June 25 has been circled on Sarah and I’s calendar for quite a while. Ever since we got the wedding invite from Sam, even if we had not met the bride-to-be yet.
Sam and Sarah grew up together-ish. He was her brother’s age and two years behind her. Their group of friends is…fun. In their way. I think. No seriously. At one point, Sarah commented at how she liked how much I fit in with them. I don’t think that is points in their favor though.
It was also Sarah and I’s first exposure to Oxford. And no offense Sam and Haley, but we were looking forward to that just as much. So, we loaded up Friday morning and headed south for the weekend.
Without a real concrete plan for our arrival, we decided to go ahead and eat early in the trip. And when I say we decided, I mean Sarah pulled up Yelp about 2 miles before the Goreville exit. Enter Whiffle Brothers Pizza.
I started to like my chances when i saw the bathroom art.
Of course I had to find out who was responsible for such fine choices. Turns out, he was going to see Willie Nelson and Jason Isbell that night. I will see Willie in August. I think I have a new friend.
Food was solid as well. Neigh, excellent for the area. We got a red pesto pizza and some Whiffle Sticks.
Plus a fun little van out front.
A few hours later, we were in Oxford. All told from Fairfield, it took about six hours with stops.
While the rest of our people were at the rehearsal, our first Oxford stop was South Depot Taco Shop, where I got a bowl. SDTS is pretty much just a local version of Chipotle.
And then began the first night’s shenanigans.
After a couple of beers at Blind Pig, including this excellent one from Parish below, we met up at Growler, the best craft beer and whiskey spot on the historic square in Oxford.
That was also the end of the pictures for the night, as the socializing began. A quick check of my Untappd however tells me I had a Dr. Juice from Parish and a Chocolate Doberge Cake Stout from Abita, as well as a pour of Barrel single barrel whiskey and a couple jello-shots for the CWC Challenge. Oh yeah, the added bonus of the trip: Ole Miss in the College World Series. More on that later. Friday night ended as any night in Oxford should, at least once–the upstairs bar at City Grocery. This is where the memory gets fuzzy, so we’ll skip ahead to lunch the next day.
Lunch was actually back where we ended, only downstairs in the City Grocery Restaurant. City, as it is mostly called locally, is a fine dining institution owned by Chef John Currence, a James Beard Award winner. It was also made (more) famous when featured on Anthony Bourdain’s Parts Unknown tv show. It was fitting that our visit was on Bourdain’s birthday.
Fresh bread arrived with the menus.
Yeah, we got the crawfish and shrimp toast. Because why wouldn’t we. Nice spicy kick on the spread and perfectly cooked reds.
Shrimp and Grits is my go-to, and what they are known for, so that was a no-brainer for me. Sarah went with the special for the day: hot dogs. No, seriously. In honor of the Rebels playing in the CWS, City did an andouille sausage dog special. Hot dogs, but southern fancy style. Cajun mustard, sauerkraut, banana peppers and crispy fries. They pulled it off. Eating at a fine diner and hot dogs of all things fit in. As for my grits, they make the very short list for best I have had. They were generous with the shrimp and mushrooms were a nice little addition. In fact, I plowed halfway through them before I noticed my picture I took before eating did not turn out, so check out the half-eaten version below.
We were stuffed after this meal. We still got dessert: banana bread pudding.
After a meal like that, we walked the square, hitting some of the shops, including both Square Books and Off Square Books as well as End of the World vinyl shop. Of course I got some stuff.
That is John Prine’s debut vinyl. That is a copy of Pappyland signed by Wright Thompson. I recently reviewed the audio version I listened to earlier this year. I have considered also getting a copy signed by Julian Van Winkle III available on his page.
And that is a copy of a John Currence’s first cookbook. Yes, the guy who owns City Grocery. How could I not? Pickles, Pigs and Whiskey happen to be three of my favorite food groups as well. It doesn’t hurt that each recipe comes with a song pairing as well. Food and music? Yes please.
Then came a run to Rebel Rags, a huge clothing store dedicated to all thing Rebs. I wanted a CWS specific shirt. I made money this year on Oklahoma, Auburn and Ole Miss in the postseason. Being there for the weekend, I went all in on the Rebels. To the point that immediately following the wedding, I had Game One on my phone for pretty much the entirety of the reception. I debated wearing my new shirt for the reception. Friends were made just by people swinging by the table to check the score. The DJ kept giving updates. It was a thing.
I think I could have gotten away with it considering all things going on, but I probably made the right choice with a polo. Of course, I was in Oxford, so I did my best to fit in with the polo choice.
Sunday morning started with one final Oxford meal. We had planned on going to Big Bad Breakfast, another Currence-owned place. But the line was lengthy. We were heading back to the Square to get donuts when Sarah spotted a Tex-Mex place called Sleepy Cactus across the road from BBB. We turned around and took a chance. She had me at breakfast tacos.
Sarah liked the place enough she bought a shirt. I repeat, we do not suck at this.
On the way back, we hit another milestone, rolling the 2015 Honda CR-V over 100,000. She still runs like new. Thus far, it has been only oil changes, tires and one rattling strut link. I blame the Arkansas interstate for that one. Seriously, Arkansas, your roads suck and you should be ashamed of yourselves. Be better, roads.
Also on the way home, this happened.
Are you ready?
Hell Yeah! Dam Right!
Hotty Toddy, Gosh Almighty,
Who the hell are we?
Flim Flam, Bim Bam
Ole Miss, By Damn!
For one weekend, Nebraska had Olemaha. Well done, Rebs.
So glad Sam and Haley let us be part of their special weekend. Thank you, thank you, thank you. And….hotty toddy.