Monday, March 28, 2011

pet shop turned coffee shop in nashville

nashville was never really high on my list of places i wanted to see in the states since i affiliated it with country music and have yet to bond with that music genre. however not very long ago my friend zara - who i have known the longest from all my friends - got engaged and since most of her family are tennesseans, the location of the celebration was a no-brainer and so off to nashville i was!

simply put, i love zara. she is hands down the most easygoing person i have ever known and i often use the word 'bubbly' to best describe her. in fact the few times i have seen her upset or angry, (which i've loved since they're so rare) they were because she's fed up of worrying about wasting her energy on being upset or angry. anyone who knows zara loves spending time with her. it's usually just a whole lot of laughing and eating a whole lot of food... can't beat that kind of fusion in my book.

the two of us got the chance to go sightseeing in nashville before the engagement party at her uncle's house and managed to do some marvelous finding. she had mentioned that her uncle once took her to an artsy downtown area that i would love so we ended up in what we learned is called hillsboro village. upon arriving, i immediately tweeted that it looked like urban outfitters had thrown up all over the place and that was aside from how everyone was dressed. the area has a brick-paved street filled with local restaurants, hand-painted signs and old-fashioned storefront windows. it's very easy to kill a day here from spending time at a book store, to visiting a local brewery and endless amounts stores to shop in. we decided to eat at a place called fido, formerly a pet shop and now the coffee enthusiasts place to daydream with a strong focus on animal love in every corner. there were tons of young people just hanging out either with friends, with a good book or facebooking away on their laptops. the weather happened to be near perfect with the sun shining and weather in the low 70's. we were all loving life.

turns out we ended up at a bongo java coffee shop - very popular with the locals and tourists alike. they have a crazy coffee menu and their food is on a whole other level. zara is one of my favorite people to go out to eat with - no is never an option - and we were so excited about the variety of menu options, breakfast is served all day here too. the big chalk menu on the wall listed their daily specials and we immediately decided to order the 'local burger' - which is made from both local grass fed lamb and beef along with a fried onion, fig mayo and caramelized fennel spread. two other stomach-catchers were the pulled smoked turkey & corncakes and green chile-coconut tamales. by the line that had formed after their lunch rush, there was no way the food could disappoint.

obviously we hope our food just tastes great taste but when it looks great too, you can't help but feel a little satisfied already. everything was so green and fresh - each ingredient visible, ready for you to devour. the pictures do not do justice. zara and i were smiling at each other as if we were both going to do something bad for the pure thrill (a familiar look we've given one another many times before.) i took a bite into the burger and wow, what an f*ing burger! the lamb and beef combo were smoky and juicy. add to that some feta and aged cheddar and instead of the usual caramelized onions, they use fennel - these are flavors that you just don't expect from a burger.

i couldn't decide if i wanted zara to know how much i loved it so i could eat more than her but heck, i needed her to share this moment with me. within minutes, we were sharing the same glow on our already very round faces. she urged me to dive into the tamales that were served with an incredible mole sauce and we had another wowzer in our presence. the masa base was made with green chilies and coconut which had a fun, surprising touch. dude, the holy-moly mole sauce must be bottled. smokey, spicy, sweet and super. this same flavor profile was repeated with the pulled smoked turkey & corncakes. i wish the food did not disappear so quickly. the bbq sauce and sour cream topped the bundle of turkey over the corncakes and with a perfect bite of each ingredient, the taste left us mesmerized.

between zara licking her fingers and me pouting because it all vanished so fast, it was safe to say that fido was beyond a success. one of the best meals i've had! i couldn't imagine falling in love with nashville any other way but through the work of a talented chef, a scenic neighborhood and even with stores like posh and pangaea - everything was humble and homey. i spent five hours in hillsboro village and had a day i'll never forget with the ever so effervescent zara. there's no doubt that her husband-to-be is one lucky guy and if this means more reasons so visit small parts of big cities like hillsboro village - i am all for it.