I landed in Nashville after a two and a half hour flight from New York City. I was really excited about this trip, both because I had to work with some good old friends and because I had a couple of days off so I could explore the city. I had been to Memphis before and I enjoyed it, but I was too young to understand some things that I was now aware of – especially cultural wise.
The chauffeur who was waiting for me at the airport was a kind man and he had a strong southern accent. I asked him for a few tips of what should I do while I’m there, but he told me things that I already knew about from my previous research.
The hotel was located in Midtown. I dropped my bags, took a shower and my first stop was Jack’s Bar-b-q on Lower Broadway, which was (at least from what I read) an important landmark on the Nashville’s touristic map.
The setup was really nice indeed. I had pork shoulder with potato salad and mac’n’cheese. The pork was good, but the meal didn’t raise up to my expectation of what southern cuisine should be like. Then I stopped at Mike’s Ice-Cream, on the same street. Again, the dessert was good but I’ve had better before.
A few hours later, I went to dinner with my new friend, Nick Fouquet. We chose Rolf and Daughters – which is maybe the best restaurant in Nashville – a cool, hip place that somehow reminded me of the restaurant scene in Philadelphia, in terms of the quality of food and the quality of service. It’s a pity I didn’t take photos there. I highly recommend the Chicken pâté and the lamb meatballs though.
The next morning I rented a car, after a long bargain with the employees who didn’t want to rent it to me because I didn’t have a credit card. I acted like they’re going to ruin my trip and managed to get a ride for the day. And so I went on a road-trip down south. My goal was to get to the Jack Daniel’s Distillery in Lynchburg.
I figured that since it is kind of on my way I should also stop by Loveless Cafe, which was a must-see place from the reviews that I’ve read.
I drove around 30 minutes and when I got there it started snowing. It wasn’t cold out, so as I was walking towards the restaurant I enjoyed the snowflakes falling slowly and fairily to the ground.
At first I thought the place looked like a nicer scene from Twin Peaks, but still creepy. My impresion quickly vanished though when I heard the people laughing and talking joyfully as they were waiting to be seated.
It was warm inside and it was smelling like home cooked food. The visitors appeared to me as if they were under a magic spell which made them better persons and myself too I was about to fall under that incantation when I got seated.
It was already noon and I hadn’t eaten yet. The drive, the wait, the smell, they all added up to my hunger and I was craving breakfast right away. I remember the waiter -who was extremely attentive- telling me to choose either no. 4 from the Breakfast Platters, or no. 5 from the Plates. I chose no. 4, which was Pit-cooked Pork Barbeque with sunny side up eggs and a side of potatoes (cooked in a french way, with cheese and cream). I also got fresh, hot biscuits with their homemade preserves (in three flavors: strawberry, blueberry and peach). And of course, coffee with milk.
The food was beyond delicious and one of the tastiest breakfasts (lunches?) I’ve had in a long time. The service – irreproachable. I said to myself: ‘Now that’s the real southern food’. I just wanted to stay there all day and try all the things on the menu. I was so full though that I could barely move and I realised it was time to go if I wanted to get to the distillery in time.
So here I was, on the road again, listening to country music on the radio. All by myself, like in most of my pilgrimages, floating in the calmness of my thoughts, trying to visualise beyond the aperture that my eyes were seeing in the narrow landscape. I was happy in a strangely, hard to depict way and I was trying to figure out where does that feeling come from.
The Jack Daniel’s Distillery was a very interesting place and I learned many details that I didn’t know about Jack Daniels – the person and the whiskey – on the tour that I took there. Trying to write down all of them would be futile, but an astonishing fact is that the entire world production is made at that only settlement in Lynchburg.
On my way back I saw many Waffle Houses and fast-food restaurants every other couple of miles, but I kept on going as I was still satiated from the great meal I’ve had at Loveless Cafe.
Close to Nashville I watched the sun setting and I secretly wished that the drive was never-ending and that my journey will always be within the state of fulfillment I have experienced earlier that day.