Friday, August 4, 2017

Back to Franklin

Franklin, Tennessee is one of our favorite towns. If you remember, Three Friends and a Fork took a little family girls' tour of Franklin a few years ago. We had so much fun, I'm always up for a return visit. Recently, a really good reason to head back to Franklin presented itself. Made South announced they were their planning to hold their wildly popular market at The Factory in Franklin. The Made South Market is an opportunity for Southern vendors of high quality goods to showcase their wares. It sounded like a lot of fun, so I talked our friends, Malinda and Greg into joining us and I quickly purchased VIP tickets for the event. I also made dinner reservations for the Red Pony on Friday and Puckett's Grocery in Leiper's Fork on Saturday.

Scott and I arrived in Franklin early enough on Friday that we had time to walk around town before Made South opened its doors at 5:00. I noticed Gary Puckett and the Union Gap was going to be performing at the Franklin Theater that night. If I had known, I would have gotten tickets to that, too! Unfortunately, the show was already sold out.

I love the store signs around Franklin and took a pictures of signs belonging to a couple of places I want to check out on future visits. I have been trying to cut my carbs, so, of course, Merridee's Breadbasket was sounding pretty good!

This old pharmacy is now home to a chic, rustic restaurant, called Gray's on Main, serving southern fare. It has good reviews, so I added it to my future to-do list. I love the fact that they kept the old drug store sign.

Cork and Cow is another restaurant I am adding to my list, mostly because I like the name, but also because I like their sign. It is billed as a French steakhouse and has good online reviews. 

Another thing I like about Franklin? They have the cutest mannequins! This was the wiggliest bunch of mannequins I have ever seen.

We strolled around town until it was time to head over to our hotel to catch up with Greg and Malinda and get ready for the Made South VIP event. I was anxious to see what I had signed us up for. I am sure everyone else was thinking the same thing. 

When we arrived at The Factory and made our way in, we were very pleasantly surprised. More than 100 vendors of everything from guns to jams and jellies were hawking their well-made wares. They were also handing out samples as we shopped to the beat of the live music coming from the Made South stage. 

We sampled some delicious parmesan rice from Delta Blues Rice. I am not a huge rice fan, but this was not your average rice. It was really, really good.

We may or may not have bought several jars of divine jellies from One Screw Loose. With names like Jacked-Up Peach Pecan with Tennessee Whiskey, Brew Ha Habanero with IPA Beer and Blue Chip Bourbon with blueberries and chipotle peppers, how could we resist?

We also picked up some flavored butters from a vendor called Wise Butter, some peach simple syrup from Eli Mason, a cookbook from Whitney Miller, who won the Masterchef competition in 2010, and several t-shirts and caps for the boys. And we tasted a lot of wonderful dishes and drinks. We were really pleased to see that several of these fine craftsmen and vendors hailed from our own Yellowhammer State. The Alabama Sweet Tea Company from Montgomery, Piper and Leaf Teas from Huntsville, John Emerald Distilling Company from Opelika and Sweet Auburn Studio from Auburn were just a few of the Alabama artists selling their creations. 

We shopped until it was time for dinner. We ended up cancelling our reservations at Red Pony and chose instead to eat at Saffire since it was right there in the Factory. We had eaten at Saffire before and enjoyed it a lot. This time, it was just okay. Greg had oysters. Malinda had fried chicken which she wasn't too wild about. Scott ordered the special of stuffed trout and he said it was pretty good. I had gazpacho, which I didn't really care for. The Devil of an Egg I had so enjoyed my last visit had transformed into a Devil in a Green Dress and was stuffed with avocado. It wasn't as impressive as I remembered from my first visit. I'm not sure if they were just having an off night or if they had changed chefs, but we were a little disappointed.

We left Saffire and headed back to the hotel to rest up for day two. 

Saturday morning, we ate a quick breakfast at the hotel and then headed out. We stopped back by Made South, picked up a few more must have items, drove over to Nashville for a little more shopping and realized it was time for lunch.  On a whim, we decided to drive to Loveless Cafe and this time we were not disappointed in our meal.


Loveless' famous biscuit maker, Carol Fay, is no longer there making the biscuits for which the restaurant is so famous, but I spied this lady who seemed to have the technique mastered. 


And here are her creations. Of course, those Loveless jams are not too shabby either. We had strawberry, blackberry and peach. The peach was our favorite.

I loved my spicy grilled catfish with marinated cucumbers and onions and turnip greens. Scott had a pork chop which was excellent. It was thick and marinated in a delicious sauce. Malinda and Greg liked their lunches, too. 

From Loveless, we headed back to Franklin for more shopping, resting and getting ready to drive over to Leiper's Fork. I had made reservations at the original Puckett's Grocery and that is really all I knew about it. When I called for the reservations, they charged me a cover charge because, I was informed, there would be a band playing. Ok, that sounded fun. 

When we pulled up at Puckett's Grocery, we weren't sure what to think. It really did look like what it was, an old country grocery store. 


We made our way in and were seated at one of about 15 tables. Our server presented the menus, which were not extensive at all, so it really didn't take us long to make our selections. We ordered some fried pickles and pork skins to get started. I decided to run with an oyster poboy and Scott decided to try the barbecue. Malinda got the hamburger and Greg had brisket which Malinda tasted and said was very good.


While we were eating, we noticed a bunch of kids coming into the restaurant. They were dressed in sequins and shiny fabrics and I wondered what on earth they could be up to. Malinda said she thought some school group must be going to entertain us. I was pretty sure I was going to hear about my great choice when the night was over. But then an amazing thing happened. Those kids jumped up on stage and this happened.

The band was called Pelican 212 and they were nothing short of amazing. Under the leadership of 33 year old Katie Rees, the oldest sister out of ten in the Rees family from Louisiana, Pelican 212 is about as entertaining as it gets. The 7 siblings (3 other siblings are not regular members of the band) sing and play trumpets, drums, guitar, trombone and accordion. In fact, every single member of the band seemed to be able to vocalize and play multiple instruments. In addition to Katie, the rest of the band included 14 year old, Angelle, 12 year old twins Max and Kolbe, adopted siblings Giovanni and Marie and 10 year old Mollie. I'm not sure how the family managed to pull off adopting two children with so much musical talent. The Rees family could adopt me and perhaps teach me to play an instrument, but they could never get me to sing like an angel. Each member of Pelican 212 brought their own incredible musical talent to the group. This family has some kind of magic musical fairy dust! Amazing!

At one point, the mom of this entire troop, Linda Rees, also got into the act. Seriously, she looked like she could have been one of the siblings. 

Other family members took turns joining in. Their older brother, Johnny, jumped in to play drums for a couple of numbers. The kids Aunt Kit, their mom's sister, was also encouraged to join the band on stage. Was there no one in this family without musical talent? 

During the intermission, Linda and Katie stopped by our table to chat. We told them how impressed we were and how much we were enjoying our evening. We also took the opportunity to offer a bit of encouragement. Greg and I both told them we fully expected to see them on television some day. 

The band played for 2 hours and those 2 hours flew by. After we left Puckett's Grocery, I decided to google Pelican 212. Imagine my surprise when I read this little band had already made television appearances on Little Big Shots, The Tonight Show, America's Got Talent and the Presidential Inauguration. So much for our encouragement. Laughing at our helpfulness, we headed back to the hotel to get rested up for the following day. If you ever get a chance to see Pelican 212, go! You will not be sorry!


For our last morning, we decided to have brunch at a place Malinda and Greg knew about. It was called Mere Bulles and was located in an old house on a former horse farm. 

Mere Bulles was a wonderful choice for brunch. The setting was lovely, the selection of food was large and absolutely delicious. There was a table for salads, a room for desserts and all kinds of entrees and sides.  From made to order omelets and eggs to crepes, pancakes and waffles, fish, meats, vegetables, fresh fruits, hash browns and biscuits and gravy, there was something for every taste. Some of our favorites included the crab bisque and crème brulée French toast. I especially loved the chocolate fountain!

Stuffed and happy, we made one last stop at The Factory to check out the Franklin Farmer's Market and make one last visit to some of the shops at The Factory. We left with more bags of treasures and goodies and said good-bye to our friends. It was a fun weekend and I am so happy we made time to visit Franklin and Made South. 


After we left Greg and Malinda, Scott and I went back downtown and stopped in a few shops that happened to be open on Sunday. As the weekend wound down, the clouds started to gather, so we figured it was time to bid Franklin adieu. Until next time, Franklin!

Three Friends and a Fork give 3 Fun Filled Franklin Yums UP to 
Made South
Loveless Cafe
Puckett's Grocery at Leiper's Fork
Pelican 212
Mere Bulles

Saturday, July 15, 2017

Two Southern Girls, Two Southern Cities, Too Much Fun!: Part 2 Time for Chattanooga

After our trip to the Avondale Food Truck Rally, Dawn and I were hungry (literally) for more fun, so we made plans to tackle Chattanooga. She had been to a quirky little hot dog place called, Good Dog, and wanted me to check it out. I love a good hot dog, so I was excited about visiting this groovy little restaurant.

We got up early enough so that we could get to Chattanooga by lunch time, keeping in mind that Chattanooga is an hour ahead of us. Good Dog is located on Frazier Avenue on the NorthShore, nestled in amongst an eclectic variety of boutiques and shops. It is a trendy and unique retail community.

When we arrived at the restaurant, the first thing I noticed was the clever little bench on the sidewalk outside, directing me to, "sit, stay, eat". What else could I do? I didn't want to be sent to obedience school. We went in, placed our orders, found a seat and sat down. 



The decor was playful, with many references to the wonder of dogs, like why dogs are better than wives, etc. Each table was decorated with a different set of salt and pepper shakers. For example, our table had ladybugs. And one wall was lined with large lighted Christmas figures. I also noticed the holes in the tables, which made me happy. I knew what those were for, because Dawn had already filled me in. The holes are for the cones of french fries fried up fresh at Good Dog. You gotta love a place that thinks of putting french fry holes in the tables.

We made our selections at the counter before selecting our table. Dawn chose a Chicago Dog with yellow mustard, sweet pickle relish, chopped onion, tomato, dill pickle, sport peppers, celery salt and poppy seeds. She also got a bowl of tomato basil soup. I opted for a chili cheese slaw dog with a side of frites (that's a fancy way to say fries) for us to share. What, you don't think we needed fries? We had a hole in our table we had to fill up! Geesh! Y'all are so judgy!


I was also a little giddy about the sauces scattered around the room. Anyone who knows me, knows I love sauces. I am sort of the anti-Luanne in that respect. That's why we make a great team because she can always give me all her sauces. I snatched up squeeze bottles of French fry (Frites) sauce, wasabi ketchup and curry ketchup and put them on our table. I didn't want to go into this unprepared. I was also happy about the Dog Dust shaker I spied. Everyone wants Dog Dust on their fries, right?

Appropriately armed, we were ready for our orders to arrive. First those delicious fries. And they fit in the hole perfectly. Don't they look yummy?

Then our dogs. Mine is the one on the left and Dawn's is the one on the right. In the middle is her tomato basil soup with croutons. See those little green things on her dog? Well she asked me what they were and I said pickles, because that is what they looked like. She popped one in her mouth only to find out they were not pickles. They were hot peppers! I laughed so hard!


I loved Good Dog! But our day wasn't over. We finished up our meal and decided to stroll around the neighborhood. We passed the Walnut Street Bridge, a beautiful old bridge transformed into a pedestrian bridge. 

I noticed a donut shop across the street that proclaimed to be the home of the Donut Sundae. That sounded sweet, but since we were full from hot dogs, we moseyed on.

You just know if there is a bookstore around, I am going to find it. Winder Binder was way too cool not to investigate, so in we went. More than a bookstore, Winder Binder also has an eclectic assortment of art, vinyl records and t shirts. 




Ahhh! Another weakness! We found a store selling flavored olive oils. Olive Chattanooga has a wide variety of olive oils, vinegars and seasonings. Turns out the owner is from up around Valley Head or Mentone, so he was very familiar with our Alabama stomping grounds. 

One other thing I love about this neighborhood? Some creative genius decided it would be a good idea to put the moves to dances on the sidewalk. The sidewalk is littered with brass footsteps, numbered so that those who are so inclined can follow the numbers and learn the dances. Dances from the mambo to the tango are labeled and ready for any eager learners.

When we concluded our walking tour of the NorthShore, we decided to drive over to the Bluff View Art District. 


We started our investigation of Bluff View with a visit to Rembrandt's Coffee House. We knew that Rembrandt's would be a great place to grab a cool drink and a sweet treat. Choosing which sweet treat would be the problem! 

The guy working the cash register was super helpful in this regard. When we told him we were thinking about getting one of the pretty macaroons on display in the dessert case, he quickly suggested the raspberry macaroon. Good call! That pretty pink macaroon was absolutely divine. Not too sweet, it was light, crunchy and full of fresh raspberry flavor. 

Next up? We walked to a great little bakery called, appropriately enough, Bluff View Art District Bakery. We each bought a loaf of freshly baked bread to bring home with us. 





The Bluff View Art District would not be an art district without art and Bluff View does not disappoint. In addition to the River Gallery, which features a wide variety of local, regional and national artists, and the Sculpture Garden overlooking the Tennessee River, pieces of art pop up in unexpected places throughout the district. 

After our stroll throughout Bluff View, Dawn and I decided to head downtown to Market Street to see what The Hot Chocolatier had to offer. If you are like Dawn and me, a trip to anywhere is not complete until you get your chocolate fix. The only problem at The Hot Chocolatier is deciding which chocolate to choose. 



I ended up with several truffles to add to the raspberry macaroon I bought earlier at Rembrandt's. My selection included dark chocolate salted caramel and a couple of other flavors that I have forgotten because I devoured them so quickly. Actually, I got two of each flavor so I could share with my husband. See, I'm thoughtful.


We left Hot Chocolatier with our bags full of chocolate goodies and decided to head across the street. Why? Well,  Hot Chocolatier is right across the street from The Chattanooga Choo Choo. No visit to Chattanooga is complete without a visit to the train of Glenn Miller's dreams. 



Today, the historic train station is a hotel offering standard rooms or rooms in former train cars. The property includes souvenir shops and eateries. We weren't hungry, but we could not resist peeping into the terminal's breakfast to dinner coffeehouse, Frothy Monkey. 


The yummy looking baked goods on display made us think Frothy Monkey would need to be on our agenda the next time we head to the River City.


It was a great day. We always find new food adventures when we go off with our foodie friend, Dawn. She was, after all, the one I blame for telling me about Krispie Kreme's Hot Now sign. (How did I not know about that sign?) I can never ride by a Krispie Kreme without checking to see if the Hot Now sign is on. Thanks, Dawn! Nevertheless, we can't wait to find out what she plans for us next!

Three Friends and a Fork and our friend, Dawn, give Good Dog, Rembrandt's, Bluff View Bakery and Hot Chocolatier 3 Yummy Yum's UP! Choo! Choo!