COVID respite allows for downtown progressive dinner

One of our regular hosts, Bruce Anderson, right, with our guests for the evening, Mark and Cathy Hill, during the first stop of our recent progressive dinner.

It was a couple of weeks ago and it seemed that the COVID numbers had leveled off. All of our regular progressive dinner club members had been vaccinated and so had our friends, Mark and Cathy Hill, who recently joined us as urban dwellers.

We like to have a guest couple for our progressive dinners, and we knew they were good sports and would like to see how other downtowners lived.

We needed a theme and we picked “French” since Bastille Day had recently passed — and we couldn’t think of any better idea. Besides, who can argue with an excuse to drink French wine, anyway?

Fast forward to today when, thanks to half the population that has stubbornly refused to get vaccinated, the COVID numbers are surging again. Pushed on by the highly contagious delta variant, it’s even infecting some who have been vaccinated, although not as severely. Many of us are starting to curtail our public activities again. So, I am particularly grateful that we got to have our progressive dinner when we did.

As always, we highly recommend that you gather some friends and have a progressive dinner in your neighborhood. It’s a great way to spread out the work of a dinner party and keep the evening interesting by moving to a different house for each course. I guess you’d better wait for the numbers to come down, though.

At the first stop, Gay Lyons greeted us with some Opaline French rose she had found at Trader Joe’s.

Gay and her husband, Bill, live at The Overlook on the south side of downtown Knoxville. Here’s a view of the Tennessee River from their deck that Saturday.

The cheddar olive puffs were fantastic! I could have eaten every one of these!

From left, Monique Anderson, Cliff Hawks, Alan Carmichael and Jacque Hawks.

Another appetizer was smoked salmon on baguette slices.

Lavender kinds of says “France,” doesn’t it?

Radishes with basil butter were a crunchy hit!

More French wine!

Baked brie with sun-dried tomatoes and roasted garlic. Yum.

We had to get a 15-minute head start to our next stop — our place in the J.C. Penney Building on Gay Street. We were in charge of the salad course.

Glad we had pre-set the table. We just had to put the Salads Nicoise out and light the candles.

We bought these flowers at Sevier Blumen at the Market Square Farmers’ Market earlier that day. I thought their “shabby chic” look was kind of French!

Our French wine options. I thought I’d like the Chablis better. But the Sancerre actually was my favorite of the two. Thanks to our friends at Downtown Wine & Spirits for helping us pick them out.

You can’t beat this salad!

And then it was off to Monique and Bruce Anderson’s condo in The Glencoe on State Street.

A beautiful table was waiting for us!

Monique is famous for her mother’s Quiche Lorraine! You can’t get more French than that!

Side dish was a zucchini gratin.

My husband’s plate!

More French pink wine!

Cliff Hawks, left, and Bill Lyons ready to dig in.

I thought this sauvignon blanc was a good match for the quiche.

Me trying to take an artistic shot of the flowers with Mark slightly out of focus in the background.

Great job, Monique!

Now, on to dessert at Cliff and Jacque’s home just around the corner at The Elliott on Church Avenue.

When we arrived, we were greeted by this cute sign. It says “Welcome” in French!

Another pretty table.

And a lot more wine!

Bill enjoying some pink bubbly! I have always loved Jacque and Cliff’s crystal. So stylishly old-fashioned.

More pretty flowers.

I love the Hawks’ big Ragdoll cat, Chopin.

We went into the living room to enjoy our wine prior to dessert being served.

And then this happened! Mark sat down to play the piano and discovered that one of the pedals was sticking. He and Bill got under the piano to try to make repairs!

Mark consulting The Google to try to figure out how to fix the problem. To no avail, unfortunately.

I stepped into the kitchen to see Cliff with a blowtorch working on the Crème Brûlée we would have for dessert! “It makes a great cigar lighter, too!” he quipped.

It was great!

Jacque made everyone cookies to take home as lovely parting gifts! The tags say “Good Night” in French! Sweet.

There you have it! I sure hope the COVID numbers calm down so we can do this again — and you can do one in YOUR neighborhood!

Here’s Cliff putting the finishing touches on that dessert:



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8 Responses to COVID respite allows for downtown progressive dinner

  1. Allyn Purvis Schwartz, on August 6th, 2021 at 11:09 am said:

    What fun! Makes me want to move Downtown! Wish John wanted it, too!

  2. Cynthia Moxley, on August 6th, 2021 at 11:15 am said:

    Do it!! (It will grow on him!)

  3. Monique Anderson, on August 6th, 2021 at 11:19 am said:

    One of our best progressives. Enjoyed Cathy and Mark so much!!!

  4. Georgiana Vines, on August 6th, 2021 at 2:19 pm said:

    Really enjoyed seeing everyone and everything through the photos. Didn’t know Mark and Cathy had joined us downtown. Yeah!

  5. Gay Lyons, on August 6th, 2021 at 3:24 pm said:

    This was one of the most fun and most delicious of our progressives. Three of my favorite things–salad nicoise, quiche Lorraine, and creme brulee–in one night. I hope we don’t have to wait too long to plan the next one.

  6. Marsha Grieve, on August 9th, 2021 at 5:03 pm said:

    Wow – you downtowners really know how to have a beautiful party! And the flowers at each place were so elegant. Cynthia – I just checked out the Sevier Blumen website. It would be worth a trip to the Market just to buy some of their flowers!

  7. Dorothy Bowles, on August 9th, 2021 at 8:41 pm said:

    Beautiful progressive dinner! I am wondering whether anyone had trouble walking home after so much wine.

  8. Cynthia Moxley, on August 9th, 2021 at 9:05 pm said:

    Marsha: Definitely worth the trip!

    Dorothy: The good thing is that we all are within a few blocks!

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