Upon arriving back home to the States from Albania, I imagined life slowing down and me laying low for a while. Don’t get me wrong, life was already pretty slow in Albania, except for the part where living my life was pretty much a job and socializing was strenuous work, especially near the end, when I knew I’d be saying goodbye pretty soon. But so far, laying low hasn’t seemed to be the case for me. Not only have I started a new job here in the States, but I have taken on some new adventures. I’m convinced that the travel bug will never leave my blood, even if it’s just taking a trip to the next city over to try a new restaurant. The travel bug will remain. Hence, my taking on Nashville, Tennessee last weekend. Actually this trip has been highly anticipated for a little under a year. It was my best friend Priscilla’s birthday gift last year. Let’s say us finally getting there was her opening it. We were so fortunate to be in Nashville in order to attend something called the K-Love Fan Awards. We found the event itself to be one of the best parts of our experience. Second to that was probably the food so here are the five foodie finds of Nashville:
1. Biscuits, and bo-nuts, and hot chicken, oh my
So, it may be common knowledge to some that Nashville is definitely known for it’s fried chicken. And not just any fried chicken, but it’s hot [fried] chicken, aka hot chicken. After college and falling in love with the south all over again, I was certain that after I finished the Peace Corps, I was moving to Tennessee for grad school, no if, ands, or buts about it. During that phase, I followed a bunch of eateries in the Nashville/Knoxville area on Instagram. One of those eateries was called Biscuit Love located in Nashville. They obviously specialize in southern biscuits; the fluffy, doughy kind. They are also known for their bo-nuts which we also got to try. Unfortunately they won’t be pictured, but it is just what it sounds like: a biscuit/donut hybrid. Rounded and fried biscuit dough nuggets, topped with lemony cream and served alongside a blackberry jam. They sort of just melted in our mouths and were a great precursor/follow-up to our meal. Our meal was called “The Princess”. It was hot chicken on a fresh biscuit topped with spicy brown mustard, honey, and pickles. The spicy and sweet combination was divine. And the mustard added a nice double-kick of spice to the mix. This was the first thing we ate in Nashville, and it was when we first realized that we would be back. We don’t know when, or how, but we wanted more of that biscuit love..hehe.
2. Cook Out
Oh, Cook Out. Cook Out is, what I’ve learned to be, a privately owned restaurant chain that was founded in North Carolina. The fact that it is privately owned is probably why it is so good. You can tell that there is extra care placed into making those delicious burgers. It is a care that you will not find in too many other chains around the United States. When I saw the billboards floating around advertising this amazing place, I knew we had to try it. I had heard so many great things from North Carolina natives and non North Carolina natives alike. But despite that, I still couldn’t have prepared for the reality that would hit my mouth that night. We attended the kick-off concert apart of the K-Love Fan Awards weekend and after 3 hours or so of dancing and belting out lyrics at the top of our lungs, we decided that it was time to find our second Nashville food stop. Thankfully, there was a Cook Out not too far from where we were staying. We decided to give it a shot. So we both ordered one of their specialty burgers with cheese, bacon, and grilled onions. I ordered fries and we both ordered milkshakes. I went for the Hershey’s chocolate flavor, while Priscilla tried strawberry cheesecake. If I remember correctly, they had about 40 different flavors. The milkshake was the first thing I tried and it was so thick and the chocolate flavor was so authentic I could not contain myself. When we got back to our Airbnb, we tried the burgers which were cooked perfectly. Priscilla didn’t get the onions on hers, but I did and I must say they were not super grilled. They were closer to raw and though that made me cringe at first, by the end I was all about it. That is how good the burger was. Nothing could ruin it. This is not endorsed by Cook Out or anything by the way.
It was our second day in Nashville and we attended a couple of concerts in the afternoon. We were not super starving but wanted something to snack on. So we opted for ice cream. I googled the words “best ice cream in Nashville” of course and the one with the best reviews was Jeni’s Spendid Ice Creams. And thus our ice cream hunt began. But not before we discovered that in the same shopping center that where Jeni’s was located was also a bakery called Five Daughter’s Bakery
This is also one of those establishments I had followed on Instagram previously. I knew that they were famous for their “100 layer” donuts, or cronuts (remember the cronut craze?). Cronuts are a croissant/donut hybrid and have many layers, as you can see below:
It was actually the first official cronut that I’d tasted and P and I both agreed that is was super duper rich. We were only able to down a few bites at the bakery and opted to finish them later on. We both ordered the “King Kong” which was basically a maple bacon flavor. There were only two left that day so I figured they were the most popular flavor (at least for that day). The bacon was actually the best part for me. The donut itself was so sweet and full of cream, it was really hard to enjoy it all in one setting, but overall I am glad we got to try it.
4. You scream, I scream
Ice cream. We love ice cream and it is a no-brainer that ice cream was among the many things we tried while in Nashville. As stated above, we opted for a place called Jeni’s. It was actually right next to Five Daughters and upon walking in we could smell fresh waffle cones being made. That is when I knew we chose the right place. There were also many flavors to choose from. Priscilla got a flavor called Savannah Buttermint which was a minty flavor with white chocolate shavings throughout. It tastes like those little white mints that are soft and just melt in your mouth. I went with my all time favorite: cookies and creme, which they called cookies in creme. It also had the white chocolate throughout.
Among the flavors we chose, they also served wildberry lavender, churro, and espresso/chocolate combo flavors.
5. Asian Hot Pot
This is probably the meal I am most excited to write about. We were on our second to last night of our weekend in Nashville. I had been choosing most of the restaurants and so I begged Priscilla to choose what we would eat for dinner before checking out the Nashville nightlife. I was very pleased when she said she was up for some asian cuisine. Once again, we relied on handy, dandy google and found a place downtown. It was a Thai place called the Smiling Elephant. Unfortunately, by the time we finished at one of the K-Love events, it was closed and we had to find a place that was still open. Down the list of fairly reviewed places on google was a placed called Sichuan Hot Pot & Asian Cuisine. It sounded like a cool place and it was one of the only ones open at that time so we decided to go for it. And now I can say that there are no regrets. It was a new experience for me! Hot pot is an East Asian variety of food where a metal pot of stock is placed in the center of the table and different raw meats, seafood, vegetables, and noodles are served alongside to prepare in the stock.
It was definitely something I had a lot to learn about beforehand but it is a food experience that will forever be ingrained in my mind. It was actually one of the best and I look forward to more like that!
…And because man shall not live on bread alone, here is a little more about the event we attended called the K-Love Fan Awards. The theme was “ignite hope”. K-Love is a radio station out of the United States that plays encouraging, inspiring, and positive Christian music with a powerful message.
One of my favorite parts of the evening was when two U.S. veterans were given houses and purple hearts. Memorial day was the day after, so I can think of no better way to ignite hope than to honor men who have fought for the country I live in and the women and families who have stood behind them while doing so. K-Love partnered with the Military Warriors Support Foundation. I’m sure I had tears in my eyes most of the night because it was a night where I was reminded of how much I was loved by an amazing savior and how I’ve been set free. As if that isn’t enough, I get to enjoy the things above and write about them. If that isn’t grace I don’t know what it. Definitely something to ponder. Once again, thanks for viewing life through my eyes and until next time…