Going “Beyond Salmon” at Nashville’s Miel

As a cliche urban millennial, I want my fancy dining experiences but also don’t want the guilt of the environmental impact of dining out. When we can find restaurants and experiences that align with both of these values, we get really excited. When my husband was browsing The Nashville Scene on Twitter one morning, he found this…

… and asked if I was interested in doing this “Trash Fish Dinner Thing”. I was intrigued.

Miel is an interesting place. Billed as a French-inspired restaurant, Proprietor Seema Prasad and Chef Jason LaIacona are dedicated to creating beautiful food and experiences that are elevated while also remaining hyper-local and sustainable. Matt & I went once before this event and were really impressed. I recall the highlight being the wood-grilled oysters (which are probably not transplant friendly but I live on the edge) and our wonderful gentle giant of a waiter.

The premise of this dinner was to highlight the different kinds of sustainably caught fish outside of the standard Salmon/Tuna/Shrimp rotation commonly found on seafood menus. All you had going into this was a rough idea of the flavors and preparations the chef wanted to work with.

The Night’s Menu

We were taken to The Barn, which is a lovely event space on the premise (and now where I want to have our elopement reception), and introduced to the concept by Chef LaIacona. Everything served was chosen because it was fresh, sustainable, and delicious. The actual menu ended up shifting slightly to what you see above based on the quality of what they had gotten in that morning and other ingredients available. Sounds fab.

Pre-Dinner Drink: Watermelon Shrub

While we were enjoying the unseasonably reasonable weather for Nashville in The Barn, we were offered a pre-dinner non-alcoholic drink – The Watermelon Shrub. It was a tart and refreshing palate cleanser. Not very watermelon-y in terms of what you think of when you hear “watermelon flavored”. It tasted like it was made more from the rinds of the fruit as opposed to the flesh, which I have since learned makes sense. Shrubs are essentially a vinegar-based cocktail. I can see how a splash of rum would have made this quite dangerous.

Course One: Mussels with Yuzu, Coconut, & Acid

This was delicious. Mussels are one of those foods that I forget I enjoy until I have them. These were tender and had that slight sea salt burst when you bit them. This broth though… fantastic! It was buttery and slightly salty with enough citrus to make it interesting. I had to stop myself from sticking my face in the bowl and slurping it up. I wish we had been given bread with this.

Bonus Course: Smoked Sable Mousse With Potato and Black Garlic Shoyu

Not wanting to waste anything in the kitchen, we got a few “bonus courses” through the evening. The first was this smoked sable mousse with some sourdough toast. Flavorwise, it was very reminiscent of a smoked salmon spread but with a looser texture. Would absolutely eat this again.

Course Two: Seared Sable With Smoked Honey Vinegrette and Summertime Beans

Take two with the sable was almost as good as the first. The fish was beautiful and delicate. The vinaigrette was phenomenal. The beans were… ok. They were fresh, which was great, but they weren’t cooked, or not cooked enough at least. I appreciate the joy of eating a bean right from the garden, but raw lima beans aren’t really my jam. Still, that vinaigrette dressing made it easy to overlook the texture.

Let’s Talk About The Wine For A Second…

We opted to do the wine pairings with the meal. This got us three glasses of white wine that were curated to go with the dishes served, starting from lightest to “heaviest”. The first was N.V. Maitre de Chai, Chenin Blanc, Wilson Vineyard, which was a lovely sparkling choice from California. A few dishes in, we were given a glass of the 2020 Albarino d’Fefinanes, from Rías Biaxas, SP, which really came alive with the dish below. We finished the last course and dessert with a glass of 2012 Chateau de Chasseloir, “Comte LeLoup”, Muscadet Sevre et Maine. Loire Valley, FR which stood up well to the heavier finishing course.

I’m not a wine expert, but they did pair very well and left me feeling a little buzzed towards the end of the night. Perk of being a lightweight I suppose.

Course Three: Grilled Bronzini with Lemon, Parsley, Corn, & Leeks

This was Matt’s favorite dish of the night and I don’t disagree with that assessment. The fish was heartier than the previous choice and went so well with the wine they selected. I appreciate that it was a really simple dish; lemon, parsley, salt, pepper and that’s it. It’s a testament to the cliche of the quality of your ingredients matter. This corn is also now on the list of things to recreate at home.

Bonus Course: A Take on Fish & Chips

Another bonus dish from the kitchen. I think this was Hake (I was a few glasses of wine in at this point) with the cutest little waffle fry I have ever seen. The tartar sauce was really good and the grated egg on top was a surprisingly fitting finishing touch. The presentation won a lot of points in the dining room too.

Course Four: Roasted Monkfish & Skate Wing with a Umami Ragout

First of all, ragout is a severely underrated dish. This was so good! There was such richness and depth to it. I think I heard something about the black garlic shoyu being used again, which would make sense given the umami theme running through the course. This was my first time having monkfish, and in spite of being known as “poor man’s lobster” I thought it was just ok on it’s own. The skate was the better of the two in my opinion although it was also just ok on it’s own. What made it really good was the tiny little bit of miso butter they included. I wish we had at least one more blob to put on top of these fish.

Dessert: Seasonal Fruit, Coulis, Chantilly, Basil, Tart Crumble

I think this was the least successful dish of the night. Plating wise, I think it’s beautiful. When you were able to scoop it all together in one bite, it was really good. What didn’t work for me was the deconstructed aspect. I don’t want to work for my dessert, you know? Given how constructed all of the previous courses had been, I was expecting a little more of the same for this. If this has been combined in a little ramiken as a summer berry cobbler and served warm with the cream on top, I would have been in heaven.

Final Thoughts

One thing we kept saying through the meal was “I didn’t know ______ could taste like this”. We came away wanting to expand our horizons with our fish orders as well as making a small list of things we now want to cook at home. I think it’s safe to say the goal of the meal was a success. If there was a complaint, it’s that this was a long dinner service. By the time dessert came around we had been at our table for 3 1/2 hours, which was a little more than we had expected to spend there.

Overall, our experience at Miel was as good as our first. The staff was wonderful, even if they were being kept busy the whole time. The interior is lovely. The food was amazing. We’re already planning our next visit back to see what else this team is planning to do with foods we didn’t know we enjoyed.

Find Miel Online

Website | Instagram | Reservations

How To: Pass Time Productively on a Long Flight

I have been traveling a fair bit this year between my new job (which I can’t really call “new” too much longer… it’s been over 7 months) and planner events (which are really just sleepovers for grown women who love stickers). This has led to quite a few flights that have left me with a low phone battery and multiple hours stuck in my seat.

I don’t know about you, but I can’t mentally comprehend reading an ebook on my phone screen for 3+ hours; my eyes start to hurt and the plot usually isn’t good enough to sustain my attention. Besides, travel days are basically dead time where I can’t be productive even though I feel like I should be.

But what if you could use this captive time to do something that doesn’t make you feel like you’ve lost a day just sitting, doing Sudoku, and staring out the window?

Here are 5 reasonably productive things to do while on a long flight while on airplane mode that won’t kill your phone battery (probably).

Goal Setting

There is something about flying, especially for work trips, that make me take inventory of my life. Maybe it’s the anxiety of flying and the ever prevalent fear of an untimely demise, maybe it’s because I’m flying commercially and not on the company plane, maybe it’s all the peppy planner people I hang with who hold their life together with washi tape… at any rate, I’m filled with thoughts of things I would like to accomplish and the things I could do better at.

Creating a SMART goal is super easy to do from your tray table with a pen and paper. Since you have the time, level it up by sketching out the milestones along the way and a step by step process for how to reach them.

If you’re not familiar with SMART goals, I really like MindTools‘ explanation of them.

You know you’re a 90’s kid when you sing this theme song while making goals

Update Your Phone Calendar

Look, I love my paper planner. The reality is that it’s not always a practical thing to carry around with me and I’ve been relying on my GCal a lot more. This has made me need to keep a consistent daily schedule in there do I can work my appointments around my overall tasks.

I mentioned time blocking in another blog post as something that has helped with my overall productivity. Use your flight time to create your own reoccurring blocks; even if it’s just a lunch break and your morning/evening routine. If you pop for the plane WiFi, run through your local event calendars and find something to do in the community. Update birthdays and anniversaries. Pop in the milestone dates from your goal setting. Find wacky holidays to celebrate (like Leif Erickson day).

Two very important holidays.

Create a Vision Board or Mind Map

Maybe you’re like me and you pack a small arsenal of craft supplies everywhere you go. High five to you. You can probably take it from here on your own.

But, maybe you’re not someone who travels with a sticker book, multiple pens, travel scissors and a tape roller. It’s ok, you can still flex some creative muscle from seat 3D.

I made both of last years vision boards in Canva, which is going to require some WiFi to fully utilize. However if you’re trying to be electronic free, may I suggest some mind mapping?

It’s like a bubbly spider web of aspiration.

Much like the goal setting, this one is easy to do with a pen and paper, although I do like Mindly as an app version, as seen above. Using shapes and lines, simply your visions for the next period of your life in to succinct thought bubbles. I highly encourage doodling. Steal that screaming child’s crayons if you want.

Digital Declutter Your Apps

My swipe screen is a cesspool where apps go to die. I never realize how many pages I have until I get the “ffs you’re running out of phone space” notice. Use this time to go on an Archer style rampage and kill some apps you don’t use. Once that’s done, organize the damn things so you can find your budgeting app before you hit up the Amazon one.

There are two types of people in this world… Archers and Lanas

Maybe you’re someone who has your apps already color coded alphabetically. How do your notifications look? Why not mark them all as read? You’re probably not gonna read them anyway… unless it’s an international flight.

I have no idea what Pinterest would even send a notification for.

Prepare for Touchdown

I find that as I’m heading home after any sort of trip, my mind is full of fleeting thoughts…

  • I need to do laundry
  • Do I have food for dinner?
  • The cat probably needs more water…
  • God, I smell like an airplane…
  • Hope I can get an Uber quickly…

Instead of agonizing during the flight, and then feeling very scattered and discombobulated once you land, why not give yourself a head start?

When in doubt…

Whether you’re coming or going, you probably have a bunch of little things that pop in your head that need to be done, that you forgot, or that you want to look up once you have a solid internet connection again. Write it down! Even taking 15 minutes while landing can get you set up to be a lot less stressed upon landing.

I always try to have a 85% solid plan of how to get to my hotel/house, what my next meal is going to be, and 3 things to make my night easier before I land.

Next time you’re up in the air, why not use that time to get ahead? It makes the time go by faster and keeps you occupied so you don’t have to speak to your seat mates about their 27 grandkids.

Practical Advice for Planner Events

We are less than ONE month away from Go Wild, which is a gigantic planner conference that is being held in Fabulous Las Vegas. In the event group, there is a lot of excitement around the lead up to the event and a LOT more questions from first timers about all sorts of aspects of going to their first “planner event”. I’m certainly no expert in this but I did go to Go Wild last year in Austin, as well as 5 other planner events of varying scales. There are lots of people imparting advice on their spaces, and I am going to join the ever growing throng to give you another point of view. Whether you’re “Going” with us to Vegas, or heading to one of the other planner events that are happening this year, allow me to pass along some wisdom.

The Advice I Wish I Had Listened To Before Going To A Planner Conference

Wear Sensible Shoes – NOT FLIP FLOPS

Y’all, I love me some flip flops but let’s be 100% here, they are not useful shoes. You’re probably going to be doing a LOT of walking at these things. Walking all the way across the hotel to get to the conference. Walking all your swag back to your room during breaks. Walking around the city during your down time. And, you’ll be doing a lot of standing as well. Standing in line for snacks. Standing in line to get on the elevator. Standing in line to get a photo with that speaker you really like. You know what kind of shoes SUCK for that sort of stuff? Flip flops. Get yourself actual shoes. Sneakers. Maybe buy some insoles. Baby the fuck out of your feet. They will thank you for it.

Take The Damn Pictures

I know, it’s weird to go up to someone and go “Hohmigod can i get a picture with you?!” I struggle with it, especially after working with musical acts and remembering they are people who fall going up the stairs too. But you know, you’re gonna get home and be really sad that you didn’t do it. Get in line for those photos; that’s why they have those times set to take the photos. Take the selfies with your friends. Make a gookie if you’re afraid to look dumb… that way you know you’ll look dumb on purpose and it’ll be a cool homage to Wakko Warner/Harpo Marx.

Image Shown: Gookies. Wakko on first.

Nobody Cares What You Wear

There was one event I went to where someone had a light up dress on. The only reason I remember it is because I remember thinking, “Shit… how is she gonna get that dress and all her swag home?” Plus, remember all that walking and standing I mentioned before? You’re probably gonna have to be clothed while you’re doing those things. Pick comfortable stuff that you can hike back and forth in. My go to is black leggings, a t-shirt, and a flannel for if I get cold (actually… that’s my go to everyday. I have no sense of style). If you are flying somewhere and you know that you’re gonna be a tad spoiled by your sponsors, pack light – or make a plan to ship stuff home, and remember to leave some in your budget to do that.

Erin Condren was really excited to take a picture with me. Please note that dressy ballet flats are not much better than flip flops.

Find the Bathrooms BEFORE You Have To Pee.

Just… trust me on this. And when I say find the bathrooms, I mean… don’t just find the closest ones. Find ALL of them so that if one is full you can go down the line until you find something that is open.

Schedule Time To Do NOTHING

So, for a bigger event like Go Wild it’s really tempting to want to schedule in EVERY SINGLE THING. You’re on vacation, you’re in a city that you want to explore, and you need to eat ALL the things. But, give yourself time to just wander around the hotel and hang with people. Sometimes there are hidden goodies around the hotel block. Sometimes you meet your favorite shop owners and get exclusive samplers. Sometimes one of your roommate does a really bad Australian accent to one of the main people of a major planner company (who happens to be British) and you need to have a spare half hour to literally roll on the floor laughing at her. So yeah… make time for those random things to happen.

Everyone is Awkward AF And That’s The Magic Of It

Me and some fellow awkward people being awkward with confetti.

When you get right down to it, this is a weird hobby for a bunch of adults to have. We play with stickers and mostly know each other through the internet. Sounds super legit, right? But you know, we all have that experience of unsuccessfully trying to explain what this hobby is and why stickers are a vital importance to it. We all have that one horrible layout we will NEVER show anyone. Everyone is as awkward as you are and is hoping you don’t notice that their shirt is on inside out. Embrace it. You are among your peers who know that HP means Happy Planner and not Harry Potter, but we are probably obsessed with both.

Where ever your planner related adventures may take you, I hope you have fun, find a new shop to love, and that your pen doesn’t skip while you’re filling out your spread.

Disneyland Dreams

I want to be a Disney Princess. I’ve wanted to be a Disney Princess my whole life. Even at almost 30 when you ask me what I want to be when I grow up, I will answer “Disney Princess”. When we went to Disneyland for Spring Break, it was for ME. I hadn’t been since I was about 3 years old, and have felt the siren song calling me back ever since. Finally, I was back among the magic of my childhood.

Yes, it was magical and wonderful and everything I had hoped it would be. But… there was something that didn’t feel… well… right. All day long there was this unsettled feeling lurking; following us through every ride like the shadows of the Devil’s hands in Fantasia. My old friend Cognitive Dissonance. 
I am constantly trying to seek out voices that do not represent my own and learn from them. I am constantly humbled by the fact that there is so much that I have experienced that I take for granted. Even at my worst points, I’ve been able to ride through thanks to resources I’ve had access to that not everyone has. And even in spite of those privileges, I have had to eat dirt when I’ve fallen.

Disney flies in the face of all of that. When you wish upon a star, it makes no difference who you are. Don’t worry… you’ll get by on faith, trust, and a little bit of pixie dust. Your fairy godmother will fix your problems. Your prince will come. Woodland creatures will clean your house and make your bed. Your hair will always look amazing. 
Escapism at its finest. And damn does it feel good. Guilty… but so good. Fuck student loans and deadlines. I’m going to eat the Grey Stuff, some Dole Whip, and another Churro because calories don’t exist in Fantasy Land. Let’s go shoot Zorg and rescue Buzz. Let’s pretend Jack Sparrow isn’t played by a horrible human being and be semi amused by him again.
Then, when we were in the Tomorrowland Lounge, my coffee cup had this quote on it.

​​SMLXL

 Are we though? I mean, Yes I would much rather be alive today than in Tudor England. But a dream come true? And I looked around the stylized idealized futurism of Tomorrowland, the vaguely racist eternal optimism of It’s A Small World ride, and the stark contrast between the sparkling facade of Magic Kingdom vs the realities that lurk outside the gates; my cynical realism came back. 
It’s a scary and stressful time to be alive. We have an unstable Cheeto in charge. There’s a mass shooting every week. People are still constantly being discriminated against and dying due to their race, gender orientation, and religious beliefs. I have no clue how I’m going to pay for health insurance once my current plan expires. I would hate to see the person who thinks THIS is a dream come true.

But I have Disney to run away and escape. Where the good guy always wins, the villains have the best songs, and eyelashes defy the laws of physics. And even though those movies are as unrealistic as can be, I’m still going to be a Disney Princess when I grow up.

Daiso Japan Haul

Seriously considered doing some cunning April Fools post. The thing is, I’m actually traveling back from vacation at the moment and don’t have the spare brain cells to be that cunning. What I do have is a bunch of stuff to show off.
I just spent a week in Southern California, which was fantastic. Saw family, went to Wizard World AND Disneyland, and didn’t accidentally drive in to Compton. But most importantly, for purposes of this post at least, I went to Daiso Japan.
For anyone not in the know, Daiso is basically the Japanese version of the dollar store. I believe most of their products are priced around 100 yen, or about $1.50 in US dollars. It’s super cute and kawaii, and gives the illusion of being better than the dollar store stuff at Budget Dollar even though I’m sure it’s pretty much the same.
Y’all. I went a little wild. This was my receipt.

 I spent roughly $90 in there. I am not ashamed. Here’s what I got.

To start, I got a bag. Partially because California charges you for bags and I figured I should get a reusable one if I should pay for it… and partially because I have a real “bag problem” if you know what I mean. 

Stationary: 5 packs of washi (two rolls in each), some post it notes, and some cat themed page flags. Yes, I have a use for every single one of the items. THE WASHI WAS CACTI AND PINEAPPLE I NEEDED IT! 

Magnetic hooks for my fridge, a sushi key chain, a sushi magnet (which was a gift), and a really handy earbud case that I have already made use of on the flight back. 

Oragami Paper, Emoji stickers big and small, and 3 packs of a5 notebook inserts. #plannergirlproblems 

Pens! Crown pens, brush pens, sushi pen, and adorable correction tape because I can’t spell to save my life. Seriously, that last sentence had all the red underlining…

Right proper Japanese Ramen. This with some leftover teriyaki and a tea egg? So good omg… 

MORE PENS! All but one was .38, but they are all lovely superfine tips.  

Assorted Kitchen stuff; including silicone molds for crafting/baking, two coffee mugs because I have another problem with those, cookie cutters for the gift closet, and a Kona coffee that was actually pretty refreshing considering how much milk was in it.

 Beauty things!! Eyelashes! Eyelash Case! Foot “detox” pads because why not?! A face mask that I think is charcoal! A Lime bag! A scrunchi! 

Last, but not least… THREE Popin’ Cookin’s. The dude who checked me out asked me if I knew that these weren’t really that great to eat. I assured him I had watched the Youtube videos and was a professional. So… This is probably gonna happen at some point this month… 

All tallied, there are 54 items in total including the duplicates I got. I’m pleased, both at my selection AND that I managed to fit it all in my suitcase. Now to figure out where to put it all in my house…