Thursday, May 17, 2018

Tennessee – April, 2018
Last year I started playing the guitar so decided to head to Tennessee this year to “hear the music”.  Quick Southwest flight to Nashville where I rented a car in town as it was $200 cheaper than renting from the airport!

Easily found my Airbnb studio using a GPS I brought along with me and settled in a bit before heading to Germantown for dinner at Henrietta Red on 4th Street N., a great little restaurant buzzing with activity and a perfect first night choice.  Known for their fresh oysters I started with a fresh one, followed by a cauliflower steak sitting on sweet potato puree and topped with green salsa, hazelnuts and a few parsnip chips – it was delicious!!  My caramel chocolate cookie dessert with cocoa almonds was quite interesting as well, drizzled with balsamic glaze.

Stopped at Dozen Bakery in the morning which had some great pastries but the coffee was very disappointing so I didn’t return.  Took a tour of the Ryman auditorium with its church type pews as it began as the Union Gospel Tabernacle in 1892 spearheaded by Thomas Ryman.  It can seat about 2300 people.  When he died in 1904 it was renamed Ryman Auditorium and became a cultural center for the performing arts.  The tour included visiting the dressing rooms and stage where famous people performed.

Afterwards I walked down to the Country Music Hall of Fame where I spent a couple hours learning about the history of the famous country music stars, i.e. Hank Williams, Roy Rogers as well as Elves Presley, Garth Brooks, etc.  Housed therein are some beautiful costumes, guitars, etc, as well as video clips of the famous singers.  A fabulous museum. 

Walked down the main street of Broadway where music pours out of every door and stopped for a quick tea and brownie before heading down to the waterfront and then to the hall of fame park.  Climbed the stairs up to the Capitol building on the hill along printer’s row and past some nice art galleries and then went back to my little studio to regroup.

About 7 p.m. I drove to the Gulch area for dinner at the Little Octopus and had a beet and goat cheese salad and some delicious grilled octopus with black lentils.  Chocolate cake with dulce de leche ice cream for dessert was nothing special…

Had reserved a seat at the Bluebird Café (one week ahead to the minute!) so arrived in time to park on the street and find my way in.  The café is very cozy and seats about 100 people in tables of 6 – 8 people.  Four guitarists played their own music as well as some more familiar songs, each playing in turn and never together.  It was wonderful and a must do when in Nashville.

Had a delicious cinnamon roll at the Frothy Monkey on 12th Street S in the morning and returned a few more times as the coffee and atmosphere are unique.

Drove out to the Fontanel Mansion, former estate of Barbara Mandrell.  It is a 27,000 square foot “log cabin” with signed guitars from famous musicians all around.  Took a walk on one of the nice trails nearby and then drove to Martin’s BBQ in Belmont for a hocorn pulled pork “taco” with cole slaw.  Stopped by the Parthenon in Centennial Park but only saw it from the outside and will visit it when I return.

Back to the Airbnb to change clothes and then drove out to Opryland to the Grand Ole Opry House to see a country music performance in the new space where it moved from the Ryman in 1974 that holds more than 4,000 people.  It was a terrific experience.

Another delicious cinnamon roll in the morning before stopping at the Farmer’s Market which proved to be rather small.  There were some food stalls in the covered building but the market itself was pretty sparse.  On to Cookeville for a quick stop to see the railroad station and the little town before reaching Crossville where I visited the Homestead water tower and one of the homestead homes open to the public.  Drove into town for a quick cookie and tea and then out to Cumberland State park over the seven-arch bridge and walked around Byrd Lake.

Later I checked into my airbnb which was on deep draw road   where many of the homestead homes are located and then walked around to see some of these historic homes.  Had dinner in town later at the Pour House bistro, i.e. spicy shrimp tacos with Asian slaw and fudge pie with whipped cream, both delicious.

Took a nice walk along deep draw road to see a few more homestead homes in the morning and then, because it was Sunday, stopped at a Starbucks for coffee and banana bread.  Everything seems to be closed on Sundays in Tennessee!!!

As I drove towards Lynchburg it started to rain and it rained pretty heavily the whole day.  I wanted to visit the Tennessee Walking Horse museum in Wartrace, but it was closed so I took a tour of the Jack Daniels Distillery instead which was very interesting.  It was a walking tour around the plant to see how the whiskey is made and hear about how it all began, even how the jack daniels’ ducks ended up in Memphis!

Walked into the little town for a delicious pulled pork and jack cheese sandwich at Barrel BBQ and then drove to Shelbyville which is a really cute little town but everything was closed.  It was raining very hard by the time I reached Franklin so relaxed a bit in my airbnb room with shared bathroom before driving into town for dinner at Grays on Main Street.  Lots of cute little shops which I will see tomorrow when things are open again.

Dinner was a very tasty sautéed salmon filet on top of an arugula salad with spiced pecans, blue cheese, beets and pomegranate seeds.  Brownie with ice cream, whipped cream and chocolate sauce finished off the meal nicely.

Had breakfast at the Frothy Monkey to my delight that there was one in Franklin and then took a walk around town and around the park before taking a tour of the Carter House where a large battle took place during the civil war which was very interesting to learn about.  Picked up a cookie, water and made sure I had plenty of gas before heading out highway 96 to the Natchez Trace Parkway where I spent the day.

I stopped along the route to visit historic sites, waterfalls, tobacco houses and the memorial to Meriwether Lewis, the famous explorer who had a very unhappy life.  Stopped at a little site along the way to have my cookie as there is no place to get food unless you leave the Trace.  Arrived in Florence, Alabama about 5 p.m. and stayed at Bella’s cute little house close to town.

Dinner at City Hardware on Main Street was an ahi salad with mixed greens and a skillet chocolate chip cookie served warm with ice cream and caramel sauce – yummy!!

Stopped at the Riverton Café for a bran muffin and great coffee the next morning and then walked around town before driving to the Rosenbaum house for a tour of this 1939 middle income Unsonian home built by Frank Lloyd Wright and his only one in Alabama.  Built in an L-shape, the house is made from natural materials and most of the rooms have their own door to the outside. 

Walked up to the top of the nearby Indian Mound and then headed to Savannah on Highway 20, stopping to see Tom’s Wall, a memorial to his great great grandmother.  This wall of stone was built with each stone representing one step of her journey back to Tennessee from Oklahoma where she was sent…Very moving.

Stopped in the cute little town of Savannah for a tuna sandwich and brownie at the little local café called McPhee’s and arrived in Memphis about 5:30 p.m.  Stayed in a beautiful airbnb on front street south about 15 minutes from Beale Street and the riverfront.  Walked down to Beale Street and, like in Nashville, heard music coming out of every door.  There was a car show going on so about 50 unique cars were parked along the street with their hoods up which was fun to see.

Stopped by the Peabody Hotel to find out when the ducks march and then drove to midtown for dinner at Tsunami, a rather old-fashioned restaurant.  I had some delicious mussels in coconut curry sauce, spinach and goat cheese salad and crème brulee for dessert and then wandered around.  I found out about some venues nearby where I could hear music and learned about a couple of more “interesting” restaurants, information which I put to use as I really liked the area.

Had coffee and morning glory muffin at Bluff Coffee on my way into town and walked to the Pyramid along Riverside Drive.  It is filled with shops and a salt water aquarium.  Walked to the Peabody Hotel to see the famous ducks that come down the elevator at 11 a.m., get out and race along the red carpet to the fountain where they hop in.  At 5:00 p.m. they hop out and return to the elevator and go back to their “home” upstairs.  It was fun to see.

Took a guided tour of the Gibson guitar factory to learn how their famous guitars are made and why they are so famous and then walked to Rendez-vous, a little café off a side street and down some stairs where they have delicious dry rub ribs.  Stopped at A. Schwab store and had an ice cream outside while listening to some music.

Spent the afternoon at the Memphis rock ‘n’ soul Museum which gives a great overview of the music of the 50’s.  You can hear music, see all the memorabilia and learn about many of the artists who played music in Memphis.  A treasure of a museum!!

Later that evening I drove back to midtown to hear music at Bar DKDC where a band of 5 played some great music while I sipped on a glass of wine.  Had dinner next door at Beauty Shop which was superb, i.e. arugula salad with thin slices of apple, macona almonds and manchego cheese, duck with cherries and crème brulee.  A fun evening.

Had planned to go to Graceland in the morning but it was pouring rain so after coffee and a muffin at Bluff Coffee I drove over to Stax Museum dedicated to preserving and promoting the legacy of American soul music where I spent several hours.   The museum is filled with memorabilia, vintage guitars and even Issac Hayes’ crazy gold-plated Cadillac.  A fabulous collection of music clips, etc. of Otis Redding, Tina Turner, etc.

Stopped at the Cozy Corner for ribs, corn and cole slaw – excellent just as all the guide books said!!  Finished the day at the Metal Works Museum featuring “everyday objects” by Joseph Anderson which was superb.  There is also a permanent exhibit of unique gates, etc. made out of metal as well as a working foundry and a nice sculpture garden. 

As the rain had stopped I took a walk along Front Street to the river and later drove out to Lafayette’s in midtown for some music.  There was a $5 cover charge and the guy who performed played the guitar and harmonica now and then with another singer. 

Drove back into town, parked my car and walked to Catherine and Mary on Main Street for dinner, i.e. crisp Brussels sprouts with burnt ends, quail with mushrooms and polenta and a brownie with walnut ice cream.  Very nice meal.

Walked Riverside drive in the morning along a “fitness” course and then spent most of the day at Graceland.  First I visited some of the museums housing many clothes Elvis Presley wore, guitars he played, etc. as well as how he was discovered with several video clips of him performing – what a life he had.  Took a tour of the mansion where he lived with his wife and daughter and where he eventually had a heart attack and died at the age of 42.  Took a break and had a cookie and tea before driving to Sun Studios where he was “discovered”.

Had to wait a bit but it was worth it to take the tour and to hear an audio clip of Elvis, Carl Perkins and Johnny Cash “jamming” together…Walked down Beale Street before stopping on Main Street for dinner at Flight, i.e. harvest salad with spiced pecans and goat cheese, duck with sweet potato casserole and a chocolate dessert flight, i.e. brownie with peanuts and caramel gelato, a lava cake with vanilla gelato and a chocolate chip soufflé.

Checked out the Farmer’s Market nearby after coffee in the morning but it was pretty small so drove north to Murray near Land between the Lakes, stopping in Jackson to visit the railroad museum.  Found a cafe in town and stopped for tea and a brownie and then checked into the cabin where I stayed the night.  Drove out to the Lake Barkley Bridge at Land between the lakes and walked across the bridge and back.  It was lovely.  Pulled pork sandwich at the Keg for dinner.

Had great coffee at Future coffee before crossing the bridge again and following the trace to the Visitor’s Center to find out what to do in Land between the lakes recreation area located in Kentucky and Tennessee between Lake Barkley and Kentucky Lake.

First I visited the nature center to see some owls, deer, etc. in their natural habitats.  Afterwards I walked around the Hematite Lakes and finally spent the afternoon at Homeplace, an 1850s working farm museum with restored historic structures, interpreters in period clothes going about their daily chores, reliving history before the civil war.  It was quite fascinating.

Stayed the night in Clarksville.  Wandered around the cute little town and down along the Cumberland River.  Had a delicious arugula salad with grilled salmon and a little jar of key lime pudding at the newly opened Strawberry Alley Ale.  While dining I got a call from my Nashville airbnb telling me my reservation had been cancelled so I regrouped and found another place to stay which was actually quite easy.  I really love staying in airbnbs all over the world!!!

Took a lovely walk along the river in the morning and then found a nice coffee spot near the University for breakfast. Drove to Hurrican Mills to visit Loretta Lynn’s Mansion, mill, her childhood home and museum filled with memorabilia of her life.  Well worth the drive.

Stopped at the Frothy Monkey in Nashville for a quick cookie and tea and then took a tour of Belle Meade Plantation which was excellent.  First there was a guided tour of the beautifully preserved mansion and the reminder was self-guided throughout the grounds to visit the smoke house, carriage house, etc.  Very well kept up.  Checked into my new airbnb which was very nice and private and later had dinner at Chef & I at the counter watching a lady chef cook.  I had a cauliflower crostini with whipped goat cheese and pistachio pesto, arugula salad with apples and candied nuts topped with sesame crusted tuna and a chocolate crème brulee for dessert.  Very nice.

My last Frothy Monkey banana bran muffin and coffee in the morning before visiting the inside of the Parthenon which has a very nice selection of art and the famous gold leaf colossal 42 foot high statue of the Greek goddess Athena.  Walked around the lake in Centennial Park and then stopped at the Yellow Porch for lunch, i.e. Greek salad with eggplant, mushrooms, artichokes, couscous and chocolate torte for dessert. 

Returned the car at the airport and walked across the street to the terminal – really convenient!!!  Another great trip!!

Tuesday, May 8, 2018

Spinach Salad with sweet and sour dressing
1/2C olive oil
1/4C powdered sugar
2 Tbsp. apple cider vinegar
1-1/2 tsp. lemon juice
¾ tsp. dry mustard
¾ tsp. paprika
¼ tsp. salt
¼ tsp. ground ginger

two bags baby spinach
1/4C golden raisins
2 Tbsp. toasted sesame seeds
1 jar grilled artichoke hearts, sliced
8 oz. mushrooms, thinly sliced
4 slices thick sliced bacon, cooked, crumbled
1/4C toasted pecans

Whisk dressing ingredients together and set aside.  Place spinach leaves in a large bowl.  Add the remaining ingredients and toss to combine.  Add dressing to coat.
MAKES:  6 servings