Tuesday, April 16, 2019

Nashville Food Tour

Sometimes it's fun to play tourist in your own local area.  That's exactly what I did for a work event with coworkers!  We took a private food tour with Dabble Studio in Germantown and explored a multiple neighborhoods and types of Nashville classic fare.

We started off with hot chicken at the Listening Room Cafe, which moved to SoBro (South of Broadway neighborhood) a couple of years ago.  It's a great music venue, and the food was food too!  I've heard it's the kind of place serious music listeners visit, i.e. don't talk while the music is playing.

Our next stop was East Nashville, to get a bushwacker at 3 Crow Bar.  The bushwacker is the unofficial cocktail of Nashville, but I'd never had one before this tour.  I know, I know... I've lived here for seven years, what gives?  I'd heard that is was like an adult Frosty, and I'm not a chocolate person. But it's a delicious boozy milkshake that everyone should try at least once, and the liquor sneaks up on your fast.

Also in East Nashville, we had a sampler of hot dogs (and soda!) at I Dream of Weenie, probably one of the most Instagrammed spots on that side of town.  I loved the Cheerwine, which is such a Southern thing.

And it wouldn't be Nashville if we didn't stop at a mural for a photo opp!  Seriously, the number of murals in Nashville is insane.  I once did a post about visiting a bunch with my friend B, but now there are so many more... I love Kristin Luna's post about them with so many I haven't visited.

It wouldn't be a Nashville tourist

I had to leave the tour before the final two stops, because I had to get home to pick up Kenny at daycare.  But after I left, they hit up one of the best BBQ joints in town (Martin's Bar-B-Que in Belmont) and got dessert at Colts Chocolates in the Gulch.  Talk about a great way to spend an afternoon!

I'd definitely recommend you check out a food tour if you're coming to Nashville; this one hits so many different neighborhoods (they give you history and trivia along the way) and is a great way to enjoy a taste of Music City.

Wednesday, March 20, 2019

Little Rock, Arkansas

In the fall, I started a new role at work, which means I get to do more of something that I really enjoy... hitting the road for customer meetings and other events!  I've already done a quick day trip down to Fort Lauderdale (literally, I flew down and back in the same day), and recently I hit the road to Northwest Arkansas for a meeting.  Since it was a rather long road trip, we broke it up by stopping in Little Rock going to and from Nashville!

Outside of Little Rock, we headed to De Valls Bluff for one of my coworker's favorite BBQ joints: Craig's Bar-B-Q.  Craig's is a cash-only, family-run dive that is absolutely a gem.  Look, it's not fancy.  At all.  But we watched a steady stream of locals taking food away the entire time we were there, and we were able to get four sandwiches (three BBQ, one grilled cheese) and drinks for under $20.  For real. 

Craig's BBQ

Craig's is one of those road trip detours that is absolutely worth the trek!  The pork is sliced vs. pulled (sort of the thickness/consistency of brisket) with homemade sauce.  We got it spicy, and it's served with a slaw inside.  I'm not even a slaw person, and I loved it.

On our return trip back through Little Rock, we decided to go a different direction foodwise... Asian noodles and dumplings!  We hit up Three Fold downtown and got soup noodle bowls, dumplings, and a steam bun to sample the goods.

Little Rock (and its environs) impressed us foodwise, and there were a bunch of places I wish I could have tried.  But we also tried to see some cool sights!  We drove by the State Capitol at night and it was gorgeous.  They had great statues and monuments around it, and it was beautifully lit.

We also did a quick walk-through of the Clinton Presidential Library & Museum.  Regardless of your politics, I think visiting Presidential libraries and museums is pretty cool... it's like walking into a time capsule of a President's time in office.

President Clinton is one of the first Presidents that I remember, so it was kind of cool to look at the technology, the news headlines and major events, and more that happened from 1993 to 2001.  I really enjoyed the full scale replicas of the Oval Office and Cabinet Room, and seeing Cadillac One.

I also enjoyed seeing artifacts, gifts, and decor from the Clinton White House.  There were saxophones, china settings, letters, even a white Chihuly Christmas tree!

I wish we'd had time for a guided tour, but maybe next time!  It was really fun to blaze through before hitting the road back home.  These types of road trip stops remind of how much there is to see in America and its "flyover states".  I usually fly when I travel, focusing on my destinations.  On this trip, I enjoyed focusing on the journey and figuring out things along the way off the cuff!

Thank you, Little Rock!

Wednesday, February 13, 2019

Kenny's 1st Birthday Party 돌

I'm going to be honest with you... I never thought I'd throw a big 1st birthday party for my kid.  But then, when I was pregnant, I was discussing with my Mom how it might be nice to give Kenny a traditional Korean first birthday celebration (call a dol or 돌), even if it was just close family.  My wonderful relatives in Korea gifted us a beautiful traditional outfit (called hanbok) for him to wear, and our minds were made up... we'd be having a party!

For the party, we decorated a table with a lot of symbolic elements.  A traditional table for a dol celebration includes a number of elements, but in general, it represents hope for a bountiful future.  For Kenny's table, we had food to represent abundance, color to represent a bright and vivid future, and circles for generosity and life without hardship.  My Mom made sure that there were odd numbers (lucky!) of fruit and lots of homemade rice cakes.  I made his birthday cake and ordered decorations and party gear online.  My Mom, sister, and I made bean towers with Kenny's name spelled in Korean script and "Happy Dol".  These cost like $200-300 on Etsy, so we DIYed them ourselves for like $25.

More than 50 friends and family from six states joined us for Kenny's party, which included traditional Korean first birthday elements including a doljabi (돌잡이).

The highlight of the Korean dol (돌) is a custom called the doljabi (돌잡이) where the child is placed in front of a tray of objects and encouraged to pick one. It is believed the object the child selects will foretell the child's future.  We also had a raffle where guests could guest which object Kenny would pick, and the winner would get a Korean children's book.

Kenny picked a medallion, which symbolizes "high position" in life, such as political figure or other achievements.  He grabbed the ball next (athleticism), and then the yarn (long life).

For food, we had both American and Korean dishes, but the Korean food was a big hit!  We had bulgogi, japchae, and bibimbap from Soy Bistro.  I wish I'd taken photos, but it was so delicious it was devoured before I remembered!

We also had family portraits and party photos captured by our friend Steve Cross, who has captured so many special memories of our family's life.  Dan's mother, my parents, and my sister were a huge part of the weekend too, making the party run as smoothly as possible along with Dan and me.

That said, I think next year for his 2nd birthday, we'll just do a little cake at home and maybe something fun as a little family.  I love the Korean tradition of a big 1st birthday as something truly special to cap off that first year in the world.  He'll have a party again someday, maybe when he's old enough to ask for one!
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