Archive | November, 2012

Top Five Holiday Things to do in Nashville

27 Nov

1.  A Country Christmas at the Gaylord Opryland Hotel- complete with World’s Largest Nativity and thousands of lights.  Park at Opry Mills mall next door and walk over to avoid a hefty parking fee at the hotel.  Otherwise, free.

The off the beaten path option (I’d recommend seeing both!) right next to the Opryland Hotel is Shadrack’s Christmas Wonderland at the RV park.  It is a drive-thru dancing light display with music and even Santa.  $2 per carload.  2572 Music Valley Drive, Nashville, TN.

2.  The Nutcracker at the Tennessee Performing Arts Center– December 9-23rd come see the Nashville Ballet and the Nashville Symphony beautifully perform this classic Christmas ballet.  From $35.  505 Deadrick Street, Nashville, TN.

Pro Tip:  Before the show, pop in to the Hermitage Hotel around the corner and go to the Oak Bar for an excellent cocktail and beautiful architecture.  The Oak Bar did not allow women for many years so make sure to take a peek at the opulent men’s bathroom (yes, even women).  231 6th Avenue North, Nashville, TN.

3.  Dickens Christmas in Franklin- Victorian street festival with period food and drink, horse drawn carriages, a Christmas market, your favorite Christmas Carol characters such as Ebineezer Scrooge and Tiny Tim, as well as a town sing a long at 4:30.  December 8-9, 10 am – 5 pm Saturday, 12 pm to 5 pm Sunday.  Free.  510 Columbia Avenue, Franklin, TN

4.  Chad Bernard’s Holiday Lights– one of the nation’s largest displays of lights AND it’s a drive-thru.  This is true Nashvegas glitz. $10 per car.  Eat more rhinestones baby!  791 E Old LaGuardo Rd., Lebanon, TN.

5.  Walk-thru Bethlehem– You may have heard that Nashville is Music city.  One thing that will also become abundantly clear when you visit is that Nashville loves it’s churches.  The walk thru Bethlehem at Woodmont Church has goats, sheep, etc. and is supposed to be a window into Ancient Israel.  You’ve got to see it to believe it folks. December 9th 1-7 only.  Free. 3601 Hillsboro Road, Nashville, TN.

Pro-Tip:  After, go for a drink at the Greenhouse down the street.  It’s a truly hidden Nashville gem literally in a greenhouse filled with plants.  2211 Bandywood Drive, Nashville, TN.  Mon-Sun 5 pm- 3 am.  

Monument Monday

26 Nov

My friends and I were driving to Chattanooga from a dive trip in Gulf Shores, AL last summer when we came across a sign for Fort Payne, AL, a town that sounded strangely familiar.  I requested that we get off the interstate at the next exit so I could Google why I wanted to go there and I realized it was because the country band hugely popular in the 80’s and 90’s, Alabama, have a monument there.

It’s not directly off the interstate so you have to wind through the town, which actually ended up being more interesting than the original purpose of our pit stop.  As you drive toward Union Park on Fourth Avenue, the town is eerily empty.  And not in an, everything’s closed on a Sunday kind of way, but in a real ghost town kind of way.

As my friend continued to drive, I continued to research and we found that Fort Payne in it’s prime was “Sock Capital of the World,” named so because of the many, and large sock manufacturing plants in the town.

In the late 1800’s iron and coal were discovered, prompting large amounts of Northerners to  move in to the area, building factories and modernizing the town with a beautiful theater,  opera house and train station.  Turns out there was not as much iron and coal in the area as expected and that is when the town turned toward manufacturing.  The first plant, W.B. Davis, opened in 1907 and is still standing as an antique mall.  Very few are still hanging on.


As many jobs are being outsourced and sent overseas, these American run, family owned factories are being forced to close their doors.  People are moving out in droves, leaving the peaceful main-street life for cities in search of work.  The whole town is a sad reminder, a kind of Southern Detroit, of the very real problems the middle class families continue to face in this country.

Top 10 Made in the South Gift Giving Guide

24 Nov

The very day after Thanksgiving I start to feel the pressure of Christmas.  The consumerism, the crowds, the aching feet, ack.  Our country is on the verge of an unemployment crisis and everyone’s going out buying cheap plastic crap to support who knows where.  Not my favorite idea.  That’s why I have put together a quick guide of some of my favorite Southern made gifts in case you’re feeling as snarky as I.

  1. Imogene and Willie Limited Edition Tote Bags–  Super cool, reclaimed oil-cloth tote bags from Nashville’s top denim designers.  Made in Tennessee.
  2. Lodge Cast Iron Cookware– a good pre-seasoned cast iron skillet will last you, and probably your children, a lifetime.  Made in Tennessee.
  3. Yazoo Beer-  Dos Perros never disappoints.  Made in Tennessee.
  4. Benton’s Bacon–  No fooling, this is the best bacon I have ever had.  It’s thick cut, hickory smoked perfection.  Made in Tennessee.
  5. Santa’s Ale Beer Soap for Men– Need I say more?  Made in Florida.
  6. Orbix Blown Glass Vases– This studio has beautiful hand blown glass vases, pitches, and bowls.  Made in Alabama.
  7. Zkano Organic Cotton Socks– Family owned sock manufacturers with cute striped or plain socks to suit anyone’s tastes.  Made in Alabama.
  8. Louisville Slugger– Even if you don’t play baseball, they’re always good to have behind a door…Made in Kentucky.
  9. Blanton’s Single Barrel Bourbon– It’s a splurge but just right for the dad who has everything.  Made in Kentucky.
  10. Uncorked Glass– Hand made wine bottle glasses.  Made in Georgia.

Foodie Friday

23 Nov

My friend Sarah sent me a recipe several years ago for a cheesy stuffed pumpkin that she described as the best thing she had ever made. You mixed Gruyere, scallions, chives, day old bread, heavy cream, loads of garlic, and spices into a 3-5 pound pumpkin and then bake for several hours.

And she was right; it was the best thing I had ever made until I found this variation on Homesick Texan’s blog that included bacon and best of all- chipotle peppers.  Not only is this one of the easiest recipes ever, it is absolutely perfect as a side for any Holiday meal.

This is becoming a staple at my family’s Thanksgiving meals and is so good, I can’t believe I am saying this, that it has even replaced the Southern staple of macaroni and cheese at our table.  It is highly adaptable for the picky eaters in your family as long as you keep the bread, cheese and cream in place (next time I’m trying it with poblano peppers as well) and a great way to add something seasonal and pretty to the spread.

So to you and yours – happy holidays and try this pumpkin!!

Best (and Cheapest) Day Drunk Adventure in Nashville

20 Nov

So you’re low on funds but still want to party and explore?  Or maybe your band is on tour and you only have the morning off in Nashville? This trip is perfect for you, and all conveniently located in Centennial Park so if you have the token wet blanket with you, they can lie in the grass while you go have fun.

While Memphis and Kansas City may be more famous for their barbecue, Nashville is still a pretty good contender.  Start with lunch at Hog Heaven, famous for it’s Kickin’ chicken white barbecue sauce.  Hog Heaven has been a Nashville staple for over 25 years, serving up pork, turkey, chicken, beef and ribs off their smoker that you can smell from across the street.  Try the pulled pork slathered in white sauce with a side of turnip greens for a taste of Nashville’s best.

Hog Heaven 115 27th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37203 (615) 329-1234.  $3-12.00

Next, mosey next door to the best, and oldest, dive bar in Nashville, the Springwater Supper Club and Lounge.  Nashville legend has it that Al Capone would hang out here when he needed to lay low, and the tradition continues for anyone looking to escape the crowds and get a cold beer.  The bar is CASH ONLY and doesn’t have a liquor license but the $1.25 PBR until 8:00 pm and surly, but wonderful bartenders, make it worth it.

Springwater 115 27th Avenue North, Nashville, TN 37203.

Once your get a couple of beers in you, wander through Centennial Park over to the Parthenon.  The Parthenon was built in 1897 for Nashville’s Centennial Exposition.  Meant to only be temporary, the building was originally constructed of plaster and wood as a facade, then re-built in concrete.  It is now an historical museum for the Centennial, holds a small permanent art collection from James M. Cowan, and of course, Athena.

Did you know that Nashville is known as ‘The Athens of the South?’  Yeah, we don’t get it either since I’m pretty sure Athens (GA) is the Athens of the South but nevertheless, the Parthenon is a replica of the Parthenon in Athens, Greece, complete with a fully gilded 42 feet (13 m) Athena.

The Parthenon  2600 West End Avenue, Nashville, TN 37203  (615) 862-8431.  $6.00 for Adults.

Return to Springwater if you have time and see the cast of characters change as the day goes on.  Maybe you’ll even be lucky enough to meet Nashville legendary musician and serious weirdo, Dave Cloud.

Monument Monday

20 Nov

Cave Church Grotto, or Sziklakápolna in Budapest, Hungary


The cave church, Sziklakápolna, is located on Gellert Hill, next to the famous Gellert Bathhouse.  Parts of the grotto church have been discovered as the original home of St, Istivan (Stephen), a hermit monk who was widely known in the middle ages for healing the sick with the pristine thermal waters that flow under the streets of the cave, and feed into one of the most famous bathhouses in Budapest, the Gellert bathhouse.

The entrance to the church was built in 1926 and closed off during the communist regime until 1989.  However, the larger cave was formed in the Triassic period, and discovered only in 1913.  Legend is that the main entrance to the cave had been closed over time and one day a dog fell in the only, very small opening.  The people retrieved the dog and discovered the cave and former home of St. Istivan.  The whole of the cave has still not been explored, and interestingly, the deepest part of the cave is named “Hell.”

This is the view facing out of the Cave Church at the statue of St, Istivan holding a church and the beautiful Danube.


Foodie Friday

16 Nov

I’ve been wanting to try the Peppercheese sandwich at Pepperfire, a deep fried pepper jack cheese sandwich, for quite some time and today is the day!  The deep fried sandwich is fried a perfect golden brown with oozy, warm pepper jack cheese melted in between.  It was so good I didn’t even start to feel guilty until I got to the second half.

If you want to pull some Man Vs. Food level eating, try the cleverly dubbed Tenders Royale, the peppercheese topped with hot chicken (light mild, mild, medium, hot, x-hot, or xx-hot).  Everything is made to order so you’re actually getting fresh, fast food but if you’re in a hurry, you’ll definitely want to call ahead.

Pepperfire Hot Chicken 2821 Gallatin Pike, (East) Nashville, TN 37216.  (615) 582-4824

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