As I wrote in my last blog post, I recently attended the Southern Food Writers…
Since Nashville is about an hour and a half from our house in Huntsville, we’ll do an overnight getaway from time to time. Lori and I headed to Nashville a few weeks ago. I have some of my favorite stops and then we like to find other places to go visit. This trip was no different.
My first stop on the way into Nashville was in downtown Franklin. My real destination was the Savory Spice Shop where I needed to restock my pantry and try a few new items. (When you are in the area, be sure and stop in – you will enjoy the experience. Be sure and tell Hollie hello! Check out their Savory Spice Shop Facebook Page as well.) We walked around downtown and looked in a few of the other shops and boutiques.
By the time we walked around Franklin, Lori was getting ready for lunch. I like to head to the Nashville Farmers Market to wander around and eat lunch, so it was off to downtown. There are a number of excellent permanent vendors and also one spot that rotates. This particular Saturday, Caracasville was serving in the rotating spot. They are now at the Farmers Market one weekend a month. They serve Venezuelan food. Lori ordered an arepa and I ordered an empanada and an arepa. They had several sauces to go with the menu items. The empanada was tasty, but lacking. I tried it with two of the different sauces and it made a huge difference. Everything was very messy, but also quite good. We did enjoy our lunch. The highlight of going to the Farmers Market is the oatmeal cream pie from The Sweet Stash. These are so good, the first time I had one, we came home and started working a recipe to recreate it. The only problem is that they tend to sell out, I bought the next to the last one they had. Jeni’s Ice Cream has opened at the Farmers Market, so Lori got some of their ice cream. (Hard to believe that an oatmeal creme pie beat out Jeni’s Ice Cream!)
Not far away is Marathon Village and I haven’t had the chance to explore it much, Carly and I stopped there and had about 10 minutes to look around. When we got there, Lori recognized the area, she had been down the street at the Marathon Music Works for a July 4th Music taping last year. Lori and I headed over there and walked around and looked in many of the shops and vendors. West & Co. of Leipers Fork had opened since the last time I visited. We wandered around. Corsair Distillery is at one end of the building. When we arrived, they were already sold out for tours. The tasting room was packed, so we continued on walking. We looked in a few other stores and found the Grinder’s Switch Winery tasting room. We tasted some of the wines and a couple were passable. But, for the price, I can find better wines around so we didn’t buy anything there. We walked down to the other end of the street and found another distillery. We walked into Nelson’s Green Brier Distillery and looked around their retail store and out to the windows looking into the distillery. Again, they did have tours, but the tickets were already sold out. We ended up not tasting anything here either. We headed back to the car and walked past the most popular store at Marathon – Antique Archaeology. This store is Mike Wolfe’s (of American Pickers) second location. There was a LONG line outside the store and while I might have liked wandering around inside the store, I wasn’t waiting in line!
We headed to the hotel in Franklin to check in a relax for a little while before dinner. Lori had looked at a bunch of restaurants and settled on Pomodoro East over in East Nashville. We had reservations and Lori wanted to walk around and explore the area so we headed over. We had been to Jeni’s Ice Cream over in the area (Seeing a theme???) and hadn’t been back in a couple of years. We arrived and parked and discovered beyond the little shopping center where the restaurant was located, and the stores around Jeni’s, that was about it for this little area. It did not take very long to walk around and see everything, so we arrived at the restaurant very early. They had two very large birthday parties, so our table was not available when we arrived (but again, we were WAY early), so they seated us at a table in the bar area while we waited.
Even though it was Saturday, it was still “Happy Hour”, so we ordered a couple of appetizers and drinks. Lori ordered the Roasted Cauliflower with Cauliflower Puree and I ordered the Crispy Polenta with Bolognese Sauce. The cauliflower was browned and sweet with a very nice seasoning on top. The polenta was fried and covered with the Bolognese. I ordered this because I really wanted to try the Bolognese sauce. Theirs was excellent – good bright tomato flavor with just the right amount of herbs. When our table was ready we moved on to the entrees. Lori ordered the Italian Burger. The meat was very well seasoned and cooked the way she wanted. It was served with sundried tomato mustard, red onion jam, caesar dressed romaine, provolone cheese, fennel pickles and rosemary fries. The flavors of all of the condiments melded together and Lori enjoyed it thoroughly. The only downside was that the fries were the shoestring fries and they cooled off rather quickly. I looked at all the menu options and ended up ordering my “usual” – Chicken Parmesan. When they brought the plate out, I was wondering how big the chicken must have been. The chicken breast had been flattened to a hubcap size piece, breaded and pan-fried. It was topped with provolone, parmesan, and hand pulled mozzarella cheese. The mozzarella is made in-house and was some of the best I’ve had in a long time. It was topped with their pomodoro sauce and served with spaghetti. This was some of the best chicken parmesan I’ve had in a long time. Even after all of this, when Lori heard they had Tiramisu for dessert, there was some of that in her future. Theirs was layered differently from what I normally make and the cookies were not soaked in coffee, so the coffee flavor was much less pronounced. Service was excellent and our dinner experience was fantastic and we would certainly go back when we are in Nashville – except that there are just so many other great places to try.
Sunday morning, Lori was wanting something different for breakfast. We went to the Coffee House at Second and Bridge. They have taken an old house and turned it into a coffee house. Tables are spread throughout the various rooms with a small kitchen and a front section with the coffee, food and ordering. Lori ordered a crepe with strawberries and Nutella and a latte. I had a blueberry muffin. According to Lori the coffee was very good and she enjoyed the crepe.
It was still somewhat early and we’ve always talked about checking out Arrington Vineyards off of 840 just east of I-65. We decided to make a stop there before we returned to Huntsville. We arrived a few minutes before the tasting room opened and walked around a little bit. The grounds are a great picnic area with tables around. They offer a picnic wine tasting option that you can purchase downstairs in the tasting room. We went up to the upstairs tasting room where they have a bar that holds about 12 people as you taste through the different offerings. Our expectations were fairly low, especially after visiting Grinders Switch. However, we were pleasantly surprised as we liked a number of the wines. We ended up buying one of the wines to bring home. Since the tasting room is small, the lines are the winery can be quite long during the high times. We walked up toward some of the vines, however, since it was so early in the year, the growth had not started for this year. If you go, it is a great picnic spot and if the tasting room is packed, go to the picnic wine samples on the lower floor – it may be quicker.
While we enjoy everything that Huntsville has to offer, it is really nice having cities within a 3 hour drive for a weekend getaway. I would highly recommend visiting the Nashville area as there are many great places to visit.