Climbing north a little, through the smoky mountains into Tennessee, we pulled out our coats and boots and some Justin Townes Earl. It was grey and misty with patches of rain and the trees were part red, part bare. Winter was closer in this part of the country, and we felt it. To say I loved Nashville is a bit of an understatement. It’s a city that feels like a town, with little to no traffic and lots of pick-up trucks. And, to date, by far the best coffee I’ve had in the States. It’s no secret that a strong and creamy latte is the way to capture my heart. We tried Crema and Barista Parlour and I fell hard for both. Crema was sweet and the staff wonderful, and it was close to downtown so just right for us. Barista Parlour, across the river and set back from the street in a converted garage, was just as delicious. The space was spectacular and clearly a hit with the local hipsters. I was smitten with my pumpkin and pecan muffin and fat cup of latte, and Jordy loved his sizeable pot of green tea. They also had a wonderful selection of coffee, from Portland’s Stumptown (a favourite of mine) to LA’s Intelligentsia and a few nice looking locals.
We ate far too well at Silly Goose, an amazing dinner find that was kindly recommended to us by the lovely Alex at Imogene and Willie. Imogene and Willie is a wonderful local shop and manufacturer we found, making what seem to me to be the best jeans going - I couldn’t stretch my budget to denim, sadly, but spent up on some sweet vintage jewelry they’d sourced. We drove out to their shop, in an old gas station, to have a peak at the brilliant work they do, cutting and making their clothing on site and ended up chatting to their sweet staff for ages. Meeting locals is the best way to get a feel for a town, especially when they’re so darn nice.
Another nice introduction came to us by way of a few bottles of whisky. We found one of Jordy’s favourites, the Whisky Kitchen on a cold and busy Monday night. So busy, in fact, we ended up sitting at the bar, which, as it happens, is my new favourite place to be. We were able to chat to the bartender and try all kinds of rye and bourbon he thought we’d like. And like we did, especially alongside a plate of Southern biscuits (like an Australian scone, I suppose) with burnt honey, blue cheese and fried green tomatoes and a side of sweet potato fries with chilli ketchup.
Aside from the eats, we were of course charmed by the music of Nashville. We spent an evening at the famous Grand Ole Opry radioshow, recorded at the Ryman Auditorium. The Opry has seen it all, from Patsy Cline to Hank Williams and is a tradition in this part of the world. A tradition since 1925 and one we loved and sang and drank beer with. That we went on to Tootsie’s, a seedy bar across the lane and continued singing and dancing till 2 AM is a whole other story.