Monday, June 30, 2014

A Wine and Food Party…

It was our turn to hold our group’s wine tasting event…and of course it became a significant food event as well!

But first I want to give credit for my blog writing assistant..!

J.D. is always ready to help me whenever I use the computer to work on any project!  In this photo he’d given me some feedback and he was waiting for my response… If he’s satisfied, he’ll lay down so I can actually see the screen.

Now on to the party!

Our bar selection is somewhat limited…but after all this is a wine tasting function.  The initial big bottles of house wine are staged and ready to go!  There is ice in the bucket and we have the basic hard liquors available if desired…

We brought out our extra chairs, put coasters all around and then we placed a bowl of mixed nuts and a bowl of candy on the ottoman for all to enjoy… But guess what?!  No one ever even sat down in this room!

Here are some of the appetizers that folks brought to this gathering…fresh vegetables, fruit, a spread and crackers with a great assortment of cheese! 

Add these nice meatballs to the list of appetizers… All of the food groups were included in our initial food offerings! 

Then, after some conversation and a bit of house wine, Laurie and I laid out our buffet.  One of our guests furnished the potato salad.  Our offerings included torta buns, 3 different kinds of slices cheese (Swiss, cheddar and Havarti); 4 different deli meats (Genoa salami, deli ham, roasted turkey and bologna from Benton’s); plus a plethora of condiments, lettuce, fresh tomatoes, olives and potato chips.  

It was a small gathering… The group never left the dining room, sitting at the table or on the window bench the whole time. 

Larry and Bev as well as Jenny and Fred were all out of town.  Martha’s husband Irv was working in Tampa.  Charlie is at the head of the table, with Karen to the right.  Susan is talking to Karen and Susan’s husband Dick is next to her.

In this photo, Laurie is stroking Dick’s beard!  This leads to a question on my part… I too am follicle challenged.  Does this mean that I’d be more attractive if I too grew a beard?

No one was sitting on the window bench when I took this photo… From the left we have Holly and her husband Joel, then Martha and then Charlie.  The group was about done eating at this point and the actual wine tasting was about to begin.  However, many of the world’s problems had been discussed and resolved by this point in time!

We can’t forget the cookies!  Laurie and I purchased these great cookies at the Tellico Grains Bakery in Tellico Plains Tennessee. (Website: From the left we had chocolate chip, oatmeal raisin and coconut… No one left this party hungry, that’s for sure!

“Sadly”, we had a fair amount of leftover cookies, buns, cheese and deli meat.  We ‘forced’ ourselves to consume these leftovers… As they say, “Waste Not, Want Not!”  We were happy campers for the next few days…stretching the extra cookies out for a couple of weeks!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, June 27, 2014

A Belgian Bistro in Lenoir City Tennessee

Lenoir City is a nice town but it’s not the ‘big city’ and its 20 minutes from the western reaches of Knoxville.  Downtown Lenoir City is struggling to survive and/or re-create itself, with many empty storefronts.  To the detriment of downtown, most of the recent commercial ‘action’ in town has been along US 321.  That highway intersects I-75 and, if followed east, will take visitors to the Smoky Mountain National Park. 

So imagine our surprise and delight when we learned that someone was opening a Belgian Bistro right in the middle of old downtown Lenoir City.  Cleverly…they decided to name the restaurant ‘Le Noir’.  By way of contrast, this bistro was opened in a space that had been occupied by another restaurant…which was named ‘Good Eats’.  That Particular country style restaurant had since relocated to US 321.

Our photos of the inside of the restaurant just didn’t come out well…most were too blurry to publish.  The interior has been changed to fit the Belgian Bistro theme and it was very pleasant.
When we visited Le Noir, the restaurant had just been open for a relatively short time.  Although a wide variety of beers were advertised and listed, only ‘high gravity’ beers and a variety of wines were available.  The restaurant was about 2 weeks away from being able to carry their full complement of beers.

After learning the limitations of the beer ‘menu’, I ordered a glass of the House Chardonnay ($5.00) and Laurie had a glass of Malbec. ($6.00)  We both ordered a side salad with our entrée. ($3.00) The salad was very nice and fresh and the presentation was appealing…

Our waitress was very nice and accommodating although she was new and was still trying to learn the menu and the operation itself.  We were fairly confident that she will succeed in both efforts.

Laurie ordered the Pork Chop with Hunter Sauce. ($14.00) This 2” thick 10 oz. pork chop was topped with sauteed onions and mushrooms. It was accompanied with some very nice fresh mashed potatoes.  I was surprised that she ordered a pork chop out in a restaurant.  Most restaurant pork chops tend to be overcooked and dry, but not this one!  It was nice and moist…with a little pink in the center…and the Hunter Sauce was right on the mark.

I’d looked at the on-line menu and I’d decided that since it was Tuesday, I’d go for the special…’Carbonade’ or Flemish Beer Stew.  No such luck!  The good news was that they’d had 150 people stop by for lunch…and they’d sold out of the Beer Stew.  So…I had to pick another entrée…disappointed though I was!  

I settled on the Chicken filet with Tarragon. ($13.00) The marinated chicken filet was topped with a very nice buttery tarragon sauce.  For a side, I chose the mac ‘n cheese made with ham and Belgian cheeses.  The chicken with the tarragon sauce was spot on and the mac ‘n cheese was a couple of notches above the usual version.

I will be back for that Flemish Beer Stew special!  Alternatively, if we visited on a Sunday I could order the Witloof met ham…Belgian Endive rolled in ham with a creamy cheese sauce au gratin.  Decision, decisions…!

OK… Our waitress was a little ‘off’ and still learning, they didn’t have their full beer license and I couldn’t have the special I’d wanted.  What to do?!  How about assuaging our feelings with something sweet?  This was our dessert.  It was a Brussels Waffle with strawberry sauce, a drizzle of Belgian chocolate and whipped cream. ($6.00) Laurie really liked it and I thought that it was pretty good… I would have preferred a few fresh strawberries on top. 

Le Noir is open for lunch and dinner Tuesday through Sunday.  They are open from 11 AM until 9 PM.  One lunch item I really want to try is the Brussels Burger.  ($11.00) This is a ½ pound burger topped with sautéed slivered Brussels sprouts, plus raclette and Boursin cheeses.

FYI… Le Noir’s official grand opening took place on June 18th, one day before I wrote this posting.  We had dined at Le Noir about 2 weeks earlier… Le Noir Belgian Bistro is located at 123 East Broadway in Lenoir City Tennessee.  Phone: 865-816-3516.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, June 25, 2014

Dr. David Navorska – It Takes a Village!

Recently hundreds of residents living in Loudon County Tennessee received a startling letter from Tennova Health Care.  They informed us that, ‘with mixed feelings’, they had parted ways with our physician!  We later learned that Tennova had let him go without notice at 4 PM late one afternoon.  They had him gather his personal items and depart on the spot.

First of all, Tennova should understand that it’s never a good idea to hack off a bunch of retired folks!  We tend to get our hackles up and we’re stubborn too… The worst thing any organization can do is drop a big surprise on senior citizens.  We have lots of time on our hands to strike back!

So…what the heck!  A couple of ladies from the Tellico Village community took to the social media and they organized a response to Tennova as well as a birthday party for Dr. David Navorska.  It was his 50th birthday!

Quite a crowd showed up at a local pavilion… I estimated that between 80 and 100 patients with their spouses stopped by for the celebration and the ‘revolution’.  This was a great turnout on relatively short notice in a community where not everyone uses social media.

The doctor is at the center of the photo… Everyone stopped and vented their feelings to Dr. Navorska regarding this unhappy situation and to wish him a Happy Birthday. 

Why did the vast majority of Dr. Navorska’s patients show such loyalty?  Well…to be honest it’s because he cares about them!  He cuts to the chase…telling people who don’t want to hear…what they must do if they want to live a healthier and a longer life!  He is the master of ‘tough love’.

Dr. Navorska spoke for a bit…talking about his feelings regarding his patients and letting us all know in general terms what his future plans are.  The fact is that everyone is planning to follow him to wherever he sets up office! 

The doctor’s family was present at this patient-doctor admiration celebration.  They are a loving group…with 3 very cute children. (2 in this photo) Dr. Navorska’s wife is certainly standing by her man…supportive in every way!

Listening to the crowd talking among themselves, it was startling to realize just how unhappy they were with Tennova Health Care.  Several patients had already gone to the office and requested all of their health care records.  Others had written Tennessee’s medical oversight agency…blasting Tennova!

So what’s a good party without embarrassing the birthday boy?  If you have ever seen the video where Marilyn Monroe sang a very sexy “Happy Birthday” to President John F. Kennedy, then you can imagine what the lady with the scarf did to Dr. Navorska!  She even ended up sitting on his knee!  The good doctor doesn’t blush easily…but in this instance he turned a deep shade of red!

To summarize: (1. Dr. David Navorska had a lot of folks at his impromptu surprise birthday party. (2. He has a ready-made list of loyal patients following him to wherever he lands. (3. Say Bye Bye Tennova Health Care!  You’ve torqued off the wrong bunch…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, June 23, 2014

Dining Out – Loudon County Tennessee

The following restaurant visits took place a couple of months ago…but they were worthy of mention.  Both of these restaurants are located in Loudon County Tennessee…

Our first stop is at Tanasi Café in Tellico Village.  Tellico Village is an open community (not gated) stretching along over 9 miles of Tellico Lake shoreline.  The Village caters to retirees but which it’s also home to working families with children.  This same building is also the clubhouse for the Tanasi Golf Course. 

This is a late winter/early spring view from the Tanasi Café/Clubhouse.  It only gets better with the coming of warm weather!

Laurie had the Tilapia with rice and a fruit cup… This was a very nice dinner!  I can’t find my recipe and Tanasi Café’s menu isn’t posted on line…but prices are very reasonable at this lakeside restaurant.  The food is consistently good too!

I tried something new, at least for me.  I usually don’t like sweet with my protein but this is the Hawaiian Chicken with roasted vegetables and a fruit cup.  I really liked the chicken and the vegetables were perfectly roasted.  Another winner!

Tanasi Café and Clubhouse is located at 450 Clubhouse Point right off of TN Rte. 444…between US 321 and TN Rte. 72.  It’s about 10 minutes from Lenoir City Tennessee.  To learn more about this restaurant and it’s ‘sister’ operations, go to

We like Ruby Tuesday!  Yes, it is a chain restaurant…but we do like it.  This is a ‘test’ location for Ruby Tuesday when it comes to trying new items on the menu.  Ruby Tuesday’s Headquarters is located in nearby Maryville Tennessee.  This location is in Lenoir City Tennessee.

This is a look at the interior of the Lenoir City Ruby Tuesday… The salad bar is in the center of the photo.  The staff at this location has always been friendly and fairly efficient…

Here’s another photo of the interior…with the full service bar in the background.  Laurie will indulge in an occasional martini when we dine here…and they are reasonably priced too!

Laurie ordered the Chicken Bella. ($13.49) Her entrée was comprised of sautéed baby portabella mushrooms and artichokes in a Parmesan cream sauce over a fresh, grilled chicken breast.  Entrees are served with either of two sides or one side paired with their salad bar.  Laure opted for 2 sides…onion rings and grilled zucchini.  As is usual for us at Ruby Tuesday, she really liked her meal!

I chose the Chicken Fresco for dinner. ($12.99) This consisted of a juicy grilled chicken breast with vine-ripened tomatoes, lemon butter, and a splash of balsamic vinaigrette.  For my sides, I picked the grilled zucchini and roasted spaghetti squash.  This was a satisfying and almost healthy dinner!

One other positive was that we had a coupon so we saved $6.50 from the bill…and we stuck with water for our drink on this occasion.  This was an inexpensive and still enjoyable dinner out!

This Ruby Tuesday is located right off of US 321 at the interchange with I-75 in Lenoir City Tennessee.  It’s on the west side of the interchange.  Phone: 865-986-0973.  To learn more about this Ruby Tuesday and to view the menu, just go to

That’s about it for now… Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Friday, June 20, 2014

Food and More Food…Plus a Wish Come True!

While we’re not gourmet cooks, we do like to ‘play with’ different food combinations or iterations…based on recipes, leftovers and basic concepts.

Another breakfast for me…a leftover breaded pork cutlet topped with an easy over egg and a touch of Tabasco.  This is my kind of wake up food!

We bought some lavosh crackers from Costco.  One day when I was trying to figure out what to make for lunch, I decided to make Lavosh Pizza.  I covered the crackers with mozzarella, sharp cheddar and asiago cheese.  Then I applied cracked red peppercorns, garlic powder and an Italian spice mix.  Finally, I added some pre-packaged ‘real’ bacon bits and I put the crackers in the microwave on high for 1 minute.  As Guy Fieri would say…“Winner, winner, turkey dinner!”

Did you know that lavosh bread comes to us from Armenia?  Anglicized lavosh is also called lavash or cracker bread.  The bad news is that the large lavosh crackers that I used in this recipe were an opportunistic buy by Costco and they don’t normally carry them in stock.

This is Laurie’s dinner plate featuring a couple of my favorites and several items that she loves too.  Oven roasted potatoes, marinated mushrooms, sautéed squash and zucchini, pickled beets and a nice thick breaded baked boneless pork chop!  As for me…it’s all about the roasted potatoes and that pork chop… 

I saw a quiche recipe somewhere and I decided that I’d give it a try.  I tried to find the recipe that I based this creation on but despite looking through Laurie’s plethora of recipes and then after checking some of the blogs I follow…I couldn’t locate it and I gave up...

I started with a frozen pie crust.  I added lots of top notch mild sausage that I purchased at Benton’s Hams over on US Hwy. 411 in Madisonville.  As you can see, cheese…both sharp cheddar and asiago…was the next key ingredient.

FYI…Benton’s also sells fresh pork ribs, sirloin and ribeye steaks plus other items to walk-in customers.  We’ve never bought the ribs but we do buy the ribeye steaks fairly regularly.  They are very good…and they are much less expensive than any comparable steaks you can buy at the supermarket.  For more on Benton’s, just go to

Of course I added plenty of spices as well…cracked red peppers, garlic, onion flakes and black pepper.  Laurie added the parsley for color…
Then I encountered a little problem… As I recall the recipe called for evaporated milk…something that we didn’t have on hand.  I ended up substituting some half and half and a bit of 1% milk.  It ended up being too much ‘thin’ liquid…

The upshot was that we had to bake this quiche much longer than the original recipe called for…just to absorb and bake of the excess liquid.  Still, the finished product didn’t look too bad…

As you can see, we thought that our attempt at a quiche turned out alright.  It wasn’t as spicy as we would have like but it did eventually solidify and it was pretty tasty.  The leftovers provided me with a couple of satisfying lunches…

Well…with no large lavosh or lavash crackers to work with…and decent pizza hard to come by here in East Tennessee…I looked for another alternative.  I found these little pizza crusts in our local Food Lion.  Then I brushed the crusts with olive oil and applied ready to use pizza sauce to the 2 on the left.  Laurie wanted a true ‘white’ pizza so I left the sauce off the other one.
I tried different combinations of cheese, spices and meat on these 3 individual pizzas.  I covered the crusts with combinations of sharp cheddar, asiago, mozzarella and an Italian cheese mix.  I think that I even put a bit of goat cheese on one of them… Then I added the meat, using Genoa salami, pepperoni, and sausage. 

We were quite pleased with the finished results!  This made a nice dinner…with only about 12 minutes in the oven.  But…we’re still looking for those large lavosh crackers…

One of Laurie’s many wishes since we’ve moved to East Tennessee is that she could replace the old built in oven that came with the house.  Well…her wish finally came true! 

One day, as we were preparing for a wine tasting party, I looked over and noticed that the clock had gone out on the old oven.  Then we discovered that the control panel had ‘died’ and due to the age of the oven, replacement parts were no longer available.  From my miserly viewpoint, this was a ‘bummer’!!

Due to the restricted space available, we called our contractor for advice.  Dean Connaster stopped by measured the space and called his appliance store contact.  Much to Laurie’s delight a double oven, (at a good price), was the best choice for the space…replacing a small cramped oven and a microwave.  In the photo above, Dean’s subcontractor Terry…who also does a lot of maintenance work around our home…is busy enlarging the space just a little so everything would fit.

Laurie’s wish is complete!  She now has a brand new double oven.  I was very happy that Terry made it fit in the space.  I had envisioned a major reworking of our kitchen and cabinetry and my wallet was trembling in fear!  When we moved into our home we’d traded all of our packing materials and boxes with a neighbor who was moving.  In return, we’d obtained a wine cooler, a small refrigerator and…a microwave!  Consequently, at least I didn’t have to go out and buy a replacement for the one I lost…

Laurie’s already made some great baked pork chops in the new oven and when we have company, she’ll be able to bake different dishes at different temperatures at the same time…making her a happy woman. (Happy wife, happy life!)

Just click on any of the photos shown above in order to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Wednesday, June 18, 2014

Restaurant Updates + Critters

I could have titled this posting as “Miscellaneous” but ‘restaurant’ and anything that refers to ‘critters’ or animals is a bit more attention getting.

We’ll start with a look at some attractive local residents…just crossing the road on a pretty spring day… 

These deer are just a couple representatives of the herd or herds that live in the woods and meadows near us… We must have the ‘right’ foliage in our yard as they rarely nibble on our plants and bushes.  They did browse on our rose hips a bit this spring and last year they did pretty much level our hostas in the backyard.  However, this year the plants grew back and the deer don’t seem interested.  In our case, we’d sacrifice a few plants just to have the deer around the house…

We went out shopping for a new car…to replace our 1998 Buick Regal GS.  After all of the mental strain and pain of car shopping and talking to salespeople, I needed a ‘comfort food fix’!  Consequently, for an early dinner we went to Hot Rod 50s restaurant in Alcoa Tennessee.

I was feeling so ‘stressed’ that I ordered my favorite sandwich…Hot Rod 50s version of a pork tenderloin sandwich, which is named “The Hog”.  This humongous creation is the restaurant’s signature sandwich.  This huge, thick cut of pork tenderloin is breaded in their homemade bread crumb mixture.  Then its pan fried and garnished with lettuce, tomato, pickles and onion.  Costing only $7.99, this beast is served with a side…and I chose a pile of ‘healthy’ French fries!

There was so much food that I vowed to never order another one of these beauties…well at least not with French fries as my side order...perhaps just some coleslaw…

Unlike me, Laurie at least showed some restraint… She ordered a 1/3 lb. bacon cheeseburger with a side of some righteous top notch onion rings. ($7.99) Hamburgers are the key menu item at Hot Rod 50s…but the menu is huge and it even includes entrees and casseroles.

For more information about Hot Rod 50s restaurant in Alcoa Tennessee and to have a look at their expansive and reasonably priced menu, just go to  This diner is a fun place to eat too!

Here’s J.D. ‘chillin’ on his favorite blanket on Mama's lap in front of our fireplace.  He allows us to live with him as long as we do what he asks…err…demands!  How benevolent of him...

We’ve lived in here in East Tennessee for almost 5 years now.  Recently we decided to pay a visit to a restaurant chain that we frequently ate at when we lived in Chicagoland… We hadn’t eaten in one of these restaurants since coming to the area.  This is an inside photo of Famous Dave’s barbecue restaurant in Knoxville Tennessee.
The primary reason that we haven’t visited Knoxville’s Famous Dave’s since we moved to the area is that we’ve enjoyed terrific BBQ ribs and other items from our personal source and friend…aka Big Dude...almost from the time we moved in. (

In any case, our favorite meal at Famous Dave’s was always the Rib Tips… We never cared much for this chain’s sides, except for the muffins, but we really loved the rib tips.  They had always been reasonably priced too.  At one point I was in the habit of just ordering a pound of rib tips…sans any sides.

Back to our recent experience… The sides were much improved. The slaw was very good and the addition of the ‘homemade’ potato chips was a real plus.  They were excellent!  But…what happened to the ‘rib tips’??  These weren’t really ‘tips’.  They were just bites of pork…no grizzle or bone to work around…and much less flavor than real rib tips!  They were pretty disappointing!  

Did I mention the price?  This Rib Tip or Ends Platters were $14.99 each.  I guess that inflation has raised its ugly head… Note: I couldn’t find this platter on the company's website menu.

Famous Dave’s in Knoxville Tennessee is located at 208 Advantage Place.  Phone: 865-694-9990.  Website:

Just click on any of these photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, June 16, 2014

A Family Wedding Reception in Missouri!

In early April Laurie and I hit the road to St. Louis Missouri… Laurie’s niece had recently gotten married in the Caribbean on the island of St. Lucia.  A bit after their return, they scheduled a wedding reception…really a celebration of their marriage shared with family and friends…

We liked this photo of the newly married couple better than the one we took… Kevin acquired an instant family when he married Kasey.  Delaney and Avery already love Kevin!  They are about as cute as any two little girls could be… Don't they make a great looking family!?

Kids are always more fun to photograph than the adults.  Here we have Delaney and Avery with their cousins Keaton and Collin.

Villa Antonio is a family owned working winery and event site that is located in Sandy Valley south of St. Louis in Jefferson County Missouri.  The winery specializes in wines made from French-American hybrid grapes that are grown on the property.  The winery is named after its winemaker and founder, Antonio Polesel.  He learned the art of winemaking from his father while growing up in the Veneto region of Northern Italy. 

This is the reception pavilion at Villa Antonio.  This is where the food was served, toasts were made and the cake was cut.

Villa Antonio Winery produces and offers Dry Reds, Dry Whites and Sweet Wines… Bottles range in cost from $15.00 to $24.00.  Individual glasses of these wines cost between $5.00 and $8.00 each. 

In addition to lots of alcohol…food was served.  It included garlic cheese bread, toasted ravioli, salad and pizza…lots of pizza!  After living away from St. Louis for over 23 years, adjusting to pizza made with provolone cheese vs. mozzarella, (provolone being the St. Louis variation), did take me a couple of slices…

Villa Antonio also has a lunch menu.  In addition to the items shown above, other offerings include Mini Italian Sandwiches, Italian Salciccia, a Cheese and Salamini Plate and Chicken Strips.

Avery was ‘into’ the dancing going on in the wedding or ‘music tent’, which was adjacent to the reception pavilion. Here she’s watching her mom and Kevin as they took their initial turn on the dance floor. 

Awwww…. Isn’t love grand!  Sweet!

Then it was time for Bill, the father of the bride to step out on the dance floor with his daughter.  Our photo of Bonnie, the mother of the bride (Laurie’s younger sister), just didn’t come out.  Sorry Bonnie!

The sun came out and we took this photo of Avery with her cousins Regan, Abby and Cate…who were all down running around by the little lake near the tent.  Regan, Abby and Cate are the Karole’s grandchildren…and Karole is another of Laurie’s sisters.  FYI…Avery has some snails in her hand!

This is Matt Weyand…”Variety to the Extreme”.  He provided the music for the reception as well as for those folks at the winery who were just out enjoying the day.  Matt is very good…with a huge variety of music genres at his fingertips.  His website is found at

This is Kasey’s brother Kyle and his oldest son Collin…

This is Melissa, Kyle’s wife, with a very tired Keaton…

Here is the view that we had from our table in the dance/entertainment tent… It was cloudy early on but the temperature was just fine and the sun came out just to brighten up the event!

In addition to Kasey and Kevin’s friends and relatives, there were a lot of people at the winery…relaxing, dancing, visiting and enjoying the wine.  This is a very popular spot indeed!

Kasey posed for this photo on the front porch of the 1880s cabin or home that serves as the tasting room and offices for the winery… This was a great place for a wedding reception!!

Villa Antonio Winery is located at 3660 Linhorst Road in Hillsboro Missouri.  Phone: 636-475-5008.  Website: The winery is open 7 days a week from 11 AM to 5 PM.  On weekends, February through November, there is live music from 1 PM to 4 PM. 

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by and sharing this family event with us!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave