Sunday, July 08, 2012

Memphis getaway

Well, it was late June. The kitchen renovation had dragged on for four weeks, and I'd be lying if I didn't admit it was getting to me.

So when some of my girlfriends started talking about a weekend in Memphis, I was all ears.

We drove up together early one Saturday morning, heading straight to Neely's Barbecue in downtown for lunch. We got there right before a big tour group, so we were able to enjoy our ribs (OMG.) and mac and cheese pretty quickly. I also had coleslaw on the side. I'm not a big closeslaw fan and, alas, Neely's slaw didn't make a convert out of me. But the ribs were amazing, and the mac and cheese is some of the best I've had at a restaurant. They also served those soft, white schoolhouse rolls. Yum!

Feeling refreshed, we moseyed over to Sun Studios. I'd never toured the small facility, and I was interested in a closer look. After browsing the gift shop a while, our tour guide led us upstairs to a room filled with music memorabilia. He explained all of the artifacts to us in an entertaining and informative way. He also played music clips from some of the artists and songs he was telling us about, and I thought that dimension added so much to the tour. I wish they'd do something similar at Graceland.

Then, it was downstairs to the actual old studio. Everything has remained intact, and it's thrilling to stand in the same room where famous songs were recorded and hear them playing over the speakers. Our tour guide even let us grab an old microphone and have our pictures taken.

This facility is small, and the tour is short. However, it's well worth your while to take a look! We loved it! (I even got Clay and I Sun Studios T-shirts in the gift shop afterwards.)

Next up, we'd planned to tour the Center for Southern Folklore. Their website said they were open on Saturdays, 11 a.m.-6 p.m. After a little trouble we found it, but we were disappointed. We'd misread the site. The center's SHOP is open on Saturdays, but the center itself is only open Monday through Fridays. Sigh.

Undaunted, we felt we ought to be checking into our hotel, so it was off to the downtown Marriott. After freshening up a bit, we headed down for drinks in the hotel bar before making our dinner plans. On the advice of our concierge, we gussied up, hopped the trolley and headed to Spindini's for Italian food.

Mamma mia! This place was great! The trolley car driver let us off right in front of the restaurant (which was good, because we had our high heels on!). I had a gorgeous plate of shrimp carbonara (full of shrimp and smoky bacon), some of the gals got pizzas, and another friend had a steak. A bottle of wine for the table, and we were in heaven!

Only one tiny incident marred our visit. About halfway through dinner, the friend sitting next to me began choking. It was a tense few seconds before we could get her standing up and administer a quick Heimlich maneuver. Thankfully, it worked. But it scared the heck out of all of us for about a minute there. It's weird. They tell you what to do when someone is choking, and you listen to that information, but you don't really get the chance to test it out. I remember thinking, "Man, I hope this Heimlich thing works!"

After dinner, we decided to hit Beale Street. And I learned something. I am too old to be walking up and down Beale Street late at night! First of all, they have barriers and police officers at each end. You have to show them your ID and be wanded down (for weapons, I presume) before they'll even let you on the street. And then, it's just the drunks and the smell and the crowds. Some guys barked at us. BARKED. No lie. I have grown too cantankerous to put up with it all, I think!

After making the loop, we headed to a place where we'd blend in much better - the Peabody Hotel, for drinks at their lobby bar. Aaaahhhh! I opted for a nice decaf coffee and their bourbon pecan pie. Afterwards, we caught the trolley back to the hotel and sunk into grateful sleep.

The next morning, we slept in and took our breakfast at Gibson's Donuts. I'd seen this place profiled on Cheap Bites (on the Cooking Channel), and it looked DIVINE! I ordered the New Orleans Buttermilk donut, an old-fashioned donut, and a cream cake donut. They were all delicious (I think the cream cake was my favorite!!), and coffee and juice washed them right down!

Then, we had to get our shop on. We went to Macy's first, then perused the Pottery Barn and Williams Sonoma outlets. I found tons of great stuff for our new kitchen at amazing prices!! WHY haven't I been hitting these outlets regularly whenever I get close to Memphis?! I will be sure and plan for shop time in the future!

Then, it was off for home. What a great way to avoid the remodel for the weekend!

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