Saturday, April 30, 2011

Time for a BLT!!

It’s well into Spring here in East Tennessee...  The temperature yesterday was just pushing 70 and the skies were blue… Time to hit the road!  Laurie and I have been having a particular craving for some time now.  We needed our Bacon, Lettuce and Tomato sandwich fix!  So we went shopping in the morning, picking up the key ingredients we needed to put together a couple of great BLT’s!

So, here’s Laurie’s dinner from yesterday …not too bad looking is it!?

That’s Benton’s Bacon on that BLT!  It can’t be beat… We topped that bacon with fresh lettuce directly from the gardens of the Mennonite Community down in Delano Tennessee…great produce!  We had to use grocery store tomatoes…but soon we’ll be able to step it up a notch with the heirloom tomatoes that really provide the ultimate finish to this sandwich.

The only difference between Laurie’s BLT and mine was the bread… Hers was the English Muffin Bread from VG’s Bakery in Farragut Tennessee and mine was from Food Lion’s in-store bakery.  The important thing is that we scratched our itch…had those BLT’s that we’d been craving…and all is well with the world! 

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Ships in The Charleston SC Harbor...

During our recent trip to South Carolina…and specifically Charleston, one thing I was looking forward to was some serious ship spotting, combined with some up close aircraft viewing.  To some degree, I was frustrated, partially because we only saw one big ocean going ship in the harbor.
Appropriately enough, the first vessel we saw that wasn’t just a pleasure craft, turned out to be a harbor pilot boat, the ‘Ft. Sumter’.  This 75’ boat was delivered by Gladding and Hearn Shipbuilding in August of 2000.  It has a beam of 21 ft. and a maximum speed of 27 knots.  FYI, Gladding and Hearn was established in Somerset MA in 1955 and they specialize in building tugs, fishing vessels, fast ferries and pilot boats.

The photo of this second ship is of poor quality…of course I took it…not my better half, Laurie, who is also my photo-spouse!
Since I was unhappy with this photo, I went on-line to see if I could grab a quality photo of the ‘Carolina Belle’ from the Charleston Harbor Tours website.  Since I could only grab multiple photos, I can only refer readers to for a better view of this classic looking harbor cruise ship.

Notice, I said ‘classic looking’.  That’s because the ‘Carolina Belle’ is not even close to being as old as the design intends it to look!  The 35 ton, 80’ ship was built by Chesapeake Shipbuilding in Salisbury MD in 1988.  It was originally named ‘Belle Island’ and it was delivered to Belle Island Charters in Stamford CT.  We did take this harbor tour…and while it was interesting, especially from a historical viewpoint…the boat was a little too crowded for our liking.  Charleston Harbor Tours is located at 10 Wharfside Street in Charleston.  Phone: 800-979-3370.
So, while cruising the harbor on our tour, we also took a photo of this ‘little’ ship.
This of course, is the USS Yorktown (CV-10).  It was built in 1943 and it served in WWII and the Vietnam War.  It also was used in the Apollo 8 recovery efforts and it was featured in the movie, ‘Tora! Tora! Tora!  It was originally going to be named the ‘Bon Homme Richard’, but that was changed after CV-5, also named the USS Yorktown, was sunk in the Battle of Midway.
One of our goals had been to visit the Yorktown at the ‘Patriot’s Point Naval and  Maritime Museum’ on Highway 17 in Mt. Pleasant SC, right across the harbor from Charleston.  I especially wanted to have a close look at the 27 aircraft displayed on her deck and in her hangars.  They range from an N-2 Stearman to a FG-1D Corsair to an F/A-18A Hornet.  Not only did we run out of time, but the humidity was very high and the temperature was about 90 degrees…it would have been punishing on the carrier deck!  Next visit for sure!  One concern… In my research, I noted that in October of 2009, the Navy had informed the Museum that repairs had to be made to the Yorktown, or they had to ‘dispose’ of it!  That would be a huge loss!  
When I saw this ship cruising out of the harbor, I knew what it was but I was surprised to learn that this isn’t a US Navy Ship…it’s a US Army Ship!  This is the USAV (Logistics Support Vessel) 'Major General Charles P. Gross'.  The Army has 8 ships of this type.  To us old timers, this is an upgraded version of an LST (Landing Ship Tank).  It will carry 15 M-1 Abrams Main Battle Tanks or 82 standard shipping containers.  The ship is 272’ long, with a beam of 60’ and when fully loaded it has a speed of 11.5 knots.  This ships home base, (or port), is Ford Island in Pearl Harbor, Hawaii.
The last ship that we saw was this leviathan, the ‘California Highway’.  It’s a bulk car carrier measuring 653’ long with a beam of 105’.  It can hold 3,765 cars and it belongs to Fukunaga Karrin Co., Ltd.  The ship is registered in Panama.  It is big…no doubt…but appearance-wise it’s just a big self propelled sea-going barge.  I really enjoy looking at ships with a more traditional superstructure.

The next time we drive over to Charleston, the top goal will be to visit the USS Yorktown along with the other displays at the Patriot Point Naval and Maritime Museum.  They include a ‘Medal of Honor Museum’, the submarine USS Clamagore plus, of course, all of those great aircraft!  Check out the museum at 
Note: All photos can be enlarged by clicking on them.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

'Roadfood' Got It Right!!

Recently, Laurie and I went on a 5 night road trip to South Carolina, focusing primarily on Charleston, but we also visited some other towns and drove a lot of back roads…  When we travel, we have a ready list of attractions, sights and possible places to eat along the way.  For our restaurant lists, we rely on Guy Fieri’s listings from Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives, Jane and Michael Stern’s ‘Roadfood’ publications and website, as well as magazines such as Midwest Living and Southern Living.

While none of these sources are always right on, in this instance, ‘Roadfood’ absolutely got it right!  We rolled into Beaufort South Carolina a little after 2 PM and commenced to search for Sgt. White’s Diner.  We found it with little time to spare as they close at 3 PM!
Even as late as it was, we had to wait in line.  Most of the customers were members of our military forces, especially from the Marine Corps.  Everyone in line was ordering dinner from the “Home Cooking Buffet” cafeteria style, and a couple of guys, (one an active and the other a retired Marine), were in great humor, joking with each other and exchanging banter with Sgt. White himself... It was like a stand-up comedy routine! 
Dinners included 1 meat with 2 sides plus corn bread and a drink…all for only $7.99!

Laurie ordered the Pit Cooked BBQ Ribs with mashed potatoes and gravy plus the butter beans.  OK…Here’s the scoop!  Laurie rated these ribs as the Best Ever!  For want of a better description, they were in the sauce on the hot table and they were juicy and maybe a little ‘carmelized’.  She loved them!  The mashed potatoes were real and the gravy was very nice.  The butter beans had been cooked with butter and bits of ham.  They were loaded with flavor!  As for the cornbread, it was dense and sweet…and it served as our dessert.  We’d never tasted cornbread like this…it was really good!

So I went a different route… I’d noticed that the retired Marine had ordered deep fried pork chops as his meat.  Fortunately, Sgt. White fried up a couple more and I grabbed them up.  Just terrific, that’s all I can say!  More on that gravy…there were actually chunks of meat in it…and more flavor than I’ve had in any gravy for a long, long time!  I ordered the smothered cabbage as my second side and it was great!

We were totally blown away by all this comfort food!  We ate in several restaurants in Charleston and elsewhere on this trip…some fancy and some not so much…but Sgt. White’s Diner served up the best overall meal. (Actually, it was the most flavorful and satisfying meal that we’ve enjoyed in quite some time!)
This was our host and chef…Sgt. Ronald White and his very hard working right arm,  Alvena. (She runs the front, serving, orders, refills, everything!) Not only can Ron cook but he’s a very nice guy with a great sense of humor.  He’s proud of what he does and the pride shines through via the food!  Before he came out of the kitchen to have his photo taken, he put on the clean chef’s jacket.  He told us that he wished that we’d arrived a bit earlier so we could have tried a couple other sides from the hot table. 
All of the meats and vegetables at the Diner are from local farms and everything is cooked fresh daily.  Sandwiches are available as are orders of ‘Just Shrimp’, fish and Pit Cooked BBQ.  The meats available from the compact cafeteria line vary but they range from our entrees to Smothered Steak and Onions, to Stewed and Fried Chicken to Fried Local Fish to Roast Pork and Braised Beef…16 possibilities in total!  Sarge also serves up his secret recipe Gumbo plus 14 possible choices from the vegetable garden.  These include Candied Yams, Fried Squash, Fried Okra, Macaroni and Cheese plus Fresh Local Greens.
We would recommend Sgt. White’s Diner to anyone who isn’t obsessed with china, silverware and fancy surroundings.  Note: The decor is very patriotic...lots of Marine Corps memorabilia) This Diner serves up excellent home cooking at a great price in a friendly setting…and we will return!
Sgt. White’s Diner is only open from 11 AM until 3 PM Monday through Friday.  It’s located at 1908 Boundary Street in Beaufort South Carolina.  Phone: 843-522-2029.   Try it…you’ll like it! 

Monday, April 25, 2011

Sweetwater Flea Market...

So, being from the north, we just never saw too many big flea markets, just yard sales, antique shops and estate sales.   In the Chicago area, the biggest operation that would qualify as a “flea market’ is the once a month flea market/antique show at the Kane County Illinois Fairground.
In East Tennessee, ‘Flea Markets ‘R Us!!’  There are a lot of them, with one recent addition in the Knoxville area…and another on the way! (The newest location is referring to itself as a “Market”….time will tell) 
Our first Tennessee flea market experience has been at the “Sweetwater Flea Market” just outside of Sweetwater Tennessee.
Our photos don’t do this place justice… The main building is about 400 yards, (1,200 feet) long and it contains about 800 booths…most of them fully occupied! 
In addition to the 800 indoor vendor booths in a climate controlled environment, there are many booths, tables and outside buildings occupied by other vendors.
Above, is a northerly view just across from the main building.  Sunglasses, rugs, potted flowers and jars of honey are visible in this shot with additional outbuildings just over the top of the closest booths.  Biker clothes and accessories, antiques and collectibles are among the items carried in these buildings… Many of the vendors have maintained businesses here for many years.
Here’s the southerly view.  We have a vendor selling snacks…pork rinds in many flavors, crackling, wheat strips, etc.  Other outdoor booths sell fresh fruit, canned goods and just general flea market odds and ends.  Buildings and vendors who are set up outside of the main facility may be open all week… The main building is only open on weekends.
Shown above, we have one view down a center aisle in the big 1,200 foot main building.   Just in this view, we have vendors selling rare books & stamps; clocks; tapes, cigarettes, children’s books plus leather belts and belt buckles.
Here’s another aisle view… We have a real variety here as well!  Vendors shown are selling video games, a purple cleaner for cleaning a wide variety of items, cellular phone accessories, safety supplies such as work gloves…plus we have a vendor who sells and repairs computers and another that makes signs.
On Saturdays and Sundays, this flea market is a busy place!  Lots of people and cars parked everywhere… Folks shopping for just about everything!  Unfortunately, there are booths that sell a variety of pets…not the best type of place to buy an animal.  One booth was even selling “Sugar Gliders”.  Beyond that, there are clothes, food vendors, shoes, tools, electronics, mobile phone sales, rugs, used furniture, vacuum cleaners, kitchen gadgets, t-shirts, pageant dresses, tires, knives, etc., etc.  There is also an indoor play area for the kids, benches to rest on and several vendors serving food.  My favorite, being from Chicago, was the booth selling Gyros.  On the loudspeaker system, the building's announcer advertizes ‘Jiros’ for that vendor…instead of ‘Yros’.  I chuckle and Laurie wants to go to the office and correct his pronunciation!  The shopping is interesting and the people watching is great!
We’ve been to the Sweetwater Flea Market twice…and I’ve been there one other time.  The Main Building is open on Saturdays and Sundays from 9 AM to 5 PM.  They have shopping carts for their customers and the pets… The market is ‘pet friendly’ but you have to carry your pet.
Sweetwater Flea Market is located just off of I-75 between Chattanooga and Knoxville at exit 60 on 121 County Road 308 in Sweetwater.  Phone:  423-337-3532.  Website:  

Sunday, April 24, 2011

Another Drive to Tellico Plains!

A couple of weeks ago, Laurie and I picked up Larry, (aka Big Dude at, and we took off for a drive down to Tellico Plains Tennessee.  Now, this wasn’t just a drive to look at the scenery, although the views here in East Tennessee are hard to beat, but rather this was a food trip!
Yes, we’ve been here before…actually multiple times!  But, this place is just too good to stay away from for too long… Some friends of ours, folks who’ve lived all over the world, count Tellico Grains Bakery as one of the 2 places that they immediately think of when they’re looking for a place to take visiting friends and relatives. 
It was about 11 am when we arrived.  Both the fresh breads and cookies had been decimated somewhat, but the above photo shows some of the remaining loaves of bread as well as a glimpse of some cookies and brownies.
Here’s a little better shot of the cookie case… Note: We bought all of the Coconut, oatmeal raisin and chocolate chip cookies.  We also bought a great cinnamon roll and a terrific blueberry scone for breakfast the next morning.  We rationed the cookies…after the first day when we had 2 each after we got home!
So, after we rescued the baked goods…keeping them from others…we ordered lunch.  Tellico Grains Bakery makes great sandwiches!  On Saturdays, they make pizzas as well…we’ve heard good things about them but we haven’t had one yet.
I decided to have the Bald River Beef sandwich.  This consisted of roast beef sliced thin, Swiss cheese, Dijon mustard, horseradish mayo with lettuce and tomato on the Bakery’s Signature Hoagie Roll.  It normally also comes with carmelized onions but onions just aren’t my thing.  Very nice sandwich!
Laurie stuck with our all-time favorite sandwich at Tellico Grains…the Wauchessi Club.  This is made up with smoked ham, roasted turkey, Benton’s smoked bacon, pepper-jack cheese, red onion, mayo, Dijon mustard, lettuce and tomato on sliced sourdough bread.  Crazy Good!
You can tell that Larry is a blogger too…he posed his food for a more compelling photo!  His choice for lunch was Sandwich Joe’s Italian.  This beauty has Genoa salami, pepperoni, Benton’s smoked prosciutto, provolone cheese, pesto mayo, pepperoncinis, olives, red onion, Dijon mustard, lettuce and tomato on Herb Flatbread.  This sandwich is a flavor explosion!  This Laurie’s ‘other’ favorite…
Tellico Grains is a family-owned and operated artisan bakery in the foothills of Tennessee’s Smoky Mountains.  Stuart and Anissa Shull bring their educations, their broad culinary expertise, and their passions to life through their all natural handcrafted baked goods.  We highly recommend that you visit and partake of the high quality baked goods and sandwiches. 
Tellico Grains Bakery is located at 108 Depot Street in ‘downtown’ Tellico Plains Tennessee.   Phone: 423-253-6911.  Website:

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

Wok Star Asian Cuisine...Changes Are Coming!

It was lunch time and we had a hankering for Asian Cuisine, so, once again we chose to pay a visit to Wok Star… We were happy to see that there were several patrons in the restaurant despite the fact it was past the prime lunch hour.

After we ordered our lunch, Jose Garcia, the owner/chef came over to our table to ask about the spice/heat level for one of our dishes.  During our conversation, he reminded us that he’d been a chef at P.F. Chang’s in Knoxville for a number of years before opening Wok Star.  Business is good!  He told us that ‘The Brown Cup’, a coffee & pastry shop in the next grouping of stores next to his, was closing.  He’d purchased the concept and equipment from The Brown Cup and his new and updated concept was under construction in the space right next door to Wok Star.  He plans to leverage off both businesses to build his customer base and sales volume…
Back to what’s really important…the food!  Laurie ordered the “Peppered Wok Star Beef”.   This is simply stir-fried beef tossed with vegetables in a tangy sauce.   The chef/owner recommended that Laurie try the fried rice as an accompaniment instead of the usual brown or white rice.  It was a great suggestion!  We both loved the fried rice…

For my lunch, I decided to have one of my tried and true favorites…Cherie’s Spicy Chicken.  The chicken is stir-fried in General Tso’s special sauce with sugar snap peas and broccoli and carrots.  I had the brown rice as my accompaniment.  Very nice as usual!  We both ordered extra spicy and we weren’t disappointed! 

As usual, all of the food was fresh and tasty and the price is right!   
No decision has been made whether or not the adjacent coffee shop will continue in the tradition of The Brown Cup with live entertainment on the weekends.  We’ll try out this new venue at our earliest opportunity.
We continue to support and recommend Wok Star to friends, neighbors and travelers.  The restaurant is located on US 321 about a half-mile from I-75 and the US-321 exit.  Wok Star is at 149 Kelsey Lane, Suite 108 in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Phone: 865-986-0996.  Website:  Wok Star can also be found on Facebook at!/pages/Wokstar-Asian-Cuisine/127961197239901?sk=wall.  

Sunday, April 17, 2011

Classico Italian Pizza & Pasta - 3rd Visit!

Well…despite a terrible experience when we recently had breakfast at Classico Italian Pizza & Pasta, we came back to try it for dinner.   Our first visit to this restaurant was at lunch time and it had been OK.  We were encouraged to try Classico Italian again after hearing the news that management had decided to stop serving breakfast…definitely a move in the right direction!

We started out with a decent salad…  We noted that from the time that we sat down, service was prompt and the servers were very courteous…a great change from our breakfast experience, but more in line with our earlier luncheon visit.

The meal was accompanied by a basket of Garlic Knots.  They certainly look great…the problem was that we had to ask for them… Another problem was that we couldn’t detect any garlic in or about these rolls.

Laurie’s entrée was the Fettuccine Carbonara.  This dish consisted of fettuccine noodles sautéed with smoked ham, bacon and Romano cheese in a creamy Alfredo sauce.  It was fairly tasty, with nice Alfredo sauce.  The only downside was that the ‘smoked ham’ appeared to be thin sliced deli meat.  Still, Laurie enjoyed the meal.

I ordered the Romano Chicken… Asiago-encrusted chicken breasts with Alfredo sauce on a bed of linguini.  It looked good and I enjoyed the meal, although it certainly didn’t fall into the “top Italian dishes I’ve ever had” category.

To summarize, the meal was very acceptable…good but not great.  Classico Italian Pizza & Pasta is probably the best Italian restaurant in Loudon County Tennessee and its located in Tellico Village, a major development on Tellico Lake.  Many of the residents in Tellico Village are retired and the restaurant should benefit from the fact that a segment of that population doesn’t explore too far from home.

Classico Italian’s pricing is a bit high in comparison to our favorite Italian restaurant in East Tennessee, Willie’s Italian Restaurant, which is an hour away in Seymour.  The Chicken Parmesan at Willie’s is more flavorful than Classico’s offering and it’s less expensive…only $8.95 vs. $15.95!  Both come with Garlic Knots and a salad.  Willie’s salad is chilled and the Garlic Knots actually are loaded with garlic!
Enough said… Classico Italian Pizza & Pasta Restaurant is an acceptable choice for lunch or dinner.  They do have live entertainment at times and we’ve had good reports in that regard.  The restaurant is located at 318 Lakeside Plaza in Loudon Tennessee, just off County Road 444.  (Tellico Parkway)  Phone: 865-458-9316.

Friday, April 15, 2011

Brubeck - Jazz - Triple Play!

This is the interior of the Ronald & Lynda Nutt Theatre, one of the facilities comprising the Clayton Center For the Arts at Maryville College in Maryville Tennessee. This theatre is about one year old and it seats 1,200 people. It's a great setting with terrific acoustics! We've now been to two shows at this venue. The first was Neil Berg's 100 years of Broadway...a great show that we saw last fall.
This last week, we went to another show at the Nutt Theatre. It was 'Chris Brubeck & Triple Play'. We just had a great time! Chris Brubeck, (photo below), is of course, one of Dave Brubeck's sons...and for those that might not know, Dave Brubeck is one of the legends of the jazz world. Chris is especially skilled with the fretless electric bass, the bass trombone and the piano. He toured around the world with his father's band for over 10 years. Nowadays, he teaches, does guest appearances, plays with his brother in the 'Brubeck Brothers' ensemble and he's formed the group that we went to see, 'Triple Play'. There is no doubt that he's the driving force behind this talented group...

Joel Brown is the second member of 'Triple Play'. (photo below) Joel is currently the Senior Artist-in-Residence at the Department of Music at Skidmore College in Saratoga Springs, NY. He is a guitar maestro...playing everything from chamber music to jazz to blues to classical pieces. Joel has appeared on the Today Show, Showbiz Today, on NPR and on the BBC. Joel seemed to be the 'rock'...the solid center of Triple Play. Very talented and understated...terrific guitarist!

Every good musical group needs a spark, a wild card so to speak! Peter 'Madcat' Ruth is the wild card in Triple Play... Quirky and very talented. He plays the harmonica like no one else we've ever heard. He makes it sing, wail and moan! At times Madcat had 3 harmonica in his hands as he switched from one to another. His talents with the harmonica have been heard on over 100 CD's and LP's. The other instrument that he played the other night was the 'jaw-harp'. The music he made with this instrument was truly distinctive and his ability to go back and forth between the harmonica and this mouth harp was seamless! Talented and a 'hoot' to watch too!

Triple Play was a very entertaining group... This is a crossover group that blends jazz with blues and folk music. Lots of talent and you can tell that they were having at least as much fun as the audience was! We liked the group and their sound so well that I actually sprang for 2 of their CD's after the show...'Triple Play Live' and 'Triple Play - Watching the World'. If you ever have the opportunity to attend a live performance by this group, we would highly recommend it! We had a great night out...

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

Yacht Club Dining

This is an aerial photo of the Tellico Village Yacht Club in Loudon County Tennessee. Tellico Village is an open development that stretches along Tellico Lake for several miles and which is home to over 7,400 people... Many but not all of the "Villagers" are retired or semi-retired. Tellico Village has 3 golf courses, a wellness center, a recreation center and several marina's/dockage sites. A key element of the "Village" is the Yacht Club. Recently, the management/operator of the food and beverage service had changed, with the new operation now being under the auspices of The Compass Group LLC. From all accounts, the Compass Group got off to a bad start...poor food, poor service and a management team that didn't understand that they needed to cater to a group of mostly northerners from big cities who were used to and expected quality food and service. Our visit during this early period was a dismal failure... The initial management team was dispatched in short order and a new team stepped into the breach. Laurie and I began hearing more positive reports, so we decided to pay a visit to the Yacht Club and give it a try... We made a reservation for ourselves and some friends, Harold and Lorraine. After being seated, Laurie ordered the clam chowder. It was hot and quite tasty, certainly not New England great but it was good...creamy and thick but not too thick. I tasted it as well...nice. Appetizers on the menu included Fried Eggplant, Fried Calamari, a Quesadilla, Wings and the Tellico Village Signature Crabcake. Next time we'll try the Calamari...

I ordered the Tellico Village Signature Salad. This was a wedge of crisp iceberg lettuce and sliced tomato topped with crumbled Bleu-Cheese and Applewood Smoked Bacon Bits. It was very good!

Other salads on the menu include a Spinach Salad, a Ceasar Salad and a House Salad. We noted that chicken or shrimp could be added to any salad, (making them a complete meal), for an additional $3.00. This is a nice touch in a community where many of the residents tend to eat lighter meals... Laurie ordered the Ceasar Salad and she reported that it was tasty...just fine. The menu at The Yacht Club was fairly broad... There are 4 entrees listed as 'Lighter Side' fare, there were 4 or 5 pasta dishes, (half orders available), plus there were 4 seafood entrees and a total of 7 chicken, beef or pork entrees.

I ordered the Baked Half Chicken with Rosemary Roast Red Potatoes and Coleslaw. The chicken was seasoned with fresh rosemary and garlic. The food was flavorful...liked the slaw quite a bit, with the only letdown being that the chicken was just a bit dry.

Laurie's entree was the Farfalle Portabella. Her 'bow tie' pasta was simmered in sun-dried tomato and portabella cream sauce. She enjoyed it very much. Mushrooms are like a treat for her... Because I'm not into mushrooms, she takes the opportunity to enjoy them when we're eating out. Next time, we'll have to try the Tellico Village Rib Eye Steak, the Fish Fry, the Chicken Cordon Bleu or the Fettuccini Alfredo...

Both couples had dessert coupons... One free dessert per couple. Laurie and I had the Breadpudding. It was quite good.

Lorraine and Harold tried the chocolate cake or torte with raspberry sauce. They gave it a thumbs up! Service was much improved over our visit under previous mangement. No complaints at all... The food has greatly improved as well. Of course, given the lakeside setting, a well run restaurant and bar should do rather well here... We still hear some questionable accounts regarding the Thursday night buffet...but that will be the subject of another visit. The Tellico Village Yacht Club is located at 100 Sequoyah Road in Loudon Tennessee. Currently, the restaurant is open Tuesday through Saturday from 5 pm to 9 pm. It's also open for Sunday Brunch from 9 am to 1 pm. They will reopen for lunch after Easter Sunday. Phone: 865-458-4363.

Saturday, April 9, 2011

Best Ice Cream in East Tennessee!

One of the signs of Spring here in East Tennessee is when the local Ice Cream Parlor opens up for the season! This is the 'tic-toc' Ice Cream Parlor in downtown Loudon. Laurie and I were spoiled when we lived in Chicago... Within a mile of our house, we had an ice cream parlor that had the best homemade ice cream in the Chicago Metropolitan area. It was just one of those things that we assumed that we wouldn't be able to find in this much smaller metro area...

We were elated when we discovered 'tic-toc'! Great homemade ice cream in an old building in historical downtown Loudon... Inside, there is this handsome counter area, a scattering of ice cream shop tables, a wall of customer photos and and a giant menu on the wall. The owners moved to East Tennessee from Louisiana...and their son makes all of the ice cream.

During our recent visit, there were 26 different flavors of ice 3 flavors of sugar free ice cream. (This seems like a contradiction in terms...'sugar free ice cream'? Doesn't sound right!) There are sugar or cake cones. 'tic-toc's' menu lists 14 Specialities and Sundaes... How does 'The Cardiac Arrest' sound? Five scoops of ice cream, 4 toppings, whipped cream and 3 cherries... Or...'The King'? A Banana Split made with Peanut Butter Crunch Ice Cream , peanut butter topping, hot fudge, chopped peanuts, whipped cream and 2 cherries...

How about a few flavors to consider? There's New Orleans Cheesecake, Jerome's Vanilla, Strawberry, Chattanooga Chocolate, Yippee Skippy, Blackout, Mountain Berries, Dulce de Leche, Chocolate Covered Cherry, Chocolate Praline Cream, Coffee Bean, Mint Chocolate Chip, Black Walnut, Plantation Praline, Postively Pistachio, Chocolate Raspberry Truffle, Rainbow Party, Butterfinger & Loco Coco. It's going to take us awhile to try them all but we'll give it our best shot! This is especially true since we favor the shakes and malts...

We were on the run this day and we had to get home... Solution = Take Ice Cream Home! We picked up not 1 or 2...but rather 4 pints, just so we wouldn't run out! Samples are shown below...probably not the best photos but this is what we 'had to' take off the tops of each of the overfilled pints to put them safely in the refridgerator. So...from the back left...we have the George Washington Cherry; back right is the Blackberry Cobbler; front left is the Cookies and Cream, and; front right is the Butter Pecan. All were excellent...but our favorite was the Blackberry Cobbler!

The tic-toc Ice Cream Parlor is located at 504 Grove Street in Loudon Tennessee. (At the corner of US-11 and Grove Street) Phone: 865-408-9867. tic-toc is open 7 days a week until late fall.

Thursday, April 7, 2011

Railroad Depots - Ohio & West Virginia

Continuing my hobby of accumulating photos of old railroad depots, this is the former Baltimore & Ohio Depot in Ripley West Virginia. (Note: Laurie takes almost all of my photos) The trains stopped coming to Ripley in the 1960's. This town was served by the B&O Ripley & Mill Creek Valley Branch. It's always nice to see that an old depot being preserved and reused, in this case as a gift and antique shop. A little north of Ripley, along the Ohio River, you will find the town of Ravenswood. The former B&O Ravenswood freight depot is still in use by the railroad, (CSX), as a line office. While trains still pass by this depot, passenger trains stopped serving the Ravenswood, Spencer & Glenville Branch back in the 60's. This branch was first completed back in 1892. The first railroad serving Ravenswood was the Ohio River Railroad that came to town in 1886. As I researched this depot, I noted that the land upon which the town of Ravenswood is built was once owned by George Washington. In total he owned 2,448 acres. He acquired the land in 1770. His descendants laid out the plan for the town in 1834. Another stop along the way during this road trip was Berea Kentucky. This is the freight depot across the tracks from the old Louisville & Nashville Railroad passenger depot. Passenger service to Berea ended in 1959 and freight service was discontinued in 1969. This is the front of the old L&N passenger depot in Berea. This is a very nice brick structure with a classic tile roof, arched windows, etc. It was built in 1917. In it's day, it 'featured' a ladies waiting room as well as a negro waiting room. This depot is listed in the National Register of Historic Places. Laurie took this track side photo of the depot to show the impressive protective roof built to shelter passengers disembarking and boarding the trains. It also shows some of the work being done to restore and preserve this nice depot. The depot is located at 908 North Broadway, right in the middle of a number of gift and art related shops in downtown Berea. It serves as the town's tourism bureau and as the offices for the Chamber of Commerce.