The Sounds of the Night

10 Oct

The whistling of the wind.

The rustling of the leaves.

The lowing of the cattle.

The chirping of the crickets.

The roaring of cars on the distant highway.

The patter of Daisy’s paws.

The thumping of the music from inside the house.

The clicking of the keyboard.

Those are the sounds of the night on our back porch.

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The Definitive List of the Best Appetizers in Nashville According to Me

17 Sep

Today, we dined at one of our favorite brunch places in Nashville, and I posted about it on Facebook. Yes, I broke down and joined the Facebook universe after fighting it for years. This means that I now have a Facebook account; three Twitter accounts; and this blog. Hopefully, all of that will not lead to a social media meltdown.

Anyway, the discussion that ensued brought to mind a potential blog post. What, in my humble opinion, are the best appetizers in Nashville, a place that has become known as a foodie locale?

For those who may not know, I once wrote a post about the oddity of appetizers. Since this is my second post about appetizers, then that must qualify me as an appetizer expert. With that in mind, here is my list of the top five appetizers in Nashville.

5. The Charcuterie Platter at Urban Grub – On the surface, charcuterie platters seem simple. There is a little cheese. There is a little meat. There are a few crackers. However, not a charcuterie platters are made equal. Urban Grub brings out a slab of wood topped with a variety of house cured meats and distinctive cheeses. The Creole mustard is what really sets it off. Unfortunately, the Creole mustard ended up on the floor during my first platter experience. That is another story for another time.

4. My Way at The Southern – This is more than an appetizer. It is an explosion of flavor. It is like someone put a dance club on your plate. It is an appetizer. It is a meal. Heck, it can also be dessert. I will just let the menu describe it. My Way is brown butter linguine topped with pine nuts, goat cheese, bacon lardons and two fried Willow Farm eggs.

3. Roasted Garlic Tallow Candle with Monkey Bread at Fort Louise – We were looking for a new dining experience, and I stumbled upon Fort Louise while browsing the Internet. On the night of our dining experience, we were not sure about it. We pulled up to an old house and wondered if it was the right place. There was no sign, and the restaurant next door was packed. When we walked in, there we a few other diners who would fit the mold of millennials. Of course, Nashville is filled with millennials. They live cool lifestyles and eat cool food, but none of us can figure out how they afford it. I say that to say that we were the oldest people there. However, youthful vigor returned when we were served our appetizer. The tallow is burning, and the monkey bread is meant to be dipped into the melting candle. Fat has never tasted so good.

2. Cheese Fritters at Amerigo – My absolute favorite food is burnt cheese. You know when you make homemade nachos and part of the cheese is crusted on the pan. That is the cheese that I like. Now, take that cheese; cook it in an orb shape; and place it on a plate of honey mustard and marinara. I am speechless just thinking about it. Wait, I should say that I am typeless just thinking about it. This is the appetizer that inspired my previous post about appetizers.

1. Deviled Eggs and Millionaire’s Bacon at Brick Top’s – Today, we had brunch at Brick Top’s, and we never go there without getting this appetizer. A lot of restaurants in these parts have deviled eggs appetizers, but none of them compare to these. In fact, Brick Top’s may have started the deviled egg trend. These eggs are awesome, but the hot sauce makes them more awesome. That spice also blends well with the bacon that is smothered in a sticky syrup. We always wonder how they make the sweet bacon. In the old days, we knew one of the managers, and he would always slip us some extra eggs and bacon. Now, we just get the regular order, but there is nothing regular about these eggs and bacon.

There you have it. My list of the best appetizers in Nashville. If you have dined in the Music City, then what is on your list?

Movie Wisdom – Burt Reynolds Edition

6 Sep

A few years ago, I wrote a post inspired by the movies of Burt Reynolds. Upon his passing, I decided to reblog it.

SBI: A Thinning Crowd

A couple of blogging ideas popped into my mind over the weekend, and I decided to smash them together to form a semi-regular series of posts.

First, I went on a quick trip to Chattanooga, which isn’t too far away, and crossed Monteagle Mountain along the way. Those not from Tennessee may not know about Monteagle, but it is one of the great spots in our state. It is also where the Bandit gained his notoriety. Don’t know what Bandit I am talking about? Well, there is only one Bandit, and that is the one played by Burt Reynolds in Smokey and the Bandit. According to the opening song, the Bandit became famous when he safely steered his jack-knifed truck down Monteagle.

As I crossed the mountain, I started thinking about a blog of my favorite Burt Reynolds movies.

Then, I published a post that included a profound line from one of my favorite movies…

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A Relaxing Night in the Way Too Busy City of Nashville

27 Aug

Last night, we had dinner with friends at Silo, a restaurant in the Germantown neighborhood of Nashville. On the way, we hit little traffic and, once we arrived, found a parking spot within a few yards. You may ask why I mention that and here is the answer.

A few blocks from the restaurant, the Nashville Soccer Club was playing in the recently built minor league baseball stadium.

Just past their stadium, Taylor Swift was performing in front of over 60,000 screaming fans at Nissan Stadium.

From there, a short walk across the pedestrian bridge would have taken you to Ascend Amphitheater where Needtobreathe was putting on a show.

Down the street from the amphitheater, Journey and Def Leppard packed Bridgestone Arena with fans reminiscing about the 1980s.

Across the street from Bridgestone Arena, over 4,000 people were competing in the Pokemon Finals at the Music City Center.

Up the hill from there, another sold out show was being held at the historic Ryman Auditorium.

On top of all that, Garth Brooks appeared on two shows of the Grand Ole Opry.

In short, there was a lot going on in Nashville. In fact, it is estimated that over 130,000 fans were in the city for some kind of event.

However, we had a nice dinner without any hustle and bustle. The only issue was everyone in the back of the car trying to get this picture right before posting it on social media.

While others were rocking the night away, older eyes were trying to determine how they looked in a picture as I rolled down the interstate.

By the way, dinner was awesome. If you make it to Nashville, then you should definitely go to Silo.

Movie Wisdom – Bruce Cabot Edition

15 Aug

A few weeks ago, I received an email from my brother that contained an interesting link – the Wikipedia page for Bruce Cabot. For those who do not know, Cabot was an actor who became a favorite costar of John Wayne. Being raised on John Wayne westerns, we know Cabot’s work well. However, this link had information that we did not know.

Cabot’s father was Major Etienne de Pelissier Bujac, Sr. Of course, that means Bruce Cabot was Etienne de Pelissier Bujac, Jr. before taking on a three syllable stage name. Wait, I got off track.

Cabot’s father was a prominent attorney in Carlsbad, New Mexico. You may be wondering where he received his law degree. That would be from Cumberland University in Lebanon, Tennessee – the place from where my brother and I have degrees and the place where I teach.

The western movie nerd that I am thinks that connection to Bruce Cabot and John Wayne is awesome. To celebrate, here are some words of wisdom from a few of Cabot’s movies.

From King Kong

The public must have a pretty face.

From Angel and the Badman

Funny thing about pancakes: I lose my appetite for ’em after the first couple a dozen.

The Lord moves in mysterious manner at times, using strange methods and odd instruments.

Each human being has an integrity that can be hurt only by the act of that same human being and not by the act of another human being.

The practice of medicine is one of the most infuriating professions known to man. It takes thirty years of experience to teach you that – in the final analysis – there’s nothing to do but stand and watch.

From The Comancheros

Words are what men live by.

Never go to bed without makin’ a profit.

Do not be too conceited.

From Hatari!

The first sign of spring in the bush and the young bucks start butting heads.

From McClintock!

All the gold in the United States Treasury and all the harp music in heaven can’t equal what happens between a man and a woman with all that growin’ together.

There’s no such thing as free land.

You have to be a man first before you’re a gentleman.

From In Harm’s Way

All battles are fought by scared men who’d rather be someplace else.

On the most exalted throne in the world, we are seated on nothing but our own arse.

Fish, or cut bait.

Indecision is a virus.

From The War Wagon

The world needs more simple understanding to bring people together.

From The Green Berets

That’s newspapers for you. You could fill volumes with what you don’t read in them.

From Chisum

No matter where people go, sooner or later there’s the law. And sooner or later they find God’s already been there.

From Big Jake

You shouldn’t butt into things that aren’t your business.

You know what the problem with money is? Somebody’s always trying to take it from you.

From Diamonds Are Forever

One is never too old to learn from a master.

 

My iPod Has Issues – Bunco Night

29 Jul

My wife is off playing Bunco, so I have my iPod cranked up throughout the house. With music blasting, it occurred to me that it may be a good time to share the warped mind of my iPod. You can never tell what sounds might come out of it.

“Boogie Woogie Country Girl” by Big Joe Turner

“The Monument Valley” by Drive-By Truckers

“Torquay” by The Leftovers

“If Loving You Is Wrong (I Don’t Want to Be Right)” by Issac Hayes

“Eclipse” by Pink Floyd

“Jungle Bill” by Yello

“Night Fever” by Bee Gees

“(Your Love Keeps Lifting Me) Higher and Higher” by Jackie Wilson

“Sweet Emotion” by Aerosmith

“The Final Countdown” by Europe

“The Locomotion” by Little Eva

“Folsom Prison Blues” by Johnny Cash

“It Happened in Monterrey” by Frank Sinatra

“She Never Knew Me” by Don Williams

“When a Man Loves a Woman” by Percy Sledge

“Home from the Hill” by The Kingston Trio

“Try and Love Again” by The Eagles

“Sweet Lady Luck” by Whitesnake

“Radio Free Europe” by R.E.M.

“All the Young Dudes” by Mott the Hoople

Our Big Northwest Adventure

22 Jul

We just returned from a trip to Washington and Oregon that I affectionately call the Big Northwest Adventure. It was an awesome excursion that took us to some places that I had never been and to a lot of places that my wife had never been. Each day was filled with adventures that could expand into several long blog posts. Instead of doing that, I decided to provide a brief description of the days along with my favorite picture from each.

Day 1 – Mount Rainier

Although the hotel bartender told us not to go because of the traffic, we had to see Mount Rainier. We had to wait a bit at the entrance, the traffic was not that bad. We made our way to Longmire, where we hiked a trail to nowhere. We saw some poop along the path that my wife Necole worried belonged to a bear. Unbeknownst to me, she was planning our escape from the bear for the rest of the hike.

After that hike, we walked across a river of snowmelt that led to my favorite picture from that day.

On the way back from Mount Rainier, we stopped at Chipotle. That meal made us feel like the fictional bear must have felt on the side of the trail.

Day 2 – Seattle

On vacation, I would rather see small towns that big cities. However, we were staying in downtown Seattle, a city that we had never visited. That meant that we needed to spend some time there. We checked out the University of Washington because my stepdaughter has shown interest in going to school there.

We also went to Pike Place Market, a famous landmark where people can buy fruits, vegetables, fresh fish, cheeses, flowers and trinkets. I took a photograph on one colorful stand.

We had a great meal but missed out on getting coffee at the original Starbucks because the line was a little long.

Oh yeah, we also had dinner at Aqua, a place the concierge recommended. When we saw one entrée for $142, we lost our appetite.

Day 3 – Olympic National Park

We got up early to begin the road trip portion of the adventure and immediately grew concerned. GPS was taking us to the ferry, which is not what I had planned. It was not what Necole had planned, either. She was not sure about getting on a three-hour boat ride. After all, we had seen Gilligan’s Island. We reconfigured the GPS and made it on dry land.

After some hits and misses on my part, we finally made it to Hurricane Ridge outside the town of Port Angeles, Washington. The ridge has the best hike in the park. On a clear day, you can see forever. Yes, I stole that line. Anyway, it was not clear on the day we hike, which may have been a good thing.

Remember when I wrote that my wife worried about seeing a bear after we saw poop on the trail? Well, we saw a huge bear along this hike. It was playing around in a foggy meadow. If the sky had been clear, then we could have seen its true size. At that point, we may have frozen in place rather than casually sauntering back the way we came. I did not get a picture of the bear, but I got a picture of this.

We spent that night at Lake Crescent Lodge in another part of the park. I think we could have spent a few days in that peace and tranquility.

Day 4 – Olympic National Park

This day was a continuation of our visit to the park. Yeah, it is that big. We hiked to a waterfall. We had lunch in Forks, Washington. Necole said that this town was the setting of the Twilight series. I have never read those books or seen those movies, but I know that is cool.

After lunch, we headed to the beach. Do not let Necole tell you that I never want to go to the beach. I have always wanted to go to this beach, and it was my highlight of the trip. Ruby Beach was everything that I expected.

It was certainly better than the meal we had that night. We stopped at an interstate hotel and asked for a good place to eat. The restaurant they recommended certainly did not have a $142 entrée.

Day 5 – Mount St. Helens

From childhood, I can remember the coverage of Mount St. Helens. The weeks of rumblings. Harry Truman, who would not leave his home. The eruption. The aftermath. It is something that I will never forget. It is also a place that I wanted Necole to see.

Several years ago, I visited Mount St. Helens with my dad, my brother and my nephews, and it was stunning to see what was left of a mountain that was once covered with snow and dense forest. It is truly a place where the destructive force of nature can be visualized.

From there, we drove through Portland and made our way to Oregon Wine Country in the Willamette Valley. We also made it to The Allison Inn, our lodging for the next couple of nights. It was amazing.

Day 6 – Vineyards

We hired a driver to take us to a few wineries. The first, Archery Summit, was recommended by a friend. The second winery is where I took my favorite picture of the entire trip.

The third was Utopia, a small family owned operation. We had a great conversation with the owner and his daughter, who is a History major. They told us about how they got into this business at that location. We also talked about music. It was good to see that the growing of grapes is not just done my wealthy investment bankers and corporations.

Necole chose The Painted Lady, a famous local restaurant, for dinner. I can only describe it by saying that it is similar to The Catbird Seat in Nashville. Unfortunately, my wife is not a fan of The Catbird Seat. It is a long and winding story that I will not get into. Just know that she likes to bring up the night that I took her there when we were dating. That will probably stop because I can now bring up the night that she took me to The Painted Lady. If you want to know about The Catbird Seat experience, then you can click here.

Day 7 – More Vineyards

We visited more vineyards, but I did not take good photographs. I should have because they were beautiful settings. However, this was the day that our adventure started to wind down. After a few stops, we drove back to Seattle for a night near the airport. You know things are becoming more normal when you have dinner at Jack in the Box. The next day would be a flight home

The Big Northwest Adventure was great, but the real world was waiting. Here is the thing. The real world is pretty great, too.