Sunday, July 09, 2006

Memphis - Day 2

My second day in Memphis worked out GREAT! It’s so great to be back; I feel very at home here.

I slept in this morning and did a little work before meeting my friend Dana for brunch. Before I get into the details, I should say two things. First of all, Sunday Brunch is a MUST in Memphis. I think that I almost forgot that; it was random that I asked to go to brunch, but thank goodness I did!

Second, Dana is one of my friends who is as busy as me in as far in advance as I am. So, she is one person I wanted to be absolutely sure to see. Otherwise, I would have missed her altogether. I’m so glad that it worked out because it turns out that she’s going to be unavailable the next two weekends.

Okay, so back to brunch. It was amazing and truly represented Memphis. There is one grocery store in Downtown Memphis. It’s called Miss Cordelia’s and 5 years ago, it barely existed. They had eggs and milk, a few kinds of ice-cream and some fruit. It’s a tiny place.

It reminded me of when my family would go on vacation to the middle of nowhere and we’d badly need groceries, so we’d stop at this tiny whole in the wall place. Miss Cordelia’s was like that, but they also knew their clientele. Most of their products have always been upscale things… organic… sometimes even sushi.

Anyway, since I left two years ago, Miss Cordelia’s has grown. It’s still the same place, but they have more food and they’ve expanded into a space that used to be behind them. That space is now a deli and cooking area, where they also have tables to eat at.

Which brings me to this morning… Many of the restaurants in Memphis have food that has a slightly gourmet edge to it, with a little of Memphis mixed in. This meal was no exception.

But, before I get to that… the first thing I noticed when I walked in was a live 3 piece band. They were amazing and they were playing Frank Sinatra songs during our meal. I always say that Memphis is a good place to find live music, but I honestly didn’t expect to find it in the grocery store. How fun!

For breakfast, I had Eggs Benedict. In a typical restaurant, this would translate to an English muffin sliced in half with one slice of ham and egg on each half. At Miss Cordelia’s, it meant a plate a bread with four different kinds of bread, the eggs Benedict, a puff pastry shell filled with pudding, a side of strawberries and blueberries, and a make your own unlimited drink stand filled with orange juice, coffee, water, and mimosas.

And—on the topic of the actual eggs Benedict, instead of having a slice of normal ham, it had barbecued pulled pork. Ha! What a fun twist on a traditional meal. (In case you didn't know, Memphis is the capital of barbecue. The World Barbecue Cooking Contest is held in Memphis each May.)

Afterward, I drove all around downtown – including back through my old neighborhood of South Bluffs and also, through Harbortown. Both South Bluffs and Harbortown sit next to the Mississippi River and are full of great homes filled with “Downtowners.”

I was extremely happy to see that the property values of the homes (excluding the condos) seem to be at a reasonable level. As I mentioned previously, the condo prices in downtown have skyrocketed. Today, I found 3 bedroom homes that are going for less than 1 bedroom condos in the same neighborhood. And, because the neighborhoods were very planned out, most of the lawns (of the homes) seem to be mowed by the neighborhood association.

As for the rest of downtown, I saw that they have put in a gas station, a childcare center, a second wine store, a second dry cleaner, and a few new restaurants.

After getting reacquainted with downtown, I headed east to Cordova to see my friend Larry play with his band, Martin & Taylor. Larry was shocked to see me, and he announced me to the crowd, who cheered some. That was nice. :-)

My friend Angie was there with me and Shane also stopped by on his way back to Atlanta. It was great to see them. Also in attendance were Larry’s two children (who have grown CONSIDERABLY taller since the last time I saw them) and a lady that I used to work with at FedEx.

Afterward, I made a trip to the grocery store to stock up on breakfast items. Surprisingly, the grocery store’s bakery section had this big display just like in LA for the Le Brea Bakery!!! I picked up the packages and it is the Le Brea in LA. Holy cow! And, the sign said that the bread is “baked fresh daily here,” so I’m wondering if Le Brea may be licensing out their name and recipes to other bakeries. There’s just no way that they’re making that stuff in LA and flying it to TN! It does make some sense though I guess… if you consider that the demographic makeup of downtown Memphis is very similar to that of Santa Monica. Many of the groceries offer specialty / unusual items.

I also made sure to pick up the strongest bug repellant I could find. You know how they’ve done studies saying that if there is one person who’s very attractive to mosquitoes, they won’t bite anyone else? Well, I’m that person. Really. So anyway, I’ve been stressed since last night that a big pack of them was going to chase me down. It wouldn’t really be such a big deal, except that they leave these bloody looking track marks on me that take a month or more to go away. Let’s just say that I do NOT get along with mosquitoes. And, they’re pretty much the state bird here.

Anyway, on my way out of the grocery store, I sat a box on top of my car. Then, I packed up the rest of the car and started to drive away. Someone saw me and flashed their lights to let me know that I had left a box on the roof. I must say, I always feel taken care of here… like someone is watching out for me. :-)

Tomorrow, Angie and I are going to head out into Downtown Memphis for pint night. I had almost forgotten that the bars are PACKED on Monday nights. They also usually offer discounts. I think we'll go to the Flying Saucer, to Swig, and to Dan McGuiness. I’m looking forward to it!

P.S. Per a conversation, another Memphian was shocked to find out that Memphis bars stay open later than in other cities. I suppose it isn't "normal" to dance until 4 AM, before going for breakfast.

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