Super supper in Seattle (sorta)

Leek tart topped with pecorino and served with hazelnut vinaigrette was the amuse bouche to start the meal.

Leek tart topped with pecorino and served with hazelnut vinaigrette was the amuse-bouche to start the meal.

After work yesterday, Alan and I had dinner in Seattle. But we were back in our downtown Knoxville home by 9 p.m.

Actually, we only went to Bearden. We were at Holly’s in Homberg Place where chef Holly Hambright is offering “a taste bud tour of the world in nine menus.” Last night  happened to be “dinner in  Seattle.” It was the second of these creative themed repasts. We missed the first, Munich, Germany. Still to come: Mendoza, Argentina; Marseille, France; Kyoto, Japan; Barcelona, Spain; Bologna, Italy; Montreal, Quebec; and (ha!) Knoxville, Tennessee.

Each dinner is five courses (six, if you count the amuse-bouche) and you can bring your own wine. Cost is $120 per person. Think that’s a little pricey? Well, you can do what I saw a woman at the next table doing. She brought a cooler filled with plastic ziplock containers. She put at least half of each course in a container to take home. So, if you do that, you can have two $60 meals. And, believe me, the course sizes are plenty large enough to carry out this plan. (read more)


Knoxville Mercury hopes to rise

Jack Neely, executive director of The Knoxville History Project and a force behind The Knoxville Mercury, at a fundraiser for the project last month.

Jack Neely, executive director of The Knoxville History Project and a force behind The Knoxville Mercury, at a fundraiser for the project last month.

The folks at The Knoxville Mercury, the alternative weekly newspaper that will be the successor to Metro Pulse, are getting settled in to their office space in The Walnut Building.

Looking at a mid-March launch, they now have office furniture and Internet service. Their art director, Tricia Bateman, is working on a logo for the paper, and some of their founding writers and editors are busy cranking out Facebook posts and blog posts. (Click here. And here.) They’ve hired a sales staff. And editor Coury Turczyn is sifting through resumes and applications for a staff writer and various freelance help. They are working on their editorial calendar for the first year.

Last month, in the depths of winter, they had a jaunty little fundraiser at The Standard in downtown Knoxville attended by about 100 folks. At $100 per head, well, you do the math. They were quite satisfied with the result. Alan was out of town, but I dropped by just to see who else would be there. Plus, when I heard the food was by Knox Mason, well, there really wasn’t any question about my going. I love that place.

Music, too, was by one of my favorite local bands, Kukuly and the Gypsy Fuego. (read more)


White Lily Flats: THIS is urban living!

Amanda Jennings in one of the apartments in White Lily Flats.

Amanda Jennings in one of the apartments in White Lily Flats. “Where do you put the bed?” I asked. “Anywhere you want,” David Dewhirst replied.

When people talk about “urban living,” I always think the condo where Alan and I live in the Cherokee Building on Church Avenue is a good example of that. It has tons of exposed brick and the drop-ceilings have been removed, meaning you can see all the heating and air conditioning duct work. It’s pretty cool.

But when it comes to urban living, our condo is nothing compared to the newly finished apartments that David Dewhirst and Mark Heinz are offering in the White Lily Flour building at 222 N. Central St., just across the railroad tracks from the heart of Knoxville’s Old City. My colleague, Amanda Shell Jennings, and I went on a tour there sponsored by Urban Land Institute last month. The building is now called White Lily Flats and contains 47 residences with retail space on the ground floor. Folks, this is what “urban living” looks like! (read more)


Booze Traveler makes pit stop in Knoxville

Jack Maxwell, left, with Steve Morse, director of the hospitality and tourism program in the College of Business at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee. Previously, Morse taught in the Tourism Institute at the University of Tennessee.

Jack Maxwell, left, with Steve Morse, director of the hospitality and tourism program in the College of Business at Western Carolina University in Cullowhee, N.C. Previously, Morse taught in the Tourism Institute at the University of Tennessee.

Our friends at Scripps Networks Interactive summoned a few folks last Friday to happy hour at the tiny Peter Kern Library, the speakeasy off the lobby of The Oliver Hotel in downtown Knoxville. The purpose of the event: to introduce everyone to Jack Maxwell, the star of the new Travel Channel show, “Booze Traveler.”

Maxwell, 51, is an actor and former bartender from South Boston who says he learned in that profession that when you sit down with a stranger over a few drinks, “the whole world opens up.” In his 15-episode series, which airs on Mondays at 10 p.m., Maxwell and his crew travel to various locations around the world, including Armenia, Belize, Lithuania, Mongolia and Nepal. At each stop, Maxwell drinks with locals and learns about the alcohol customs of each country which, as you can imagine, vary widely.

On Friday, guests were treated to two signature cocktails, “High Note,” made of Whisper Creek, Nonino Amaro, Fernet-Branca, root beer bitters and coffee liqueur; and “Aunt Adelaide,” made of Fords gin, Dolin Blanc, Aperol, orange liqueur, lemon juice, orange bitters and muddled strawberry. Folks seemed to be enjoying both, but because I was headed to another event, I stuck to pinot grigio because I was better able to gauge its expected effect on me. (read more)


Blue Streak salutes a ‘full’ inauguration weekend!

Newly sworn in second-term Gov. Bill Haslam and his wife, Crissy, share a first dance to Rascal Flatts' rendition of their hit, "My Wish."

Newly sworn in second-term Gov. Bill Haslam and his wife, Crissy, share a first dance to Rascal Flatts’ rendition of their hit, “My Wish.”

At Moxley Carmichael, we love Gov. Bill Haslam. We worked with him when he was at Pilot more than 20 years ago. We worked on his first mayoral campaign. And we supported him when he ran for governor — both times.

So, of course, when we got the invitation to his second inaugural weekend earlier this month, we were totally on board. After all, we had such a blast at his first one! (Click here and here for that two-part Blue Streak post.)

This year, Moxley Carmichael was represented not only by Alan and me, but by our CFO, Shaun Fulco Hyver, and by our newest account executive, Hannah Parker. Hannah joined our company last year after a four-year stint in the governor’s office — and, prior to that, three years in the office of Bill Haslam when he was Knoxville’s mayor. We knew she knew her way around Nashville, and she wowed us by making all the arrangements for our trip. (Thanks, Hannah!)

We had a blast and saw tons of fellow Knoxvillians there. Although I broke the last inauguration into two Blue Streak posts, I’ll just post all the pictures on one this year. You can stop reading when you get tired!

So, here goes! (read more)


Symphony Ball sparkles with diamonds and dancing

There were a lot of beautiful dresses at the Symphony Ball, but if I had to pick my favorite, it would be this stunning red number worn by Kay Clayton.

There were a lot of beautiful dresses at the Symphony Ball, but if I had to pick my favorite, it would be this stunning red number worn by Kay Clayton. Understated elegance.

Even though the annual Symphony Ball falls right in the middle of the holiday season and always on the same night as the Southeastern Conference football championship, it still draws an impressive crowd to Cherokee Country Club.

Sponsored by the Knoxville Symphony League to raise funds for the Knoxville Symphony, this year’s theme was “Diamonds are Forever,” and that theme was reflected in a number of beautiful jeweled pieces offered in the silent and live auctions. And this year, the event also spotlighted dazzling dance numbers by members of Go! Contemporary Dance Works and professional ballroom dancers Mireille Tuendemann and Nathan Simler. The Knoxville Symphony Youth Orchestra Quartet performed during the cocktail hour and the Al Curtis Orchestra provided dance music following the live auction. (read more)


Sweetest addition arrived late to cookie exchange

Mary Ellen Brewington loading up her tin at this year's cookie exchange.

Mary Ellen Brewington loading up her tin at this year’s cookie exchange.

This was the 11th year for our annual cookie exchange and, by now, it just wouldn’t seem like Christmas without it. Our spouses and families have come to look forward to it, and we know all the “rules” for getting the cookies home in the best condition. Most important: Don’t mix them all together!

Rather, separate them based on type: All peanut butter cookies together in one baggie; all peppermint cookies together; all ginger cookies together. And, for goodness’ sake, don’t mix the soft cookies with the crisp cookies — or they all will turn out soft! Trust us on this. It comes from years of experience.

We highly recommend that everyone either organize or participate in a cookie exchange. It’s easy. If you are the host, just enlist a friend to help you with bartending and then serve a light lunch buffet — either a brunch casserole or a number of quiches and salads. If you are a guest, bake six dozen of your favorite cookies and bring them to the exchange. After an hour of socializing and a few bites to help keep up your stamina, it’s a free-for-all as everyone races to the table to collect a wonderful assortment of cookies. (read more)


Houston, we don’t have a problem

My hilarious husband, Alan Carmichael, at the entrance to the Hall of Ancient Egypt in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

My hilarious husband, Alan Carmichael, at the entrance to the Hall of Ancient Egypt in the Houston Museum of Natural Science.

If Stephen Wicks, the curator at the Knoxville Museum of Art, ever decides to change careers, he needs to be a travel agent. I can’t imagine anyone putting together a more interesting, educational and fun three-night trip than the one Wicks just organized for about 40 members of the museum’s Collectors Circle, who visited Houston.

We saw art that ranged from a lovely display of Claude Monet works at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston highlighting the famous Impressionist’s lifelong relationship to the Seine River to bizarre and baffling (at least to me) surrealistic pieces at the Menil Collection. We stopped by residences of art collectors in suburban Houston, and we visited Chateau Carnarvon, the most expensive private residence in Houston to see antiquities from the Greek, Roman and Egyptian eras. And, as a bonus, we saw dinosaurs and mummies. And we ate and drank.

And even though all this was packed into the trip, we still had some free time to spend doing our own things. It was fantastic. (read more)


‘Steered’ to perfection at Caracol

Alan checks out our hotel shuttle, which would take us to Caracol.

Alan checks out our hotel shuttle, which would take us to Caracol.

Several weeks ago, more than 40 East Tennesseans headed to Houston on an art trip arranged by Knoxville Museum of Art Curator Stephen Wicks and Krishna Adams, also of the museum.

As Alan and I got ready that Thursday to hop in the car and head to the airport, I noticed our latest edition of Wine Spectator magazine had arrived. I tossed it in the car to read on the plane. And lo and behold, what did it feature? A listing of the best restaurants in Houston! Woohoo!

Our schedule showed we had Friday night to plan on our own so as soon as we landed, I called a recommended restaurant, Caracol, for a reservation. The aforementioned Stephen Wicks, our leader, said he wanted to go with us, as did our buddies Mark and Cathy Hill. (read more)


United Way givers treated to Alison Krauss

Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski playing for an intimate group at The Standard in downtown Knoxville.

Alison Krauss and Dan Tyminski playing for an intimate group at The Standard in downtown Knoxville.

If, as is said in 2 Corinthians, “God loveth a cheerful giver,” Knoxville businessman Randy Boyd has made God love us a little more — because he made us a little more cheerful about our giving!

How? Boyd, this year’s chair of the local United Way campaign, arranged recently for songstress Alison Krauss and several members of her band to perform a private concert at The Standard in downtown Knoxville for donors who have pledged $10,000 or more to the United Way of Greater Knoxville. About 80 people were there.

Every year, donors at this level are invited to a special dinner as members of the Tocqueville Society. But in every past year that I can recall, the speaker has been a sports figure or a politician. This was so much better for us music lovers.

(read more)