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For the last few months, OUTvoices Nashville’s print edition featured a new column—our first regular cooking column, “Joe Eats World.” This column is an extension of Morales’ work as a food blogger and chef and part of a larger project in what will soon become OUTvoices TV. Morales recently filmed the pilot episode of a “Joe Eats World” web-based television show.
Morales decided to go to culinary school around 2014, in what he said his husband might call a “midlife crisis”—though he protests that that’s not quite right. “I just felt the need to do something different,” he said. “I like to write, and I like to cook … so when I started talking about going to culinary school, to begin with, I didn’t have a desire to be a restaurant chef.”
Joe Eats World
This was also the real genesis of his food blog. He intended to learn about food, how to cook, and document his journey in his blog. As for his food career, he said, “I decided I’d figure that out along the way!”
He admitted that felt kind of silly. “At my age and having that naivety?”
Once he got started, however, things didn’t follow that plan, either for his blog or his career. “It was going to be more of a diary… I guess that's how it always starts: you always have these good intentions. I started a blog because I was going to document my culinary education … start to finish and then about the restaurant industry and whatever else. Going into culinary school full time, doing side work … it just kind of sat there!”
As far as his attitude toward restaurant work went, that also transformed during culinary school. “I was like, ‘Alright, I absolutely want to get into the restaurant.’ And once I went into a restaurant, it was amazing. Some of the best times I had in the kitchen were in the restaurant!”
Chef Joe Morales
Out of culinary school, Morales became a sous chef for a Michelin-recommended restaurant, where he worked until they closed in 2019 and relocated to Cleveland. The closure of the restaurant spurred him to rededicate himself to food blogging and teaching.
“I started to teach cooking classes at a local kitchen here in Chicago,” he explained. “There's an LGBTQ owned business that is down the street from us, so I was doing a lot of cooking classes and stuff there for them until the pandemic hit, and all of that stuff got shut down.”
Morales has continued to develop the “Joe Eats World” blog—which took the shape of a full food blog, though primarily focused on recipes and cooking tips—during the pandemic. When it comes to recipes, Morales took a different tack than many contemporary food blogs. Rather than focus primarily on the backstory and history of the dish, with personal asides, his blog entries focus their detail on the execution of the technique and conclude with the formal recipe.
In addition to detailing his perfected recipes, Morales also gives readers a window into the development process professional chefs go through as they experiment with dishes in a section he calls the “Test Kitchen.”
“Basically, the Test Kitchen details when I get these ideas of cooking something or trying something, how I executed it, and then I will tell you whether they fail or not. So far … there's been some failures. You know sometimes something sounds good but in the execution not so much! I did a twist on this chicken and Italian sausage dish that was a little sweeter than the traditional preparation. It sounded great. And then I made it, and I was like, ‘This tastes like shit.’ Sometimes you have to try it to find out!”
Why document the failures? “I struggled with that because everything that people put on their websites—the recipes, or whatever else—they're going for the hero shot and the perfect picture! Nobody likes to talk about their failures, so in my Test Kitchen I document both successes and failures. Like—I don't think I wrote about it yet but—I've done sourdough bread, and I don't know what it is with me and sourdough bread. But my first attempt at sourdough is always a failure. One time I woke up two days later, and the starter was just pitch black. And I had to toss it out. But you know people can learn from our mistakes, so I write about it, focusing on ‘do this, but don't do that’.”
Joe Eats World ... Television?
When asked how the “Joe Eats World” television show idea was born, Morales explained that it kind of came together with the birth of the OUTvoices and Aequalitas Media brands on the one hand and his return to the blog on the other.
“I was going to do videos for YouTube that would supplement the ‘Joe Eats World’ blog—it was basically going to be me filming myself doing recipes and stuff like that. Then, it kind of morphed as people would say, ‘Oh, you should do a cooking show. And maybe you should have drag queens or something like that—you know, some sort gay themed show’.”
Beyond the direct appeal to the LGBTQ+ community, Morales thinks this kind of show brings the added value of both showing that our community’s interests are broader than stereotypes and bringing visibility to LGBTQ+ people in the industry.
“I think that the last year-and-a-half has kind of taught us that there's a lot of things that are unspoken unseen. And I think that having an LGBTQ cooking show could help highlight LGBTQ+ diversity in a positive way. We're more than we're more than what they see on comedy and dramas, or at Pride events.”
“Cooking,” he added, “also has broad appeal. There's enough negative crap going on in the world. And there are a lot of LGBTQ+ people in the industry that aren't getting a lot of visibility. A lot of gay or lesbian or transgender chefs—people within the LGBTQ+ spectrum—aren’t highlighted. They're usually just kind of in the background and doing their thing; they're just trying to make a living, enjoy what they're doing, and create great food. A show like this would bring them front and center.”
A lot of planning remains to be done to bring “Joe Eats World” to little screens around the globe, but Morales was on set last month to shoot a pilot, and planning for the series is proceeding, as OUTvoices continues to develop digital content for its OUTvoices TV and OUTvoices Radio arms.
But you don’t have to wait for video to follow what Chef Joe Morales is up to in the kitchen. Check out “Joe Eats World” each month in OUTvoices Nashville, and read his blog posts at joeeatsworld.com.
We have located five festive cocktails all served locally to help get you into the holiday spirit—or to help put some spirits into your holidays!
Looking for a festive fall cocktail to sip on? Before we really get into the holiday season, there's still time to cozy up with a fall flavored cocktail from one of these Nashville hotspots.
Here are our five favorites:
- Known for their CBD-centric beverages, and delicious soul food, Anzie Blue has a full bar with cocktails that don't disappoint. Stop by for all day brunch and order a Cold Brew Martini.
- Hours: 8AM - 6PM Daily
- Flatiron is a lively neighborhood spot in Midtown with a menu full of American staples, as well as dishes for the adventurous eater. The cocktail menu was just updated for fall, and the Harvest Margarita is a must-try for any tequila lover.
- Ingredients: Tequila, cranberry, cinnamon, orange bitters
- Hours: Monday-Friday 4PM - 10PM, Saturday 10AM - 10PM, Sunday 10AM - 9PM.
- Tucked away inside of Dream Nashville, Stateside Kitchen showcases seasonal cuisine and cocktails. Offering brunch, lunch and dinner, this brasserie has a wide range of seasonal cocktails including the Tequila Mockingbird.
- Ingredients: Patron, Cassis, Crème de Cacao, citrus, egg white
- Hours: Monday-Thursday 11AM - 9PM, Friday-Sunday 10AM - 10PM
- Located in the Gulch, Nashville's trendiest steakhouse, has way more to offer than just delicious steaks. STK has a full cocktail menu of seasonal drinks including the Pumpkin Spiced Old Fashioned.
- Ingredients: Woodford Reserve, fresh pumpkin, pumpkin pie syrup, maple syrup, cinnamon, nutmeg, black walnut bitters, star anise, brown sugar rim
- Hours: Sunday-Thursday 3PM - 11PM, Friday-Saturday 3PM - 12AM, Saturday-Sunday Brunch 10AM - 3PM
- Legendary live music venue, The Listening Room is conveniently located near downtown. Book yourself a table and sip on a craft cocktail like Kentucky Bloom, while enjoying music from some of Nashville's rising stars.
- Ingredients: Bourbon, Cadamaro, citrus shrub, Peychaud's bitters
- Hours: Brunch- Saturday 10AM - 3PM, Dinner - Monday-Saturday 4PM - 11PM
Summer isn’t over yet. If you haven’t heard, there is another heatwave that is about to strike the U.S., and this time, it’s going to be nationwide. That means near record-breaking temperatures and finding ways to stay cool and refreshed. Some will retreat to air-conditioned rooms while others will head to the nearest beach or swimming pool.
No matter where you decide to hang out to beat the summer heat, you’re going to need to stay hydrated. Yes, drink plenty of water. However, should you choose to grab something a bit stronger, here's a list of the best canned cocktails out there.
You don’t have to worry about mixing anything together because they’re premade! They’re easy, they’re portable, and they are delicious. All you have to do is grab a cooler, put them on ice, and go. Just make sure you have a koozie.
Cantina Especial Tequila Soda
These drinks come in a 4-pack and are 5.6% ABV which is about 11 Proof per can. These carbonated tequila cocktails come in 3 flavors: Grapefruit Paloma, Watermelon Margarita, and Ranch Water. If you’re not familiar with Ranch Water, it’s tequila, soda water, and a squeeze of lime. The best part besides the taste? They are only 99 Calories, 0 Sugars, and 1 Gram Carbs! They are made with blanco tequila harvested from Mexico and are available in over 40 states. Find your nearest outlet with the Drizly app. If I had to pick just one flavor, I would go with the Grapefruit Paloma, it’s refreshing and crisp.
Who doesn’t love a Mojito? The mint, the soda water, the sweetness…it’s so refreshing. These are also found in a 4-pack and are slightly more potent with 5.9% ABV which is about 12 Proof per 12-ounce can. Made with Bacardi Superior Rum, these cocktails come in five different flavors: Rum Punch, Mojito, Bahama Mama, Limon & Lemonade, Lime & Soda, Sunset Punch. The Mojito, Rum Punch, and Sunset punch are available in a variety pack if you can’t decide what you like best. These ready-to-drink canned cocktails are Gluten Free, 19 grams Sugar, 19.2 grams Carbs, and 198 calories. Available in the Drizly app.
Bombay Sapphire Gin and Tonic
Gin. You either love it or you hate it. Bombay Sapphire makes a pretty good cocktail. They’re relatively new to the market but they’re definitely catching up. This 4-pack is ready for some ice and a slice of lime! It’s the Bombay Gin you have come to know and love, the same botanical and citrus flavor, now in a can. The G&T regular is 5.9% which is 12 Proof while the light tonic version is 98 calories and 0 sugars. You can find both regular and light premixed drinks on the Drizly app.
Ketel One Botanical Spritz Peach Orange Blossom
I do love a good Ketel and soda. This cocktail in a can is pretty good. You get the peach orange blossom flavor mixed in with the sparkling water. This non-GMO vodka is only 3.6% ABV which is around 7 Proof it’s also only 73 calories. Seems there’s a theme with the 4-packs because you guessed it, it comes in a 4-pack. You can also find Ketel One in Cucumber and Mint or Grapefruit and Rose, all flavors are 0 Carbs, no added sugar or artificial flavors. You can find each of the flavors on the Drizly app.
Monaco Vodka & Soda Lemon Lime
If you haven’t heard of the Monaco line, you definitely need to check them out. They are available in vodka or tequila and they have so many flavors to choose from. I’ll talk about my two favorites: the Lemon Lime and the Mango Peach. First, let me tell you that each Monaco has 2 shots of vodka or tequila in it. They have 9% ABV and is about 18 Proof. That’s quite the amount of alcohol compared to the rest of the premixed cocktails I told you about.
The Mango Peach is sweeter and has more calories and carbs because of the sugar. The Lemon Lime is a Keto-friendly drink because it has 0 sugar and 0 carbs. All in all, there are about 12 different flavors; some come in “light” versions with only 69 Calories but still 0 carbs and 0 sugars. Pretty good if you’re a little more calorie-conscious. Most of the Monaco's ready-to-drink canned cocktails are available through alcohol delivery as well. You can find the Lemon Lime on the Drizzly App.
Really the only question that is left unanswered is which flavor of these canned cocktails are you going to choose? Or, you could buy them all and put them into the ice chest or refrigerator. Each 4-pack is under $15.00 excluding any delivery but I’d say the next time you’re at the grocery store or a liquor warehouse, pick some up. You won’t be disappointed.
The best part about it is that you don’t have to get up from your chair by the pool or stand up from the blanket on the beach. All you have to do is reach over to the cooler and grab a drink and quite possibly a cup filled with ice. Imagine sitting there listening to the waves crash as you hear that unmistakable crack of the tab and the hiss from the fizz being released; the can ice cold and you take that first sip and realize how amazing it tastes and how it’s refreshing in this sweltering summer heat.
Don’t worry, if you don’t make to the beach or that swimming pool. You’ll be able to enjoy these canned cocktails year-round!
Also, one more thing. Please drink responsibly.
Some of my favorite things come from summer. Summer Shandy lemonade beer, corn salad made with fresh sweet corn, and garden variety fruits and vegetables.
I was doing some research and development the other day on Mexican food. I wasn’t sure what I wanted to make but it was hot out and I wanted to have something cool and refreshing to drink but I also wanted to have something spicy. You know where I’m going with this right? You guessed it, margaritas and salsa.
I ended up making carne asada tacos. While the steak was marinating, I prepared watermelon margaritas and a pineapple pico de gallo salsa. It’s important to pick the best produce so you are working with fresh and delicious ingredients that are at their peak of ripeness.
How to pick the best watermelon
You never know what your watermelon is going to look like or taste like until you get it home and cut it open. A sure-fire way to always get the sweetest, juiciest watermelon is to choose it based on color.
There are two different types of watermelon: Seedless and one with seeds. For this recipe, I went with seedless because I didn’t want to pick through all the seeds and create more work. No matter what type you go with, the best way to choose your watermelon is by color.
Look for a watermelon that has a yellowish color on one side. This yellow marking looks like it would be bad but trust me it’s not. The yellow markings indicate that the watermelon sat on the vine and in the field ripening, getting juicy and sweet with each passing day. If a watermelon is all green, that means it was picked at the right harvest time but it could have been picked prematurely before it had a chance to ripen.
How to pick the best tomatoes
The best way to choose your tomato is by its color. See a pattern here? This time though you want a tomato that is firm with a slight bounce back when pressed. The color should be a deep color. Notice I didn’t say red? That’s because some tomatoes such as Heirloom tomatoes are different colors.
The tomatoes should feel heavy with a darker color and a firmness that gives just a bit when touched. Don’t grab the pale ones, don’t grab the soft squishy ones. Vine-ripened tomatoes are similar to the watermelon we discussed earlier. They are riper because they sat on the vine in the field longer than the others.
The vine-ripened tomatoes are the ones I go for because they don’t have a long shelf life, they have a better flavor, and they look better. Just make sure they are not too soft which can often be the case.
How to pick the best pineapple
When you are picking a fresh pineapple, you want to give it a squeeze. If it is firm but a little soft when squeezing it, then it is ripe.
If the pineapple is hard, then it is not ripe and you will need to wait a while for it to get ripe. If the pineapple is too soft, then it is overripe and could have brown discoloration on the inside. If the pineapple is giving off a strong sweet pineapple scent or is looking really yellow, then it is overripe. You should choose the pineapple that bounces back from a good squeeze.
How to pick the best jalapeño
Jalapeños are sold green but did you know that those are just not ripe? Ripe jalapeños are red which means they were left on the vine to ripen more. Green jalapeños are fine to eat and use. Essentially we eat unripened jalapeños when we eat any type of salsa.
Make sure the peppers are a nice green color and are firm to the touch. If they are soft or have a black coloring, that is an indicator they are overripe and close to spoiling. Just remember to remove the seeds and the pith to control the spiciness. I like to do half and half so I can make sure there is a good amount of spice.
Well, there you have it. How to pick the best produce. Next time you are in the store, give it a try. You won’t be disappointed. Now, check out the recipes.
Note: Tajin is a Mexican salt with all sorts of seasonings in it. We sprinkle it on fruits and vegetables and sometimes put it in beer. Enjoy!
4 cups Seedless Watermelon, cubed
2 Limes, juiced
Tequila (your choice)
Tajin seasoning salt
- Place watermelon in a blender and blend until smooth or all of the chunks have been liquified. You may need to do this in batches.
- Place cheesecloth over a strainer and place strainer over a bowl. Slowly pour the liquid into the strainer. Toss out the pulp.
- Place the watermelon juice, 2 ounces of tequila, and the juice of half a lime to the shaker.
- Shake vigorously for 30 seconds.
- Place the Tajin on a plate. Rub lime on the rim of your glass. Place your glass rim-side down on the Tajin to coat the rim.
- Place 2-3 ice cubes in the glass and fill with the liquid from the shaker.
- To make a full batch in a pitcher substitute the 2 ounces of tequila with about ½ cup tequila, depending on your taste level.
- If you don’t have a cheesecloth, you can use a double strainer.
- The watermelon should be sweet enough; if not you can add simple syrup to the shaker or pitcher.
- Use your choice of tequila but I recommend a medium to top-shelf silver or blanco tequila.
Pineapple Pico de Gallo
4 ripe Tomatoes, seeded and diced
1 cup Fresh Pineapple, diced
½ cup English Cucumber, diced
½ cup White Onion, diced
2 Jalapeños, seeded and diced
¼ cup Cilantro Leaves, chopped
1 Lime, juiced
Salt to taste
- In a bowl, mix together tomatoes, pineapple, cucumber, onion, jalapeño, and cilantro.
- Add lime juice and salt. Stir and taste. Adjust salt if necessary.
- De-seeding the tomatoes is necessary to avoid excess liquid.
- It is important to use English Cucumber since they are burpless, have more crispness, and are seedless (for the most part). You can omit cucumber.
- De-seeding the jalapeño and removing the pith will lower the heat from the peppers. Adjust the heat according to your taste.