Friday, September 28, 2012

Another Wine Tasting? Party…

This time it was our turn to host the monthly wine tasting party!  Laurie and I decided that South American wines would be our focus and our theme for the evening…

Our group normally consists of 8 couples…but in this instance 3 of the couples were traveling.  In support of their daughter, Martha and Irv had volunteered to help out at the local high school hot dog and snack stand for the Friday night football game. (This is A Very Big Deal here in East Tennessee!)
So…there were just 4 couples plus Dawn Marie who’d flown in from San Francisco to spend a few days with us before heading home to Miami.
The fact is that our wine tasting parties have turned into a social gathering centered on conversation, laughs, a significant food event…and, Oh Yes!  We do eventually taste a bit of wine!

South American food… What to do?  Well, just try finding South American food in East Tennessee!  Other than a Brazilian Steakhouse, one of those that keeps on bringing the meat until you explode, we couldn’t find anything resembling the appropriate cuisine to offer to our guests. 
Beef is big in South America…with European influences as well.   The local Fresh Market provided this platter of South American…errr, thin sliced Italian Roast Beef.  We supported this platter of goodness with focaccia buns and au jus for dipping.
You might have noted the heirloom tomatoes next to the platter of meat… We had to offer something healthy to eat.  Upon arrival from the west coast, Dawn Marie put together a salad with 3 different types of lettuce, sliced radishes and baby cucumbers.  The tomatoes and some seasoned croutons rounded out this offering with a choice of salad dressings.
My research revealed that one item that the local Brazilian Steakhouse serves that is a bit unique is Linquica Sausage…originally a Portuguese specialty.  So, I went on line and found these great little Linquica Links…and I had them shipped to us from North Dartmouth Massachusetts.  FYI, the supplier was Gaspar’s Sausage, a Portuguese family operation since 1923. ( Two different mustards plus Tabasco and Famous Dave’s Sweet and Spicy BBQ sauce were available for dipping…

Not enough protein for you??  Laurie also provided a bevy of deviled eggs, half of them topped with pickled jalapeno peppers that a friend and neighbor had given us.  The deviled eggs with the peppers were a big winner!
Ginny brought these mini-double baked stuffed potatoes as an appetizer.  They were half eaten before we got around to taking a photo!  Just great little tastes of potato, cheese and bacon!

In addition to the salad and deviled eggs, there were a few other things that we missed taking photos of… Holly brought a big hot server full of great tasting cheesy potatoes to go with the roast beef and buns.  Nuts, chocolates and a snack mix were scattered around the kitchen, dining and family room… We didn’t want anyone to go hungry!
Oh yes… I almost forgot the wine.  There were 4 bottles of wine for use to taste and comment on…Chilean and Argentinian.  There were minimal comments on the wines, but I think we all agreed that the wine from the Alamos vineyard  was the best, although they were all very nice. 
We’d begun the evening with a couple of house wines when everyone arrived, except for for Fred and I.  He and I skipped the early evening wine and stayed with our friend Jack Daniels until after dinner!
Here is our little group…minus Laurie, our photographer and my better half.  From the left…Fred, Dawn Marie, Ginny (Fred), Charlie, Karen (Charlie), Holly, Joel (Holly) and yours truly.  This was actually that time of night when we’d finally gotten around to the wine tasting!
Then, what to do after drinking all that wine…!?  Well, this was the answer… It’s Karen’s Tres Leche sheet cake with whipped cream frosting and cherries.  Moist and wonderful…even for a guy like me who usually prefers a nice hunk of pie.  This slab of goodness is the exception!

Well…all agreed that it was a great party!  We also agreed that the social portion of the evening was most critical, the food has become a key ingredient and the wine theme provides our reason or excuse for the monthly gatherings.  We’re all looking forward to the next ‘wine tasting’, this time at Dick and Susan's home… We already know that it’s all about California wines!
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing our good times!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Knoxville TN– Time for an Early Dinner!

Another day in the life of a retired couple, just running errands together… Since we live just a bit out in the country, Laurie and I try to string together a number of errands or stops when we find ourselves headed into the Knoxville area.  Otherwise, we’d waste a lot of time on the road…not to mention a bit more gasoline!
We were about ready to head south toward home and then we noted that it was nearing dinnertime…  Although it was a little early yet, we checked out our “Lifestyle” discount book, picked a restaurant, drove to it…and discovered that it wouldn’t open for dinner for another 40 minutes.
So…discarding the book for the moment…we drove west along Kingston Pike (US Highway 11)…looking for a restaurant that was open that we’d like to try out...
We’d probably driven by Rafferty’s Restaurant and Bar 50 times in the past 3 years.  It always seemed busy at lunch and dinner so we figured that the restaurant must be doing something right.  The exterior of the building is appealing…
The interior of Rafferty’s Restaurant and Bar is equally attractive…with lots of dark wood and brick providing a nice warm feeling to the place.
Here’s another view of the inside of the restaurant…with the bar in the background. 

Before writing this blog, I did a little research and discovered that this restaurant is part of a modest size chain with 19 locations in 5 states. (Indiana: 1; South Carolina: 1; Georgia: 2; Tennessee: 7 and; Kentucky: 8) The company’s headquarters is located in Bowling Green Kentucky. 
After we sat down, Laurie started conversing with a couple sitting next to us.   They told us that they were from near Clinton Tennessee, just a bit north of Knoxville.  They told us that they always try to stop at Rafferty’s whenever they come on in to town.  They went on to say that they really love Rafferty’s house salad!

Consequently, we both ordered the salad with our meals. ($3.49) This salad includes fresh mixed greens with chopped eggs, diced tomatoes, crisp potato sticks and hot chopped bacon.  Also based on our fellow diner’s recommendation, we topped the salad off with the house mustard-honey hot bacon dressing. (Note the very nice honey glazed bun with the salad) This was a very fine salad indeed!
Laurie ordered the 7 oz. Salmon Filet, ($11.99), cooked over hickory wood and accompanied by grilled asparagus…one of our favorite vegetables.  The only issue was that the salmon was a little overcooked…but it was ‘saved’ by the accompanying sauce shown on the plate.  Laurie enjoyed her entrée.

Other available sides included French fries, cole slaw, roasted garlic mashed potatoes, a baked potato, Spike’s mean beans, roasted sweet potato rice pilaf, and broccoli.  In addition to 2 salmon dishes, the other being the Southern Bourbon Glazed version, ($12.99), there is a catch of the day, ($11.99) and a fried Catfish Platter ($11.99) 
I ‘rarely’ order prime rib when I’m eating out.  Today was the exception.  I ordered the 12 oz. Slow –Roasted Prime Rib, again accompanied with the grilled asparagus. ($13.99) The price was a bit of a draw as I thought it was pretty reasonable given the price of beef these days.  As you can see, I was eager to start eating, cutting my asparagus prior to Laurie taking the photo!  The prime rib came as ordered…medium rare…and it was accompanied by some perfect au jus as well as some perfect creamy horseradish sauce.  This was an excellent dinner!
As per the menu, steaks and chops included 2 6-oz. Wood-Fired Pork Chops ($12.99); a 10 oz. Cowboy Sirloin ($13.99); the 8 oz. Jackson Hole Filet ($17.99), and; a 12-oz. Ribeye ($16.99).  The menu is rounded out with chicken, pasta, sandwiches, and burgers.  We rarely order dessert but the next time we eat at Rafferty’s I’ll have to try the White Chocolate Banana Cream Pie…my favorite pie plus chocolate! ($5.49)
Laurie and I will return to Rafferty’s Restaurant and Bar!  Service was nice although we were so busy visiting with the folks at the adjacent table, we didn’t pay a lot of attention to our waitress.  Rafferty’s Knoxville location is at 8906 Kingston Pike.  Phone: 865-657-9624.  To view the complete menu, just click on this link:
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for an early dinner with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, September 24, 2012

Rockin’ Robin’s (Update!)

Back in May or early June, Laurie and I stopped in Boonville Arkansas for a bite to eat… It was a down home experience…upbeat with personable friendly folks and pretty darn good home cooking.

Well, every once in a while, I hear from a restaurant after we’ve visited it and I’ve blogged about it.  Rockin’ Robin’s feedback was our first positive contact after checking out and reporting on one of our restaurant experiences.
I’d received direct responses regarding 2 restaurants that I’d been less than positive about…Genghis Mongolian BBQ Grill in Knoxville Tennessee and Classico Italian Pizza and Pasta in Loudon Tennessee.  The response from Genghis was positive… They actually have a media person searching for comments and trying to right perceived problems reported by their customers.  That did impress us, even if our dining experience wasn’t ‘the best’.  The response from Classico was more like feedback from a rabid pit bull on the attack…fitting, given our experiences with that ‘restaurant’.
So…how about the feedback from Rockin’ Robin’s?
This is Rockin’ Robin’s restaurant in Boonville Arkansas as it appeared during our visit.  I’d ended my review with this commentary…

Normally, this is where I’d give you the address and phone number of the restaurant… However, I didn’t have a receipt to work from and when I tried to look up Rockin’ Robin’s on the internet or in the phone directory...and I even tried a reverse phone look up…to no avail.  Our lunch was in late May but it appears that 6 weeks later, Rockin’ Robin’s is not any more.  Too bad!  It was a good lunch served by some nice people.  Perhaps being downtown but not directly on AR Rte. 10 was the issue…” (Why the phone number didn’t work is a mystery…maybe just fumble fingers…)
And then I received my first feedback on this restaurant…correcting me as regarded my conclusion!  Staci McCollough from the Boonville area sent me this note…
I live here in Booneville. Rockin' Robin's still exists and seems to be doing fairly well. I'm not sure why they can't seem to be found on the internet.  I don't know the address and can't seem to find it at the moment, but the phone number is (479) 675-0400.
I thanked Staci for her update…happy indeed to hear that my supposition was in error!  Now I’ve actually heard from Robin…of Rockin’ Robins.  His brother sent him a link to my blog.  He thanked us for our great review and invited us back sometime.  He informed me that they’d taken down the awning and painted the lower half of the building in a bright red.  A new sign is going up in the next month and they’re continuing to add to their interior décor.
To view my original review and comments, just click on the following:  As per Robin himself, “Here's our info for those of you travelling through Boonville: 266 N Broadway 479-675-0400 for the cafe and 479-719-8468 for cakes, catering and special orders. Best wishes and safe travels to all! Robin…Thanks for the feedback!
Just click on the photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by and checking out the blog site!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, September 21, 2012

Greenback Tennessee – A Bit of History

As we’ve continued to explore East Tennessee, I’ve been searching the Internet for historic places or sites that are worth checking out.  On many occasions, I’ve noted buildings or areas that are listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Now I’ve started using the actual listings to find historic structures or places.

The National Register of Historic Places is maintained by the National Park Service. ( My problem with this site is that I haven’t really been able to figure out how to get into their data base.  It contains the justification for the listing of any place or structure…
In the meantime, I’ve been using the Tennessee listing for the NRHP as well as Wikipedia’s Listings by county.   The Tennessee website is by county and it provides a tad more information about each site than does Wikipedia’s site but it provides minimal directional data.  The Tennessee site can be found at  There seems to be a similar listing for all of the other states.

A couple of years ago, Laurie took this photo of this old Louisville and Nashville Railroad depot in Greenback Tennessee.  It was starting to look decrepit…although it still appeared structurally sound.  This depot was built in 1914 but for some reason it hasn’t been included in the NRHP.
The Wikipedia county listing can be found at,_Tennessee.  In this case, you will note that I was looking at Loudon County Tennessee.  These county listings provide photos of some of the listed places and, if you use the interactive coordinates provided, it pinpoints where these NRHP sites are located...providing an address and, in some cases, even a street level view of the site or structure.

I found this photo on the Internet.  It shows the depot when 2 tracks still remained in place.  The first passenger train came to Greenback in 1890…and the last train of any type passed over these tracks in 1978.
One of the main reasons that the railroad came to town…and Greenback came into existence…was the fact that there were sulfur springs nearby.  An entrepreneur built a major tourist attraction based on the then popular notion of the health benefits inherent in these special waters.  It was a 3-story 60 room resort named the Alleghany Springs Hotel and visitors flocked to the site.  The resort was finally torn down in 1947.

On a very recent drive we stopped by Greenback one more time… Wow!  The current owner is sprucing up the old depot and it’s looking good!  The Greenback Historical Society is also apparently involved.  They maintain a museum in town…which was closed the day we came through.  Check out the Historical Society and the Museum at
Greenback today has a population of around 1,100 residents.  The town finally got its name on the 4th try… Back in the early days, one of the keys to establishing a town was the acquisition of an official post office.  The federal postal authorities would actually reject town names/the names of postal locations that were the same or similar to others already in use.  Thompson’s Stand, (the location of the first general store), Pine Grove and Alleghany Station were all names that were submitted and rejected.
‘Greenback’ was the ‘winning’ choice.  The name was inspired by a local politician and member of the then flourishing “Greenback” political party.  The Greenback Party functioned between 1874 and 1889, fielding 3 presidential candidates during this time period.  The party’s name referred to non-gold backed paper money and they supported currency reform, labor rights and they were anti-monopolies.  For more information, go to

Using the Wikipedia website for Loudon County Tennessee, Laurie and I found the Craig’s Chapel AME Zion Church in the Greenback area.  While I haven’t been able to find the date when the main part of this church was built, it was during the late 1800’s…with the side extension being added in the 20th century.  As per the NRPH documentation, the church is adjacent to a cave that was associated with the Underground Railroad in this early Quaker community.
The African Methodist Episcopalian Zion Church was founded in Philadelphia back in 1821.  Today it’s estimated to have over 1,400,000 members. For more information on this organization, you can go to  (Note: This church is not affiliated with the African Methodist Episcopalian Church) This particular church building is currently listed as being used by the ‘Lifestreams Fellowship’…but I couldn’t find a current phone listing.  

Here’s another view of the Craig’s Chapel AME Zion Church.  It more clearly shows the 20th century additions.  Apparently this and hundreds of other Tennessee African American churches were submitted and listed on the NRHP all at the same time.  It was listed as a part of the Middle Tennessee University’s Survey of the state’s rural African American churches.  The initial survey and submission for inclusion in the NRHP was completed in 1998 and it included 365 churches across the state.  They expected to add another 150 before the entire project was completed!
To view the very extensive historical submission compiled by MTU for inclusion of these churches in the NRHP that the University sent to the National Park Service, just go to
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for taking a ride with us along the roads of East Tennessee!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, September 19, 2012

Breakfast in Madisonville Tennessee…

Another morning…but instead of our normal cereal, yogurt or toast with peanut butter and jam, we were up early enough to actually go out for breakfast.  As I’ve mentioned many times before, there seems to be limited breakfast options here in East Tennessee.  

In our vicinity…a 15 mile radius…we have Cracker Barrel (Just don’t like the food); Waffle House (OK…if a bit greasy); Shoney’s (I’d rather skip breakfast!); American House of Pancakes (Haven’t had breakfast there yet…but reports from friends haven’t been encouraging); Mark’s Diner (Seems to depend on whether the cook is ‘on’ or ‘off’ that day); Toqua Golf Course Clubhouse (Pretty decent actually) and; Dinner Bell (That big buffet is just too tempting for my well-being!). 
So, we headed out in a southerly direction to try someplace new to us…
This is the Lamp Post Restaurant on the north side of Madisonville Tennessee.  There are always cars and pick-up trucks in the parking lot, so it must be a local favorite.  It has that typical ‘diner look’ to it from the outside…
As we suspected, it was obvious that a lot of the patrons at the Lamp Post are long time regular customers.  The waitress was on first name basis with several of the diners seated near our table.
Lamp Post has the obligatory diner style counter with stools favored by workers and travelers on the run.  The restaurant's staff was friendly and welcoming.  Service was fine too…
In a slight nod to healthy eating, I ordered wheat toast with my hash brown potatoes, sausage patties and 2 eggs over easy.  I’d ordered my hash browns on the crispy side.  They were OK if not exactly crispy… The sausage patties were a little overcooked but tasty enough.
Laurie had a little more ‘crisp’ on her hash browns.  She said that the bacon was just fine…which is critical to her breakfast ‘happiness’!

All in all, we had a satisfactory if not great breakfast at the Lamp Post Restaurant.  The price was right, the food was decent and the people were nice.  We will stop here again on one of our drives.  I checked out a recent review on Yelp…and that patron gave the Lamp Post 4 stars out of 5 possible.
The Lamp Post Restaurant is located at 4218 U.S. Highway 411 in Madisonville Tennessee.  They are open from 6 AM to 9 PM Monday thru Saturday and from 6 AM to 3 PM on Sunday.   Phone: 423-420-0026.  I couldn’t locate a website for this restaurant.
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Monday, September 17, 2012

Time for Breakfast!!

OK!  It’s a fact!  Breakfast is one of my…actually our…favorite meals.  Usually we limit ourselves to toast, peanut butter and jam or yogurt and Grape-Nuts (Laurie); a fruit smoothie (banana or strawberry with fresh fruit), or one of about 4 different breakfast cereals, frequently with fruit.

Note: Grape-Nuts were invented by C. W. Post in 1897.  They are actually made from wheat and barley.  Post believed that sucrose was created when his product was baked and he called it ‘grape-sugar’.  His original product came out in solid sheets which he ground up in a coffee grinder…creating nut-sized kernels.  They also had a nutty flavor.  But I digress…
In fact, there are times in one’s life when something extra is required…something to calm the wild beast in all of us.  Well, maybe I’m just looking for excuses, but we both love a good breakfast and if we’re eating at home, I personally enjoy finding ways to use any leftovers in conjunction with two or three eggs.
This was a breakfast I concocted for myself a week or so ago.  I am a mere amateur when it comes to imaginative breakfasts using leftover something and eggs, but I do give it the old college try! (Go Spartans!)

We had some leftover black beans and rice from a recent wine tasting party and I didn’t want to see them go to waste.  So I heated them up in a frying pan, adding lots of shredded cheddar cheese, chili powder, a bit of a hot shot pepper mixture and onion powder.  I melded it all together and then waited for the cheese to brown a bit around the edges.  Then I added 2 fried eggs over easy!  After taking the photo, I added some Tabasco just for a bit more pop… The result was comfort food of a different composition…and it was pretty tasty! 
On a recent Sunday morning, I told Laurie that I’d make breakfast but that I wanted to have fried eggs.  Our side options were left over linguica sausage, meat loaf or boneless beef rib strips.

Laurie opted for the meatloaf with her two easy-over eggs.  Note the concession to good health…a glass of orange juice and 2 slices of 9-grain toast.  Laurie couldn’t miss with her meat selection since she makes a very fine meatloaf!
I went with the left over strips of beef.  I pan fried them to heat them up and to give them a little extra flavor.  Then I fried up 3 over easy eggs.  You may have noticed that there is some white stuff sprinkled on my eggs and beef.  It’s not parmesan cheese!  It’s actually some leftover goat cheese crumbles… Of course, after Laurie took the photos, I added my usual Tabasco to my eggs.

The goat cheese was lost on the beef but it made the eggs a bit creamier when mixed with the yokes and it did add a bit of flavor…in a positive way.  FYI…my juice of choice is diet cranberry mixed with a little orange juice.  The combo works pretty well…
Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing a ‘healthy’ breakfast with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, September 14, 2012

Captain Ernie’s Caribbean Cuisine

Back in February of this year, Laurie and I had visited Captain Ernie’s Fish House in Knoxville, just down from the west end of the Turkey Creek Shopping Area.  We liked the food and I wrote up a favorable review.
Recently, some friends of ours, Joel and Holly, told us that Captain Ernie had pulled up stakes in Knoxville and he’d opened a new restaurant in an old BBQ location in Lenoir City.  He’d changed themes as well…and he was now serving Caribbean Cuisine.  Most importantly, Joel and Holly have traveled around the world and they gave us positive feedback for the ‘new’ Captain Ernie’s Seafood Bar and Caribbean Grill.  
As I mentioned, this was a new location for Captain Ernie.  His takeover of this old BBQ restaurant included this old sign…which can lead to considerable confusion.  While you can find a couple of chicken offerings on the menu and there is a hamburger too…don’t expect to find any ribs.
One negative is regarding the Captain’s new venue is that this building has zero curb appeal and the entrance is on the side, not in the front.  Since this photo was taken, a new sign has been installed on the front of the building that helps to define what the restaurant is all about… 

Given the location, the building and the signing, Laurie and I are convinced that Captain Ernie’s will need a lot of help from locals who had been loyal patrons at his previous Turkey Creek/Campbell Station Road location.
The interior of the restaurant is significantly more appealing than the exterior.  The walls are decorated with photos, mementos and decorative items related to Captain Ernie’s previous career as a professional fisherman running a commercial boat out of the Florida Keys.  Without the upbeat and interesting wall décor, this place would be very basic indeed…
I ordered a Shrimp Poor-Boy for my lunch. ($6.95) I also ordered the Captain’s Black Beans and Rice side just to try them out. ($2.95) The sandwich was loaded with Jamaican-jerked shrimp, lightly dusted and fried, then served on a French loaf with lettuce, tomato and coleslaw.  I opted for cocktail sauce instead of tartar sauce.

The shrimp were very good, as was the coleslaw.  However, call me weird or just different…I’d prefer the slaw on the side.  Just let me focus on those tasty shrimp!  As for the black beans and Jasmine rice…they were great…
The menu also includes a Fish Poor-Boy ($6.95), as well as an Oyster Poor-Boy. ($8.95) Three Cuban sandwiches are on the menu…Cuban Chicken ($5.95), Cuban Steak ($7.50), and a classic Cuban. ($6.95)
Laurie ordered the Fried Clam Basket. ($6.95) She thought the clams were satisfactory but she loved the coleslaw and was blown away by the side of cornbread that she’d ordered. ($1.95) She’d substituted the cornbread for the French fries that normally come with the fried clams.

Other ‘basket’ offerings range in price from $5.95 to $9.95 and they include shrimp, catfish, codfish, Mahi-Mahi, Fish and Chips and Fish or Shrimp Tacos.  Oysters are offered as appetizers…Fried, on the Half-Shell or Char grilled.  The latter two items are at Market Price.  House specialties include a catch of the day served several ways, a seafood combo plate and a catfish platter. The most expensive item…the seafood combo…is $16.95.  The prices at this restaurant are very reasonable!
OK…so what does this photo from Larry, (aka ‘Big Dude’) and Bev’s Caribbean/Jimmy Buffet Wine Tasting Dock Party have to do with Captain Ernie’s?  Well, remember how much Laurie loved the corn bread at the restaurant.  I loved it too… Plus she really liked my black beans and jasmine rice.  So…for our contribution to the party, we ordered the corn bread, vast amounts of Black Beans and Jasmine Rice, (not pictured), and these Fried Sweet Plantains from Captain Ernie’s.  They were all judged to be real winners by our wine tasting group…

FYI…You might want to check out Larry/Big Dude’s eclectic blog site at
Captain Ernie told us that his new Caribbean themed menu was designed to offset the cost of expensive seafood for his customer’s in these tough economic times.   Seafood entrée’s are still available but they’re limited.  The goal is to offer a menu that everyone can afford while providing  cusine that isn’t generally found in East Tennessee.  We think that he and his wife have succeed in their goal.  Only time will tell if their clientele finds them and the good word gets out…
Captain Ernie’s Seafood Bar and Caribbean Grill is located at 501 Highway 321 North in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Phone: 865-308-2000.  At this point, Captain Ernie’s doesn’t have a website or a menu posted on line…
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a little Carribean themed lunch!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave  

Wednesday, September 12, 2012

A Bit of History – Lenoir City Tennessee

As we explore the Tennessee River Valley in East Tennessee, I like to research the history of the towns and the countryside in order to better appreciate our ‘new’ home turf…

Lenoir City is the largest city in Loudon County Tennessee with a population of a bit more than 8,600.  Interstate highway I-75 passes north and south just west of town, with US 11 and US 321 intersecting in the city.  Lenoir City sits on the bank of the Tennessee River, very close to the Fort Loudoun Dam as well as the Fort Loudoun and Tellico Lakes, part of the Tennessee Valley Authority System.  Statistically, Lenoir City is included in the Knoxville Metropolitan Area.
The Lenoir City area was inhabited for thousands of years before the arrival of settlers from the ‘Old World’.  Bussell Island, just across the river from the city, has yielded evidence of settlement dating to as early as 8,000 to 1,000 B.C.  The island is also believed to be the location of ‘Coste’, a village visited by Hernando De Soto in 1540.
This is the former Lenoir Cotton Mill Warehouse at 150 Bussell's Ferry Road.  It was built ca. 1830 to serve as a warehouse for raw cotton for the nearby Lenoir Cotton Mill.  This building is listed on the National Register of Historic Places and it’s now been converted into a residence.

In the early 1800’s, 5,000 acres of former Overhill Cherokee tribal land was deeded to General William Lenoir of North Carolina…for his services to the nation during the Revolutionary War.  After winning a protracted court battle with other claimants, William deeded the tract to his son, William Ballard Lenoir.  In 1810, the son moved to the area and established a large plantation.  In addition to his agricultural efforts, Lenoir operated a number of small industries, including a sawmill, a hotel, a brick factory, a general store, a dam and a flour mill.  The entire conglomeration of businesses and homes became known as Lenoir’s Station. 
This is what remains of another of Lenoir’s businesses, the Cotton Mill on Town Creek, built ca. 1821.  This structure, listed in the National Register of Historic Places, operated as a flour mill until the early 1950’s.  An arsonist set fire to the mill in 1991 as plans were being made to preserve the structure.

During the Civil War, the Lenoir Family was sympathetic to the Confederate cause in an area of Tennessee that tended to be pro-Union.  Colonel William Sanders led 1,500 Union troops through the area and on June 19th, 1863, they overwhelmed a nearby small Confederate Garrison.  They then destroyed the railroad depot, the store and some other buildings.
Laurie took this photo of the interior of what remains of the Lenoir Cotton Mill on Town Creek.   These ruins are located near the corner of Depot and South Hill Streets in Lenoir City.

Colonel Sanders allegedly spared the Cotton Mill to protect the only source for clothing for local Unionists.  However, according to local lore or tradition, Dr. Benjamin Lenoir entered the Union camp and exchanged secret Masonic signs with Union officers and they spared the mill.  It’s too bad that an arsonist completed the job about 128 years later…
Believe it or not, this building is the William Ballard Lenoir House, ca. 1821.  It’s located directly across the street from the remains of the Cotton Mill.  Unfortunately, it’s been greatly altered and it’s now serving as an apartment building…the Ledbetter Apartments.
This is the Lenoir City Company Office Building…also in the National Register of Historic Places.  It now serves as the Lenoir City Museum.  In 1889, Charles McClung McGhee and Edward J. Sanford founded the Lenoir City Company, believing that Lenoir City would be the ideal location for a company town.  This stemmed from the popularity of social theories regarding planned cities and a thriving coal mining industry on the Cumberland Plateau.  The partners purchased the Lenoir estate for $300 an acre. 

The city’s northwest quadrant was to be for middle class and affluent residents and the northeast quadrant would be for the city’s wage earners.  Other areas were set aside for blast furnaces, steel works, woodworking, furniture and canning factories and even parks and gardens. 
Unfortunately, a recession in the early 1890’s froze the financial markets.  By 1892, the company had only sold 144 of its 3,448 lots!  Still, the partners and the city survived, if not according to their original grand plan.  A rail car company and a knitting mill opened, helping to keep the dream alive…
For more on the Lenoir City Museum, just go to 
Another building of interest near Lenoir City is this magnificent home…the John Winton Home. (ca. 1815) John Winton was a Methodist minister who first built an arbor and campground at Muddy Creek…now the Martel Community, a portion of Lenoir City.  This was near the center of John’s land holdings in the area. 

He and his wife, Arabella chose the form of a cross for the foundation of their new home.  The front porch formed the top of the cross.  The dining room, kitchen and nursery wing formed the lower part of the cross, the bedrooms and parlor formed the cross arms and the front hall, the transept.  The form was Greek Revival… Due to the War of 1812, the house wasn’t completed until 1818.  Their slaves made or 'burned' the bricks used in the construction. 
The home is now called The Magnolia Manor.  It’s located at 18350 Martel Road near Lenoir City.  The current owners rent it out for special occasions such as weddings, family gatherings, etc.  Phone: 865-988-4510.  Website:
This is the last of the historic structures in the Lenoir City area that’s listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  This is the Hackney Chapel AME Zion Church at the corner of Hackney Chapel and Antioch Roads.  It was built in 1899.  I couldn’t locate any other information on this church.  It appeared to be boarded up and closed.

As for Lenoir City, another key event in the city’s history was the coming of the Tennessee Valley Authority with the construction of the Dams and reservoirs.  That started in 1940 and led to many jobs as well as significant growth of the city and the local economy.  Then in February of 1993, an F-3 tornado destroyed parts of the downtown area as well as other section of the city.  Fortunately only one person was killed.  Then in March of 1998, another historic landmark, the William B. Lenoir Hotel was destroyed by a massive fire.  The structure had occupied an entire city block.
Just click on any photo to enlarge it…
Thanks for stopping by for a visit!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, September 10, 2012

Dim Sum – A New Dining Experience!

Laurie and I have partaken of many different cuisines…to include Greek, North African, Vietnamese, Brazilian, Cuban, Moldovan, Polish, Mediterranean, Italian, Spanish, French, Thai, Indian, Ethiopian, Argentinean, Japanese, Hawaiian, German, Irish, Scottish, Russian, etc., as well as Chinese.  However, we’d never experienced Dim Sum until just recently.
Friends and neighbors, Gary and Paula, called and invited us to join them at a local Knoxville restaurant to sample their Dim Sum offerings.  By way of definition, Dim Sum refers to a style of Chinese food prepared as small bite-sized or individual portions of food traditionally served in small steamer baskets or on small plates.
Dim Sum is also well known for the way it’s served in some restaurants.  Fully cooked and ready-to-serve Dim Sum dishes are loaded on carts and rolled around the restaurant so customers can see the offerings and then choose their orders while seated at their table. 
This is the Little Szechuan Chinese and Dim Sum Restaurant in Knoxville Tennessee.  It’s not too impressive from the outside, but with restaurants as with people, you have to sample what is offered inside…

FYI…Little Szechuan Restaurant has a regular menu in addition to serving Dim Sum.  There are a plethora of luncheon specials during the week and there is an extensive dinner menu as well… But we came for the Dim Sum experience!
The Little Szechuan Restaurant is quite large…with plenty of room between tables for the Dim Sum carts to pass.  The interior isn’t fancy and the Chinese decorations and accent pieces were minimal.  The restaurant was quite clean and the service was efficient and friendly.
This is a photo of Paula, our Dim Sum guide, and her husband Gary.  Fortunately for us, Paula knew what the offerings were and she made most of the selections.  If it had been up to Laurie and I, we’d probably still be sitting there trying to decide what to order next…
We started with this grouping of Dim Sum.  From left to right: Sticky Rice in Lotus Leaf; Shumai (pork and shrimp); Stewed Spare Ribs with Salted Black Beans, and; Shrimp Spinach Dumplings.  Laurie and I liked them all, with Laurie being particularly fond of the Sticky Rice and I favored the Shrimp Spinach Dumplings.  The servers brought Chile Oil and Chile Paste so we could amp up the ‘heat’ should we so desire.
This is one of the rolling carts that was being moved from table to table.  We tried 3 of the items shown on  this cart.  The green vegetable in the center right is Gai Lan (Chinese Broccoli).  We really liked this vegetable!  It was served with Oyster Sauce.  We also tried the first 2 items at the front of the cart…the BBQ Pork and the Salt and Pepper Shrimp.  Once again we were reminded that Chinese BBQ Pork is overcooked and dry for American tastes.  The Salt and Pepper Shrimp are visually appealing and they had a nice flavor, but they were in their shells and were a little hard to eat.   

Paula, our Dim Sum guide, told me that the other item in the center row on the cart is Roasted Duck.  The two items in the third row are Squid and Sliced Pig Ears.  Unfortunately, our photo of the Stewed Chicken Feet on another cart was too blurry to publish.
Here are two more Dim Sum offerings that we tried.  From left to right we have Taro Turnovers and Fried Meat Dumplings.  The Taro Turnovers were just OK…definitely an acquired taste…but the Fried Meat Dumplings were very good!

The selection of Dim Sum offerings came in 3 sizes…and at 3 different price points.  There are Small Size at $2.50, Medium Size at $2.85 and Large Size at $3.75.  In addition there are other quasi Dim Sum offerings such as the Chinese Broccoli, the Salt and Pepper Shrimp and the BBQ Pork that are brought out on large plates.  Since we split the bill between us, I’m not sure what the charge was for some of the latter items.  Note: Our share of the cost for this feast of flavor was only $32.18 before adding the tip!
These exotic looking and delicious creations are Fried Shrimp Balls.  They were excellent! 

So what items are on the Dim Sum menu that we didn’t have a chance to try…or didn’t have the nerve to try?  The Stewed Chicken Feet was one for sure… Other Small Size Plates we didn’t sample included the Lotus Paste Sesame Seed Balls, the Bean Curd Skin with Pork, the Pan Fried Turnip Cake or the Beef Tripe with Green Onion Ginger.
This creation may not look too appetizing but this Rice Noodle Roll with Shrimp was very tasty indeed!

Among the medium size Dim Sum that we didn’t have a chance to try, there was the Shrimp Dumplings, the Garlic Chives Pan Cake, the Fried Garlic Shrimp Rolls and the Rice Noodle Rolls with Beef or Pork.
These little winners are Roast Pork Biscuits… They were very satisfying! 

We only skipped 3 of the large size Dim Sum as shown on the printed menu.  These were the Rice Rolls with Fried Twist Cruller, the Dumplings with Shrimp and Chives and the Bean Curd Shrimp Roll. 
For something sweet, we tried these Pineapple Custard Pastry Buns.  They were very nice, subtly sweet but not overwhelming.  Other Dim Sum sweet choices included the Steamed Custard Bun, the Sponge Custard Cake, the Baked Egg Custard Tart, the Mango Pudding, Coconut Pudding and the Thai Pudding.  

To learn more about Dim Sum and the types of dishes that are included in this food genre, just go to
Many thanks to Paula and Gary for our introduction to Dim Sum!  We enjoyed it very much…lots of different tastes and food experiences... Laurie and I will definitely return to Little Szechuan Chinese and Dim Sum Restaurant.  We’ll bring friends for the Dim Sum and we’ll also want to try out the full Chinese Dinner Menu.  For one thing, it offers 4 different lamb dishes, something that Laurie and I miss and crave since leaving Chicago for East Tennessee.
Little Szechuan Chinese Restaurant is located at 8459 Kingston Pike in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-670-3540.  Website:
Just click on any of the Dim Sum or other plates to enlarge the photos…
Thanks for stopping by and sharing another dining adventure with us!
Take Care, Big Daddy Dave