Friday morning, my friend Becky and I left Chicago and headed south on a road trip bound for Nashville, where we would stay just two nights before turning back around to come home — which yes, is kind of crazy but also, it turns out, so worth it.
We started the trip by driving through fog like this:
And passed through several states:
And ate at Chick-Fil-A:
(And saw our lives flash before our eyes when we witnessed a car accident from start to finish, which meant calling 911 in the middle of Indiana for a group of INSANE drivers, I still start shaking when I think about it, and did I mention my friend Becky DID ALL THE DRIVING? I so owe her.)
Then sometime Friday night, we arrived in Nashville:
Checked into our hotel:
Among us, we had the omelette du jour, the curried acorn squash tart with caramelized onions and oven-dried tomatoes and the creamy risotto, which featured Pancetta.
Saturday, we tried to go to Loveless (1.5-hour wait?) and instead headed straight to Franklin, which feels kind of a like a Tennessee version of Geneva, and ate at the Franklin Mercantile Deli (100 4th Avenue North, Downtown Franklin, TN).
It was a little drizzly (although at least 15 degrees warmer than Chicago, so who’s complaining?), and hot, creamy tomato-basil soup with sandwiches (my chicken salad and Becky’s turkey) on multigrain bread were so perfect, especially surrounded by the vintage, unmatched tables and chairs and walls covered with paintings made by local artists.
Back in Nashville, we met up with Tim of Eat Today to Live Tomorrow (you may remember my mentioning that blog here) and his brother, Nathan, over at Las Paletas, which makes the gourmet popsicles featured in this New York Times article, made from fresh ingredients (I got pistachio. Good choice). They took us around the city and up to a bridge where we could take pictures:
Then it was a stop at Fido (1812 21st Ave. S., Nashville, TN) before Becky and I headed to dinner at Margot (1017 Woodland Street, Nashville, TN), a more established sister of Marche where the menu changes daily and features ingredients from many local farms. Even though there were no openings for the night, reservations-wise, we still got seated within 10 minutes (yay, last-minute cancellations!), and enjoyed the French and Italian country fare this restaurant offers, sharing the artisan cheese tray and ordering a whole black bass and a broccolini pizza.
That night, we fit in a country concert at the beautiful and historic Ryman Auditorium, which featured Dierks Bentley, Carrie Underwood, Vince Gill and a bunch of other people, seated right on the main level, close enough for Becky to walk up to the front and take pictures, and our tickets were like $45 each.
After all that, we were both a little disappointed to leave the next morning, but a quick photo-taking stop at Dino World in Kentucky helped a little:
And then, sometime Sunday night, we returned to fog:
And then we were home again.
(Special thanks to Tim and Nathan for the great dining recommendations and tour of the city. If everyone in Nashville is as nice as them, we are moving, I’m serious.)
About Shanna Mallon
Shanna Mallon is a freelance writer who holds an MA in writing from DePaul University. Her work has been featured in a variety of media outlets, including The Kitchn, Better Homes & Gardens, Taste of Home, Houzz.com, Foodista, Entrepreneur, and Ragan PR. In 2014, she co-authored The Einkorn Cookbook with her husband, Tim. Today, you can find her digging into food topics and celebrating the everyday grace of eating on her blog, Go Eat Your Bread with Joy. Shanna lives in Nashville, Tennessee, with Tim and their two small kids.