September 16, 2011

Making Memories At Monell’s In Nashville

Monelle's A Nashville Tradition, copyright The Allium Garden

Monell’s, A Nashville Tradition

Nashville is known to be young, hip, and country-cool, with the right dash of yesteryear thrown in for good measure. As I flew into the city for this trip, I couldn’t help but notice the lavish estates of country music’s icons. I also spied Percy Priest Lake and LP Stadium, the scene where Tennessee’s Titans routinely clash. The city’s life-blood though is music, and it shows from the moment I walked off of the plane and into Nashville International Airport. But there is more to Nashville than country music. There is also a little restaurant called Monell’s.

The first time I discovered Monell’s was almost 10 years ago. My girlfriend had just landed her first real job there, and had invited a group of us girls out for the weekend.  She showed us around the city and we hit the music scene, and hard.  All and all it was one of the best girls’ weekend I’d ever had.  On the Sunday morning we were set to leave, and at my friend’s suggestion, we met up at Monell’s for brunch.

As we entered the gate of the property, we were greeted by an enchanted garden complete with a swinging bench and hybrid tea roses in warm hues of scarlet. As I approached the door to the restaurant, I noticed a long line of people waiting to be seated.  I didn’t mind so much because the morning was friendly to the wait; the air was fresh, and the sun was warm and welcoming. That said, I still found myself unprepared for this interruption in the  flow of the rhythm to our day, I suppose I just foolishly assumed the good folks of Nashville were all in church, and my friends and I were the only loose girls not in a pew!

I was puzzled why so many people were waiting outside to be seated at this not-so-new place.  After all, Monell’s is housed in a 19th century Victorian home.  After about forty-five minutes of waiting, at last, our patience paid off.  We were shown to a table by a smiling, thoroughly Southern woman who asked us to join a table already filled with people, none of whom we knew.  I asked my friend if we were meeting someone, and she replied, “no, that’s Monell’s, it’s family style.”

What followed next was the most wonderful symphony of Southern dishes, including Monell’s famous corn pudding, greens and fried chicken.  The food was unforgettable, but the company made the meal.  We laughed and talked with strangers, though you wouldn’t have known we were strangers by looking at us.

On this trip to Nashville, I made the journey back to see that friend get married. Funny how life takes you full circle.  I couldn’t help but stop there this trip with my husband.  Together we shared not only a meal but also the memory of that grand old time at Monell’s.

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September 11, 2011

Memorial Gardens To Tribute 9/11 Victims

Remembering, The Allium Garden


We cannot escape noticing today will mark the tenth anniversary of the tragic events of 9/11/2001.  On that fateful day, I happened to be working in a government building across from the Pentagon.  I watched in disbelief as flames engulfed our military’s headquarters.  I thought I was in a bad dream and that I would wake up at any moment.  When I started out to work that day, I thought the day would unfold like any other day, but I would later pray that by some extra ordinary miracle, I could get home to see my loved ones one more time.

It’s not unusual that we as nation would want to memorialize the heart-break of that day, and garden lovers have found a way to so as well. To mark the occasion, there are a number of gardens around the country commemorating the events of 9/11 with a  ceremony.

Since Flight 93 was bound for San Francisco, there you will find commemorative gardens at Pleasant Hill and Union City’s Sugar Mill Landing Park.  By next summer, Napa is planning to unveil a memorial garden and sculpture to commemorate the tragic events.

In two separate ceremonies in Los Angeles, the Beverly Hills 9/11 Memorial Gardens will be unveiled this weekend and will feature a 30-foot twisted steel beam from the twin tower wreckage.

In NYC, the New York Botanical Garden in the Bronx is offering a free All Garden Pass on Sunday.

In Chicago, the Chicago Botanic Garden will host a free carillon concert in honor on the 9/11 victims and their families.

Britain suffered great loss on 9/11 as well, and the nation will mark the anniversary with a remembrance ceremony to be held at the memorial garden next to the American Embassy in Grosvenor Square, London.

In Shanksville, PA, the Remember Me Rose Garden thrives in honor of those on Flight 93.

Is there a garden ceremony near you?  Let us know.

September 8, 2011

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale Is Everything Fall Should Be

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, image

Dogfish Head Punkin Ale, image

This is September, and I think we are all a little bummed that Fall is just around the corner. In cooler climates, this essentially means saying good-bye to our venerable and continuous tomato harvest. I’m sure some of you are thinking, that I should slow my roll, and realize there are plenty of Fall cool season crops to fuss over, as there are three more months of growing left in the year. But if we are brave enough to let go of summer, we can come to accept that Fall is a great time to drink beer.  What’s that? Do I hear dissenters out there who are saying to themselves, “I thought this was a garden blog?”  Well yes it is, but it’s more than that.  It’s about ‘seeing the world through the garden,’ and craft beer is all about the bounty of the garden.

Here in Delaware, we have one of the great brewmasters of craft beer, Dogfish Head.  As I perused their web page, I came across an interesting description of their latest, and much anticipated launch having, “smooth hints of pumpkin, organic brown sugar, and savory spices…” Sounds like a pie, or a latte right?  But Dogfish Head is gearing up to introduce their Pumpkin Ale, and with ingredients that read like a warm pumpkin pie who can blame me for my new beer fascination?  Especially beer made with seasonal, farm-to-the-table ingredients.

Punkin Ale is named after a local event in southern Delaware called Punkin Chunkin, set to take place November 4-6 2011, where pumpkins are thrown in the air and smashed to the ground with great fan-fare and exaltation.

Dogfish Head is a real institution here in the First State, but the craft beer movement can be felt all over. I’m certainly won over…

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