Tuesday, October 21, 2014

Union Common

Union Common, located in Midtown, was not on my radar whatsoever... and they've been open for two months!  My friends MM and MC met up with me for dinner, but when we got to Sinema (sans reservation) we were told the wait was 3.5 hours.  Seriously!  I'm sure I'll try Sinema another time, but it kind of stinks that they save *zero* flex tables for walk-ins; I like restaurants to have a friendly mix.

We called Union Common, and they set a reservation for us in 30 minutes, perfect time to get to midtown from where we were.  We valeted my car at the restaurant and walked into the space.  It had a real art deco vibe to me, from the decor to the menus.  It wasn't jam-packed with people, which surprised us at first, so we didn't know what to expect.

My friends ordered cocktails (which were good, but had a bit too much ice!) and we perused the menu.  There are LOTS of shareables on the menu, which was great for our foodie crew.  MM and MC are more adventurous than I am, so it made for a really great experience for this junior foodie!  We decided to order a few small plates to start.

First up was one of my favorites of the whole meal, the Crispy Duck.  The duck was nestled on polenta and parmesan with some delicious cornbread crackling.  I really, really enjoyed this dish.  There was lots of crunch and flavor.  We scraped the dish clean!

Crispy Duck

The other starter dish we indulged in was Roasted Bone Marrow.  It had a pickled garnish on top and was served with mustard and toast.  They gave us tiny spoons that were very helpful in scooping the marrow out of the bone.  It was excellent!  Bone marrow might sound bizarre, but if you're a meat-lover, this is just a truly awesome thing to try.

Roasted Bone Marrow

For our main dish, we ordered the smaller Dry-Aged Ribeye, which is supposedly aged 50 days.  We had it medium-rare, and they served it for us as medallions so we could share more easily.  It was very good.  In fact, my MM said that the meal was better than Kayne Prime, a Nashville steakhouse I've got on my wishlist.

Dry-Aged Ribeye & Brussels Sprouts

For our sides, we ordered the Lamb Sausage and Brussels Sprouts.  I do not like lamb, but I did try the asparagus.  Not bad!  The Brussels Sprouts were great.  It seems everyone in Nashville is doing their take on Brussels Sprouts (it's the new fried pickles, I suppose), and this one had pork belly (!), parmesan, pine nuts, and sorghum.  Sorghum is another thing I'm seeing all over Nashville menus.  It's the new molasses, or something.

Lamb Sausage

On impulse, we also ordered ANOTHER small plate:  Nashville Hot Sweetbreads.  They came fried, like popcorn chicken, with a great buttermilk dressing.  Yup, I tasted some offal!  And honestly, this batch tasted like Buffalo chicken fried sweetbreads, in a really great way.  MC told me the texture was still similar to other sweetbreads she'd had, so I felt particularly proud to try it.

Nashville Hot Sweetbread

While my friends are savory fans, I saved some room for something sweet.  I chose the Banana Foster Bread Pudding, because I am on a bread pudding ROLL lately.  It was served with a bourbon whiskey ice cream, which was a great complement to the dish.  Everyone tried some!

Banana Foster Bread Pudding

Overall, I've got to say that Union Common really hits the nail on the head for excellent food and tons of menu options.  Our table of three had four cocktails, an entree, five small plates, and a dessert, and the check split was around $65 each before tip.  Excellent, right?  The small plates range in price around $6-15, and the entrees are on the higher end.  There are some very high-price steak options too, but we loved the variety we got by sharing.

I sincerely hope I get a chance to come back, as the waitstaff was great to boot!  They need an extra valet or two (especially on a Friday night, people!) but I'm glad the service is available.  You need to try this place!

Union Common on Urbanspoon

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Saturday, October 18, 2014

Wounded Warrior Project 8K

The Wounded Warrior Project 8K series came to Franklin, and I had to participate in honor of those who continue to serve and those who've sacrificed even more.  I was terribly sick, so I took it easy, but it was a great fall day for a run.  They kicked off a Soldier Ride bicycle group, had a great live band, and even provided a photo booth so you can have a souvenir.

LOL photo

I was a great course with a few Tennessee hills (of course), plenty of water points, and a good group of supporters along the way.  Lots of signs on the course too!  I ran in honor of my friend from West Point, Sal Corma, who died in Afghanistan in 2010.  He was one of the best guys...  and you should read more about him.

If this series comes to you, you need to check it out!  They're in Phoenix next month.

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Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Review: Jamberry Nail Wraps

There's a lot of buzz on Facebook about Jamberry nail wraps.  Given that I nearly ruined my nails with shellac & gel manicure removals, I was hoping these wraps would give my nails a little protection so they could grow out and not be peeling as much.  I'm pretty good at painting my own nails, but I smudge/chip them within a day or so, because I don't wait for them to fully dry.

Rose Gold Sparkle

Jamberry nails are sold through independent consultants (like my friend Molly) and have a basic cost of $15/sheet, with enough wraps for 2-3 applications, depending on how you allocate them.  They work for both fingers and toes.

Urban Lights

I will admit, there is a learning curve to application.  My first full set of Jamberry nail wraps lasted me exactly one week before they were a lost cause, peeling at the edges.  I put my nails through the ringer, so I wasn't too disappointed.  I saw a lot of flaws in my application process: rough edge from filing, wraps touching cuticles... so it's no wonder they started to come loose.  (Here's the official application video, in case you're curious.)

I use the Jamberry Application Kit and Mini Heater to put on my wraps.  I used to use my hair dryer, but the mini heater gives me a free hand to better maneuver.  I also apply OPI ChipSkip as a base before applying.

For my second full set, I used the "baggie method" I saw online, and I did not file the tips; I used nail clippers to trim them before heating, ensuring the tips came to the edge of my nail.  I also made sure to push my cuticles down so no wraps touched skin, which leads to the peeling.  I did have one or two ripples after four days (mostly where my nails themselves had peeled, so the surface wasn't completely even), but this round was noticeably better.  I was a happy camper and got lots of compliments!

White & Pink Tint Tips (Short)

My second full set lasted a week and a half before they looked a little worse for wear and I took them off.  That's almost the full two weeks advertised.  I've noticed that different wraps need a little more or less heat/care with application, specifically the ones with metallic in them.  I decided to exchange one set of wraps, the Icy Taupe Polka, because they simply did not stay on me...  but Jamberry has a satisfaction guarantee, so I could just get  a new set.  I felt like that one design, compared to all the other ones I've tried, "felt" different during application and didn't take the heat as easily.  It's good to know Jamberry will exchange if you're not fully satisfied.

I don't feel like it takes much longer for me to put Jamberry wraps on than regular polish, due to lack of drying time, and I don't chip them like regular polish.  You get the hang of it pretty quickly.  Removal is so easy too, they just peel off with a little help!  I'm pretty much sold on these as a great way for me to have nail designs that last longer than salon or self manicures.

Icy Taupe Polka

I've ordered a bunch of sets, because I absolutely love all the patterns.  Even though I haven't yet gotten to the point of them lasting a full two weeks (I need to not watch TV while applying!), I'm happy with the look, designs, and having them last a week and a half.  I can't paint nail designs like these myself!  There's seriously a design for every occasion too, and I have picked some that work very well for both a corporate office and my life in general.

Interested in shopping for some Jamberry wraps of your own?  Click here October 15th - November 12th and be sure to shop MY party so I can earn some fun freebies!   There's often a  Buy 3, Get 1 Free or some other offer running.

And if you want a FREE SAMPLE, shoot me an e-mail and my girl Molly can hook you up with one!

I purchased all of my own Jamberry nail wraps and accessories from my friend Molly.  I am reviewing them here just to let other people know my experience with them, before they take the plunge themselves.

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