I just can’t STAND it – Day Three of my Birthday Nashville Trip has got to be the BEST! Breakfast was at a hole in the wall (no exaggeration there were many holes, and it didn’t smell so great) called Mas Tacos (this is a link to their FB page; they don’t have a website, and THEY succeeded!!) I was so disappointed that I did not discover this place – it turns out Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives found it before me. But I found it on my own! EVERYONE’s food was amazing – small tacos with unique fillings like sweet potato – so you could order more than one variety and not get too full. Their black beans were to DIE for, as were the fried plantains. GREAT people watching too. I swear this is a Cuban-Mexican hybrid. My Aqua Fresca of pineapple and cilantro will be on my menu very soon. After this stiff fortification we headed off to Fort Negley Civil War Park, a not to miss Nashville destination. It’s so well done, and the info center has air conditioning which is WAY needed on sweltering Nashville days (this was one – I thought I had escaped summer weather going this late?!?) It averaged 95 degrees the whole time we were there. A walk up and around the remains with many plaques explaining the importance of this place and the sadness that also is a part of it will leave you somber and grateful. A super place for kids too. THEN we headed for Belmont Mansion and learning about one of the most, if not THE most interesting women in our history. Adelicia Acklen invented the pre-nup!! And used it with every one of her four husbands. She owned multiple businesses inclusive of plantations and oil fields from Louisiana to the east coast to Nashville, and was a blockade runner to boot. Smart as a whip, she spoke 3 languages and read the writing on the wall so she took her cotton payments in gold and banked “offshore” in London. None of which would have been possible without the pre-nup since women were chattel at that time. She loved wearing crowns and I begged for one at the gift shop but Gordon would have none of it. I just don’t understand… Back to our home away from home to take about 15 minutes rest before we hit the Firefly Grille (thank you Abby Gerwe of Queen City Destination for the hot tip!) The pic at the top is the interior of this joint. A really fun time, nice people, great food, and in a neighborhood NOT in the middle of all of the hoopla!! My brother said his burger was better than the 4 pound one he got the night before at 5th and Taylor (exaggerate much?!?) …I had a mixed seafood salad with a dill crème fraiche & mustard dressing which was fabulous, and Gordon’s Lamb was fantastic. Then it was back home to a movie on our 72” screen!!! Feet up, wine in hand…yes, a good day was had by all!
Day two of my birthday celebration begins with coffee in bed courtesy of my most wonderful husband Gordon, while Susan and Michael, recently retired, got up at 6AM and waited. Don’t blame me – they had the schedule beforehand and could have done any number of things. We scedattled (first time I’ve written this word instead of just speaking it – I don’t believe it really exists) (wait! There’s google! Yes it DOES exist!) Did anyone see the Google monopoly expose on 60 Minutes last week? But I digress… 🙂 OK, let’s try this again…
We scedattled off to The Loveless Café, our longest drive the WHOLE trip – of 30 minutes, to this most wonderful old-timey motel that had been turned into a smokehouse, a gift shop, and a restaurant. Their numerous awards do not lie. Everybody gets a picture underneath their 1950’s neon sign, lit up day and night. We chose the cutouts (above). Everyone was so thrilled with their food – G had catfish for breakfast which we agreed was the best catfish we’ve ever had…I even liked their tartar sauce which was NOT Frisch’s 🙂 … or mine… and I had possibly the best grits I’ve ever had (and my brother agreed). This is a tough one because I make the best grits I’ve ever had, and many others say the same thing about MINE. These were plain, not like mine, but their texture was heavenly. I’ve never had someone else’s grits that did not need butter. The Loveless is famous for their biscuits, and here I have to depart from the common folk. Sue me, whip me, call me bad names, but Bojangles “chain” biscuits have them (and everybody else) beat in my book when it comes to biscuits. Their country ham was to die for. They age it on premise. Susan had a pimiento cheese and country ham biscuit which she loved – I tasted it and did not think the pimiento cheese came close to Wallace Station – but that really is a matter of taste. It’s the “experience” here…do not miss. Oh! And the best sweet tea I ever drank! (Sorry daddy).
After unabashedly sticking our butts out, crouching down into the cutout, and begging some stranger to take our pic, we headed off to Belle Meade – a horse breeding plantation, where to this day most Triple Crown winners owe their bloodline to Bonnie Scotland. I’ve never sought out plantations north or west of Virginia, but this is one not to be missed. It contains a Dairy, Train Station, Mill and Blacksmith Shop, Greenhouse, Slave Quarters, and the Horse Sale Barn as well as the “big house” – and the requisite gift shop and ice cream parlor.
They very interestingly had the front parlor set up to show how a wake would be celebrated – to denote all of the premature deaths occurring at that time (cholera, measles, TB, etc) that are completely preventable today. It is an open wicker bench to lay the body on, with space underneath for a block of ice to hold decay at bay while getting people to the event. The body is held there for numerous days to insure the person is in fact really dead. Sometimes they’re just really ill and climb out of it (literally) – this is why it’s called a WAKE!!! Best piece of information I got all day!!! Just the sort of gruesomeness that turns me on.
Last but not least, Belle Meade has a winery…we tasted 6 wines and I asked for more so got tastes of two sparklings as well (my favorite, as well as the Vidal Blanc which seems to grow very well in this region and the hands that make the wine are QUITE comfortable with the grape.
This wasn’t enough for us so we headed home to clean up and change for an early dinner at 5th and Taylor – our most hoity toity dinner of the trip. Really cool digs “warehouse style”, a GREAT glass of Pinot Noir, great service and wonderful food made me pleased with this reservation. I had two appetizers: Duck Pate and accoutrement, as well as a Tomato Pie. I didn’t know it would be the size of an individual pan pizza (think Uno’s) – so I had one piece and brought the rest “home” (another great reason to Air B&B!) Susan had THE BEST Roasted Chicken I’ve ever had EXCEPT Gordon’s. My brother had a burger that was so damned big he liked his other burger the next night better because it was more “well proportioned”!!
THEN…we Lyfted to The Ryman Auditorium for Larry Gatlin and Friends…who turned out to be Crystal Gayle that night. She hasn’t lost it. I’m not very happy with Larry – he did not respond to my request to play “I’ve Done Enough Dyin’” – a song I’ve been in love with since I was 11 years old when it came out. I highly recommend you U Tube or whatever this song from his early years. It makes me cry every time I hear it. The Ryman is a bucket list item I have now crossed off. Amazing space. Hallowed ground. They search everything and both my brother and husband had knives on them – they were REQUIRED to throw them AWAY. My brother had the presence of mind to hide his on top of a column, Gordon showed his badge and asked that they keep it for him, they said NO. Not a happy man. They were a security company vs. Nashville Police so the badge may have done more harm than good?? Regardless…NOT a happy man. We then made it home, and COLLAPSED. This might be my favorite day of my birthday trip.
57 is starting out pretty darned well. An on-time departure on Wednesday 19h put us in Versailles KY after an incredibly lovely “horse farm detour”, for a taste of a restaurant I have been looking forward to for a couple of years. This might be my favorite day of my “birthday trip” to Nashville – I guess the anticipation of what was to come and our first meal out of the door being fantastic contributed. Wallace Station did NOT disappoint – GO THERE if you can! In fact, it’s really not far and worth a drive in the country as its own destination.
Located in an old general store in an old railroad town, Wallace Station served me one of the best sandwiches I have ever had – Hot Country Ham and Pimento Cheese, panini pressed. I’m pretty finicky about both my ham AND my pimento cheese, so high praise indeed. My side was Bean Soup with Cornbread. Of course I make the best cornbread in the world, but this was a close second. Gordon got a cold sandwich and I’ve gotta tell you I was so into mine that I have no idea what he got, but he loved it. Next time, if I can resist a re-order, I’ll get the Inside Out Hot Brown. Don’t expect fancy; and relax about the flies. Don’t miss their bakery case either – we were too full but had to order a lemon bar (about 5×5”) and a savory scone to go because why not? These were enjoyed in our fabulous “home” in Nashville’s Germantown a couple of days later, because when we met my brother and his wife lo and behold she had made me a fabulous birthday cake – Butter Pecan Coconut!! SOooooo moist! So, lunch at 11, cake at 4, and Skull’s Rainbow Room at 6:30 for some more fabu dinner (swordfish) and jazz. We’re too freakin’ old to be able to wait or the 11PM Burlesque Show; maybe next time I’ll force some caffeine…. And so the pounds begin. Tune in next week for day 2.
Celery Root, that is!! Also called Celeriac, this is a variety of celery that is cultivated for its root, not its stalks. It is NOT the root of the traditional celery stalks you keep in your fridge (you have some on hand at all times for flavoring soups and stews, as well as snacking, right?!?)
Celeriac (pictured above in Lula’s for Lunch…and More! ‘s Creamy Pear and Celeriac Soup) has a knobby, dirty, formidable looking root that you will want to peel. Because it’s starchy, in general you want to pick the smaller of the roots available to you. The end product will be sweeter. The more you cook it the sweeter it becomes. It makes a great, “different” puree when you’re looking for a base for proteins (think parsnip instead of potatoes), and it provides one of those mysterious “what’s IN this?” flavors to sauces, soups and stews. Now GET IN THAT KITCHEN and try something different!
Did you know that game (venison, boar, etc) are healthier for you than other kinds of meat? They are much higher in good Omega 3’s and lower in bad Omega 6’s. In addition, you can eat them with a clear conscience (IF you’re an omnivore, that is!) knowing for sure they lived well and naturally. The next time you have an opportunity, open your mind (and mouth) and give them a try. – Lula
Ground Cayenne comes from the De Arbol Chile – which is found in abundance in New Mexico. I’m currently reading a book about chiles (yes, there are whole BOOKS written about chiles!), and it made me remember a time long ago when I traveled to New Mexico and experienced many things for the first time. I was so excited about the chile wreaths and decorations they make there that I purchased one and brought it back home to Cincinnati. I hung it in my catering kitchen. It was beautiful! A couple of months later, I noticed what appeared to be “fruit flies” but smaller, one at a time, floating around the house. A swat here, a swat there, no problem! But within days, they were getting in my eyes, and crawling up my nose, when I walked into the kitchen. I called mom. They know everything, right? Well, if they don’t, they care enough to find out. After 2 or 3 calls back and forth after she consulted with friends, and alot of questioning, it turns out the chile wreath had been the host of thousands of microscopic eggs, which hatched and became fleeting residents of Cincinnati Ohio. The remedy: freeze the wreath. It was winter by then so I just set it out on the back deck overnight and voila! Problem “debugged”. Wreath rinsed and back in place for all to enjoy! Moral of the story: rinse your chiles before eating – even if you’re not a caterer!! – Lula
We all love pancakes, right? My favorite are extra fluffy melt in your mouth on the inside and crispy (slightly overdone!) on the outside…Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering’s pancakes are called “Crepey Cakes” because they’re so light and dreamy like a crepe, but with more “heft” – we use whole grains in our batter.
It doesn’t matter whether you like whole grains, make your own, or they come from a box – a couple of tips to always insure your pancakes aren’t doughy and leaden: 1) Pour your liquids in first and mix them up. 2) whatever liquid your recipe calls for, add 1/4 more liquid (milk or water) – so, if you’re making pancakes for 4, and your recipe calls for 1 cup milk, ad 1 1/4 cups milk. 3) Scatter your dry ingredients over the liquid and using a fork or a whisk, not a spoon, lightly fold stuff toge ther til incorporated but some lumps remain. Pancake batter is in effect a “dough” and you don’t want to activate the gluten too much or they’ll become tough. 4) and probably most importantly, let your batter REST for 10-15 minutes before you dribble it into the pan. Don’t stir your batter to get it into the pan. We’re (me and all the people in my head) happy to answer any questions you may have about your batter – email them under “Ask/About Lula’ on the website www.lulasforlunch.com Have a satisfying breakfast! Or brunch, lunch, dinner…I LOVE pancakes for dinner!!
A quote from Eustace Conway: “One of the reasons people are unhappy is they don’t talk to themselves. Keep a conversation going with yourself throughout your life to see how you’re doing, to keep your focus, to remain your own friend.” This validates me! I talk to myself all the time, especially in the kitchen, and my husband used to think I might be crazy. He is more used to me now, and knows I’m crazy. I am a comfort to me, and I think I’m lucky to have that! I hope the comfort from Lula’s for Lunch…and More! Catering http://www.lulasforlunch.com shows up in your food. My best, Lula
A man went to the doctor and told her that he hadn’t been feeling well lately. The doctor performed a quick exam, then left the room and came back a few minutes alter with three bottles of large colored pills.
“Take the green pill with a big glass of water when you wake up,” the doctor said. “Then take the blue pill with a big glass of water after you eat lunch. Just before you go to bed, take the red pill with another big glass of water.” “Geez, doc, that’s a lot of medicine,” the patient protested. “What’s the matter with me?”
Happy National Sneak Some Zucchini onto Your Neighbor’s Porch Day! I am SO not kidding. Reference: The Old Farmer’s Almanac.
Obviously, this originated with the embarrassment of zucchini riches that August brings…thought you might enjoy this tidbit! Fun fact: the largest zucchini on record is 8 feet, 3 inches long! How does Lula’s Catering use Zucchini? Well…some of you are familiar with our Zucchini Cilantro Soup, but you REALLY should try our Ancient Grain Zucchini Pancakes!!