To say we saw a few 18 wheelers on the road between Memphis and Nashville would be one of the grosses (or is it “most gross”) understatementS ever uttered by mankind…..Cledus Snowman (Jerry Reed), of Smokey and the Bandit fame, would have thought he died and gone to Trucker Heaven…..
Trucks and more trucks, as far as the eye could see….I’ve never seen anything like it….there would be stretches where there weren’t any other cars…..just The Wife, me, our kinda crummy Dodge rental car and a highway full of massive transports…..
Being the smallest thing on the road made for a semi-nervous drive…..so by the time we got to Nashville we were kinda pooped…..and the fact that our GPS took us through an extended scenic route to our hotel, didn’t really help any…
But we arrived, no worse for wear, and after a moment or two of chilling out we began thinking about where we wanted to eat….there are a few Triple D spots in Music City, but there weren’t any very close to our hotel and we were too tired to drive into town…..so we grabbed the hotel restaurant list and between it and my IPAD we figured on a couple of possibliities……they were all close together so we just decided to crawl back into the car and to make a final decision on the way…..as we were leaving the hotel we ran into the desk clerk taking a smoke break outside….we asked, “What’s good to eat……and close?”
He rattled off a few spots but then suggested a place called Vittles…..he said the food was down home-styled cookin’ and the prices were very reasonable….both of those sounded good to us, so off we went…
It was only about five minutes from where we were staying…we found it in a strip center….we parked and as we got inside we noticed a couple of things….one…..it was big…..loads of dining space……two it was kinda like a cracker barrell-light…..there were some trinkets and jars of preserves on some shelves in the entry way….
The hostess showed us to a table and when the waiter brought us some menus we gave him our drink order…..the menu was varied with all the down home-styled usuals…..chicken fried steak, chicken, meatloaf, etc…..but there were also some things like pot roast, shrimp and southern styled catfish….
I’m usually pretty good about deciding what I want pretty quick….and we all know The Wife, for all her wonderful qualities, can be ……let us say…….in-dee-cisive about ordering a meal….however, on this particular evening she was first deciding on the catfish…..I, on the other hand was torn between the pot roast and the chicken fried steak…..and it wasn’t until the waiter came back that I picked pot roast……yep…..that’s what I wanted…..pot roast….
BUT THEN…..something happened that almost never-ever-ever-never-ever happens…..
The Wife was asking what southern styled catfish was and as the waiter began telling us that it was more or less a cajun styled catfish with a little kick to it…..suddenly pot rosted began to become a distant memory….”I’ll have the same….”, I heard myself saying…..
For sides I went with black eye peas, corn nuggets, hush puppies and ambrosia salad….
For those of you unfamiliar with what ambrosia salad is……let me fill you in….growing up on Moma’s side of the family we had Mamaw…and Mamaw was always a whiz in the kitchen….she could cook you up a mess of something that would be some of the best mess of something you ever ate….but as she got older and she became kinda limited in the kitchen, she was the designated “Ambrosia Salad (or as we called it Pink Salad), bringer….and so, I never see this concoction that I don’t think of Mamaw…..it’s really just pink or green jello with marshmallows, assorted fruits and sometimes nuts….but it holds a very special place in my Fat ‘Ol Heart…
The waiter left to put our order in and we reflected on our trip so far…..it had been a good few days…..lots of good food and the Elvis Experience to boot….
When we got our food….I must say….it looked pretty good….maybe we were in the “Very Tired” zone or maybe we had just lucked into a place that was serving good down home cookin’…..
The catfish did indeed have a bit of a cajun (or as Moma would say, a coonass) bite to it….the spice was not overwhelming but it did let you know it was there….and the portion was ginormous in nature….it was so big that The Wife halved her’s and had enough to feed The Father-In-Law, who was joining us, later that night…
The sides were all good…..the pink salad couldn’t hold a candle to Mamaw’s but was really good……the corn nuggets were hot and crispy…..the hush puppies held up the good ol’ Southern tradition…..and the corn bread was moist and buttery…..
We finished off our meal with good ol’ scratch made nanner’ puddin’…..
If you ever come across a Vittles and you’re hungry, I highly recommend stopping….the food is really good, you get lots of it and the prices won’t wipe you out….
And now for the Brisket Pics…..she’s gotten bigger and even though she knows what a pet door is for….she’s still taking advantage of the “Pee-Pads”….between all the tinkle and her sharp lil’ teeth….we have to constantly remind ourselves how cute she is and how much we love her…..
We really do love her…..we…..really…..really…..do…..
We were on our way back from eating breakfast at The Arcade and sure enough we drive right by Sun Studio…the birthplace of Elvis’ career…..
The Wife makes a u-turn, find a spot to park down the block and walk into the small building…..
As we get inside we are greeted with Wall-To-Wall people…..seems we weren’t the only ones wanting to see where Elvis got his start….it was so crowded it was hard to really stop and look at all the stuff on the walls….and there was some very cool stuff on the walls….just standing in that little studio and considering who had recorded there…..it was amazing….
We thought about buying tickets for the tour…..but decided against it with the drive to Nashville still ahead of us…..
After getting back to the hotel and packing up, we began our trek to Music City….before leaving Memphis we had one more stop to make…..Lenard’s BBQ…it was another Triple D spot and being on the way outta town…..it was a perfect way to end our three days in Memphis….
Lenard’s claims to be Elvis’ favorite BBQ joint….many places in Memphis claim to be Elvis’ favorite…..but if you think about how big The King was when he left us….maybe he did have a lot of favorite places…..
Lenard’s is a very nice joint….and might even hover above “joint” status….it is more restaurant than joint but the smell of BBQ fills the air so the fact that it was “nice” didn’t really take away from what I was expecting….
As the hostess showed us our seats, I was suddenly elated to find that this fancy establishment had a truck parked in the dinning room…..now how more “joint-like” can you be??????
I wanted the table right next to the truck…..I’m so glad The Wife has just accepted her fate and just kinda rolls with FatJoe….isn’t she a lucky girl….
We got our menus and started figurin’ out what we wanted….having just seen the Triple D episode that featured all the Memphis BBQ stops…..I knew I wanted to try some ribs and pork shoulder…..I ordered the ribs with a dry rub and the port shoulder “muddy” or wet……I went with a side of beans and slaw…..The Wife ordered a sliced brisket sandwich….
I snapped a few pics and the waitress returned with our drinks and some hot rolls….you could smell how good these rolls were gonna be….we both reached for the roll basket at the same time…..they were hot…..and with some real butter just inches away….the wait for our BBQ was going to be a good wait…..
They were even better than they looked…..
We scarfed all four rolls down and were just licking our fingers clean when our meals showed up….and from what I was seeing…..the Q looked like it was going to live up to the standard of those rolls….
I started with some of the slaw and found it heavy on the vinager but tasty…..then some beans…..very bbq-ey and good…..
I then dug into the ribs and they were pretty good…..not “Hunka-Hunka-Burnin’-Love” good….but good…..the ribs were tender, moist and the rub had a nice little bite to it….I then forked up some of the pork shoulder…..they were dripping with sauce….the pork was smokey and the sauce tangy….I liked the pork shoulder more than the ribs…..but both were good….
The Wife’s sandwich looked messy…..
Brisket covered in sauce and potato salad…..for the first time she would need more napkins than I would….
As we were leaving the Memphis city limits I took a moment to reveiw what I had eaten…..and there was some great food in Memphis…..I rate Tom’s BBQ, Uncle Lou’s, and The Arcade as “Must-Visits”……Lenard’s as a “Worth-A-Shot”….and Marlowe’s as kinda “Not-So-Much”…..
Can’t wait to go back and try all the other joints……we both agreed that Memphis would be a return visit kinda place….
And now for the Brisket Pics….
She’s growing fast….
Our last day in Memphis began as gray and rainy….we dodged raindrops on our way to the rental car and began to look for our next food destination…
It was called The Arcade…and it claimed to be Memphis’ oldest cafe…and while it wasn’t a Triple D spot it was featured on Man vs. Food….
We drove through the wet streets of downtown…. it took a little bit but with the aid of our GPS we found it….we parked on the street, made our way in and out of the rain…
We were shown our seats and it was apparent from the first few moments that this place ooooozed history….kinda steppin’ into a time machine back to the days when cafe’s ruled America….you could tell not much had changed since back in the day and it was very cool to be in a place that had been around for…..ever….
The waitress brought our menus and took our drink order….we both went with coffee and water….
As we looked through the breakfast choices we found it hard to choose….there were some wonderful items listed and it was here that you might come to understand the problem with a Food Tour…..as much as you might want to “PIG-OUT’ at a particular joint, you know that just a few hours later you’ll be sitting in another spot having to choose from their menu…..
So, you have to learn to temper your appetite and not go “HOG-WILD” so to speak…
I found something called the Redneck Breakfast…..four biscuits with four sausages covered in country gravy, two eggs, hash browns and I added a side of bacon….
The Wife went with the World Famous Sweet Potato Pancakes…..they came with hash browns and a side of bacon…
While we waited for our food we chatted about Graceland and how good the fried chicken at Uncle Lou’s had been….it had been a great trip so far…..and we still had Nashville on our horizon….
Our grub showed up and I wasted no time in digging into my gravy covered sausage and biscuits…..yummy for my tummy……this was great stuff…..the gravy was creamy and thick….the sausage had a little spice bite to it and the biscuit was light and flakey……Mee-Ma would have been dang proud…..
I sliced into my over-easy eggs and was about to begin mixing everything together on my plate when I got the sound…..just a foot or two from where I was about jump off into Eatsville…..a throat cleared……I stopped…..my fork hovering mid-air…..I looked up and saw the “I want a taste” look….I smiled and asked…..”Want some?”……
We both sliced off sections for the other to try and I must admit I’m glad she insisted on trading bites…..her sweet potato pancakes were delicious….an unusual taste…..but a very good unusual taste……the sweet potato mix with the warm maple syrup……worked very well together….
I really wanted to clean my plate but was reminded we had a BBQ lunch not too far down the road….one last spot to try in Memphis before hitting the road for Music City, USA…..so, I dropped my fork and chunked my napkin in my almost cleaned plate…..
It was really neat to eat in a place that not only offered great food but had a historical tie to it’s city…Memphis is steeped in history….being a true Son of the South, I appreciate its rich southern heritage……and to be seated in a place that has such deep roots makes one stop and think…..think of all the people that passed through the doors…..history is very cool…..
Memphis is a great place to visit….and The Arcade is a must….
Now for the Brisket Picture of the Week…..
I’m sorry it’s been so long between postings…..while July offered some wonderful vacation time with family and friends it was also a month of loss and addition to the FatJoe Clan…
The addition is our new puppy….and being FatJoe what else could I name her???
Meet Brisket……she is a 6 week old Blue Heeler (Australian Cattle Dog)……and…..yes…..she is named after a slab of slow cooked, smoked meat….
How we got to the name is kinda interesting….
As we began discussing getting a new puppy, we were having dinner at a Tex-Mex joint and were throwing out names….and almost in a kidding way I suggested Brisket…I got the EYE-ROLL on that and we proceeded to names like, Winnie and Dixie….
We had to drive out to see her at the breeder’s and found out it would be a week or two before we could bring her home….
On the way home I floated the name Duckie….and The Wife didn’t say no to that….and eventually it came down to Winnie or Duckie…..
One night on the phone with The Mom-In-Law, The Wife threw out that I wanted to name the dog Brisket……and The Mom-In-Law laughed and told her that it was a cute idea….later that same week we were with the Big Willie Family and Mrs. Big Willie also chimed in with saying that Brisket was a very cool name for a puppy….especially for FatJoe’s puppy….
I guess sometimes it takes someone else pointing out brilliance……and The Wife lives with such outstanding brilliance on a daily basis that I guess at times she just takes it for granted….and to her credit, once the light switch flipped on……she came around to what everyone else could so clearly see……
AND BRISKET IS HER NAME-O……
Next we get back to the rest of the Memphis/Nashville tour and then on to Hawaii Part II…..
Moments after we purchased our last trinket from Elvis-land, we were looking for Memphis’ Triple D joint #3….
Admitting to BBQ-Burnout (after Tom’s & Marlowe’s), I was looking for a change of pace…and Uncle Lou’s sounded like just the ticket….Guy had boasted that Uncle Lou made some of the best fried chicken he’d ever had….and even though Guy was only batting .500 so far in Memphis (Tom’s a sure home run and Marlowe’s a weak double), I was counting on his poultry prowess…..
It took us a bit to find Uncle Lou’s and after a little driving around we discovered it was only a few blocks from Graceland…my first impression of Uncle Lou’s was that Lou had the Food Network’s logo on more things than the Food Network must have on its own home facitlities….there was a van and trailer and both sported pictures of Uncle Lou and Guy….as did the front of the joint…..Guy’s visit must have been a crowing achievement for Lou…
As we entered we found the place kinda empty but it was late for lunch and early for dinner….however, we were greeted by a very large man with a smile to match his ginormaousness….we found out his name was Juan and Juan would be taking care of us while we were at Uncle Lou’s….
Juan showed us to the counter and asked what we wanted to eat…UL’s has a varied menu and there are large boards above the counter displaying the different things you can order….burgers, wings, sandwiches and of course….the fried chicken…
Lisa was behind the counter and with Juan’s help we made our way through the types of fried chicken offered at UL’s…there are a few choices….there is Homestyle and Sweet Spicy Love….and then there is mild and hot versions of each of those…. I went with a three piece combo mixed with one Homestyle (mild) and two Sweet Spicy Love (spicy)….The Wife went with the same combo but all mild….
The sides are as varied as is the chicken….I went with the corrupted carrots (more on Corruption later) and The Wife had some cole slaw…
We found seats and sat for what ended up being a wait….the place filled up some and there were people coming in and out getting take out….while we waited Juan entertained us and conversated (The Wife tells me this isn’t a real word….however, we’ve heard it used in two movies….) with everyone that walked in….not sure what Juan makes at UL’s but he could sell ice to Eskimo’s…..
As we waited a young woman came in and Juan introduced us to Uncle Lou’s daughter who actually manages the joint….she asked us about our trip and told us she had been in Texas just a few weeks before….she was very nice and according to Juan she’s the best manager ever…
Our food finally arrived and it looked wonderful….golden and crispy….and from the first bite….I loved UL’s fried chicken….the Homestyle was moist and as good a chicken as I’ve ever eaten….(up until that moment I would have said that the fried chicken at the Barbecue Inn was the best I’d ever had….I’m not so sure about that any more….) and the Sweet Spicy Love was over the top good…..the mild just melted in your mouth while the spicy had a very nice kick….this is chicken worth making the trip to Memphis….
The carrots were unusual looking and the first one kinda caught me off guard….carrots don’t taste like that….what I was about to find out was that the spice on the carrots was available to be put on anything….btw….I fell in love with the carrots….
The spice is called Corruption….(salt, onion powder, garlic powder, celery salt, lemon pepper and other spices) and OHHHHHHHHHHHH MYYYYYYYYYYYY GOOOOOOOOOOOOODNESS.….this stuff is beyond delicious….we sprinkled some on our chicken and it took something that was already incredible into realms where only God’s hang out….as my eyes rolled back into their sockets I noticed The Wife’s eyes sorta spinning….you can order this stuff on their web-site…..(before you do anything else….log in….and get some of this stuff)…..we brought some home and have put it on everything……popcorn, eggs, pork chops, burgers…..I bet it would be good on ice cream……
I haven’t even mentioned the Honey Buttered Biscuits…..as good as UL’s chicken is…the biscuits are even better…..no need to put anything on this pieces of heavenly bread…the honey butter gives the biscuits a flavor that fills your mouth with smiles…..
Last but least we got some strawberry/naner puddin to go….and UL didn’t let us down….we made ourselves comfortable in front of our hotel tv and divided and dug in….the naner puddin would have been wonderful by itself…..but the strawberries really added to the experience…..
I would give UL’s a 6 outta 5 stars…..as good at Tom’s BBQ had been….UL’s was a little better…..
Great chicken, great sides, great Corruption, great strawberry/naner puddin and great people…..
We woke up on day two of the Memphis/Nashville Triple D Tour to a very overcast Memphis sky….the local weather girl was warning of showers throughout the day…
The Wife and I saddled up in the rental car and headed for Graceland….part of the Graceland complex is a little strip center that has a 5 or 6 different shops that you can tour and buy Elvis stuff….there’s even a Elvis Harley shop….I had done some internet searching before we left Houston to find out who served a grilled peanut butter/banana samich….there was a cafe in this strip center that touted the “Samich Fit For The King”….so…..this was our first stop….
The Rock-N-Roll Cafe was a nice little joint….nothing fancy….but it was a good spot to start our day with Elvis…we found a booth and sat and the waitress brought us some menus….and there it was…..a grilled peanut butter and banana samich…..$4.95….
We ordered….The Wife went with a cheese burger…..and we waited and listened to some 50′s rock and discussed what the day might hold…we were both excited to be going to Graceland and were hoping not to get caught in a down pour….
Our food arrived and my PB&B samich was less than impressive….not sure what I was expecting but this wasn’t what I saw Elvis living on …..I had to remind myself that looks aren’t what’s important…..the proof is in the taste…..which is supposed to be in the puddin’…..right…..uh…..whatever….
This little un-assuming samich was pretty darn good….not sure if Elvis invented this himself, or not, it was tasty….I’m from a long line of weird peanut butter samiches…..there’s PB& Cheese……and PB& Bologna…..(try them before you judge)…..but I’m telling you that PB& Nanners is wonderful….the bread was toasted and the PB sorta melted around the nanner…..I found my lip curling up and I really wanted to kneel on the floor and throw both my hands in the air….just as The King use to do…..but….I didn’t have a sequined cape and that’s one of those things The Wife would whump me for….
After breakfast we headed to the Graceland parking lot and no sooner had we bought our parking pass than the bottom dropped out and we sat in the car deciding on what to do….
Well….we hadn’t come this far not to go check things out so we dashed to a covered walkway and waited for the rain to subside with some other Gracelanders…my biggist worry was I was wearing my new bright green shirt from Marlowe’s and I could just see myself walking around with skin dyed bright green…
We finally waded in and bought our tickets….here’s a little Graceland advice from FatJoe….
1) there are 3 levels of tickets….$32, $36 & $70….not really sure what the $70 gets you but the middle ticket gave us a full day of Elvis….
2) along with the tour of the house the $36 gets you 5 other exhibits on the property…..I would recommend the car museum, the airplanes, Elvis’s influence on culture….the two things that weren’t so hot were the ’68 Come Back Special, and the making of The Elvis Tour movie….
3) prepare to be there about 5-6 hours….
4) there were two other spots to by souvenirs off the Graceland property….the one across the street from the ticket office (on the same side of the street as the house) was the better of the two….
We really enjoyed the tour of the house….you will take a bus across the street to the steps of Graceland….it wasn’t as big as I thought it would be but it’s pretty impressive…..very ’70s with tons of green shag carpet…..once you leave the house you walk into the Hall of Gold which houses all of Elvis’s gold records and a lot of his movie stuff….then you move into the racket ball court which has been turned into another display of costumes and records….
You’ll then move back across the street to the other exhibits….the car museum is very cool and the planes are very neat…
We paid for the ’68 Come Back TV Special and the making of the Elvis Tour Movie….both of these were in shops next to the Rock-N-Roll Cafe…..both of these were sorta disappointing….but we paid to see them….so we did….
We bought a couple of things at Graceland but as you can imagine they mark everything up….you have to bring something home from the actual place…..don’t you???
It was a great day….if you’re near Memphis….you have to go….
Next….some of the best Fried Chicken I’ve ever shoved in my PieHole…..