From Restaurant to Retail — Two New Foods You Can Take Home With You

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How often are you dining out and think to yourself, "I wish I could take some of this ingredient home to use in my own kitchen or eat at my leisure?" It never hurts to ask, and two local restaurants have recently decided to make some of their popular products available in retail packaging.

The first treat comes from Jim Boggs at Cool Springs Brewery. I first visited them a couple of years ago to check out their buffet and try some of their craft brews. But what really impressed me was their chicken wings, especially the tangy, sweet/hot sauce that they call "Boggs Bites Back Sauce." Apparently I wasn't the only one, because customers began to clamor to be able to take some of the sauce home with them.

Never one to disappoint a customer, Boggs investigated the process of bottling his sauce for retail. In fact, he has even begun to provide wing sauce for restaurants in other states because they just can't seem to make their own as good as his. Boggs Sauce has interesting hints of lime, honey and brown sugar which separate it from other sauces like Frank's that just trade on their cumulative heat to make an impression. I'd classify Boggs Bites Back as probably medium heat, but this means that you don't have to dunk your wings in cooling ranch or blue cheese, so the flavors of the sauce and the fry job of the chicken can shine through.

If you're interested in trying some of this treat or take some home, drop by Cool Springs Brewery at 600A Frazier Drive and avail yourself of their frequent wing specials. Even better, Boggs gave me a bottle to offer as a prize for a lucky Bites reader. Just tell us your choice for the best hot wings in town and we'll draw a winner from all the commenters. (No bonus points for being a sycophant and picking Cool Springs unless you've already had them and love them.)

The second take-home treat that I've discovered in the past month comes from an unlikely source, The Listening Room Cafe at Cummins Station. I call it unlikely, because the Listening Room is a place that I really hadn't thought of in a long time. The space on the ground floor of Cummins Station has been through several incarnations over the years, and the hours and food have been unpredictable, so it kind of receded to "back of mind" status. Singer/songwriter Chris Blair opened The Listening Room in 2008 and has recently hired a new chef who has apparently upped the game. Heck, the fact that it has a free fenced parking lot downtown should be reason enough to give them a try for lunch.

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But I've found a new reason: their Sweet & Spicy Pickles. Are pickles enough of an incentive to draw you in? In this case they should be. These delicious morsels are made from cucumbers grown by a local farmer in Kentucky, and then canned in a vinegar with cucumbers, sugar, d'arbol chile and habanero chile. Their sweet start and spicy finish are absolutely addictive and they still maintain just the right amount of snap and crunch even after their long pickling in the brine.

I've offered samples to a few of my friends who initially refused them with a dismissive, "I don't like pickles." In each case, I had to pry the jar out of their greedy hands as they progressed from a suspicious nibble to stabbing them by the forkful which they shoveled into their mouths. Seriously, I need to get some more of these pickles.

Fortunately, that's pretty easy to do now, as The Listening Room has started to sell them for $5.50 for a 16-ounce jar. Unfortunately, I don't have any jars to give away thanks to my greedy pickle-holic friends. They are also being served in The Listening Room Cafe as a deep fried appetizer with a house-made ranch dressing and on on all of The Listening Room's burgers including:

o Trio of Sliders - one slider each: smoked BBQ cheeseburger, blues burger & Southern pepper burger.

o Cheeseburger - old fashioned grilled burger with American cheese, lettuce, tomato, red onion and signature sweet & spicy pickles served on fresh baked brioche bun.

o Smoked BBQ Cheeseburger - smoked cheddar, house-made BBQ sauce, caramelized onions, lettuce, tomato and signature sweet & spicy pickles served on fresh baked brioche bun.

o Blues Burger - blue cheese crumbles, bacon, fried sweet & spicy pickles, lettuce, tomato and red onion served on fresh baked brioche bun.

o Southern Pepper Burger - cheddar jack cheese, fried onion strings, lettuce, tomato, signature sweet & spicy pickles and house made red pepper mayo served on fresh baked brioche bun.

So drop by the Listening Room at 209 10th Ave S., suite 200 to try them off the menu or buy a jar to take home. Just don't tell your friends about them until you've had your fill.

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