When we were in Tennessee last week, I wanted to make sure to have as much local food as possible … to really have a chance to dive in and find local favorites.
And I think we did just that.
I swear it feels like we ate our way from one end of the state to the other.
Likely because we did.
While most days, we didn’t even have three meals a day (some days were just one), we snacked and tasted and indulged around every corner.
And it was wonderful.
Let’s dig in.
Tennessee Pork Shoulder – BBQ is, of course, big in Tennessee and our first foray into it did not disappoint. We found the very best at Jack’s BBQ in Nashville. Tender, subtly flavored, but made amazeballs with their house-made, slightly tangy, BBQ sauce.
Cinnamon Bread – When we visited Dollywood, we spied a working grist mill where they were turning out fresh, hot from the oven loaves of cinnamon bread and giant cookies nearly as big as Madeline’s head. We bought one of each, found a shady spot outside and devoured every last speck.
Melt-in-your-mouth pralines and the best cheese popcorn I have ever had – discovered at a downtown Nashville candy store, Savannah’s Candy Kitchen. I had actually brought some pralines home to share with my mom, but they didn’t quite make it. Oops.
Maple Pecan Fudge – Fudge and vacation always seem to go hand in hand. Why is that? Madeline loves chocolate, Nick goes for peanut butter, and as for me? Maple pecan or maple walnut all the way. The best fudge was found at The Fudge Shoppe of the Smokies in the bustling center section of Gatlinburg.
BBQ Pork Rinds – the pork rinds you can find at the grocery store are no match for fresh, hot off the fryer pork rinds. Particularly when they’re the BBQ-flavored kind from Dollywood. Nick and I kept going back for sample after sample until we finally broke down and bought two bags to bring home.
Tennessee Smoked Ham and Red Eye Gravy – Tennessee Smoked Ham was one of the food items on the “must try” list that I compiled before we left. Slightly saltier than our own traditional baked ham, and slightly sturdier in its bite, it’s delicious, especially when dunked in Red Eye Gravy, as found at the Apple Barn restaurant, which was near one of our hotels.
Apple Butter – Also found at the Apple Barn restaurant, this one came out of nowhere. I honestly am not a big fan of applesauce, yet one taste of this made-on-premises apple butter had me searching for a jar to bring home.
And yes, with four jars of BBQ sauce, two jars of apple and peach butter, and two glass souvenirs that Madeline bought from a glassworks artisan, I was sincerely shocked that nothing broke in our suitcase on the return flight back to New Jersey.
If you happen to find yourself in Tennessee, all of the above are totally worth seeking out. Some are even worth ordering online. I seriously debated about bringing home some of the smoked ham and bacon, but that whole pesky “two hour rule” for refrigerated foods not being refrigerated prevailed.
Full reviews on all of the above establishments will be coming soon.
Tomorrow? Run or Dye 5K.