This whole recipe originated with seeing Nashville Mason’s Chef Brandon Frohne post a pict originally on Twitter. We were in the midst of planning a holiday menu and this sounded great… Southern and Asian and a slight bit adventurous. Chef Frohne was ever so kind as to offer some tips when I emailed I’m about it, so credit goes 100% to him. It does take a little time to prepare so here’s how I did it:
Day 1: Preparation: Braise Collard ‘Kimchi’, Make Risotto, Pickle Shrimp.
Day2: Fry, Blend and Assemble
- 1 1/2 C Arborio Rice (Or Anson Mills!)
- 1 qt Chicken Stock ( we use Knorr Stock pots...I know, we should be ashamed)
- 1/2 C White Wine
- 1 Medium Onion, coarsely chopped
- 3 Tbsp Butter (or more if you're feelin nasty!)
- 1/4 C Smoked Gouda, shredded
- Kosher Salt
- Heat Stock in medium sauce pan.
- In a large saucepan, melt butter over medium heat and add onion. Saute until slightly translucent, 2-3 min.
- Add rice and store briskly to coat with butter. Continue to sauté until edges of rice are translucent and some of the piece begin to slightly brown.
- Add wine to deglaze. Cook until fully absorbed.
- Add a ladle of stock. and stir until fully absorbed. Continue this process until all stock is used. STIRRING CONSTANTLY. It should become very creamy.
- Remove from heat and stir in gouda. Season with salt.
- Cool and refrigerate overnight. Add parsley if desired or other favorite herbs.
- Our spin on one of Brandon Frohne's recipes. Risotto isn't hard, you just need to pay attention to it. Make sure your stock is very warm or it slows down the cooling time considerably.
- 1 Bunch Collard Greens (You don't actually need this much, but you can't really buy a 1/4 of a bunch!)
- 1 White Onion Coarsely Chopped.
- 1-2 bottles of a good beer
- 2qt Chicken Stock
- 1/2 C Korean Chili Powder (It's vital for the making of Kimchi so any Asian market should have it. Again, you may have to adjust to taste)
- 4 Tbsp Fish Sauce
- 2 Tbsp White Miso
- 1/4 C Brown Sugar
- 3/4 C Apple Cider Vinegar (we used Bragg)
- Salt, Pepper
- Heat Beer and Stock in a large kettle.
- Meanwhile, destem collards (reserve stems and braise, roast, pickle, or add to next batch of stock).
- Add to boiling stock mixture along with other ingredients and season with salt. You may need more stock (or water) to make sure collards are covered once wilted.
- Reduce heat to heavy simmer. Simmer 1 hour or up to 2 hours. Cool and refrigerate overnight.
- OK, this ISN'T kimchi...so don't yell at me. This is how Chef Frohne does this and still gets the 'vibe' of kimchi. You will need to adjust seasoning to taste here; bunches of collards are different sizes and the pepper powder, fish sauce, beer, can vary greatly in impact.
- You will have a lot left over from a bunch of collards. Eat them over cornbread, or as a side to any dish. OH, and don't throw out the PotLikker (the remaining stock mixture), this makes an excellent soup. Throw in a few veggies and some smoky pork. YUM!
- 2 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning
- 1 lb. medium shrimp, peeled and deveined
- ½ tsp. celery seeds
- ¼ tsp. allspice berries
- 1/2 tsp fresh ginger, minced
- 3/4 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 1/2 cup fresh lemon juice
- ¼ cup packed flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 1 tbsp. kosher salt
- ½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 3 dried bay leaves
- ½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
- 1. Bring Old Bay and 8 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan; add shrimp, reduce heat to low, and cook until shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl of ice water to chill; drain again.
- 2. Finely grind celery seeds and allspice in a spice grinder or mortar and pestle; transfer to a bowl and stir in oil, juice, parsley, salt, ginger, chile flakes, garlic, and bay leaves. In a 1-qt. glass jar, layer shrimp and onions; pour over oil mixture. Cover with lid; chill overnight.
- We made a few minor adjustments to Chef Acheson's original. Adding Ginger, reducing oil, increasing acid, but stayed pretty true.
- Risotto, Collards, and Shrimp made the day before.
- 2 large eggs
- 3 C Panko (or crushed Ritz Crackers)
- Deep fryer
- Heat deep fryer (you can also shallow fry) to 360°
- The Risotto will have firmed up considerably with the overnight stay in the fridge. Mix in the two eggs.
- Taking about 2 tablespoons at a time, form into balls, squeezing some excess egg from mixture. Coat risotto ball well with panko then shape into a cake approx 1/2-3/4" thick and 1-1/2" round.
- Working in batches of 4-6 cakes, fry until very brown. Drain on paper towels and add sprinkle of salt.
- In blender, combine about 2 cups of collard 'kimchi' with about 2 tablspoons of the potlikker. Blend until smooth, adding more liquid as needed... but you don't want this runny.
- Once all the cakes are completed, top each with 1 tsp of collard puree, a pickled shrimp, and sprig of parsley. We had some ginger pickled carrots that we also used.
- Serve at room temp.
- Next time we make this, we may finely dice the collard kimchi rather than blending for no other reason than presentation. The sight of pureed collards can be a bit off-putting.
- These were exceptionally delicious and we can't wait to share them at an upcoming party! Many thanks to Brandon Frohne for all the tips as well as Hugh Acheson's Pickled Shrimp recipe.
These … are … divine! Savannah native, Chef Steven Satterfield serves these up in his Atlanta restaurant Miller Union and so should you! There’s no need to repeat the original recipe here. Just one word of caution, make sure to coat the fritters COMPLETELY with flour lest they disintegrate in the hot grease. I tried to make a few ahead and the flour coating cracked and all the grits oozed out. Ended up coating them with flour to get a little ahead, then re-coating in order to make sure of adequate coverage. Use a good smoky gouda or a very smoky ham (preferably Benton’s Country Ham).
Go here for the full recipe: Country Living
OK – I KNOW we’re down to the wire on posting Thanksgiving recipes, but this one turned out SO well in a test, I had to post. It’s a 2-step process. I suppose you could bake the Brussels sprouts with the potatoes, but part of what makes it so nice is the crunch of the Brussels sprouts. You could easily substitute Pumpkin for the Sweet potatoes and roast a little longer.
NOTE: I seriously promise to start taking better photos! This was cooked at 5AM for a work lunch and I REALLY didn’t want to drag out the Canon for it, but it just turned out SO good!
- 2 Cups Brussels Sprouts
- 2 Tablespoons Fish Sauce
- 2 Tablespoons Soy
- 3 Med Sweet Potatoes Diced to 1/2" (Pumpkin would work too)
- 1 package of dry vegetable seasoning (find it with stock section)
- 1/2 Onion coarsely chopped
- 1/2 tsp citrus zest
- 1/2 tsp thyme (or rosemary in a pinch)
- 1/4 tsp cayenne
- 1/2 tsp paprika
- Salt+Pepper to taste
- 1-2 Tablespoons crumbled feta
- 2 Tablespoons Toasted Pumpkin seed.
- Heat deep fryer of oil to 370°. Toss halved Brussels sprouts with fish sauce, soy, and black pepper. Working in small batches, deep fry sprouts until almost charred. Set on paper towel to drain. Salt if needed.
- SWEET POTATOES
- Preheat oven to 375°. Bring medium pot of water to a boil and boil potatoes for about 10 min. Drain and dry. Toss with honey and additional ingredients. Spread into 9x9 baking dish (you can easily scale recipe up, this was for a work luncheon to it's smaller than normal.). Bake 20-30 minutes until edges of potatoes begin to brown.
- Remove from oven and top with Brussels sprouts, Feta, and toasted pumpkin seed.
I’ve raved about The Local Butcher Shop before. These guys deliver the finest meat you can get in or around Knoxville. There is NO comparison with the meat you get in the SUPERmarkets. So as I was out shopping for the weekend, I stopped in and ordered some bone marrow for an upcoming party and picked up 3lb of stew. Cubed while I waited. The stuff was beautiful. I promptly returned home and began a new stew recipe. This meat had to be handled with care…it was too special to just throw in a pot and forget it.
Stew doesn’t take a LOT of fussiness. But you have toe et aside some time to get it going. Don’t get in a hurry. When you’re growing the meat, do it a few pieces at a time. Otherwise, you boil the meat. And that’s not what you want. You want to brown it to the point of almost burning it. But quickly. Same with the veggies. Brown them in batches so you don’t boil them. The liquid escaping from them will quickly ruin a good stew.
- 3lb very good quality stew meat
- 1/2 C All Purpose Flour
- 2-4 tsp Salt (taste as you go)
- 2 tsp Black Pepper (or to taste)
- Olive Oil
- 4 Carrots (in 1/2" pieces)
- 1 Large Onion (coarsely chopped)
- 1 Large Turnip
- 12 oz of your favorite mushrooms quartered
- 4 C Beef Stock (we used Knorr Beef Stock Pots)
- 4 cloves of garlic sliced
- 2 bottles of a good dark beer
- 1 bay leaf
- 1.5 lb Yukon Gold Potatoes (about 5)
- 3/4 C Panko
- 4 Large Egg Yolks
- 2 tsp Whole Milk
- 1.5 tsp dill
- 1 tsp salt
- 1/2 tsp black pepper
- 1/2 C AP Flour
- Start by mixing flour, 2 tsp salt and pepper and dust each piece of meat well. Shake off excess. Heat 2 TSP Olive Oil on medium high (you can do this in your dutch oven or separate skillet). Working in small batches, making sure not to crowd the pan, fry until almost charred and set on paper towel to drain until all meat is finished.
- Again, working in small batches brown onions, then carrots and turnip, then mushrooms. Remember, almost charred. As the mushroom begin to get brown, deglaze the dutch oven with the beer. Add all the ingredients back into the dutch oven along with the garlic, bay leaf, and stock. Bring to a boil and simmer for 2 hours at least. This is even better the second day.
- While the stew simmers, in a separate pot cover potatoes with salted water, and bring to a boil. Cook until potatoes are easily pierced with a knife, 20 to 35 minutes. Drain potatoes and let cool until they are easily handled. Peel potatoes, then force through a ricer into a large bowl. Add bread crumbs, egg yolks, milk, dill, salt, and pepper to the riced potatoes; knead together using your hands until mixture is just combined (do not over-work the dumpling mixture). Form dough into golfball-sized dumplings. Pour flour out onto a flat surface, then evenly coat dumplings with a thin layer flour using a rolling motion. Boil dumplings in salted water until cooked through, about 15 minutes. To serve, place 3-4 dumplings in each bowl, and top with a generous portion of stew.
On September 28th, over a week after our wedding, we celebrated with the Party With The Newlyweds at the Knoxville Zoo. What a night! In reflection, it was so nice to have a week between the wedding and the big party. Much more relaxed than I would have been if we’d done it all together.
The way we ended up at the Zoo was a little strange. We were narrowing down the location between two other places and just happened to get an invitation to the Zoo. Thinking it’s be a nice way to get a free day to see the animals, we went. We regularly attend their Feast with the Beasts fundraiser and love the place. After we left, we both kinda looked at one another and said, the other two places are out… this is the spot! Our coordinator there, Ashley, couldn’t have been more helpful. We received regular To-Do emails from her to keep us on track. And was very patient when the groom had a little meltdown the day-of. Just another of our fantastic vendors…see Part 1 for more about choosing professional vendors – don’t trust amateurs.
The day-of, I spent some of the time delivering some last-minute goods to the zoo, driving in the perfect fall weather, and mentally preparing. M was getting her hair and makeup done - fantastic by the way! My (now our) niece Taylor did the honors on the makeup and it was outstanding! My cousin/best friend distracted me some and then I came home to some much-needed champagne while I got ready for the Party.
We arrived early for photos and our incredible photography team, Adrienne Lampe Photography, along with Ashley from the Zoo drove all over the Zoo…just us (the Zoo was closing). It was so nice to have the place to ourselves and we were able to have some very nice interactions with some of the animals. Including the chimps that were interacting with me through the glass of their homes. After the photos were completed, we were able to visit the cocktail location, the new Tiger exhibit. And Talk for a bit with our dear friends Nikki and Jason who had agreed to provide entertainment for the cocktail hour. We were sad that we wouldn’t get to hear them perform though since our ‘reveal’ was at the main party location.
We then made our way to the site of the main party. And wow… wow! when we walked in, we were both just blown away. We had been much more involved in the details of this event than the actual wedding. After all, it was close enough that we could more easily meet with people and there was a lot more ‘designy’ things to do. Our event designers were Whimsical Gatherings and boy, did they blow us away! When we first met with Carrie from Whimsical, it was almost 2 years before the wedding and we had a pretty good idea of what we wanted… we wanted a Loft-feel inside the zoo! She was immediately onboard with the ideas being a native Chicago resident. Over drinks, and a few tipsy text conversations, the idea evolved into a truly PERFECT interpretation. We were really glad we got there quite early so we could let it all soak in a little (did I mention we were emotional… oh boy). We also visited with Diane and Chef Jerry from Abner’s Attic. They were so great to work with.
Being the Knoxfoodies, we wanted to make this meal as special as possible on the scale/budget we were working with. Within the last year, we had discovered goat meat and how wonderful it is… so we also wanted to incorporate that somewhere. So we came up with a Goat Taco (but Abner’s Attic agreed to call it a ‘Cuban Quesadilla’) so as not to turn away people who wouldn’t try it because it was goat.). It was fun the following week letting people know they had eaten and LOVED Chef Jerry’s goat quesadilla’s. Abner’s were so very open from the very beginning to taking our recipes and scaling them up and adding their own flair. Here was the menu for the night:
Cocktail Hour: Cheese board with Welch Cheddar and Red Dragon Cheese
- Andouille Sausage Station
- Soup Shooters: Split Pea and Roasted Pumpkin
- Chicken and waffles with jalapeño dipping sauce
- Spinach & artichoke dip with toast rounds
- Deviled eggs with pickled onions and candied bacon
- Cucumber cups with garlic herbed cheese
- Goat Quesadillas: Chipotle marinated goat
- Dessert: Banana Pudding shooters, Georgia Special Cake Shooter, Peanutbutter Cream Cheese Tart, Mini Lemon Tarts
- Late-Nite Snack: Pork belly sandwiches on corn cakes with arugual, tomato, and pickled radish
We hid behind the curtain until our pre-recorded entrance interview was played and then… the party was ON! Our friends from Taboo provided the music for the night. These guys learned a ton of songs just for us which made it even more special to have them. At this point, it was a whirlwind. I barely remember who I was able to speak to and who I wasn’t able to get to! We had toasts from some of our closest people… some much more emotional than we had expected. We danced the night away beginning with our First Dance: Your Song.
At the end of the night, we were sent away in a hail of paper airplanes. This night couldn’t have been more perfect! The weather was a perfect September temp. And all our friends and family were surrounding us. And with the help of all our amazing wedding professionals, we were able to share an unforgettable evening together.
Our Wedding Professionals.
The Knoxville Zoo
Ashley was our contact here and was excellent throughout the process keeping us on track.
We met with Diane early on in our planning process because we knew food would be a central theme. As mentioned above, they were so great to work with and to challenge. And Chef Jerry did a great job. Also, Chef Jerry who cooked our food is about to open a food trailer. Be sure to check him out: The Iron Skillet He also does person chef gigs if you are in need!
OK, if you look them up, it may say ‘florist’, but they are so much more! These guys are total environment designers. And SO creative. I feel like they enjoyed our desire to contrast the rustic setting with a ‘Sex in the City’ feel. Carrie worked very closely with us…but also totally surprised us. It was more than we ever expected!
Random Acts of Flowers
One of our favorite non-profits is Random Acts of Flowers. And we are happy that after we were able to enjoy our arrangements from Whimsical Gatherings, our flowers continued to spread joy to others. Our flowers were recycled and distributed to hospital patients a few days after our party. Please remember Random Acts of Flowers the next time you have left-over flowers.
We attended a dinner party a few nights ago and were treated to a lentil dish that, up until then, we were unfamiliar with. Dal is a traditional Indian dish. Sometimes made with fermented lentils, but if you don’t have time, feel free to use dried lentils. It’s truly delicious and takes less than an hour to prepare including prep time. We served it with basmati rice but traditionally, it might be served with Pita.
- 2 tablespoons coconut oil
- 1 tablespoon butter
- 1 1/2 cups diced onions
- 2 tablespoons minced garlic
- 2 jalapeno peppers, cored, seeded and minced
- 1 tablespoon cumin
- 2 cups lentils
- 1 tablespoons finely minced ginger
- 2 tablespoons Garam Masala
- 1 to 2 tsp Turmeric
- 1 tablespoon salt
- 1 teaspoon ground black pepper
- 1 tablespoon sugar
- 1 bay leaf
- 1 cup diced tomatoes
- 1/2 tablespoon rice vinegar
- 8 cups chicken stock
- Soak lentils in water for about an hour. We used a mix of green lentils and split pink lentils.
- In a large pot, heat the oil and butter and stir-fry the onions just until transparent. Push to edges of sauce pan. In center of sauce pan, add the garlic, jalapeño, cumin, garam masala, lentils, ginger, curry powder, salt, pepper, sugar and bay leaf. Saute for 1 to 2 minutes, until the herbs and spices become very aromatic. Incorporate with onions. Add the tomatoes and vinegar. Add the chicken stock (we only used about 6 cups as our tomatoes very very juicy), bring to a boil and then lower to a simmer and cook until lentils are tender (about 20 minutes), stirring occasionally. Taste and adjust seasoning with cumin, salt, pepper and sugar.
- Do not add salt until lentils are fully tender. In fact, we used Knor stock pots and added only water in place of the stock. Near the end of cooking time, we incorporated the stock pots. Adding salt early will toughen the lentils.
- 1 cup Greek yoghurt
- 1 cucumber diced
- 1/2 tsp turmeric
- 1 tsp lime juice
- salt and pepper to taste
- Combine ingredients. Adjust seasoning to taste. Place in refrigerator until ready to use. Preferably and hour or so early.
At our place, in late summer, we always see these strange avacado-looking fruits on the hill behind our house and it took a couple years for me to figure out that these are Maypops, the South’s native Passion Fruit. And are almost as tasty as the Hawaiian version. So this year we were determined to use these in something. Maypop is sweet and slightly floral. So we decided on a simple syrup infused with them. I mean, we love to drink don’t we?
Pretty simple process here so I won’t bother with the whole recipe thing.
Just sterilize a jar or bottle first with boiling water. Then boil 2C water, 2C Sugar, 1C Maypop Pulp (just slice in half and dig out the pulpy seed), 2T lemon Juice. When a rolling boil starts, remove from the heat and allow to cool. Then pour up your simple syrup (see and all because the crunchy see are eatable). And think of a great way to utilize. Since it was only 10AM, this is a virgin mocktail. Put about a tsp of syrup in a shaker with ice and some lemon balm (we love our lemon balm and are sad that frost will soon kill it). Shake it like the devil and put in a cocktail glass and top off with soda. Later in the day, we would recommend a lightly floral gin or vodka be added to the shaker as well. Enjoy!
NOTE: These Maypops are a little under-ripe. You should wait until they are turning yellow before harvesting. But two factors made us pick them early. 1. Frost will soon knock back the plants and we were afraid it would damage the fruit. 2. We have field mice on the hill behind our house and they love passion fruit so it is a race to get them first.
Since we didn’t get a chance to take as many photos ourselves at the Knoxville Party With The Newlyweds, We’ll wait until we get the professional shots back to post images from this awesome party…
Read Part 1.
Before we returned to Knoxville, we decided to make a swing through Charleston for a very special visit to Husk Restaurant. Through @knoxfoodie, we had been in contact for some time with General Manager Dan Latimer and he suggested we make time if we could. Now we are HUGH Sean Brock fans. Chef Brock takes Southern Appalacian and Coastal dishes and elevates them to a fine dining category. One of his missions is to bring back long-forgotten dishes and ingredients. In fact, this year, because of reading about Benne Seed (the precursor to Sesame Seed), we grew some of our own that we got from Dr David Shields (more on that in a later post). Anyway, big fans.
We got going pretty early. I had a bad reaction to some scallops on our last night in Savannah, so I was up all night anyway. We had some time to explore beautiful Charleston. M’s first visit. It’s always such a cool place to visit. Everywhere you point a camera, you get a terrific shot. First stop was the Martin Gallery to see our friend Don’s photography. Then we needed to do recon… find Husk! Well, that was easy enough.
For lunch, we didn’t want to over-stuff before the main event and we split a yummy bbq sandwich at Jim’n Nicks. It’s a smaller than average place but delicious all the same. These guys can do a mean bbq. We sat at the bar, and the bartender looked a little too much like Jake Gyllenhaal so I immediately didn’t like him
We were counting down to 7pm…
Once we arrived at Husk we saw the all-important food source board that lists the farms that their ingredients come from. As soon as we sat down, we noticed the menu looked a little different. At the top was written ‘CONGRATULATIONS!’ and our outstanding server, Tanya greeted us and immediately behind her was the manager for the night, Jennifer with two classes of sparkling cider! Are you kidding me?! Every manager or server that walked by congratulated us on our marriage. This was SO cool! Celebrity-status for one evening We even got a tweet from Dan apologizing for not being there and hoping we were having a great experience. Oh yes we were Dan!
I started off with a Barrel-Aged Manhattan which was served up in a very retro (meaning small but perfectly sized) glass. This is traditional. The classic, enriched with new American Oak. Our seasonal take on the Manhattan with bourbon, rye whisky, and flavored bitters. Barrel aged for 30 days. I’m not a fan of super-sweet, so sometimes Manhattans aren’t my favorite. But this one had just the right amount of sweetness. M had a Summah, Dhania: Slow it down and stretch it out. Jalapeno macerated tequila, Aperol, cilantro simple syrup, fire roasted orange juice. Let me tell ya, there’s a lot going on in this drink, but everything melds perfectly.
For apps, we ordered cornbread (with Alan Benton’s famous bacon in it). This was dangerously close to what my mom’s cornbread tasted like. Then we had Crispy Pig’s Ear Lettuce Wraps. Now if you go… you MUST have these. If you have nothing else in Charleston, get these! The ears are boiled for hours, cooled and dried, then thinly sliced and deep-fried before being doused in a teriaki-like sauce and served with fermented cucumbers and peppers and topped with toasted Benne. Then they bring over these amazing complimentary Benne rolls. By this point, we are already on our way to being full! NOOOO!!! Must get through this and try it ALL!! Our cocktail glasses emptied, we ordered a bottle of Domaine St Vincent from New Mexico (everything lists it’s source here remember), one of two sparkling selections on the wine list.
We ordered dinner, electing to not add any sides (read on!). So I had a Heritage Pork Chop, Anson Mills Farro with sweet peas and Spicy Mustards, Boiled Peanut-Pickled Peach Vinaigrette. I mighty offering for a mere $30. M had Cornmeal Dusted NC Catfish with Creamed Corn Grits, Fried Cabbage and Peperonata, Espelette. Tanya tried to talk us into sides but we decided against it just because we had indulged so much.
As our main courses arrived, servers started bringing over sides and sitting them down “for us to try.” What? But we didn’t order these. Then Tanya came over and said, “I hope you don’t mind the complimentary sides, but we’d love for you to try them.” What? Are you serious? They brought us all their sides for us to try! These guys know how to make someone feel special. Amazing!
We absolutely COULD NOT handle dessert. We begged her not to make us as we had just had the best meal of our lives! And she reluctantly agreed that Husk has won the battle tonight! We’re gardeners and on each table was a jar with dried beans or peas and dried Okra. We asked Tanya if we could swipe some and she said, of course! So for years to come, we can grow beans and okra that were from our first (but not last) outing to Husk.
Lucky for us, we parked about a 1/2 mile away and were able to relieve some of our misery (but misery of the best kind!) by the long walk in perfect weather. Almost as soon as we got to the hotel, we had to nibble on the leftovers because we couldn’t keep them overnight.
What a perfect ending to our destination wedding. But Stay Tuned! Wedding Week isn’t over. Part 3 Coming Soon!!
So WE’RE MARRIED!! Us and 6 family members went to Savannah, Ga for our September 20th wedding. And what a fun trip it was!! Then, a week later, we had friends and family to the Knoxville Zoo for our Party with the Newlyweds. In between, we had a stop-over in Charleston. NOTE: I will update this with better pix from our great photographer when they are available! I just couldn’t wait to post this…
The Savannah trip was very foodie focused (there will be a separate post about Husk in Charleston later). We arrived in Savannah on Wednesday and just relaxed and had a relaxing dinner at Anna’s on the Square. Honestly, it was tasty, but nothing special at all. Fry a piece of chicken and smother it with cheese. But we were a little tired from the trip and wanted to take it easy.
Savannah is one of our favorite cities. There’s so much history there and we see it growing every time we visit. With the addition of the new Hugh Acheson restaurant in the spring, which will be a destination spot, it will grow outside the Historic District even more. It’s an up-and-coming food town for sure. On Thursday, the rest of the family arrived and we spent the day wandering the Historic District, taking the ferry across the river and sampling pralines. For lunch, we stopped in B&D Burgers and I had a BLT (with fried green tomatoes and pimento (or pimiento depending on your preference) cheese. Wow it was delicious. M had a HUGE burger and it was equally good. When her side of the family arrived a few hours later, we took them there. It was also fun to see the building being repainted downtown for the new Spongebob Squarepants movie which is being filmed there. I still can’t believe they allowed the buildings to be painted (even though the production company will paint them back to their original colors when filming is finished.
Pre-dinner, my sister and brother-in-law hosted a toast for us and shared a very special bottle of champagne with everyone. And Bugles! $50 champagne and Bugles…perfect! For dinner, with both families in tow, we walked to Leoci’s. A wonderful small Italian place with deckspace that keeps going and going! I highly recommend this spot and Roberto Leoci is a rockstar chef in waiting. Look for his name to start showing up more and more nationally. I just wish our hotel room had a fridge so we could have kept the copious lefovers. The portions are huge, so it was nice that we had a long walk back to the hotel.
The group separated a bit at this point and my sister and brother-in-law accompanied us to River Street to take in a few bars. We settled at an Irish pub and the funny and talented Danny Quinn was playing. He dedicated Elton John’s Your Song to us which was fun.
The next day, Friday, was wedding day and breakfast was at J Christophers. It’s a chain, but each location has hometown character. The Savannah location is retrofitted into an old garage (or appears so). The inside is worn brightly colored wood with outstanding local art on the walls. Here’s a hint, don’t ask for substitues for items on the menu. They won’t be very cooperative. But the food is delicious and broadly appealing. Smoked salmon and bagels or biscuits and gravy. It’s a loud cafeteria type atmosphere but we try to make a visit each time we’re in town (or in Atlanta as well).
After breakfast we kinda all split up. M and the girls went for mani/pedis (or whatever they are called) and I had beer and cigars (and xanax .
Around noon hair and makeup arrived for the ladies and then our unbelievable photographer arrived about 2. Now, I think this is a good opportunity to talk about vendors. Boy did we luck up on our vendors…for the most part. Here’s a word of advice, DO NOT HIRE AMATEURS! This is too important of a day to go with anything but a professional. And always, always have a contract so you can nail them to the wall if they don’t follow through. I will break down each of our professional vendors below and give my raves. But they were so patient (mostly with me!). Early-on, I had to step back and say, “let the pros do what they do.” I couldn’t micromanage design elements even if I was in the design industry. I couldn’t nitpick photography because I work with photographers on a weekly basis. I couldn’t manage the timetable, because I get anxious. This is what they do. And they did it so well.
After sharing a few drinks at the Desoto Hilton’s bar with our bartender friend, Carol, and walking off some anxiety with a cigar and beer… BTW, Savannah is open-container so feel free to walk about the street with your beverages as long as they’re in plastic. I headed up to prepare for the big moment.
Our planner, Raven took me to Forsyth Park for the First Look. And Adrienne and her husband/assistant/right-hand-man drove M there to sneak up on me. I was apparently nervously dancing around while standing waiting (being careful not to look behind me). And Adrienne sends me a txts saying ‘STOP MOVING!!’ Then, I get the tap on the shoulder and turn around to find my bride looking beautiful! Side Note Here: I don’t like wedding dresses. I think they are big expensive and mostly gaudy. But M picked out just what I thought she would. A form fitting pink number (OK, I knew what it looked like long before this day). She was beaming… and I was able to mostly hold it together. We were 4 or 5 blocks from the hotel at this point so we walked back, stopping at sites Adrienne had scouted earlier in the day. Other than it being a few degrees too warm for me, it was SO much fun! Adrienne is a great director and one of the most fun people we’ve ever met! Go hire this lady for your events!!
We made it back to the Hilton and had about 30 minutes to relax (and cool off) before the ceremony. The De Soto had left us a refreshing champagne and a fruit & cheese plate.
The ceremony was at sunset. 7:33. We emerged from the Desoto for the short walk to Madison Square. Sax player was serenading us with Your Song, our families were waiting and the ‘reverend’ Steve Catlett (my internet-ordained brother-in-law), looking ever so slightly nervous was ready to lead a very special ceremony for us. We had a ring-warming in the middle of the ceremony, in which each person is passed the rings to make a special wish…not a prayer because that’s silly! Then Granny D returned the rings to Steve and M and I each took part of the bow and untied them… get it? Tying the knot…untying the knot. Subtle huh? We said our promises and… DOH! My nervous sweaty finger had swollen! It was a struggle, but it got on there. Steve FINALLY let me give the Kisses to the Misses. And the Sax player started to play James Taylor’s How Sweet it is. The guests were given kazoos to accompany the Sax. One little problem! Even though they’d had the kazoos for a half hour…no one except the reverend had apparently EVER played a kazoo and it was the most hilarious display I’ve ever seen. NOTE: if you want your guests to play kazoos, send them kazoos to practice with beforehand!!
Our Carriage was waiting and took us to our dinner destination, FORM, while we shared yet another bottle of champagne (no Bugles this time!). FORM is a wine and cheese shop that hosts special dinners (they will be opening a dedicated restaurant soon). These guys are going places!! I will post a copy of the menu and not go into much more detail, but if you are in Savannah and are able to attend one of their dinners, you will receive the best food in Savannah by far! This dinner, even aside from sharing it with our family and my new bride, was a top-3 meal that I’ve ever had… in fact, I had 2 of my Top 3 on this trip! And once dinner is finished, you can hang out as long as you want and pull bottles from their shelves at a special discount. They have VERY affordable prices and you couldn’t get a dinner of this quality for twice the price anywhere else. A small hitch was that the menu we had decided on in the spring had been lost and they basically came up with a new menu for the dinner. It was a surprise and could have gone wrong if their choices hadn’t suited our palates… but they nailed it! Every course was better than the last. If I had one critique, and the chef even agreed, it was that the shrimp course (which was great), was bracketed by two such amazing course, that it seemed to lack somewhat. I think if we’d had it without the other courses though, we probably would have agreed it was some of the best shrimp we’d ever had.
Adrienne and hubby took shots of each course and were kind enough to join us for dinner as well. We let them ‘off the clock’ about 10 and they even had a couple glasses of wine. They were pros though and weren’t going to imbibe but at this point we just wanted everyone to be having a great time!
The bride was exhausted and ready to call it a night by 1AM and we taxied back to the De Soto. Our cabby is a FORM favorite named Tyson and he’s such a nice guy.
Breakfast at B. Matthews (owned by some Knoxville folks) was a little rough for me the next morning but a few gallons of water and pain relievers and I was ready for the day.
We had dinner at The Crab Shack that evening and it was tasty and again, the weather was outstanding for sitting under the live oaks peeling shrimp. We had some non-foodies in the group so we tried to mix in some more approachable spots like this and hope we were successful. The plan was to go on a ghost tour with Blue Orb Tours that evening but showers rolled in and we opted against it and instead had drinks and late night snack at The Public. It’s a very trendy little spot nextdoor to the De Soto. M had an excellent Jalapeño Spritzer and we eventually split a Savannah Philly Burger with caramelized onion, mushrooms, provolone, lettuce, tomato, and sriracha aioli. My sister and brother-inlaw accompanied us and it was a fun fun night. A special little note about our bartender, we mentioned we were waiting on friends and when seats opened up next to us, they placed menus, and half-full glasses at the seats so no one would sit in the places. That’s service!
Sunday was departure day for everyone except the bride and groom. So we said our goodbyes and headed to Tybee Island for breakfast at the fantastic greasy spoon, The Breakfast Club. People wait in line here from open to close. Seriously, the line outside was probably 50 people back when we got there. I’ll let the pics explain, but all I have to say is M’s hash browns were bigger than her head! If you can, sit at the bar. It’s great to watch them cook…and to see just how much butter is in everything!
We had dinner at Barracuda Bob’s. I had fried scallops and they were perfectly cooked. However, after multiple tries, I have concluded my body does not like bivalves and I’m not going to try it again. By 3AM, there were scallops shooting back out of my face (need more details? just ask That said, I highly recommend the place. The service was very good and it’s a good place to get the touristy seafood that you always seem to crave at some point int he trip.
We had been working with Everlasting Occasions on planning/design in Savannah and the wonderful Adrienne Lampe on photography for both events.
Raven is the owner of EO and we engaged her services almost 2 years ago! She was able to take care of every detail for us. And while she sells it as a ‘package’, it’s completely personal with every detail. We had a few very specific things we wanted (succulents for our flowers, a sax player, carriage to the restaurant, etc.) and were able to make it ‘our own’. She does it part-time while holding down a regular 9-5. My only…ONLY complaint is that, early-on our email communication was a little slow. Some emails would take too long to get answers. Now, that bothered me when it was happening but in hindsight, I can see that if you are anal about everything for 2 years, it’d drive everyone crazy and some of the details just don’t need to be dealt with so early on. And when a small problem came up the day before the wedding she took care of it within 20 minutes. And apparently she had a LOT of trouble finding a sax player, but we were never knew anything about it…which is just the way it should be. The answer to every question was “sure that’s no problem.” Stress-free. And the week of the wedding, she was in constant contact with us via text and was extraordinary to work with. Highly-recommended!
Adrienne Lampe Photography
OK guys, we totally lucked out on this. The photographer search was my job. And because were were having events in two places, it was looking like we were going to need to have two photographer, which meant two styles of photos, and I wasn’t happy with that. Then came our hero! Adrienne and husband who is sometimes a second shooter, are two of the most fun people we’ve ever met!! Hopefully we will remain friends after the professional relationship is over. They are fellow foodies from Atlanta and travel everywhere doing amazing work!! And not only did they shoot Savannah, but they also came the next weekend and shot the Party with the Newlyweds. We could never have had anyone better to work with than these two!
Here we go! We are a week away and I can’t believe it. There’s been SO much happening in the last few weeks it’s been hard to keep up with. Lots of great KnoxFoodie activities. We were honored to have very special portraits done by Don Dudenbostel. They were shot on an 1850′s camera using a wetplate technique that hasn’t changes much in nearly 200 years. What an honor to be shot be someone of Don’s caliber who, along with his wife Cynthia, we consider great friends! Very moving.
There’s not much more we can write in detail without revealing details about the upcoming events and we want everyone to be surprised. Can’t wait to share photos of stationary, event designs, food designs, and everything else once it’s all said and done!
As the moment approaches, of course, emotions are on high. I’m generally one to try to divert them with humor…but it’s getting harder. I’m really excited about the approaching moment! Can’t wait to start this next chapter together. (Can’t wait to STOP scraping away every dollar to send to our treasured wedding vendors either!). Our families have been so kind. My future mother-in-law had such nice words to say at our engagement party. And my sister and brother-in-law have just been the best. I even had my eyebrows plucked by my aesthetician niece! We’re so lucky to have the people in our lives that we have. At the same time, there’s the bittersweetness that some special people are no longer with us and can’t share in our joy. But we will be sure to recognize those people who hold such a special place in our hearts. To make up for it, we plan to celebrate on an even grander scale with those that are still with us!
Our next check-in will likely be after the wedding! We have a pretty hectic schedule because we added an extra detour in after the wedding…but we couldn’t refuse!
See you on the flip side!
Diane Luvnmyfam Hounschell
Today at 2:45am
A VISITORS GUIDE TO KNOXVILLE…..
1. You must learn to pronounce the city name correctly. It is Nox-Vull.
2. Forget traffic rules you learned elsewhere, we have our own version. The Trans-Am with the loudest exhaust goes first at a 4-way stop, the truck with the biggest tires goes after that…
3. All directions start with “go down to Kingston Pike, which is the Alpha and Omega…the beginning and the end.
4. Henley Street becomes Chapman Hwy., or 441. Broadway turns into Maynardville Hwy., or 33. Cumberland Ave. turns into Kingston Pike, and Magnolia Ave. turns into Asheville Hwy.
5. The morning rush hour is from 6-10…the evening rush hour is 3-7. Friday rush hour starts Thursday morning.
6. If you stop at a yellow light, you will be rear-ended, cussed out, and possible shot.
7. Gallaher View Road can only be pronounced by a native.
8. Construction on I-40/75 is a permanent thing!
9. Watch very carefully for road hazards such as deer, skunks, dogs, barrels, cones, cows, horses, potholes, cats, pieces of other cars, truck tires, raccoons, squirrels, rabbits, and crows feeding on all the above.
10. Three interstates converge to run through the Greater Knoxville area, resulting in a bounty of 18-wheeler accidents and spills. Recent spills include cattle, liquor, live artillery shells, Rolling Rock bottle caps, phosphoric acid, Styrofoam peanuts, and yes…..corn syrup!
11. Natives refer to the Pellissippi Parkway. You will find no road signs marked as such. It is actually Interstate 140, but don’t refer to it as that because the locals will have no idea what you are talking about.
12. The minimum acceptable speed on Pellissippi Parkway is 85. Anything less in consider downright sissy!
13. If it’s 100 degrees, Thanksgiving must be next weekend. If it’s 10 degrees and snowing, the Dogwood Arts Festival is going on.
14. Knoxville Center Mall is actually in East Knoxville. West Town Mall id just east of Downtown West.
15. No one who lives in the town of Farragut is actually from Tennessee, or even the South. Admiral Farragut was a Union soldier. Yep, they’re all Yankees!
16. It is better to stay off the roads on Saturdays in the fall, as 3 out of 4 drivers have had way to much Jack Daniels at the ballgame and the fourth is a cop!
17. Never, and we mean NEVER, plan a wedding for a weekend when UT is playing football. That’s what open dates are for!
18. There is nothing in the sunsphere! Don’t try to go up there.
19. It is a good and honorable thing to work on a mobile home sales lot.
20. Yeah, the mountains are pretty, but how bout them outlet malls!
21. Never point and laugh at anything painted orange, no matter how bizarre or tasteless, unless you want your butt kicked.
22. It’s pronounced “NEELAND” stadium.
23. The Chamber of Commerce says parking after dark in the Old City should be “pretty safe.”
24. If you see a really interesting old building in Knoxville, there is no doubt a plan to tear it down!
25. The two tallest buildings in Knoxville and the 1982 World’s Fair park were built by two brothers who promptly filed bankruptcy and when to prison for bank fraud. If your last name is Butcher, you might want to keep on moving!