Nashville notes


Interview with Chef Maneet Chauhan ’00 of Chauhan Ale & Masala House in Nashville, TN


I strongly recommend eating at Husk (get the vegetables plate) and Chauhan Ale and Masala House (the Indian-Mexican fusion version of a chile relleno is one of the best courses I have had all year). Station Inn is good (and comfortable) for bluegrass music, visit Fisk University, Helen’s Hot Chicken serves spicy fried chicken without the tourists or the lines, and the east side of town has some funky shops and boutiques.

Grand Ole Opry is a well-oiled machine, but it makes country music feel old and bankrupt. The famous strip on Broadway, with the noisy bars, music shows, and restaurants, might as well be hell, but it offers the great joy of being able to leave it. The “Gulch” part of town is presented as cool, but it’s really just a few boring shops in a homogenized setting.

Nonetheless I now think of Nashville as one of the most successful cities in the South — remarkably few neighborhoods are run down and dumpy, and the residents seem happy. There is new construction all over, plenty of health care facilities, and Vanderbilt is a quality university.

What might be the most successful southern cities, circa 2018?

— Atlanta

— Richmond

— Nashville

— Bentonville

— the NC Research Triangle deserves mention, even though neither Durham nor Chapel Hill is well-developed enough to make this list (why is that?).

— Maybe the boring Charlotte?

— p.s. Miami is not the south.

What do the success stories have in common? Other than not being Memphis?


THE STATION INN: true life bluegrass


Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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Nashville bleg

What to do, where to eat, and is there a decent day trip around? Is there a good church outside town for hearing gospel music on a Sunday morning?

I thank you all in advance for your counsel and wisdom. Nashville is in fact the largest U.S. city I never have visited, but soon this will change.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.

36 Hours in Nashville | The New York Times


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Barra Brava Cevicheria Urbana

Barra Brava Cevicheria Urbana, FB, hidden inside a liquor store in Rockville, surrounded by auto parts stores, 15921 Frederick Rd, Rockville, MD, 301-355-5325, note they often open as early as 10 am (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Google | Ylp]

Before we go any further, please note this is TAKE-OUT ONLY. And there are no benches nearby, so do give some consideration to this problem before visiting. That said, this is some of the best Peruvian food around. It is probably the most authentic, and they have the broadest menu, and excellent ceviche. The meat in the lomo saltado is a little tough, but the fries, sauce, red onions mix is my first choice in this area. The seafood and rice dishes are quite good, too. So I’m going to really like this place, and some of you will too. But they don’t make it easy in every way either.


March to March 9: Supporters Spotlight with La Barra Brava

Barra Brava DC United


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Which ten restaurants would you most want to live next door to?

Seherli Tandir, in Baku, Azerbaijan is now on my list, but let me first explain the criteria. This is not about the best restaurants, it is about the ones that give you the most consumer surplus. For most of the “next door restaurants,” as I shall call them, you want them to be inexpensive, to offer some healthy options, to satisfy some of your cravings, to offer unique dishes, and not to take too long serving you.

It is not a mistake, if you are visiting Baku, to simply have each and every one of your meals at Seherli Tandir — the other restaurants in town are dominated assets.

The menu allows you to order three different types of cherry jam. Get the one in the middle, the sour one (don’t let them tell you that you should not be ordering a jam, and don’t put it on anything, just eat it).

Have I had better yogurts and rices? Order the little dumplings with sumac (gurza), asking for yogurt sauce on the side. The qutabs — thin breads stuffed with either pumpkin or meat — are the surprise knock-outs. The soups, the stews, the dolmeh. Did I mention the pilaf with the chestnuts? The “tandir” bread-baking oven in the middle of the restaurant?

The typical entree costs about $4-6. And the staff is friendly and helpful.

The restaurant is located in the old city, on the “restaurant street,” near four or five other excellent but nonetheless inferior options (when in doubt in those order dishes with pomegranate seeds). Go to the tower, and start walking up to the right, maybe 5-7 minutes. No taxi can take you there, as it is in a pedestrian zone. Simply ask when you get lost, as the restaurant is quite famous. You can’t make a reservation and may need to wait out in the sun, thus another reason why it should be next to my home

In general, Azerbaijani food lies in the space between Persian and Georgian cuisines, a double yum.

Which other restaurants should be in the top ten you want right next to your home? And why aren’t those restaurants simply the best period?

p.s. watermelon jam tastes better than you think.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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Baku bleg

What should I see and where should I eat? I will be there soon, and any assistance or advice you can offer is much appreciated, thanks!

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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10 Things I Learned: Tyler Cowen

That is a short interview with me from Northern Virginia magazine, here is one excerpt:

When did you feel you had “made it”?

Jan. 21, 1962 (his birthday). That was a turning point of sorts for me.

How do you define success?

Learning something new all the time, and staying healthy. Getting paid. Interacting with smart people. Having the chance to pass something along to others.


What do you do after a disappointment?

Bid higher next time.

Give us an idea of your work/life balance philosophy.

Do I even try to do balance? For me they are more or less the same. I know that makes me difficult. But I’ve ended up writing about what were once hobbies, and using so-called “leisure” time to prepare for research, writing, speaking and so on. My social life is pretty closely tied to my work life.

And at the end:

Any advice for those who are going into your field?

Listen also to the advice of people who are not in your field. A lot of budding academics listen too much to their advisor and don’t receive enough feedback and mentoring from a broader set of sources.


Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


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Kaliwa, web site, 751 Wharf St SW, Washington, DC, 202-516-4739 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [WaPo | Washingtonian | TripAdvisor | City Paper | Ylp]

One of the best ethnic restaurants in DC right now, and the best not-super-expensive place on the Wharf. Kaliwa offers Filipino, Thai, and Korean dishes, and the Filipino entries are the ones to get. They are designed and cooked by the same people who used to do the Filipino menu for Restaurant Eve, and the results are excellent across the board. The rest of the menu seems “good enough,” but not a reason to go there. I expect to return here regularly, and there are not many first-rate Filipino options around, given the long lines at Bad Saint. Definitely recommended.


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Xian Gourmet

Xian Gourmet, web site, 316 N Washington St, Rockville, MD, 301-875-1544 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Ylp]

Wow. Word is this is from the people who brought you Panda Gourmet in DC. As a Sichuan place, it would be one of the region’s five best, but that is not even their real strength. For Xian food it is a clear first in the region. Get their soups, most of all the beef with chili and noodle soup (contrary to the name it is not spicy) and the lamb soup with bread. The Dan Dan noodles I found to be a slight disappointment, but overall this is one of the very best Chinese places around plus it has many dishes you won’t find elsewhere. Pleasant service, great prices, no downside here that I can see.

Xi’an – China


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Asian Origin

Asian Origin, web site, 1753 Pinnacle Drive, McLean, VA, very close to Tysons II, 703-448-9988 (Metro Trip Planner – opens in new window) [Don Rockwell | Ylp]

Mostly Sichuan, this is the best Chinese food in Virginia right now. You could try the spicy fish with potato and lotus root, the dan dan noodles, or Chairman Mao pork belly, among many other classics. I’ve had numerous dishes here, and not one of them has misfired. Somehow people don’t seem to know about this place yet, but it bowled me over with its subtlety and appreciation of tradition. There have a very nice private room, the menu is relatively good for vegetarians, as Chinese goes, and the décor is good enough that you could bring a client or business associate here. And yet the food totally delivers. I don’t think there is a separate Chinese menu, but you can always try asking about special Chinese dishes, no promises however but they might have one or two for you.


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Ethiopian food in Ethiopia


Rock-Hewn Churches of Lalibela, Ethiopia


I will compare to Ethiopian food in the United States, so I won’t be starting from scratch here.

The good news is that the product is tastier in Ethiopia. But the other good news is that the U.S. version of the cuisine is fairly similar, and it really does give you a pretty good idea of at least mainstream restaurant cuisine in Addis Ababa.

Ethiopians really do eat a lot of injera, made out of teff. Firfir dishes, which use injera soaked in spices, are far more common in Ethiopian cuisine in Ethiopia than in the U.S. equivalent. Overall, the quality, subtlety, and diversity of injera is higher in Ethiopia, as you might expect.

Bozena Shiro is another staple, present in both countries but again far more common in Ethiopia.

Doro Wat — chicken in the red sauce — is the dish that improves the most in Ethiopia. The sauce is richer and more subtle, more in the direction of a Mexican mole than just a mere curry.

I had two meals in private homes, one in a well-to-do apartment in Addis, the other in a rural village. Neither overturned the basic impressions I have been receiving from the restaurant food.

I ate kitfo [raw beef] once and did not get sick or even feel queasy.

The fresh honey is much better in Ethiopia than what you might get in a restaurant in America. And they pop fresh popcorn rather frequently.

Especially outside of Addis Ababa, prices are very cheap. I stayed in the nicest hotel at the number one tourist site, namely Lalibela, with its underground, rock-hewn churches. A single course at breakfast cost about a dollar and was enough for a meal. Presumably some other prices are cheaper yet.

This is a wonderful country for vegetarians and vegans. I am told that for the Christian religiously observant, about one-third of all days specify an abstention from meat. So virtually all restaurants have a wide selection of vegetarian food and it is no worse than the meat dishes, perhaps better on average.

As for foreign cuisines, I had the best outcome with Indian food, perhaps because many of the spices and cooking techniques are similar. There are Sudanese and Yemeni restaurants in Addis, Italian food is plentiful (it’s not always exactly Italian, but Castelli’s is amazing), and the Chinese meal I had was decent but not sufficiently Chinese.

Originally posted on Marginal Revolution – click to see comments and suggestions.


Why Ethiopian Cuisine In Washington, D.C. Will One Day Be As Popular As Pizza



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