14 October 2014

Walking in Memphis... And Drinking in Memphis...And Eating in Memphis

One of many lovely cocktails that we consumed
This one had a crème de violette base 
Last weekend I had the distinct pleasure of traveling to Memphis to visit two of my oldest friends.  The three of us have known each other since we were sixteen and we attended high school and college together.  Ostensibly I made the trip south so that the three of us could plan our upcoming trip to Ireland in 2015, but naturally we did a good bit of those things we do best: eat, drink, and reminisce.

I miss the South on an almost daily basis, despite having lived in New England for more than a decade now, but comestibles are some of the things I miss most: sweet tea, cheese grits, biscuits, BBQ, and honeysuckle-infused vodka. Luckily in between our discussions of Dublin vs Belfast and the many allures of County Kerry, we had lots of time to indulge my cravings.

One of my favorite places I've visited with my friends is Brother Juniper's, and no trip to Memphis would be complete for me without stopping in for breakfast. Their cheese grits are superb (and of an ample serving), and I loved my open face Desperado omelet. It's only in recent years that I've taken to eating really savory breakfasts, but we were dining so late that the salsa and avocado helped ease me into lunch. I took half of my food home for snacking on later.

The world's best grilled cheese sandwich

We also hit up the Memphis farmers market early one afternoon when I heard that there were food trucks there.  I live in a pretty small town with no food trucks at all, so I'm always excited to sample what's on offer during street fairs, etc. My friends introduced me to what they referred to as the best grilled cheese sandwich in the world, and they weren't exaggerating. Or at least not much.  It's a simple grilled cheese sandwich, made sublime by the addition of an egg, a slice of tomato, and arugula.  The recommended hibiscus tea was the perfect accompaniment, not to mention a lovely, deep shade of crimson. Just to mix it up a bit, I ordered the chicken tacos with sliced avocado with homemade roasted tomato salsa and handmade corn tortillas.
My vegetarian California benedict
This vegetarian frittata was fantastic
On Sunday after church, we did a traditional jazz brunch with cocktails at The Majestic Grille in downtown Memphis. Their cocktail menu was so fetching that we resisted their fantastic mimosa prices.  For $15, you can get an entire bottle of sparkling wine and a large carafe of orange juice to make your own!

You'd think with all of that food that we'd be too full to order dessert, but when the desserts are served in tiny little shotglasses, who could possibly resist? And clearly I had to order the bubbly Prosecco cocktail that was created with a honeysuckle-infused vodka, made right in my home state of Mississippi.  So pretty!

Of course, it wasn't all eating and drinking and trip planning that weekend.  We took long walks around Carla's neighborhood, and while they were not quite as refreshing as a turn about the room, they did aid greatly in our digestion.  We also saw a couple of Little Free Libraries...

...And some lovely autumnal displays. Who says New England gets all of the color this time of year?

We poked around downtown and saw some interesting store fronts.  We also drove by the National Civil Rights Museum -- the Lorraine Motel, where Martin Luther King, Jr. was assassinated.  My next trip to Memphis, I'd like to visit it properly.

We also went miniature golfing on the world's most disappointing course. Not a single windmill or water hazard in sight, even on the course that was allegedly challenging. Carla won. Still, the day was beautiful and even a little unseasonably cool.  (Which meant it was a high of 75 and not 100% humidity.) Naturally we had to reward our hard work with a stop at a famed Mexican gelateria. We may or may not have ordered a cool dozen cream popsicles in a dazzling array of flavors (we did), and I may or may not have eaten three of them the next morning for breakfast (I did). Avocado, sweet cream, pine nut, rum raisin.  They were all great, but the coconut was so damned amazing that I tried to figure out how I might get a lifetime supply home with me on the airplane...

These are amazing, y'all.  For realz.
One night we even acted like sophisticated grownups. We began our evening at the rooftop Twilight bar downtown to catch the sunset.  We thought since it was Sunday that it might be less crowded. Silly us.  It was packed, and we were lucky to find a small couch to sit together in the middle of the throng, much less along the railing for the actual sunset.

The "M"Bridge across the Mississippi

Still, we showed them. We waited until three women got up from their table to get to the Katy Perry. It was a beautiful evening, and we counted ourselves quite fortunate as we enjoyed the view, watching the barges make their way up the river as darkness fell. It was quite breezy up on the roof, and once the sun went down, we were all grateful for our wraps. We appreciated the fire pits that the bar lit, too, though perhaps the mood lighting could have been slightly less purple.

During our sundown conversation, it somehow came up that I'd never seen the Peabody Hotel, so we made our way there so I could see its splendor.  Their famed ducks were all tucked away safely for the night, but its public spaces were quite lovely. We enjoyed the live jazz piano for a while before heading back home. 
Rumor has it that they change out these
fresh flowers every single day.

Saw the ghost of Elvis...
Just a random nighttime scene downtown
Even though I had four nights in Memphis, the time flew by.  Then again, any time spent with loved ones not often seen will seem necessarily short.  I never did get my bbq, but that will have to wait for another time. Thus I leave you with a video of the song that lingered on the periphery of my consciousness during my trip.  


  1. But how did you keep the popsicles from melting after buying them outdoors when it was 75 degrees out?? HOW EMILY?

    Everyone keeps talking about chicken tacos and they're all I've wanted since yesterday and agghh. But this all looks lovely and reminds me that we need to hang out.

  2. Well, we ate some ice cream in the car on the way home and put the popsicles in the fridge immediately. The REAL question is how I can get these to me in MA. Because they are AMAZING.

    We will definitely hang out. BEA CHICAGO, BABY!

    And that probably used up my daily allotment of all caps, so that's that.

  3. I was really sad we couldn't head to the south on our US trip because OMG THE FOOD ALWAYS LOOKS AMAZING. And honeysuckle inflused vodka? *swoons*

    When are you thinking of doing Ireland in 2015, because I am also looking at England and Ireland in 2015!!

    1. The vodka is made by the son of my first mentor. They tout Cathead Vodka as the only *legal* still in the state of Mississippi. I was afraid the honeysuckle would make it too floral, but I couldn't NOT order it.

      We're looking at the first half of May. How about you?

  4. I love reading you on eating and drinking! Better than doing it myself, my own tastes are so rudimentary. I've only just recently realized I hadn't subscribed properly to your blog but I've figured that out now, so I won't miss a trip or a honeysuckle infused vodka! Cheers!

    1. Cool! And thanks for stopping by. Nobody should ever miss anything that contains honeysuckle-infused vodka.

  5. What a fun trip! It's so nice to spend time with old friends. :)

    I'm pretty sure one should always go to places with food trucks. There were a couple at our town's harvest festival this past weekend and I wish they were there all the time. Small town living is rough!!

    1. Rumor has it that there is a cupcake truck that visits the next town over for one day each week, but it's not a regular schedule and I've never actually spotted it. MOAR FOOD TRUCKS!

  6. The fooooood. The drinks. Oh man everything looks so good.


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