Quarry setting serves up Spanish ‘Summer Supper’

Chef Matt Gallaher preparing salmon escabeche with cucumber gazpacho, sturgeon caviar and crema. We had a Spanish-y theme going this evening.

A spectacular garden landscape on a beautiful evening. Convivial friends and acquaintances. And a wide range of delectable seafood dishes prepared by one of Knoxville’s most talented and in-demand chefs. That about sums up the Knox Heritage Summer Supper held last weekend at the lakeside home of Lane Hays.

Even at $250 per person, this Summer Supper was one of the first to sell out. Originally limited to 24 guests, the number was eventually raised to allow a few folks on the waiting list (like me) also to be included.

The fact that Hays’ garden is built in an old quarry makes it visually exciting and dramatic. Huge boulders and unexpected cliffs, curves, waterfalls and streams make it an adventure to explore.

Matt Gallaher, chef owner of Emilia, the popular new Italian spot on Market Square, and Knox Mason, the popular (and tiny) Southern food bistro on Gay Street, went with a Mediterranean theme for the food and his sommelier, Connor Coffey, selected wine pairings from countries on the Iberian Peninsula.

Guests were welcomed by volunteer hosts, including Jenny Blackburn, offering Bilbao-style baby eels with pimenton allioli and cherry tomatoes. Pimenton is a kind of Spanish paprika.

Hosts George and Stephanie Wallace and Phil Mummert, at right.

Guest Cathy Ackermann, left, with our hostess, Lane Hays.

Volunteer Ann Goldstine with Paloma mimosas. They were made with cava, St. Germain, grapefruit and something called “lemon air,” which is the foam on top.

Jenny Blackburn again. This time, with ajo blanco, a cold Spanish soup that included smoked char roe and scuppernongs.

Enter this way to the stunning garden.

A beautiful lake view at dusk.

Mark and Cathy Hill with a quarry pond backdrop.

Ellen Bebb bringing more ajo blanco.

Mark Hill was the only one of us to take on this cliff.

He decided to relax a bit while he was up there!

Debbie and Jay Schmid were among the guests.

Deborah Franklin and Shane Murphy.

It was fun to wander through the quarry.

Woodland creature.

It was an afternoon for hats! Rich Ray, left, and Kenneth Stark looked quite dapper, don’t you think?

Huge rocks were everywhere. You could see the drill marks on many of them.

Carol Merchant and John Thomas found a cozy place to relax.

Loved this stone bench.

It even had cupholders! And a friendly turtle.

Hello there.

View toward the boathouse.

My husband, Alan Carmichael, with our friend Julia Bentley.

Delightful little surprises were tucked away throughout.

The trail to the house, where we were soon called in to dinner.

Connor Coffey pouring the first wine — Naveran’s cava “Brut Nature” from Penedes, which is in Catalonia.

Chef Matt Gallaher with Blake Sallie, the bread maker at Gallaher’s Knox Mason. (They have excellent bread there, by the way!) I was lucky to get a seat in the kitchen and was amazed at how spotless they kept it while turning out a seven-course meal for 28 people!

Here’s the first course ready to go out. Salmon escabeche in cucumber gazpacho with sturgeon caviar and crema.

Volunteer Rob Johnson serves guest Tony Johnson.

Lane Hays and Stuart Worden.

Next up was a delicious salad of lump crab with fresh hearts of palm, avocado, Mahon cheese and Pedro Ximenez vinegar. Wine was a 2016 Columna albarino from Rias Baixas.

Gary and Julia Bentley.

Sheena McCall kept bringing more cutlery between courses.

Arroz negro paella, lobster, calamari and smoked tomatoes with cured eggs grated on top. This was fantastic. Wine was a 2016 Izadi rosado “Larrosa” from Rioja.

Rich and Jane Ray.

My favorite dish of the evening was Spanish octopus with chorizo, chickpeas, potatoes and salsa verde. It was paired with a 2013 La Antigua Rioja “Blanco Clasico” from Rioja, of course.

Hugh Hyatt and Jeff Chapman.

Lamb loin and brandade with piquillo peppers and fennel. Brandade is an emulsion of salt cod and potatoes and it is delicious. Wine was a 2012 Hacienda Monasterio tempranillo “Crianza” from Ribera del Duero.

Some of the guests at the table in the dining room, from left, Vicki Chapman, Pam and Jim Given, John Thomas, Carol Merchant, Debbie and Jay Schmid and Debby Hyatt.

The first dessert was Valdeon blue cheese with figs, balsamic “caviar” and crushed Marcona almonds. An awesome combination.

Mark and Cathy Hill. (He survived the cliff!)

Carol and Tony Johnson.

What Spanish dinner would be complete without flan? In this case, served with dulche de leche, peach and sea salt. An Emilio Lustau “Capataz Andres” sherry from Andalucia was the perfect pairing.

Connor Coffey and Caroline Farris from Emilia were indispensable to the evening’s success.

They, along with Chef Gallaher, got a big round of applause.

Some members of the evening’s host committee: Front, from left: Stephanie Wallace, Ann Bennett, Kay Clayton, Barbara Apking, Sheena McCall, Elizabeth Justus, Ellen Bebb and Phil Mummert. In back, from left: George Wallace, Dick Goldstine, Ann Goldstine, Rick Blackburn, Jenny Blackburn, Steve Apking, Jeff Wilke and Rob Johnson.

Host committee members not pictured: Finbarr Saunders, who was retrieving a guest’s car, and Susan and Bob Hawthorne, who were out of town. Great job, everybody!


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6 Responses to Quarry setting serves up Spanish ‘Summer Supper’

  1. Carla May Paré, on August 25th, 2017 at 2:34 pm said:

    The food looks divine! Yum!

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on August 25th, 2017 at 3:12 pm said:

    Carla: It was definitely worth the money. And the wine was great, too. Just a fun, fun night all the way around. I love Knox Heritage Summer Suppers.

  3. Deborah Sams, on August 25th, 2017 at 3:30 pm said:

    Impressive beverages and menu! Could this be the best of the Summer Suppers? How fun to read all about it. Two desserts? Wonderful…

  4. Cynthia Moxley, on August 25th, 2017 at 3:31 pm said:

    Deborah: It was good enough that I’d definitely sign up for another one if he does it!

  5. Sheena McCall, on August 25th, 2017 at 4:28 pm said:

    I look a little frazzled and I was!
    The volunteers are so supportive of Knox Heritage that they pay as much as the guests they serve!
    Every year I beg to be a guest at this special dinner, but Barbara Apking keeps me working.
    Great job Matt, Carolyn, Connor and Blake. You were magnificent.

  6. Georgiana Vines, on August 25th, 2017 at 8:14 pm said:

    The food is so creative. Makes me want to work harder on my dishes.

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