Thursday, May 26, 2011

Part Two - Terrific Time In Tennessee

Tennessee offered quite a few opportunities (that’s the understatement of the year!) for great food with our friends M and RJ. Here are three particularly great places:

For a casual lunch, Bravo! was wonderful.

I decided to play the southern socialite from Blind Side (and also from that Jennifer Aniston movie - WAS it her? - where she’s the poor friend) and order a Cobb Salad with lots of variations, so much so that it could have been called a NON-Cobb salad.

Whatever you call it, it was good! The dressing DID come on the side, which I hate, but the poor guy probably thought I was so fussy about everything else, he didn’t want to risk it.

We had an excellent dinner – at The North Shore Brasserie. The restaurant features Belgian food and they’re known for their mussels. If (when) you’re ever near Knoxville, try them. I had the Mussels Mariniere. They were fat and juicy with the most delicious winey broth in which to dip the nonstop, warm baguettes served in their own little paper bags. Mmmm. I was up to my elbows, so no pictures.

We had an exceptional meal at the Foothills Milling Co. Restaurant. You wouldn’t necessarily think it would be that good from the outside, but, wow, was it!


You need a reservation. And it's not easy getting one. It’s the hottest place in Maryville, Tennessee. Actually, it’s the hottest place for miles around.

We started with a nice little taste of grouper, which is also offered as a main course with its panko crust and green onion remoulade.

H had the Fried Green Tomatoes, which were panko-coated and topped with a wonderful basil aioli, tomato chutney and goat cheese. They would make a meal on its own.

I LOVED the Fried Oysters.

They were perfectly fried, which made it perfectly easy to finish the whole plate. Crunchy on the outside, juicy on the inside.

The Rosemary Focaccia was wonderful and just in case you felt like you needed a few extra calories, it was served with a big scoop of whipped butter AND oil.

I ordered a second fried dish for my entrée. (We WERE in the South.)

It was the Open Face Crab BLT. OMG, it was almost overkill, except that each bite was so delicious you just had to (well, I had to) eat the WHOLE THING. (Actually, I didn’t touch the sourdough bread.) The crab, Benton’s bacon and buttermilk dressing were enough. We had visited Benton’s last year.


The desserts were something your mama would have made...if you had the best mama in the world. The Strawberry Shortcake was classic and perfect.

There was no hint of sweetness in the biscuit. That was saved for the juicy strawberries that were pooled on the bottom of the dish. One biscuit (or half maybe?) was on top of the strawberries, topped with a ginormous swirl of faintly sweetened whipped cream and then another biscuit. Oh my! It was strawberry shortcake heaven (which isn’t even my favorite dessert). 

This next dessert, the Buttermilk Pie, was fine, but it didn’t change my life.

But that’s okay, because the next dessert did.

Don’t kill me, but I didn’t write down exactly what I was eating, but look at this:

It was a square of a blondie-type crust, which was rich and nutty, with the most delicious I-can’t-remember-the-flavor-of-ice-cream and an extra crunchy cookie on top, with cream, lots of it, caramel sauce, nuts and powdered sugar. It was super-duper sweet (though not too much for me). And it was so uninhibitedly homey and down to earth that I could have staked a homestead claim right there and then on that very plate.

We did have some non-food outings. M and I went to the Titanic Museum in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee.

If you’re ever in the area, you have to stop by. They take you through lots of exhibits and actual relics of the ship. And before you go in, you’re given a card with a name and story of an actual passenger on the ship. In most cases, you’re not told the fate of your person until you reach the last room with a list of all the passengers and what happened to them.

The only annoying thing was that M got Madeleine Astor, who was married to the richest man in America, John Jacob Astor – a fact that every single guide, dressed in period costume as staff and servants on the ship, reminded us of…over and over again. They positively bowed and scraped to M as we made our way through the different displays. Okay, I got it. She was rich, really rich, and quite famous.

I, on the other hand, made my journey on the Titanic as Selma Asplund, a 3rd class passenger from Sweden. Her surroundings were somewhat different from Mrs. Astor's. For example, there were 2 bathtubs for the over 700 3rd class passengers - one for the women and one for the men. Incidentally of the 2228 passengers onboard (some sources say 2223), only 705 survived, most from the 1st class cabins. Happily, Selma did survive or I would have been really bitter…

Actually, the whole visit was really moving and the story of the Titanic was very affectively portrayed, Madeline Astor's among them. If you’re in the neighborhood, try to make time for a visit.

A few more fun things to see and try:


Lookie here:


These are rooms filled with miniature furniture, like the most elaborate, perfectly decorated doll house you’ve ever seen. Amazing.

I NEVER had such good chicken before. It had a thick batter and was fried to perfection without a trace of greasiness. Really! AND the chicken gravy - a flour-thickened milk based gravy - was too good to resist. 

Their apple fritters came when you sat down instead of bread.

And the apple butter was finger lickin’ good. I really understand these hackneyed southern phrases now.  

They had EVERY kind of knife imaginable, suitable for ANY task for which one might need a knife, plus a knife museum. More pictures here. They also have a first class housewares department.
I'm happy now that I know exactly where to go for all my Fried Chicken needs, as well as for a knife of ANY description.


Anonymous said...

Cy and I have friends in Knoxville, but because they have two small children we've never seen any of these things when we visited them! I'm hoping the next time we go back, perhaps...

Sue said...

Kids like bacon fat too!

Probably the mayhem of the Titanic might be too much for them, though.

The Short (dis)Order Cook said...

Want those fried green tomatoes and love that strawberry shortcake. I love it when it's made the RIGHT way.

I would get such a kick out of those minatures rooms. I'm obsessed with dollhouses.