Bringing in More of the Good Stuff: Double N Urban Homestead

Tucked away in the East Nashville neighborhood of Inglewood, nestled behind what is likely either yours or your best friend’s backyard, and just a hop, skip, and jump away from hustle and bustle of Gallatin Avenue sits a small oasis known as Double N Urban Homestead.

Never did you think that the produce from your local CSA was quite so local as to have been grown in the backyard garden of your East Nashville neighbors, now did you? Because those CSA-farming type folks live in the country!

Never did you think that neither you nor the dingy soil in your 1-acre suburban backyard was good enough to support the likes of lettuce, cabbage, kale, radishes, carrots, beats, peas, beans, tomatoes, squash, eggplant, melons, herbs, and pretty flowers…all at the same time. That’s just too much!

Sure, your green thumb aspirations might have gone as far as creating an herb garden or planting a tomato vine to crawl up your fence—we all become giddy over the prospect of eating something that we produced with our own two hands and patch of Earth—but a garden quite so large and extensive likely never crossed your mind as even a possibility.

Thank goodness for Double N.

We Love Taters. And Double N. - Porter Road ButcherTheir Urban Homestead sits on just an acre of land and roughly half is covered with produce galore. Nick and Nicole spent much of the winter getting things in order for the spring season and most importantly devoted much time to building what is now their lovely and petite greenhouse, which sits on the western side of the property. “We used the greenhouse to start about 1,500 plants, so we’re really excited to have that available,” said Nicole. “Previously we were starting our plants in the guest bedroom of our house and that got a little tricky…”

Nick and Nicole purchase all of their seeds from a local organic farmer and then do all the rest of the grunt work themselves. Although a few Peter Rabbits recently came by and devoured a handful of their cabbage plants, most of their plants are protected both by fences and by the homestead’s suburban surroundings, including watchful neighbors, plenty of car traffic, and a few tiny [but fierce] guard dogs.

Double N is also home base to Nicole’s apothecary project, including teas and tinctures, which help naturally cure whatever it is that ails you. Ranging from splitting headaches to obnoxious and over-active children, Nicole’s got a wide line of products that are said to naturally heal and help—but they’re not medicine. We’re not allowed to say that they’re medicine 🙂

On Thursdays from 4-7 Nick and Nicole crack open a beer (we love their style), gather their loot from the week, and then distribute it into pails for their weekly CSA pickup. But the good news is, now they’ve realized they have such a bountiful harvest…that they want to share it with us! Well really, they want to share it with YOU. Even better.

Beginning next week, Double N Urban Homestead will be selling their produce and apothecary goodies at PRB East! Which means you can get everything you need for a local and healthy meal in one fell swoop. You’re welcome.

Next Tuesday, May 26th (the day after Memorial Day) will be their first day of selling, and subsequently they’ll follow the schedule of the 2nd and 4th Tuesday of every month. They’ll be out there just in time for you after-work folks, from 4 pm – 7 pm.

We’re thrilled to welcome them to our East Nashville store and are even more excited to have the opportunity to sell super-local and organic produce!

Nick & Nicole from Double N Urban Homestead | Porter Road Butcher

Double N Urban Farm - Porter Road Butcher

Soaps and Steaks to Save the World.

A cute message from Colette at Raimwater Farm | Porter Road Butcher Tallow SoapAn item that we use each and every day, probably four or more times per day, soap is something that [as Americans] we couldn’t imagine living our lives without, but most likely have no idea where it originated.

Because I mean, you just can’t say with all honesty that you envision cave men using a bar of soap to cleanse their loincloths (I know, I know- sorry Geico). Nor can you confidently claim that your great, great, grandmother went to the corner Walgreens to pick up a bottle of Dove Body Wash—pomegranate & lemon verbena scent, of course—when she needed a little scrub in the tub.

No, soap wasn’t one of God’s great creations, but it instead came about (like most great inventions) by accident.

A Brief History of Soap

*As told to PRB by Kathleen Souder, co-owner of Rainwater Farm, who would like it to be noted that she is not an official Soap Historian.

  • Most simply, soap is a mixture of lye and fat, which once mixed together, create a chemical reaction that turns the two into a solidified mixture.
  • Thousands of years ago when man treated the slaughter of an animal as a ceremonial sacrifice, they would perform the ceremony on top of a hill. That way the rain and gravity would wash away any of their leftover mess, including the ash from the fire and the unnecessary fat.
  • Lye, one of the two main components to making soap, can be derived from leaching the ashes of a fire (very simply, mixing them with water).
  • So when the rain did come, and the ash and fats were washed down, and the alkaline properties of the lye (from the ash) mixed with the discarded animal fat, that mixture ultimately ran off into the stream.
  • Soon people realized that, in the wake of the animal sacrifices, their clothes would get cleaner in the river. Eventually the connection was made: ash + water + fat = clean.

So while large-scale companies like Johnson & Johnson, for example, have simplified the matter for consumers, mass-producing soaps of all different kinds and smells—oh glory!!—what they’ve in turn taken away is the age-old cycle of utilization and sustainability.

And although the pomegranate & lemon verbena scented Dove Body Wash does smell amazing and makes shower time a true delight, what we often don’t think about while in the midst of that fruity and flowery mist are the chemical-riddled ingredients that we’re slathering all over our skin.

“I know it’s incredibly cliché to say,” said Kathleen when we met to talk soaps, “but your skin is your body’s largest organ…so shouldn’t we be directing just as much attention to what we’re putting on our bodies as we are about what we put in to it?

Touché, Kathleen. We hear you loud and clear.

Here at PRB we are all about providing our customers with foods that will nourish them from the inside out. We sell locally and responsibly raised meats that lack hormones and antibiotics; we refuse to sell anything that contains preservatives; and we only work with products and ingredients that we can both read easily and clearly pronounce.

Rainwater Farm feels the same.

“I’ve noticed that people have a pretty strong vocabulary around eating well, but that vocabulary and knowledge base isn’t quite as pronounced in the realm of body products and cosmetics,” Kathleen said, “but I think people know its something they should start thinking about.”

As a way to both hearken back to that traditional “pioneer method” of soap-making and to additionally fuel the cycle of sustainability and utilization, we’re excited to announce that Rainwater Farm is now using Porter Road Butcher tallow as a base for their soap.

PS – Tallow is the rendered kidney fat (which also known as suet) of a cow. Most commonly it is used in cooking (often for frying) and in soap-making.

Screen Shot 2015-05-08 at 2.59.50 PMY’all, this is like, sustainability truly coming full circle. Mind. Blown.

Tallow-based soap is not only amazing for your skin, but to be able to use something that could otherwise be tossed in the trash and then to have that sustainable approach to what you use as a body product is something that we think is pretty f*cking cool.

Kathleen Souder began making soap when she was just eight years old in the kitchen of her mother’s home. A sibling among six others and a daughter of one aspiring soap-maker Colette Souder, Kathleen has memories of helping her mother stir and mix soaps in their Maryville home way back when. Today, decades later, she’s decided to return to her roots and is producing and selling her mother’s soaps in Nashville, while Colette keeps things going in Knoxville.

So while the business is growing, the need for supplies has (obviously) grown along with it.

“It solved a huge supply-chain problem for us, working with Porter Road Butcher Meat Co. We are going through thousands of pounds of tallow a year, and we were having trouble finding it. Now we have a source that is local and trustworthy, so we’re thrilled to have formed this partnership.”

Rainwater Farm makes their soap with a formulation that is considered “super-fatted” due to the higher ratio of fat to lye, which makes it even more nourishing for your skin. They use PRB tallow, olive oil, and coconut oil in the fat department, and the rest of the soap consists of other easily legible and familiar items: rainwater, sodium hydroxide (that’s the lye), and essential herbal oils.

So since these soaps fit with what we’re all about, and since one of the things that we’re all about is being clean (and since one of the things that James is all about is essential oils…yes, that’s for real), and of course since they’re using our tallow to make the stuff, we’re now proud to be selling Rainwater Farm Soaps at both Nashville shops!

Currently we have four varieties of soap—Orange Ginger, Summer Mint (with oatmeal!), Rosemary Mint, and Geranium—all of which smell delightful and come with adorable messages on the back from mama Colette. We’ll likely be expanding our soap collection as time goes by, so if there’s a certain variety you’re vying for, let us know!

Rainwater Farm additionally sells a variety of other products, from body washes to laundry soaps, which you can find at the 12 South Farmer’s Market in Sevier Park on Tuesdays (4:30 – 6:30 pm) and the East Nashville Farmer’s Market on Wednesdays at Shelby Park (3:30 – 7:00). Check out their full line of products at Rainwaterfarm.com or stay up to date with their whereabouts by following their Instagram @rainwater_farm

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At Nicoletto’s, these Bro’s Make Good Pasta

With a delightful Italian surname like Nicolleto, my brain immediately conjured up images of Nonna Nicoletto, clad in a flour-caked apron holding the hands of little Danny and Ryan as they first embarked on an afternoon of pasta-making—an afternoon that lit the spark for what is today their small business in handcrafting pasta.

Nicoletto's Rigatoni - for sale at Porter Road ButcherBut conjuring up an image like that one would be in vain. “We actually have no family recipe or family story or anything charming like that,” said Danny when I visited he and his brother’s small-batch pasta-rie on the East side of town. “Ryan and I have both worked in Italian restaurants and we’ve always wanted to do something Italian. Initially we wanted to start a restaurant, but when we began to realize how expensive that could be we turned on pasta.”

Nicoletto’s Pasta Co officially launched their business about a year ago, but prior to doing so Danny and Ryan had to put plenty of blood, sweat and tears into their business—and then cleaned all of that up before starting pasta production. After finding a space off Kirkland in their East Nashville neighborhood, the next and arguably most important step was finding real, Italian pasta machines to make their real, Italian pasta.

Although the Nicoletto bros had always planned on making small-batch pastas, a mere Kitchen Aid attachment most certainly wouldn’t do for a business. So they found second-hand Italian machinery that they rehabbed into the beautiful and fully functioning pasta-crankers that they work with today. Italian-in-origin as the machines were, they required specific knowledge in addition to metric tools—both of which Ryan had, thanks to his affinity for repairing Vespas—so once the space was prepared and their special pasta-drying room was constructed, all that was left to do was make pasta.

Danny and Ryan make their pastas from just two ingredients: water and flour or grain. Their pasta lacks any egg, salt, or other additives, but the flavor is incredibly rich due to the high quality, nutritious, and flavorful grains that they use to create their noodles.

The Nicoletto bros have three main lines of pasta—organic, heritage grain, and traditional—and they have a variety of sources for their different flours and grains. Just as Porter Road Butcher knows each exact farm that raise our cows, hogs, chickens and lambs, Danny and Ryan have created relationships with both the farms and mills where they receive each various line of starch for their flour. “With the heritage grain that we receive from Arizona for example, we’ve formed a great relationship; they like to tell us the story behind each grain before they ship it over. We get really excited to make pasta when we get something like that in.”

Unlike the pasta that you would find at a supermarket, which is made with white durum flour, the flours that the Nicoletto bro’s use are minimally-processed and rich in flavor and nutrients. Best of all, their pastas are made within 3 days of those grains being milled. Meaning it’s fresh. Real fresh. “We treat our product like a coffee aficionado would treat coffee. We’ve come to notice the nuances in the different grains and we can appreciate the rich aromas and smells that are so distinct in different batches,” said Danny.

Screen Shot 2015-05-01 at 11.30.59 AMAnd that’s why their pasta is so incredible. Like our meat, which our farmers take great care to raise naturally and humanely, and which our butchers take great care to break down into beautiful pieces of meat, the Nicoletto’s take the same care with their pasta. They researched trusted, reputable, and responsible mills to source their products out of the central U.S. (sorry- Tennessee doesn’t exactly boast the proper arid climate it requires to grow wheat!) and then use it almost the instant it arrives at their shop to keep their product equally as flavorful.

The brass die on their Italian pasta machines gives the pasta a delightful texture that allows any sauce to cling to the noodle with ease, and the hands that actually cut the pasta ensure a product that is anything but generic. Their manpower ensures both that each noodle is different—maybe slightly longer or shorter than the one before—and that extreme care is taken with every small batch.

And that’s why we like them so much. And it’s also why we’re planning to sell their pastas in our shops…starting NOW!

Nicoletto’s Pasta Co. does sell both fresh and dried pasta but due to space constraints, we will only be able to sell their dried kind. We’re planning to start out with a few bags of a variety of shapes and sizes and see how things go…but if all goes well, we might just ask them to keep bringing more!

In addition to retail sales at both Porter Road Butcher locations, Nicoletto’s is at the Nashville Farmer’s Market every Saturday from about 10 am to 2 pm, plus starting this summer they’ll be at 6 different farmers markets every WEEK! Leaving you with absolutely no excuse to give them a try.

We personally think they’re a perfect pair for our PRB heat-n-eat meals, and our no-funny-business-in-our-food ideals.

Danny & Ryan Nicoletto | Porter Road Butcher