Monday, 17 November 2014

Due North - Bourbon, Bufflo wings and Border crossing

We exit the Natchez Trace Parkway on to firm flat tarmac and begin following signs for Nashville. it's a typical American city from what an outsider can tell , the people are pleasant and helpful . The city attractive and modern with a somewhat serious air about it. in truth I would have liked to spend more time in Nashville taken in more of the local music and such I expect to return before too long if for nothing else then for Jack BBQ.
From the road you can spot three winged pigs ushering you into Jack's, a Nashville BBQ legend since the mid 70s , take a seat in the laid back family atmosphere . If your lucky you'll get a table with your very own winged pig. ours was spangled with a stars and glitter "U.S.A." , others sport local team jerseys or miniature cowboy boots.
yes that's half a portion!
We split a pulled pork sandwich plate ( I'm still a little under the weather from Alabama ) which is huge if your not from the states and your travelling here for the first time portion sizes are generally massive. Calhoun's a big guy and we often split a portion . The sides are delicious traditional done well creamy flavorful mac and cheese accompanied by slightly sweet molasses baked beans and two slices of cornbread . Corn bread is something i deeply enjoy and had been looking forward to having more of on this trip unfortunately the tradition of corn bread and BBQ being served together had seemed like a myth , Jack's is the first place we visited to include it on their BBQ plate . I'm somewhat of a coinsure when it comes to corn bread as my parents own a bakery and I've been spoilt with some of the best fresh out of the oven. but the cornbread at Jack's is none the less an enjoyable way to mop up your chosen sauce.  Boy do they have the sauce too , there is a separate sauce station where you can choose from all the traditional sauces personally I recommend trying their signature sauce, the winner of multiple awards for a reason . Calhoun enjoys a more mustard based Carolina style sauce but they're all excellently made just depends what you like .
The staff are happy and proud to talk about the restaurant , we leave with full bellies and smiling faces to continue our journey .
All of the bourbon
Calhoun plays bartender
From Nashville we're heading north east toward the Jim Beam distillery , I would have liked to have time to do the bourbon trail, bourbon being another of those things I deeply love , but alas perhaps another time . If you, like me only have time to do one, the Jim Beam American still house is a good one. It includes a 2 hour guided tour of the distillery at the end of which you get to try your choice of any of the bourbons they make ranging for the most rare high end to everyday drinkers , there's something for everyone and you get to keep the Jim Beam branded tasting glass . At 10$ a head we found it great value for money and an over all interesting experience . You might want to bring some extra cash though when you visit the bottling room you have the opportunity to bottle your own bottle of knob creek which they will engrave on the spot with your signature and seal with your thumb print in the wax , maybe it's just me but I thought this was a
pretty sweet souvenir idea.
To reenter Canada over the rainbow bridge at Niagara falls we must first pass through Buffalo which can mean only one thing chicken wings !
The Anchor Bar in Buffalo is where chicken wings as we know them were invented . The story goes like this; The Anchor Bar is a family business and one night the owner's teenage children come down to the restaurant with a group of friends at the end of a busy night , looking to score some free snacks . Mom though happy to oblige is kind of strapped for ingredients because of said super busy night, so she decided to try something new with the left over chicken wing that were previously only used for stock . She fries then bakes them and tosses them in spicy sauce and sends them out to the hungry teenagers , though somewhat dubious and embarrassed at their mother serving them what was thought to be stock pot food they try them . Boom instant classic that we now enjoy with our favorite beers and sports.
The bar it's self is a lot of fun walls lined with old license plates , Motorcycles, mopeds and even some bicycles are suspended from the celling along the top of the walls , accompanied by various all American memorabilia through out the bar . The place is packed and loud , we sit at the bar and order up a couple of baskets of the famous wings. I can say with out a doubt these are the best wings I have ever had , granted I'm not a big chicken wing eater but these are so worth it , If you find your self passing through Buffalo you gotta go.
Bloated with beer and chicken wings we make our way closer to the border. We have one last stop to make at the American side of Niagara Falls , this may seem absurd to my readers particularly the ones who know how extensively I have traveled in Canada, but I've never actually seen Niagara Falls. So we're going. it's one of the major reasons we choose this particular border crossing .
Now this may come as a shock or maybe we're just dumb jury's out but we found it very confusing to find the falls there are signs but we kept getting turned around somehow so if you have GPS I recommend using it.
We eventually get there parking is of course a nightmare , and we're pretty flustered by the time we make it down to the falls , to get there you have to pass through a comically small poorly laid out entrance building which feels like a human meat grinder.
When you finally get out and make your way though a maze of more poorly laid out signage and get to the falls it is breathtaking and well worth the hassle , apparently the Maid of the Mist boat tour taking you around the base of the falls is the thing to do but the 3 plus hour line defiantly deterred us. If your planning on doing it show up early and bring snacks, there is nothing down there but lemonade stands . We go the other way and look from the railings and through the viewers.
The drive over the rainbow bridge is an experience in it of itself it spans right over Niagara river gorge and is quite spectacular in it's own right , as we pass over it I watch our American cell phone slowly lose service and feel that smoldering sadness that always comes as you realize
your nearing the end of an adventure.

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