Before moving abroad, I lived in Nashville from 1987-2014. This year I plan to move back to Tennessee and the place I call home. Most tourists come to Nashville for offerings in the downtown area –country music, sports, special events–but for lazier days wandering urban neighborhoods like-a-local is relaxing and fun. Over Thanksgiving weekend I had an amazing meal in East Nashville at Lockeland Table. I had to try their Southern Girl Cocktail. The Tennessean shows how it’s done here. Two other favourite places I love to roam and relax are Hillsboro Village where I did some Christmas shopping, and 12th South where I stayed a couple of nights before returning to the Caribbean.
At Pangea my daughter, Taylor, and I love to shop for clothes, purses, and other global goodies from Asia, India, and Central America. We found unique Christmas gifts–an antique brass compass and magnifying glass, a book on Southern cocktails, a leather wristband band–and a necklace and earrings for ourselves. Through the years I’ve loved birthday surprises from here–a book on literary lore, gift cards for vintage clothing or bedding.
And if you want to play around with a new look, stop by SEE. Here truly all that is old is new again with retro- large- lens-a-plenty. I saw my eye doctor there and picked out new specs for a new year.
A holiday highlight was a mother-daughter day at The Belcourt which was closed for renovation when I was home last summer. Although I missed this old familiar face , sinking into the seats of the historical hub of independent films felt like home. The nonprofit first opened its doors in 1925 to show silent movies on the city’s largest stage, but its vital voice in the community rallied supporters to make needed structural upgrades and add a second floor for a third screen and classroom space for educational outreach. For steering its expansion/revival Stephanie Silverman was named 2016 Nashvillian of the Year. Last fall in addition to the beloved weekend classics, new releases, midnight movies, Saturday family films, and offerings by Vanderbilt University faculty, local ladies benefited from Strong Leads: A Film Seminar for High School Girls, a six-week-after-school program on films about or made by women. And speaking of strong female leads…
Fans of Camelot, Taylor and I saw Natalie Portman in Jackie. I’ve always had a thing for the Kennedy story–probably because I remember though only four-years-old watching As the World Turns with my mother (I named my little sister after Penny, the main character). When Walter Cronkite interrupted the program to announce the President had been shot in Dallas, my mother called her mother. It was the first time I saw her cry. The film focuses on the seven days after JFK’s assassination from Jackie Kennedy’s perspective shared exclusively with Life magazine writer Theodore H. White.
Though heavy for the holidays, we appreciated the film’s honesty. Portman’s performance, a raw and rare portrayal of a very real wife, mother, woman, pushes past previously guarded and gilded glimpses at the most private-forced-public of First Ladies. Today a new generation reads What Would Jackie Do? inspired by her iconic taste in apparel, home restoration, and social graces. As with many women of her era, it wasn’t her style to take charge of her life until after Jack’s death when she became the Leading Lady of his legacy and her children’s future. Like Marion Zimmer Bradley’s The Mists of Avalon, the story of King Arthur’s Camelot from the queen’s perspective, the movie is more interesting than the original fairy tale because–like many women–Jackie helped create it to protect the ones she loved. Intelligent writing and exquisite cinematography merge historical details documentary-style with high art. The result is gut-wrenching. Although her prominent position exacerbated her tragedy, women who have lost children or raised them alone by death, divorce, or default can relate to how alone she felt. Taylor was impressed with Portman’s portrayal of strength and loyalty. She observed of Jackie’s tortured and tenacious planning of the burial: “She wanted the funeral to be perfect, but funerals are really more for the living than the dead.” Portman is expected to be nominated for an Oscar and the movie for Best Picture. It has already won Critics’ Choice Awards for Best Actress, Best Screenplay and Costume design, and Hollywood is still abuzz about Portman’s Jackie-like couture on the Golden Globe Red Carpet. If you are into history or empathy, see it no matter where; but if you can catch it at The Belcourt, bonus.
Other places locals like…
Pancake Pantry for those who don’t mind a line and a long wait
Just a few streets away from Hillsboro Village is 12th Avenue South flanked by new high rise apartments, historical craftsman cottages, and locals’ long-time hangouts.
Once upon a time this building was a cheese shop where I took Italian lessons upstairs. Today it is Five Daughters Bakery, home of the legendary cronut–a donut/croissant hybrid that takes three days to craft. Read about the adorable family behind the business here.
Last summer when I stayed in the 12th South area, I couldn’t get into bartaco for dinner. Crowds spilled out the doors and draped over the patio walls waiting for a table, so my sister, niece, daughter and their guys met there for lunch instead. The food was fresh, the music fun, the atmosphere relaxed–much like beach bars in Samana province of The Dominican Republic where I was headed the next day. The baja fish and sesame ribeye tacos, corn, guacamole and sangria were excellent. My only regret is not trying the black bean salad and a mojito, but I plan to be back…
It was nice to finally check out Draper James, Reese Witherspoon’s place. The southern girl is from Nashville so this one is the flagship store.
Below is my friend, Carol’s home, where I stayed last summer and last week when in town. You can book her upstairs suite with a separate entrance on AirBnB here. Just off 12th/ down the street from Five Daughters Bakery and Mafiaoza’s Pizzeria, it is central to all Nashville offers including her southern hospitality. While her home is now a quiet retreat that stays booked most of the year, back- in- the- day I danced under the stars at many-a-salsa-party in her beautiful backyard.
Places locals like…
Frothy Monkey–one of the coolest coffee shops in the city
12 South Taproom A recommendation from Carol for live music and fresh oysters (on my Next Time list)
Epice–I’ve had dinner here twice and love lingering over their delicious Lebanese food at marble tables on the patio
Urban Grub–large round booth to gather friends left of bar; best grits in town; oysters and craft cocktails their superpower