In our infinite wisdom, we decided it would be a good idea to drive 1,020 miles to visit some friends over spring break. This will tell you either a) how great our kids are or b) how foolish we’ve become in our old age. Let’s just say we had a great trip to Nashville and a day to visit, but then things went south rather quickly thanks to a stomach bug my youngest picked up somewhere in Virginia.

Speaking of Virginia, if you ever find yourself in the northern Shenandoahs, be sure to visit the Luray Caverns. It was the real deal and blew both of my kids away.

I also have to mention Pal’s. It’s a fast food joint in southwestern Virginia and Tennessee. We weren’t hungry when we stumbled upon it, but I had to take a picture anyway. Judging from the high volume of traffic moving through the drive-thru, they must be doing something right beside their architecture.

Once we arrived in Nashville, we quickly set out to consume as much BBQ as possible. Some of the best we had was at Martin’s.

It was one of those meals where a hush fell over the table. Even the kids were quiet for a long time. Or at least it seemed like they were. I was so busy enjoying the food that I probably wouldn’t have noticed if the kids had suddenly caught on fire.

The cornbread was made with white cornmeal and contained a generous amount of black pepper. Arnold’s in Nashville also was not afraid to use large quantities of black pepper in their food. But both restaurants pulled it off brilliantly. And the dry rub baby back ribs at Martin’s were stellar. So was the cole slaw. I want their cole slaw recipe.

Sadly, one has to take breaks and rest up in order to get ready for the next round of eating. In our spare time we convinced our hosts to finally go out and get themselves some chickens. We got to visit a cute little farm and soak in all the green green trees and grass.

Pigs are not my favorite animal. But this particular group of swine was rather amusing, especially this sow that insisted on mounting the largest male repeatedly.

In the barn we got to visit some piglets that were beyond cute. Maybe pigs aren’t so bad after all.

Tennessee was a welcome respite from our grey New England existence. I just wish we had more time to take it all in (and eat more). But after this trip we drafted a new family rule: no more road trips that are longer than eight hours. However, time with friends and another order of Martin’s ribs might lure us back someday.

Barbecue Chicken Quesadilla


The guy at California Pizza Kitchen who came up with the Barbecue Chicken Pizza should really get a medal acknowledging the greatness of his achievment. When my husband replicates the pizza it brings me great joy. But awhile ago I had to cheat and make this quesadilla because I couldn’t wait to get my fix.[/donotprint]

And miracle of miracles, the kids liked them when I made them for dinner the other night. It was a rare moment. We were all eating the same food which had been inspired by my cravings. And we all enjoyed it. Amen and hallelujah!

Barbecue Chicken Quesadilla Recipe

2 10-inch flour tortillas
1/2 cup cooked chicken, shredded
1 handful coarsely grated Monterrey jack cheese
3 tablespoons barbecue sauce
1 tablespoon purple onion, minced
2 tablespoons fresh cilantro, chopped

Place one tortilla in a skillet over medium heat. Evenly distribute chicken and barbecue sauce on the tortilla. Sprinkle on the cheese and then the onion and cilantro. Top with the second tortilla. Cook for 3 -5 minutes or until the tortilla starts to brown. Flip and cook the other side for a few more minutes. Transfer the quesadilla to a cutting board. Allow to cool for a couple minutes. Slice into quarters or sixths. Serve.

Yield: 4-6 wedges
Prep-time: 15 minutes