We have found, over the years, that the kind of New Year’s celebration we enjoy most is the kind where we go to several different places in a night. Rather than stay at one party or one restaurant, we like to move around and see what folks are doing in a number of venues.
Since it’s not a great idea to do a lot of driving on New Year’s Eve, the perfect place to have the kind of evening we are looking for is - you guessed it - downtown. In downtown Knoxville, you can walk to a wide variety of settings and still end up close to home when the festivities are over. (Or when you are over the festivities.)
Although we are downtown residents, we’ve noticed a wonderful new trend among our suburban friends and acquaintances. More and more local folks are renting hotel rooms in downtown Knoxville when they want to spend an evening or weekend in the city. We think this is a great idea and ran into several friends doing just that this past New Year’s Eve.
As for us, our evening started about 7 p.m. when our friends Dawn and Richard Ford checked into our “guest condo” in Cherokee Lofts and then strolled across the hall to our place. Dawn and I each prepared two hors d’oeuvres, we poured some classic champagne cocktails, and the four of us started celebrating the last night of 2012.
We only scratched the surface of what was offered downtown on New Year’s Eve, but I think you’ll get an idea of the great diversity of things to do. And maybe next year, you’ll join us in ringing in the year in the little treasure that has become downtown Knoxville.
Click here for a link to that shrimp recipe that I got from Pinterest.
My other recipe also was from Pinterest and it has a downtown story connected to it. I knew as soon as I saw it that I wanted to make it on New Year’s Eve, but I waited until the day before to really start thinking about it. Unfortunately, it called for a spring-form baking pan, which I do not own. I racked my brain to try to figure out where I could buy one downtown so I could avoid going to west Knoxville just to buy that one item.
I remembered that the new gourmet olive oil and vinegar shop, The Tree and Vine, located on Union Avenue, also carries some fancy cooking equipment, so I headed over there. But, alas, no spring-form pans. I mentioned to the store clerk, Morgan Fitch, that I guess I would have to go out to the suburbs to find what I was looking for. “Oh, no!” he said. “I have one. Would you like to borrow mine? I just live a block away and I’ll run over and get it.” Yay! I took him up on his generous offer and my dish turned out great. I’ve lived in Knoxville for 33 years, mostly out west, and, I have to say, I’ve never had a shopkeeper be so accommodating. I truly think it is a downtown thing! Another reason to love the downtown lifestyle.
If you are interested, click here for the recipe. I’d recommend doubling the amount of chili powder and cumin the directions call for, though. We served it with Tostidos.
And then we headed over to the Knoxville Museum of Art for a sold-out special New Year’s Eve program featuring the bluesy music of Jenna and Her Cool Friends and a barbecue dinner by F.A.T.S of North Knoxville.
We left the KMA quite a bit before midnight because we wanted to be on Market Square to see the ball drop and the fireworks. But on our way to Market Square, we just had to make another stop: Windows on the Park, the cool bar at the Holiday Inn World’s Fair.
“I can’t believe I’m spending New Year’s Eve in the bar of a Holiday Inn!” he laughed. “But I’ll be darned if it’s not the most beautiful bar I’ve ever seen in a Holiday Inn!”
We only had time for one drink there because of our impending midnight deadline to get to Market Square.
We went to bed around 2 a.m. and had a deadline of being to the breakfast buffet at the Hilton by 10 a.m.
After breakfast, we chilled at the condo for a little while discussing the events of the previous evening. But pretty soon, it was time for us to venture to west Knoxville, after all. Dawn and I headed to the home of Madge and Barry Cleveland, who always host a fantastic New Year’s Day feast. (We couldn’t budge Alan and Richard, who had settled in to watch football.)
Another tradition is that we go to see a movie on New Year’s Day. Dawn and I headed to “Les Miserables,” while Alan and Richard went to “Django Unchained.” (Dawn and I made the better choice!)
Happy 2013, everybody! We hope you’ll join us downtown as we welcome in 2014. You have a year to plan it!