Loveless Hootenanny

Loveless Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

I’m not sure if there is a common use of the word “hootenanny.” Here in Nashville, it probably is mostly used to describe some kind of music event. Like a picking party, but with more alcohol? Or singing? Or both?

Loveless Biscuits with all the Fixin's| Persnickety Biscuit

A few years ago, my team at work started having quarterly meetings, where everyone who works remotely comes into the office for a few hours. We talk about strategy and process and eat a meal or two together. There is no music, or singing, or alcohol, but we call it our Quarterly Hootenanny anyway. This most recent quarter, a request was made for biscuits made by yours truly. I begged off, claiming the hassles of packing and moving and no space in my kitchen to make anything right now.

One of my coworkers graciously offered to bring in Loveless biscuits, as he lives out that way. When he came into the office that morning, he was glowing. There was a large tin wrapped in a beach towel sitting on his desk. “Get one while they are hot, ” he said, since our meeting did not actually start for a couple of hours. He said that when he picked them up, they brought the container to the car with potholders. They were truly fresh from the oven.

Loveless Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

Never one to do things halfway, he had gotten all the fixings. Butter. Three kinds of jam. Even Red-Eye Gravy. What is Red-Eye Gravy, you ask? First, it is really thin, more like an au jus than a gravy. Second, it is made with pork drippings and coffee. Yes, coffee. I had never had it before. Not exactly my favorite, I have to admit. But now I know. Here is a link to a recipe, in case you ever want to make it, because I don’t think I will.

Loveless Biscuits with Red Eye Gravy | Persnickety Biscuit

Regardless, the biscuits were warm and soft and fragrant and I had one before the meeting and one during. The jams that came with them – strawberry, blackberry, and peach – were homemade and amazing – perhaps even more noteworthy than the biscuits. My mouth is literally watering as I write this. Is that too much information? Too bad.

Loveless Biscuits | Persnickety Biscuit

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Nashville Biscuit House

Nashville Biscuit House

M. and I have begun what we are calling the Farewell Tour of East Nashville. I’m only moving across the city, but I know we won’t make it back to this part of town as much. So we are revisiting the places we have loved in our two and a half years of dating.

I’ve missed you, I thought as we drove into the parking lot of the Nashville Biscuit House. It is a comfortable place, diner-ish, familiar like an old friend.

Nashville Biscuit House

It was rainy and a little cold out so some comfort food was in order. We waited a few minutes for a table, standing just inside the door, watching the bustle of the place. There is no discernible pause. Someone is always sitting down, getting food, refilling coffee, lining up at the register to pay.

Nashville Biscuit House

The waitresses all wear these t-shirts, which are also for sale. Every time we go I have this internal dialogue. “I would LOVE a Nashville Biscuit House t-shirt. But the shirts have muffins on them, not biscuits. You don’t want a muffin shirt. Who designed these things anyway? Don’t they know the difference between a biscuit and a muffin?” I have not bought one yet, but am still torn.

Uneeda Biscuit at Nashville Biscuit House

This tin was on a shelf. Probably not the same kind of biscuit, but pretty cool anyway!

The menu consists of all of your standard breakfast foods – bacon, sausage, eggs, pancakes, etc. – combined in different ways and amounts so that everyone gets just what they want. Prices are very reasonable, the food is hot and fresh, the waitresses are friendly, and the coffee is passable.

I’ve eaten – and watched the eating of – a wide variety of breakfast configurations and no one leaves this place hungry. Regardless of what else I order, I always get a biscuit, and have even been known to order an extra one after my meal is finished. Just ’cause.

Nashville Biscuit House

On this day, I kept it simple. I ordered a biscuit sandwich with egg and turkey sausage. All the breakfast goodness I could want on a fresh-from-the-oven buttermilk biscuit. I persuaded M. to get a side of gravy that we could share. In the process of ordering that we learned the difference between their Country Gravy, which is a plain white vegetarian sauce, and their Sausage Gravy, which is just their Country Gravy with sausage crumbled into it.

Nashville Biscuit House

That explains it, I think. I have wondered why I prefer some sausage gravies to others. I’ve not tried making it myself (yet!), but think I like when the sausage is more incorporated – using the sausage drippings in the gravy as it is being made. That’s something I will have to try myself.

Nashville Biscuit House Menu

Nonetheless, the biscuit sandwich was delicious. I like to play with my food, so I ate some “as is,” some with jelly, and saved some biscuit to eat with the gravy. The biscuits here are so fluffy and tasty that I could eat them plain, but where’s the fun in that?

As we left, we saw that the line to get in was out the door, literally, and some people were even waiting in the rain. I felt a little guilty about lingering over my coffee. But I knew that soon enough these folks would be ushered into the warmth and served a good hot breakfast. They would just be glad to be there because sometimes good things are worth waiting for, you know?

Billy Bragg, Biscuits, and BBQ (aka Why I Love Nashville)

As Winnie the Pooh would say, it was a rather biscuity day. Well, Pooh was actually talking about a blustery day, but close enough. In almost Pooh fashion, we began the day with biscuits and honey butter and not much of a plan. It had rained heavily the night before, knocking out the spider webs and ushering in some much welcomed cooler weather. Shortly after we got up, the skies began to clear and we could tell it would be a beautiful early fall day.

We gathered the rest of the batch of biscuits to deliver to the father of a friend – visiting from Scotland. He said he had never had biscuits before – not American “biscuits” anyway – and that was a situation that had to be rectified.

After the delivery across town, we did a little window shopping and ran into some friends we had not seen much of lately. It was a lovely little impromptu visit.

“What now?” said M.

“Hmmm,” I said, as I opened up the Nashville food truck app on my phone, “it looks like Smoke et Al is at Grimey’s. Some kind of special event for the Americana festival.”

Smoke Et Al

“Smoke Et Al?” he asked.

“Yes, they have biscuits,” and I clicked through to the description….  “Fiddler’s Biscuits – Shredded, smoked chicken, green onions, Bourbon Peach BBQ, on a Sour Cream Basil biscuit.”

Smoke Et Al

“What are we waiting for?” he said, and we were off!

Grimey’s New and Preloved Music is a local record shop (yes, those do still exist), known for carrying vinyl and second-hand CDs and getting some of the best bands that come through Nashville to play in their store. They expanded recently and this was the first time we had been to an event since then. Behind the shop, there was an open lot where the food truck was parked. There were also many tables full of bargain-basement priced records. Across the alley, a live performance was in progress. A band we later learned is called Daughter. Beautiful stuff.

Grimey's Americana

The crowd enjoying the music.

We made a beeline for the truck and got our biscuits. What a nice surprise they were. There were large scoops of smoky sweet spicy barbeque chicken piled up on a couple of biscuits, with a smattering of green onions and a side of potato salad overflowing it’s cup. Just looking at it was satisfying.

Biscuits and BBQ

The biscuit was peppery, with flaky layers and a density that held up well against the BBQ chicken. It really was not something you could eat with your hands. We had to use a fork to pile BBQ onto a corner of biscuit, then repeat. This meal disappeared quickly.

Biscuits and BBQ

We made our way over to the live music and checked out the afternoon’s lineup. Billy Bragg was due to play shortly. M. was, I think I can say, beside himself about this. While we waited for that set to start, we wandered through the sunshine to the bins of albums spread out on the tables, looking for nothing in particular and finding treasures galore. You know, if I had looked for this album, I’m sure I never would have found it. A 12″ HotBiscuit. We looked at it and laughed. A friend and fellow music lover glanced over and said, “Oh, that’s a really good album!” “Really?” we said. “Yeah.” So we got it. I think it cost $1.

Hot Biscuit Album

Before long, Billy Bragg came out on stage and gave an epic performance. He performed his whole first album (from 30 years ago) to an appreciative crowd.

Billy Bragg

Billy Bragg

To summarize: biscuits, friends, BBQ, biscuits, sunshine, a biscuit record album, and a happy crowd listening to fantastic music. This is what I love about Nashville.

Conecuh Sausage Biscuits at Jackson’s

Jackson's BiscuitsSometimes a biscuit will surprise you.

We were going to an afternoon movie at the Belcourt and stopped in Jackson’s for a quick bite to eat. I’ve eaten at Jackson’s many times over the years. I’ve had their salads, their paninis, their french toast, and their spinach-garlic dip that will blow your taste buds away. But I had never even noticed the biscuits on the brunch menu. That’s what happens when an obsession begins – you start to notice things.

So I decided to take a chance and order the Sunrise Sliders – biscuits with scrambled egg, cheese, and Conecuh smoked sausage. I’d never heard of the sausage before, but it seems to be from Alabama and is, I suppose, special enough to be called by name.

The resulting biscuit concoction was far better than I had expected. What the menu did not say is that they would be served with pepper jelly on the side. What a lovely surprise! It would have been very good without the jelly but that was the touch that set this meal apart and made it worth remembering. The pepper jelly added a little spicy sweetness that rounded out the rest of the flavors perfectly. I’ll definitely be back for more.

Sublime Sausage Biscuit at Barista Parlor

I believe this is where my biscuit obsession got serious. Up until then, it was more of a craving, an inside joke, a form of nostalgia.

barista parlor nashville

Barista Parlor – Nashville

It was in the fall of 2012. We went to a new coffee house in East Nashville – Barista Parlor. We’d read about it on Yelp and could not believe there was a place in East Nashville that we had not tried yet.

One cool thing about Barista Parlor is how you get to pick your roast and each cup is made to order. It also has this major hipster vibe. The kind of vibe where I know I am not hip enough to be there at all – except that I am old enough to not care.

iron light

Very Hip Iron Light Fixture

They also have a very small food menu. I recall on that first visit ordering a cup of some exotic sounding coffee and then getting a sausage biscuit almost as an afterthought. The coffee was good. Very good. But the sausage biscuit?

Oh. My. God.

sausage biscuit

How could something that looks so simple be so amazing?

We discussed it obsessively the entire time we were there. How the biscuit was just the right size, the right level of flaky vs. fluffy, the perfect venue for the sausage that (we later discovered) came from Porter Road Butcher next door. The sausage was like nothing I’d had before. Perhaps it was just sage or something simple like that but it was amazing. And then to bring the whole thing together and provide a sweet balance to the salt and herb flavors, there was this dollop of strawberry preserves that proceeded to ooze out over the sides.

I have to be honest. I never would have put those things together. But that is why we go out to eat right? What would have seemed odd to me before – became the breakfast sandwich that I can only describe as sublime. My mild obsession turned into a full blown case of Biscuit Obsessed Syndrome, and also created a grave concern of mine that biscuits were being overlooked in the current culinary climate. And so . . . a blog was born.