Friday, June 27, 2014

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - Main Street Meats

Let's talk about burgers.

Burgers in Chattanooga are a serious business.  Who has the best burger has been debated on what I consider to be the definitive Chattanooga food blog, Chattavore.  According to Mary, the best burgers in Chattanooga are found at Tremont Tavern.   And they're good, really good.  I've had the gouda burger and the pimento cheese burger. They're both awesome.  Tremont Tavern trims and grinds their own meat in house, and make their patties by hand every morning. They do a great job.

You want to know what's better than in house ground beef?  Aged, grass fed, local, hand ground beef from Main Street Meats.  That's right, aged hamburger meat.

The guys at Main Street Meats mean business.  The only reason they even have a kitchen is to get your hooked on their butcher shop, and they only serve food from 11am-3pm. They do their burgers up right.  Each patty is made to order.  They cook them on cast iron.  CAST IRON.  It gives the burgers a perfectly flavored crust that you can't get any other way.  Sorry Tremont, these guys have got you beat.

My first (of many to come) burger at Main Street Meats was topped with caramelized onions, a homemade coarse grain mustard, with a homemade pepper mayo underneath, and served on a Neidloves bun.  I've heard there is a version with bacon, but as wonderful as that sounds, this burger was perfectly composed.  This burger was juicy without soaking the bun.  It was meaty, the onions were sweet, the pepper mayo was enough of a hint to be noticed, and the course grain mustard was killer.  Someone from our group asked the chef if anyone had ever asked for ketchup.  We all just laughed. 

If you're not hungry enough now, let's talk about the butcher shop, and while we're at it, cheese.  Just for good measure.

Main Street Meats is the USDA Certified expansion of Link 41, my favorite sausage shop(If you don't have a favorite sausage shop, get on it.  Your life will be enriched.)  In a nutshell, Link 41 focused on butchering pigs, and Main Street Meats doesn't discriminate.  Equal opportunity for butchering grass fed/free range local farm animals.

They have great relationships with local farmers, and on top of that, they're great butchers who really know their stuff.  If you have any questions about what you see in the meat case, they will tell you everything you need to know.  If you know what you want to cook, but don't know the right cut, they can help.  There's also some good stuff in their freezer, so look there too.  That's where we found the baconage.  That's right.  Sausage made with bacon.  Breakfast will never be the same.

The freezer is where you will find broths, lard, and a selection of Sequatchie Cove Cheeses.  I shared this fact with my friends from Clemson, and no joke I got a text this week asking for more Blu Cheese the next time I visit.  It's that good.

Main Street Meats is a local butcher shop that happens to have the best burger in town.  And if that's not enough to make you want to check them out, they just hosted a class on sausage making that ended with a sausage and beer tasting.  If for some crazy reason cooking with great meat intimidates you, they have started a new blog where they are posting recipes, photos and information.  Still need convincing that Main Street Meats is for real?  Listen to this interview that recently aired on NPR.

I seriously recommend that you check these guys out, and if you stop by during lunch, grab a burger.  I think it's the best in town. (I still love you Tremont.)

Main Street Meats 
217 E Main Street
Chattanooga, TN 37408
(423) 602-9568

Monday to Friday 11:00 am - 7:00 pm
Saturday 10:00 am - 4:00 pm
Lunch served daily 11:00 am - 3:00 pm
Closed Sundays
*I haven't looked for them at the Sunday Market yet, but they have had a booth in the past.

website | facebook | @MainStreetMeats

Main Street Meats on Urbanspoon

Thursday, June 26, 2014

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - How I show off our town

I love Chattanooga.

When I moved back in 2011, the 10 years I spent in Clemson were very good to this town.  It seemed like everywhere I turned, there were new things to see, and the familiar spots had all improved with age.  I was trying to get into blogging, and the (Re)Discover Chattanooga series was born.  There was a time when I considered making the series the main focus of this blog, or it's own thing entirely.  In the end, I decided that I don't have the time to dedicate to doing that job well without getting paid for it.  My posts have shifted to gardening in Chattanooga, but that doesn't mean I don't love my town, or I'm not finding new things to do and see and eat.  I'm just lazy, and have a bad habit of dumping the photos off my phone before I upload them to blogger.  Oops.

Recently, I had company for Riverbend, and I thought I'd share how I showed off the town.
 FYI: My friends had visited once before, and we had already done the aquarium.  I don't care how old your visitors are, that is always the first stop.  We had also eaten at Alleia. Now you know where my priorities are.
I'm not a typical tour guide, and my friends are not typical tourists.  Other than Riverbend (which was the main reason they came) we stayed away from crowds, and only hit up locally owned shops.  In Chattanooga, this is not hard to do.

Here is how our itenerary played out:

Saturday:  First stop, blanket seating for Riverbend.  This is the best kept, unadvertized, secret at the festival.  For an extra $10 you can set out a blanket at the base of the Coca Cola Stage, and actually make eye contact with the main act.  Yes the stage is high, and you can only see the front of the stage, but this is as close as you can get without shelling out some major mulah.  You also have access to your own bathrooms and concessions.  Depending on the show, you'll either have plenty of room to lay out on your blanket, or room to dance around.  If there is a main act that you really want to see, and you want to be around people who are there for the show, not the festival, blanket seating is the way to go.  You get a wristband, so you can come and go as you please.  So we dropped off our blanket, and proceeded to stuff our faces with all sorts of so-bad-it's-good festival food.  Side note: we had a blast in the rain, and the $10 parking in the garage above Hennan's was a great call.

Sunday: This was our most relaxing day.  (Which I needed after a whirlwind trip to Charleston for a wedding.)  We slept in, ate brunch on my porch, lounged for a while, then headed downtown.  We ate dinner at Terra Nostra, and multiple rounds of tapas on their patio perfectly suited our laid back attitude for the day.  Bacon wrapped dates, lobster ravioli, spicy shrimp, and a cheese plate, wine, and a good server were just some of the highlights of the meal.  After the meal, we walked across the Market Street bridge and set out our blanket in general seating for Buddy Guy.  He's 77, and he was great.  I've heard a few musicians live who might be considered past their prime (Bob Dylan), but Buddy Guy was smooth, his voice was clear, and he was having a good time.  Robert Randolph joined him onstage, and it was a fanstastic.

Monday:  This was where my tour guide skills jumped into high gear.  We got up early and hit the road, making a circle around town.  Our first stop was the Barn Nursery (my review) and the Pottery Shoppe.  It just so happened there was a Riverbend Sale going on, and we spent a good amount of time ogling over pots and plants.  My friends are garden lovers, and they left with 5 really cool pots and a shrimp plant.  The next stop was Main Street Meats aka Link 41+more meat (my Link 41 review).  My friends love to cook, and Link 41 was my favorite small business for a long time.  They picked up two types of bacon, some sausage, and a Sequachie Cove Blu Cheese.  We also had lunch, but that's an experience deserving it's own post.  After lunch we headed to the North Shore where we hit up BoneAppetite, Beast & Barrel, Clumpies, and All Things Groovy. My friends really loved BoneAppetite.  I don't think they had ever seen house made dog treats, the fill your bucket kind, or the cookie cutter kind.  The staff was super friendly, and they ended up with treats for their dogs, and their dog sitter's dogs.  My favorite stop was Clumpies, strawberry ice cream for the win!  They wanted to compare Lake Chickamauga to Lake Harwell, so we drove across the dam on our way to Southeastern Salvage.  Southeastern Salvage may sound like an odd choice for Chattanooga tourism, but this was their second trip to Chattanooga and Southeastern Salvage, and this time they brought a truck :)   Monday night was the Bessie Smith Strut, and another favorite of my visitors.  The food is way better than the food at the rest of the festival, and we really enjoyed struttin down MLK.  We also made the mandatory stop at Champy's, and it did not dissapoint.

So there you have it.  This is how I showed off Chattanooga to my friends from Clemson.  The only thing we missed was Seigler's Craft Beer and Cigars in East Brainerd.

If you're hosting guests in Chattanooga, my advice is this: pair something 'very Chattanooga' with something off the beaten path.  There is so much going on in Chattanooga it's easy to share one of your favorite things, or something new that fits your guest's personality and lifestyle.

Need even more help?  Here are some suggestions:

Typical Chattanooga
  • TN Aquarium
  • Coolidge Park
  • Any of the restaurants within 3 blocks of the Aquarium
  • Rock City & Ruby Falls
  • Incline Railway
  • Discovery Museum
  • Big River
  • Track 29
  • Riverbend, Southern Brewers Festival, Wine Over Water
  • Chattanooga Lookouts

Off the beaten path
  • Happy Hour on the Delta Queen (if it's open??)
  • Sushi Nabe - the secret sushi menu
  • Main Street-ish - Main Street Meats, Neidloves, Crash Pad, Flying Squirrel, Alleia, The Terminal, Urban Stack, Hot Chocolatier my friends at the new e-bike shop!
  • Tony's Pasta, Rembrandts Coffee shop & The Sculpture Garden at Bluff View
  • Champy's Fried Chicken
  • 1885 Grill
  • Rock Creek
  • Riverwalk
  • Farmers Markets (downtown, or local)
  • Chickamauga Battlefields
  • Community Pie
  • Sluggos
  • Nightfall
  • Seiglers Craft Beer & Cigars
  • A trip up or down the W road.
  • Tremont Tavern
Did I leave your favorite spot out?  Let me know!

Monday, June 16, 2014

june bloom day - 2014

I have been reminded why I was so into seeds this winter.
1) I have almost nothing blooming right now.
2) I'm cheap.
It's really sad when it's the middle of June, the weather is perfect, we've had lots of rain, but you don't have much in the way of flowers to show for it.

I tried to make an arrangement last week, this teeny tiny bouquet was all I got. 
Baby China Asters (from seed) and Campion

My seedlings are doing ok, but they're not thriving yet.


The impatiens are doing pretty well, I just need to finish planting them.

One of my new window boxes!!

My veggies are doing just ok.  Two of my three tomatoes are growing great, but my zuchinni and squash are still itty bitty.

Oh well, I'll always have my wild flowers and day lilies.

Happy Belated Bloom Day!!

Thursday, June 12, 2014

(Re)Discover Chattanooga - Riverbend 2014

Riverbend.  If you're from Chattanooga, you either love it or hate it.  I happen to love it.

So far I've gotten rained on for Widespread Panic, I'm not complaining btw, sat back and relaxed for Buddy Guy and Robert Randolf, and stuffed my face with best BBQ ribs while I strutted down MLK.  It's been a good Riverbend so far, and here are my photos to prove it.

Blanket seating is where it's at people. For $10 you're close to the stage,
& you have your own bathrooms and concessions.
Widespread Panic
Widespread Panic in the rain.  I had a blast.
Buddy Guy with special guest Robert Randolph

The Strut.  Best BBQ ribs EVER!

Champy's for fried chicken and Mississippi Mud Pie.


Some would argue that the best part of Riverbend is yet to come....the fireworks! Check out these two albums from my friend Shannon to see some pictures of past Riverbend fireworks.

Monday, June 2, 2014

first day lily 2014

The day lilies have started blooming!  The first ones to bloom are 'my' day lilies, not my great grandmother's.  They came from my parents house, and lived on my patio one summer when I was in an apartment.  That summer they had lots of sun, and lots of miracle grow.  That summer of miracle grow paid off, because they are healthier than the rest of my liles, and they are the first to bloom.  woo-hoo!

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