The things that were eaten in Spain

Food in Spain is amazing in general but Barcelona was pretty next level…

The best burger I’ve had in my entire life at http://www.granjapetitbo.com/

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Another delicious burger at http://anaucogourmet.es/

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Root Vegetable crisps + honey & sesame seeds at http://www.negrocarbongrill.com/

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Tempura fried veggies, craft beer and rare steak at http://biercab.com/

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Dreamy pina coladas and guacamole at https://www.facebook.com/Pachucobcn/

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Followed by another on on the beach…

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Followed by mojitos…

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daiquiris…

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Then an exquisite dinner of tapas at http://www.betlem.es/

Steak tartare

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Octopus, artichoke & pea

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Crab ravioli

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Roasted Octopus

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Apparently all I eat is Octopus so I decided to order a whole one roasted in paprika in Figueres.
It was the best thing I ate on the whole trip (next to that legendary burger because it was EPIC)!!

It’s a shame I don’t have anything for scale. Let’s say bigger than a rabbit smaller than a cat. I ate the whole thing. Obvs.

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Belgique! Discovering Ghent, Bruges, & Brussels …part DEUX – Waffles!

Who’s in the mood for some motherflippin waffles?!

The answer is: ALL Y’ALL.

Because you just can’t say no to waffles.

(Unless you are punishing yourself, coeliac or obnoxious)…then fine.
More waffs for moi!

I did some investigative “wafflesearch” (snort…high-fiving myself) before we left for Belgium!
Although I usually cringe at the thought of doing the same exact touristy things that everyone else does on holiday, there are certain rights of passage when you visit a place for the first time.

No one goes to Florence and says
“Keep me away from all this perfect gnocchi and gorgeous gelato”.

No one “mehs” at a sexy hunk of crusty baguette freshly slathered with salted butter in Paris.

The point I’m making is that no one was going to keep me from my waffle experience. It’s Belgium, we are doing the waffle thing. It’s sorted.

So there’s this place called “MAX” http://www.etablissementmax.be/en/ in Ghent.
It’s this incredible little art nouveau cafe that specialises in waffles and apple fritters – even claims to have invented them in 1839! Here’s a little video about it:

After an afternoon spent schlepping around looking at beautiful churches, swans swimming in canals, drinking beer and other magical things – we plopped ourselves down in the wicker chairs and planned our* waffle attack.

(*I should note that S only ordered a beer. I am a lone waffle warrior.)

Isn’t it a beautiful building?

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The inside is just as gorgeous. Who doesn’t love art nouveau??

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So what did I order? Well…obviously I ordered a waffle.

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A big, fluffy, light-as-air, splendid and amazing waffle. Crispy. Slightly Sweet. Yum.

And a fancy coffee… REAL fancy.

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And then I thought…well if they really invented the apple fritter, I should probably order one…you know…since i’m here…

So I did! Eeeeee!

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Then I made this face because GLUTONY.

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S just sat and sipped his Chimay in a state of loving, and non-judgemental supervision as I tucked into my mountain of treats.

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I did my best, but living a mostly carb free existence and eating (and drinking) carbs non-stop for 2 days was catching up to me by this point.
Since I was receiving no help from my (I don’t have a sweet-tooth) better half, I really only made a slight dent in my sugar feast. He always says I’m really talented at eating all the desserts and I appreciate the support.

I’m thrilled to report that everything was absolutely spot-on perfection!

When in Ghent, go to MAX!
Order the waffle.
Die of happy!

Next up – LIGHTOPIA!!!!

Paris, FINALLY! Part Two. AND Three.

Annnnd we’re back! I decided to cram the rest of the photos into one last post so this is your warning that it’s a LONG one!

So picking up from where we left off with part one of our Paris trip, after a sweet little breakfast at Maison Lacombe we made our way toward Notre Dame and the Centre Georges Pompidou.

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Centre Georges Pompidou!!! Amazing!!!

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The walk to Notre Dame…

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Lunch at Aux Arts Etc Cafe’ Galerie

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The experience and food in this quaint little cafe was beyond wonderful and the staff/owner was very welcoming and lovely!

Off to the Pantheon…

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The Eiffel Tower!

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Collectively sharing our feelings about Selfie sticks…

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The sweetest older lady and dog duo there ever was…

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We were completely destroyed from all the walking and had a simple charcuterie and cheese feast for dinner…

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Nommmmmmmmm.

The next morning we took a boat cruise on the Seine from The Eiffel Tower…

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Then a quick little pit stop in Bistro De Montemartre…

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http://en.bistromontmartre.com/

Followed by a walk through the beautiful and somber Montmartre Cemetery…

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Our journey to Sacré-Coeur began with more walking around Montmartre…

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SACRE-COEUR!!!

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Our last dinner was at a tiny neighbourhood restaurant in Ternes called Le Petit Acacia.

We were incredibly lucky to yet again, have a stellar meal.

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The parents look pretty darn happy and relaxed! 😉

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The FOOD!

Roasted Bone Marrow

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Suckling Pig

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Confit Duck

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Creme Brulee

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On our last day in Paris we toured the Musee D’Orsay (simply wondrous and astounding!) then we dined at another fantastic restaurant Le Recrutement Cafe for one final Parisan feast.

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They still look happy! Success!

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Lovingly threatening my darling with my Escargot tongs…

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Which was short lived because then there was escargot! YUM.

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Beef stew

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Salad with duck gizzards and foie gras

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Cheesecake (my mother says this was the best she’s had)

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Cheeky Cheese Plate

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Apple Tart with salted butter ice cream

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And creme brulee #2 for moi.

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One final look before heading to Gare Du Norde…

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So that’s it. Sadly!

Thank you for taking the time to scroll through all the photographs!

And goodbye beautiful Paris, thank you for not disappointing! See you again soon! x

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Going Home…

After one whole year away from all the beautiful people I love dearly and have MISSED EVERY SINGLE DAY(like you wouldn’t even understand) I simply had to go home.

My life would of course be much easier if all of my friends and family were located in the same city, but like most families, they are strewn out around the United States.

It’s always going to be challenging to see all of the folks that I would like to when I visit. It’s simply not possible. I will also miss weddings, births, and killer dinner parties whilst I’m abroad.

This is just a sad reality of my spectacularly fun new life. ;(

We flew into Cleveland first because that’s where a big chunk of my family live.

My beautiful Aunts did their best to make our stay the most relaxing and fun few days imaginable…

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I even got to spend some quality time with the family pets!

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And no trip to CLE is complete without stopping by Cedar Point.

We rodes some epic and terrifying coasters…

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Ate some massive BBQ turkey legs…

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Then we passed out from jet lag exhaustion!

Followed by a quick flight to Nashville!!

I immediately had a bar party and invited everyone to come out and give me a year’s worth of hugs.

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They complied!

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Toasts were made…

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I was so excited to spend time with some of my besties…

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And baby!

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OOooohhh baby!

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This one made me want one of my own…

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Even with fussy scrunched up sad baby face…

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There were lots of babies being made whilst I was away…

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Big fat squooshy pretty babies!!!

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And some of the babies I knew a year ago weren’t babies anymore, but little tiny people…

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Simon made some new friends as well…Of the furry variety…

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And the wacky-conspiracy-theory-Jesus-loving-rocker-chick variety…

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Crazy girls are the hottest. Always. That is a fact.

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LOVE YOU LALA. Forevs. PS. Her Dad MIGHT be Ziggy Stardust. FYI.

Moving on…

My mom was as pretty as I remember her being…

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My brother was still a massive fantasy football dweeb…

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Gorgeous sunny Murphmurph was just as gorgeous and sunny as ever…

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Becca was still awesome and smart and sharing her love of great food…

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She and her fantastic fiance took us out to Dinner at Silo http://www.silotn.com

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Exceptional and elevated Southern cuisine welcoming me home proved to be JUST what I needed…

Especially deviled eggs three ways…

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Deep fried greenbeans…

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And pork belly…

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We even visited my beloved Bombay Palace http://www.bombaypalacetn.com/

They were all super excited to see me too! Awwwwww!

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Actually, we did a lot of eating.

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And of course, we had to work some of it off…

No better place than Edwin Warner Park…

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So that was our trip back to Nashville via Cleveland. A ton of photos I know, but some super wonderful days with friends and family! Hopefully I’ll be back sooner than later and can see more of my loved ones this time! See ya soon Nashville xx

One last Spain post for my foodies…

I just wanted to share some of the food I DEVOURED in Spain for those of you who live to eat…

I promise I’ll be quick!

A simple lunch…

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Followed by a decadent dinner…

Tomato and goat cheese salad

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Beef carpaccio with sheep’s-milk cheese

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Tuna carpaccio with pink peppercorn and dill

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Filet mignon with foie

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Vanilla bean panna cotta with black currants…

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Me pre-FACESTUFF

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Me in action!

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Grilled calamari for another yummy lunch…

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A little scampi party…

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Tasty tapas…

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That is all! I hope you salivated at least a little!

Next up: LONG overdue Nashville Trip posts!!!

TEA. A Love Affair.

I have always loved tea.

Growing up in the South, iced tea is generally part of daily existence.

Iced Sweet tea, Iced Green Tea, Iced Peach Tea, Iced Passionfruit Tea…the varieties are endless.

I’ve never really gotten into hot tea as much (aside from wintry days where my throat is highly unhappy).

A few years ago I stumbled upon Teavana in the Green Hills Mall and developed a very serious crush with the place.

http://www.teavana.com

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But they are SO EXPENSIVE. And they try to up-sell you to death.
It got to the point where I didn’t even want to make eye contact with the sales associates when I went into the store.
They also don’t tell you that the canisters they put the tea in cost extra (or at least failed to mention that to me any of the 50 times I bought tea).
And some of the “teas” don’t even contain tea at all. Just sweetened dried fruit & flowers…but they still call it “TEA”.
(Is there not a rule against this)?

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Anyway, I still love tea.

To be more accurate, I’m pretty much obsessed with hot tea since I moved to the UK.
Specifically Earl Grey.

At first, it’s a little weird that everyone is always going on and on about having a “cuppa” tea all the damn time.
But I quickly realized that I had never had Earl Grey tea with milk & sugar before.

MY BRAIN——-> WAIT A MINUTE! THIS IS EFFING STELLAR!

A hot cup of tea can fix your soul.

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Part of the joy of tea is the ceremony…

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And adorable china…

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And having a hot tea date…

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I can’t stop drinking it. I crave it!
I have even been using agave syrup and soy milk to be healthier.
It has fully replaced coffee in my life.
I know…THAT’S CRAZY TALK!

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I order it everywhere we go.
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I just can’t help myself.

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And people here even drink it alongside their meals. Even with cheeseburgers!
(By the way, I ate a cheeseburger the other day and it was phenomenally delicious).

See? DELICIOUS!

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So, long story short, tea is important. Drink it and feel better.

Now, how about I leave you with some spectacular street art from my travels around Brick Lane in London?

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And of course, lest you forget…The Beginning is Nigh!

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Review: Monell’s Germantown.

If I could have any wish granted this holiday season, I would wish for a 2010 Honda Fit or maybe a Unicorn, which might or might not take me to Candy Mountain.
(although either seems a little on the unlikely side of wishes.)
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Typically in the past when I have been presented with an opportunity to make a wish, I have ALWAYS wished for either a pony or to live happily ever after with an amazing man. Since I am both unlucky in love and clearly ponyless, I think it’s safe to say that wishes are complete bullshit.

I guess if I had to pick a more reasonable wish I would wish that eating the decadent food served at Monell’s restaurant was good for me and not insanely caloric and unhealthy.
But, as we’ve already established, wishes are bullshit hopes that never come to fruition.
So I suppose I’m just going to either get really fat or have to use self control and spread out my visits.
Shit.
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So, this is Monell’s. And basically we are in love. Or, well… I should say that I’m in love with Monell’s and Monell’s is kinda jerking me around.

You see, it all started about a month ago when a friend of mine had a birthday breakfast here and I happily attended.
And I ate.
And ATE.
Blissful and forever a changed woman as I shoveled buttermilk biscuits and peach preserves into my mouth.
Oh I fell hard.
Almost to the point of not being able to stand up without assistance.
So much eating took place. It was a bloodbath of consumption.
Believe you me.
Monell’s is structured how boarding house dining rooms used to operate, where strangers all sit together and food is served family style.
You name it, it gets brought to the table.
Since my first visit, I have been FIVE other times…THIS MONTH…..yeah, that’s like once a week (plus twice in one week).

(I know. I know.)

It is safe to declare that Monell’s serves the best Southern Food I have ever had.
It is artery-cloggingly divine.
I mean, living in Nashville, I really know Southern Food. I’m all over it.
Sometimes Southern cuisine can be overcooked, under seasoned, and super greasy.
You won’t find anything like that here.
Every dish is lovingly prepared and richly satisfying.
It is perfect, simple, and I’m utterly smitten.

Okay. Get ready. This is about to get really delicious.

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When you arrive at the Germantown location, depending on the size of your party, you will be seated at one of their seven long tables already set up with sweet tea, water, cucumber salad, broccoli salad, fruit salad, coleslaw, or some other cold mayonaise-based salad option. (Mia if you are reading this, look away now)

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I love you coleslaw. You are the only coleslaw for me.

It will come as no surprise to you that I like everything I have tried at Monell’s although this usually presents me with several obstacles when I visit:

1. ) The food is brought to the table in gigantic bowls slowly, which increases your chances of filling up too quickly on sweet tea, biscuits, and broccoli salad before the star of the show (skillet fried chicken) has even made it to your plate.

2.) I lose my ability to effectively utilize portion control and ALWAYS overeat at Monell’s.
I usually leave half of almost anything I order at a restaurant on my plate, but here, I am transformed into a ferocious professional eater.
Seriously.

This is my best friend in the whole wide universe Abigail, passing me the ridiculously tasty macaroni and cheese.

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She’s so beautiful and talented at handing me things.

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To. Die. For.

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Yes, that’s my plate overflowing with green beans, corn pudding, macaroni & cheese, whipped potatoes, and spinach lasagna.

And my favorite thing.
Maybe ever.
Maybe more than all of the Honda Fits, Ponies, and Unicorns in the heavens…
Skillet Fried Chicken.

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I’m not sure how to adequately explain to you how bewildered and astonished I am every time I sink my teeth into a piece of Monell’s Fried chicken. It gives me heart palpitations just thinking about it.
Right now, I just made myself salivate.

The skin in perfectly crispy, golden, lightly salted, peppered, and forged in the fluffy clouds of culinary heaven.

I practiced unheard of levels of restraint waiting until my plate was full with food before eating.
It was rough. But people were cheering me on.
Shooooooooweeeeeeeee!

(I’m going to weigh 500 pounds)

There was also banana pudding, but I ate it before I had a chance to photograph it because at some point I turned into an animal.

The moral of the story here is that this place is serious.
It is not for the faint of heart, diabetics, or those who fear large portions of insanely rich Southern cooking.
This is the kind of food that could very well make you believe in God.
Go get fat at Monell’s and you will thank me.

http://www.tnmonells.com/