Nashville’s Top 5 Food Finds

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Nashville’s southern fare is getting a makeover, as Lena Diaz’s taste buds discovered.

Redefining Dining

1. Set in the residential neighbourhood of historic Germantown is City House, with a menu that marries Italian ingredients to traditional southern cooking. Try the chocolate pecan pie; a light shell with a chocolate, rum and pecan filling topped with coffee, caramel gelato. Hello heaven. Fun fact: Most cocktails are named after staff pets.

2. You’d never guess, with its unassuming cafeteria style setting and yellow painted cinder block walls, that Arnold’s is nearly as much an institution as the Grand Ole Opry. Come on in, grab a plastic tray and slide it towards your choice of meat and three (a Nashville tradition of 1 meat dish + 3 side dishes). Side dishes include collard greens, pinto beans, mashed potatoes and cornbread muffins to die for. Bring your stretchy pants.

3. Dinner at Margot is an herb-infused occasion where every dish from first to last leaves a fine impression. Start with an appetizer of Parmigiano Reggiano and Capriole goat cheese served with mostarda (candied fruit cooked in a spicy mustard flavoured syrup) and fresh focaccia bread; a great prelude to the daily house-made pastas.

4. Nashville’s iconic Loveless Cafe started as a pit stop in the early 1950s and, thankfully, neither the decor nor the home cookin’ has evolved. Biscuits served in a heap, waffles piled high with pecans and maple syrup; you wouldn’t want it any other way. The gift shop is a hoot; pick up a ‘Praise the Lard and pass the Biscuits’ tee shirt or some of their famous homemade jam.

5. Order a veggie lover’s taco of fried avocado with red onions, red cabbage, spicy dill sauce and cilantro at Mas Tacos. And add a cold Aqua Fresca (pineapple, cilantro and lime water) served over ice. Delicioso.

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Nashville Gallery

Rocker Style

  • Dining room chairs from the Eighth Avenue Antique Mall and light fixtures from ‘some Russian junk man on Coney Island’ match the home's vintage—originally built in 1933.
  • Salome, oil on canvas, overlooks Veta (the artist) and a vibrant red sofa in the living room.
  • LEFT The stunning Sohaila, mixed media on panel, holds court over the fireplace and Veta’s cat, Baci.

Talented Nashville artist, designer, photographer, video director and transplanted New Yorker, Veta Cicolello finds pleasure in the madness.

“I dabble in literature, music and the ‘theatre’ of a good meal”

“I believe the only way I’ll learn anything is to do the very things that frighten me most. So in that way, yes, you could say I am fearless when it comes to design,” says Veta. “I start with a mood and challenge the other pieces, especially the artwork, to hold its own against the surroundings”.

With her 70s-style shag haircut, reminiscent of a young Jane Fonda, Veta’s talent for mixing modern with a dash of New York vibe is evident throughout her two-story home. “I like to have fun with design. It has to be beautiful and it has to work,” says Veta, a graduate of New York City’s School of Visual Arts.

In the living room, books and art rule. “I love the look, feel and smell of books. They have a tremendous influence on me,” Veta confides. Not to be outshone, a tomato red sofa sits opposite the fireplace, a gift from Veta’s friend and hair stylist Michael Fox. The fabric is a New York City flea market find. In the dining area, bold yellow chairs circle an acrylic table on which rest a metal skull, colourful glass bottles and candle holders.

Both Veta and her husband, Theo Antoniadis, are passionate cooks. “When we moved in, the kitchen was a disaster,” remembers Veta. They gutted the original room to the studs and removed five layers of old linoleum before the original pine flooring finally emerged. A vibrant vinyl window treatment on the glossy black door leading to the pantry adds a dramatic accent.

“I labor over design choices and take each step seriously, but there is definitely a flow that just feels natural,” Veta explains. That being said, the playful and stylish mood of her home is a testament to Veta’s fearless flair for meshing rocker style with contemporary and vintage New York.

Hutton Hotel, Nashville

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Walking into a hotel lobby can sometimes feel stark and impersonal. The Hutton Hotel in Nashville is anything of the sort. It’s warm, inviting and gives a vibe that you’re walking into your friend’s uber cool living room.

With elements of country that are transformed into hip and modern the hotel is a place you will love returning to at the end of your day. You will be welcomed by the friendliest of staff willing to help you with any of your travel needs.

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Art is a large part of the design concept. An organized collage leans on linear shelves showcasing contemporary art. Sculpture is also impressive in the space, with a life sized abstract steel horse nodding hello as you walk through the lobby doors.

The rooms themselves are stylish and comfortable, the rain head shower is relaxing and a Nespresso machine on each floor means you can run down the hall in your robe to fetch a cup of morning brew.

A respect and appreciation for the environment is also evident in the design with eco friendly finishes and materials throughout. However, they go beyond suggesting that you re-use your towel. Eco-minded considerations in the form of light control with your room card, biodegradable cleaning products, and a recycling program for glass, paper and plastics to name a few. The Hutton Hotel is *clean* chic.

I’m sure you’ve got a trip planned south to Nashville after reading all about this fine city in the March/April issue of Dabble Mag so be sure to check into the Hutton Hotel when you get there.

Nashville Travel Guide

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With its unique mix of small town charm and big city excitement, Nashville won the hearts (and eyes, ears, and taste buds) of our Dabble travellers.

We all have preconceptions of a city based on its place in history, its politics, the vast generalisation of its people, its traditions and pastimes, food and landscape. Nashville, Tennessee, our first Dabble Does destination, is one of those places that is rife with cliches and presumptions. Home of country twang, the Grand Ole Opry, the Country Music Hall of Fame, southern cookin’ and Miley Cyrus. Music City. Cashville. Nash Vegas. The Buckle of the Bible Belt. The list of sobriquets goes on.

So when our three contributors: Nyla Free (design), Lena Diaz (food) and Eric Parker (travel), scoured the city to uncover its riches, its wealth and diversity surprised them. The eclectic mix of design and art turned Nyla into a shopaholic. Lena’s hunt for the city’s best fried chicken became a discovery of a cuisine tied to its roots but with flavours of the future. And Eric’s love of music opened our ears to a city offering more than just country.

Stay

Stand in the well-dressed lobby and watch case-carrying musicians check in at the fc bercool Hutton Hotel.

Rooms are comfortably sleek with gracious rain head showers and a hopping Nespresso machine on every floor.Union Station, designated a National Historic Landmark in 1977, is a luxuriously restored 19th century railway station with soaring ceilings and Tiffany-esque stained glass windows. The setting makes you want to dress in your Sunday best.

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Eat

No typical hamburger joint, Burger Up sports industrial chic decor, with mismatched cutlery and dishcloth napkins. Stylish plaid-wearing servers greet you with a smile while you mingle with locals in a community dining atmosphere. Try the fried pickles. Divine.

Locals claim Prince’s Hot Chicken Shack is the best and I can’t disagree. A Nashville specialty, hot chicken is battered in buttermilk and cayenne pepper and then pan fried. Better have a beer beside you; when we say hot, we mean hot.

Order a Dark & Stormy (Rum, Lime, Cruzan Black Strap and Ginger Syrup) at prohibitionstyle bar, The Patterson House. To avoid weekend lineups arrive early.

If you can, try and spot the ever-moving Grilled Cheeserie Truck. Once you find it, let me know. I searched for days and never got to try the Brie, buttermilk cheddar, egg and bacon sandwich a friend said is to die for.

Enjoy a late morning coffee at popular brew-tiques like Crema. Celebrities blend in unassumingly; Keith Urban and Nicole Kidman like to hang out at Frothy Monkey and Taylor Swift is a Fido fan.

Do

Visit art galleries like Ovvio Arte, The Arts Company and Gallery One.

The oil painting seen here is by Veta Cicolello, owner Ovvio Arte.

Get to a honky-tonk where you’ll find freeflowing beer and Tennessee whiskey as well as the best live country music in the state. You might even spot a Nashville celeb like Reba McEntire or Tim McGraw.
Visit Nashville for the 2011 CMA Music Festival, June 9-12. It’s the ultimate country music experience. Get there any way you can.
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See

Take a drive to neighbouring Franklin, 30 minutes away, where the countryside reveals humble churches, antebellum homes and amiable design shops like The Iron Gate, Rebecca’s Furniture and Design and Franklin Antique Mall.

The first African American college, Fisk houses an impressive permanent collection in the Fisk University Galleries. In addition to Cezanne, Picasso, O’Keefe and Stieglitz you’ll find important African American artists like Aaron Douglas, whose murals adorn Cravath Hall walls.

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Buy

Vintage dishes, linen tea towels, graphic memo boards and a stunning selection of upscale handcrafts make Knobstoppers & Cake Vintage Table & Home a must visit.Get your hands on some locally produced Olive & Sinclair dark chocolate, available at most coffee shops. Try the Mexican style Cinn-Chily.The letterpress posters at Hatch Show Print are nearly as famous as the acts they’ve been advertising since 1879.

More on Nashville: Dabble does Nashville, Issue 1 Mar/Apr 2011.

Nashville’s Top 5 Design Spots

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Design in the Mix

From the urban vibe downtown to vintage on the city’s fringe, interior designer and Dabble Design Contributor Nyla Free is astounded by choice in Nashville.

1. Make your way to the intersection of 8th and Douglas Avenues for a fine selection of design shops. Epiphany is a favourite for European charm. Visit Pre-to-Post for its eclectic mix of kitsch and vintage, Classic Modern for groovy retro and the Cane-Ery for antiques in varying stages of rejuvenation.

2. Trendy Hillsboro Village is a destination for noshing (expect line-ups at Pancake Pantry and Fido) and shopping. Start at Social Graces where cool stationery and gifts are beyond tempting. Work your way down the block towards Pangaea for Spanish influenced accessories and end at Retropolitan with its contemporary furniture and fab pillows. Hungry? Stop for frozen yogurt at Sweet Cece’s.

3. Nyla made her biggest purchases at Wonders on Woodland, bringing home spaghetti lights from the 1950s and a 1940s’ vase. Next door, Art & Invention Gallery is an artisan treasure trove.

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4. A former laundry warehouse in trendy Edgehill is home to Nest, with its upcountry chic furniture and accessories. Wander through adjacent shops and make sure to stop for lunch at the colourful Taco Mamacita. (Margaritas are 2-for-1 on Wednesdays.)

5. Set in a rambling roadside farmhouse, Three French Hens is named for the trio of friends who set up shop together. Occasional chairs, guest towels, bulletin boards and vintage jewellery make a visit well worth the 30-minute drive to Nolensville.

Nashville’s Top 5 Music Experiences

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Music City

As a little kid Eric Parker dreamed of Nashville. Five years ago he made the city home, and its music has been pumping through his veins ever since.

1. Writers-round:Celebrities draw fans to Nashville, but the real magic happens when the songwriters themselves take the stage. Catch a show at the Bluebird Cafe or take in a Hall of Fame Songwriter Session. In the spring, there’s the weeklong Tin Pan South Songwriter’s Festival, March 29-April 2.

2. Honky-Tonks:No trip to Nashville is complete without a visit to Broadway, the well-known strip lined with boisterous honky-tonks. Robert’s Western World features live music that handsomely bridges the gap between outlaw and hillbilly. Tootsies and Legends Corner are equally popular.

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3. Ryman Auditorium:The 120-year-old Mother Church of Country Music has hosted its share of famous crooners, from BB King to R.E.M. Recently, the Ryman appeared on screen in Gwyneth Paltrow’s Country Strong.

4. Grand Ole Opry:Once heard only over the radio waves, and rocketing singers and songwriters to fame over its 85 years on air, the Opry is best enjoyed live. Big name acts like Carrie Underwood and Rascal Flatts perform on this well-loved stage before packed audiences who get a chance to see and hear the world’s longest running radio program.

5. Historic RCA Studio B:Part of the Country Music Hall of Fame, tour one of the world’s most important and oldest recording studios, helping define the Nashville sound and giving rise to artists like Dolly Parton and Elvis.