Reflecting on the past year, I think I’ve travelled a crazy amount of miles. Since last December, I moved back from New York to Tallahassee, vacationed in Big Bear, took a spontaneous senior trip to Jacksonville, mitzfah’d in Georgia, spent a week in Puerto Rico with my other half, relocated to Birmingham, AL, took a bimonthly pilgrimage back to Tallahassee, saw Asheville for a weekend, camped on the gulf coast, tripped to Nashville with David, Christmas in L.A., a weekend in Las Vegas and then New Years in Melbourne, FL. That is absurd, and I’m not talking about that ridiculous run on sentence. I tried to Google Map it all and gave up.
One of my most recent adventures was spent in Nashville, Tennessee with David. Instead of anniversary presents, we like to treat ourselves to experiences and pick a place we’ve never been before and that’s our gift to each other (cue: awww). We ate hot chicken and drank beer and, with the exception of a Grand Ole Opry tour led by Dolly Parton herself (only a dream of mine), I’d have to say we had a complete NashVegas experience.
This trip was crafted around a reservation booking at Sean Brock’s Husk Restaurant. Obsessed as I am with Mind of a Chef, I recruited David (oh, the influence of love) to a night of elevated Southern cuisine. Rosemary-Gin cocktails, fried chicken skins with Alabama white barbecue sauce, pork loin with mushrooms and cabbage, apple cake with sorghum caramel… but most importantly: The Vegetables. Sean Brock does vegetables like no one else, and I swear to you, the beet salad changed my life. And kimchi farro? Yes, please. I made the rookie foodie mistake of asking if ‘he’ was in the kitchen tonight. A real food person would have just snuck by the kitchen on the way to the bathroom…
1. Meeting Joy the Baker in Person. It’s really easy to love what you do when the people who inspired you are exceptionally gracious and kind. Joy the Baker, one of the pioneers in the blog-to-book phenomenon, was signing Homemade Decadence at Parnassus Books in Nashville coincidentally the same weekend we were coming to town. It’s fate, right? I totally scrambled and forgot a business card that I envisioned I would give to her all casual and cool-like and then we would be best friends forever and record podcasts and make salted caramels together forever. It’s cool, she followed me on Instagram anyway.
2. Barista Parlor. I’m pretty sure it’s a requirement to be a Ryan Gosling doppelganger and have either a man-bun or whatever a floppy mohawk is called now to work at this painfully hipster coffee shop in East Nashville. Wait, is it a ‘shop’? Or is it just ironic consumerism protesting American capitalism with a cuppa’ joe, man? I know I’m being a hater, but the reason why it’s on this list is because I had an experience with their Mast Brothers Mocha. Finding Mast Brothers chocolate in the South is hard work, but the magic handcrafted by Gosling.0 in my cup was an incredibly savory, buttery and smooth specialty coffee. David, the simple man he is, opted for the Stumptown pour over while my self-indulgent asshole self swooned over mine. In conclusion, I have officially banned Starbucks from ever groping my wallet again.
3. Jeni’s Splendid Ice Cream: I will admit now that I totally suckered David into going here for ‘lunch’. Our dinner at Husk was that evening, and I really wanted to be properly famished before the meal so my solution, naturally, was ice cream. I told the scoop girl that ‘our relationship was pretty much founded upon Brambleberry Crisp’ and to be generous with the Goat Cheese and Cherries, please and thank you.
4. Mercy Lounge: The fabulous Husk dinner was followed by a night of music at the Mercy Lounge to see the Kopecky Family Band. I had heard about them on Birmingham Mountain Radio and picked up tickets after replaying ‘Kids Raising Kids’ on Spotify. Never would I have guessed from their record the fantastic high-energy performance they would give. Anyone who has the chance to see them, please do yourself a favor and check it out. More trombone, I say!
5. Loveless Cafe: We waited an hour for biscuits on our way out of Nashville, because thats what food people do and, dammit I ain’t no foodie I’m a food person, ya hear! (I’m sorry to the server at Husk, I really didn’t mean to fangirl it was the cocktails I swear!) If homemade strawberry preserves, hashbrown casserole, and bloody marys in mason jars doesn’t seem worth an hour, I suggest one stay far away from the South for vacationing. But if you like very nice waitresses packing you warm biscuits fresh from the oven and a variety of jams to go, I highly recommend taking the trip.
Nashville showed us a great weekend filled with great music, beer and food: the three main food groups! More days would have been more chances to spot Dolly, but don’t worry. One day we will find each other. To conclude this lengthly post, I will mention that I will keep tripping out with David for as long as he will let me drag him places. If the future holds anything like the past has demonstrated, I think we are in good shape. I know 2015 brings a trip to Austin where the tacos call my name and the movie theaters serve food and the barbecue lines are long. I’ll be sure to keep up my Google Map this time.