“Of emotions, of love, of breakup, of love and hate and death and dying, mama, apple pie, and the whole thing. It covers a lot of territory, country music does.” -Johnny Cash
Holly and I took a quick trip down to Nashville, TN to attend the wedding of our dear friend, and Holly’s former roommate, Sara, and her fiancé JP.
We hadn’t seen Sara in a few years, as she moved to Nashville shortly after we got married (March of 2011), and then down to Dallas, TX. I had met JP only once (I believe), but when we first got to chatting, it was like we were old friends.
Reflecting back on our short time there, it seems the city of Nashville is like that, as well. Everyone we met, from our AirB&B hosts, to boot store salespeople (you bet Holly got a pair of boots!), to Sara and JP’s friends, and even friends we haven’t seen in several years, welcomed us with open arms.
We arrived on Saturday afternoon, and took a Lyft ($5 off coupon, babaaaaaay!) to our AirB&B in East Nashville. We met Kat, one of the owners of the house, who was lovely, and got us acquainted with the space. As we unpacked, and realized that our idea of Lyfting around town all weekend was going to be way more expensive than we realized (it was $20 to get from the airport to the B&B, even with the coupon), we looked into renting a car, and found a deal for a compact car for $35. So, we Lyfted right back to the airport, and still spent less money than we would have if we relied on Uber and Lyft. I don’t regret our rides to and fro the airport, though, as our drivers were very knowledgeable and friendly, offering advice on where to go and specifically, where to eat. We did NOT starve.
First thing we did once we got our car (which, by the way, they upgraded to a pretty SWEET SUV. Holly kept referring to it as her “Truck”, which is super cute), was head over to Centennial Park, in Downtown Nashville, to meet up with Sara and catch some free music. We found a parking spot, got out of the Truck (That’s what I’m gonna call it from now on, too) and were taken aback by this massive stone building in the middle of the park.
I texted my coworker, David (who grew up in Nashville and had sent me a number of recommendations of things to do there). He said “The Parthenon! I love that place!” Living in Queens, we have a lot of old buildings/structures that have been abandoned since the World’s Fair, so I thought this was similar.
We walked up the large steps in the front of the building, and the large brass doors were locked, so we shrugged, and continued our walk around the park. It was beautiful from the outside, and Sara and Jenna (one of Holly’s classmates from AMDA, the American Musical and Dramatic Academy here in NYC) were meeting us shortly, so we decided to move on.
A smart man once said, “Good things are often stumbled upon, when in search of the nearest restroom…” And I am that smart man.
There were restrooms underneath The Parthenon, and nature was calling, so we both stepped inside, only to find that the restrooms were at the entrance to the MUSEUM(!!!)! We love museums! We answered nature’s call, paid our admission fee, and stepped into the museum. As it turns out, The Parthenon in Nashville is a full-scale replica of The Parthenon in Athens, and was built in 1897 as part of the Tennessee Centennial Exposition. Inside are paintings from 19th and 20th Century Artists, as well as photographs from the Exposition, the building of The Parthenon, etc. This is why Nashville is called “The Athens of The South”, but you probably already knew that.
Oh yeah, also inside the museum? AN UNBELIEVABLY HUGE REPLICA OF THE STATUE OF ATHENA HOLDING A TINY STATUE OF NIKE (god of Victory, also, I’m legally obliged to write “Just Do It” each time I write the word Nike “Just Do It”) AND HOLDING A GIANT SHIELD WITH A WACKY FACE ON IT AND ALSO A GIANT SERPENT. It’s WILD. And I’m sorry for all the caps. But just look at this thing.
It was WILD.
After our walk through the park and the museum, we had built up a powerful thirst. And, this is a Beer Blog, lest ye forget (and by “lest ye forget” I mean “I should probably write about beer…”), so the only provision that could quench our thirst was a fine local ale! David had told me about Yazoo Brewery, located right in Downtown Nashville. They had a booth set up outside the free concert, so we grabbed two of their Hop Perfect IPAs, and sat down at a picnic table just off the side of the stage. A band called The Mowglis was playing (I think I had heard one or two of their songs), and we weren’t terribly interested in them, but wanted to just relax and enjoy the warm weather and cool beers.
We ended up meeting and chatting with a local retired couple who usually walk to Centennial Park for the music, beer and wine, and the food trucks. They were so excited to talk about their city, and find out where we were from and what we were doing. We chatted with them for about 15 minutes before Sara and Jenna joined us. We decided to drive over to The Pharmacy, a burger and craft beer bar in East Nashville (just a mile or 2 from our AirB&B). As we waited for our table, I enjoyed an Against The Grain 35k Milk Stout. At 7%, this is a higher ABV milk stout (they usually hit between 4 and 5%), and I got notes of chocolate and coffee, with a sweetness from the milk.
Against the Grain is from Louisville, KY, but are distributed in New York, and I’d had their fantastic Citra Ass Down (amazing name) IPA. These guys are making great beer and don’t take themselves seriously. Check them out!
We met JP’s sister Emily and her daughter (and flower girl) Kayleigh, and sat down for dinner. This is what I ate.
This was a beef stroganoff burger with tots. It was out of control. David had warned me that he didn’t like the bun, as it is doughy, and it didn’t bother me much, but it was quite soggy from all the juice and the sour cream. Real messy, but real good. The tots were ok, I’m totally spoiled with the amazing Tetris Tots at Barcade in Chelsea, NYC, so these don’t compare. The beer! Founders Brewing Company Rubaeus, a tart, sweet, low ABV raspberry ale, which was a lovely complement to the heavy, creamy, meatburger. We definitely didn’t starve.
We headed over to 3 Crow Bar, one of the 3 bars in Nashville that still allow smoking indoors. I had a Coffee IPA from New Heights Brewing Company, which was tasty (like an espresso with lemon peel twist), but it was really hard to enjoy in a cloud of cigarette smoke. On a side note, the bouncer looked like a young Marc Maron, so it had that going for it!
After an amazing night’s sleep on the soft AirB&B bed, Holly and I decided on Breakfast at Barista Parlor! This is a small coffee chain around Nashville that David touted as having one of the best biscuit sandwiches in Nashville, also amazing coffee! I had El Eden, which had flavors of dried pineapple and plums. It was fantastic. The biscuit sandwiches were absolutely unreal (we didn’t starve), and Holly said it was the best biscuit sandwich she’s ever eaten.
After breakfast, it was off to Broadway, which, as my Mom described it, consists of bar, bar, boot store. Bar, bar, boot store. She wasn’t kidding.
It was time to get Holly some boots! As some of you know, Holly Kay used to be a DJ on a Country Music Radio Station on Long Island. She was laid off, as they told her the station was moving in a different direction. (They now have all male DJs.). Holly was 100% the best thing about that radio station. She had a huge following of listeners who would come to her live events just to spend time with her. (You should see her line dance!). Anyway, Holly had a few pairs of boots, and threw them away out of spite (which she regrets now, and I regret not stopping her), but if there’s any place to get boots, it’s gotta be in Nashville! (See above picture of those cute boots!)
We stopped at a bar (because bar, bar, boot store!) called Rippy’s for some live country music, and a beer, before heading back to get ready for the wedding.
I drank a Falls City Beer Hipster Repellant IPA, outta Louisville, KY. Another easy drinking, malt forward IPA. I’m spoiled with the hop forward IPAs from New York and New England, but it says something about your beer if you can make a nicely balanced IPA, because not everyone loves being punched in the face with every sip.
Holly had a Yazoo Brewing Hefeweizen, which was outrageously refreshing, with flavors of citrus, banana, and clove, and went down “smooth as Tennessee Whiskey”, which, coincidentally, was being sung as she drank it.
We headed back to the AirB&B, got ready, and headed to Sara and JP’s wedding, at the Buchanan Log House, a gorgeous, outdoor location just a few miles from the airport. It was an absolutely gorgeous, intimate, celebration of their love for one another. We had a great time seeing Raj again (after about 7 years), and meeting Glenna, Tripp and Amy, and Alan and Jolinda. It was a small wedding, so to be able to meet and share stories about Sara and JP, how everybody knew each other, made the evening even more special.
And the icing on the cake? JP’s Groomsman Nate works for Fanatic Brewing Company, in Knoxville, TN. He provided the beer for the reception! The first I tried was the Tennessee Blonde.
Definitely a warm weather brew, 5% ABV, light, with grassy and citrus hops with a sugary sweet malt backbone. You got a lawn to mow? Peep this ish.
I also got to try the Fanatic Pale Ale. This was a classic pale, malt forward with some orange citrus from the hops, another crushable, outdoor drinking brew, that paired perfectly with the food, provided by Edley’s BBQ, and the dance floor grooves from Sara and JP’s wedding playlist (Which ranged from Queen Bey to Luke Bryan).
If you ever find yourself in Knoxville (and we certainly will now that Sara and JP are moving there!), stop by Fanatic Brewing Company!
We stayed until the bitter end of the wedding, chatting with our new friends and helping with clean-up, and we decided to join Raj and Glenna at The Basement East, a music venue in East Nashville (read: Brooklyn) where Raj’s friend Emma was hanging out after performing. We walked into the venue to the sweet, sweet sounds of a drone metal band, so we ordered our beer and headed outside. Both Raj and I had let our bow ties down (as one does not have a full range of dance moves if one’s bow tie is still tied), and Holly and Glenna wanted to wear them, so Emma snapped this amazing shot…
I enjoyed a Mayday Brewery Old Salem, a kettle sour. 5.4% ABV, made with rye, which gave it a sweet, spicy flavor in addition to the tart sour. Hopped with Falconer’s Flight. Funky as hell, and I loved it!
We had all decided on Brunch the next morning at AMOT – A Matter of Taste, a completely gluten free spot that had KILLER food, and a great, local beer list, and also, our new friend Tripp works there! I had chicken with cornbread waffles, and a jalapeño maple syrup (you heard that right).
We didn’t starve.
I paired this amazing brunch with Southern Prohibition Brewing Co. Soul Glo Saison, fresh on draft from their brewery in Hattiesburg, MS. This is a delicious, 8.4%ABV (well masked), saison, with notes of fresh squeezed lemon and orange juice, banana, and spices. Great substitute for a Mimosa! (Although, they did have 3 dollar Mimosas… You should go there.)
From there, we walked around some shops with Sara and JP, and Raj and Glenna, and headed back to the airport.
I would love to come back to this city and explore some more, and I used that Johnny Cash quote in the beginning of this post, because, like Country music, I felt that Nashville also covers a lot of territory, and we only just scratched the surface. This city had such personality, and the folks we met (or reconnected with) treated us with such love and hospitality, I won’t think twice before going back. Thanks so much to Sara and JP for allowing us the opportunity to share in your love, we truly appreciated it.
Until next time!