Saturday, August 22, 2015

Pretty History & Good Eats in Nashville

Since 1875 Hatch Show Print presses have produced posters advertising entertainment such as country music shows, jazz shows and even wrestling matches. Several years ago, Chad and I went to an Austin exhibit of Hatch Show Print posters. We were excited to see the actual Hatch Show Print studio, gallery and class space during our trip to Nashville. Though Hatch Show Print has moved locations several times during its rich history, the old print blocks and presses made the move to the current location. The walls are new, but everything else has a respectable patina. On the tour, we learned more about the history of the shop, the contemporary workings of the shop and got to pull our own print through the press in the classroom. We exited through the gift shop naturally, picking out lots of letterpress cards.

On the way back to the loft we walked past the Schermerhorn Symphony Center, stopping to admire some fountains and sculptures outside the impressive venue.

After a lunch of Puckett's leftovers at the loft, we walked to The Frist Center for Visual Arts. The building itself is a sight to behold. What once housed the central Post Office for Nashville is a marvel of art deco finishes and details of marble and forged metal. The exhibits were also worth seeing: Italian Style: Fashion since 1945; Postcards of the Wiener Werkstatte; and my favorite, Jaume Plensa: Human Landscape installations and sculptures.

We stopped at an empty table in the children's activity area at the Frist to design our own Italian-inspired fashions. Mine is the orange and pink. Chad's is the brown and turquoise. Really? Brown? No.

Walking to and from The Frist Center, we saw many lovely historic buildings. I totally get why Nashville is called the "Athens of the South" with all of the classical style architecture. My top three favorite buildings were:

Hume-Fogg High School

U.S. Customs House Nashville

Union Station Hotel

One of our main reasons for going to Nashville was to catch up with friends who live there. Our scheduled date for the evening with one of Chad's best friends from high school, Hunter, was sadly, but understandably, canceled. Hunter and his lovely wife are first time parents to a very new baby, and consequently in desperate need of sleep. Our dashed date with Hunter yielded some great dinner recommendations in the form of a very helpful and apologetic email with a list of places he would have liked to take us. From the list, we chose Five Points Pizza in East Nashville. The vibe was fun: the right balance of laidback and lively. The salads and New York style pizza slices were awesome. If you've been to Home Slice Pizza in Austin, you might rightly draw comparisons to Five Points Pizza in Nashville.

We walked around East Nashville a bit after dinner to see what there was to see, and stumbled upon Pied Piper Creamery in a cute old Victorian house. The place was empty except for the nice lady working there. We shared a small scoop of trailer trash (vanilla ice cream with Oreo, Twix, Butterfinger, Nestle Crunch, Snickers, M&Ms, and Reese’s Pieces). The trailer trash ice cream was sublime and worth every calorie. We sat on the front porch of Pied Piper Creamery looking down the hill to the sidewalk for some light people-watching. Maybe it was the light rain falling, maybe typical Wednesday night doldrums or maybe good stuff just isn't as mobbed in Nashville as it is in Austin, but there weren't many people to watch. If Pied Piper Creamery existed in Austin, there would be a constant line out the door and down the sidewalk like there is at lick ice cream in Austin. The only place I experienced crazy crowds of people in Nashville was at Puckett's Grocery & Restaurant. These days in Austin it seems as if anything worth doing, or going to, has a forty minute wait or a line forty people deep.

It was a welcome change of pace to get out of Austin for a bit to cooler temperatures and lesser crowds of people. Come back soon for more travelogue tales of cooler weather and much more manageable "crowds".