Thursday, July 15, 2010
Crappy Steak & A Bundle Of Nerves
“Wow, that’s wet” was all I could think to say when Call-o and I popped outside the Nashville airport doors for our post flight smoke. I stood there puddling and puffing more than ready to start the next leg of our journey encased in the much needed air-conditioning of our rental car/party bus. We arrived on Sunday evening and had been warned that Memphis would pretty much be closed by the time we made the drive from Nashville….oh and yes I am aware there is an airport in Memphis but there was a rental car issue, cost like three times more to rent a car in Memphis and drive to Louisville, the final leg of our trip. So Nashville it was, plus Call-o and I have never been to Nashville so we would be able to cross one more city off our list.
Loaded up the party bus, (um these minivan jobbies are pretty cool by the way) with our luggage and case of wine that I brought and headed out onto interstate forty agreeing to stop and eat as soon as we saw something, no matter that it was like three in the afternoon our time, I had been warned so I knew we had better get our grub on as soon as we could. Call-o spied a Cracker Barrel and pulled the party van off the freeway….sigh. We had been to Cracker Barrel before, for breakfast not sure what made me think, “Steak. I think steak is a fine choice” but trust me I was punished palate wise for such a ridiculous idea…should have taken that breakfast menu they offered. Live and learn right? Back on the highway feeling like I had giant chunks of crappy meat lodged between each and every one of my teeth we made the three hour drive into Memphis slowing only when the pounding rain made it impossible to see no matter how fast the wipers were flying.
Lugged the…well the luggage up to the hotel at around 9:30 on a steamy Memphis night and almost immediately sliced into the box of wine. Needed, needed a glass of Rose so badly it was almost as if my body was digging for water as I peeled through the cardboard layers of the shipping container. Call-o dashed down the hall to retrieve a bucket of ice while I was on my knees pulling out bottle after bottle looking for a Rose, that’s when it hit me….holy mother of all heartbreak, I didn’t pack a freaking wine opener! Call-o returned with his, “Look what I got you” swagger only to be met by a so not happy Sam face. Tired, feeling like I was covered in airplane stranger farts and sticky with no wine opener…pissed. I did however remember that I had snuck a bottle of Pastis in my case, Pastis with a twist off cap. Now God is big there in Memphis and I think I might have heard him that night, “Dig one layer further Yee Less Than Faithful One” that’s when I heard the angels sing. Well after a second glass, a bath and once I had my jammies on anyway.
Didn’t sleep all that well that first night. Never do in a strange place not to mention I was awoken at 6:00 am by lightning, roaring thunder and water pounding against our 7th floor window. Call-o on the other hand was knocked out which ended up being perfect as by the time he decided to get out of bed the storm was predicted to be just about over. We were both starving and made hitting up some BBQ the very first action of the day. Once fed and feeling the blood sugar come back into normal range we just drove around town, air conditioner fully cranked, and got a feel for the city. Pretty amazing that within a block you go from kinda hipster, artsy to desolate and impoverished. At home there is more of a “warning stretch” where you can feel you are getting closer to the dodgy part of town, not in Memphis it goes from, “Hey look how cute” to “Um, I think I don’t want to go any further down this street” I absolutely love getting to know a new city. One of my other favorite things to do in a new town….hit up the Target. Okay this is not so much a favorite thing as much as it is a running joke, I always forget something, always. This time I had packed a nearly empty bottle of conditioner and of course I was in need of a cork extractor so off to the Target we go. Got back to the hotel and began preparing for the real reason I was there, dinner with Michael Hughes (Midtown Stomp) and Ben Carter (Benito’s Wine Reviews) two fellow wine bloggers and two cats that I have come to adore….from afar.
I think the plan was hatched between Michael and I, just talking about how great it would be to meet each other after years of reading and commenting on each other’s blog and all the chatting on facebook. We just felt like we knew each other and it would be amazing to finally share a glass of wine face to face. I instantly thought of Ben as well, Ben is hands-down my longest reader and has gone above and beyond to help me, even designing the header to this blog for me. I had wanted to meet him for years and was thrilled when he said he would love to join us if I did indeed make it out his way. Could not wait.
I washed my face, reapplied the face junk and got dressed for my long awaited meeting and then, I got nervous as hell! Such a chick, I turned into such a chick about an hour before we were to be at Michael’s for dinner. I kept fidgeting, changing my clothes, trying on different necklaces…shit that I rarely do so therefore I do it poorly. Standing before the mirror wishing I had taken the time to like get plastic surgery or at the very least a new outfit, I sent Michael a text message confessing that I was a wreck. He lovingly responded, “Awww don’t be it’s going to be fun” and I was instantly soothed. I was never afraid that we wouldn’t have fun just stuck in that terrible fear that they may be disappointed in me in person. Like I said, total chick.
I barely had a chance to get out of the party van before Michael came bounding across the lawn, arms extended with a giant welcoming smile for me. Big tight hugs and “It’s so nice to finally meet you” and then I had my arms around Ben as well. Felt fantastic. We walked into Michael and Kelly’s home, warm and inviting with the swirls of savory aromas finding their way deep into my chest and within minutes I felt as if I had been there before, many times before. Standing there talking wine, weather, religion I had in fact been there before, maybe not with these cats but with other dear friends and this meeting felt just like that. So while we had never been in each other’s physical presence we had been reading each other so long that the voices just synced and all the awkward, at least for me was just gone.
We sat outside drinking everything from Champagne, Pouilly-Fume, Oregon Pinot Noir and Chateauneuf-du-Pape and eating the lovely meal Michael had prepared. Puppies at my feat, damp grass between my toes, melt-in-your-mouth lamb shanks, glasses of wine and Michael and Ben at my side, don’t think I could have dreamed up a more perfect scenario. Just as we had finished dinner the sky opened up and sent us all grabbling platters, bottles, plates and heading inside…..now this, this is where the night gets even more familiar to me. “So where we going after this?”
Next thing I know we are piling into the party van, well Michael and Kelly did Ben was smart enough or has been reading me enough to take his own car to Barie, the bar we were heading to for after dinner drinks. Very cute little joint that had a great selection of interesting cocktails and even had a tasting flight of Amaro! Ben said he was meeting us for one drink which I think may have turned into three and I of course was in full I-don’t-want-the-night-to-end mode….therefore super buzzy. Michael and Ben were both busy the next day so Kelly graciously and probably drunkenly agreed to meet us and show us around Memphis. Poor thing had to drag my hungover ass all over town, where we both agreed that cocktails would make this much easier….went on like that all day. See something, get a drink….see something else get a drink somewhere else. It was only after seeing the Lorraine Hotel that I knew I needed a nap, spent I was just spent. We dropped Kelly off at home making plans to meet again when Michael got home from work and Call-o and I were headed back to our room for some water and a much needed nap…..
Yup, feels like home to me.