We usually go out of town for like one night and just go non-stop for the day before and after. That's relaxation around here, at a crazy pace as usual. We've written about our time in NYC for fun and for our time at the James Beard House, Little Rock and P. Allen Smith's Moss Mountain Farm, Columbia, MS, and Valentine's Day in Oxford one year.
One place we're always visiting is Mississippi, the state where both of us were born. Sometimes, we go for the quiet and to help do a little work in the family garden. We saw this amazing person perform there in November; we always go to Jackson and stop by High Noon; we finally went to Water Valley one Valentine's Day weekend; and we really love Oxford, which is a little over an hour away from Memphis. North Mississippi also has this now, which we can never resist, and it's right there on the way.
Second Line in Oxford now! And if you've never been, you must go to at least one of John Currence's restaurants. (His new cookbook, Big Bad Breakfast, is so good.)
For New Years 2017, we wanted to check out some new places we'd never been. But our first stop in the rain in Oxford was a mainstay, the absolutely amazing Square Books, and then we ran over to Off Square Books when we remembered that's where the cookbooks are. We spotted The Chubby Vegetarian and got to sign the couple of copies they had left. (Found this new vegetable cookbook there, too.)
We'd heard about The Graduate Hotel, and they had a New Year's Eve package that included little themed gifts and breakfast, so we finally decided to go. The deal seems to be that they just make everything as simple and effortless as possible, so nothing is a big deal. And it's adorable. Every design detail is so smart and knowing with an original point of view.
We were set to go to dinner at Ravine, which is further outside of the square. Due to providing food photography a little while ago, we had a credit at Ravine, and we can't wait to go back and stay at the inn. The NYE menu there consisted of an amuse-bouche, 4 courses, wine pairing, and lime sorbet somewhere in-between. The vegetarian option included a first dish of roasted beet, goat cheese, and olive tapenade and then came local mushrooms and manchego on grilled ciabatta toast. The main dish was farro risotto with butternut squash, kale, and a fried egg. We also had a pear tart and chocolate cake.
Ravine was packed and festive, and owners Chef Joel Miller and his wife Cori are so fun to be around and talk to. (Read a story Justin and Pam worked on about the inn and restaurant here.)
It was still Christmastime in Oxford, so when we got back to the square, we walked all around and looked at the lights and the big tree, people-watched, window-shopped, and also checked out the pizza oven at Saint Leo.
We had breakfast, apple oatmeal, biscuits, home fries, and an egg-white and vegetable frittata, at Cabin 82 in the hotel and walked outside for a bit in the morning. We noticed pimento cheese and crackers front and center and ready to go at the gas station across the way.
All of this was the best way to put 2016 away and start something sure to be even better in 2017. If you haven't been to Oxford lately, we think you would love it just as much as we do!