Nashville

Four Years

Four years ago I finally made the decision to go vegan. After being vegetarian for 13 years and toying with the idea of being vegan for three years, I finally took the plunge in August of 2010. It has been one of the best decisions of my life. I’ve met some great people and eaten some delicious food over the past four years. And now I get to share that experience with two amazing people: E and Little H. 20140209-112103.jpg

E and Little H were born last October. We got off to a rough start with E spending almost 6 weeks in the NICU, but she was able to come home for Thanksgiving and has been doing great ever since. After many sleepless nights over the past nine months, I feel like we have somewhat of a routine now.

E and Little H have a great nanny, which has allowed me to go back to work part time, cook, train for a marathon, and occasionally take a nap. I’ve filled the blogging void with Instagram (follow me here), but I hope to get back into blogging at least once or twice a week now.

Besides baby smiles and laughs, the highlights of the last few months include:

1. Isa Does It. This cookbook is amazing. Most recipes are pretty quick, so it’s great for a week night. Everything we’ve tried has been delicious.

2. Getting back into running – the Woodstock Challenge 5K.

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3. A family trip to Wisconsin and a meeting of the cousins!

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4. A road trip to Nashville to celebrate the marriage of my best friend from high school.

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(The Wild Cow)

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(Khan’s Desserts)

5. A 24-hour trip to New Orleans for a bachelorette party

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6. Cookies – for Christmas, Chinese New Year, the Super Bowl, Groundhog Day, and St. Patrick’s Day

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Nashville – Day 3

April & I went out for a two mile run on Monday morning (2.17 to be exact). It is the farthest she’s ever run! It was an out & back route, so after we ran to the turn around point, we walked back. A good hot weather workout.

It was another hot day, so we opted for an inside activity and we went to see Hangover 2. Not a great movie. A few funny moments and some beautiful scenery of Thailand, but, overall, it’s kind of depressing and disturbing.

Things got much better after the movie when we went to PM. Homemade style veggie burgers with mushrooms and a sweet chili sauce and a side of sweet potato fries!

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PM marks it’s vegetarian (V) and vegan (V*) dishes. The burger is listed as vegetarian because it comes with wasabi mayo. Without the mayo, the dish is vegan. The burger was great and the sweet potato fries with Sriracha sauce were fantastic. A good ending to a great weekend.

Nashville – Day 2

I started the day with a 4 mile hilly run with 83 degree and sunny weather. So hot. This day was sure to be a scorcher. We had brunch at Fido’s. I went there the last time I was in town and had the bagel with hummus, which was good. It has a bunch of egg dishes on one side of its menu, but you can sub tofu for $1. I ordered the village burrito with tofu, no cheese or sour cream (to which the cashier said: “okay, vegan.” I love cities!). To drink, I had a soy latte. I haven’t eaten it yet, because I was too full, but I bought a vegan cookie – spicy hot chocolate. Sounds good.

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After brunch, we walked around and browsed through the little shops. We spent a lot of time in the bookstore. I bought a Neal Barnard cook book. I need another healthy one to go with Appetite for Reduction.

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Next we went to the Parthenon. Yes, the Parthenon. There is a full size replica of the Parthenon in Nashville. It is quite impressive. Unfortunately, it was closed, so we couldn’t go inside to see the statue of Athena, but the outside is spectacular.

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We were thirsty after walking around in the sun, so we went to the Hermitage House, Nashville’s fancy five-star hotel. H & April got martinis, but they came with blue cheese stuffed olives (awesome idea: cashew cheese stuffed olives! I’m trying that soon). I ordered a pear martini, which was refreshing.

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Before we left, we checked out the men’s restroom. It’s green and black art deco and even has green toilet seats.

For our final stop, we went to Diana’s Sweet Shoppe, an old timey ice cream shop from Michigan that was bought up and moved to Nashville. There was no vegan ice cream, or even sorbet, so I ordered a lemonade. However, when I saw H’s milkshake and April’s ice cream, I went to the front and bought some fancy Nashville chocolate from Olive and Sinclair. I picked up three flavors because I couldn’t decide. I tried the salt and pepper bar. The pepper is subtle. It was very good.

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We went back to April’s to get cleaned up for dinner and headed out to Virago for sushi. There are no veggie rolls on the menu, but the server said they can make almost anything. I said just surprise me with two rolls (but not with mayo, because I’m vegan). There was a fair selection of veggie options on the appetizer and small plates page of the menu. We ordered the super special edamame with a spicy flavoring and soy glaze. The edamame was also a little charred. It was really good.

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After dinner, we went across the street to Whiskey Kitchen for a drink. We sat outside; it was such a great night. I love warm summer nights. CMT was filming some dating show inside, so look for me in the background.

Nashville – Day 1

Saturday’s agenda: Tennessee renaissance fair and honky tonkin’

I’m not sure how to describe the Ren Fair. People really get into costumes even if it’s not from the time period or area of the world Ren Fair celebrates. Or maybe there were belly dancers who wore tiny Victorian top hats with feathers in 15th Century Italy. I wasn’t there. There was also a lot of fantasy costumes – painted fairies and people with creepy elf ears.

We got some traditional renaissance food – a salted pretzel and fresh squeezed lemonade and got in the ridiculously long line to see the castle that the founder of the Tennessee Renaissance society lives in.

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This is allegedly a sword from the crusades that was once in the presence a Richard the Lionhearted.

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Back at the fair, we walked around, saw an awful comedy show and a jousting tournament.

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The jousting was pretty impressive. These horses were huge and most of the guys were older. It was extremely hot and they were in full armor. After the tournament, we headed back to April’s house for a nap, so we’d be well rested for the honky tonks.

For dinner we went to Taco Mamacita, which has a separate vegan menu!

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I ordered a salad with the vegan jerk taco (good, but a little too sweet with the plantain) and the freaking vegan taco (just as delicious as it is fun to order). Of course, we had to start with guacamole and margaritas.

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