A last-minute offer to day trip to Oxford should truly never be turned down. The proximity bears no excuses, and the culinary and artistic offerings are outbeating many of its Deep South counterparts. In this case, the opportunity arose on a chilly, winter morning with an emptiness of college football but a richness of discovery and Southern comfort.
After picking up a cappuccino and croissant from Tart, some girlfriends and I hopped on i-55 for an hour or so ride into town, which welcomed a symmetry of trend and tradition. We zipped our coats and began a plentiful five-hour adventure.
If you know anything about me, you know that food begins and ends any trip. In our case, this was Chef John Currence's City Grocery to taste the winter lunch menu. A glass of dry Chenin Blanc washed down the panko and parmesan oyster gratin appetizer, beautifully familiar and innovative. Other appetizers that graced the table included a divine flash-fried brussels sprout with chorizo and a rich cup of andouille gumbo ya-ya. It was a phenomenal line-up--reminiscent of nearby cultural influences such as New Orleans' creole classics and Austin's Uchiko famed fried brussels sprouts. I was instantly nostalgic and impressed!
Entrées were posed in ultimate traditional fashion: famous shrimp and grits with garlicky mushrooms and Big Bad Bacon, and a soft-shell crab po boy loaded with bacon, romaine and roasted tomato aioli. Though dessert looked divine, we filled up too quickly on honey cornbread and, alas, left the historic dining room in pure satisfaction.
Afterward, we perused The Square, purchased novels from the famous Square Books store, and shopped at Vintage Tailor for apparel. Though I didn't find a chance to pop in, I recommend Amelia for curated knick knacks and gifts. If, for any reason, you miss Memphis during the four hours away, a new location of The Second Line has opened!
Where most do you recommend for my next day trip down South? Share your moments with #caramelizedtravels.