Test-Driving Tempo Bistro To-Go

Tempo Bistro To-Go

Tempo Bistro To-Go has been high on our list of places to try for quite some time. The Man and I rarely have a day off together, so we are usually limited to dinner restaurants. But the elements of the universe aligned perfectly and we were finally able to check off one on our list.

I’ve been watching from afar as Tempo Bistro evolves (stalking on Facebook, I admit), and I adore the food culture that drives this tiny lunch shop. There’s a heavy, passionate emphasis on in-season, locally grown and sourced, natural and organic ingredients to make flavor-driven sandwiches, salads, and soups. A little bird told me that they’re looking to get their bread from Mosswood in Micanopy, which will bring me back again just to try that out.

The Man and I were both hungry, and let’s be honest, more than a little cranky. So the snippy negotiations on where to get lunch, and what to get, took much longer and involved more bruised feelings than necessary. We settled on Tempo Bistro’s “Piedmont” and “The Blueprint” sandwiches, with a side “Far Eastern” salad. I sent The Man to pick up our order, which is always a bad idea when he’s hungry. He returned with a large bag that included a bottle of ginger ale, a bottle of root beer, potato chips, and Flour Pot Bakery cookies (oatmeal toffee and ginger) which I’m sure were too tempting while attempting to pay and go.

All of the food was lovely. The bread was knobly and whole grained. All of the greens were fresh and tasty. The dressing made my tongue do that little prickly shiver like all of my taste buds doing The Wave. It was all done simply, efficiently, and elegantly. Even the packaging was environmentally friendly.

Tempo Bistro, BlueprintThe Blueprint: “Blue and goat cheese, Tempeh, roasted walnuts, red bell pepper ribbons and microgreens, pressed with mayo on multigrain”. Not only do I love, love, love blue cheese and goat cheese, this sandwich was pressed, so all of those lovely little cheesy and furry goat flavors came out just a little more. I’m not a huge fan of tempeh only because I know what it really is and it’s kind of gag-tastic. But the tempeh in the sandwich was very mild and added a nice texture without being too fungal like it can sometimes get. I cannot emphasize enough how much I love this sandwich and will be eating it again.

Piedmont: “Sliced roasted turkey or Tempeh, granny smith apple, goat cheese, red onion and spinach on multigrain”. We of course got the tempeh instead of turkey. The apple, onion, goat combination is always fun and flavorful. Again, the tempeh was nicely underplayed so the nuttiness came out to support the spinach without tasting like feet. And yes, I know tempeh is a wonderful protein source, so my brain knows it should be eaten. This is also a great sandwich. Next time I might ask for a little extra goat cheese just because I love it so much.

Far Eastern Salad: “Seasonal lettuce, napa cabbage and basil with toasted almond, microgreens, red bell pepper, shredded carrot and sesame ginger dressing”. When I licked the lid of the little container of the dressing, my tastebuds did a little dance. I’m a salad addict, as you may well know, and I could eat this three times a week. I especially loved the little flavor bursts of basil that lurked in the greens.

So in case you haven’t noticed, we are both giving MAJOR thumbs up to Tempo Bistro. The Man actually looks like he wants to go back right now. He keeps hanging over my shoulder and telling me what he wants to get next time we order there. (“The Sadie” has sauerkraut which makes him drool, and “The Caribbean” has him titillated.)

The shop itself is in a tiny space next to the Starbucks at 16th Ave. and 13th St. There are a few tables in case you want to eat in, but I recommend taking out (it’s “To-Go” for a reason). It can also get awkward to park during busy times of the day, and that parking lot is a disaster to get out of and go in certain directions. But it’s totally worth the trouble of getting to the bistro. The food is delish. The people are genuine foodies. And it’s a local business that supports local business. You can’t go wrong.

Tempo Bistro To-Go
1516 NW 13th St
Gainesville FL 32601
352.336.5834

Hours: 11:00-5:00 Monday-Saturday

Our lunch: $33.00
Two sandwiches, salad, two drinks, two cookies, chips, and tip. Worth every penny!

[Girl21]

Chèvre, a.k.a. Goat Cheese

Chevre, aka Goat Cheese

Leave it to the Welsh. Their version of goat cheese is called Pantysgawn. (Say it out loud if you have to.)

Chèvre is goat milk cheese. Many cultures have their own version of goats cheese because, let’s face it, humans and goats go back a long time. Because of the many different ways of turning the milk to cheese, there are many variations in consistency and flavor. Thus you have the above Welsh version of the cheese. Another cousin which is quite popular is feta, a Greek combination of goat and sheep milk made into a dense block.

Goat milk is much more popular worldwide than cows milk because it’s more accessible and keeps longer without refrigeration. It’s also closer to human milk than cow milk is, so easier to digest for children, the ill, and the elderly. And those of you with lactose intolerance make note of this because you’ll be much better off if you fall off the wagon with goat or sheep (milk products, I mean).

If the accent over the e didn’t give it away, chèvre is the French version of fresh goat cheese. It’s soft and bright white like cream cheese, but dry like a very smooth ricotta. Except for the mild furry, barnyard flavor that is the cornerstone of any goat cheese flavor curve, chèvre is quite mild. It is rich without being buttery, and has a fresh, grassy flavor profile that makes it ideal for including with other delicious foods rather than on its own. It is a pacifist in the cheese family. It just wants everyone to get along.

A favorite way to elevate chèvre is to mix it with seasonings and spread it on some lovely rosemary bread from Uppercrust. It’s handy that you can get just the right size slab of chèvre at Uppercrust (in fact you can get it pre-seasoned, but we prefer our version because it has so much flavor). It’s best to make this a few hours before you intend to use it so it can marinate and release the flavors. Take a lush slab of the chèvre (about 8 oz. give or take), and add about 2 tablespoons of olive oil and 2 tablespoons of a general Italian seasonings. And the key is at least four cloves of fresh garlic, pressed. Simply stir to combine well and refrigerate for a few hours.

Instead of just slathering it on bread with the finesse of a fifteen-year-old learning how to use cologne, try slicing the rosemary bread pretty thin and toasting it in the oven for a few minutes before spreading the chèvre on the warm bread. Try adding some marinated asparagus or very thinly sliced gouda.

You can also slice chèvre and bake it on the bread, with a sprinkling of oil and seasonings. It can be tricky since goat cheese doesn’t melt much, but it does get toasty and dry. Try it fresh and plain on a spinach walnut salad, or even with pears and apples. It compliments foods with mild but persistent flavors without overwhelming them.

It’s a lot of fun to experiment with chèvre as an alternative to cows milk cheeses. French chèvre is somewhat easy to find and is available under many names because there are many regionally protected varieties. Besides feta from Greek tradition, you could find goat cheese from several other origins such as Norway, China, and Australia… and of course the Welsh always have Pantysgawn.

[Girl21]

Finger Meals Fast

Only Martha Stewart and other aliens are always prepared for guests. The rest of us get get caught off guard by last minute guests or find ourselves feeling inadequate in the kitchen. If you live close to a decent grocery store, you can always come up with a classy spread after a ten minute dash around the deli and produce sections.

I have to say I’m quite practiced at this by now. I host a book club at my house (much to The Man’s amusement on those nights he’s home to witness the ladies’ gathering) and twice a month have to rush through the store on the way home from the office. A couple sorts of cheese, some savory crunchy things, some seasonal fruits and veggies, and some sweet tidbits… you’re gold.

Keep in mind the crowd you’re entertaining when choosing you yummy little bits and pieces. People used to potato chips and orange cheddar cheese are just not going to be game to try the Roaring Forties blue cheese. On the other hand, fresh fruit is usually a good option for just about any group. And of course you’re limited by your local grocery store.

We’re lucky enough to live near a Publix and Ward’s. We went to Upstate New York last summer and I was introduced to Wegmans, so my world has never been quite the same. Never the less, I shop at Publix happily because you can get a decent selection of fresh deli and bakery things. Plus the added Greenwise sections mean some good healthfood options. And of course I like Ward’s because it’s a locally owned business that has great local produce, super-healthfood sections, and a fun selection of wine and beer (that I can spend too much time perusing). And they stock the best coffee in town, Sweetwater Organic Coffee.

Anyhow, two things to keep in mind in these situations, SIMPLE and FRESH. Wait … three things… YUMMY! For a base, try getting a loaf of herb bread or a whole grain baton (yes, the long bread), which you can slice up and pop in the oven. Try a jar of pre-made pesto to slather on the bread first, topped with some deli sliced gouda and crumbled gorganzola. Or just sprinkle the slices with salt, pepper, italian herbs, and garlic powered, then cheese. Just toast them in the oven long enough to melt the cheese and let some corners get a bit golden. A box of Triscuits or some other whole grain crackers are also good if you’re in a hurry or want a variety.

For savories, if you have an olive bar, absolutely go a little wild. Even toss in some garlic stuffed and blue cheese stuffed options with the usual oil cured and kalamata. If you can find some Castelvetrano Sicilian olives, these bright green beauties are delish. Or splash out on a few nice jars of olives off the shelf. Try a jar of asparagus and artichoke hearts for a little texture.

Fruits and veggies are great balance, and besides a little cutting and arranging, are very little work. I usually go for some Granny Smith apples and whatever is in season… peaches, cherries, grapes, or pears. And for veggies it’s a no-brainer to grab some carrots (always organic carrots!), celery, cauliflower, broccoli, and maybe a pretty sweet pepper or two. I’m biased against tomatoes, but feel free to get some little cherry or grape tomatoes if you see some nice ones.

I left cheese for last because it’s the best place to go completely berserk. I could go on and on about cheese, but there are some safe bets to please the most people. Cheddar–no not the orange variety–is possibly the most obvious choice because you can easily chop it into chunks, it has a good texture, and its sharp but not overpowering flavor can pair with just about anything on the table (go for the sharpest version you can find… we like the Racer’s Edge Cabot since you can find it easily). I also usually grab a block of swiss if I can find it (I like Amish swiss) or even some Mexican queso fresco.

If you’re feeling adventursome, try a round of brie (or even goat brie). Keep the brie simple by unwrapping it, slicing the rind off the top and putting it in a shallow glass or ceramic oven-safe dish, drizzling it with olive oil and baking it at 350 for ten minutes. [In the above picture we had some cheese curds, and a super yum Humbolt Fog goat cheese.]

Notice I didn’t go on about wine or other drinks here. That’s pages of rambling. For my book club ladies I usually go for a mild red wine, maybe a chard if I’m looking to change it up a bit. I love a nice tempranillo in the $7-10 range. Or my standard seems to be a bottle of Our Daily Red (fantastic at about $7 a bottle). Basically you want to go for something the most people will be comfortable drinking, and something you like.

A little chopping and slicing, and some attention to arranging the goodies, and you can set up a nice little spread in less than 30 minutes. It’s fresh food that’s also kind of healthy, and it’s fun and easy to eat while talking and drinking. And of course it’s tasty!

[Girl21]