He was on a mission.
A mission inspired by a love of Cajun, deep fried anything, and a slow-cooked, secondary-cut meat.
We were in America in October 2014 for Bianca and Petty’s wedding and post their magnificent nuptials we were Deep South-bound and nothing was going to stand in the way of the Great Love and his determination to eat out the South.
I have always admired the GL for his will power, resolve and ability to see through his goals. Exactly until he interferes with my plans. And then we have problems.
But on his Southern food quest, I completely had his Backs. And that was even if he put on weight. Which he did; a tidy three kilograms in the space of two weeks.
Our trip, undertaken with my sister Ria, her pregnant belly and husband Zach, was a total two weeks in America, with half of this time a whirlwind Southern tour, during which we would blow through Atlanta, Nashville, Memphis and New Orleans, before the Big Apple and our return to London.
In typical Coffey fashion, we aimed to get a lot done. And did the GL ever.
The food odyssey began on a balmy and very pleasant Atlanta evening. We were caught up with our friend, the MC Rapper, and were sitting toward the back of a rather dark restaurant by the name of Roux on Canton Street.
It was a sweet place and an opportunity for the GL to dive in mouth first. He elected the Shrimp ‘n Grits (sautéed shrimp, bacon, bell pepper, onion, jalapeno-cheddar grits), teamed with a Cajun flat bread and side of deep-fried pickles. I expect there was a beer or two to wash it down.
The calorie-fest had begun.
The next day the GL and I were not up early. But Ria was, and therefore, we needed to be. On the agenda was a three-and-a-half-hour drive down Highway 401 to Nashville.
First, we filled our tanks with a diner-cooked series of delights and poor quality coffee. The GL elected deep-fried chicken, waffle and scrambled eggs.
He was behind the wheel that day (and for most of the trip) mostly because it meant Zach wasn’t behind the wheel. Which wasn’t the issue. The issue was Ria when Zach was behind the wheel.
Mid-morning we stopped at a service station to stretch Zach’s legs and the GL surprised everyone when he returned to the car with a hot dog hanging from one hand and a medium-sized Sprite the other.
Arriving in Nashville, worn from the road and peckish from a few hours sans food, we all settled into a live-music bar in Downtown Nashville where we listened to some average-to-good cover musicians and selected a high-salt offering of food to share: Buffalo wings, corn chips with guacamole and salsa dips and deep-fried pickles.
The eating of our afternoon snack was delicious, if thirsty-work. And while it had the Good Sister and I filled to the brim, it wasn’t so for the GL, who some hours later had us traipsing up a small hill in that city’s still, hot heat, bound for the well-regarded Puckett’s Grocery and Restaurant.
While I supped on Apple Martinis and the Good Sister sparkling waters, the GL munched his way through a dinner of Fried Green Beans served with Chipotle bacon ranch, Piggy Mac (cherry-wood smoked pulled pork in an iron skillet) topped with smoked Gouda Mac ‘n Cheese and a side of ranch salad. We then rolled him home.
Our group awoke ready to explore Music City and we set off in the same direction as every visiting octogenarian, the Nashville Music Hall of Fame.
That was, not before a breakfast of sausage, scrambled eggs and fried potato to put a pep in the GL’s step.
We wandered the Hall of Fame, before spending the remainder of the day soaking up the town as we drove north to south, east to west, including pit-stops at the famed Bluebird Café because the sister and I are big fans of Tami Taylor and the TV show in which she stars, Nashville.
Lunch that day was a brilliant affair at the Nashville Farmers Market which is home to a delightful and rather picturesque bevy of farmers, artisans, restauranteurs and local businesses, all selling their unique and tasty wares.
We ate in the Market House where there was an assortment of every fabulous Southern dish you could ever desire; the GL selected pulled pork, mac ‘n cheese, BBQ baked beans and corn bread.
The driving tour continued that afternoon, between the town’s cool and quiet areas and dinner that eve was pre-empted by an hour or two in the hotel catching our breath and indulging in a much-needed nap.
We wandered from the hotel to 312 Pizza Company, Nashville’s pre-eminent Chicago pizzeria, where we shared a deep dish delight which I swear shall be my last.
We retired early. Because we were too full to do much else.
Stay tuned for What Backs Ate, Part Two – The Memphis (deep fried) Leg