Tag Archives: Nashville

Holiday turkey

Thanksgiving Wine Pairings and Recommendations

Wine enthusiast Dr. Richard Parker breaks down pairings and recommendations for your Thanksgiving feast, plus what to keep in mind and where to buy in Nashville.

Every Thanksgiving it seems that people are always sparring over what wines might best go with their traditional turkey dinner. Fortunately there is enough variety in the wine market to keep these deliberations from derailing your well-planned meal and festivities.

As most people will be enjoying the traditional Thanksgiving turkey, it’s easy enough to actually rule out a number of wines; I am talking, of course, about red varietals like zinfandel, merlot or cabernet sauvignon. But if you insist on serving a red with your meal, I would recommend going with the most food-friendly of the reds, the versatile pinot noir.

If you’re looking to shop economically for this varietal, I would recommend a Kenwood or Clos du Bois Pinot Noir—either should run less than $20 a bottle. However if you’re considering something a little more special, look for a David Bruce or Saintsbury; both will offer tantalizing flavors that will go well with almost every bite of your holiday feast from turkey breast to sweet potato casserole.

Now that we’ve dealt with the easy part, let’s tackle the more difficult option—the white varietals. What you choose will largely depend on your own taste preferences. While many people might seek out something rich and buttery, like a Newton Chardonnay from California, others might choose something cleaner with a hint of pepper, such as New Zealand’s Matua Valley Sauvignon Blanc.

Since I’ve already mentioned it, I think the Matua Valley is the most underpriced wine on the market. Selling well below the $20 price point, this crisp, clean white with hints of pepper would easily complement the traditional Thanksgiving dinner and would be among the first bottles I would open at my own table.

But let’s go back to the chardonnays for a moment. This varietal makes for a fine pairing with most Thanksgiving meals. While Newton’s price point between $35 and $45 may make some hesitate in the current economy, there are some good alternatives that will work very well and still leave you with plenty of money for Christmas shopping at the Mall at Green Hills, including chardonnays by Chalk Hill, Buena Vista and Alice White. My recommendation for a best value chardonnay under $15 is California’s Toasted Head Chardonnay.

Alternatively if you’re pondering something a bit more exotic than a chardonnay or sauvignon blanc, consider an Austrian gruner veltliner—one of the best white wines flying under the radar today, a German gewürztraminer or a California viognier. Toasted Head also makes a very nice version of this varietal. But if your tastes run sweeter, try Relax, a German riesling that sells for under $15 and pairs nicely with lighter fare. And if a dessert wine is what you’re after, look for an ice wine from Canada or a late harvest sauvignon blanc from California.

Inevitably, there are those who love their blush wines and fortunately there are some that can contribute to the Thanksgiving recommendations. Most people are familiar with the ubiquitous white zinfandel, but there are other blush wines including white merlot and white Grenache. But if you are looking for a surprise, Biltmore Estates Cabernet Sauvignon Blanc de Noir will offer a delightful wine experience for even those who normally shy away from any wine with even a hint of pink.

With all the available choices you may be asking yourself, “What’s the right wine for my Thanksgiving dinner?” The important thing for you to consider is not what’s the right wine, but what wine will make the experience memorable.

Fortunately for Nashvillians, there are plenty of good stores to help you make the right selection. For folks living in western Davidson County, try Red Spirits and Wine in Bellevue. If you are in the Green Hills area, The Wine Shoppe at Green Hills has a good selection. West End Discount Liquors and Wines can help you in the midtown area. And those in East Nashville can stop by Woodland Wine Merchant.

May your Thanksgiving be happy and your wine selections be as satisfying as the late Thursday nap.

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Tennessee Titans: Tailgating Is All We Have This Season—Barring Another Miracle

If you don't want to go all out for tailgating, position yourself next to someone who does.

Guest blogger Stacey Bright had higher hopes for her Tennessee Titans this year. But she’s taking solace in tailgating—and she hasn’t given up on another Music City Miracle.

Last we talked, I was optimistic about my Tennessee Titans and sitting on cloud nine with my second pick of the fantasy draft in Tom Brady.

Well, the Titans and my fantasy team have one thing in common—we are both 1-4.

So the “game-day experience” train has come off the tracks, and now it’s time to concentrate on how to just get through the rest of the season with as little emotional turmoil as possible.

I’ve lived through the 4-12 season, the 59-0 beatdown by the Patriots in the snow, so I can live through this.

Now it’s all about the tailgate. Contrary to popular belief, you can still have fun when your team just flat-out sucks. Good friends, good food and flowing libations are the key. Our group has been tailgating together since the first game when it was Adelphia Coliseum.

We’ve gone through a stadium with no name for a few years, to a name I can’t even remember, to, presently, LP Field. (Side note: I realize LP sells building products, but when I see their facades around the field I can’t help thinking of Opryland Theme Park in general, and the Angle Inn in particular. Only old school Nashvillians will understand this reference).

Now there are those that go all out for tailgating, but to me that is just too much work. It’s more about the “fellowship” than the Titans tablecloths, flowers and your best china. We have seen people bring their smokers and spend hours preparing brisket, steak and the like, to people like us who do well to grill pre-patted hamburgers and serve chips.

College kids are good tailgating friends to make because they may let you in on their games.

For some people it is more about the tailgate than the game. And those good folks have hit the mother lode, because the tailgate is all we have this year.

One key strategy I’ve learned over the years is to align yourself NEXT to the guy with the smoker (possible free food), the college kids with the cornhole game (possible entertainment) and the party people offering Jell-O shots (free…well who knows?).

Tailgating is like a family reunion, but the difference is you only have this family for five months out of the year.

Football families unite wearing their team’s jersey and razzing the opposing team’s fans as they make their walk into the stadium.

It’s not mean. It’s expected. It’s football. I’ve had to make that walk at 12 other stadiums, and it is no different at any of them than it is in Nashville. Although, it is much more fun doing it when you have a winning team.

As for this year, who knows? Miracles have happened in this stadium before….

The Kingston Springs photo

The Kingston Springs Set to Rock Nashville’s Live On the Green

The Kingston Springs

The Kingston Springs

Drawing comparisons to a young Black Keys, the four-man Southern blues rock outfit The Kingston Springs are playing Nashville as part of Lightning 100′s Live On the Green.

Each year when the breezes of fall sweep into Nashville, local music fans start to feel the itch for the live music that is to come. Lightning 100, Nashville’s only independent radio station, hosts the annual Live On the Green Music Festival, a free weekly event that boasts headliners like The Wallflowers, Alabama Shakes and Here Come the Mummies. Nashville locals flock to Public Square Park downtown Thursday nights from September 6 through October 11 for a night of live music and community.

The festival kicked off last Thursday, with Jon Cleary and Moon Taxi supporting headliner Dr. John & The Lower 911. Others set to play this season include North Mississippi Allstars, The Apache Relay, Trampled By Turtles, The Kingston Springs, The Delta Saints and tons more. In order to celebrate the beginning of the long-anticipated event, we had a quick chat with The Kingston Springs, a bluesy Southern rock band hailing from, well … Kingston Springs, Tenn.

Having played tons of festivals and shared the bill with acts like Cage the Elephant and cult favorite The Features, The Kingston Springs are roots rock at its rootsiest, citing catfish as their inspiration and Taco Bell as one of their band interests.

You guys hail from Kingston Springs, Tennessee. What is there to do in Kingston Springs – what occupied your time there growing up?

Swimming in the river, playin’ some tunes, skating from time to time, and trying to woo some ladies.

You’ve been recording your eponymous full-length debut in Franklin, Tenn. What studio have you been working at, and who has been involved in helping see this record to fruition?

Well, we experimented with a bunch of different people at different studios, and we just couldn’t seem to find what we wanted. So we decided to do it ourselves at a family studio. This pretty much just gave us freedom to do whatever we wanted, which is the way we like it.

What can fans expect to hear on this record sound-wise?

A little of this, a little that and voilà!

In the past couple years, you’ve really gotten some festival experience under your belts. Do you have any favorite festival moments?

Well, waking up to the open-bar beach at Hangout Fest was pretty nice.

You’re playing Nashville’s Live on the Green October 4. What are your thoughts going into that?

It should be fun. We’ve never played to the Nashville skyline before.

How do you feel about people comparing you to a young Black Keys?

That’s cool. We like the Keys. We feel like we have some musical differences, but that’s a flattering comparison.

What’s one thing your fans don’t already know about you guys?

We eat a bunch of spaghetti.

Catch The Kingston Springs and tons of other great bands at Nashville’s Live On The Green each Thursday night through October 11.

Couch Potato

Best Places to Watch the Game if You’re Not at the Game

No ticket? No need to watch the Titans from your couch. Guest blogger Zach Law searches out the best places in Nashville to catch the action even if you’re not at the game.

If you can’t get to the Tennessee Titans game, there are plenty of options in town to enjoy the big game, a beer, and great food. Here are some of the best sports bar options in town:

 

Not many Titans fans will appreciate this oil painting of the final play of Super Bowl XXXIV.

The Crow’s Nest
2221 Bandywood Drive, Nashville TN 37215
615-783-0720

The first location is in Green Hills. This is a sports bar formerly known as the Box Seat that had a reputation of being a dive. It cleans up nicely. It’s a sports bar that you can take your family for lunch, assuming they don’t mind you ogling the TVs. The space is nice and open with two floors and lots of patio room. The smoked chicken wings were excellent, the beer selection plentiful and the TVs were everywhere if not super big.

There are enough TVs around to watch every game on NFL Sundays. Bathrooms are clean with a Cuban cigar advertisement motif.

 

Neighbors looks like a normal bar from the outside, but on the inside you'll feast on some of the best smoked meat in town.

Neighbors
4425 Murphy Road
Nashville, TN 37209

Sylvan Park needed a local bar and grill, and it has both in Neighbors. This is not the traditional sports bar in that it lacks the endless televisions. What it has is the local charm and smoked meats. I was fortunate enough to meet Jody, who’s the co-owner with former Titan Donnie Nickey. He showed me the smoker in back, an impressive machine that’s working almost 24/7 to provide some of the best smoked brisket, ribs, pulled pork and chicken wings in town. You can sit at the bar or take one of the tables inside or on the extensive porch.

Neighbors management is looking into getting a shuttle to take fans to Titans games this fall. If that happens, you can get the best of both worlds with the sports bar experience and then the actual game.

 

There's not much to say other than "Titans Cow!"

Sam’s
1803 21st Avenue South
Nashville, TN 37212
615-383-3601

When in Hillsboro Village and in need of a sports fix, Sam’s is hard to beat. The decorated Titans cow above the back entrance is a highlight. Come down the stairs and enter a sports paradise. The waitresses arrive in ref outfits and offer your choice of dozens of beers. It’s a good family spot now that there’s no smoking on the premises. You don’t have to worry about there not being enough TVs for all the games.

The menu’s large with choices of pizzas, burgers, salads and entrees. There’s Happy Hour from Monday through Friday 3 to 7 p.m. That’s a lot of happy hours. If the game’s not enough for you, there’s free video poker.

 

When in East Nashville, check out Beyond the Edge.

Beyond the Edge
112 South 11th Street
Nashville, TN 37206
615-226-3343

When you come to East Nashville, stop at a bar with an extreme sports motif called Beyond the Edge. It is a smoking establishment. There’s a choice of 25 beers on tap and 75 in bottles so even the most choosy ale fan will be satisfied. The TVs are large and plentiful. There’s a main room and a party room in the back with pool tables and dart boards. The menu is almost as long as the beer selection with a sandwich called the Dagwood.

The bar is a gathering place for Boston Red Sox and Chicago Bears fans. On November 4 when the Chicago Bears are in town, it’s going to be a mad house.

Nashville, Tennessee

Destination Nashville: Why Music City has Something for Everyone

Nashville, TennesseeBlogger and Nashvillian Brittany Cooper unpacks the local haunts that make Nashville, Tenn. a great vacation spot for people of all tastes — yes, even those who can’t stomach country music.

What do you think of when you hear the word “Nashville”? One, two, three … go. It’s almost humorous, right? Of course you think of country music, and who wouldn’t? Growing up in Indiana, I always envisioned Nashville as the land of honky-tonks and rhinestone cowboys, but after a few years in Music City, I’m a diehard fan of this place that has proven to be a large small town full of rich local culture, musical diversity and hospitable people.

Now when friends tell me they’re coming to Nashville for a visit, I point them toward the local restaurants, coffee shops and boutiques that make this city so unique. And I have to admit I cringe a little when I get the occasional phone call from a friend who’s already made his or her way to Broadway–the one strip in this town where honky-tonks and rhinestone cowboys still reign supreme. But even that touristy strip adds to Nashville’s charm.

If you’re thinking of making the jaunt to Music City, here are some of the can’t-miss threads that make up the fabric of this remarkable place:

Please Your Palate:

Silly Goose Food

Enjoy delicious sandwiches, couscous and more at The Silly Goose. (Photo courtesy of The Silly Goose).

The Silly Goose: Fresh and delicious sandwiches, couscous, salads and more made right in the heart of East Nashville.

The Pharmacy Burger Parlor and Beer Garden: Artisan burgers and beer with sweet potato fries and milk shakes to die for. Enjoy your food inside or relax with the whole family in the beautiful beer garden out back.

Pancake Pantry: You’ll have to wait in line, but that’s all part of the experience at this Nashville mainstay. And, believe me, the pancakes are well worth it!

Loveless Cafe: For a more historic, down-home spot, Loveless Cafe offers a homecooked country meal fit for the heartiest appetite. Don’t miss out on the biscuits.

Marché Artisan Foods: You’ll feel like you’re stepping into the French countryside when you enjoy any one of Marche’s innovative culinary creations. After your meal, buy fresh local bread, bacon, eggs, chocolates and more in the little market.

Satisfy that Sweet Tooth:

Dulce Desserts Cupcakes

Pop into Dulce Desserts for any number of scrumptious cupcake flavors. (Photo courtesy of Dulce Desserts).

Dulce Desserts: Even if you’re not ordering one of their custom cakes, you can stop by Dulce for succulent cupcakes, cookies and more.

Las Paletas Gourmet Popsicles: Fresh fruit popsicles made in flavors ranging from lime to hibiscus.

Sweet 16th: East Nashville’s local bakery that offers up some of the most incredible breakfast sandwiches and scones imaginable. Get there early for the best selection.

Jeni’s Splendid Ice Creams: Though technically a chain, Jeni’s is ice cream on an entirely new scale. Test any number of their gourmet flavors before landing on the perfect pick.

Fox’s Donut Den: With its iconic sign hanging out front of the Green Hills shop, Fox’s Donut Den is a Nashville mainstay with confections that have kept people coming back for decades.

Curb Your Caffeine Cravings:

Crema Coffee

For to-die-for espresso drinks and lovely latte art, try Crema, Nashville's coffee "brewtique." (Photo courtesy of Crema)

Crema: A coffee “brewtique,” Crema roasts and brews an incredible cup of coffee. Try one of their perfectly crafted espresso drinks and you won’t ever want to return to a certain mega-chain coffee shop (which will remain unnamed) again.

Ugly Mugs: Essentially the family room of East Nashville, Ugly Mugs is the place to take the whole family for a latte or a cup of unforgettable tea. (Oh, and my friend recently stood in line behind Robert Plant here. Need I say more?)

Fido/Bongo Java: Both under the same ownership, Fido and Bongo Java offer great coffee as well as fresh, tasty food.

Frothy Monkey: A favorite of people from all parts of Nashville, Frothy Monkey is a great spot to get some work done, catch up with friends and enjoy the laid-back vibe while getting your caffeine fix. Their food is quite impressive as well.

Edgehill Cafe: Nestled in the heart of the quaint Edgehill Village, Edgehill Cafe makes you feel like you’re sipping coffee in West Elm. The decor and ambiance alone are worth the trip.

The Barista Parlor: If you have ever referred to yourself as a coffee snob, you will love the Barista Parlor. The purest of the pure, the Barista Parlor serves up espresso made by the cup in a variety of brewing methods. (And don’t worry, they’re friendly).

Don’t Miss the Music:

The Bluebird Cafe

Nashville's iconic Bluebird Cafe is the best place to hear Nashville's songwriters perform their hits.

The Bluebird Cafe: The place where songwriters perform and artists are discovered, The Bluebird offers an intimate, in-the-round live music setting you won’t find anywhere else.

Bridgestone Arena: For the biggest bills, Bridgestone Arena is Nashville’s largest concert venue where you can catch a show from any number of touring bands and performers.

Mercy Lounge/The Cannery Ballroom: These two venues, located at the same place, constantly bring in great talent and showcase some of Nashville’s best emerging acts while also serving as a tour stop for others.

3rd and Lindsley: This recently remodeled venue is a great place to catch a live show and enjoy a comfortable setting.

The Ryman Auditorium: One of the most historic sites in Nashville, The Ryman stage, which was constructed in 1901, has played host to the most prolific stars of the past century.

Top off your Trip:

Nashville Farmer's Market

Nashville Farmers' Market offers a wide variety of produce from local growers.

Nashville Farmers’ Market: Take an afternoon to walk through the vast selection of produce from local growers and grab lunch at any one of the many restaurants in the indoor food court.

Gaylord Opryland Hotel: If you get the chance to stay here on your trip, definitely take it. If not, it’s still worth a visit to walk through the seemingly endless expanse of lush gardens, rivers and restaurants within the walls of this massive hotel.

Centennial Park: On a nice day, walk Centennial Park downtown Nashville, where you can also take a peek at Nashville’s Parthenon. The structure is a full-scale representation of the original Parthenon in Athens, complete with a 42-foot statue of Athena.

Country Music Hall of Fame and Museum: If you enjoy country music, you can’t go wrong at the Hall of Fame, which also features a museum full of historic relics from country greats.

Grand Ole Opry: A fun night out for the entire family, the Grand Ole Opry will keep your attention with a steady rotation of talent and a down-home country feel. And you don’t have to be a fan of twangy country music to thoroughly enjoy the experience.

For even more visuals or to create a travel board for your trip to Nashville, check out our latest Pinterest board featuring Brittany’s picks!

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Stalking Nashville’s Best Food Trucks and Discovering Their Must-Have Eats

The Old Timer from Hoss' Loaded Burger is stuffed with cheese. Don't think old-fashioned, think heavenly.

Guest blogger and self-described food truck chaser Gwen McCoy tracks down the best fare on wheels in Nashville. Before you take a bite out of life, try her five must-haves.

If you haven’t jumped aboard the food truck phenomenon yet, it’s time to take your lunch adventures on the road. Nashville has seen an influx of mobile eateries, serving anything from gourmet burgers to Thai food.

I’ve become a bit of a food truck chaser, following them on Twitter and forcing my family to drive all over Nashville in search of one we haven’t tried yet.

Here are my top five and my must-have picks for each. With so many choices, it was hard to narrow it down, but these five are the ones I would stalk over and over again.

No. 5: The Latin Wagon (@TheLatinWagon)

Why do I like it? It’s super fresh! Sometimes you just want a taco without having to use your online dictionary to describe the ingredients. Just call me a Latin Lover!

Must-Have? The Cuban sandwich is one of their most popular and is fresh and tasty. The brisket tacos were no joke. If I could just get a beer truck to follow them around, the meal would be perfection!

No. 4: Smoke Et Al (@SmokeEtAl)

Why do I like it? Having grown up in the South, I would probably eat any type of varmint if smoked right and covered in BBQ sauce. But don’t worry, no mystery meat here. They take your traditional BBQ and put a nice, new spin on it. I love all types of BBQ and the smell of the hickory smoke coming out of the truck is intoxicating. It makes my mouth water just thinking about it. I will try to wipe the drool from my keyboard. And I repeat, baste it with BBQ and they will come.

Must-Have? The Hammy is a “slap yo momma” treat for your taste buds. (No mommas were harmed in the eating of this sandwich, mind you.) It is a burger made of all pork—country ham, bacon, smoked pork shoulder, ground pork—and then covered with what they call Bama white sauce. No matter your collegiate allegiance, this burger will have you screaming, “Roll Tide!” Another popular item on the menu is the Fiddler’s Biscuit. Well, you had me at biscuit. Because nothing says health nut like a Southern biscuit covered in shredded smoked chicken and Tennessee honey. Yes, please, and thank you.

From Strawberry Lemonade to Sweet Potato, you can make a meal out of The Cupcake Collection's sweets.

No. 3: The Cupcake Collection (@cupcaketweets)

Why do I like it? Sweet mother of Betty Crocker—this ain’t no Easy Bake Oven Cupcake! I hesitated to put this in my top five because it wasn’t a “main course” food truck. But who says you can’t have cupcakes for lunch? Life is short and I declare it should be an eat-dessert-first kind of day. And to quote my 7-year old, “DUHHHH! It’s cake.” That about sums it up right there.

Must-Have?  The Strawberry Lemonade is ridiculous—light, fresh and delicious. It is lemony without being too much. The frosting is so light and creamy. I think I just got lightheaded thinking about it—please pause while I collect myself. Whew. My favorite is the Sweet Potato cupcake because well, I DO love my veggies! And this counts, right? The cake is moist and the cream cheese frosting makes me want to do a happy dance. Sweet heaven in a cupcake.

No. 2: The Grilled Cheeserie (@GrlldCheeserie)

Why do I like it? You may think, “It’s a grilled cheese—how great can it be?” Well, stop right there, my friend, because this is no ordinary grilled cheese. No, it doesn’t come with its own superhero cape, but I would crown it the “King of Cheese” if I had the authority. It is the ultimate in comfort food.

Must-Have? Any melt of the moment features the best seasonal ingredients and is usually a best seller. Try the specialty B&B—made of buttermilk cheddar, Benton’s bacon, apricot and orange marmalade on multigrain bread. The Pizza melt is also amazing and includes pizza toppings (as if the name didn’t give it away) that are always a favorite.

No. 1: Hoss’ Loaded Burgers (@hossburgers)

Why do I like it? I feel like there should have been some sort of a drum roll before the big announcement. Actually, a drum roll should be sounded every time these guys serve up one of their outstanding burgers. Juicy, fresh and filled with cheese—three signs of a happy marriage…I mean, burger. With beef and veggie options, there is a burger for anyone and any taste.

Must-Have? The Old Timer is your basic burger—only STUFFED with cheddar. Biting into the burger and then watching the warm, gooey cheese seep out of the burger—I think that is what Heaven looks like. If they have the Big Kahuna on the menu, go for it. It’s stuffed with Swiss cheese, covered with teriyaki sauce and topped with a grilled pineapple. Yes, yes, and YES!

The bottom line? Venture out and try a food truck. This is my kind of fast food!