2016 brought change to us as Mr. KnoxFoodie left his 9 to 5 job in persuit of his “place” in the world. We spent the early part of the year dreaming and scheming, then we got straight back in to doing what we love: talking and writing about food. We’ve been able to do a lot more and eat a lot more than we ever have before. The Mr’s new found freedom seemed to look good on us. Come along with us as we look back on a year filled with fun, food, stress and new friends.
Adventures in Baking
In the New Year, I really got into baking. This was an apple pie inspired by a pie crust 101 class I took at the Hive. It was a lot of fun and even 2 months after the class I still remembered the proper way to make a pie crust! Big win! See below for my adventures into bread baking as well. Not so good at keeping a sourdough starter alive though.
Sir Elton John in Roanoke
If you don’t already know, Mr. KnoxFoodie is a rabid Elton John fan. In March, he played in Roanoke, VA and we were “lucky” enough to go up for a visit and a great show. Roanoke has turned into one of our favorite towns. There are some great restaurants and some even better people. Our new friends HungryAsian and his Mrs, Sharon, hooked us up with some great places to drink and eat while we were there. Lucky Restaurant showed us how interesting the beverage scene is in Roanoke and their sister restaurant, Fortunato, showed us all about the food there. We also visited RT Smith’s and River and Rail while we were in town. So much fun!
That Time We Spoke at the Southern Food Writing Conference
This was a big moment for us for sure (and we will have more to say about this a little later in 2017). Each May, Knoxville is host to the International Biscuit Festival and a complementary event in the Southern Food Writing Conference. We were asked to present a small segment to the audience of story tellers, journalists and cookbook authors at this year’s event. Our task was to describe to this intimidating group how to use social media to expand their personal brand. The rest of the conference was filled with inspiring presentations and of course great food that was topped off by the Biscuit Bash on Jackson Avenue. Stay tuned for information and tickets to this 2017’s Southern Food Writing Conference and Biscuit Bash!
Our visits to Emilia
Chef Matt Gallaher’s Knox Mason has sat firmly on the top must-eat-at lists for Knoxville since it’s opening and 2016 saw the expansion of his culinary offerings. Emilia showcases Gallaher’s heritage with classic takes on dishes his family served before the immigrated to the United States. Don’t go expecting the fat-laden Americanized versions of ‘Italian’. Emilia sticks close to its roots including fresh pasta made in-house daily. We went for the opening, took Mrs. KnoxFoodie’s mom there and spent and anniversary there. The beautifully minimal space helps to highlight the gorgeous food coming out of their kitchen. Some of our favorites on the menu include house made focaccia with fresh ricotta and Georgia olive oil, grilled romaine caesar and the warm castelvetrano olives.
When we had lunch with Chef Jesse Newmister and he shared his plans to open a Japanese Izakaya restaurant in Knoxville, we got very excited. When he told us he had chosen the old Le Perigo location on Clinch Avenue, our eyebrows raised in slight skepticism as this space had been kind of a revolving door of restaurants in the past few years. Jesse had spent 10 years at Knoxville’s top French restaurant and one of our favorites, Northshore Brasserie. But after going to the opening, we knew something incredibly special was about to happen. On our next visit, a late night dinner experiment, the house was packed and the magic was indeed happening. Dishes that have never been offered in Knoxville yet are now accessible and served with a cool vibe by a friendly, hip staff came together and is one of our very favorite places in town. In addition to all of this, Kaizen will not break the bank.
Discovering Dancing Bear
Chef Shelley Cooper and her right hand man, Nick Cook, became fast friends with us when we met. Her food at Dancing Bear Appalachian Bistro also leaves us with very happy bellies and hearts. The space was rebuilt after a fire a few years ago destroyed the lodge and restaurant. Mark Oldham and his team purchased the property and rebuilt the restaurant and event space. They’ve been reopened for over a year now and we have had the opportunity of enjoying several meals there. Shelley hails from Memphis and has recently been featured in a book focusing on Appalachian cuisine by celebrated author, Ronni Lundy, titled Victuals. The Bistro, in Townsend, is a 45 minute drive from Knoxville and we recommend an overnight stay in one of their on-premise cabins to get the full experience. They boast the only full-service bar in Townsend complete with craft cocktails, a well-appointed wine list and local craft beer. Visit during one of their special events like the Music Festival or check out one of their fabulous wine dinners.
Our first visit to J.C. Holdway
This much anticipated restaurant by Chef Joseph Lenn opened in mid-September and is one of our favorite spots for a full-on meal or just cocktails and snacks. The elevated southern cuisine comes out of a beautifully designed open kitchen complete with wood-fired ovens. Eater named this space named after Joseph’s uncle who loved dining out and entertaining a much anticipated restaurant of 2016 as well as one of the most beautiful new restaurants of 2016. Our first visit was shared with one of our friends and did not disappoint. We tried everything from hushpuppies to shrimp and grits to all of the dessert offerings featuring Cruze Farm ice cream! We are anxiously awaiting our next visit to see what’s new at J.C. Holdway.
Coverage of Music City Food and Wine Festival
2016 marked our first professional event coverage as KnoxFoodie. We were granted media credentials for the Music City Food and Wine Festival. We attended the 2015 festival as patrons and had a wonderful time. This year, it was some work, some play and lots of wet weather. There was a lot of great food and drink. We met up with some old friends and made a lot of new ones. Happy are we to return to the event in 2017!
A Spirited End to 2016
Throughout 2016, a new interest was percolating. By December, we were ready to announce to the world that we and some great partners were setting out to Make Knoxville Spirits Great Again (pardon the pun!). PostModern Spirits will embrace honest spirits that also are accessible to many that haven’t spent a lot of time exploring distilled beverages. Like the craft beer scene has fostered a unique culture, we want to take that a step farther with PostModern Spirits. We will be located in the Old City at the historic Jackson Terminal building and stay tuned for updates as we approach opening!
As 2017 begins, we are so thankful to you, our readers and followers. You guys have encouraged us and inspired us to keep doing what we do. You have made us better at what we do. We have already met so many of you and cannot wait to meet more of you. If you see us out and about, please say, “Hi!” Happy New Year to you all and may 2017 be the best yet!