What’s up guys? Hope you had an awesome weekend! I spent mine over in Nashville for the much-anticipated Food Blog Forum! My brain hurts from the vast amount of information learned in zzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzzz…..
Whaaat? Where am I?!
Ohhhh… My bad. Suffering from a bit of sleep deprivation over here!! Anyway…. This weekend I made the voyage to Nashville with Vanessa of Life Undeveloped, Brooke of Baking with Basil, and Jamie of Bibliophiled Away. I left Nashville a mere two days later with a few new friends, 17 pages of notes, 33 items on my want-to-do list, and crap ton of free swag!
Look at all this stuff!
Free stuff = happy foodies!
Our first night in town we headed over to a Taste of Nashville party at the farmers market where we were given the task of sampling everything from mustard slaw hotdogs to goo-goo clusters to vanilla vodka over blood orange soda. It was horrible.
Out of everything I sampled, My FAVORITE nibblet was the Onion Bisque from the folks at Perl. I am sending hopes and prayers that they someday offer this soup online.
Please!! I beg you!!!
We also got to see a live cooking demo with Arnold Myint. Arnold is a Nashville native who owns several restaurants in the city. He was also a Top Chef Season 7 contestant. Since I cancelled my cable to support my coffee addiction, I had no clue who this guy was until I read the marketing flyer… Regardless, it was super fun to see a professional chef at work in the kitchen. I really liked the lentil tacos he cooked up. I’m going to try to recreate them… one day. Hmmmm where did I put that want-to-do list anyway?
Saturday was JAM PACKED with forum sessions on different topics, including: PRspectives, recipe writing, blogging etiquette, food styling & photography, working with brands, blogging as a business, and social media.
My favorite of all the sessions was the food styling & photography session with Todd Porter & Diane Cu, the White on Rice Couple. Beyond being extremely informative, it further cemented my desire to become a better photographer. It also resulted in about 7 of the want-to-do’s on my list!
For lunch we hit up some local food trucks for a sampling of their tastiest wares.
The weekend was pretty much scheduled out from start to finish, so there wasn’t much time left for exploring Nashville. Sunday morning I took a quick stroll in hopes I might stumble upon something interesting near the hotel.
All I found was this piece of art… and I have no idea what the heck it is.
Last weekend the BF and made like the birds and headed South(west) to Atlanta! You can check out part 1 of our mini vaca here.
Soooo where did I leave off? Oh yes, one of many two-hour naps
When we finally awoke, it was time for DINNER. We were both in the mood for some Mexican treats and after some research we agreed on Tin Lizzy’s. They have a HUMONGOUS menu and you can order things a la carte, which always makes me happy. What’s there not to love about sampling LOTS of mini niblets?
I was also happy to see that Tin Lizzy’s supports National Breast Cancer Awareness month AND that the restaurants sports a good sense of humor
After perusing the menu, the Man Candy and I developed a game plan.
Course #1: A “Top of the House Margarita” for the lady, A “Fall Off the House Margarita” for the man, and Queso Fundido with chorizo, grilled onions, and peppers:
This dip was delicious—though I would have preferred larger hunks of sausage… The bigger the better in my book
Come to think of it, the margaritas may have been a contributing factor to my love for this dip. What I remember most vividly is how deliciously creamy it was. The chips had some sort of seasoning — paprika and cayenne perhaps? The spice of the chips paired with the creaminess of the cheese made for a really good combination.
Course #2: A second round of marg’s plus one Santa Fe Steak Taco and one Fiesta Chicken taco. For each of us, naturally.
Good god these tacos were delicious. The Santa Fe steak taco came with grilled steak, jalapenos, onions, tomatoes, cilantro and was smothered with spicy ranch and cheesy queso blanco. Despite being listed as a “healthy option,” the fiesta chicken taco packed a tasty punch. It came on a whole wheat tortilla topped with grilled chicken, corn, black beans, tomatoes, onions and cilantro. SO GOOD!
Course #3: Margarita #3 for the man…. Big glass o’ water for the lady… AND a Grilled Chicken Tin Skillet:
Right when the food arrived, Jarrod looked concerned….
“Did I seriously just order that?!”
Even though we were both ridiculously full by this point, we managed to do some damage on this skillet. The hot skillet was full of veggie rice, grilled red peppers and onions, jalapenos, some crispy tortilla strips, queso blanco, and salsa fresca….. Heaven.
After eating all this delicious food, we had to do some googlin’ and see if there are other Tin Lizzy’s locations closer to home… Sadly, the only locations are in Atlanta, but this restaurant alone is worth the drive to ATL. I promise you.
And as if that weren’t enough…..
Course #4: Dessert from Joes on Juniper! Sooo…. Joe’s turned out to be a gay bar (oopsie…. )…. Jarrod and I felt a little bit like outsiders… But who cares check out the dessert tray!
Enter my perpetual indecisiveness! Gahhh! After much debate and a few suggestions from the bartender, I nabbed the chocolate cake with white icing and took it back to the hotel with me. After we ate ourselves into oblivion there was nothing left to do but SLEEP.
Good thing we had a big dinner, because we didn’t eat breakfast until NOON on Sunday. Torture, I tell ya. Torture. I’m surprised my body didn’t experience a complete meltdown.
Apparently, we weren’t the only ones who thought the Thumbs Up Diner would be a good stop for Sunday brunch, because we waited for nearly an hour for a table!
This gave us ample time to figure out what we wanted to order. Jarrod went with the build-your-own omelet… of course. What is it with guys and their obsession for build-your-own menus???
I got my usual eggs & turkey sausage plus a whole wheat homemade biscuit, and about 3 lbs of potatoes:
I was really excited about the homemade whole wheat biscuit — but once I sunk my teeth into it I was not a fan. It was way too moist–kind undercooked in my opinion. In my mind a biscuit should be flaky and buttery with a bit of a crunch to it. This guy was DENSE. And moisssttttttt.
Oh… and there may have been a belgian waffle
After breakfast, we headed to the Centennial Olympic Park to walk around a bit.
We got there just in time for the water fountain show.
By then it was nearly football time! Jarrod did some research and found a bar with the Sunday Ticket—so we were hopeful that they’d have the Browns game on.
When we pulled up outside of Black Bear Tavern I was ECSTATIC to see a decked out Browns van parked on the street!!!
Once inside I was stunned to see a bar FULL of Browns fans! Unbeknownst to me, Jarrod had secretly scouted out a Browns bar in ATL. It’s official. My boyfriend rocks
After watching half the game and realizing the Browns were definitely not in it to win it, Jarrod decided to take me to lunch at a cool place he’d found last time he was in Atlanta.
This place was AWESOME. It reminded me of a smaller Earth Fare with less groceries and more soul.
They also had a fully stocked bakery section:
PLUS a large selection of fresh breads, pre-made grub, and made-to-order sandwiches and paninis:
They even had a fresh-served ice cream section and a mini coffee bar in the middle complete with stools for sitting!
LOVE THIS PLACE!
We grabbed a couple of salads to share:
And a few turkey sandwiches:
This was the Peppered Turkey sandwich: naturally smoked peppered whole turkey with alfalfa sprouts, avocado, red onion, and sliced tomato served on whole wheat bread with grainy mustard and mayonnaise (AKA my sandwich soul mate).
And since the whole weekend was a major bust, we decided to try and turn things around by sitting on the patio with some dessert and some coffee.
Ok… maybe the weekend wasn’t a complete bust. ;)
P.S…. HAPPY 300TH POST TO ME!!!!
This weekend the BF and I set sail to Atlanta! Check out our digs at the Renaissance-Midtown hotel:
We got our room for $100 a night on Priceline. Not too shabby for a 4* hotel!
Prior to arriving, Jarrod made me agree that I wouldn’t check my email unless I was peeing or pooping. Yes. Those were the actual terms of the agreement.
Soooo needless to say, not much work got done at this lovely desk:
43 seconds after arriving, we decided it was time to get some grub and took a stroll over to a local bar called Charlie G’s 11th St Pub:
This was a total locals bar—well local transplants I should say because this bar is home to the Bears Upstairs (a HUGE group of Chicago Bears fans). Both of us really enjoyed our grub. I ordered their special chicken fajita wrap and Jare Bear got the chicken philly… And then we each swapped each other for half:
I LOVE sharing … though, my wrap was the better of the two (of course).
Post-lunch it was time to get our walk on and burn off some of the grub.
We walked around the Midtown area for a couple hours before heading back to the hotel. I was dumb and wore shoes that cut into my heels, so the backs of my heels were completely raw youch!
We took a 2 hour nap before we headed out to dinner at Baraonda. This was my pick for two key reasons. 1: I was craving Italian. 2: It was half price bottle-o-wine night
Baraonda was pretty cool inside—especially the large pizza oven:
We split the bruschetta appetizer and the lasagna for our entre:
Both were just OK… The bruschetta had cold tomatoes which I am NOT a big fan of. Maybe that’s weird, but I am a hardcore hot tomato gal. The lasagna was pretty tasty though a bit overdone on the cheese (is that possible??!!) and not really all that filling once we split it between us.
Hmmmm what to do what to do… We consumed a bottle of wine and not nearly enough food…
So we headed on over to the Gordon Biersch Brewery for a post-dinner appetizer and dessert, of course
The Southwest Egg Rolls appetizer was INSANELY delicious. We devoured the rolls in about 2 minutes flat. The egg rolls had chicken and black beans all wrapped up in a crunchy shell with roasted red peppers and pepper jack cheese. So amazing. I cannot wait to try and make something like this for a football Sunday!
Then came the dessert:
This Triple Chocolate Brownie was ta-die-for…. It was almost like they’d warmed up brownie batter and plopped it down on the plate – no chew or bite to the brownie at all. Just melt in your mouth deliciousness topped with a dollop of melting ice cream and chocolate and caramel sauce:
After dinner, we sauntered back to the hotel. Jarrod decided it was time for a post-dinner workout so we hit up the gym for a few chest exercises.
Hehehe love this one
After ALL THAT we hit the hay so we could wake up bright an early for breakfast at R. Thomas Deluxe Grill:
I picked this restaurant because it had a lot of healthy options on the menu. I wasn’t exactly sure what to expect from the place, but I CERTAINLY did not envision anything like this:
This was quite possibly the most random, cluttered, overall odd restaurant I’ve ever been to. For a brief moment, I considered grabbing breakfast elsewhere but when the server brought me coffee as soon as we were seated we decided to stick it out.
Jarrod got the Sausage Queen omelet (Veggie sausage, cheddar, red peppers and onions, rosemary potatoes and shiitake gravy) and garlic green beans:
Green beans for breakfast? Ok…… If you say so.
I got two eggs, toasts, and taters AKA the Break Eggs Special:
The potatoes were super tasty and I LOVED the 9 grain bread.
After breakfast we took a walk outside the restaurant to check out their crazy bird collection:
Ughhh…. I hate birds. So freaking creepy!!!! Shortly after this photo, the bird started going crazy and hanging upside down swaying side to side in a violent way. I hightailed it outta there.
Time to get our walk on!
After breakfast we walked about 2 miles through midtown and checked out the sites – like this cool art museum. Though the outside of the art museum is about as much art as either of us care to handle
When both of us realized we had to use the potty, we snuck into the W Hotel. The parking lot was full of fancy pants cars. Even a Rolls Royce! The hotel was SWANKKYYYYY and full of young blinged-out people. Jarrod is a huge hip hop fan, so he immediately assumed some big shot rapper must be in town. We took a squat on the couch and tried to figure out what famous person might be staying at the hotel.. but no such luck.
After our potty break, we walked through Piedmont Park and played on the jungle gym for a bit until we both managed to hurt our shoulders… Man we are old. So we popped a squat on the field and watched some people play football for a bit.
Check out this ref in the tight zebra print pants:
That is hot.
We stumbled on a little farmers market a little ways over from the field, so we checked out a few of the vendors.
Then we stopped over at Caribou for some coffee where Jarrod re-discovered his college obsession with turtle mochas and I discovered that Caribou’s pumpkin latte is nowhere near as delicious as Starbucks.
After another 2 mile jaunt, we arrived at our lunch destination: Grindhouse Killer burgers:
This place was pretty funky inside. The robots behind the bar were especially cool to look at.
Jarrod said this one reminded him of what I look like when I go more than two hours without eating:
I went with a single burger and Jarrod nabbed a double-turkey-burger-lettuce wrap:
In all honesty, neither of these were very good. The bun on my burger overwhelmed the meat–at times I forgot I was even eating a hamburger. Jarrod’s turkey burger had a really odd consistency–like really moist meatloaf. Not exactly what I look for in a burger. BUT we did split a chocolate peanut butter shake and it was so AMAZING. The shake was so thick that I actually split the straw in half trying to drink it! I’d go back for the shake fo sho but pass on the burgers.
MORE walking brought us back to Midtown, where Jarrod spotted a guy who looked a whole lot like one of his favorite rappers: Lil’ Wayne:
Jarrod figured Lil’ Wayne musta been the rapper staying at the W Hotel, so we stalked this guy for about a mile before he ducked into some building and we lost him. Dang!
Since our lunch was meh, we stopped by Marlow’s Tavern for a few appetizers. I really liked the vibe inside Marlows. It was sporty but still swanky, posh but comfy at the same time.
We ordered the Chicken Queso Soup and the BBQ chicken flatbread:
The soup was good, but I wasn’t a fan of the flatbread pizza. Hey Mary—you don’t like BBQ sauce. Remember?! Why did you think it’d be a good idea to order a BBQ pizza? Duh.
After Marlow’s we went back to the hotel for our 2-hr pre-dinner nap
To be continued!
I’ve been so excited for them to come down since I relocated to Charlotte in April. When you’ve spent your whole life in one area, it’s really bizarre to pick up, move, and plop down in an entirely new city without physically sharing it with your friends and family.
Clover is a very rural town about 45 minutes away from Charlotte and about 30 minutes from Rock Hill, SC.
By rural, I mean there was a whole lot of this going on:
I don’t know what it is about this photo, but I absolutely love it. Maybe it’s because I don’t often get the opportunity to photograph animals in such close proximity, or maybe it’s just the look in this guy’s eye. Doesn’t he look like he’s posing for the photo??
Lucy lives on a beautiful property dotted with wildlife and rustic buildings.
It’s crazy that such a short drive out of the city brings you to this peaceful, seemingly simple, town.
If it weren’t for the sweltering heat (holy triple digits!) I could have walked around taking photos for hours. Every nook and cranny bubbled over with picturesque country charm.
Are you ready to hightail it to the countryside yet?
By the time we finished touring Lucy’s house, we were starving (when am I not?) and headed to Lell’s Café in Rock Hill for lunch:
Lell is a friend of Lucy’s, and her café is about “real food and quality products.” They specifically focus on using fresh local ingredients with an emphasis on keeping the menu as organic and natural as possible. They don’t even serve pop (soda for your southerners), given the artificial ingredients and chemicals it contains.
How awesome is that?
I’m not usually big on mixing sweet and savory, but I am so happy I stepped outside the box and got this sandwich because the combination was simply fabulous.
Jenny tried the veggie wrap which featured the hummus of the day. Unfortunately, the hummus of the day happened to be olive hummus and Jenny happens to hate olives (even more than I do!). She took most of the wrap home with us, and Mom, who adores olives (she must be adopted) had the leftovers for a midnight snack and said it was fabulous.
I tried to be sneaky and snap a photo of mom on my way back from the bathroom. Of course the light shining in the window washed out what could have become THE ONLY photo in existence with her actually smiling.
Apparently the gods are on her side and intervened on the photo op, thus destroying my hopes of getting a natural photo of her.
I went with the mocha latte:
So friggin delicious. One of these days I am going to get a job as a barista so I can learn to make delicious coffee concoctions for myself. A girl can dream, right?
After lunch we drove around Rock Hill, scouted out downtown Clover, then hit up the Goodwill where I found a new pair of running shorts (tags still attached!) and a gap skirt for $3 a pop.
Can I get a Boo.Ya.?
Dinner was courtesy of Lucy’s husband Tommy, the Red-Neck-Chef.
Hello Moroccan Chicken!
As soon as I saw the olives, I had to giggle. Poor Jenny
Even with the olives, this meal was deserving of a golf clap for the chef! I adore anything with cumin, so this dish was right up my alley. Ok… yes, I picked out the olives. Maybe the Red-Neck-Chef will post this recipe to his blog so we can all enjoy it again
Only in the south
I may not have gotten any photos of the people in this post, but every person mentioned has a website so feel free to get your stalk on
I’d like to rewind this past weekend, click the pause button, and live the life of an islander for the rest of eternity. The island life. Where your stresses melt away, your to-do lists disappear, and daily woes are forgotten.
OHH, PLEASE. I forgot to say please!
Ahhhh the island life.
Forget the fact that I missed out on first place in the 5th grade spelling bee because I misspelled the word “paradise.” As a wee 10 year old I hadn’t experienced paradice let alone PARADISE!
What’s this island I speak of?
Good old Bald Head Island, NC.
Bald Head Island. A beautiful harbor and beaches that stretch for miles. No cars—just golf carts. No stress—just cocktails.
Quite frankly, there’s not much to do there. But that’s kind of the point, isn’t it?
They even have little trucks to smuggle you across the border:
Being the Frugalista I am (can I coin that??!?! … no pun intended ) the BF and I rented a TEENY TINY little studio right on the harbor (this one was called the Elements – Fire).
So cute and quaint and sassy all in one little shoebox!
We didn’t waste any time once on the island. First stop—kayaking on the beautiful island marshes!
BF wasn’t exactly a natural…
Bird watching… (birds are so creepy).
After kayaking it was back to the harbor.
For a little dinner at Eb & Flo’s!
Dining out = happy Mary
We split some yummy jambalaya:
Reminds me of New Orleans!
Grey Goose and Tonic for the lady. Blackened chicken Caesar wrap for the man.
Shrimp AND potatoes?! Sign me up!
The restaurant deck was prime for people watching across the harbor.
We took a stroll on the beach after dinner. It was entirely empty and entirely peaceful.
Saturday we had one thing on the agenda: BEACH TIME! With chairs and umbrella in our cargo, we headed for the sand.
Never underestimate the luxury of a nice beach umbrella.
The beach was pretty uncrowded, but still provided quite the opportunity for man candy oogling
After a few hours in the sun (or sprawled out on a beach chair under the nice shade of a 6 foot beach umbrella as the case may be)…
we were in need of some serious fuel. We headed to the Shoals Club where I feasted on an ENORMOUS burger complete with Swiss cheese, onions, and mushrooms.
After lunch, it was—you guessed it–back to the beach! We were so full, that we both passed out under the umbrella for a good hour and a half.
Good Ole Baldy:
For dinner, we headed to the River Pilot Café.
Cheesy appetizer goodness:
BF got the jambalaya pasta for dinner (apparently we were really missing New Orleans):
It was DELICIOUS. Shrimp, sausage, country ham, and chicken over pasta?!?!
FABULOUS lobster bisque.
SALAD with EGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGGG
After dinner I realized the sun was setting… on our mini vaca
I woke up bright and early Sunday morning and took a stroll along the harbor.
This is what I do to keep myself occupied when my travel buddy is STILL.FREAKING.SLEEPING… It’s 9am. Get your butt in gear man.
For breakfast we headed to the Maritime Market Café to get our grub on.
I know this looks like a massacre, but it’s actually a bit o hot sauce heaven.
The breakfast burrito was delicious and so were the potatoes.
His face says “enough with the pictures already” but his plate says “I’m a breakfast burrito eating champion.” I’ll go with the latter.
Ooooooghahhhhhh yessssssssss cheesy bagel bliss:
Never have I ever seen a golf cart with a baby car seat strapped in…
Waiting for the ferry to take us back to the daily grind:
Farewell Bald Head!
(insert obligatory “I’m the King of the WORLDDDDDDDDDDD” titanic reference here)
We’re already planning our next beach retreat… hopefully priceline will be kind to meRead More