Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Birthday Trip To Nashville: Part I

For my 31st birthday the wife got me/us tickets to see Eric Church open the new Ascend Amphitheater in Nashville, TN. We didn't do a big vacation this year, since we're trying to get some improvements done to our backyard, so we decided to stay a few extra days while we were in town.

On top of the EC tickets, she also got us passes to the Jack Daniel's Distillery (well, they're free so she said we could go on the way. Wait, now that I think about it, I paid for the sampler tour with OUR card hhmmm). In the weeks leading up to the trip I went to the world wide webs and started pulling together a list of places to eat and things to do on our 4 day trip. Consider this your warning, this could be, more than likely is, the largest post I've ever done. Just be thankful you're not on dial-up anymore.

One of the first things I found was actually on the drive up in Chattanooga. It was a hair out of the way, but not enough to not go see the Walnut Street Bridge.

After Chattanooga we road on up to Lynchburg, TN and ate at our first of 2 BBQ Pitmaster alumni restaurants, Barrel House BBQ.

We were seated by the host, and as soon as sat down and looked up, this beauty was beside me. I'm pretty sure it was a sign of things to come.

We decided early on that all diets were off. We weren't doing any shopping or anything that would really cost a lot of money, so food was no-limits. We got the combo with potato salad and baked beans on the side. Don't ask me how the sides were, because I didn't touch them (Dawn said they were good, so ...). I usually stick to the pork and/or ribs when I'm trying out a new BBQ joint, but thankfully we ordered the sausage because it was delicious. The pulled pork was great, traditional BBQ. I'm not sure how they do their meat, but it tasted more like a simple seasoned whole hog turned into pulled pork. Pour on some of their hot habanero sauce (not as hot as it sounds) and mmm mmm.

Just like every good midnight infomercial, BUT WAIT, THERE'S MORE! We also got the ribs. These were a little disappointing. Judging by the lack of bone sticking out and char on the outside, I believe they grill their ribs. Now, I've had some really good grilled ribs, and these had a good flavor to them. The problem was that the char on top made it very tough to cut and chew.

Don't worry, I didn't forget it, I just wanted you to think "Um, Brandon, there's some kind of sandwich beside the ribs that you didn't mention." What would you think if I said ... grilled pepper jack cheese sandwich + pulled pork + hot habanero bbq sauce? YES, it was as good, if not better, than that sounds. The Grilled Crack Jack is Barrel House's version of dropping the mic and their walking away is their Jack Daniel's chocolate cake ...

They encourage everyone to write a note on the wall, so I had to leave our stamp.

Potentially the coolest flag pole I've ever seen.

After lunch we rode on over to the Jack Daniel's distillery. One of the first places we went to was the Rick Yard. A Rick is what the big stacks of wood are called, and this is where they keep them and ultimately, burn them down into charcoal for the purifying process.

And here is the beautiful aftermath. Note: the light over the large pile (the angles sing) "aaahhhhhh"

The distillery even has their own Fire Brigade. This is the first fire truck they ever had. Our guide told us that they use a fancy foam that NASA invented, and that the Jack Daniel's Fire Brigade owns more of that foam than anyone else in the world.

The cave that the spring water that goes into every single batch of Jack Daniels comes from.

One morning, Jack went into work early and began his day. He attempted multiple times to open his safe, but wasn't able to get it to open. In frustration, he kicked the safe and broke his big toe. Being a man, he refused to go see a doctor ... until it was too late. Gangrene would set in and, even after multiple amputations, end up costing him his life.

After we finished our tour we hit the road again and headed north to check into our hotel in Nashville.

Now, when you're a big dog, high roller like us. You get to stay in baller places like the Union Station Hotel

Honestly, we splurged for the first night and ended up staying at another hotel outside of downtown the remainder of the trip. We were able to stay in this banging place one night, and still saved a couple of hundred dollars versus staying downtown the entire trip.

We had some issues finding a place to eat on/near Broadway, so we dipped into Rippy's BBQ. Dawn had their chili and I got the pulled pork plate.While my sandwich was pretty good, she wasn't overly thrilled with the chili.

Our first morning, we woke up and walked over to Biscuit Love. I should have known it was going to be good when I looked up at the door and the 2014 Heisman trophy winner and recently signed Tennessee Titan, Marcus Mariota, walked in.

I've been on a big Gravy Biscuit kick lately, so I had to try theirs, and she went with the Egg Plate. 

After breakfast we packed back up and drove to Franklin, TN to visit the Lotz House. We arrived just as a tour was beginning so we weren't able to take any pictures before, and by the it was over we starving and forgot to go back out front. Our tour guide, JT, was amazing. A very interesting story, and he definitely gave us our money worth.

There were a few pizza places that I had on the list, but Desano Pizza seemed to be the closest so we went with it. I was a little confused when I asked for sausage on the whole pizza and pepperoni only on one half and the cashier said, "I'm sorry we can only put toppings on the whole pizza. You'll just have to pick them off." I just said ok, but who refuses to save time and ingredients? Either way, the pizza was absolutely amazing. We may have randomly selected Desano to try, but we definitely picked a winner.

For a mini dessert, we drove to The Bang Candy Company for some custom made marshmallows. All of their marshmallows were dipped in their homemade Belgium chocolate. We had the bacon bourbon and the blueberry lemon marshmallow. I'm sure you can figure out which was mine.

The Bang Candy Company is in this old car manufacturing plant right beside the American Pickers shop. Inside the factory is a bunch of other stores and boutiques.

That night we had tickets for the Grand Ole Opry. We tried to go to a local Mexican restaurant, but we got caught in 5 o'clock traffic on the way, and decided to find something closer to the venue instead. We ended up at Chili's, and were actually surprised at how good our dinner was.

John Conlee opened the night and finished his set with a tribute to famous steel guitarist, Buddy Emmons. Buddy had passed the weekend before this show, by wearing and singing "Rose Colored Glasses". A song that Buddy helped record.

Now, a few words of wisdom: when one of a bands biggest songs is "Bluest Eyes In Texas", and the announcer introduces them and says, "With hits like ... Bluest Eyes In Texas ...". When they ask "Is anyone here from Texas?" before they play a song, don't be that person that screams out "OKLAHOMA!!!!!"

Tracy Lawrence

Love and Theft

The Gatlin Brothers played 2 of their classic and their new patriot tribute and message/warning to ISIS, An American With A Remington.

I'm a big Dukes of Hazzard fan. I have the first 4 seasons on DVD. After the show, we went across the street to Cooter's and checked out all of the old memorabilia.

I'll just leave this here ...

We were a little hungry and wanting some dessert, but the Opry Backstage Grill was closed. I mentioned the Fox's Donut Den that was just down the street from our hotel.

I didn't plan it like this, but check out the creeper staring through the center of my doughnut. These doughnuts were fresh made and amazing. They were so good that I went back the next and got another one after Eric Church's concert.

Barrel House BBQ, Lynchburg, TN

Rippy's BBQ

Union Station Hotel

Biscuit Love

Desano Pizza

The Bang Candy Company

Fox's Donut Den