I went to Nashville last weekend with my mom and sister to celebrate my mom’s 60th birthday. We had tickets to the Grand Ole Opry Friday night, and I almost didn’t make it due to my original morning flight being canceled. It was a testament to my determination of not letting things rattle me during the course of the weekend. I spent the duration of Friday morning on the phone with Delta trying to get on an earlier flight than the 6:30 p.m. flight they rescheduled me for. I was told to call back every 30-60 minutes and see if any seats had opened up on flights leaving throughout the day. I succeeded and got on a 1:45 p.m. direct flight. I immediately took a deep breath and gave myself an internal high-five for not stressing out about it all morning. Instead, I chose to do everything I could to get myself to Nashville in time for the Opry.
Nashville is an incredible city, and the Opry specifically felt like a mystical place. I grew up watching Grand Ole Opry shows on television, and I think anything that appeared larger than life to you as a kid always carries some fascination as an adult. Restless Heart was the first act to perform. They sang two of their popular hits from the 80’s, and I was immediately transported back to the house we lived in when I was 7 years old. Although I don’t have a lot of pleasant memories from my childhood, hearing these old songs (particularly with my mom and sister sitting next to me) gave me the warm fuzzies. It was one of those scenarios where you make a memory within a memory. Do you know what I mean? Experiencing the Opry with my mom and sister will always be memorable to me because of the feelings that it stirred up from previous memories.
If you’ve ever been to Nashville you will know that I am not exaggerating when I say that it might just be one of the best food cities in the entire country. I was prepared to eat some good BBQ, but I was not prepared to be hit over the head with deliciousness at every turn. I prepared a spreadsheet of recommended restaurants before we left. I wasn’t messing around. We went to Jack’s for brisket, mac and cheese, and coleslaw. I don’t think I left a drop of food on my plate. The following day we went to Swett’s, which is basically a cafeteria-style restaurant in the middle of nowhere. Their fried chicken is TO DIE FOR. I could have easily eaten an entire bucket of chicken, but I wanted to save room for the peach cobbler. When in Rome, people. Because of the gluttony that ensued over the course of the weekend I wasn’t too hungry for our last meal Sunday night, but I knew that I wanted something local. My mom and I decided to split a pulled pork sandwich, which is one of my all-time favorite sandwiches (along with a Cubano). I’ve never had a pulled pork sandwich where you could actually taste the smokiness in the meat. I think I moaned with every bite I took.
I love rosemary. It’s hands-down my favorite herb. I have yet to pair it with something that doesn’t taste incredible. Savory cookies are becoming popular here in NYC, and I’ve tried a few over this past year. They aren’t my favorite thing, but I did try a lemon rosemary sugar cookie a few months ago that was so good I made a mental note to try and find a similar recipe to make for my blog. I think shortbread is the perfect foil for almost any flavor due the buttery richness of the cookie. I found a lemon shortbread recipe as well as a rosemary shortbread recipe, so I decided to combine them into one recipe and see how it turned out. Perfection. The lemon brightens up the richness of the cookie while the rosemary gives it that nice earthy, herbaciousness that rounds out the overall flavor. They are the perfect summer cookie to pair with your afternoon coffee or tea.
Lemon Rosemary Shortbread Cookies
Adapted from Bon Appétit
1 1/2 cups all purpose flour
2/3 cup sugar
2 1/2 teaspoons grated lemon peel
1 tablespoon fresh rosemary, chopped
1/2 teaspoon salt
3/4 cup (1 1/2 sticks) chilled unsalted butter, cut into 1/2-inch cube
1 egg white
1. Blend first 6 ingredients in food processor. Add butter; pulse until moist clumps form.
2. Gather dough into ball. Wrap with plastic wrap and form into a log.
3. Chill dough in refrigerator for at least 1 hour and up to 2 days.
4. Preheat oven to 350 degrees F. Line baking sheet with parchment paper.
5. Cut 1/4″-sized discs from log and place on baking sheet. Using a pastry brush, lightly brush each cookie with a slightly beaten egg white. Sprinkle with sugar.
6. Bake cookies until light golden, about 17-20 minutes.
7. Cool pan on rack for 5 minutes. Carefully remove cookies onto rack with a spatula. Cool completely.