Thursday, September 29, 2011

Noshing in Nashville

This past weekend, Chapin, George and I made the four-hour drive to Nashville, Tennessee, to visit with my sister, Gail, and her husband, Rich. Since Gail went to Vanderbilt for her undergraduate degree and now lives right in the heart of the city, I have been to Nashville several times over the years. During this last trip, though, I felt I connected with Nashville and its inhabitants for the first time. It may be because we crammed in a lot of  different activities during our 24 hours there. (By the time we were ready to go on Saturday, it was already 2 p.m.! Chapin and I are used to leisurely Saturday mornings and this was no exception.)

Chapin (in a Hugo Boss shirt and jeans) and Michele (in Black Halo)

The drive to Nashville did not start off well. Just after we got on the highway, I called Gail to tell her we were on our way. I mentioned that I had packed a nice dress to wear out that night, and then I looked around at what we had packed in the car. I didn't remember bringing our hanging bag down... Yep, we had forgotten it, and had to turn around and head back home. I think we finally, officially started our drive just after 2:30.

The drive went relatively fast considering our false start and the extra minutes it added. Chapin and I had decided to start a new book: The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern. The book has been getting a lot of good press, so after I made Chapin read Entertainment Weekly's recent review, he agreed it would be a great one for me to read aloud to him on the drive. I downloaded it that morning on my Kindle -- I love my Kindle! -- and it's an interesting read so far. (We are about 40% of the way through.)

When we finally got close to Nashville, Chapin realized we needed gas... desperately. We drove around awhile trying to find a gas station, which delayed our arrival at Gail and Rich's apartment. But, at last, we were parking and unloading the car.

After hanging out for a bit, we changed and headed out to dinner at a local restaurant called Bound'ry. Chapin was very happy when I told him that I had decided to wear my Black Halo Eva Mini Ruffled Shoulder Dress. I had not worn it since the previous January, and it's probably the dress he likes best out of all my dresses. The dress is no longer available online, but the Black Halo Hanna Mini Dress is very similar.

Chapin, Michele, Gail and Rich

Once at Bound'ry, we ordered a bottle of red wine and some salads. Gail and I both had the Peach Salad to start, which was a good choice even though I had to pick off the bacon on top. (In case you're a first time reader to my blog, I want to mention that I don't eat any mammals. Did you know that pigs wag their tails like dogs do?)

Chapin had the Magret Duck Breast, which came with baby turnips, pomme frites and a red wine chocolate orange emulsion. Chapin let me try a bite, and I'm glad I did -- it was so flavorful. Chapin is usually a "good order," and that night was no exception.

Rather than order off the menu, I decided to try one of the day's specials:  a roasted half chicken with fried oyster leek bread pudding and hazelnut cranberry velouté. It was delicious, though I think I enjoyed the side item most of all. It reminded me of the oyster stuffing my in-laws make during the holidays.You can see the full menu for Bound'ry here. I highly recommend it if you're ever in Nashville. Gail and Rich also enjoyed their meals (shrimp and grits for Gail, veal cheeks for Rich). I think I remember Rich saying it was "one of the best meals he'd ever had." Since they recently went to Greece and Italy, I think that's saying a lot.

After dinner, even though we had gone through two bottles of wine, we went to a local pub called Tavern to hang out and have drinks. It was very crowded and loud, though, so we did not stay long. The TVs were blaring games and the DJ was spinning some random music, like the theme from The Fresh Prince of Bel Air. It was funny how we all knew the words!

Everyone was exhausted after our time at Tavern, so we headed home in a cab and decided to call it a night. The next morning, Gail mentioned that she had been wanting to try a local breakfast place called Monell's, and our visit gave her and Rich the perfect opportunity to try it. It's not for everyone, even though the food was hearty and tummy-rubbing good!

With George at Centennial Park (TN)
It's a very different concept for a restaurant, and some people may have a hard time with it, but Chapin and I both had a great time. There are no menus, and you sit at a long table with other people in a sort of "Grandma's House"/ cafeteria style. Then the food starts: cinnamon rolls, biscuits with white gravy (Chapin's favorite), eggs, pancakes, fried chicken (for breakfast!) corn pudding, cheese grits and more. I ate so much that I was very glad to be wearing my shorts that are three sizes too big. (I don't like it when shorts barely cover the butt, but no one sells them in a good length, so I buy shorts that are too big and wear them very low down on my hips. I'm weird, I know, but that's how I'm comfortable!) I think Gail and Rich were the only ones at our table actually from Nashville. There were two different parties from Ohio, randomly. I guess it's a good place for tourists to come eat breakfast and experience some real Southern cooking.

After we were all so full we could barely move, we headed back to Gail and Rich's apartment to get George. Gail wanted us to see the nearby park, and we thought it would be great to give George some exercise.

Centennial Park is a beautiful area, home to Nashville's recreation of the Parthenon. Here I am standing in front of it in my baggy shorts:

There was also some kind of fair going on, so we walked around for awhile looking at all the crafts, Amish butters and jams, and much more. I ended up buying a cool necklace. Stay tuned for my next post to see it.

Afterward, we stopped at Tasti-D-Lite (Atlanta still doesn't have one) and then headed home. I also have to mention the wonderful shots of George that Rich took while we were there. Here is my favorite: