It doesn't take a whole lot to flatter the ol' wigshop crew. A kind word or a comment on a post will typically sooth our egos for a time, but a true behind the scenes tour with unfettered access to a new development makes us swoon, throw in some party favors and we're like play-dough in your hands... sort of... anyways.
Em, B, MG, Myself, and Wild Bill all took up Johnathan Borsodi on his very kind offer to show us around his new digs last Tuesday. Many of you have already heard about this, he is relaunching the old New Knoxville Brewery, under the name Marble City Brewing Company. First, let me give him props for picking a great name, More stuff in this town needs to be tied to its industrial heritage like the marble quarries etc.
(A man in his element)
I'll try to limit the info to the highlights, we were there for nearly two hours and could have stayed longer,there was just that much to talk about. Johnathan is a lawyer by trade (though his minor in German History probably inspired his beer obsession, see I told you there was too much information to go through everything) and as a migrant to Knox from Michigan, follows a long line of people who come to this town fall in love and never want to leave. Through relationships, he found out about the old New Knox Brewery and all of its goodies left behind, got together a vision, took a leap, and is now plunging headlong into the world of the Micro Brew.
(Where the magic happens)
Quick bullet points about the facility:
- 25 barrel capacity for beer (translation: lots of beer making capacity)
- 100 bottle a minute bottler (that's on par with Fat Tire)
- cooler capacity to store 40 barrels (they can make and store lots of beer)
- $30,000+ worth of old packaging, supplies, and pallets full of made
but never delivered beer by New Knox.
- A location close to the action, but far enough away to be affordable.
Without going into too much detail, Johnathan is partnering with his cousin (family businesses are always nice) and together they have exactly 0 beer-making experience. To compensate they have hired a brewmaster, smart move on their part, who we will all know more about very soon. She has had 10+ years as a brewer as far as I understand and will be one of only a handful female head brewers in this country, bonus for Knoxville on the uniqueness scale.
(Ahh yes, New Knox. the best "Mirco" Brew in town.)
Their plan is to produce a organic (in as much as it matters), Earth friendly, local product for distribution in the tri-county area of Knox, Sevier, and Blount. As self-distributors they will be peddling their wares all over the area to all the bars, restaurants, golf courses, and Methodist churches that will carry their product. This also means that they won't be hindered by anything but their own product as far as sales go. If they produce a liked and drinkable beer then they will succeed, if not they will fail. I like the model.
(Anyone need 200 cases of 3 year old, undrinkable beer)
I'm always excited to see people run with an idea and Knoxville is a great place to try out new things. It'll take lots of work, some luck, a great product, and a cheer-leading squad, but Knoxville is ready for another brewery. The more good local beer we have the better. I'm excited to see how Johnathan's venture plays out over then next few months and am even more excited to taste the fruits of his labor. God Speed, Marble City Brewing Company, the Wigshop is anxiously awaiting that first batch.
Editor's note from the MG: The guys at Marble City don't have a clear date for when the beer will be available, but they can assure you they are working to get it available as quickly as possible. As the head brewmaster was just recently hired, it will take time for her to develop the offerings and to get it into the production stages (ie not weeks or years but a matter of months).
Friday, April 30, 2010
It doesn't take a whole lot to flatter the ol' wigshop crew. A kind word or a comment on a post will typically sooth our egos for a time, but a true behind the scenes tour with unfettered access to a new development makes us swoon, throw in some party favors and we're like play-dough in your hands... sort of... anyways.
Thursday, April 29, 2010
I met Ali Baldwin while working at a veterinary clinic out west a few years ago. She was hired during my last month there, and so it was my duty to train her.
I learned two important things about her during that short stint: one, that she would one day open up a coffee shop in Knoxville and two, that she was very passionate about music.
During my last week at the vet clinic, she let me "borrow" some music from her computer. As I scrolled through, I noticed she had a lot from one musician.
"Who is Josh Ritter?" I asked, to which she replied something to the extent of, "Only my favorite musician."
Today, Ali and her husband Craig run Blackbird Coffehouse in Sequoyah Hills. I finally made it to their new and larger space a couple of weeks ago. It's a great spot with delicious coffee.
As life would turn out, Josh Ritter/Josh Ritter's people have asked Ali and Craig if they wouldn't mind having a listening party for his new album So Runs the World Away which will be released May 4th. The event will take place this Saturday night, May 1, from 7 to 9 pm. They will be giving away a free pair of tickets to his upcoming show at the Bijou, raffling off pounds of coffee, and there will be some goods there from the Plum Baker.
In conclusion, I think it would do you well to grab a six pack of beer this Saturday and stop in at Blackbird to celebrate this sweet Knoxville moment.
Josh Ritter Listening Party
May 1, 7-9pm
1210 Kenesaw Ave
Knoxville, TN 37919
Wednesday, April 28, 2010
OK so I had intended this to be a boring, "hey remember today is the last day to early vote in the primary for Knox County" type post. I would have said, "I'm a Burchett fan the other writers don't hate me for saying it so yippee Go Burchett". But then I read the afterthought of a story in the new Metro Pulse and have found my pet project for the next few days.
I mean, this would be a great story if he picked up the Dem. nod next Tuesday! I'm fairly seriously considering voting in the (D) primary just to support him.
Check out his Facebook page, the guy is running a pseudo-serious campaign for mayor with a few decent points, but if nothing else an ability to garner some attention.
Here's my thought, lets see if we can boost his numbers over 500 votes and make his day.
Read the MP story involving him, check out his Facebook, and apparently there is a rap video for him out there somewhere about the campaign, but I can't find it.
So all that said, vote early, vote often, and vote McBath!
(This is obviously not the rap video and not exactly his most impressive stuff but at least you can see him.)
Monday, April 26, 2010
Let me preface this post by saying RouXbarb is one of my favorite restaurants in Knoxville. I love the creativity of Bruce Bogartz's menus (and boy, does he come up with some tasty stuff), not to mention the quality of food you get for the price is amazing. Because I hold RouXbarb in such high regard, I had some serious expectations for RouXbarbecue. I mean, one of my favorite chefs tackles one of my favorite kinds of foods and promises to do some in a Memphis style? Fabulous!
Well the Modern Fiance and I paid our first visit to RouXbarbecue on Saturday and found it, well, disappointing.
Before I get into why I was disappointed, let me also say that Bruce did an amazing job transforming his space, previously the Hardees at Rocky Hill, into RouXbarbecue. It feels like a BBQ joint and looks nothing like a fast food restaurant. The aesthetic is perfect, the bar looks fun and his smoker set up out on the porch looks like a chef's dream. We sat on the patio, which was huge and also a nice touch.
But then there were the tables, which looked awesome but were hard to squeeze into, even for the 5-foot-4 Modern Gal, because they were kind of short (or maybe the benches were high) and had a lot going on on the ground to keep them propped up. I watched as a fellow diner in a wheelchair had to sit at his table at an awkward angle because he couldn't even begin to get his wheelchair to fit at the table.
Now the food, since that's what this BBQ Quest is all about. The pork was tender and the consistency was right with a little bit of the fatty stuff and a little bit of the tough stuff. But the taste was bland with no hint of smokiness to it. The bun was tasty, but the sauce was your typical North Carolina-style sauce that you find all over the place here. Runny and again, bland. I soaked my 'cue in it and still hardly tasted it. The Modern Fiance broke protocol and tried the ribs. They were Memphis-style dry rub, but I couldn't really taste the spices.
I had swooned when I heard he was offering mac and cheese with Benton's bacon mixed in. Seriously, who does not love Benton's bacon? Well, I think my serving had only two or three tiny bits of bacon, which I couldn't even taste. The mac and cheese itself? Also bland. I nibbled at the slaw, but won't pass judgment on it since I'm not much of a slaw fan. The cabbage bits were huge and it had a lot of mayo and a few spices -- the Modern Fiance approved. The fries were decent too.
The lemonade I had was tasty, and the meal came with a side of cheesy biscuity cornbready bread and dipping sauce (I think it was raspberry?) though neither blew me away. We didn't try any desserts, namely because there was no banana pudding, but I'm presuming they're similar to RouXbarb's fare and probably well worth it.
I should also note that the restaurant, which just opened on Thursday, is suffering from the typical new-restaurant service gliches, like servers forgetting to bring silverware to the tables until after the food had been served. I don't fault the restaurant for that since every new place tends to struggle with things until everyone's in a rhythm. Just be warned if you make your own visit sometime soon.
I'm not writing off RouXbarbecue completely, and for this reason: I know Bruce likes to tinker with his menus, so I *hope* he'll be working to improve his RouXbarbecue fare. I also saw some tasty-looking Po'boys at a nearby table that I'd like to try, and cajun is definitely among his talents.
7426 S. Northshore Dr.
Knoxville, TN 37919
Friday, April 23, 2010
Before I mention anything about what's going on this weekend, I want to warn everyone that the weather gurus are predicting severe weather for Saturday afternoon/evening (we're talking possible tornadoes here). Please keep that in mind before you head out to any event this weekend. Better to be safe than sorry!
Now if the weather people are wrong, as they often are, then I want to suggest to you a barbecue event that's for a very good cause. Now for me, there's always a good cause for barbecue, but this one comes with an extra benefit. The Pork Knox Q-Fest at World's Fair Park is this weekend benefitting the Knoxville disABILITY Resource Center, an organization that helps make everyday life more accessible to people with disabilities while also working as an advocacy group. They perform a great service to the community, and supporting them is very worthwile.
It is a barbecue cooking contest (though a Kansas City-sanctioned one, so keep that in mind :), and there's a whole lineup of events (click that link) from now through tomorrow evening. From 6-9 p.m. today, you can participate in the people's choice sampling. Tomorrow there's a hot-dog eating contest and you can meet the Hard Knox Rollergirls.
You've probably also heard, but the Rossini Festival is this weekend too. Street vendors will line Gay Street tomorrow, and you can catch a performance of the Barber of Seville by the Knoxville Opera today and Sunday.
So whatever you do this weekend, have fun. But more importantly, be safe and avoid any bad weather headed our way!
Thursday, April 22, 2010
Below you will find information on one art show you shouldn't miss and two calls for artists. Scroll down for more details that I've lazily copy and pasted for you.
a) Katie Ries's MFA Show at the Downtown Gallery on Gay Street, now until April 30th
b) a call for entries for the 75th Commemorative Exhibition for the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra
c) a call for entries for the International Biscuit Festival's Art Exhibition
Happy art viewing and making!!!!
a) Katie Ries MFA show: The URBAN LAND SCOUTS will be on display at the Downtown Gallery in Knoxville from April 16th - 30th.
Gallery hours are as follows:
Wednesday - Friday, 11 am - 6 pm
Saturday, 10 am - 3 pm
Closing reception and "badge ceremony" will be on the 30th, from 6-9 pm.
If you want to get plants...or look at things without a lot of people around, come before the closing reception. That will also give you time to earn a badge before the closing. Hooray.
Link to her Facebook Invitation for an event tonight!!!!
Link to Katie's blog
b) Call for Entries: 75th Anniversary Commemorative Exhibition
The Knoxville Symphony Orchestra and the Arts & Culture Alliance of Greater Knoxville announce a call for entries for the “75th Anniversary Commemorative Exhibition,” a juried exhibition developed to display artwork inspired by the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra (or of a music-related theme) in celebration of its 75th Anniversary season (2010-2011). The selected art will be exhibited at the Emporium Center in downtown Knoxville from October 1-29, 2010 with a First Friday opening.
The postmark deadline for entries is Friday, August 20, 2010.
**Artists may attend a private KSO rehearsal at the Tennessee Theatre on Wednesday, May 19, at 7:30 PM to receive direct inspiration for their artwork. To attend a rehearsal, artists MUST contact Stephanie Burdette at 865-521-2317 or Stephanie@knoxvillesymphony.com.
Artists may submit unlimited entries which must be original works created within the last two years in the following categories: Painting, Graphic Arts, Photography, and 3-D. The nonrefundable entry fee is $10 per entry (Arts & Culture Alliance members pay $7). Juror: Carl Gombert. Prizes include $250 Best of Show with possible display at the Masterworks Concerts in the Tennessee Theatre lobby on October 21-22, 2010. Download a prospectus and application at www.knoxalliance.com (under Artist Calls & Press Releases), or send an SASE to Stephanie S. Burdette, Knoxville Symphony Orchestra, 100 S. Gay Street, Knoxville, TN 37902. Information: (865) 521-2317 or Stephanie@knoxvillesymphony.com.
c) International Biscuit Festival:
Do you love your biscuit, skillet or Memaw so much you want to paint a picture? Then the Biscuit Art competition is for you! We welcome all kinds of art in line with our statement of purpose. It doesn’t even have to be of a biscuit but just something that relates to a biscuit. We’ll be exhibiting in the window display at Reruns, in Coffee and Chocolate and at the Square Room beginning on First Friday June 4th and throughout the month of June. We welcome all kinds of artists from all kinds of backgrounds. Please look over our application if you got some biscuit in you waiting to come out for the world to see. EXTENDED DEADLINE!
Biscuit Art final 2010
Biscuit Art Entry Fee – $15
Wednesday, April 21, 2010
I am a hypocrite when it comes to food. When I go to the grocery store, I try very hard to choose natural and organic foods. I would shop at the co-op, but I like meat too much, and I'm not a wealthy entrepreneur. I usually go to the Fellini Kroger, and I stick pretty well to the good advice that, if you want to eat fresher food, stay near the perimeter of the grocery store. I try to buy organic, but most of the time I can't justify spending $1.50 on an organic apple when there's one for 25 cents next to it. I do my best, though, and return home fairly happy with my healthy and environmentally conscious decisions.
And then my phone rings.
"Hi, B. Want to go to *enter Mexican restaurant name here* and drink sugary margaritas, eat non-free range meats, and queso that turns to plastic in your arteries."
"Yes. 100 times, YES!" I say.
It is hard (for me) to care about promoting organic practices while at the same time not wanting to be dietarily staunch. It is hard (for me) to only eat organic food when you greatly enjoy going out to eat.
But most people accept this tension without giving it a second thought. For example, my grandmother has a garden and most always bakes and cooks from scratch. She also keeps Little Debbie's Oatmeal Cream Pies for my grandfather, and we all know Little Debbie don't bake from scratch. My grandfather always says things like, "Don't worry so much about what you eat. I'm still alive and I've eaten whatever I've wanted all my life." It's true. He's an incredibly healthy older man.
To me, it's really overwhelming, and even a moral dilemma, thoughts like: I am against inhumane treatment of animals, but I don't know where the meat I'm eating has come from. Or, I support farmers, but I rarely buy from farmer's markets.
And, the point.
The Farmer's Market is about to start, I think in about a week and a half. A light bulb went on when I was perusing the preview last weekend in Market Square. Could I commit to only buying my groceries from the Farmer's Market this spring and summer?
I know this idea isn't novel to the man in his "Life is Good" t-shirt, shamefully shaking his head at my words, but it would drastically alter my life style. For one, I would actually have to cook and prepare food more than once every two weeks. I'd also have to go grocery shopping there at least once, maybe twice, a week as opposed to my once, maybe twice, a month routine.
Anyway, I'm mulling the idea over, and am coming up with a lot of questions besides "Will I starve to death?" I've been to the Farmer's Market a bunch, but now that I think about it, I don't know everything they offer. Is there someone there who sells milk? What if I want to bake something and need more ingredients? Will I go broke?
At the very least, it's something exciting to consider and ponder over. I'll let you know what happens. In the end, I definitely commit to kicking up my Farmer's Market attendance a few notches this coming season. Maybe you will, too?
Tuesday, April 20, 2010
I took my girlfriend, KTG, out for her birthday to the Rhythm and Blooms Festival. We took in an intimate show with Greg Horne at Remedy and a relaxing one with the Black Lilies at the Knoxville Botanical Garden.
I will now take the liberty to say that the Knoxville Botanical Garden is HANDS DOWN the best outdoor concert venue in Knoxville. With the sunset, great music, a good person by your side and of course beer and BBQ it's like seeing a show in the colorful and magical Tennessee Theatre but OUTSIDE. You can't feel the breeze inside now can you?
Ok enough jabber. Here's the take on the weekend.
Monday, April 19, 2010
lemon in a Pabst
sunlit bubbles floating up
how you wink at me!
I composed this on the Backroom BBQ patio in ode to the "Knoxville Corona" (which for the uninitiated is a PBR, preferably draft, with a lemon or lime).
Try it sometime when it's warm outside and you're broke.
Friday, April 16, 2010
Last summer, I moved away from Maplehurst. I had lived there the two years after I graduated from college, two very fun and important years.
I've written a lot about the dire situation there. It was hard to live there as a tenant because you saw the damage of the buildings and couldn't do much about it. You also knew the good things about the neighborhood were at risk, too, but you tried to enjoy them while you could.
One night while living there, I decided to take a photo shoot of the beautiful Dogwood tree outside of my apartment. I had this funny feeling that after I left, some future crazy owner would cut it down.
A few weeks ago, a current tenant in Maplehurst told me I should come by and see the trees the new owners had started to cut down. As I drove up Poplar to Maplehurst, I looked for my tree. The current crazy owner had cut it down.
They had cut down some others too. Some people who lived there had started an impromptu boycott against the men cutting down the trees, which in turn caused some of the new owners to come over and explain things.
The suited men stood and rationalized their decisions to the young crowd that had gathered outside of the Kristopher apartment building. They said they were cutting down trees that were a threat to the buildings and to people. It did and didn't make sense. As they were talking, men with chainsaws began hacking away at a large Magnolia tree.
"What's wrong with the Magnolia?" The crowd asked.
"Oh. We just want to get a good view of the pretty buildings we have here. They're only trimming them."
I realized nothing was going to stop what they were doing. They owned the property after all.
It's been about a month since then. I heard recently how terrible things have become there. I went last night to see it for myself. They took down so many trees, and have hacked away at several others. The Magnolia they were "trimming" isn't really a Magnolia anymore.
I ran into a friend that lives there. She told me there is construction all day long, starting at 7am and that the men working have actually moved into her apartment building. As they carried cases of liquor into their apartment, she kissed the charm and peace of Maplehurst goodbye.
Something I wanted for Maplehurst while I was there was a neighborhood association so tenants' voices could be heard. But that's the thing about living in Maplehurst. You decide to move there based on your attraction of the tall unwieldy trees and old buildings. You begin to think that, because you think it's a magical place, everyone else must too. The threat of it being destroyed is always there, but you begin to walk around with your shoes off and you call up to your neighbors' windows to ask when they're going to come out and play. And you go night swimming in the Maplehurst pool after biking from downtown. You're too busy living while you are there to form any kind of organization. Then it's time to move because your ceiling is crumbling away a little too much. And nothing ever gets better.
To me, it was great to see that crowd of Maplehurst dwellers stand up against the trees being cut down. It is a rare thing for students to care about the longevity of good things in Knoxville. To most students, Knoxville is like a vacation. They're here to have a fun time, but they're packing up when it's over.
I've seen a lot of good people move from Maplehurst, and they continue to leave. I can only assume this is what the owners want in order to prepare for a new crop of inhabitants who won't mind the changes (because they won't know them as changes).
I applaud every effort to preserve what is there. Of course! But at the same time I mourn what will be lost. Time will tell, but it could be the beginning of the end of the free spirit Maplehurst has struggled to hold onto. It's on to something more ordered and polished, something I just didn't want right after college. This is just how it goes, I am told.
joe plays the fiddle by my dogwood tree, spring 2009
Thursday, April 15, 2010
A little less than a year ago, we here at the Wigshop aired a few grievances -- for better or for worse -- about Sundown in the City and the effects it had on downtown. Before you get all up in arms, let me remind you that we do LOVE the premise of Sundown bringing people to our favorite part of the city, and we LOVE what Sundown has done to promote music in Knoxville. But we were concerned that people didn't do enough to respect downtown while they were there by disrespecting local businessowners and employees, leaving their trash and wreaking general havoc.
AC Entertainment must have heard what we (and others) had to say and decided to scale back on the event this year, cutting from 12 Thursday shows to five. Ashley Capps told Knoxville.com that 'We plan to do fewer events, but do them really, really well.'
The official schedule was released last week, and I'm curious to know what people think about it. I know lots of people are either really excited about the Drive-By Truckers or at least curious to see them live for their first time. I've seen Blues Traveler live (albeit several years ago), and they put on a decent show. Every person I've mentioned Tonic has said something to the effect of, 'Oh yeah, I remember that one song they had.' And it's always nice to see Jill Andrews take the stage.
I also noticed on Sundown's website, a 'Recycling' link where the sponsors encourage everyone to recycle their drink cups. I can't remember if that's been on the website before, but I hope AC Entertainment does make recycling as easy as throwing cups on the ground or in the trash.
So what do you all think about the acts and how having fewer shows will impact the event overall?
Wednesday, April 14, 2010
Oh man, do I love baseball. I am from the Detroit area, and one of my all time favorite activities is attending Tigers games with my dad or with friends. Nothing better than a summer night, a cold beer, a delicious hot dog and a great ball game.
I have been super jealous of all my friends around the country as they've updated their Facebook statuses bragging about which home openers they're attending - Detroit, Chicago, DC... In fact, my friend Hillary is at a Tigers game as I type this, and I would just love to be there too.
Well, call me an idiot because while we don't have a pro team here in Knoxville, we do have the Tennessee Smokies, and yet I have NEVER been to one of their games. This is the summer that I will remedy that problem. It just so happens that tonight is their home opener, so you could still get yourself some tickets and head out to that game. It starts at 7:15, and it's a beautiful night for baseball.
If you can't make it tonight, there are about a million other games to attend this summer.
I think it's time for a wigshop field trip.
Tuesday, April 13, 2010
for the inevitable and infamous first air quality alert day in knoxville. And KAT is running free all day.
so, you must be asking, what is this air quality alert day and why today? the most basic information that's available is that "sensitive groups" (e.g. elderly and children) should avoid prolonged exposure outside.
air quality is monitored and regulated by knox county, which leads me to ask, why don't we hear more about the condition of air quality on non-alert days? today's alert is elevated for low-level ozone, which isn't directly emitted from tailpipes, but is formed when those emissions (carbon monoxide, carbon dioxide, and nitrogen oxides) react with sunlight. it seems that low-level ozone is created near the source of emissions, rather than blown in from elsewhere (like how acid rain has affected our area).
when i first moved here i noticed that knoxville was a "nonattainment area" according to the EPA for ozone and fine particulate matter. and, apparently, it still is.
here are a few questions to others who might know more about air pollution and how to reduce it in knoxville.
1) If cars are the problem, what is the solution? Can we significantly offset driving alone in knoxville? smart trips is a great program, and needs to expand. Employers could match the smart trips incentives, and priority can be given in parking spaces to those who carpool. Smart trips rewards are currently ~$40 in gift certificates to awesome retailers downtown, and anyone can participate.
2) Do we need emissions standards? i'll admit, my converter needs to be replaced on my car. if i lived in atlanta or nashville, i would have to replace it in order to renew my car registration, but, shamefully, i won't replace it because i don't have to. confession is good for the soul.
3) Do we need more public transportation options? this blog has talked alot about fixed rail trolleys, but are those kinds discussions happening with development and redevelopment projects?
4) Is TDOT's "drive slower" campaign working? i personally prefer a "drive less" campaign, because driving less reduces gas consumption, and could reduce gas prices. but then you could get into a whole bunch of other problems like gas consumption rebounding and stuff.
I once heard that air pollution was so bad in Chattanooga and Knoxville in the 1980s that business folks downtown had to change shirt collars at lunch because the black dust from coal fired factories was so bad. Fortunately, the days of black plumes of smoke downtown are behind us. But when we look ahead, it doesn't seem that the air quality problem is going away without trying, even when we aren't on alert.
what are your thoughts on knoxville's air quality? (for those of you suffering from the pollen, i can sympathize, but let's not cut down the trees and flowers just yet!)
Monday, April 12, 2010
Greetings all, I hope you made it out to the Dogwood Arts Festival this weekend. Our downtown was packed with locals and visitors taking in the sights, sounds and smells (Kettle Corn!) of this most perfect weekend.
In case you missed it, here are a few shots from yesterday's festivities. Enjoy.
Look! kids that aren't afraid of clowns. Now that's progress.
Bubbles - bringing hippies and children together since the dawn of time.
Hey, is that B with a sweet tat?
As the resident politico laureate at the Wigshop it is my duty to stay up on happening around town that are of a political nature. Typically this is a column where I would bring you sordid details, gossip, rumor, and innuendo about local politicians who do bad things. (You know who you are and I'm watching.)
But today I am actually a little off of my game. I'm interested in finding out if there will be a Tea Party in Knoxville on the 15th and some of the details and plans. Also, if there will be counter-parties I.E. Coffee Party, etc. I'd love to know about those.
Add your knowledge to the comments and get a prize, by that I mean a warm feeling in your heart for being helpful.
Friday, April 09, 2010
Oui, le Pol c'est Francais ce soir.
This post is a bit delayed, but that only makes the descriptions more honed.
Over Valentines weekend Mrs. The Pol and I went to Le Parigo for their late night prix fixe menu. It was a three course dinner for about $50 a head, and all I can say is wow.
This was not our first foray to our downtown fine French cuisine locale, but it was by far our most expansive view of the chefs offerings and abilities.
The opening volley began with Smoked Duck Breast Salad that was lushly savory and was delightfully complemented by the addition of pears and a rich peppercorn sauce. There was also a lobster dish (I'm not crazy about lobster, but it was tasty) that didn't rock my world like the duck did, sorry we'll move on. Please see the lovely presentation below.
The main course was enjoined with a fight of the meats. I had the lamb chops, medium rare, and they were immensely enjoyable. They came served with brussels sprouts and carrots with a delicate and tangy sauce. All quite satisfying and balanced. That leads me to the petite filet Mrs. The Pol ordered.
I have to stop here because rarely am I amazed. I have had the good opportunity in my few years to eat amazing food in some interesting and renowned places and thought I had a proper expectation for the top end flavor limit of a filet mignon, I was wrong.
Le Parigo served us that evening a true treat in their steak. It was rich, it was beautiful, it was inspired. The quality of the meat shone out while a delicate crust added a texture that surprised and satisfied as it lead to the warm embrace of the steak.
The pairings of a potato hash stack, asparagus, crab, and a modified burre blanc sauce created a graceful dance of flavor. It was, to quote my grandmother, "divine".
Dessert found us with a cheese plate that consisted of the most un-brie tasting brie that had me lingering over each bite for minutes and a lemon tartlet that, though a bit tangy for where we had just come from food wise, was delicious.
I could also go into the quality of the service as they were keenly unhurried and allowed for the experience of the meal to be enjoyed fully. The wine list, though short, offers numerous quality French varietals that are sufficient for my purposes.
Please, if you haven't had a reason to spend more than you intended to in a while on a meal, find an excuse and go to Le Parigo. They are a jewel in the downtown Knoxville food crown, truly worth the time and money... oh and I didn't even mention the Pork Belly...
416 West Clinch Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37902
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Thursday, April 08, 2010
Not long ago, Knoxville had 20 textile mills around town, and, as a result, was known as the Underwear Capital of the World. As sad as it has been to lose this incredible identity, it seems we may have something just as bizarre but much more classy to help put us back on the map.
"What's that?" you sit and think. Biscuits.
On June 5, 2010, Market Square is putting on the first annual International Biscuit Festival. I conducted my first Wigshop interview last week with John Craig, president of the Market Square District Association and founder of the festival. I will share with you what he told me about this festive occasion.
He admits the biscuit idea was not originally his. For at least a decade, there has been talk about creating a biscuit festival in Knoxville because of White Lily Flour's presence, which, some believe, make the best biscuits. But it takes a man like John Craig, aka Mr. Biscuit, to make this kind of thing a reality.
It started with a revolutionary moment when John's biscuit brain cells kicked into high gear. During First Night, the downtown-wide New Year's Eve event he created, he and others were working out in the cold when they came up with a great idea: "Let's do something like this but warm."
I can envision them out in the Square, conjuring up ideas about biscuits and biscuit related events. What better to warm the soul?
After that, the party planning committee formed, known as the Biscuit Brain Trust. Here's a quick rundown of things they foresee happening on June 5. As you read them, think biscuit-themed:
- music and bands performing at the Square Room, WDVX, and the Market Square stage
- improv performance by Einstein simplified
- a song writing contest
- VIP breakfast
- a film festival, including a documentary
- Biscuit Boulevard (a boulevard of biscuit taste-testing samples)
- a Biscuit Bake off
- a Biscuit Bazaar (where you can buy biscuit accoutrements, i.e. honey)
- the Biscuit Bolt, a 1 mile run (which Mr. Biscuit says will be carbo loading in reverse)
- an art exhibit
- a Miss Biscuit pageant with an apron fashion show and biscuit baking contest
A little something for everyone. I propose they have a biscuit war, kind of like Spain and their tomatoes.
The underlying goal, as always, is to create something Knoxvillians can enjoy and that potentially draws biscuit enthusiasts from around the globe. Biscuit Mecca. It's definitely something to think about.
The International Biscuit Festival
June 5, 2010
9am to 7pm
Wednesday, April 07, 2010
Have you ever been to Cades Cove? It's one of my favorite places in the entire region, and I think that if you haven't been, you need to get on out there. It's been closed for a few months for a re-paving project, but so much progress has been made that it's set to re-open on April 24, about a month ahead of schedule.
If you haven't been, don't know, or live under a rock, Cades Cove is the most visited location in the Great Smoky Mountains National Park. Over 2 million visitors hit the spot each year. It's a beautiful preserve near the Townsend end of the park, and the drive to get there is, in itself, pretty beautiful. I like to leave nice and early, 6am-ish, on weekend morning. I get my hot Americano and then head out Alcoa Highway, through Maryville, Walland and Townsend and into the Park. Once you get through Townsend, you can just follow the signs to Cades Cove. There's an 11 mile loop surrounding the cove, and it's open to automobiles, cyclists, walkers and runners and horses. The re-paving project was actually to widen the road (I think), which should make it a little easier for the non-driving visitors to get around. I'm really excited for that. Personally, I don't know why you'd choose to drive the loop. It seems kind of counter-intuitive to me. Let's drive out to this nature preserve and then pollute it with our automobile while we sit in traffic on the 11 mile loop for a few hours. This has never made sense to me, but I don't call the shots.
The way to do the loop is by foot - whether you're using them to peddle a bike or they're actually hitting the pavement. It'll take you a few hours to complete, but it's definitely worth the energy. The valley is expansive, and the scenery is breathtaking. To use an overused word but apply its actual meaning, it can be a sublime experience. Running Cades Cove loop with friends is one of my all-time favorite activities. I can't wait to do it again when the loop re-opens.
May through September on Wednesdays and Saturdays, the loop is supposed to be closed to auto traffic until 10am so that runners and riders can have free reign of the road. This may change due to the re-paving project, and the last time I ran Cade's Cove was a Saturday in September and there were definitely cars on the loop before 10am, so I am not sure what happened there. The good news is that there are plenty of resources to keep us all informed. You can always check with the GSMNP Or another resource that you may not know about is Pigeonforge.com. This is an awesome wealth of information about our neighbor PF and its surrounding areas. It's a really well maintained website, so I definitely recommend that you check it out from time to time. In fact, that's where I first found out that the loop was opening early.
The exciting news is that there's going to be a race to celebrate the re-opening - the Cades Cove Loop Lope. It's scheduled to take place on opening weekend, April 24th. I don't have many details yet. The link above says pretty much all that I know at this point, but I've heard that KTC will eventually post more information as well. What I have heard is that they are asking people to carpool (not a lot of parking up there) and that the registration fee may be a little hefty but that proceeds go to the park, which is, after all, a good cause.
So if you're looking for fun weekend activities in the area, my suggestion is that you add Cades Cove to your list. Holla.
Tuesday, April 06, 2010
I was heading out to West Knoxville on business the other day and looking for lunch on the way when it occured to me that I still had not tried Dead End BBQ on Sutherland Ave. It was a beautiful day, so it seemed like the perfect time to try out Dead End's patio.
The atmosphere is very nice if you're looking for something that isn't the typical BBQ dive. It reminds me a little of the Sticky Fingers franchise in Chattanooga and the Carolinas. There's a fancy-schmancy bar and the patio has a humongous flat-screen TV (though when we were there it was tuned to CNN without any closed-caption, so I'm not really sure the point there).
The menu kind of reminded me of Sticky Fingers too for its sheer variety. I spent probably 10 minutes gazing at the things I wanted to try while reminding myself that this BBQ Quest was focused on pulled pork sandwiches. I really wanted to try the BBQ nachos, BBQ sliders and the cheese dip w/ pulled pork mixed in (you get Fritos for dipping!). But, alas, I only have so much room in my belly so they'll have to wait for another time.
So, about the pulled pork for which I quest. It was good. It wasn't my favorite, but it's enough to satisfy a basic barbecue craving. It was mostly tender. It's already got some sort of seasoning or sauce mixed into it, which I was ambivalent about because while I liked the taste I felt like it masked the flavor of the meat a little too much. (If you accuse me of being picky, you won't be the first one).
Dead End offers three different kinds of sauces with the bottles right there on the table. They seemed to each be a variation of the same thin, vinegary sauce with increasing level of spiciness The flavor was decent, but again, not my preference.
The sides. like the nontraditional pork offerings, all piqued my interest. I ended up going with corn on the cob, which was oozing with butter and delicious -- hard to ruin corn on the cob. I also got the mac and pimento cheese. It was, well, very pimentoey. My dining companion got the beans and smoked sausage as a side. The sausage didn't do much to improve the beans, so I'd recommend going with the standard side of beans, known as the Mayor's Beans.
As I'm reading back over this post, it almost sounds like I didn't like Dead End. Please don't get that impression. Overall it's a nice package, and if I wanted to get barbecue with several friends with diverse tastes Dead End would be a great place to go. The service was solid, and I will be going back to try some sliders and nachos AND the peanut butter pie that's listed under desserts. But if my Memphis tastebuds need a barbecue fix, Dead End just isn't quite my style.
Dead End BBQ (that link has a menu and all the info you could want)
3621 Sutherland Avenue
Knoxville, TN 37919-4309
Monday, April 05, 2010
So, despite being on the interweb the Wigshop is not chock full of web savvy people. We're writers, artists, and wannabe politicians. It was a big deal for us to even get our own domain name.
Well, we done got claim jumped on that one (see? writers.) http://wigsphere.com accidentally expired and was snatched up by a fella named Zach in Ft. Lauderdale. Be sure check out his awesome website. Assuming he wants to profit from our misfortune, and that we don't make any money doing this, it's time to move on to a new domain. We're having an internal Wigshop debate about where to go, but feel free to chime in on the comments below.
In related news, we've ventured into the popular social media site Facebook with our very own page. If you feel like elevating your status from "casual observer" to "fan" feel free to check it out.
Things should be back to normal in a few days. If you're voting in the Best of Knoxville poll (and would like to vote for us) be sure to put "wigsphere.com" for the sake of consistency. Thanks for all your votes!
Coming up, we have BBQ Quest returning, the inside scoop on the Biscuit Fest, Cades Cove is reopening, and a rant against the concept of the One Way Street. Come on back!
So last night Mrs. The Pol, Momma of The Pol, Baby Sister of The Pol, and myself all went out to dinner at Soccer Taco On Market Square. I love having a quick and easy Mexican place on the square and also wanted a cold beer. The food was expectantly good for what it is and the beer was cold so wins there, but I have to point out the faults because this has happened twice now.
The front of the house manager really needs to get his act together because the service is lacking. From the almost fight that broke out over tables on the patio to the time it took to place drink orders (and then have the drink order be partially wrong) there are some sophomore year bumps that need to be worked out.
Unfortunately I'm not picking on this aspect just after one night. Several weeks ago the Mrs. and I tried to go. We were seated on the patio and after 20-25 minutes of being ignored, by three different waiters, we walked over to Lenny's for a grab-and-go.
Again, let me say I love Soccer Taco, I just want it to improve in the service dept. so that I can feel comfortable making it a part of my dinner rotation.