We are now in the last part of our trip, and I am sorry to say that I have almost hit my limit on food (almost!). The eating and drinking in Texas and Louisiana was insane and I am now quite looking forward to getting home and getting on a diet!
As a result of this, my documentation of everything we have eaten has dropped off a bit, along with the amount that I have eaten! We have still been to some cool places, and eaten some great food. One of the major highlights in Tennessee has been the music we have listened to and learned about, it’s a really rich area with the fantastic country music of Nashville to the Blues and early Rock ‘n Roll in Memphis. It’s been great to learn lots, listen to lots and focus on something other than food.
Anyway saying that, here is a brief overview of some of the highlights.
Nashville – The Coffee
We were staying in East Nashville, which is a very cool suburb close to the centre, we didn’t really leave the area as there was so much to explore, especially considering there was a great record shop and the coolest coffee shop I have EVER been to on the corner of our road. – Barista Parlor.
This coffee shop was in a huge warehouse space, it had a customised kick-ass slayer coffee machine in the middle as well as lots of other coffee methods (Chemex, V60’s etc). They even had a menu for all the different coffees. They had a record player in the corner that was used, and they did amazing burritos and bagels for breakfast – seriously what more do you need in life?!
Nashville – The Food
In my research I came to discover that Nashville’s most famous food is the simply named hot chicken. This is spicy, deep fried crispy chicken – which can be found in a number of places across the city. However the place that created the hot chicken that is so popular today, is a place called Prince’s Hot Chicken on the outskirts of Nashville – so of course we headed over there one evening to see what the fuss was about.
It is another no frills place, in a small arcade of shops next to a laundrette
On entering there were a few tables – most of their business is takeaway, you order through a tiny hole in the wall, and then wait (a long time!) to get your order.
I had heard that this was hot, hot, hot – so we went for half a chicken mild and half medium, some chips and slaw. It took about an hour, and we drove back home with 2 hot bags of even hotter chicken on my lap – it smelt amazing, on opening it all we had a lot of food to get through, but I was up to the challenge!
Of course, it was delicious! The mild was good, but the medium was cracking, the equivalent of Nando’s hot I reckon so a little burn-y on the lips, but this was so crispy, spicy and seasoned it was great and I was so happy we had decided to make the journey and take the time to wait to get the original Nashville hot chicken!
Nashville – The Music
We saw a lot of music in Nashville some in bars some on the street, but the highlight had to be the Grand Ole Opry. A Nashville institution this is a 2 hour radio show, with a wide range of country artists performing 1 or 2 songs. From classic bluegrass to the more modern country (pop) music. It was a brilliant evening, with some foot stomping tunes, plenty of beers and a great crowd – it is a must in my opinion for anyone in Nashville!
Honourable mention also goes to the Country Music Hall of Fame – an amazing walk through country music from its origins up to modern day – and a kick-ass exhibition all about Bob Dylan and Jonny Cash’s influence on the Nashville country music scene.
Memphis – The Food
So after a boozy night down Broadway, it was back in the car and on to Memphis, sadly the last stop on our tour! With a quick trip to Graceland on the way, to check out Elvis’ home and famous grave (both surprisingly tasteful).
Memphis is famous for (you guessed it) barbecue. There were a lot of BBQ joints on my list, but as I mentioned above, I was getting a bit BBQ’ed out, and could only really face 1 more! I settled on a place on the famous Beale Street called the Blues City Cafe. Not strictly a BBQ joint, but I heard that they had some of the best ribs in town, and it was right around the corner from our hotel.
This was another American diner styled place, a huge grill section to the side, formica tables – and lots of people, noise and staff, I liked it immediately. I went for a half rack of ribs, which came with bread (they love that with BBQ in the states), slaw, fries and beans. Now Memphis’ BBQ is very different from Texas in that there is more sauce involved. These ribs as you can see below, were rubbed, slow cooked and then a maple glaze was put on at the last minute.
So these were definitely the best ribs of the trip, they were sticky, but if you touched them they fell off the bone, and the glaze added a sweetness that worked with the rich pork of the ribs. They were really, really good – and made me sad that I had run out of time and couldn’t try more Memphis BBQ – but as someone once said, ‘always leave something to go back to’ and Memphis I’ll be back!
Memphis – The Music
Wow – where do you start? So much music has come from or been inspired by Memphis, Elvis, Jonny Cash, BB King, Howlin’ Wolf, Creedence Clearwater, Otis Redding, Al Green – the list goes on and on.
The highlight had to be touring Sun Studios – seeing where Elvis recorded his first ever hit record, and Jonny Cash did the same, iconic doesn’t even come close! A fantastic thing to do, in a fantastic, exciting and history filled city – well worth a trip in my book.
So that’s it for the USA I am afraid. Back to veggies, salad and water – and work (yikes). I’ll do a wrap-up post if I can face it when I get back, and then that’s it – back to the real world!
America – you’ve been awesome!