Taking on Tennessee

Music, food, the Great Smoky Mountains -  These three items on our itinerary were enough to fill five days and more in the great state of Tennessee.  First stop was Memphis with BBQ, the Blues, Beale street and of course, Graceland.

Elivis’ living room with white baby grand in background

Elivis’ living room with white baby grand in background

Day 1: Memphis

Graceland stands as it was back in the 70’s.  You can really feel Elvis’s spirit in the rooms and in the museums which are chock-full of memorabilia including many of his cars, costumes, and gold records! The blues can be found everywhere on Beale street with neon lights illuminating the many venues and music pouring into the street. BBQ is on most menus and the debate continues between “dry” and “wet.” We went for wet and weren’t disappointed at Central BBQ. For lunch the next day we tried Hog and Hominy for a fusion of Italian and Southern cooking. I had the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever tasted and their take on a Cesar salad featured fried chicken skins which added a delicious crunch.

Floor to ceiling record wall at Graceland museum

Floor to ceiling record wall at Graceland museum

Hog and Hominy’s BBQ Shrimp and Grits and Romaine Salad with Chicken Skins and Pecorino Vinaigrette

Hog and Hominy’s BBQ Shrimp and Grits and Romaine Salad with Chicken Skins and Pecorino Vinaigrette

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Day 2: Nashville

Nashville is all country.  Our concierge at the historic Hermitage Hotel directed us to Robert’s for some good local music.  Playing that night was the Don Kelly Band featuring 17-year old Luke McQueary who in my husband’s words, “killed it” on the guitar. He said Luke’s name will be up in lights someday soon. We topped off our city tour with a visit to the Country Music Hall of Fame which is an architectural feast for the eyes. My favorite part was the special exhibit featuring Loretta Lynn, the coal miner's daughter.  

Seventeen year old Luke McQueary crushing Jimi Hendrix

Day 3-5Our final destination was Blackberry Farm, a resort on the fringes of the Great Smoky Mountains. It is a food lover’s paradise and for everyone else, a great place to relax with views of the tops of the trees that go on for miles.  You quickly learn how the famous mountain range gets its name -from a natural fog from the vegetation that hangs low and gives the forest the “smoky” appearance.  

The view from the back porch at the Main House

The view from the back porch at the Main House

BBF is self-contained.  It has its own winery, larder house, creamery, organic vegetable garden, fly fishing pond, and dog breeding facility.  If you can wait five years and fork over $8g you can own an adorable truffle hunting dog known as a Lagotto Romagnolo.  

Tackle and gear are handed out here for fly fishing. Blackberry Farm are breeders of truffle sniffing dogs.

Tackle and gear are handed out here for fly fishing. Blackberry Farm are breeders of truffle sniffing dogs.

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The food is the priority of the day aside from all the beauty of the resort.  Lunch of Saturday was picnic style with offerings of fried chicken, short ribs, pork ribs, and bbq chicken all with their own sauces.  Dinner in the barn is a culinary extravagance. You may choose three courses with or without wine pairings or a five course tasting menu.  

The Barn’s famous fried chicken and tomato okra salad for Saturday’s picnic lunch.

The Barn’s famous fried chicken and tomato okra salad for Saturday’s picnic lunch.

For dinner my husband tried the whiskey flight where the sommelier steered him to ones he would have never tried on his own and it turns out, can’t buy in too many places.  


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We left fat but happy for the chance to see a part of the US we had never explored but will certainly visit again.

Photo Sources: splendorinthesouth, Pinterest

mary van hielTravel, Food