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!
On a sad note, downtown has recently lost two great staples of our civic and social life. Both Mickey Mallonee and Kim Trent have moved out of The Emporium on Gay Street and returned to the suburbs. Mickey moved to South Knoxville and Kim moved North. They were longtime residents of The Emporium and had been told they’d get an opportunity to purchase their units after seven years when the financing arrangement that required the units be leased ran out. But the developer had a change of plans and said he wanted to keep the units as rentals — and he raised the rent! So they moved. It’s a big loss for downtown.
But, on to happier thoughts.
The theme of our latest downtown progressive dinner, held in the middle of the growing season, was “Farmers’ Market.” All courses were to be based on ingredients that could be purchased at a farmers’ market. That turned out to mean peaches or tomatoes — or both — in every course. Which is great, because we all love peaches and tomatoes!
First course was at Bruce and Monique Anderson’s terrific home in The Glencoe on State Street. Alan Carmichael, my sweet husband, was starving — so we were the first to arrive!
Starting time is 6 p.m. Monique greeted us with a terrific new wine we’d never tried before — a sparkling pinot grigio they’d purchased on a trip to California.
From the South Coast Winery in Temecula Valley, it was absolutely delicious as a “greeter” wine to start off the evening and the weekend.
Click here for more information about it.
The appetizers waiting to be served just screamed “Summer!”
Bruce did the honors as others arrived.
Our city’s two terrific deputy mayors: Bill Lyons, one of the members of our club, and guest Christi Branscom.
Monique added a delicious vinaigrette to the plates prior to serving.
The flowers were in matching colors. Stunning.
Here’s Gay Lyons happily enjoying the first course.
Next course was to be at Tim Young’s fabulous place at The Gallery, located above Mast General Store. Because Tim’s place is so large and is a great place to have an entree, it’s become a tradition for Tim and his friend Jeff Cupp to prepare a signature cocktail there while Gay prepares the main course. We always give the folks with the next course a 15-minute head start.
The rest of us followed at the appointed time. Here we are traveling west on Clinch Avenue headed to Gay Street.
We turned north on Gay Street and ran into tons of friends at the Downtown Grill & Brewery, which was celebrating its 10th birthday that evening. Note the age range of the guests — from babes in arms to gray hairs! Very typical downtown.
Tim and Jeff greeted everyone with those awesome watermelon martinis!
Here’s Tim, looking innocent. I’m telling you, these things packed a wallop!
Here’s part of the reason. In addition to fresh watermelon and vodka, they contained watermelon moonshine! Lordy!
Scott Branscom bravely partaking.
The antique grandfather clock showed we were right on time. That’s Jeff Cupp graciously posing for me.
We always end up on Tim’s balcony. Here’s Christi checking it out.
That’s where Gay got the beautiful herbs she used as a centerpiece for the buffet counter.
Monique chose to enjoy her watermelon martini inside.
I love this pig Tim has on his kitchen counter.
More tomatoes — these in a tomato stack. Gay said the lady at the farmers’ market had a lot of patience as Gay went through the offerings trying to find tomatoes that were all the same size. Ha.
Gay selected a beautiful boule to accompany dinner.
Tim and Gay getting ready for dinner service.
Gay created a salad Nicoise based on Julia Child’s classic recipe. A perfect summer feast.
After dinner, Alan and I got our 15-minute head start to our place, Cherokee Lofts, at the corner of Church Avenue and Market Street, to put out dessert.
I decided to use our wedding china, which I still love after 30 years.
I served peach cobbler, which I made from a recipe I found on Pinterest, and Blue Bunny ice cream, which I bought at the little convenience store called The Market downtown. In addition to wine, while we were waiting for the cobbler to bake, we had classic champagne cocktails because I wanted to use the champagne flutes we also got as wedding gifts.
Here’s part of our gang. Admittedly, towards the end of the evening, I don’t do as good a job remembering to take photos!
Tim and Christi finishing off the cobbler.
Jeff, who is in the antiques business, asked for a cup of coffee. “I know you want to use your china cups,” he said, accurately!
And that, boys and girls, concludes another successful meeting of the Downtown Progressive Dinner Club. Y’all come back, ya hear?