Staycation. noun: a vacation spent at home or near home, doing enjoyable activities or visiting local attractions. (definition courtesy of dictionary.com)
We should all think about taking a staycation every now and then. Don’t get me wrong, I absolutely love to travel, and for me, the research and planning that goes into a trip is exhilarating. But then there are those pesky problems – money and time.
I feel very fortunate to live in a place with a plethora of cool, reasonably priced things to do and see, all within a short drive. There’s very good reason that millions of people visit Nashville and the surrounding areas every year! I’m not just talking about the major tourist attractions that immediately pop into most people’s minds, I’m also talking about the little-known gems just waiting to be discovered.
Recently I found one of those gems in downtown Franklin. As you may have guessed, my vacations revolve around food, no matter what city I’m visiting. So when I play hometown tourist, that doesn’t change. This new discovery of mine needs to go on every food lover’s Nashville staycation to-do list (or vacation to-do list if you’re reading this from afar).
Chapman’s Pie Wagon II sits beside Landmark Booksellers at 114 E. Main Street
Margie Thessin, owner of Franklin on Foot, a company specializing in historical tours of downtown Franklin, recently added something new to her list of offerings, and I’m more than a little excited about it.
The Franklin Food Tour, a five-block walking tour, visits six eateries that serve up dishes reflecting the restaurant’s taste and the theme of the tour, Southern food. Margie says she chose Southern food for “obvious reasons, but also because Southern food is such a broad category these days. It’s come so far beyond the meat ‘n three concept — not that I don’t love good ole comfort food!– and involves foods that are not typically thought of as Southern, such as oysters. Amazingly, people have been eating oysters in the South since way before refrigeration.”
Those oysters are just one small part of the sampler plate guests get at Puckett’s Boat House, Franklin’s newest eatery. In addition, they’ll likely feast on catfish ceviche, hushpuppies, and onion rings with a side of crazy good remoulade for dipping.
Throughout the tour, Margie gives a little background and history on all of the dishes sampled. “What says South more than hush puppies? It’s just another way to prepare cornmeal, traditionally corn being the main starch grown and eaten in the South. And that delicious corn cake at Chapman’s….”
Ah yes, that delicious corn cake. I certainly won’t forget that little piece of heaven any time soon.
Chapman’s Pie Wagon II is actually the meeting point for the tour and where the eating begins. A fresh, seasonal salad is always on the menu at this first stop, easing guests into the dining experience. On the day I stopped by, I was greeted by the friendly owners, Gwen and Dan Perkins, and presented with an amazing peach, snow crab and avocado salad served on a mozzarella corn cake.
While the menu is not necessarily the same for each tour, along the way, you might encounter sweet tea and pimento cheese at Franklin Mercantile, BBQ sliders and fried green tomatoes at Puckett’s Gro. & Restaurant, or authentic gumbo at Papa Boudreaux‘s.
And one thing you can count on for certain is that the tour will always end on a sweet note at Merridee’s Breadbasket. If you’re lucky, you’ll get a slice of my personal favorite, their exquisite chess pie. As you can see, no matter what shows up on that day’s menu, you are sure to leave with a full belly!
Chapman’s Pie Wagon II – Fresh Peach and Snow Crab Salad with Avocado and Peach Puree
Whether you’re truly a visitor to the Nashville area, or playing hometown tourist like I often do, this tour is the way to go. Franklin Food Tours are the third Saturday of every month, from 2-5 p.m., with the next one being this Saturday, July 21st.
The cost is $45/person and works with groups of six to 20 people. Advance reservations and payment are required. For more information, visit www.franklinonfoot.com or call 615-400-3808.
This post also appeared in The Tennessean, where I have a monthly feature in the Taste section!
Puckett’s Boat House – onion rings, fried oysters, catfish ceviche, hush puppies
And the winner is….
#14 – Leslie!
Win 2 Spots on the August Franklin on Foot Food Tour
How would you like to experience all this Southern eatin’ for free?! One reader will win two food tour passes for them + a friend to be used for the August 15th tour.
All you have to do to enter is leave a comment below telling me what your favorite Southern food is!
That part is mandatory, but for up to 2 bonus entries, you can do the following. Note: You must leave a separate comment for each optional entry.
3. “Like” Franklin on Foot on Facebook, and leave a comment telling me you did so.
Contest ends on Sunday, July 22nd at Noon CDT. Once the winner is chosen, I’ll contact them via email and post it here on the blog. If the winner doesn’t respond within 48 hours, I’ll be forced to choose another, so be sure to check your email!