Tuesday, March 29, 2022

Revisiting a Local Golf Course Clubhouse Grill…and More!

Another day and another restaurant… It was time for an early dinner and we didn’t feel like driving too far from home.  So we were off to a local golf course and it’s clubhouse restaurant.

This is a view of the recently renovated and enlarged Toqua Clubhouse with its golf store and the Toqua Sports Bar and Grill.  The Toqua Golf Course is one of 3 such courses to be found within Tellico Village, an ungated, open to the public retirement community, which is located in Loudon and Monroe Counties in Eastern Tennessee. 

Tellico Village was a Cooper Development that now stands on its own.  Of note is the fact that there is no minimum age restriction for anyone to live in the Village.  The Village, with a population of over 9,000 residents sits along several miles of shoreline on Tellico Lake, a Tennessee Valley Authority reservoir.  To learn more about Tellico Village, go to https://tellicovillage.org/. 

The Toqua Sports Bar and Grill has been greatly expanded in the last year.  The rebuilt restaurant is very spacious, with a nice fully equipped bar and plenty of seating.   Both this restaurant and the golf course are open to the public.   While the bar it’s self is well equipped with TVs for sports events, the dining area only has TVs along the walls so the impact isn’t too overwhelming for those who aren’t watching…just chatting with each other.  By 5:30 PM the Grill was hopping!

The Grill also has some pleasant views of the gold course itself…actually the driving range and practice greens.  In addition, there is a patio dining option for those who prefer fresh air and sunshine.

One recent addition to the staff of the Toqua Sports Bar and Grill was the owner/chef from Z’s Fish House in Loudon Tennessee.  Sadly, despite being featured on “Restaurant Impossible”, the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic and increased costs caused him to close his restaurant.  His addition to the staff at this restaurant should be a big plus.

With those facts in mind, Laurie ordered the Salmon Cake Salad for her entrée. ($15.00) That salmon cake was quite large and I had a couple of bites of it myself.  It was very flavorful and Laurie really loved it paired with this nice salad.

For my dinner, I decided on these Pastrami Sliders with a side of coleslaw. ($13.00) I liked them a lot!  Very satisfying indeed… While not New York Deli quality pastrami, the meat was better than I’d had anywhere here in East Tennessee in quite a while.  The meal’s presentation would have been better if the slaw had been served in a ceramic or glass bowl.

Our server Kelsey was very efficient and friendly.  Given the quality of the food, we will return to try other items in the near future.  We hadn’t eaten here in over a year but it has greatly improved.

Toqua Sports Bar and Grill is located at 200 Toqua Club Way in Tellico Village (Loudon Tennessee).  Phone: 865-458-1330.  This restaurant is on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/ToquaSportsBar.

While we are eating out again more often than over the past 2 “Covid-19” years, we still look for simple items that we can prepare easily at home.  So, the other day while shopping at Costco, we came across a big package of chimichurri marinated skirt steak.  We decided that we’d have it for dinner that same night so I fired up the grill.  I used an iron skillet for part of the process and I put the meat directly on the grill to finish it. 

We both thought that it was very nice…lots of flavor and fairly tender too.  Love that chimichurri!  That marinade worked well as we dredged it up from the platter and poured in on our rice/vegetable mix as well as on the steak itself.  Best of all, I now have plenty of leftover skirt steak for breakfast or sandwiches!

That’s all 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, March 25, 2022

A “New” Mexican Restaurant…and More!

We hadn’t had Mexican food from a restaurant in over a year.  Our last experience with this cuisine was via take-out during the worst of the Covid-19 pandemic.  We’d ordered dinner from our favorite local Mexican restaurant…and it just wasn’t as good as we remembered.  We were so disappointed that we haven’t been back.  Perhaps it was a bad day or possibly Mexican food doesn’t lend itself well for take-out. 

In any case, we finally yielded to our desire to once again experience Mexican cuisine.  El Jimador Mexican Grill had been open for some time, but it was ‘new’ for us.  This location in Madisonville Tennessee had been occupied by a ‘not so great’ Mexican restaurant.  Having driven by this new dining iteration a few times and noted just how busy they were, it felt ‘right’ and so we recently stopped by for an early dinner.

We both loved the creativity and craftsmanship shown with the creation and placement of these 4 mariachi band members near the front entrance of El Jimador.

The name El Jimador translates as “The farmer”, that is a farmer who raises and harvests agave plants.  These plants are used primarily for the production of alcoholic beverages such as mescal, stool and tequila.

The interior of El Jimador is very colorful.  It starts with the mural behind the host station and continues throughout.  The attractive bar is located toward the back of the restaurant and it certainly gets your attention.  Although it’s really loaded with color, the interior of the restaurant seems to work well.  Perhaps the number of windows keeps the color palate from overwhelming the area. 

So what about the food?  Laurie ordered the Camarones al Ajillo. ($13.99) Shrimp are marinated in a special house recipe sauce and then they are grilled and served with rice, lemon and garlic butter.  Laurie let me have one of her shrimp… We both really thought that the shrimp were cooked perfectly and that the marinade and garlic butter combined for a truly tasty entrée.

For my meal, I decided to order one of my favorites, the Chili Colorado. ($11.99) This spicy offering features pieces of beef cooked with red chili pepper sauce.  As you can see, it came with Mexican rice, refried beans and warm flour tortillas.  I was a very happy customer!

Service was attentive and very pleasant.  We will return in the not too distant future…

As it turns out, I discovered that there are 2 El Jimador locations.  The first location is in Maryville Tennessee and this one in Madisonville was the second.  The Madisonville El Jimador can be found at 4621 Highway 411 South.  Phone: 423-545-9990.  To check out the company’s website with their menu, go El Jimador | Mexican Restaurant in Maryville and Madisonville Tennessee (eljimadortn.com).

Now for a little home cooking…

With the price of steak these days, we’d taken a chance and purchased a couple of thin cut ‘chuck t-bone’ steaks.  The marbling was good and so was the price.  Laurie noted a recipe for creamy peppercorn sauce on-line and she decided to make up a batch for our ‘inexpensive’ steaks.  I grilled them on the stove with seasonings and butter…and then Laurie scraped up the remaining ‘goodies’ and added the peppercorn mixture.  At the table, we simply poured the sauce over the steaks.  The combination turned out to be a hit!

How to deal with a leftover store bought rolled chicken breast that was lightly breaded and stuffed with cheese and spicy sausage?  I decided to make a breakfast entrée for myself!  I reheated the stuffed breast meat, placed it on 2 small slices of buttered toast and topped it with a shredded cheddar cheese mixture.  I zapped it in the microwave for 20 seconds to melt that cheese and then of course, I had to top it with an easy-over fried egg.  While it wasn’t my favorite breakfast…it was pretty good and certainly carried me over until dinner.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, March 22, 2022

An Early Dinner in Townsend Tennessee

We had seen some advertising about the new restaurant over in Townsend Tennessee…a little less than an hour from our house.  Townsend is located in the Tuckaleechee Cove (valley) on the other side of Bates Mountain away from the crowded tourist meccas of Gatlinburg and Pigeon Forge. 

The city was founded in 1921 by those who were involved in the Little River Railroad and Lumber Company.  Townsend, with a population of about 500 residents, is one of 3 ‘gateways’ to the Great Smoky Mountains National Park.  The entrance to the ever popular Cades Cove is located nearby and the very nicely curated Great Smoky Mountains Heritage Center is actually in Townsend.

Seeing as Townsend bills itself as “The Peaceful Side of the Smokies”, it does seem appropriate that this new dinning spot in town is called the “Peaceful Side Social Brewery and Craft Kitchen”. 

Located at one end of 2 adjacent small strip shopping centers, Peaceful Side Social is quite appealing with its combination stone and industrial metal front façade.  It also has a shaded outdoor dining patio that is dog-friendly complete with leash hooks, treats and water bowls.  We rarely eat outdoors as we don’t like bugs, heat or wind.  We made an exception in this case as the bugs weren’t active this early in the season, it was cool out and there wasn’t any significant wind to deal with.  In addition, with my bald head, shade from the sun is always welcome.

Following the trend that seems to be sweeping across the USA, the ‘décor’ has that industrial feel…with metal and minimal decorations.  The other popular trend apparently has become semi-self-serve…where customers order at the counter and then either you pick up your food when its ready… or someone brings it to your table.  At Peaceful Side Social, a server does bring the food to the table.

As this is both a brewery operation as well as a restaurant, we both decided to order a beer.  Laurie is more adventurous and she likes ‘hoppy’ beer so she went for the Mountain Laurel Lager IPL. ($6.00) Being the beer ‘sissy’ that I am, for my 3rd beer of 2022, I ordered the Music City Light. ($4.00) We both enjoyed our beers.  I'll bet that you can tell which beer was mine...

The ‘chef-driven’ menu includes ‘shareables’, salads, sandwiches, 12 inch ‘round breads’ and 3 ‘mains’.  I ordered the Half Chicken with Potatoes, herb roasted and served with white BBQ sauce on the side. ($15.00) It was a very nice meal…quite satisfying.  The white BBQ sauce really worked well with the chicken and even the potatoes.  Quiet Side Social also had Tabasco on the table…a win for me!

Laurie decided to order one of the ‘round breads’, in effect a 12 inch pizza with a sourdough crust, pepperoni, fresh mozzarella and basil with San Marzano Tomato Sauce. ($12.00) She really enjoyed her meal!

FYI, the ‘shareables’ include such items as truffle fries, goat cheese fritters, smoked trout dip and an Appalachian Trail Board…a charcuterie board with local meat and cheese items.  One interesting ‘round bread’ pizza featured figs and pears with arugula lettuce and ricotta cheese.

I just had to include a photo of the restroom signs at Peaceful Side Social.  Talk about inclusive bathrooms!  These signs certainly make it clear that anybody or anything can use these facilities.

We will return!  Our dining experience was very pleasurable indeed...  Peaceful Side Social Brewery and Craft Kitchen is located at 7967 East Lamar Alexander Parkway in Townsend Tennessee.  Phone: 865-519-6300.  Website: https://peacefulsidesocial.com/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, March 18, 2022

Breakfast, Dinner and a Sign…

Out and about one recent morning, we decided to stop for breakfast.  We do love breakfast out. (That is, breakfast prepared for someone other than ourselves)

Our choice this time was a restaurant in Madisonville Tennessee, the county seat for Monroe County Tennessee.  Lamp Post Restaurant has been a local favorite for many years.  When the original owner decided to retire, it was rescued by local residents and it was reopened after a short closing.  This restaurant always seems to be busy and it was no exception on this occasion.

For the most part Laurie has been eating lightly in the last few months and her breakfast for this particular morning was no exception.  She went for 2 easy over eggs, bacon and a biscuit.  It was a basic breakfast but she was very content.  She especially liked that biscuit.

As for myself, I ordered 2 eggs over easy, a sausage patty and one of Lamp Post’s biscuits smothered in sausage gravy.  I kicked it up a notch with the bottle of Tabasco that Laurie carried in her purse.  My problem was that the sausage gravy lacked much sausage and it was fairly flavorless.  Breakfast was just OK for me.

I suspected that those sausage and spice might pop up when I ordered my meal but I had to give it a try.  For the best sausage and gravy in the area, it can be found at Mama’s Grits for breakfast, which operates as part of “Little Italy” in Loudon Tennessee!

So…how about breakfast at home!?  We had recently enjoyed a rolled pork roast and I had leftover roasted red potatoes and several slices of the roast itself.  I cut the pork into small pieces and sliced up the potatoes.  Then I fried both in lots of butter with added pepper and garlic powder.  After I had a nice crust on the bits of pork and the potatoes, I finished it all off with a couple of easy over eggs and a slice of toasted buttered rye bread.  

While I like having breakfast out, it’s hard to beat breakfast cooked to our tastes.  I really enjoyed this feast…but if I remember correctly, this particular morning Laurie went for yogurt mixed with granola. 

One night this past week, Laurie decided to make one of my…and her…favorite meals, meatloaf!  Her meatloaf consists of 1.5 lbs. of ground beef and 1 lb. of spicy pork sausage with a mix of spices and either Italian breadcrumbs or panko.  No vegetables allowed!  She tops the whole loaf pan of protein off with about an inch of parmesan cheese.  It browns up and adds even more ‘punch’ to the meatloaf. 

This was my dinner…a slab of meatloaf, mashed potatoes with gravy and a split slice of warmed and buttered focaccia bread.  Excellent!  Even better is the fact that 2/3 of the meatloaf was leftover and we both love leftover meatloaf.  It makes for great sandwiches…

Remember my last post to the blogsite?  It showed a survey crew doing what they do…but right across the street from our house.  We knew that the lot had been sold, but this sign put the nail in the coffin!  The Architectural Control Committee hearing took place on St. Patrick’s Day but we’re sure that the plans will be approved.  We did stop by our Property Owners Association office to view the placement of the new home and its exterior structure.  The razing of the woods could happen at any time now and it appears that an adjacent lot is also about to be cleared for yet another home.  Such is life!

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave   

Tuesday, March 15, 2022

Perhaps Spring…Estate Sales...and Then!

We both love spring and the annual ‘rebirth’ of the trees and flowers.  Also, since we lived in the St. Louis Missouri area and in Northern Illinois, Greater Chicagoland, most of our lives, we really don’t like winter with its cold temperatures, snow and ice.  So every year we look for an end to the short and generally mild winters that we experience here in East Tennessee.

The first rays of hope for warmer weather were observed in little plants…mosses and other related tiny plants that I noted in Laurie’s herb planters on the deck as well as the blooming little bunches of moss in our yard.  They are like a mini-eco system!  I didn't know that some mosses actually have blooms...

Promising warmer weather really got the annual estate sale business cranked up as well.  Although we live in an open community…no gates, no age restrictions…most residents are retirees.  Consequently, there is a steady turnover of homes and downsizing as folks move to smaller quarters, assisted living or they pass on… Lots of traffic and a few parking challenges for sure!

A couple of weeks ago, Laurie and I went to two estate sales on the same day.  One was just a bunch of stuff and the other was pretty decent…but we didn’t see anything that we ‘needed’.  The weather was beautiful so it was a good time to be out and about.

In our yard, flowers were beginning to pop!  In addition to the grape hyacinths, quince and forsythia, our daffodils, jonquils, and Lenten roses were all blooming.  Even our redbud trees were beginning to flower!  Hooray!  The temperature hit 67 F on Friday…


Canada sent some really cold weather south and on Saturday morning we woke up to a temperature of 27 F…and, at least for East Tennessee, a lot of snow!  We had about 5 inches of snow on back deck with the wet and heavy stuff clinging to tree branches, bushes and just about anything else.  The only exceptions were our driveway, large boulders and the street in front of our home.  Due to a run of warm weather, they had built up and retained enough heat to melt the snow!  While the effect was beautiful, we still don’t like all the white stuff…

Knoxville recorded 7.5 inches of snow at the airport and other reports from locations around the Tennessee valley reported snow accumulation of up to 9 inches.  Worse yet, the temperature plummeted down to 18 F here last night.  The good news is that we should be back in the mid 40 F’s today and starting tomorrow, we’re back in the mid-60 F range or higher.  Hopefully, all of our spring blooms survived the sudden snowy and brief cold snap…

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them.

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, March 11, 2022

Not Much Happening…(2)

…continuing with the theme that I’d established with my last post to the blog site.  Just not too much going on around here, although as you’ll learn, with the first harbingers of spring, we have started getting out a bit more…mostly to dine in local restaurants.

Winter hasn’t quite given up the ghost though… The forecast for this weekend calls for at least one night with the temperature dropping down to about 18F…and there could be a little snow too.  The latter won’t stick as it’s been to warm here and the ground isn’t frozen.  We’ve had 3 record high temperatures in the past week…

On one recent day, Laurie and I went for a walk in the neighborhood.  At the top of one nearby street, I took these photos.  The first shows Tellico Lake on a late winter day and the second shows the latest obstruction blocking sweeping views from this hill.  Whoever built or bought this home will have amazing views from their new home!

Just 2 lots over around the same cul-de-sac, another home is taking shape.  The adjacent lot has also been cleared for construction.  Currently, roughly 323 new homes are under construction in our village.  It isn’t a gated community so anyone can move in…if they can find a home to move into! 

The end is nigh!!  I took these photos of a surveying crew working right across the street from our house.  In one, the man in the red shirt can be seen back in the woods.  It won’t be long before the woods disappears and construction begins.  Sad…but we knew it would happen sooner or later.

Laurie snapped this photo of a couple of crows in the trees in our backyard.  They were trying to figure out how to get at our feeders.  It was comical when a crow tried to land on the feeder.  It was like a bomb hit it…with the feeder violently wobbling and swaying…

Recently Laurie was watching Andrew Zimmern’s show “Delicious Destinations” on the Travel Channel.  He was featuring foods found in the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  One of his stops featured the Trenary Home Bakery in the little town of Trenary Michigan.  This bakery has been in business since 1928.  The bakery was founded by Jorma Syrannen, who created its twice-baked Finnish coffee bread, now known as Trenary Toast.

We decided to place an order for some of the Bakery’s reasonably priced products.  The order included both Cinnamon and Cinnamon Raisin Trenary Toast, Raisin Swirl Bread and a large loaf of Old Country Rye. There are 6 different versions of the Trenary Toast. (The version pictured above is the Cinnamon Raisin) Shipping added a fair amount of cost, but it was reasonable.

Trenary Toast is an interesting product.  I like taking a couple of slices, buttering them lavishly and then adding a little more cinnamon sugar.  I put them in the microwave and zap them for 30 seconds.  Laurie prefers to dip hers in coffee.  My next experiment will be to add jam or peanut butter.  The raisin swirl bread is very tasty but I thought that the rye bread was a bit too bland for my taste. 

You can check out the Trenary Home Bakery and the products they offer at Trenary Home Bakery.  If you are in the area, they also operate a café.

As for the town of Trenary Michigan, it is an unincorporated village located on US Hwy 41 at about the center of the Upper Peninsula of Michigan.  Trenary is part of Mathias Township…and the whole township has a population of just a bit over 500 residents.  I did note that Trenary is the home of the annual Trenary Outhouse Classic!  4,000 plus spectators show up in late February to watch various contestants’ race outhouses on skis along a 500 foot long course!  Learn more at Trenary Outhouse Classic.

Laurie recently photographed this large ‘family’ or cluster of Black Vultures that decided to roost in some big trees in our neighborhood.  If they try to roost in the trees by our house, my BB gun comes out. (They eat carrion and their excrement isn’t good for roofs or plants) The BB’s don’t hurt them but they do get the ‘message’.  The vultures actually remember that they aren’t welcome as overnight guests.   

Laurie took these photos.  If the vultures just stop by during the day we don’t mind at all.  They are very interesting birds and they help keep the environment clean by consuming any dead critters they come across.  They are big birds with a wingspan of almost 5 feet across.  Unlike the larger Turkey Vulture, Black Vultures lack a highly developed sense of smell and they can’t find carrion by scent alone.  They actually exploit the superior food-finding and carcass penetrating skills of Turkey Vultures.  Black Vultures following them to carcasses and due to their superior numbers, they drive the larger vultures from the food.

Just click on any of the photographs to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave