Tuesday, October 19, 2010

Unexpected Awesomeness

I spent the weekend in Jackson, Mississippi. The nice ladies at Magnolia State Romance Writers invited me over to speak at their meeting (they seemed to think I might know something about something...) and I did a book signing at the local Borders for my BOARDROOM RIVALS, BEDROOM FIREWORKS (ahem, available now at a store near you!). They're a neat group of ladies, and I had a great time with them. I really hope they'll invite me back one day!

Plus, since Jackson is a nice meeting point between Counselor Shelley and me, she drove over and we made a weekend of it. We expected the weekend to be rather low-key since we're old and boring these days, but Jackson held some unexpected awesomeness...

Friday night, we hit the internet to find a place to eat. We passed on the stuff like Applebees, Chili's, etc -- after all, we can get that at home. But there was a place my iPhone app recommended called 119 Underground. A quick trip to Google to look at the menu also told us they had live music in addition to great-sounding food, so we set out guided only by the GPS to get us there. (The adventure of finding 119 is a whole different story...)

You'll have to pardon the quality of the photos... they were taken with my phone in a dark room.

A picture of the stage from our table. The place has atmosphere.

Let me tell you, the food was FANTASTIC. UNBELIEVABLY good. So good, that we ate until we were nearly ill, then ordered something else interesting off the menu. So good, that we decided we'd have to come back Saturday night to try the rest. When the manager stopped by our table to check on us (they have great service, too!), we told him we'd be back the next night, but I guess he didn't believe us.

Until we showed up Saturday night. We were the first ones there. Ready to eat.

Those are fried green tomatoes, topped with hollandiase sauce and lump crab meat. The bottom dish is orange-garlic shrimp, which was very tasty, but sadly was up against some very stiff competition and just couldn't compete. I really wish I had pictures of the crab quesadilla from Friday night... DIVINE.

The top plate is the three-cheese and crab stuffed pork loin, which is just a happy party in your mouth. The bottom plate is the beef empanadas with salsa verde. OMG, good.

And I didn't get a picture of our server, Patti, but she was a good sport, bringing food and listening to us rave and not saying anything when I started photographing the plates.

Because we were the only people in the place -- or perhaps because no one was really expecting us to come back, and therefore thought we were just a little odd -- the owner came by to chat.

Andy Wilson is a self-taught chef who used to be a golf pro. I don't know how good a golfer he is/was, but, damn, the man can cook. He's also a sweetie, who posed for pictures.

Andy talked us in to staying for a while instead of just eating and running off to the hotel, so we moved to the bar, where two adorable bartenders made us a very yummy drink from caramel apple infused vodka, butterscotch Schnapps and cream. Okay, so they made us several drinks.

And they flirted with us. (Now, I spent many years on the other side of this equation -- the young cute thing flirting with the middle-aged customer in the hope of a big tip. I know how this game works. That doesn't mean that I didn't eat it up all the same and love the ego boost.)

Mike the bartender and me.

Chris and Shelley (and Shelley is holding one of those yummy drinks.)

Yes, we are very aware how very young they are. Yes, we felt just a little bit dirty about it. We got over it, though.

And the band was fantastic! The Fearless Four (that's their name) played great jazzy-bluesy music, perfect for grooving and dancing, and it wasn't long before the 119 was jumping! I got to dance with both Andy and Mike (granted, they were pity dances, but, again, I'll take what I can get these days!).
This is Bob, who played both keyboards and guitar for the Fearless Four. Yes, it's a little late in the evening, and maybe Shelley's hands weren't quite as steady as they could have been.

We made it out of there sometime after 1 a.m., which is really late for us these days. But, wow, what a great time! Many thanks to Andy and the gang for entertaining us so wonderfully.

Now Counselor Shelley and I are hoping for more invites from MSRW. We need an excuse to head back to Jackson. Hell, we might just plan a girls' weekend in Jackson just because we can. Because we now know where to go.

If you're in the Jackson area, find the 119 Underground (Andy needs a bigger sign, because it's not that easy for out-of-towners to find). Wear elastic-waist pants because you'll need the extra room. Come ready to dance. And tell Andy, Mike, Chris and everyone else that we sent you.

You'll have a blast!

So, have you ever stumbled upon a great place in your travels? Something that wasn't listed in the travel guide but really should be?



Laurie -- you're Jillian's winner from last week. Email Instigator@writingplayground.com to claim your prize.

Kelly Fitzpatrick -- I got your email claiming your prize, but my response to you is bouncing (your host "refuses" it. What did I do to it?) Please send me another email with your snail mail addy. problemchild@writingplayground.com


Playground Monitor said...

Remember that great little Thai place around the corner from the hotel in San Francisco? Terrific food -- and lots of it -- for less than $10.

I know I have some other stumble-upons in my travels, but the late hour and all the plotting and planning I've done today have wiped them out of my memory. It's places like this that make a trip special.

Playground Monitor said...

Okay, I knew as soon as I hit "Publish" I'd remember.

My sister and I traveled the Natchez Trace a few years ago and had seen the name of a B&B in Natchez online. We couldn't get hold of the place the night we got there (turns out the owner was an alderman and at a meeting) but we got in the next day. What a terrific place. He'd restored the house to it's original glory and furnished it in period pieces. He knew tons about Natchez despite not being a native. And his breakfast was awesome -- and served on real dishes with real silverware. You'd love it PC. ::grin:: The place is called Bluff Top B&B. It's on the bluff overlooking the river and the view is to die for. I'd stay there again in a heartbeat.

Smarty Pants said...

I love tripping over something awesome in an unexpected place. In Flagstaff where I went to college, there was a hole in the wall Indian restaurant that was, no joke, right next to the Walmart. Tiny, a little scary, but had the best Indian food in the world. I loved that place. I can still smell the garlic naan if I think hard enough.

Instigator said...

I love finding new places to eat! Lately, I'm uninspired by the restaurants we have around here. I think I've eaten at all of them...multiple times. I want something new and different. I never thought that I was a foodie (can you be a foodie if you don't cook?) but I think maybe Food Network has turned me into one.


Angel said...

Sounds like so much fun! I'm glad you had a good time.

All this food reminds me, I need to go grocery shopping, though what I bring home won't be nearly as interesting. :)