Friday, January 27, 2017

Odds and Ends…

We’re not crazy about winter!  We spent 27 years in Chicago and another year in Massachusetts and that was enough for us.  Typically, we get about 6.5 inches of snow every winter.  This winter we’ve only had 2 inches so far and it’s been in the 50’s and 60’s for the past 2 and a half weeks.  But even down here in East Tennessee winter can be very dreary if not really cold or snowy.  Plus the days are too darn short!

J.D., our master who allows us to live here and attend to his needs, hates cold or even cool weather because that means he can’t laze around on the screened in porch.  He really wants his daily dose of sunshine and if he doesn’t get it, he’s restless and crabby.

His latest solution to his personal dilemma is to make himself at home on top of our computer printer directly under the 3-way light bulb at full brightness… I’m forced to use the copier when he’s out and about bothering Laurie or at night when he’s sleeping in his own room… In this photo he appears to have an eye on me, suspecting that I might disturb him if I print something from my computer file.

This is a view from my bonus room window.  We’d never noticed it before because we don’t get much snow…but if you look carefully, you can see a track or trail through the snow in the wooded area between our house and our neighbors.

A week or so after the snow melted, our deer trail theory was proven as a group of 5 deer (3 in the photo) moved on down the path looking for something to eat.  In this case, the group consisted of 2 does and 3 of their offspring.

This “Key Bottle” was one of Laurie’s birthday gifts.  She’d forgotten that she’d put it on her ‘Esty’ and ‘Pinterest’ wish lists some time ago.  Our son David II and his better half Amy didn’t forget though so this was a total surprise!  This key bottle was made in Australia by an artisan who must have formed it around a bottle, subsequently breaking out the core glass base… 

Laurie captured this very classy photo of the moon over nearby Tellico Lake.  The clouds, tree branches and the reflection off the lake provide sort of an other-worldly image…

As I mentioned in a previous blog, the woods around our house are slowly being devoured by ‘progress’ as new homes are built.  This house is only 2 lots down from our home and this builder told us that he will be building a house right next door to us starting in the next month or so… This is a bummer, especially for our deer and our huge local flock of turkey.

Ahhh… J.D. is finally unconscious!   I wish that I could zonk out and be as flexible as this old cat is… Note the fur missing on his legs.  Every fall, contrary to nature’s plans, he loses much of the hair on his legs and belly.  Then, when the weather warms up, the hair grows back.  Our veterinarian tells us that since he’s otherwise healthy, this weird condition must be genetic!

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

Wednesday, January 25, 2017


All birthdays are important and they should be special.  However, some birthdays are much more special than others!  This post to my blog is all about one very extraordinary birthday…

Just click on any of the photos if you'd like to enlarge them...

See the little girl in that truck with the milk cans in the back?  That was Laurie’s Aunt Lois ca. 1916.  She’s with her mother.  Her father and her sister Doris, (my wife Laurie’s mother), are sitting on the running board.  The family operated a butter making business in Stockton/Bancroft Wisconsin for many years. 

Jumping ahead a mere 25 years to January 1941, this is Lois and her husband John’s wedding photo.  As it happens, Lois and her sister Doris married brothers John and Robert.  The family is loaded with double cousins! I believe it’s three or four generations at least!

This is that little girl in the Ford truck just a “few” years later!  Note that she has only 3 candles on her birthday cake!  Time flies!  Aunt Lois has just celebrated her 103rd Birthday!

Aunt Lois has a lot of energy but even so, I’ll bet that she was glad that she didn’t have to blow out 103 candles! 

Laurie’s sisters all live in the St. Louis Missouri area not too far from where Aunt Lois has her apartment.  Unfortunately, we live over 8 hours away…so flowers and a phone call were in order.  The 4 nieces also chipped in to cover Aunt Lois’ beauty salon visits for the year.  However Laurie’s sisters, Bonnie, Glenda and Karole got together and helped celebrate the occasion. 

In addition to her loving nieces, her 3 sons, Alan, Jimmy and Johnny all stopped by to help with the celebration along with Johnny’s wife Rose, who has been a big help to Aunt Lois over the past few years.  A granddaughter and great granddaughter also stopped by for the occasion.

Did I mention that Aunt Lois is as sharp as a tack…and that she’s a Skip-Bo card shark!  She wins many more games than she loses… She also has a better memory than her nieces do!  Despite the many visitors that stopped by to wish her well, she remembered all of their names and always introduced everyone to her nieces…

Happy 103rd Birthday Aunt Lois!  You are an inspiration to all of us and a true gift to our family!

Love, Laurie and Big Daddy Dave

Monday, January 23, 2017

Great Thin Crust Pizza!

As I’ve documented many times on this site, our search for top notch pizza here in East Tennessee has been continuing for many years…

So it was quite a surprise when we discovered high quality thin crust pizza at a semi-fast "fast casual" food restaurant chain!

This is the new Pie five Pizza Co. restaurant in Knoxville. 

As per the company’s website, “Pie five Pizza is a trend-setting, fast-casual concept offering individual handcrafted pizzas with fresh ingredients made-to-order and prepared in less than five minutes.”  The first Pie five Pizza opened in Fort Worth Texas in 2011.  This franchised chain now has almost 100 locations in 24 states plus the District of Columbia.  Another 400 stores/restaurants are planned and under contract!

This is the menu board that customers see as they enter a Pie five Pizza location.  You can build the pie that you want, you can try one of their special pies, you can pick a combo and there are salads, bread stix and sweets too…

Much like Blaze Pizza, you can select the ingredients for your pizza and watch it being built.  All pizzas are personal 7 inch creations and in almost every instance, the cost per pizza pie is $7.49.

This is the back portion of the dining room.  It is a large fast casual restaurant, that’s for sure.  Almost all of these tables in the back dining area were marked 'reserved'.

Did I mention that the reason that Pie five Pizza has ‘five’ in its name.  Similar to Blaze Pizza, your pie is ready to eat 5 minutes after it goes into the pizza oven!  Now that is ‘fast’ casual…

I did make one little mistake when we ordered our meal.  The server behind the counter asked if we wanted any extras such as a salad or breadstix… I said, “What the heck!  We’ll have an order of cheesy breadstix.” ($4.99)

I didn’t expect this cheesy, buttery and decadent 6 or 7 inch creation.  Its bread in a pan smothered with cheese and butter…and extra butter was provided for ‘dipping’.  Yikes!  Both Laurie and I liked this creation but we agreed that it would have been a better side for a pair of dinner salads…

Laurie ordered a crispy artisan thin crust Margherita Pizza.  I watched the counter server work the dough and apply a roller to the crust to ensure it would be thin enough… Thin crust pizza is our favorite!  Then he added olive oil, Roma tomatoes, minced garlic and basil before popping it into the oven.

Laurie thought that this was the best thin crust pizza she’s had here in East Tennessee.  The crust was thin, firm and crisp.  You aren’t filling up on bread. (Unless you blindly order those darn breadstix too!)

She would have liked a little more garlic on her pie but when the server was making her pie, she was getting our drinks. 

I designed my own thin crust pizza.  I added extra garlic, Italian sausage, pepperoni and bacon to my creation.  It was very good indeed!  I haven’t had a better thin crust pizza in East Tennessee… We shall return that’s for sure.  We just wish that a Pie five Pizza outlet closer to our home!  This location is a good 40 minute drive for us.

Just to let you know, after those breadstix we both took home some leftover pizza!

FYI…Pie five Pizza has a frequent diner program where you get points for every pizza you order and those points earn you free pizza.  This Pie five Pizza outlet is located at 9316 Kingston Pike (US Hwy. 11) in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-394-9091.  Company Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what we’ve been up to!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, January 20, 2017

Fine Dining on Northshore Drive – Knoxville Tennessee

It’s a new year and it was time to revisit an upscale restaurant that we hadn’t been to in 3 or 4 years.  Cost is always a consideration but this venue is also a long drive from our home.

Our last visit to Northshore Brasserie was with our friends Lynn and George and they were our dining partners this time as well.  The restaurant is located in a strip shopping center along Northshore Drive in Knoxville.

This restaurant had been in business for more than 10 years.  It’s a family owned, full-service restaurant and bar serving homemade French Belgian cuisine in a relaxed atmosphere.  We were hopeful that it would be as good as we remembered but I had seen a couple of less than positive reviews lately…  

After an hour drive, we arrived for dinner at about 5:30 pm.  The dining area and the bar were fairly empty when we arrived but, as you can see, both areas were packed with patrons by the time we were finishing our entrees!

Our very attentive and efficient waiter brought us this little bag of warm crusty bread…and I was thinking, “Is that it?!”  No worries though, the nice crusty bread kept coming warm and fresh as long as we wanted more of it.

All of these condiments were served with of Lynn’s appetizer.  I saved the leftover horseradish for possible use with my entrée.

Our waiter did mention that there had been a recent chef change so the suspense was building as we ordered our meals…

Lynn loves oysters but she hesitated when she heard that they were from the Gulf of Mexico.  However she gave in and ordered this half dozen to start out her meal. (Market Price) She said that they were fine but not her favorite…

Laurie loves Escargot and she really liked this version that came sans the snail shells! ($12.00) These “Iron Skillet Escargots” were sautéed in white wine, garlic herb butter and parmesan.  I’m not an escargot fan but Laurie did let me ‘steal’ a bit of that cheese, wine and butter from the bottom of the pan… Yum!

For my appetizer/starter, I ordered a healthy salad… This is the Brasserie Salade. ($7.00) It included mixed baby greens, tomatoes, cucumber, egg and Danish bleu cheese.  It was a nice fresh salad…

Laurie surprised me when she ordered the Veal Ragu Pasta. ($24.00) She gave me a taste and I had to agree with her… This entree was very nice indeed!

I continued to try to eat a relatively healthy meal. (My pre-dinner drink, a Jack Daniel’s ‘neat’ was healthy wasn’t it?) For my entrée I ordered the Roasted Half Chicken. ($24.00) It came with pommes puree (whipped potatoes), Brussel sprouts and the chicken was topped with charred citrus…lemon.  It was a very nice meal and well-presented too.

I will admit that I was jealous when I saw George’s entrée!  He ordered the Lamb Shank. ($30.00) It came with sweet potatoes, mushrooms and parsley-mint gremolata.  He couldn’t finish it and he gave me a taste!  Excellent!

FYI… I had no idea what ‘gremolata’ was.  It is defined as a dressing or garnish made with chopped parsley, garlic, and grated lemon zest, served as an accompaniment to meat or fish.

Lynn is a carnivore, that’s for sure.  Again I was jealous!  She ordered the Butcher’s Steak with shallot bordelaise sauce and pomme frites/French fries. ($24.00) The steak was perfectly cooked and she happily cleaned her plate.

What the heck, other than the bread and butter, I’d been relatively healthy…until dessert that is!  Both couples ordered Profiteroles ($7.00) to share with their spouse.  This dessert consists of a pastry shell filled with vanilla ice cream, topped with a bit of fruit and smothered with warm luscious chocolate sauce.  Excellent!

In our opinion, the new chef is doing just fine.  Northshore Brasserie continues to rank near the top of the fine dining pantheon in the Knoxville metropolitan area.  It’s a great place to celebrate a special occasion.  Both the service and the food were far above the norm!

Northshore Brasserie is located at 9430 South Northshore Drive in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-539-5188.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave  

Wednesday, January 18, 2017

Another Quality Breakfast!

It wasn’t all that long ago that Laurie and I complained about a lack of restaurants here in East Tennessee that serve a good solid basic breakfast.  At least for now, that foodie issue has been resolved.  Between Mama’s  Grits/Classico Restaurant in Tellico Village (Loudon County), Sami’s in Knoxville and Fat Stacks in Madisonville (Monroe County),we now have plenty of choices…

So why not see if we could add one more breakfast option to our list of places to start our morning out?  Don Delfi’s Pancake House and Restaurant in Farragut Tennessee hasn’t been open very long.  But I’d seen a couple of positive comments about this establishment on Nextdoor…so we decided to check it out.    

Don Delfi’s Pancake House and Restaurant is in a building that was occupied for some time by a Mexican restaurant.  The inside is bright and airy and the dining area was clean.  

As it turns out, Don Delfi’s serves breakfast from open to close each day!  We love that because we love breakfast…

Laurie asked for her eggs over easy and her hash brown potatoes crispy. ($6.75) The cook in the kitchen got it just right!  This platter of food included 2 eggs (1 was a double yoke) a bit of cantaloupe, 3 slices of bacon and the hash- brown potatoes extra crispy.  It was accompanied by toast or a biscuit…Laurie chose sourdough toast.  She liked her breakfast and the fact that 3 slices of bacon came with it.  Her only negative was that she was sure that the bacon had been ‘pre-cooked’.

A piece of cantaloupe even came with this big half order of biscuit and sausage gravy that we shared. ($4.99) The biscuit was not only good but homemade and huge as well.  This sausage gravy was about as good as we’ve had recently!  Nothing went to waste…

Service at Don Delfi’s Pancake House and Restaurant was efficient and friendly.  The menu for breakfast and lunch is huge!   FYI…the restroom was well maintained. 

I ordered something that was a bit off the menu.  For my breakfast meat, I asked if they could substitute gyro meat for my usual sausage patties.  No problem, although the 4 strips of gyro meat drove the price for my breakfast cost up to $8.25 vs. $6.75 with the sausage.

The eggs were great as were the hash brown potatoes.  I was hopeful for the gyros but I should have known better.  I’ve never had quality gyro meat that wasn’t sliced right off a loaf on a roasting split…which I’ve been told aren’t legal around here. (?) The accompanying tzatziki sauce was OK but it lacked the garlic bite that one hopes for… (Toto, we’re not in Chicago anymore!)

I was concerned about the handmade sign on the front door that told customers that only breakfast and lunch were now being served during “Winter Hours”.  Don Delfi’s is located just off Kingston Pike (US Hwy. 11) on 120 West End Avenue in Farragut Tennessee.  Phone: 865-288-3696.  I wasn’t able to find a website for this restaurant.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, January 16, 2017

China Pearl Restaurant – Farragut Tennessee

This winter has been ‘tough’ so far here in east Tennessee.  We did have a couple of inches of snow that melted away 2 and a half days after it fell.  The cold temperatures have been replaced by temperatures in the 50s at night and 60s in the daytime.  We may even reach 70 degrees at some point!  It looks like we’re going to have at least 10 days like this… Winter here sure beats what we experienced for year after year living in Chicago!

Decent temperatures and no snow combine for great winter weather to go out and eat with friends…

Note: I failed to take an exterior photo of our dinner destination, China Pearl Restaurant in Farragut Tennessee.

This is Morrie and Jodie, our friends and neighbors who joined us for dinner.  Like us, when they retired, they ‘escaped’ from the north-country and fled to East Tennessee.  In their case they came from even further north…Minnesota with its brutal winter weather!  Note the smiles!

Morrie snapped this photo of Laurie and me… It took a couple of tries in order to catch me with a smile of sorts.  I’m just not good when it comes to posing for photos!

Laurie, Jodie and I all started out with a cup of China Pearl’s Hot and Sour Soup. ($1.95) (No photo) It is one of our favorite soups and we almost always order it with our meals…

For her dinner, Laurie ordered Chicken in Szechuan Sauce. ($10.50) The sliced chicken is sautéed with fresh garlic and wine with bamboo shoots, mushrooms and other vegetables in the spicy Szechuan sauce.  Laurie really enjoyed her meal!

It’s worth noting that China Pearl has been in operation in Farragut Tennessee for over 22 years now.  There has been a recent change in ownership but I think that both the depth of the menu and the quality of the food has improved.

Jodie chose the Kung Pao Chicken for her entrée. ($10.50) The marinated sliced chicken was sautéed with red peppers, vegetables and peanuts in a spicy Kung Pao sauce.  Jodie was very happy with her meal!

FYI, service was very efficient and friendly.  Our waitress kept our water glasses filled as well as our pots of hot tea.  She checked back regularly to ensure that our food was satisfactory and/or if we needed anything else.

That big bowl of brown rice accompanied our entrees.  Between Morrie and me we ensured that no rice remained when we were done!  Those wonton crisps are a bit addictive and I should just skip them but they’re served gratis as soon as you sit down at your table.

Morrie ordered the Sweet and Sour Chicken. ($10.25) Breaded chicken breast chunks are deep fried to a golden brown and served with vegetables and a sweet and sour sauce.  He really liked his entrée and he cleaned his plate!

I strayed from my usual entrée…the Chicken with Broccoli.  Instead I opted to try spicy Malaysian Curry with Beef. ($11.25) The beef is slow cooked for 4 hours and it’s seasoned with Malaysian curry powder and spices.  The good news for me was that the bell peppers, which I don’t like, must have added at the end before serving.  I didn’t detect the pepper’s flavor at all!  I really liked this curry dish.  That spicy sauce went well with brown rice too… I would order this meal again.

By most accounts, good Chinese food is almost as rare as hens teeth here in East Tennessee. (We don’t count P.F. Chang’s or Pei Wei Asian Diner as ‘real’ Chinese restaurants) So far, China Pearl is the best we’ve found but I do have 2 others on my ‘must try’ restaurant list…

China Pearl is in the Kroger Marketplace Shopping Center near Campbell Station Road.  The address is 115 Brookhaven Street.  Phone: 865-966-6936.  Website:

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by to see what we had for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, January 13, 2017

Food, Weather and Critters

Laurie and I are more like cave dwellers than we are explorers in winter weather.  We like to dine out with friends, go to the occasional movie, take short drives when it’s sunny, etc.

This winter season lifestyle dictates what blog materials I have to work with…hence all of my recent restaurant reviews.  Fortunately, family visits broke up the steady diet of food commentary to some degree in recent weeks.

Today’s posting is a bit about food, the weather in East Tennessee and some local critters that are part of our environment…

As I’ve mentioned previously, I almost never waste leftovers!  In this case, I had a couple of leftover grilled hot Italian sausages and a generous helping of Bob Evans regular style mashed potatoes.  Laurie made up a mixture of spiced up flour for me to coat my mashed potato patties, I added pepper, a bit of onion powder and garlic and then I fried them to a golden brown.  When they were almost ready, I heated up the sausages in the same frying pan.   It made for a very satisfying lunch!

In a previous blog posting, I talked about Dawn Marie coming up from Miami to visit us for Christmas.  Her flight home was late in the day so we decided to stop at Windy City Grill for our evening meal. 

Dawn Marie opted for Steak and Queso Wrap and added the Mac n’ Cheese rather than the standard French fries or homemade potato chips. ($12.50) As you can see the mac n’ cheese was nice and creamy and the steak was fairly close to rare…which is Dawn’s preference.

Laurie ordered a Grilled Cheese Sandwich with house made potato chips. ($6.00) This triple decker sandwich is stuffed with American, Mozzarella and Queso, grilled and then topped with a tomato.  Laurie really liked it and said that she’d order it again.

I’m stuck in a rut at the Windy City Grill.  Once again I ordered the Cajun Burger with curly fries. ($9.50) This 8 oz. burger is grilled with Cajun seasonings and then topped with fresh jalapeno slices and pepperjack cheese.  I will continue to order this burger at least every other visit to this restaurant!

Windy City Grill is located at 2641 US Hwy. 411 in Maryville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-724-2508.  Their website can be found at:

On the way home from errands the other day we came upon a huge flock of wild turkeys along the road in our neighborhood.  This is just a small portion of the flock that I estimate numbered 40 – 50 birds in total.  They certainly are big birds!

On the night of January 6th we had our first snowfall here in East Tennessee.  It amounted to about 2.5 inches in total…but it was very cold as well.  We got down to 6 degrees one night, the coldest it’s been in about 2 years…

This was the early morning après snowfall view looking down the street in front of the house.  It was pretty.  The street was cleared later in the day but we had no plans to leave the house…a major advantage of retirement.  The other good news is that snow doesn’t stay on the ground long in this part of the country…We will have been in the 60’s for 3 days by the time you read this post.

To end this post, I thought that a photo of our cat J.D. (Juris Doctorate) would be appropriate.  He loves the sun and when it’s cold and cloudy all too frequently, he really values any chance to sunbathe!  The hotter the sun is on him, the happier he is…

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