North comes South: Part I

My good friend from college Blair came to visit me a few weeks back.  She was my first non-family member Yankee visitor and it was her first time in the south.  EVER.  It was a pretty big deal.

I picked up Blair at the airport early Wednesday afternoon and went over some ideas of things to do and try out during her stay.  Even though it was a little chilly (I’ll have you know it was 80 degrees the weekend prior), the afternoon she arrived was supposed to be the warmest of the days while she was here so I suggested we pack up a picnic and head out to Arrington Vineyards.  I had never been before but had been told by many people that I should go if I had the chance.  We packed up supplies in the largest beach tote known to man, picked up some cheese and olives at Whole Foods and headed on our merry way.

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After a scenic drive away from the city, we arrived at Arrington Vineyards for our free wine tasting.  Our server gave us his spiel, telling us we could try up to 8 different wines.  I asked Blair how many she was going to try, to which she replied, “8! I’m on vacation!”  I like the way she thinks.  No wonder we’re friends.

We were both starving and decided to nosh on the cute little crackers offered at the tasting to cleanse the palate between wines.  Blair referred to them as cracker pillows, because they did indeed look like pillows made out of a cracker.  Our server agreed and we giggled about it for a good 5 minutes.  For the record, this was before we had sampled any wine, which was unfortunate for Blair who tasted the crackers first.  I asked her how they tasted as she chewed for an eternity.

“Very…dry.   They make you thirsty.  In a bad way.”

I tried one or four also and concluded that they were indeed the driest crackers I’d ever tasted.  Who knew something so small and cute was capable of robbing your mouth of all moisture.  Perhaps they should use them at the dentist instead of that terrible saliva sucker thing…

For the rest of the trip, Blair and I referred to anything or anyone who put a damper on things as a cracker pillow.  As in, “Man, he was a real cracker pillow.”

Anyway, we tasted our 8 wines and decided on a bottle to purchase and enjoy with our picnic.

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I went to the car to retrieve the picnic and as I walked back up to the porch, I got several comments on my monstrosity of a bag.   It really does come in handy on such occasions.

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We set up our spread and caught up for several hours as we enjoyed our wine and cheese.  The sun began to set on the Vineyard and it was time to pack up and get ready to go downtown for dinner.

Normally, if I’m trying to ensure that my guests have a good time and/or trying to convince them to move to Nashville, I take them to places that I have been to and know are worth returning to.  I hadn’t been to Arrington Vineyards, but that was a hit so I continued breaking my rules that evening by suggesting we try a new restaurant in town that I hadn’t yet been to.

We freshened up and headed downtown to The Row, which had just opened the week before.  We arrived to a nearly empty restaurant and were seated in a booth in the corner under some very harsh, interrogation style lighting.  We asked if they could maybe dim the light a little, which they couldn’t (poor lighting design) so we asked to move.  We were re-seated in a very dark section and began to study the menu by candlelight.  From one extreme to the other in the span of 30 feet.

The menu had lots of southern classics to choose from.  I picked chicken fried chicken with cheese grits and bourbon sweet potatoes and Blair got the BBQ, brussel sprouts with bacon, and fries.  What the restaurant lacked in atmosphere it sadly did not make up with its food.  While it wasn’t terrible, it wasn’t special.  I know better than to order fried chicken with two grandmothers from Kentucky.   Shame on me.  I’m sure the restaurant would be more pleasant if it were full, but I’m not in a hurry to go back and neither is Blair, particularly if she has to come all the way from Boston.  So maybe I should have quit while I was ahead with the blind adventures.  Thankfully, Blair was willing to write off that one since we started off well at the Vineyard and had several days of pre-approved adventures ahead.

And that was just the first 8 hours.

Stay tuned for parts II & III.

Y’all come back,

Sugarlump

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No Mo’ Nemo

Cabin fever has set in.  We have watched far more of the weather news that I would recommend, cooked and baked (and consequently overindulged), played multiple games of scrabble, blogged, edited pictures, watched several basketball games and a movie in the past 24 hours. The travel ban is lifting in 4 minutes as I write this and I couldn’t be more excited about dining out this evening.

Since I was confined to the house, I thought I might as well track the progress of the storm.  Here is my coverage of the storm (on a 24-48 hour delay):

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Backyard around noon Friday.

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Front yard around noon Friday.

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Backyard about 2 hours later.

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Front yard about 2 hours later.

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The deck around 2PM Friday.  Keep this image of the overturned table handy.

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A backyard-deck combo around 2PM Friday.  I was getting a little carried away.  There was nothing else to do.

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Front yard around 4PM Friday, just as the travel ban took effect.  I don’t remember ever being under a travel ban before.  It makes you really want to travel.

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Backyard around 4PM Friday.  The snow was beginning to bury things.

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The kitchen island around 4PM Friday. Time for some wine and cheese.

I also made some German chocolate bourbon pecan pie bars.  I’ll post about those later.

Back to the snow coverage (day 2):

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Approximately 9AM Saturday morning.  We had officially been snowed in.  Travel ban still in effect as snow removal teams tried to clear roadways.

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Front yard Saturday morning.  There is an Adirondack chair under all of that snow somewhere.  Anyone feel like a cup of coffee on the front patio?

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Winter wonderland.

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The deck was almost completely filled in.

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The front walk/tunnel midday on Saturday as the snow tapered off.

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No amount of snow will keep my family from grilling.  The first thing my dad did outside was shovel a path on the deck in case we needed some steaks for dinner.  Those are the table legs sticking out of the snow.

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As I mentioned, the travel ban was lifted at 4PM on Saturday, so we ended up going out to dinner. The highways had been salted and were almost completely clear of snow.  Some of the back roads and smaller roads in the city were still quite snowy, but that didn’t stop us.  Here we are exiting the restaurant.  The snow was up to the top of the parking meters.  Karma for the cranky meter maids if you ask me.

Y’all be careful,

Sugarlump

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