Wednesday, February 28, 2018

February 2018 – Miscellaneous

Every once in a while, I just put together a hodge-podge of items that individually don’t add up to an individual post, but which still were memorable for us…

Laurie took this photo of an almost full “super moon”.  If you enlarge the photo, you’ll be able to clearly see the contours of the mountains/ridges at the bottom of the moon…

Our local herd of deer have a trail through the common ground behind our back yard to a wooded area where they bed down.  The frequently stop by to lick our salt block.

They don’t always stay on the trail!   Alternatively, they wander down through one of the neighbor’s yards, nibbling whatever they can find as they go.  They don’t pay much attention to cars in the neighborhood unless folks stop to take a look…

Laurie captured this photo of a 6-point buck in the woods on the north side of our house… It’s amazing how well they blend in to their surroundings!  Enlarge the photo for a better look.

Time for a bit of food… Recently Laurie made some salmon croquets for dinner.  For a little something extra, she added some capers to the mix.  Laurie sided her croquets with a little spinach salad and some great aioli sauce. 

Of course, I just had to be different!  I put cheddar cheese on my croquets and on my salad and topped the croquets with a couple of over easy eggs.  The yoke and cheese blended perfectly with the salmon and the aioli sauce!  I’d put the aioli sauce on just about anything!  Yes…I did sprinkle Tabasco on top of the eggs after I took the photo.

The birds really spend a lot of time on our feeder this time of the year.  In this photo, Mr. Bluebird is patiently waiting his turn, ignoring the much larger Flicker who’s working over the suet block at the other end of the feeder…

Here is a better look at the Flicker.  They are such beautiful birds!  When they come to the feeder, they stay awhile, just relentlessly hacking away at the suet cakes.

…just one more view of the Flicker.  He’s trying to decide when to fly over to the feeder for his next snack.

Isn’t this a pretty little squirrel?  He or she is also our nemesis!  He and his neighboring relatives (aka. ‘tree rats’) regularly raid or attempt to raid our feeder.  We’re sure that they set up surveillance on the house.  If we leave to go somewhere they ring the dinner bell and when we get home, there is always a big “V” in the feed in the center of the feeder!

OK…back to dining at home.  This time of the year it’s all about comfort food!  This was a pot roast that we recently slow cooked… In this photo, I’d already braised the outside of the roast on both sides and the ends as well.  Laurie added mixed fingerling potatoes and carrots and she seasoned the roast.

This was the finished product!  We love roasted potatoes and I particularly love carrots slow cooked like this.  After breaking up the potatoes on our plates we added butter and gravy…yum!  The roast was excellent.  While we ate a lot of the meat, ‘unfortunately’ I was ‘forced’ to have leftovers on a couple of subsequent occasions.   

This photo shows the results of a recent visit to Bill’s Courtyard Deli, a relatively new food source in Loudon Tennessee.  My sandwich on the left of the plate is Bill’s Favorite Brisket Sandwich with provolone cheese. ($6.99) Laurie's sandwich on the right was the Beef Pastrami Rachael. ($6.99) The sandwiches came with pickles and chips plus we tried their baked beans and greens for free, seeing as this was our first time ordering a sandwich!  Laurie really liked her sandwich but I thought that mine was just OK. Laurie liked their sides too.

We also picked up a loaf of Honey White Bread from the Old Mill Bread Company and a big jar of Boar’s Head Kosher Dill Pickle Spears.  Bill’s Courtyard Deli smokes their own ribs, pulled pork and brisket.  They carry Boar’s Head meats for the deli counter.   We do plan to stop by soon to try the ribs!  There are indoor and outdoor dining areas at Bill’s Courtyard.

Bill’s Courtyard Deli is located at 700 Grove Street in Loudon Tennessee.  Phone: 865-657-6164.  They are on Facebook at:

For our final photo of the day… This is the old water tower in Loudon.  It’s the first thing that drivers see as they drive south across the bridge over the Tennessee River.  It sat ugly and unpainted for many years and we always thought that an attractive coat of paint would be a welcome beacon as folks entered the downtown area…and it certainly is! (Note the date that Loudon was founded)

Painting the water tower had been discussed for years but it was on private property…part of a deserted factory complex.  However the property was recently acquired by the Loudon Utilities Board in a $1,000,000 sale after negotiating a lower price to allow for the remediation of asbestos and underground tanks. 

Hutch Manufacturing, which made fireplace related products and other items, had operated on the property from 1978 until 2012…although only a handful of people worked here in the end.  Previously, the Bacon Creamery had operated in one building from 1948 and the other 2 buildings from the 1920s had been home to the Bacon Hosiery Mill.

Now the city of Loudon has to come up with a plan for the development of this property and for its expansive frontage right on the Tennessee River!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Monday, February 26, 2018

Walnut Kitchen – Maryville Tennessee

Recently our friends Lynn and George suggested that we get together and go out to try a new restaurant in Maryville Tennessee.  Since we’re always up for a new dining experience, we readily acquiesced!

The Walnut Kitchen occupies the space formerly utilized by The Market, a specialty grocery store that focused on quality meats and a wide variety of other food items plus they had a lunch menu.  I once arrived at the Market for lunch and discovered that it was an ‘all you can eat steak day!”  I probably ate 30 oz. of beef that day!  We were sorry that the Market closed but the food business is very challenging over the long haul…

In any case, chef/owner David Rule opened Walnut Kitchen in August of 2017.  Rule started in the food business at the age of 15 in his family’s small restaurant.  After 18 years in the business, with time spent at the Aubrey’s Restaurant Group, Dancing Bear Lodge and world renowned Blackberry Farm, he decided to open his own restaurant.   

This is a view of the bar area at Walnut Kitchen.  Note the significant presence of dark wood and exposed brick.  The building has been significantly modified to fit a mood befitting a steak house.  This restaurant is all or mostly about beef!  They even built a big room for their butchering operation.  They cut up the beef and dry age it on site…

This is a view of one of the 3 or 4 dining spaces at the Walnut Kitchen.  Note the ‘log’ wall at the right. 

All of the beef at Walnut Kitchen is from Southern Natural Farms, which acquires 100% hormone and antibiotic free, grass fed Charolais cattle as well as grain finished Angus cattle.  Wherever possible, sourcing for meat and other products is local…

This is a peek at the grill area with the chef/cooks at work.  Note the seating at the counter if you want to watch them grilling and prepping meals while you eat.  This is one of the 3 dining areas at Walnut Kitchen.  

Our waitress took this photo of our little group…in yet another dining space.  From the left, George, Lynn, Laurie and yours truly.  We started out with some adult beverages, with Laurie opting for a couple of Top Shelf Martini’s. ($12.00) She thought that they were great!

Laurie and I stayed away from the appetizers on this occasion as we were both ordering large steaks for our entrees.  However, George and Lynn shared the WK Potato Chips with Benton’s Ranch Dressing, Smoked Trout Roe and Chives. ($14.00) They liked this pre-meal starter!

A couple of other appetizer opportunities did tempt me.  One item was the Short Rib Chili ($7.00) and the other was the Fried Chicken Lollipops with local honey, chilies and thyme. ($10.00) They also offer a charcuterie board, aka The Butcher Board with house cured meats, pickles, pimento cheese and grit chips. ($16.00) I would have gone for this one…if it had some other cheese on it other than pimento.  I’m just not into that southern ‘specialty’.

A couple of salads graced our table.  This was the Shaved Turnip and Apple Salad with kale, black walnuts and cranberry vinaigrette dressing. ($9.00)

The other salad enjoyed by our group was the WK House Salad. ($7.00) It had mixed greens, radish, house bacon, cheddar cheese and cornbread croutons.  It was a very nice salad…

This was the 8 oz. Sirloin Steak with French Fries. ($18.00) The fries were better than average and the steak was very nice.  FYI…we all ordered medium rare steaks and when they were brought to the table, they were all on the rare side of the spectrum.  Of course that’s preferable to being over cooked!  Our waitress took them back to the grill and went they were returned they were cooked just right.

One key member of the group operating Walnut Kitchen is Tommy Cooper.  He’d spent the last 15 years of his career working in various roles at Blackberry Farm in Walland Tennessee.  Ultimately, he was the manager of the well-regarded Barn at Blackberry Farm.  It was in that role that he and his team received the 2014 James Beard Award for Outstanding Service. 

Laurie went for her favorite cut of beef…a 14 oz. Ribeye Steak! ($30.00) She was very happy with her choice!  In addition to the French fries, a side of gravy is included (for poutine lovers?) and the steaks are sprinkled with West Virginia Sea Salt…

Other steak offerings on the menu include an 8 oz. Filet Mignon ($32.00) and a 30 oz. Porterhouse. ($52.00) If you prefer pork you can order a 12 oz. Bone-In Chop ($20.00) or a 14 oz. Pork Porterhouse. ($22.00) Another alternative is a Virginia Rack of Lamb. ($40.00)

Since Laurie ordered the ribeye steak, I decided to go for the 14 oz. Strip Steak. ($26.00) It was very good…not the best steak ever…but way ahead of most offered in steak houses.

When someone orders a ribeye steak for example, it has been dry aged for 14 to 21 days.  Walnut Kitchen also has Black Label Beef.  That beef has been aged for between 48 days and 89 days…with corresponding prices as well.  This special aged product is not on the regular menu but it is offered as a special on the weekends.  All beef is aged in a temperature and humidity controlled cooler that is lined with Himalayan pink salt. 

We skipped dessert, mostly because we already had some at home to finish off our evening with Lynn and George.  There were 4 desserts on the menu.  I would have been very tempted to go for the Benton’s Cinnamon Roll. ($7.00) This is a Tellico Grains bakery cinnamon roll topped with Benton’s Bacon glaze and walnuts.  Since we love both Tellico Grains Bakery and Benton’s products…both local operations…this one was hard to walk away from!   

As we prepared to leave Walnut Kitchen, we stopped by their 6 foot meat case.  They sell meat from the case to the discriminating consumer.  I say discriminating because it is a bit pricy… As the saying goes, “you get what you pay for”!  In addition to the steaks, customers can buy Springer Mountain and Ashley Farms chicken, Scudder Farms pork loin and Border Springs Lamb.   That Virginia lamb may also be available as are both Andouille and Beef Summer Sausage. (All selections are seasonal)

The 3rd key member of the staff at Walnut Kitchen is Ashley Gaylor, a very experienced and well-regarded local butcher.  He butchers the carcasses and oversees the dry aging process.  The meats offered at this restaurant are about as close to being “farm to fork” as possible.
OK…in summary service was better than average for a high end restaurant and the steaks were very good.  The prices are a bit high for day-to-day dining but Walnut Kitchen is a great choice for that special occasion or just a budgetary ‘splurge’ from time to time. 

Walnut Kitchen is located at 606 High Street in Maryville Tennessee…a gateway to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  This restaurant is closed on Sunday and Monday.  From Tuesday through Saturday, the bar opens at 4 PM and the dining room begins serving at 5 PM.  Phone: 865-980-8228.  Website…with lots of photos…can be found at

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for dinner!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, February 23, 2018

The Road to Killarney plus Our Bed and Breakfast

Following our short visit and lunch break in Kenmare in County Kerry, we headed north along N71 toward Killarney and our bed and breakfast for the night…

The scenery along the way wasn’t too tough on the eyes!  N71 passes through Killarney National Park with its spectacular lakes and surrounding mountains.
Killarney National Park, (Irish Gaelic: Pairc Naisiunta Chill Airne), was the first national park in Ireland.  It was created when the Muckross Estate was donated to the Irish Free State in 1932.  Since then the park has been expanded and it now includes 25,425 acres that encompass the Lakes of Killarney, oak and yew woodlands of international importance, and the mountain peaks…

This park is slightly larger than Isle Royale National Park and just a bit smaller than the North Cascades National Park in the USA.  Ireland itself is slightly larger than the state of West Virginia.  There are 6 National Parks in Ireland protecting about 160,000 acres.

Spectacular!  FYI...Killarney National Park has the only red deer herd on mainland Ireland as well as the most extensive covering of native forest remaining in Ireland.  The park is a designated UNESCO Biosphere Reserve.

Can you imagine owning this land?!  The Muckross Estate got the ball rolling when the owner, a California mining magnate, donated it and its 11,000 acres. (It had been previously owned by Arthur Guinness who had purchased it to preserve the land) 

However, imagine this… The Earl of Kenmare’s estate, which made up the balance of the park’s acreage, once owned 91,000 acres in County Kerry, 22,000 acres in County Cork and 4,000 acres in County Limerick!  In total, that’s more than 4 times the acreage of Killarney National Park… It must have been nice to be the Earl!

Learn more about Killarney National Park by visiting their website at

…just ‘another castle ruin’ along N71, the road to Killarney!   The site was posted “Private Property – No Trespassing”.  While I found other photos of these ruins on line, I couldn’t identify the castle.  I did discover that there are 25 castles and ruin sites just in County Kerry!

At one point along N71 before we reached Killarney, we passed through a short tunnel hewn out of the rock with no visible enhancements for safety’s sake.  The tunnel is located at a pass called Moll’s Gap.  It got its name from Moll Kissane, a woman who ran a ‘sibin’ in the area, (unlicensed public house), during the time the road was being built in the 1820s…

…and then we were on the outskirts of Killarney.  Laurie was elated to be greeted by the sight of horse drawn carts as we pulled into town. (Although she does worry about the quality of care given to horses serving in a capacity like this)  

This was our overnight destination in Killarney.  The Killarney Lodge Guesthouse has the major advantage of being just a short walk from the center of town.  As you can see, it is a handsome and well maintained property. 

Killarney Lodge was built in 1996.  It’s open from March to October and it’s quite large, with 16 guest rooms with ensuite bathrooms.  Other than our departure hotels in Edinburgh Scotland and our arrival and departure hotels in Ireland, this was the largest facility that we stayed at…   

The rooms at Killarney Lodge Guesthouse are indeed quite spacious.  That is one advantage that a relatively new structure offers.  This bed and breakfast is surrounded by expansive and attractive gardens and they provide ample parking for guests.  

This was our bathroom at Killarney Lodge.  It was spotless as was the entire bed and breakfast.  I was once again challenged by the height of the bathtub when entering and exiting for my shower… It was an inconvenience requiring extra care at many of our bed and breakfast stays in both Scotland and Ireland.

This is one of the sitting rooms/public areas at Killarney Lodge.
In addition to easy access to Killarney town center, the Lodge is located just a short stroll from Knockreen Park…which is apparently a section of the Killarney National Park.  In addition, should one have the urge, guests have access to the leisure facilities at the Killarney Park Hotel which is just a 3 minute walk from the Lodge.

This is the breakfast room at Killarney Lodge Guesthouse.  Our table was by the window at the right… As you can see, the room was bright and airy.  I’m not sure that the gentleman at the left wanted his photo taken… The group was on a golf outing.  The buffet to the left included a breakfast essential for me…a bottle of Tabasco!

I didn’t take photos of everyone’s breakfast as I’ve published so many of the same offerings in previous posts.  This was my breakfast of poached eggs on toast accompanied by Irish bacon.  I added Tabasco as usual…

Killarney Lodge is a professional operation…very nicely done.  We enjoyed our stay as short as it was.  At 140E/$168.00 per night it was pricy in comparison to most of our other stays in Ireland.  However, given its central location in Killarney and the fact that this is a tourist town, the price is reasonable.  To learn more and to view some quality photos of this bed and breakfast, just go to

My next post from Ireland will feature a castle and a candy store! 

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave 

Wednesday, February 21, 2018

Kenmare in County Kerry and Lunch

Shortly after our adventurous trek over the mountains past Priest’s Leap, we found ourselves in the town of Kenmare.  It was time for lunch before we moved on to our final destination for the day…

Kenmare’s town center was a busy place with lots of shops and restaurants.  Kenmare (Irish Gaelic: An Neidin, meaning “the little nest”) has a population of around 2,300. 

Kenmare and the surrounding area was granted to English scientist Sir William Petty by Oliver Cromwell as a partial payment for Petty’s completion of the mapping of Ireland in 1656.  Petty laid out the modern town ca. 1670.  To learn more about the very accomplished and politically nimble Sir William, go to

So, where to have lunch?  There was a plethora of choices… O’Murchu’s Pub was one possibility.  Despite its colorful and promising exterior, I was deterred by the sign announcing that the business was for sale.  We were in Kenmare in late September and I’ve noted that the business is still on the market.  You can own a pub, restaurant and small hotel in Kenmare for only 375,000E/$450,000 US!  The listing for this business is found at

Another option was Eamon’s, with The Roughty Bar plus a Bed and Breakfast operation…  This is more of a sports bar than a restaurant and according to what I’ve read, it’s very popular with the locals…with a lot of them speaking Gaelic too!  


·         In the USA, most of us from earlier generations have heard about Carnegie Libraries.  The Carnegie Library in Kenmare was the first one that I’d run across on our vacation.  Kenmare’s library is now home to the area’s Carnegie Arts Centre and Theatre.  While 1,689 Carnegie Libraries were built by Andrew Carnegie and his foundation in the USA, another 660 were built in the United Kingdom and Ireland.

Then we came to P.F. McCarthy’s Pub and Restaurant on Main Street… We checked out the posted menu and stopped in for lunch. 

One of the reasons that Kenmare has so many shops, bars/pubs and restaurants is that the town lies on 2 major tourist sightseeing routes.  One is the Ring of Beara and the other is the more well-known Ring of Kerry.  Indeed, we would have liked to drive either one of these coastal drives around these scenic peninsulas…but our time was much too limited.

To learn about the Ring of Beara and to see some of the attractions and views along that route, go to

Also, to learn about the Ring of Kerry, its attractions and scenery, just go to

This was the surprisingly small bar in P.F. McCarthy’s.  FYI, before this was P.F. McCarthy’s, it was known as The Failte Bar.  Locals would gather on Thursday nights to sing songs and enjoy a music session.  That tradition still lives today with many of the area’s best-known musicians and singers gathering to perform. 


·         Are you a Harry Potter fan?  For those who orbit in that universe, Kenmare is home to the fictional Kenmare Kestrels, one of only thirteen Quidditch teams that play in the Quidditch League of Britain and Ireland.  If you recall, the Kestrels wore emerald-green robes emblazoned with 2 yellow K’s across the chest. 

The dining areas in the restaurant was a bit broken up but in total it had quite a bit of seating.  I thought that what it did lack was more of that cozy Irish pub/restaurant atmosphere.

When I researched P.F. McCarthy’s for this posting, I was happy to learn that our ‘food’ instincts are intact.  As per TripAdvisor, with over 400 reviews, this restaurant has earned 91% Excellent/Very Good scores vs. only 2% poor or terrible!  That is an excellent ratio of good vs. ‘evil’!

Our small pub style table was in a front window.  It looks like Bonnie and Laurie were raptly focused on Bill’s cell phone…


·         Maybe you’re a “Trekie”? Kenmare was also referenced in the Star Trek: Enterprise episode entitled “Breaking the Ice”.  In that story the crew of the Enterprise answers questions from school children who are said to be from Kenmare.   

Blackboards in use… McCarthy’s had a decent selection of brews for us to choose from!  Each of us enjoyed a craft beer, but as usual, as I was driving, I could only order a half pint!

The daily specials were listed on another blackboard… I was tempted to order either the Stuffed Pork Loin or the Kerry Beef and Guinness Hot Pot.  But I kept myself in check a little given the fact that we’d eating dinner in Killarney in the evening.

Two of us ordered “Beef Burgers”. (12.00E/$14.40 US) These cheesy but tasty ‘messes’ came with French fries and a small side salad.  Despite the fact that the burgers were cooked more than we prefer, the meat was still flavorful and juicy.

This is photo is off a ‘closed’ Lyonnaise Parker Steak Sandwich on crusty bread. (14.00E/$16.80 US) The crusty bread was a winner!

This is one of the steak sandwiches displayed ‘open’ to reveal the thin sliced steak.  Again, we were pleased with this tasty but straight-forward basic lunch fare.

Service was decent and the restaurant was orderly and clean.  We did think that the price of lunch was a tad high, but then again, this is a mainline tourist town and prices tend to be a little higher than in places off the beaten path.  

P.F. McCarthy’s is located at 14 Main Street in Kenmare County Cork.  Phone: 353 (0)64 6641515.  This restaurant’s Website is at:

In my next post from our Irish adventure it will be on to Killarney!  Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave