Foodies go underground … literally!

Chef Dustin Busby

Chef Dustin Busby

My sister-in-law, Tess Richard, and I, armed with a little poem we had been emailed, set out for the 100 block of Gay Street last Friday night looking for a very special party.

It was another of the super fun “Trust Fall” dinners. Trust Fall is an underground supper club. Attendees vie for a limited number of tickets that sell out in a matter of minutes — maybe seconds! They don’t know where they are dining until the day of the event when they receive an email that usually tells them the location. But, in this case, all we got was a rhyming riddle.

“What secrets remain — oh, the suspense!/Your clandestine affair is set to commence

You’re about to join a most unusual tribe/Whose primary intentions are to eat and imbibe”

We definitely wanted to find that party! We were aware that the chef for the evening would be Dustin Busby, the proprietor of the Hoof food truck. His partner in the endeavor, handling the wine pairings: Blackberry Farm sommelier and director of food and beverage, Andy Chabot. But where was the darn place? (read more)

Blue Streak gets a ‘Ticket to Ride’ in London

Dawn and Richard Ford with Alan Carmichael, right, on The London Eye.

Dawn and Richard Ford with Alan Carmichael, right, on The London Eye.

Our good friends and traveling companions, Dawn and Richard Ford, love London. They’ve visited three times over the past 10 years. It is their favorite city.

So when Alan and I discussed our joint European vacation with the Fords, we all decided that they would be in charge of planning the London portion of the trip while Alan and I would take charge of planning the Paris visit. Paris is my favorite city.

“I love London because it’s a pretty city and it’s interesting historically,” Dawn noted. “We also feel some emotion about London because Richard and I were there when 9/11 happened and people there were so kind to us.” (read more)

Got art? Great stuff at Artscapes!

Melanie Wood is one of my favorite local artists. I love this piece of hers called "Iris" that is part of the Artscapes offerings.

Melanie Wood is one of my favorite local artists. I love this piece of hers called “Iris” that is part of the Artscapes offerings.

Artscapes is a wonderful art sale benefiting the Knoxville Museum of Art. But it’s also one of the best opportunities around to purchase beautiful original jewelry and art for your home, office or for gifts. (It’s almost the season, you know.)

Artscapes itself is a black tie optional auction and dinner to be held Friday at the museum. Silent auction is at 6:30 p.m., with dinner and a live auction at 8:30. On Saturday, you can return to the museum for an art fair from 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. So, you see, there really is no excuse not to pick up some great finds this weekend.

To give you a little taste of what’s available, I attended the Artscapes Preview Brunch this past Sunday and saw some awesome pieces. In fact, so many offerings were sold at the preview that museum folks were scrambling to assemble new items to offer Friday. So, the items on this blog post are only scratching the surface of what’s available. (read more)

Les Papilles: A restaurant to die for

Lamb and vegetables "cooked a long time" at Les Papilles in Paris last week.

Lamb and vegetables “cooked a long time” at Les Papilles in Paris last week.

We were a little taken aback when we opened the door to the very small bistro in Paris called Bistroy Les Papilles, exactly on time for the reservation we had made more than a month in advance under the name of our traveling companion, Richard Ford.

We had not even completely entered the room when an apparently angry man yelled at us from across a counter: “Ford party?” We gave a startled nod and he blurted, “You did not confirm your reservation!” While we were sputtering something about not knowing we needed to confirm it, he ordered, “Follow me!” and rushed unsmiling into the crowded dining area with us in tow.

He directed us to a tiny table in the middle of the tiny eatery. He did not give us menus.

“Here’s what we are serving,” he stated flatly. “First course is potato and leek soup. Second course is lamb — cooked a long time. And vegetables — cooked a long time. Dessert is panna cotta with strawberries and pineapple. You can pick any bottle of wine on our walls. Or I can choose for you.”

“You choose,” I said, not about to cross him. It turned out to be my favorite meal we had in Paris. (read more)

How to launch EventCheck Knox? With a party!

Thank you to Maria Cornelius of Moxley Carmichael for writing this guest post for the Blue Streak. This also was posted on EventCheck Knox. -Cynthia Moxley 

Cynthia Moxley introduces EventCheck Knox.

Cynthia Moxley introduces EventCheck Knox.

EventCheck Knox officially launched with – what else – a party!

Cynthia Moxley, CEO of Moxley Carmichael, addressed the party-goers, along with Natalie Haslam, to officially unveil the website and explain the purpose and necessity of EventCheck Knox.

Haslam entertained the attendees with her account of how Knoxville has evolved from a town with little to do when she was in college at the University of Tennessee to one in which every week seems to bring worthwhile events.

(read more)

A lesson in tailgating from our Catholic friends

Thank you to Hannah Parker of Moxley Carmichael for writing this guest post for the Blue Streak. -Cynthia Moxley

A former boss of mine used to say, “Rooms have feels to them, you know? They can either give life or suck the life out of you.”

Rooms do have feels to them. And, apparently, so do picnics, such as the one hosted at Sacred Heart Cathedral to launch the Diocese of Knoxville’s fundraising campaign to build a new center of worship.

From left, Tom and Deanene Catani, Pam Rhoades, and Father David Boettner.  Loved his orange pants!

From left, Tom and Deanene Catani, Pam Rhoades and Father David Boettner, rector of Sacred Heart Cathedral. Loved his orange pants!

On a summer afternoon on the first weekend in September, more than 500 people attended a picnic in sweltering heat in a church parking lot. They brought umbrellas, folding camp chairs and blankets because they wanted to be present at a historic event in the life of their church and the life of our community.

Several weeks ago, the Diocese of Knoxville announced plans to build a new cathedral at Sacred Heart. At the picnic last Sunday, the renderings were unveiled, and the campaign formally was launched.

For quite some time, I have been familiar with the work of Catholic Charities of East Tennessee. Several years ago, I remember being astounded to learn that nearly 95 percent of the funding they give away goes to non-Catholics.

What I didn’t realize is that Catholicism in East Tennessee is growing. Since the Diocese was founded in 1988, the Catholic population in our area has doubled, and it is expected to double again over the next 10 years. One recent study identified the Knoxville diocese as one of the top 10 fastest growing areas in the country for adult conversions.

(read more)

Joan Rivers: No apologies needed

Joan Rivers

Joan Rivers

The voice on my voice mail was unmistakable. “Hello. This is Joan Rivers.” Only, of course, it sounded like “Riv-ahs.”

“Oh, Lord,” I thought.

It was 1999 and I had just written a little item about Ms. Rivers for my gossip column in the local newspaper here in Knoxville. She recently had appeared at Center Stage, the swanky fundraiser for East Tennessee Children’s Hospital. Apparently, the performance had gone a little too far for some in the audience, and several people had walked out.

That prompted Bob Koppel, the hospital’s president and CEO at the time (and also a friend of mine), to write a letter of apology to everyone who had attended. I had written about that apology letter.

Rivers was not amused. “You tell that man,” she said on the message, “that NO ONE has to apologize for Joan Rivers!”

(read more)

‘Marketing’ downtown with dinner

This watermelon martini had a starring role in our most recent Downtown Progressive Dinner.

This watermelon martini had a starring role in our most recent Downtown Progressive Dinner.

I have to confess, the Downtown Progressive Dinner Club is starting to cheat a lot! Our stated goal is to lure folks we like into moving downtown. But lately, all our “targets” have been people we know who already plan to move downtown! Maybe we should just be honest and call ourselves a welcoming committee for urban living.

Well, it doesn’t really matter. We have fun celebrating life in downtown Knoxville, no matter the excuse.

Our most recent targets were Christi and Scott Branscom, who, by the time we invited them to come along on our progressive dinner last month, already had purchased the last available condo in The Elliott. The Elliott, a beautifully appointed building constructed in the early 1900s, is located on Church Avenue at the intersection of State Street, across the street from where the News Sentinel building used to stand. Since Christi is the deputy to Knoxville Mayor Madeline Rogero and works unpredictable hours downtown, she and Scott decided to get a downtown condo as a second residence. Warning to them: That’s how many of us started. Then we discovered we had so much fun downtown that we sold our larger homes in the suburbs and became full-time downtowners. We’ll see how long they hold out! (read more)

The best golf shots come at the parties

Wild piano-playing impressario Jason D. Williams on top of his piano at one of the News Sentinel Open parties.

Wild piano-playing phenomenon Jason D. Williams on top of his piano at one of the News Sentinel Open parties.

The News Sentinel Open Presented by Pilot golf tourney earlier this month was a huge success, organizers say. Golfer Martin Piller walked away with a $99,000 purse and more than 38,000 spectators got a taste of the professional golf experience.

“It was a home run,” said Adrian Pearce of the News Sentinel, who helped pull off the labor-intensive event that requires the services of scores of volunteers. “It keeps getting better and better,” he said.

But for me, the best parts of the week-long string of activities surrounding the tournament were the parties. Technically, they are “pairings parties” for the participants of the Summit Medical Group Pro-Am on Monday and the Calhoun’s Pro-Am Classic on Wednesday to find out which professional golfer they will team with on the course. But, to tell the truth, that technicality easily could be handled by email. It’s just an excuse for two great parties. Which is fine by me.

The first, on Sunday night, is always at Chesapeake’s downtown. It precedes the Summit Medical Group Pro-Am on Monday. (read more)

Urban League treads where needed most

Taylor Gazaway shows off her new sneakers.

Taylor Gazaway shows off her new sneakers.

School has started, and everybody wants new shoes for the occasion. New shoes make you feel special. They give you a great start and a fresh perspective on the new year and all the promise it holds. But some children come from homes where buying new shoes for the start of school is not an option.

That’s where Shoes for School comes in. A service of the Knoxville Area Urban League in partnership with Enterprise Rent-A-Car, Shoes for School provides new tennis shoes and school supplies for children in need. Local community organizations such as the Boys & Girls Clubs of the Tennessee Valley and the YMCA handle pre-screening eligibility, and the children get a pair of shoes selected specifically for them.

The 2014 event, now in its 11th year, provided shoes to 1,500 children and school supplies to many more. Organizers estimated more than 4,000 people were at Caswell Park earlier this month for the festivities. And it really was a festival-type atmosphere, rather than a feeling that the kids were receiving charity. (read more)