Wednesday, August 3, 2016

Greg-apalooza Road Trip 2016! Days 1 & 2

About a year and a half ago, my best friend Greg had to move back to his hometown in Kentucky. We'd been besties in Memphis for more than a decade, and we were pretty much inseparable. We don't really like to talk about our feelings or say nice things about each other, but we were both pretty sad when he had to go. Not that either of us acknowledged that out loud (in fact, if Greg reads this, he'll be totally grossed out by all the feels in paragraph).

Greg and I outside his new apartment in Indiana

Anyway, he eventually scored his dream job in Jasper, Indiana — about an hour from his Kentucky hometown — so he moved there late last year. I'd meant to go up and see him sooner, but it just never worked out. Until this past weekend! On Saturday, I loaded up the car and made the nearly 6-hour road trip to Jasper.

It just so happened that I passed through Nashville around lunch time (okay, I lie! I totally planned my trip so I could eat lunch there!). There's a new vegan restaurant in East Nashville called Graze, and it's run by the same folks who run Wild Cow (my long-time fave Nashville vegan restaurant). I was dying to try this place! And I just had to order the Hot Tempeh — a vegan spin on Nashville's famous hot chicken dish. The tempeh is coated in spices and lightly fried, and it's served with white bread, pickles, slaw, and the most delicious homemade ranch for dipping. This was hands-down the BEST DISH of my entire trip. So good!

After lunch, I still had three hours to drive before reaching my destination. But I made it! And I came bearing tofu! Pho Binh — Memphis' BEST Vietnamese joint (in my humble opinion) — is known for its awesome (and dirt cheap) weekday tofu buffet, and Greg and I used to love going there and stuffing our faces with tofu until we made ourselves sick. So, before leaving Memphis, I ordered his three fave Pho Binh tofu dishes, so we could have our own private tofu buffet at his apartment on Saturday night! There's Lemongrass Tofu, Green Beans & Tofu, and Kung Pao Tofu.

We watched TV while we ate tofu, and then we decided to hit the town for some craft beers. Jasper is a small town, but they do at least have a brewpub. It's called Schnitz Brewpub (everything in Jasper is German-themed), and they brew their own beers in-house. But they also serve a few specialty craft beers from other breweries. I started with one of those other beers — the Maui Coconut Porter (pictured below). And then I tried the Schitz Smoked.

We went back to Greg's and lit a few awesome fireworks that he had leftover from the Fourth of July and then we called it a night. We had big plans for Sunday!

Jasper is about an hour and a half from Louisville, Kentucky, and since that's a much larger city, I wanted to check it out. We got up mid-morning, and I had some instant oats. Greg had leftover tofu. And then we hopped in the car and headed to Louisville. Our first stop was lunch at Roots — an all-vegetarian/mostly vegan Asian fusion place.

We both started with soup — Vegan Pho for me! Because vegan pho! This was loaded with fried tofu and tofu ham.

Greg had a veggie soup with thinner noodles, and spicier broth. But I can't remember what it was called.

He also ordered some Veggie Potstickers, which I helped myself too. They were super-good dipped in the sesame-soy sauce.

For our entrees, we both got the Vietnamese Crepe (banh xeo). We had a long-standing tradition of ordering these every New Year's Day at a place here in Memphis, but since he was gone for this year's holiday, we missed our crepe date. So we got to make up for it! If you're not familiar, banh xeo is an egg-free crepe made with rice flour and usually stuffed with tofu and sprouts (some non-vegan versions have meat inside, so watch out!). This one was stuffed with fried tofu and mung bean sprouts.

Before leaving the restaurant, I noticed a large cooler of desserts. So I had to check that out! I got some Banana Pudding (made with coconut milk and tapioca) to go, and I enjoyed each creamy, chewy bite as we walked around Louisville's Highlands neighborhood.

We wandered into gift shops and just walked around a bit, but eventually, we realized that we needed beer. So we popped into HopCat, a bar that had just opened the day before. They claim to have Louisville's largest draft selection, and judging by their massive menu with hundreds of options, I'd say that's probably true. I started with this "Pay It Forward" Cocoa Porter by West Sixth Brewing out of Lexington, Kentucky. A perfect, creamy, chocolately brew.

The walls of HopCat's two stories were filled with paintings of rock stars and musicians. My fave was this glam painting of David Bowie.

A few days before my trip, my partner Paul and I realized that he was also going to be in Louisville the same weekend! He's currently living in Nashville for a job, but he's home in Memphis a few weekends a month, so we don't get to see each other that often. But he was planning to go to a ComicCon in Louisville that same weekend, so Greg and I met up with Paul and his friend Brandon at their hotel in Louisville in the early evening. We got a Lyft car and headed downtown to Against the Grain Brewery and Smokehouse. I picked that place out ahead of time because I saw on Happy Cow that they had vegan food options. 

Here we are at the brewery. Sadly, this is the only pic of all four of us, and my eyes are closed. Whatever.

I ordered Against the Grain's smoked porter, but I can't remember the name of it. Excellent beer though. I loved smoked beers. I also ordered a Vegan Sloppy Joe on rye bread. It typically comes on brioche, but they sub rye to make it vegan. The filling was made from roasted cauliflower and chickpeas. It was unlike any sloppy joe I've had, but it was sooooo good. Cauliflower is life.

Against the Grain was set to close at 10 p.m., and it was already late when we arrived. So we only had time for one beer there. After closing, we set off on foot to Bluegrass Brewing Company, another brewpub for one final nightcap! Then, we got another Lyft back to the hotel and called it a night.

I'll be back tomorrow with a recap of Monday and Tuesday. Monday was a SUPER FUN day!


Cadry said...

Oh, that looks like such a fun time! I've never had a smoked beer, but that sounds like something I would very much enjoy.

Sarah said...

Aww this post gave me the feels too! My best friend and I have been separated by quite a large distance for about a decade so I know how much it sucks and how nice it is to finally see him again! It looks like you had such an amazing time with delicious vegan food! I'm so glad that you were able to spend time together :)

Sheridan said...

Yay!! Looks like a great visit with awesome food! Glad you and Greg got to catch up!

Laryssa said...

Heh I have that same red t-shirt from The Wild Cow. It's one of my favorite tees! :)

Laura said...
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Jennifer said...

So many yummy looking dishes. That is a lot of tofu.... like a week's worth. XD