Wednesday, July 20, 2011

Midweek: Goodness Gracious, Kenny's, Amish Daytrip and Fido for Dinner

Nashville Restaurants and Food
Midweek: Goodness Gracious, Kenny's, Amish Daytrip and Fido for Dinner

We did the staycation thing this year and found it quite enjoyable. We don’t usually talk about our vacations; however all of these tips are things you can do yourself in a daytrip or in the case of our first mention, about any time you want.

We’ve done the Fido breakfast for years. They started dinner service quite a while ago and it’s taken us this long to get there. It’s still the same loud, bustling coffee joint in the evening as it is during the day and perhaps even more so. The menu is a short one and changes often. This day promised salmon, a couple of soups, a burger, ratatouille and a couple of other entrees. That Local Burger is a revelation and of unusual construction: grass-fed beef and lamb patty topped with fennel, fig, onion straws and Kenny’s cheddar cheese. It’s pretty darn good and a perfect medium rare as ordered. We’d stack this sucker up against anything at the all-burger joints. Thai chicken noodle soup is a hybrid of spicy and wholesome all at the same time. The ratatouille is the embodiment of summer: eggplant, whole cherry tomatoes, and the unusual addition of shitake mushrooms and Noble Springs goat cheese. The Veggie Eater was not offered a spoon with her soup, but soon learned it was not necessary, as it was so chunky it was easily managed with a fork.

Fido may not be the place for a romantic dinner due to that bustle, but would prove an excellent choice for a fun date. We paid $23 with tax and tip.

And speaking of Kenny’s cheese- we took a day trip to Kenny’s Farmhouse Cheese in Austin, Kentucky. It’s about an hour and a half from Nashville. If you call ahead they’ll be happy to arrange a tour for you. It’s not much more than a visit to the production room and storage room. What you do get is a walk-through of the entire cheese making process with plenty of time for questions. Kenny’s is unpasteurized, which means the milk comes straight out of the cow and into the processing tub, where it gets cooked up and then turned to curd for pressing. Kenny has expanded his cheese line-up lately and his wife says business has been good, up nearly 40 percent last year. We sampled the new varieties including Joe (coffee infused) and Ted (a blue rind named after Kenny’s granddad). Our favorite was the two and-a-half year old cheddar. We asked if he was considering aging the cheddar longer and were told that while they would like to do that, the demand is simply too high to allow any product to sit idly by. We thank Mrs. Mattingly and their employees for their hospitality. It’s an enjoyable trip thanks to the interesting tour, the bucolic countryside and the Amish in the area. There are plenty of roadside stands and markets to stop in and browse.

Pizza anyone? We asked for a recommendation for a local lunch spot and Kenny’s wife mentioned a bakery down the highway. The Country Bakery on Highway 87 in Austin is an unassuming place run by Mennonite folks. There’s a tiny little counter at one end and a few picnic tables outside. They turn out a variety of wonderful breads, doughnuts, fritters and cookies. The special of the day was white chili. I shrugged and decided to give it a go. One sip and I could tell everything was going to be great: it’s spicy, complex and full of sausage and chicken- one of the best of its kind I have had. The rest of the lunch menu doesn’t look to offer much, until you get a closer look at the pizza. Pizza is the mainstay of the joint and that fresh dough goes to good use. It’s excellent pizza from the hearty crust to the toppings. A meat supreme found a generous spread of bacon, ham, sausage and pepperoni. They made a special veggie pizza on request—it was loaded with pickled banana peppers to add a little zing, green peppers, onions, and olives. Who knew Mennonites could make great pizza? We do now. If you go, check out the wooden Amish Buggy figurine with Pizza and Bakery sales logo on it…pretty interesting.

You’ll see Amish folks along the main drags on the way out to Kenny’s and if you get off the beaten track you’ll find plenty of Amish farm stands and crafts for sale. Quite frankly, the Amish thing often seems a bit ridiculous if you’re only buying Amish stuff from large manufacturers in Ohio.

Habegger’s is located just off Highway 100 west of Scottsville, Kentucky. You’ll find the usual selection of Troyer stuff. The real find is the veggie chips. They take beets, pumpkin, carrot and green beans and turn them into a healthier version of the veggie chips you can buy in the store. It’s cheap enough in bulk to really stock up.

A daytrip to Murfreesboro led us to Goodness Gracious CafĂ©. It’s located just off the square on College Street in downtown Murfreesboro. The historic home is decorated in an eclectic Southern-style. It’s obvious from the get-go that everything is house made. Puff pastry chicken is a great lunch. The pineapple cheese casserole was both different and excellent. You’d think that pineapple might be too much for casserole, but cooked-up it works well. Blue cheese bacon slaw is finely diced with nuts for a unique flavor. The Veggie Eater had the Four Cheese and Herb Quiche of the day, coupled with a choice of two sides, a garden salad and sweet potato fries. The quiche is a savory single serve pie, complete with homemade pie crust. The salad is generous in size, with a fabulous homemade bleu cheese dressing. The sweet potato fries were baked, but amazingly crispy.


Anonymous said...

Eric and Katie, you guys are the bomb! We took off for the Scottsville area last weekend and had a blast. We even made an overnight trip out of it. (Beware: Barren County is a dry county.)

Beautiful country drive!

Dig this: we arrived at Country Bakery at noon Saturday and the three lovely women in Mennonite garb had just set aside work for a few minutes to sing in harmony from a songbook! One of those mental snapshots I'll never forget.

Their pizza is fabulous and really laden with stuff. Their "sourdough" bread is actually pretty sweet and makes great tomato sandwiches when toasted. I think the sweet baked goods need to be eaten up pretty quickly but we tried an old-fashioned cake doughnut, a fried pie, and a cherry kolache. All were great.

If folks go for no other reason, buy a couple slices of pizza, take 'em outside and sit at one of two picnic tables and enjoy the breeze and the longest, deepest windchimes you've ever heard or seen. We asked where they got the windchimes and they directed us to a little garden center about a half-mile away, and we bought a set! (Not cheap, but...)

BTW, Kenny's has delicious-looking chocolate, strawberry and vanilla milk in a little fridge to the right of the cheese fridge - easy to miss. They also had some eggs when we went. They're just nice as can be at Kenny's and we could even see a couple of real humans just inside the next room making cheese. The really cool thing is experiencing the absolute stink of the cow barn right in the parking lot juxtaposed against the pristine cheesemaking indoors a few feet away. Man, you understand the whole lifecycle of cheese that way! Kenny's is so far out in the middle of nowhere, but so worth the trip, especially if you have kids who really need to see how cow=cheese.

We thought Habegger's (sp.?) was fascinating for all the spices, jams, pastas and dried fruit but frankly their produce out front sucked. (Re: dried veggies: I just had to buy some dried okra. Turns out dried okra tastes just as bad as wet okra!) So here's another tip: turn left out of the parking lot and head down the road you came the other way on. There's six or seven Amish farmstands down the road. Here's how you know you're on the right road: if you aren't following a trail of horse pucks you're not on their roads. (Buggies have horses, horses have oats, roads have both.) On a Saturday you will definitely pass five or six buggies with folks in garb at the reins. At these farmstands the produce is fresh and fairly priced. Just don't expect the Amish guy ringing you up to make chit-chat; they really like to keep to themselves. FYI, one of the barns had a number of copies of a map of the local Amish farmstands - try to pick one up.

Anonymous said...

OK - so just a little more about our daytrip to SoKy - hope you won't mind. Saturday night we tried a BBQ place in Glasgow that came highly recommended. Hmmm... let me think... I think the name rhymed with loose or goose or juice (wink!). It was a miserable meal. Miserable crusted-over veggie sides, downright worthless 'que, really nasty cash register woman. About halfway between Barren River Lake S.P. and Glasgow we saw a catfish shack with a ton of cars in the parking lot. We'll try there next time for sure. Glasgow dining is just grim.

Hey, when we got up Sunday morning we took a right turn out of Barren River Lake State Park and came upon this "groovy" cafe just a half-mile or so on the left. And I mean "groovy"! Folks are really laid back, they make and sell fresh salsa, there's a hippie guy doing terrible paintings on the porch, and they serve Bongo Java and nice-looking veggie quiche! Really nice people. I think it's called something like "Paradise Cafe" and it looks like an old service station. It's really worth a stop even if it looks a little strange from the road. Nice to buy your coffee and breakfast from people who appreciate your business!

Finally, we read that the Park Mammoth Resort motel a few miles up the road is starting a winery and trying some new things with an old and kind of dated motel. (
We went there a few years ago in the dead of winter and really enjoyed (and needed!) their indoor pool. We took a little hike and learned they had a narrow-gauge kiddie railroad that ran all around the hills near the motel. One of those roadside treasures that have sadly gone away. So we got back to the motel and wandered into the wrong wing and it was totally "The Shining"! Empty rooms you could wander in and out of and all they needed were a couple of trikes at the end of the hall and you'd be watching out for Jack and the ax. But really, it's always been a nice little mom-and-pop "resort" and I hope the winery helps bring it back.

So THANKS SO MUCH, you guys, for the trip suggestion and the places you found! Such a refreshing little trip!

Eric and Katie said...

Really cool thing about the milk at Kenny's Cheese-these are the JD milk folks that sell at the Nashville Farmer's Market; they're Mennonite and small world that this is, part of what they are selling is Kenny's milk. Apparently, Kenny's has more cows than it needs for cheese (and they hope to expand) so they sell the extra milk to the JD folks, who quickly found themselves not able to keep up with demand for local go to the NFM and you can find the same varieties there...alas the funky Paradise Cafe is only open Fri-Sun, so we didn't have a chance to partake...last, for another adventure, go to the swap meet at Tim and Susie's place, which has equal parts buggies and cars for both sellers and buyers; lots of small animals (bunnies, chickens, goats) and a mish mash of other things. Happy trails. Veggie Eater