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Wednesday, March 27, 2013

Spring Fling Giveaway!

I'm participating in a great giveaway over on GypsyBeee! There are tons of great prizes to win!

Head on over HERE to enter!

Tuesday, March 26, 2013

East Nashville Beer Fest 2013

East Nashville Beer Festival
Shawn, Jeff, Me and Jen waiting in Line to enter

The East Nashville Beer Festival is probably one of my top five favorite days of the whole year. When I attended last year, it was my first beer festival ever. I surprised myself by how much fun I had. This year was no different. In fact, I enjoyed this year even more. Why? Because in the past year I learned a lot more about beer. I learned what goes into making it, what the different varieties are, and what I actually like. I was more focused about my tasting priorities this year and even more adventurous!
Jackalope at East Nashville Beer Festival
The first tent we went to had most of our local favorites. I really enjoy going to Jackalope brewery and my favorite is the Bearwalker maple brown ale. But, they didn't have that on tap so I went with the Bourbon barrel aged Rompo red rye ale. Let me just say that the Rompo is probably my least favorite of all the Jackalope offerings, but I loved the barrel aged version. The barrel flavor smoothed out the bitter hoppiness I normally find offensive. I hope this becomes a year round beer.
Yazoo at East Nashville Beer Festival
Yazoo is the hometown favorite and my personal go-to local drink. I tried their Beacon "high-tax ale" which is a collaboration with other Tennessee brewery Calfkiller. This beer's purpose is to raise awareness of and protest the incredibly RIDICULOUSLY high beer tax in Tennessee. I recommend going to Fix the Beer Tax to find out why you should support this movement. I thought the beacon was a middle of the road easy drinking Ale. I did try their Embrace the Funk, which I found a little too funky for my own taste.
Calfkiller at East Nashville Beer Festival
The other Tennessee local beer that I love is Calfkiller. My friend Jeff is certifiably obsessed with them and exclusively orders their offerings at most local bars. They were the only brewery that had a huge line the whole time. And honestly, I understand why. They offer consistent amazing beers. They had a few classics on tap as well as some specials. My favorite was the Classic Spider which was a barrel aged mixture of their stout and brown recluse. I think most people in my group agreed that this was one of their favorites of the day. Another tasty offering was the Coffee Whiskey J. which was a woody J. Henry Mild with coffee beans and aged in a whiskey barrel. This was strong and delicious. I wasn't a big fan of their Cerveza de Jesus, which is a beer made with all the grains in the bible and aged in scotch barrels. There was too much going on in this beer I couldn't wrap my head around it. I would be remiss if I didn't mention Jen's love of the Scorched Hooker- her favorite go-to beer.
Rivertown at East Nashville Beer Festival
Rivertown gets the award for "Brewery that I never heard of but I loved the most." These guys know their beer. Their Roebling Porter was one of the best porters of the day. Heavy on espresso and chocolate notes while being thick and filling. I love porters, but I generally despise blueberry beers. Whelp, Rivertown showed me I was wrong. Their blueberry lager was possibly the best blueberry beer I have ever had. It's a beer I would actually pick up at the store and drink.
Straight to Ale at East Nashville Beer Festival
I've been enjoying Huntsville's Straight to Ale brewing since I first tasted them at the fest last year. I'm a sucker for their kitschy space-age marketing and their flavorful beers. Steve went to the Straight to Ale tasting at Craft Brewed for Craft Beer Week and brought me home the lovely Laika Russian Imperial Stout. At the fest I tried their Hellfire Quadruple. Jen and I loved it and thought it was delicious, smooth and yummy. This was probably my favorite Belgian-style ale not from Belgium of the whole festival.
Schmaltz at East Nashville Beer Festival
I have a soft spot for the He'Brew beers from Schmaltz. Last year, the Funky Jewbilation was my favorite beer of the entire festival. I knew that they were having a special tasting of the 2013 version at 2pm and I was lucky enough to eek out the last glass. This is the beer to end all beers- a mixture of 6 ales and lagers aged in bourbon and rye whiskey barrels. This beer will put hair on your chest and make you feel like a manly man. For such a loud beer, it is positively delicious and still one of my favorites. L'chaim, He'brew! 
Schmaltz at East Nashville Beer Festival
Left Hand Brewing from Colorado makes my favorite drinkable stouts. We tried their Smokejumper which is a smoked imperial porter. It was a little too "campfire" for me and tasted more like liquid smoke than anything else. I'll stick to their milk stout.
East Nashville Beer Festival
A big shout out to Rhizome productions for doubling the amount of port-o-john's this year. There were always plenty of available toilets. I didn't have to wait more than 2 minutes for the facilities, and at a festival designed around drinking this is key. Things were great on the potty front.
East Nashville Beer Festival
This fine guy is Sean and he works at Craft Brewed, a new local tap room and bottle shop. Craft Brewed hosted a bunch of the Craft Beer Week festivities and it's one of Steve's favorite new hang outs. If you haven't been, I highly recommend stopping by for a tasty brew.

Here is a run down of some of our favorites:

Starr Hill Brewery: Psycho Kilter Wee Heavy
He'Brew: Funky Jewbilation
Calfkiller: Classic Spider and the Coffee Whisky J.
Rivertown: Roebling Porter and Blueberry Lager
Crispin: As You Wish Cider
Kentucky Ale: Bourbon Barrel Ale

Our not so favorites:

Green Flash: Park West Porter
Red Brick: Brick Layer Ale
New Belgium: La Folie Quad
Lazy Magnolia: Southern Pecan in a Pinot Noir Barrel
East Nashville Beer Festival
Clearly, we had an amazing time. Can't wait for next year! I also can't wait to brag about all the awesome beers I got to sample.

*Disclaimer: While I received free tickets to this event, my opinions are wholly my own. I would like to thank Matt from Rhizome Productions for taking a shot on a local blogger with a major love of beer.

Monday, March 25, 2013

Quiet over here...

Happy Monday everyone! Just letting you know there will be no regularly scheduled outfit post today.  My parents are in town visiting this week and we are just spending our time together.  I hope you all had a nice weekend and I'll be here this week, I promise! 

Friday, March 22, 2013

Nashville Food Friday: Belcourt Taps

I have to admit that I am a tad bit biased going into this review. Before Belcourt Taps existed as it does today, it was known as Belcourt Taps and Tapas. I went to Taps and Tapas once and had a horrible experience. The food was terribly prepared and I didn't understand the menu. I vowed never to go back again, and I didn't. Then at some point in the past year (I don't remember exactly when) Taps and Tapas closed, re-branded, re-worked their menu and re-opened as the more succinct Belcourt Taps. I still didn't want to try it despite the changes. But when my friend Shawn wanted to have his birthday dinner there- I couldn't say no.
Belcourt Taps in Nashville Tennessee
Inside it looks like a bar. There are a few tables and chairs and a long bar. There was a stage at one end of the restaurant that would be the scene for some karaoke later in the evening. We were there prime dinner time- 7:30 on a Friday night- and the place was fairly dead. I think when we walked in there was a couple at the bar and then one other table taken. I will chalk that up to the fact that 1- it was Vanderbilt's spring break and 2- it was snowing outside and Nashville collectively freaks out at the first sight of a snowflake.
Beer at Belcourt Taps in Nashville Tennessee
We ordered some beers when we sat down. For a place that calls themselves "Taps" I would have expected a more extensive beer list. But maybe that is just me. Maybe I was just a little unhappy that they didn't have any of my go-to styles- porters and stouts.
Burgers at Belcourt Taps in Nashville Tennessee
Our friends who come here recommended the stuffed burgers- the house specialty. They are pretty much a fancy version of the turducken, meat inside meat inside meat. Steve ordered the Macho Burger which had buffalo chicken stuffed inside the burger. Steve loved his burger. I had a bite and I wasn't blown away. The burger had to be huge to fit the stuffing, which made the cooking time longer, which made the burger well done. I HATE a well done burger.  On the plus side, the burger came with a side of fries which we upgraded to truffle fries. The fries were really amazing. For me it was the best thing I ate all night.
Shrimp Tacos at Belcourt Taps in Nashville Tennessee
I wasn't feeling up for a burger so I wanted to try something else. The shrimp taco plate sounded good- so I went for that. When I ordered it the waiter let me know it was not a lot of food and asked if I wanted more. The price tag was $9, so I assumed it would be more than enough for me. BUT LOOK AT THIS SPARSE PLATE? This dish was basically a few shrimp, tomatoes and cheese in a tortilla with a sad piece of lettuce for a garnish. ***TIP*** if your lettuce looks sad, don't use it as a garnish. GARNISHES ARE MEANT TO BEAUTIFY A PLATE. So for $9 I got two sad tacos made with stuff that I had in my refrigerator. Now, let me show you what $9 will get you at other places around Nashville:
$9 will get you three of the best tacos of your life at Mas Tacos. 3 TACOS. 3 FAT, AMAZING TACOS.
For $9 at Rosepepper you can get this awesome combo plate with a chimichanga, taco, rice and beans, and steamed vegetables.
For less than $9 you can get a rocking burrito or quesadilla from Nuvo Burrito. My personal favorite is the heart of dixie that has sweet potatoes and bacon bits.

I think it's safe to say that Belcourt Taps FAILS on their taco plates. The taste was utterly pedestrian and the price was absurd for the portion. I was still hungry after finishing my tacos and found myself scrounging around the table for leftover fries. Where they succeed (mostly) is in what they're known for- the stuffed burgers. Steve, Shawn, Meg and Dave all loved their food.
But this was a birthday party after all, so let's not forget the awesome brownie cake that my friend Meg made for Shawn. This was a fudge brownie with thick icing. I will say that our server was quite nice, and quickly brought us several dessert plates and forks. However, a server having to give customers a disclaimer about the portions of the tacos is a HUGE no-no. It just sounds like the restaurant is giving excuses rather than fixing the problem.
Belcourt Taps in Nashville Tennessee
Have I mentioned the lovely decor made up of creepy paintings of 70s rock stars? No? Well, here's Robert Plant.

Overall, I'm still not a fan of Belcourt Taps. I guess after about a year of reviewing local restaurants I would be forced to review one that didn't blow me away. Sorry guys.

Belcourt Taps on Urbanspoon

Thursday, March 21, 2013

Monday, March 18, 2013



This sounds totally crazy to me. I started this blog as something to do while Steve as at SXSW last year. I've always wanted to have a blog, just never felt courageous enough to take the plunge and make it happen. It's amazing what dating a talented photographer can do for one's self esteem. So with some free time and no blogging/html/design skills I started this little blog. I highly recommend NOT reading my old posts as they are terrible and I didn't understand formatting. They are painful to read, but without them I wouldn't be able to see how far I have grown in just one year.
I would like to extend a big THANK YOU to the entire blogging community. If it wasn't for all of your support and encouragement I probably would have thrown in the towel a long time ago. Like most bloggers, I have my periods of self-doubt and the sense of being lost. There are tons of really good bloggers out there and I find it hard to have my own voice and unique spot on the Internet. So whenever I wonder why I do this, I look at my sweet comments and I know why. I have made some really awesome friends through blogging this past year and I wouldn't change that for the world!
This weekend was a good one. The weather was wonderful and I got to have some quality time with some of my favorite people. On Friday night Leah and I got tamales and margaritas, made these awesome string feather earrings (featured here!) and went out dancing at QDP. If you live in Nashville and have not been to a QDP yet, you are seriously missing out.
On Saturday morning I ran my obligatory 9 miles. While I wasn't as fast as I wanted to be, I was faster than the previous weekend. Since the weather was gorgeous Steve and I spent the afternoon hanging around Centennial park and soaking up the sun. Saturday night was spent with good friends playing Cards Against Humanity. On Sunday Steve and I kicked it into high gear and worked on the house. We got so much accomplished! I am proud of us and I love how everything is working. On Sunday night I got to celebrate Jen's birthday. Jen is one of my favorite people ever and I was so happy to celebrate with her.
I was feeling a little moody (re: emo) when I put this outfit together. I just got the horrible news that our already-postponed Morrissey concert was officially CANCELLED. Thanks, Mozz (but really, get better). I decided to go with black bone leggings because that's what a sad goth girl would wear, right? But since I'm not a real goth lady I paired it with a kitty tank top because that's just how I roll.
While I would like to say positive things about this tank top, I just can't. Not because it isn't cute, but because the company I purchased it from was TERRIBLE and they have the absolute worst customer service. This was the first time I ordered from them and I can tell you for sure I won't be making that mistake again. I debated writing a blog post about my customer service experience when it first went down, but then I realized it sounded too whiny. Long story short, they sent me the wrong product and ignored numerous emails, tweets and facebook posts to make it right. I still have that wrong product and it irks me. It's like they stole from me or something. END RANT.
How cool is this new earring? Leah came over and showed me how to make string feathers! They were easy and quick to make. I did a terrible job of cutting mine down to make it look like an actual feather. My next one will be way better, I promise!
Top: Company with terrible customer service
Leggings: Romwe
Shoes: Anthropologie
Necklace: Midnight Riders

Friday, March 15, 2013

Goodbye, Google Reader

Are you just as bummed about Google Reader going down as I am? Yeah, I'm super duper upset. But you can still follow me on Bloglovin!  You should also sign the petition for our last bit of hope to save the Reader.

Food Friday Louisville Edition: Havana Rumba

Havana Rumba Cuban restaurant in Louisville Kentucky
The good thing about living in a city like Nashville, where most people you meet are from somewhere else, you know just who to go to for recommendations when you travel. A few years ago a group of us trekked up to Louisville for the Forecastle festival and we needed a spot to have lunch. Lucky for us our dear friends Gillian and Taylor spent some time living in Louisville and knew just the spot! Havana Rumba is a really good Cuban restaurant tucked off a main road in an out-of-the-way strip mall. Unassuming on the outside, Havana Rumba is spacious and well decorated on the inside, with friendly staff and tasty grub.
Havana Rumba Cuban restaurant in Louisville Kentucky
Havana Rumba Cuban restaurant in Louisville Kentucky
We went to Havana Rumba after a long night of celebrating Lauren's birthday. We were all looking pretty weary and the hotel coffee just didn't cut it that morning (it kind of tasted like tree bark). Lucky for us Havana Rumba's house coffee was delicious. It was fairly strong and had a great flavor, enough for me to drink it black.
Epanadas at Havana Rumba Cuban restaurant in Louisville Kentucky
Steve and I were super hungry so we ordered some empanadas to hold us over until our main dish arrived. These were chicken empandas with a roasted red pepper sour cream sauce for dipping. I'm a sucker for empanadas and  I think they are one of the world's most perfect portable foods. They were lightly fried and crisp. Tasty and NOT dripping with oil. I mean, look how perfect and pretty they are!
Masas De Puerco at Havana Rumba Cuban restaurant in Louisville Kentucky
Steve and I are pork people. We love some pig and Cubans sure know how to cook a pig. Steve went with the Masas de Puerco which is basically fried pork chunks. The pork chunks are covered with grilled onions. Steve though that the pork itself was a little bland, but tasted much better when eaten with the onions. Unfortunately, there weren't enough onions for Steve's liking on the plate. The side dishes were traditional congris (rice and beans) and fried plantains. The plantains were really good! But honestly, I don't think I've had a plantain that I didn't like.
Lechon Asado at Havana Rumba Cuban restaurant in Louisville Kentucky
I ordered the Lechon Asado which came highly recommended by Gillian. Lechon Asado is a pulled pork dish where the pork has been marinated in citrus and spices. This dish was a winner. The pork was tender and had just the right amount of fat. The pickled onion on top was a nice contrast. Have I mentioned before how much I love pickled things and vinegar in general? The Lechon came with congris and yucca. I wasn't always the biggest fan of yucca. I usually found it dry and stringy. But I really enjoyed Havana Rumba's take on it. They cooked it long enough that it wasn't tough and stringy, plus the added spices on top gave it much needed flavor. This was a very large portion of food for me. We wound up taking half of it home to Nashville and our car smelled like pork for days.Havana Rumba Cuban restaurant in Louisville Kentucky

Nashville only has one Cuban restaurant and it's fairly small with a limited menu. I've been craving Cuban for a while and getting to have lunch at Havana Rumba was such a treat! Now how can we get them to open one in Nashville?

Havana Rumba on Urbanspoon
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