Chef Joseph Lenn and his girlfriend, Laura Cole, prior to “Christmas & Cocktails,” a fun dinner he prepared at his parents’ home. Laura is director of the Masters Investment Learning Center at UT’s Haslam College of Business.
Merry, merry everyone!
The Blue Streak hopes you are having a terrific and celebratory day and that, perhaps, you are scrolling on your devices either waiting for the turkey to come out of the oven — or you have stuffed yourself and are scrolling while watching football on TV. In any case, hope you are enjoying your warm Christmas Day — so different from last year’s snowy situation,
Our turkey is still in the oven, so I wanted to share with you one of the best gifts we received this year — an invitation from Jerry and Emily Lenn to have dinner recently at their new house! And, get this: it would be prepared by their son, who just happens to be Chef Joseph Lenn, the James Beard Award-winner who owns one of our favorite restaurants, J.C. Holdway in downtown Knoxville.
We didn’t know it before we arrived, but there was another celebrity, along with Joseph, on the guest list: Allan Benton, proprietor of Benton’s Country Hams in Madisonville, Tennessee. Benton’s products are on the menus of great restaurants across America.
From left, Alan Carmichael, Emily Lenn, Jim and Susan Turner. (That’s Joseph in the background.)
Sharon Benton and Laura during cocktail hour during which we noshed on pistachio and dried cherry pate, smoked fish dip and pimento cheese. (Those last two are on the menu of J.C. Holdway! Highly recommend!)
Jerry Lenn is an expert bartender. And an inventive one! When Joseph took charge of the kitchen and kicked everyone out, Jerry set up his bar in the doorway to the laundry room!
When we sat down, first course was an amazing shrimp and celery root salad with mustard greens and buckwheat, which added just a bit of crunchiness.
Although I am not normally a fan of chardonnay, this one Joseph selected was delicious — and perfect with the shrimp.
Yum. The guy knows his way around a wine cellar!
Loved Emily’s nutcracker napkins!
Next up was an unbelievably creamy and smoky pasta: Benton’s bacon carbonara. Over the top!
Wine: a 2017 Outpost Howell Mountain Grenache from Napa Valley.
After that delicious course, I stepped outside and found Chef Lenn minding a Big Green Egg! I took this as a good sign!
And it was! Entree was grilled tri-tip, potato pave, and Brussels sprouts with smoked onion marmalade! (Joseph said those potatoes had about 25 layers!)
A 2018 Patrina Alban Estate Syrah from Edna Valley was the perfect wine pairing.
Here’s a closer look at that winner! Love the label.
Emily Lenn and I share a passion for beautiful china and crystal. Here’s her lovely Christmas pattern.
Dessert was lemon buttermilk pie with vanilla ice cream and saba. Superb.
After dinner, Jerry poured something I’ve never had before: peanut butter whiskey! By this point, my attitude was: Why not? Loved it.
Here’s a recap of those awesome wines — all from Chef Lenn’s own wine cellar. What a treat! (And I forgot to mention the bubbly!) Photo courtesy of Laura Cole.
To top things off, Jerry sent us home with a bottle of his favorite vodka! He’s trying to wean me off my favorite — Grey Goose! I have to admit, it’s pretty darn good!
All in all, a very special Christmas season memory! Thanks to all involved!
OK, back to the TV, everyone!