A Nashville Birthday, Part 4!

Ok, so day 4 HAS to be the best day yet, a PEARL of a day…I slept in.  Again.  Knowing we were going to Hattie B’s for “brunch” (fried chicken, anyone?!?)  I had no need for breakfast – didn’t want to be full for the next “leg” (get it?) of our trip.  I had resisted Hattie B’s for the obvious reason that it’s so popular.  There’s always a line out the door, and sometimes around the block, in BOTH locations…there’s the Diner’s and Dives review…even Lonely Planet found it.  Now it’s growing all over the place (Atlanta, etc) and I was scared of all of this – you know my control issues.  Not to worry.  EVERYONE of us was thrilled with our food – and the wait was a total of about 15 minutes (after we drove away from the first location with the line around the block and went to the location I really WANTED to go to because of the junk store nearby I had found).  There are 5 heat levels for your chicken, from Southern to Shut the Cluck Up.  No one was adventurous enough to Shut the Cluck Up; mine was the first heat level from Southern, and everyone else tried medium or hot.  Some of the best fried chicken I have ever had.  I had dark, and everyone else loved their bosoms and said they were not dry. My sides were Pimiento Mac ‘n Cheese (did NOT disappoint) and Southern Greens (did NOT disappoint, though mine are a tad better).

Across the street and down the block is a store called “Cool Stuff Weird Things” – if you want fun bar/kitchen/man cave stuff you can find it here – neon signs, wood carvings, etc.  Elvis has definitely not left the building.   I ended up with 2 Michael Crichton books – Gordon just wasn’t as excited about the kitsch as I was!

Then, on to what I thought would be a drive by.  NOT.  The Parthenon is an exact full scale replica of the Athens, Greece Parthenon.  Inside is what amounts to 3 museums, plus the requisite gift shop.  Located in Centennial Park, The Parthenon permanently houses the art collection of James M. Cowan – all American artists.  Some stunning stuff.  Then there’s Athena – 41 FEET 10 inches tall, gilded with 8 pounds of 23.75 carat gold.  To give you an idea of the size, Nike, winged goddess of victory, stands on Athena’s right hand at 6 FEET 4 inches tall!  We probably spent 1.5-2 hours here – though we could have spent all day.

Next, a trip to Grinder’s Switch Winery.  We had no idea what we were in for – as its located Marathon Village in a warehouse with some “fun shops” I had read…took about 10 minutes to get there.  Everything is so EASY to get to in Nashville!!!  We got our wine on, then our whisky, then wandered into a fabulous jewelry shop where we were offered a glass of wine while we browsed…we sucked our cheeks in and arched an eyebrow and pretended we belonged there.  Vincent Peach Jewelry, it turns out, adorns the stars… and I WANT SOME!  Honey, if you get me the ring in the picture, I’m gonna commission some earrings to go with it!!

Slightly silly from boozing…we headed back to the house to not miss the kickoff of the South Carolina Vanderbilt (Vandy to locals) game.  It was a rainy day … glad we didn’t get tickets!!  I would have hated it if it was sunny…I hate football.  But it was the best 2 quarters of football I’ve ever seen thanks to our HUGE TV and the explanations of the other 3 who all love football.  Or…it might have been the best 2 quarters of football because we put out a spread of Scotch Smoked Salmon with all accoutrement (look up a pic of my smoked salmon and you’ll see what I mean!), my wonderful birthday cake,   and ¾ of the  humongous TOMATO PIE from the night before that was supposed to be an appetizer (for 8 people, maybe!!).  So…dinner taken care of!!

We only got to watch half of the game, because our reservations at The Listening Room were at 6PM.  What a wonderful place!  There were 4 musicians on stage, headlined by Fiona Culley, a British songwriter and singer now living in Nashville – trying to obtain permanent status.  There’s a $15. Minimum per person for drinks/food in addition to the $20 per head entrance fee on nights like these – and it’s totally worth it.  Naturally, since we had eaten at “home” – we spent our minimum on booze. J  This was, in my opinion, the best way to spend our last night in Music City.  And thank the universe for Lyft! If you want to read about days 1,2, and 3 click here!

A Nashville Birthday Part 3

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!

A Nashville Birthday Part 2

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.