Arrington Vineyards + ‘Writing Down the Bones’

arrington

Last month, when my brother was in town, we spent a night with friends at Arrington Vineyards, located about 25 minutes south of Nashville. During the summer, Arrington is probably my favorite place to have a picnic—free music on weekends, a setting of rolling hills, vineyard views and space farther out in the country. It’s the kind of thing that makes you think about picnicking and why it’s so enjoyable—which is exactly why I loved reading a recent post from Tea & Cookies. In it, she says this:

The thing about picnics I think is this: they are less of a meal and more of a celebration. There may be food involved, but the point is not simply to eat—you could do that at your desk, standing over the kitchen sink, in your car. This is not about feeding. The point about a picnic is to enjoy.

Picnics slow things down, they make you step back and notice. The way the light filters through the trees. The sound of the water as is splashes over the locks. The feeling of grass on bare feet. Picnics feed all our senses.

With that in mind, here are some photos of things I stepped back to notice at Arrington, as well as some thought-provoking quotes from a book I just finished, “Writing Down the Bones,” in which Natalie Goldberg talks about what it means to be “‘writing down the bones,’ the essential, awake speech of [our] minds.”

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Nashville Food Trucks: local meets mobile in Tennessee

[It’s a little ironic to be posting something I like about Nashville right when we are miles and miles away from it, but, nonetheless, while I’m showing Tim that quiet place where time slows down, we’re showing you something about the place we call home. We’ll be slower to respond this week (no Internet at the cabin!) but we’ll be back here as soon as we can.]
wanderlandwsign

Here’s the thing about Nashville: it’s not Chicago. I mean, I’ve liked Music City since the day I came but, besides Tim, there’s little about it that feels like home. It’s smaller and it’s hotter and you can drive 30 minutes in almost any direction and end up in the kind of empty town that feels like someone must be pulling your leg. Everyone’s a hipster. Or a hippie. Or a musician or a writer (!) or a debutante. And there are a lot of times I have someone who’s not from here ask me what it’s like to be from here, and I want to say to them, who me? I’m not a local! except in one case, and this is probably the only case: when they ask me about the food.

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Second Harvest’s Generous Helpings Event (Nashville)

Second Harvest's Generous Helpings Event in Nashville

It’s just after half past five when we pull into the Nashville Farmers Market parking lot, a usually packed space that tonight has empty spots. Moving past men in polo shirts and khaki shorts who check our IDs at the entrance, we step out of the sun and into the high ceilings and white string lights of the Generous Helpings event—an annual affair benefiting Second Harvest of Middle Tennessee, a nonprofit dedicated to solving hunger issues in the community.

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The event works like this: tickets buy you admission inside ($40 ahead of time, $50 at the door) where what is usually the farmers market food court now houses 31 tables of small plates, in addition to live music, two bars and a silent auction. The tables are hosted by locally owned restaurants and food companies as diverse as Jeni’s Ice Cream and Kroger Chef Shoppes, and all proceeds from the night go towards Second Harvest’s mission to provide food for those who need it (which, last year alone, was over 15 million meals).

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After being given our programs and a map, Tim and I begin to work our way around the increasingly crowded room of tables arranged in a large, U-shaped pattern. And as we receive samples of tequila lime chicken tacos (from Local Taco) and pure coconut water (from Turnip Truck) and ginger limemade (from Marche), we see this event is not only raising money to combat hunger but also to raise awareness, with fact-filled hunger stats spread throughout the space.

coconut water_limeade

I hold the camera and Tim holds our tastings, and we take one bite after another, greeting the restauranteurs who are contributing to this night, finding out what they’ve made, what’s inside, taking their creations as we mill through the crowd.

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He likes the “bold” olive tapenade bruschetta from AM@FM; I rave about the crusty sourdough (baked fresh that morning) and sauce from Bella Nashville.

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breadandsauce

There’s a happy buzz in the air not unlike typical marketing events, where business owners are promoting their goods and hoping to be noticed, but there’s more than that, too. Although this is a great way for restaurants to gain exposure and publicity, it’s exposure and publicity with a purpose, one that benefits someone else. And as we taste biscuits topped by Delvin Farms strawberries and a Tayst lemon cake we come back for twice, Generous Helpings has us looking at more than just restaurants; it has us looking at community.

biscuits

secondharvest_cafenonna

One of the things Tim and I have talked a lot about recently is the self-promotional nature of the blogging culture. Why do we blog? Why do you, if you have one? Are people helped by what we’re doing, or are we just trying to promote ourselves, our brands, just looking to see what we can get out of it? What once felt like a friendly community today often feels like a million voices all demanding to be heard. And in this big realm of those of us who blog, where we’re offered free books and food and trips and validation, how are we using those things to serve someone else?

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taystlemoncake

I know that Second Harvest’s Generous Helpings was the kind of event that made me think about that, that made me wonder how much better it is to give than to receive.

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At its very core, Second Harvest is about volunteers. It relies on a network of people and organizations and companies who give their time, money and food that is then turned into food boxes, which their over 400 partner agencies can give to the hungry. Relying on a variety of different charitable programs and initiatives, Second Harvest Food Bank of Middle Tennessee serves 46 counties in the state. And whether or not you’re from Tennessee, it’s a good example of how there are places like this, all over the country, that you can help in one way or another, by spreading the word, by giving your time, by contributing.

jenis

Actually, it’s a good example of how there are many ways to give: by participating in an event like this as a restaurant, by sponsoring a company like Second Harvest, by promoting someone or something that is not yourself.

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We’re thankful for the reminder.

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4 Summer Salads + My Brother’s Nashville Video

summer salads

Did you know May is National Salad Month? To celebrate, Tim and I will be spending the next few days at the DOLE Salad’tude Bloggers Summit* in Monterey, California (yay!). We’re actually up in the air as this post publishes, looking forward to what the next day or so will bring. You can expect photos and stories of the trip to be posted here soon!

But meanwhile, we thought you might like to celebrate, too—say with some delicious summer salad recipes? Here is a roundup of four of our favorite summer salads, all previously posted at Food Loves Writing. Plus, as an extra-special, first-ever-of-its-kind bonus here at the blog, we’ve got a video, made by my super savvy film-making brother. He and my friend Jackie visited last month and he made this fun and food-centric for one of his classes. Enjoy!

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