Dinner club our way — and thoughts on variations

Janet Testerman Creswell stirring the risotto to accompany her entree.

So, some friends and we have started a dinner club. We have done some research on how to do it “right” and have discovered, thankfully, that there is no “right” way! So, we’ll tell you what we are doing and give you some links to other resources. We definitely think you should do it. It’s so much fun!

Ours started with four couples — most online resources say between six and 10 people is the ideal number, so we are good there. Because we all are so crazy busy, we decided just to do it quarterly. This is an anomaly. Most dinner clubs apparently meet monthly or even more often.

We also are going to be the kind of dinner club that actually cooks the meal at the dinner location. Some bring already prepared dishes, but, to us, that seemed more like a potluck than a dinner club.

Anyway, follow here and we’ll show you what we did and give you some links to see what others do. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Food, Knoxville | 7 Comments

Symphony in the Park: soggy but still swell!

Stephen Lyn Bales, a senior naturalist at Ijams, and Olivia the possum greet guests at Symphony in the Park. Olivia can’t survive in nature because she has a deformed hand.

It never rains on Symphony in the Park. Not in 33 years. Somehow, the major fundraiser for Ijams Nature Center, an outdoor dinner featuring music by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, has dodged the wet stuff.

Until this year.

But the folks at Ijams are professionals, and they were prepared. They moved the silent auction into the Visitor Center and provided several huge tents for dinner service and the concert.

In addition to the always stunningly beautiful music of the KSO, this year’s event featured several pieces by R.B. Morris and his band members, Greg Horne and Daniel Kimbro. Alan and I are fans of R.B. Morris, Knoxville’s first poet laureate, but for many in the crowd, it was their first exposure to his haunting melodies and moving lyrics. Morris brought the chatty audience to appreciative silence. (There’s a sample of his set at the end of this post.) Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville, Music | 10 Comments

Rebel Kitchen rocks refined rations

Chef Paul Sellas, right, with D Leron, the employee with the third-longest tenure at Old City Wine Bar, a sister business.

Rebel Kitchen opens today at 5:30 at 108 W. Jackson Ave., in Knoxville’s Old City. Our recommendation to you: go as soon as you possibly can!

Alan and I attended a soft opening on Saturday night with our friends Bill and Gay Lyons and, I have to admit, I was a little dubious about it. How, I wondered, could this new place measure up to the great local chef-owned gourmet restaurants we already have and love downtown? Our favorites like Emilia and Knox Mason by Chef Matt Gallaher, J.C. Holdway by Chef Joseph Lenn and Lonesome Dove by Tim Love? Even our favorite go-to everyday eatery, Martha Boggs’ Bistro by the Bijou?

Well, I’m happy to say our old friends need to make a little room for Rebel Kitchen in their luscious lineup. It’s that good. Continue reading

Filed under: Business, Downtown, Food, Knoxville | 16 Comments

Southern hospitality on Sylvan Lane

Homeowners Shawn and David Owens rolled out the Southern hospitality as they welcomed guests to check out their recent renovations.

Knox Heritage’s popular Summer Suppers ended on a distinctly Southern note recently with a garden party in the backyard of a renovated Craftsman-style home on a little-known street in Sequoyah Hills. To underscore the Southern theme: all the dishes were prepared with recipes from Southern Living magazine. My favorite? Warm turnip green dip!

The house, located on tiny Sylvan Lane, was built in 1935. Shawn and David Owens purchased it in 2011. “We fell in love with the house,” David said. “And we’re still in love with it.” Nevertheless, renovations were in order.

Shawn decided to be her own general contractor, and the couple hired Sean and Sara Martin of Open Door Architecture to be their architects. The result is a comfortable living space on a spectacular piece of property — great for parties! Come check this one out! Continue reading

Filed under: Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 5 Comments

Cash makes ‘Candide’ climb

Roy Cockrum, right, with Knoxville Symphony Music Director Aram Demirjian and his wife, Caraline, at a dinner Cockrum hosted prior to the opening performance on Friday.

Several years ago when our client Pilot Flying J got into the racing business by sponsoring a professional NASCAR driver, company CEO Jimmy Haslam told me, “Money equals speed, Mox.” What he meant was that the more money you put into a racing team, the more successful the team will be.

So, this week I learned a similar lesson. Money equals talent. Another client of ours, Knoxville lottery winner Roy Cockrum, poured a ton of money into underwriting the current joint Knoxville Symphony and Clarence Brown Theatre production of Leonard Bernstein’s “Candide” and the result is over-the-top amazing. What that generous infusion of cash did was allow Clarence Brown’s artistic director, Cal MacLean, to audition singers in New York and Chicago and bring them to the Knoxville stage. The result is spectacular. Continue reading

Filed under: Knoxville, Theater | 8 Comments

Getting satiated in Savannah

Famous restaurateur Sean Brock opened a Husk in Savannah late last year. We’ve eaten at the Husks in Charleston and Nashville and couldn’t wait to try the one in Savannah. It did not disappoint. From left, Alan Carmichael, Tess Richard and Jimmy Moxley.

I have a deal with my brother, Jimmy, to ensure that we will keep seeing each other now that our parents and grandmother all have passed away. It goes like this: Alan and I will go to the Gulf Shores area, where he lives, once a year; he and his wife, Tess, will come to Knoxville once a year; and we’ll all meet somewhere once a year.

So far, it’s working out great! Earlier this summer, we all met up for a visit to Savannah and Charleston and had a blast. This post is about Savannah and the great eateries — and other things — you might want to try should you decide to head that way.

And you should! Savannah is the oldest city in Georgia. Its historic district is one of the largest National Historic Landmark Districts in the United States. And, thanks to the Savannah College of Art and Design (SCAD), literally scores of historic buildings have been lovingly restored and reused. We also like the fact that it is very walkable. We stayed in the historic district, but walked to the riverfront every day. Continue reading

Filed under: Travel | 14 Comments

Celebrating a Knoxville artist who loved New York

A self-portrait of artist Joseph Delaney painted in 1933.

“Joseph Delaney: On the Move” is a little trip to the hurly-burly street life of New York City — and it’s right here near downtown Knoxville.

Delaney, the younger brother of better known artist Beauford Delaney, was born in Knoxville in 1904 and died here in 1991 after returning for a five-year stint as an artist-in-residence at the University of Tennessee. But, between those years, he spent a lot of  time on the streets of New York, a city he loved and which was a frequent subject in his art.

The Knoxville Museum of Art has just opened the Joseph Delaney exhibit, which will run through Nov. 4. Do try to make it over there to see it. Especially if you, like me, also love New York City and its sights and bustle. Delaney’s paintings and sketches capture the feel of the city through images of parades, nightclubs and other gatherings.

During his many decades in New York, Delaney sold numerous paintings in Washington Square and was known as a part of the Harlem Renaissance. The current exhibit contains more than 50 of his works.  Continue reading

Filed under: Art, Downtown, Events, Knoxville | 4 Comments

Stuart’s ‘Summer Supper’ astounds!

Chef Peter Glander supervised a committee of volunteers to turn out an amazing mid-summer dinner.

Tables on the terrace overlooking the Tennessee River. A scrumptious dinner prepared by one of Knoxville’s celebrity chefs and a committee of volunteers under his supervision. A beautiful and unique house that encompasses salvaged vestiges of Knoxville’s past.

You know that it is a Knox Heritage Summer Supper — and one of the best ones ever.

Last Saturday, 30 guests (and nearly as many hosts) gathered at the stunning cottage of Stuart Worden on the south side of the river. He and his late wife, artist Betsy Worden, designed the place 40 years ago with an eye to incorporating artifacts from the city’s past.

“All the beams and windows came from old Knoxville hotels and stagecoach inns,” Worden told the guests during his brief remarks from the stairs. “It took two years to build — and four brothers, the Rule brothers. I feel very fortunate that I get to live here awhile.” Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Food, Historic preservation, Knoxville | 10 Comments

Urban League’s ‘Shoes for School’ shatters records

Ana Juan-Pascual and her brand new pair of shoes.

New shoes will be on the feet of 1,270 children when they go back to school this week, thanks to the Knoxville Area Urban League, its sponsors and 300 volunteers.

That’s because the annual “Shoes for School” event was held Saturday at Caswell Park. According to the Knoxville Police Department, 6,400 people showed up to pick up the shoes and school supplies and to visit booths set up by 38 organizations giving away everything from book bags to socks to notebooks and pencils. Some enjoyed hot dogs and snow cones, some got their picture made with a dinosaur, and some played a game against a robot.

The largest sponsor this year was Covenant Health, which brought a photo booth with a green screen, allowing folks to be photographed with a choice of backgrounds, including the dino. Other sponsors included East Tennessee Children’s Hospital and Comcast, among others. Continue reading

Filed under: Events, Knoxville | 10 Comments

Tomato Jam a smash!

Hahaha! This is Palmer Mason, the proprietor of Craft Accommodations! His drink, called “The Sputino,” took home first place in the People’s Choice Awards. Congrats!

So, the second annual Tomato Jam was this past Sunday and the 10 cocktails I tasted (yep, 10!) were fabulous, as was the VIP brunch by Chef Jeffrey DeAlejandro of OliBea.

The event benefited Nourish Knoxville, the organization that oversees the Market Square Farmers’ Market, and all the cocktails featured produce from local farms.

I thought all the drinks would taste like Bloody Marys, but they really did not. Although they all contained some form of tomatoes, the dominant flavors in some were cucumbers and watermelon. And some had a spicy kick!

Winners of the People’s Choice awards were: Craft Accommodations’ drink called “The Sputino,” first place; The Drawing Room at The Tennessean’s “Vine-a-Min Water,” second place; and J.C. Holdway’s “Mr. Stripey and the ’Mater D’s,” third place. Continue reading

Filed under: Downtown, Events, Food, Knoxville | 7 Comments