’s Buttermilk Biscuit with Benton’s Bacon, Avocado, and Rhubarb Marmalade

Who said breakfast had to be confined to downing hydrogenated breakfast bars or cereal and milk while juggling house keys, your bag, and trying to find your matching shoe? I often find that enjoying my mornings with a flavorful breakfast and warm coffee or tea can later make even the worst parts of my day much more bearable.

Furthermore, cooking up breakfast myself starts me off with a happy feeling of accomplishment and puts me in a much better mood. This recipe for buttermilk biscuits with Benton’s bacon, avocado, and rhubarb marmalade will be sure to set your day off in a positive direction.

For the rhubarb marmalade, you’ll need:

2 cups onion, sliced

¼ cup oil

4 cups Rhubarb, sliced

4 Tbl sugar

¼ cup balsamic vinegar

½ tsp salt

Heat oil in a small saucepan over medium heat. Add the onion, then reduce the heat to low and sauté gently for 5 minutes. Add the rhubarb and cook over low heat for 20 minutes, stirring occasionally. Next, add the sugar, vinegar, and salt. Cook the marmalade gently, stirring occasionally for another 5-8 minutes.

To make the biscuits:

We suggest using the award-winning biscuit recipe from last year’s International Biscuit Festival.

Split a freshly baked biscuit in half. Place cooked Benton’s bacon on the bottom half of the biscuit. Top the bacon with ¼ of an Avocado. Spread a generous amount of rhubarb marmalade on the top of the biscuit. Place the top back on the biscuit and serve.

This seasonal treat is great for making any spring morning a time to enjoy yourself or company.

Click the photo below to watch Mahasti make this delicious recipe on her WBIR cooking segment.

biscuit with marmalade

Tomato Head’s chorizo and onion quesadilla with guacamole

Today’s recipe for Tomato Head’s chorizo and onion quesadilla with guacamole can be an easy meal or snack, especially when the guacamole is prepped. More importantly we’re sharing a delicious recipe for guacamole, which really should speak for itself.

But for those of you who don’t know, guacamole is a perfect snack or addition to any meal in the summer time, especially by the water with a beer….I’ll stop dreaming now and get back to work. While this is a Mexican inspired dish, there is certainly room to be creative and bring in different elements.

Begin by making the guacamole, which will keep for a few days as long as you cover it directly with saran wrap, meaning no air between the wrap and the guacamole. This will slow down oxidation. This recipe for guacamole serves 4-6 people. For this part of the recipe, you’ll need:

4 ripe avacados

Juice of 1 lime

1 cup tomato, chopped

2 cloves garlic, chopped fine

1 Tbl cilantro

¾ tsp salt

2 Tbl onion, chopped

2 tsp jalapeno, chopped

Cut the avocados in half, removing the seed and scooping the flesh into a medium sized bowl. This is easier done with a spoon (click the photo below to see video of Mahasti using this life hack). Mash the avocados with a potato masher or pastry cutter, then squeeze lime juice over the avocados. This will add to the taste and help the dish keep. Next, add tomato, garlic, cilantro, salt, onion, and jalapeno. Mix well and serve immediately. If not serving immediately, cover with saran wrap as previously directed.

The quesadillas are the next step of the recipe. For these you’ll need:

12 inch tortillas

½ cup cooked chorizo

½-¾ cup Monterey Jack cheese

sliced onion

Place tortillas on a work surface. Cover the half closest to you with chorizo, cheese, and onion. Fold the top half of the tortilla over the bottom and place the tortilla on a heated griddle or a large cast iron skillet. When the quesadilla has browned on one side, flip it over and brown the other side while allowing the cheese to melt. Serve with the guacamole, and enjoy!

Video of Mahasti's WBIR cooking segment

Video of Mahasti’s WBIR cooking segment

Tomato Head’s 25th Birthday

Sometimes, things just fall together.

While the pizzas and burritos you get today from the Tomato Head come from well-crafted ideas and careful calculations, it all started with an engineer who decided to do something bold. 25 years ago in August, Mahasti Vafaie left her career as an engineer, thinking of attending medical school. Instead, she found herself sitting in French café named La Madeline in New Orleans with her mother, realizing a dream to own her own restaurant.

She didn’t start off with pizza in mind.

The opportunity presented itself when the building she rented in Market Square came with pizza equipment. She wasn’t known to be a pizza chef. Yet she was (and is) a talented chef, filled with a passion, and a smart head on her shoulders to open her own pizza joint, remodeling and cleaning it up herself for under $10,000.

By the young age of 27, Mahasti’s Flying Tomato, the former name of the Tomato Head, was already one of the favorites in downtown eating, known for its unique pizza crust. It only sat about 50 people, less when there was live music, but people crowded in for good food, made with healthy ingredients.

There were only seven people on the first staff. Mahasti made all of the bread herself, every morning at 7:30, working countless hours. 25 years later, she and her husband, Scott, have overseen a remodel of the original Market Square location, opened a new store on Kingston Pike, and are able to give back to the community through the Loving Spoonful program.

All of this, while keeping to the basic philosophy that fresh, healthy foods make the best meals; the meals that they would want to feed themselves and their children.

We would like to celebrate 25 years of spinning ‘zza, and we want you to be a part of it. This is as much of a celebration for Mahasti as it is for everyone who has walked through our doors. To say thanks, we are throwing a party on Market Square, featuring live music and more on August 29th from 5-10 p.m. We’ll also be sharing our special Anniversary Brew that evening, and celebrating the musical talents of some of our favorite locals. More details are coming later in the summer, but you won’t want to miss this party. Here’s to you, thanks for 25 years.

Cheers.

Back to the Basics 2015 copy

Big Ears Festival: A macrocosm of Knoxville’s artistic community.

Big Ears Festival is more than music. This is a festival that is as much about expanding communities as it is a lineup. The city of Knoxville is opening its arms again this weekend to welcome back Big Ears and the vast, internationally renowned community of artists of many mediums.

For the second year in a row, the Big Ears community is reaching back to Knoxville through its community outreach program Little Ears which raises money to support The Joy of Music School and the Community school of the Arts. Both of these Knoxville based schools offer opportunities in the arts to children and teens who have trouble affording them otherwise. It’s a welcomed partner of our Loving Spoonful charitable program.

At the Tomato Head, we are proud to be partners with Little Ears and supporting both schools by displaying photographs of the Joy of Music School and paintings from the Community School for the Arts in our Market Square location through March. If you miss them, you can see them in April at our Kingston Pike location.

We are also featuring special Big Ears pint glasses for sale that benefit Little Ears. (More details here) During the festival weekend, stop into the Tomato Head to purchase a Big Ears glass and try the Saw Works Sonic Wit, the featured beer for the festival.

Little Ears is a program with powerful meaning and serious results. Last year, AC entertainment reports having raised almost $4,000 to benefit both of the organizations. This was enough to create two new scholarships for the 2014-2015 school year at the Community School of the Arts. Music education is integral to the festival, according to Neeley Rice, one of the forces behind Big Ears at AC Entertainment. The promise of Big Ears is it features musicians and artists of several mediums who push the envelope in their art.

The festival is in many ways a macrocosm of Knoxville’s talented artistic community that the School of the Arts and Joy of Music have helped to foster, and a level of discipline for the students who are just learning the skills of their art to aspire to. The paintings displayed at the Tomato Head were done by middle and high school students.

For many of them, this is the first time their work has been displayed outside of the school. The work is unique and you don’t have to be an art expert to enjoy the paintings. The photographs of the children at the Joy of Music School are pristine and capture beautiful moments of children learning to play music.

This weekend, Knoxville will again transform into what Jennifer Willard at the Community School for the Arts describes as an international cultural mecca. It’s safe to say that there is a lot of excitement in the air. It will be really neat to see the how the culturally diverse art on display at the Tomato Head through Little Ears is a stepping stone that every artist masters before becoming a force in pushing their craft forward like the artist featured in Big Ears.

Knoxville has such great culture, and this weekend is promising to be very special.

Chicken Enchiladas in Tomatillo Mole

Do you ever wonder what chefs who actually know how to cook throw together for a last minute dinner?

Here’s an idea of what Mahasti does when she doesn’t have time to cook. This recipe for chicken enchiladas in tomatillo mole has quite a few perks. Once you’ve made the mole, you can keep it in stock, which makes this recipe, and many more, quick and easy. Mole can be thrown on top of a long list of things. Many of the ingredients for this tomatillo mole, such as the peppers, onion, and maybe even tomatillos if under the proper conditions, can be grown in your own garden which makes the mole the freshest it can be, and thusly taste even better. Also this recipe is easy, delicious, and fairly more interesting than making lasagna for the third week in a row.

To make the mole, you’ll need:

8 cups husked tomatillos (about 16-17 tomatillos)

1 large poblano pepper, destemmed and deseeded

1 large onion, peeled and quartered

½ cup cilantro

½ cup sour cream

1½ tsp salt

Preheat your oven to 400°. Place the tomatillos, poblano, jalapeno, and onion in a large baking dish and bake for 50 minutes. Look for the tomatillos to have black spots on them, then take them out and allow to cool. Place the mixture into the bowl of your blender, then add the remaining ingredients and blend until smooth.

The mole is really the bulk of the recipe in terms of time commitment. It is easy to store and keeps well, so keep it in stock.

To assemble the enchiladas, you’ll need:

One corn tortilla

1-1½ Tbl Mole

Scant ¼ cup chicken

Scant ¼ cup of shredded Monterey Jack cheese

Shaved cabbage

Keep your oven at 400°. Place the corn tortillas in one layer on your work surface. Spread each tortilla with Mole, covering the tortilla almost entirely.  Place chicken and cheese on top of tortilla and roll the tortilla up into a tube.  Place tortillas seam side down in a baking dish or cast iron skillet.  Cover the tortillas entirely with more Mole; about 1/4 cup per enchilada.  Sprinkle tops with a little more cheese.  Place the dish in the oven and bake for 10 – 15 minutes or until cheese is melted.

Serve immediately with corn chips or beans and rice.

Tomatillo Mole

The New Festival Beer You Haven’t Tried

Nothing shines better in the sunshine than the colors of a well brewed beer. That’s certainly what Saw Works Brewing Company is hoping for this spring with the cloudy gold shine of their new Sonic Wit.

Created for the Big Ears Festival, the Sonic Wit was meant to be stimulating on a hot day of drinking. Will, the Head Brewer at Saw Works, explained how the Sonic Wit was inspired by Icelandic ales and Belgian wheat beers with the intention of keeping the unfiltered look and notes of orange while drawing out the wheat to be replaced by Tennessee favorites, rye mash and honey malt.

The result is an unfiltered American ale with an orange-citrus forward note and a smooth honey rye finish that moves quickly across the tongue. This beer is light, easy to drink, and can easily be enjoyed at Big Ears or on a patio in the warm weather.

Luckily, you’ll have a chance to try this beer too, even if you won’t be attending Big Ears this year. The Tomato Head will be one of the only places featuring the Sonic Wit, as part of our Saw Works lineup for our featured brewery of the month, and will be a light orange zest for pairing with a salad, chicken, or chocolate desserts. We’ll tap the keg of this very special beer on Thursday, March 26.

Just as it was intended, the Sonic Wit is a great pairing for food, sunshine, and great music. A number of the Big Ears creators actually helped in the brewing of this beer, which just goes to show the local bonds of our small city that pull together to show that Knoxville has culture worth taste.

Saw Works Brewing Sonic Wit

Put away those winter blues with a sweet snack in the sunshine​

Oatmeal has all of these really great health benefits, like being good for your heart and lowering cholesterol. This must mean that oatmeal cookies aren’t bad for you, or at the very least draw even, like celery with peanut butter*.

Lucky for you, this weekend at the Tomato Head we are featuring two different recipes for oatmeal cookies. We’ll be pitting our Flour Head Bakery oatmeal spice cookie against Patti’s infamous oatmeal cookie recipe.

Which one is better? You be the judge by visiting our Facebook page to vote.

I tell you this, you’re going to get to try some top notch baking. Bust out your inner cookie connoisseur and come on down to the Tomato Head this Saturday and Sunday to enjoy an oatmeal cookie-off in the sunshine.

Don’t worry, we’ve got milk too.

In case you’re interested, Patti’s Infamous Oatmeal Cookie recipe looks like this:

1 cup Oats

½ cup Walnuts, Chopped

½ cup Dried Cranberry

¾ cup Flour

½ tsp Salt

½ tsp Baking Soda

½ cup Shortening

½ cup Dark Brown Sugar

¼ cup Sugar

1 Egg

½ tsp Vanilla

In a medium bowl mix together the Oats, Walnuts, Dried Cranberries, Flour, Slat, and Baking Soda.

In a medium bow, or in the bowl of a stand mixer, beat shortening with sugar until creamy. Add egg and vanilla and beat until egg is incorporated. Gradually mix in the flour and oat mixture until all the oats and nuts are mixed into the butter.

Drop by the spoonful onto a parchment lined cookie sheet and bake in a 375-degree oven for 12 minutes, or until lightly browned.

Makes 25 small cookies.

*this claim is not backed by any actual fact, it’s just here to help you feel better about sweets if you need the justification, because we care.

Click the video to watch Mahasti’s appearance on WBIR Channel 10.

TomatoHead's Infamous Patti Oatmeal Cookie WBIR

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