I spent today in Memphis, the home of Alex Grosjean (although technically, I discovered that she lives in East Memphis). I needed to get away from my computer and out of the house and as Memphis is the closest city, I hopped in my Nissan Rogue and drove the hour-and-a-half that it takes to get there. And I will admit that I was listening to and singing Christmas carols throughout the entire course of that drive.

I usually have to stop at Stuckey’s just outside of the city for a bathroom break. Lo and behold, though, these words of wisdom were awaiting me in the bathroom stall:

Indeed.

I love the holidays. There’s just something about them that makes me feel so sentimental. I ended up leaving much earlier than anticipated, so I stopped by Oak Court Mall to get a bra fitting at Victoria’s Secret. And although the size the sales woman came up for me was what I already had, their bras in that size all proved to be too small in the cup. But we eventually found a style and a size that worked for me. Men have no idea how difficult bra and jeans shopping is for us women! A huge thank you to Brittany at the store there for being extremely patient and helping me find exactly what I needed.

I roamed around the mall a little more, but as I had already spent more money than I had originally intended, I decided it was lunchtime. I found this place on Yelp under “French” restaurants called River Oaks Restaurant. It seemed to have amazing reviews and the chef was actually born in France and has received a lot of awards, so I figured I’d give it a shot. So I joined the lunchtime crowd there and tried the daily special called the Chef’s TV dinner. It’s a tongue in cheek name for a four-course pre-fixe meal. So very francais, non? As I love trying new things, I went for it.

All four courses are served on one large sectioned plate, similar to a t.v. dinner. The first item I ate was a sweet potato latke with mushrooms. Okay, I normally HATE mushrooms, but these weren’t the slimy ones I’m used to seeing. These were like the mushrooms I ate in France (where I discovered that not all mushrooms are evil) – sort of crunchy. They had been appropriately spiced and went amazingly well with the sweet potato latke. Another funny thing? I don’t like sweet potatoes, but this latke was DELICIOUS. I ate the whole thing.

Next up was the beet salad. I didn’t know I liked beets, but I guess I do, because it was really good. I followed that with a baked sea bass, my absolute favorite fish. It definitely had fleur de sel on it, but also a creamy buttery sauce that wasn’t too heavy. It was the best piece of fish I’ve had since Paris.

Dessert was key lime pie. REAL key lime pie and not that stuff made with just lime juice. And it was amazing.

I paired this all with a glass of Sauvignon Blanc. Meanwhile, people are looking at me like I’m some sort of alcoholic, because I dare do the French thing and have wine at *gasp* lunchtime. Meanwhile, they’re all missing out with their sweet tea (yuck). Americans. Bah, right?

I ordered coffee to finish, as if I were in Paris and took a million notes about the restaurant itself. I’m pretty sure I’ve found my Cafe Fortuna (read Zeus, Inc.).

I also took notes about various buildings in the area and figured out that Olympic City is where East Memphis currently is. And some of these wonderful art deco buildings in the area are just going to have to stay, even 50 years into the future, where my novels are set.

I was rather disappointed to see the Bookstar building is now a Japanese restaurant. So help me, if they have ruined those beautiful 1950’s pink bathrooms, heads will roll!

But I digress. I met up with a friend and we went to the Dixon Gallery & Gardens. It’s a lovely museum (with English-style gardens) that has a few impressionist pieces and currently has a nice exhibit on porcelain figurines. It’s quite lovely – I can only imagine how beautiful the gardens are in the spring, but here’s what they looked like today.

Still quite lovely, no?

And since the day was still young, we went to the Brooks Museum to see the Tiffany exhibit there. I’ve already chosen all of the decorative glass that I’m going to use in my castle, when I buy it.

On the way to the Brooks, I stopped and picked up some cupcakes from Gigi’s Cupcakes. These are the crack of cupcakes, they came from cupcake heaven and I think God himself created each flavor. No, really, they’re that good. I’m savoring the anticipation, though, and have not opened the box yet:

It’s taking a lot of willpower, though… There’s a Rocky Road cupcake in there and a Nutella cupcake. Guess which one I’ll dig into first?

Anyway, if you’ve read Zeus, Inc., you’ll know there’s a mention of cupcakes in the book. Gigi’s inspired those.

On the way home, I picked up some Zaxby’s. And now my stomach doth protest. But it still tasted pretty darn good.

###

The Curse of Hekate

Alex Grosjean is back. A tall, dark and pointy-toothed stranger shows up at Alex's door and asks for help: he wants to find the insane monster-woman, Lamia, who cursed him. Meanwhile, a plague sweeps through the city and Lamia starts abducting children. After a trip across the world and a frightening encounter with the goddess Hekate, Alex must push herself to her limits to save the world. Again.

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