I get on the road to rest! Nashville to Saint Louis
Nashville to Saint Louis on the American Countess
Monday July 4th Clarksville, Tennessee (Founded in 1784 near the confluence of the Cumberland River and Red River. It is named for General George Rogers Clark, brother of William Clark of the Lewis and Clark expedition).We arrived at the Countess, at her scenic docking place, McGregor River park. There is no way to choose a favorite boat when it comes the AQ Voyage boats on the rivers, each has her own unique look and personality. The Countess is just exquisite and embodies simple elegance. My cabin was on the Cumberland river side and the view is peaceful and lovely. Martin and I enjoyed a wonderful dinner in the main dining room on board overlooking the river with its floor to ceiling windows. Entertainment on our river boats is such a part of the experience. So, it’s always special when there is a surprise step on guest. Lee Greenwood came aboard and was the perfect entertainer for the 4th of July. We had a brief visit before his packed show in the Grand Ballroom. Since we were not cruising until the next day, we snuck across the street to play pool with some of the crew. I realized pool is best played quite sober or quite drunk. I was terrible being neither. But loved the time with my son. The fresh tuna poke with avocado was the perfect summer starter for dinner. I will warn you the most difficult thing on board is making choices off the menu. It is nice to travel with someone who will share so you can try more of the menu items!Tuesday July 5thClarksville, TennesseeWednesday July 6thClarksville, TennesseeFor me, a little relaxation goes a long way. In search of something to do, the operations manager, Connor Murphy, and I cooked up an impromptu cocktail class which we did in the more casual dining area on the boat, The River Grill. How can you not be inspired to mix a few drinks when you are in Bourbon country? I also made one of my favorites, quick snacks, Cocktail Party crackers with pimento cheese. My dinner entrée choice that evening was the perfect Braised Lamb Shanks over seasoned polenta. The Seared Seabass with Crawfish Sauce was a hit around the dining room. The show that evening was a tribute to Bob Fosse. It wonderfully showcased the true talent of our singers on board, Ian Benjamin, his lovely wife Eva Santiago, and Shaun Samaro. It is amazing, too, what our quartet, under the direction of Devin Eddleman, can produce with these three talented performers.Thursday July 7thDover, Kentucky. Dover is on the Cumberland River. This was a short stop, soI spent the afternoon doing what I love best, creating food and fun. For my cooking demo I made Nashville Hot Tacos with Countess Margaritas. I set the mood for a fun time by showing Joe York’s short film about the Nashville staple, Princes Hot Chicken. It’s a hysterical look at this iconic “hot chicken” restaurant. After my cooking demo our amazing musicians on board did a set of Nashville inspired tunes while everyone sipped their margaritas, nibbled on tacos, and sailed away from Dover towards Paducah, Kentucky.I started with one of my favorites, Roasted Diced Beets, Cashew Cream, Truffle ChipsThe shrimp linguine with champagne cream sauce was perfect as well. Friday, July 8thPaducah, Kentucky. Paducah sits at the confluence of the Ohio and Tennessee Rivers.In Paducah, I enjoyed the morning on board the Countess with a group of women who seem to run the city. It was great to see how all the different organizations— Chamber of Commerce, CVB, and City all work so closely together. I was especially happy to connect with local chef and restaurant owner, Sara Bradley. I’m coming back to Paducah at least two more times this year and I look forward to the food tour she promised to take me on during my next trip, mutton BBQ in the parking lot of a liquor store! Right up my alley.For lunch, Martin and I walked up the hill to Paducah’s welcoming downtown and found Doe’s Lunch Place (a Mississippi stalwart) and had their famous Delta tamales and split a delicious steak sandwich. The highlight of dinner was the lamb chops served with tomato mint marmalade. It reminded me I need to make my tomato mint marmalade and bottle it while we are in peak tomato season)That night, the entertainment was a history of Jazz with our bandleader, Devin Eddleman who is stellar on the saxophone or any woodwind he picks up. Quinn Sengupta, magical on the grand piano, Cole Baker amazing drummer and Landon Rolfe, soulful on the bass. Devin curated a perfect walk through the history of jazz, it was spellbinding, truly. If you like jazz or food…you might enjoy this one of many articles I wrote for the Atlantic several years ago. https://www.theatlantic.com/health/archive/2011/03/restraint-what-cooks-can-learn-from-miles-davis/72017/Saturday, July 9thCape Girardeau, Missouri, on the Mississippi River. Cape Girardeau is one of my favorite stops with tons of great food and beverage stops on Spain Street. I could not complete this trip without sharing my “everything you need to know about my Biscuits” class. It was, as always, great fun for me. The minute I finished punching out biscuits, Martin and I hurried off the boat to visit the Cape Girardeau farmers market before they closed at noon. Then we went to lunch at the Farmacy restaurant where we had the tastiest banh mi burger. (I’m still craving another one!) Everything at the Farmacy is homemade and grown locally. This amazing family with 10 children ranging from 24 to 10 years old, have a farm and work with local producers to deliver a genuine farm to table experience. It is a must stop.That night we listened to the band play a great selection of hits from the 60’s-80’s for the ‘Dancing through the Decades’ party and we all needed the exercise after a few days of such wonderful food. For dinner, a salad and perfectly cooked lobster tail was nice and light. It was also great having Martin my dinner companion so I could taste his crawfish bisque which was as good as it gets! Chef Alice has done a fantastic job on this trip and leads a great team in the kitchen. Sunday, July 10thKimmswick, MOI got off here to make sure Martin could make his flight on Monday and we could get an early start for home. I leave again soon from Memphis all the way to Louisville. But several guests went to the Blue owl for thier amazing "Bluff High" Pies. see photo above!
Regina’s Restaurant and Bar suggestions from this trip and a few cocktail party recipes!Birmingham, AlabamaBottega – 2240 Highland Ave. South, Birmingham, Alabama (205-939-1000)Chez Fonfon- 2007 11th Avenue South (205-939-3221)Hot, Hot Fish Club 2901 2nd Avenue South (205-933-5474)
Nashville, Tennessee The Green House Brunch! – 2211 Brandywood Drive, Nashville, TN (615-385-4311)
Martin’s BBQ Joint – 410 4th Avenue South, Nashville, TN (615-288-0880)
The Red Headed Stranger Taco’s- 305 Arrington, Street Nashville, TN (615-544-8226
Restoration Hardware – Courtyard Restaurant 2102 Green Hills Village Drive, Nashville (615-209-7644
Paducah, KentuckyFreight House 330 South 3rd Street Dinner only (Sara Bradley opened in 2015, sharing her passion for Paducah and farm-to-table Kentucky cuisine. You may know her ‘from Bravo's Top Chef season 16
Doe’s Eat Place 136 Broadway (knowing Doe’s in Greenville, MS had no idea there was one here. The tamales were totally Mississippi River Delta. It is the type of lunch you would expect on the river, everything from Spaghetti to Steak. The steak sandwich is amazing. The perfect thing to do on Saturday morning in Cape Girardeau, if you don’t come in on a Saturday, you can do 2 out of the 3. • Farmers market 35 S Spanish Street (Saturday mornings)• Ebb & Flow FermentationsAddress: 11 S Spanish Street• Spanish Street Farmacy, 36 Spanish Streethttps://www.spanishstreetfarmacy.com/why-local-food Kimmswick, Missouri The Blue Owl- the owner Mary Hostetter makes the most amazing pies! a must stopCOCKTAIL PARTY RECIPES FROM THE AMERICAN COUNTESS! Old Fashion- 2 ounces bourbon, 2 sugar cubes, 4 dashes of angostura bitters (try replacing the sugar cubes with flavored syrup made from apple-cinnamon or chai tea bags boiled with sugar, replace sugar cubes with 2 teaspoons of syrup.In a mixing glass, add sugar cubes and bitters, muddle, add Whiskey and Ice, Stir, Strain into glass, Add a Large Ice Cube, Garnish with an Orange Twist and Maraschino Cherry Manhattan- 1.5 ounces of bourbon or rye, .5 oz good red vermouth (Carpano Antica is my choice) dash of bitters, garnish with Luxardo cherryFor a twist- Add 1 teaspoon of maple syrup, then place 2 drops of Orange Blossom Water onto a cedar plank, torch, place glass over fire, add ingredients to mixing glass, stir with ice, strain into smoked Coupe Glass Boulevardier – 2 ounces of bourbon, 1 ounce of sweet vermouth, 1 ounce of compariFor a twist- I like to substitute the Campari with Aperol. Stir ingredients with ice in a mixing glass, strain into glass, garnish with an Orange Twist COCKTAIL HOUR CRACKERS1 16-ounce box saltine crackers1 cup butter, melted¼ cup brown sugar1 tablespoon garlic powder1 tablespoon smoked paprika1 teaspoon crushed red pepper flakes1 teaspoon dried oregano1/2 teaspoon salt 2 teaspoons freshly cracked black pepperPreheat the oven to 300 degrees F. Prep two baking sheets by placing a wire rack on the baking sheet.Place the crackers in a 9x13 inch baking dish so they are against each other just as they are out of the packaging and lined them up in the dish (you may need to do two batches). You want to apply marinade evenly over crackers for the best flavor.Melt the butter in a sauce pan over low heat. Stir in the sugar, garlic powder, smoked paprika, pepper flakes, oregano, salt, and pepper until combined. Pour the mixture over top of the crackers (again, you may need to do two batches!), trying to get in between each cracker. Use a spoon to drizzle any extra butter on the crackers and spread around the butter so it covers the crackers evenly.Place the crackers in a single layer on the wire rack. Bake for 15 minutes, then flip and bake for 15 minutes more. Let cool completely before serving. Keep in airtight container. They are great with Pimento Cheese!