May 7th, 2017 was a day for the record books right here in Knoxville.
It was the day of the first ever Knoxville Food and Wine Yard Party at The Mill and Mine on West Depot Avenue, filled with some of the most talented and renowned chefs, bakers, beer enthusiasts, wine connoisseurs and more that our scruffy little city has to offer. The Mill and Mine is a gorgeous and picturesque setting on its own, but add in some of the most beautiful pastries and baked goods around, and some of the most tasty and delightfully picture perfect "chef's table" plates hand crafted by our talented downtown Knoxville chefs, and well, it was simply a day to remember.
So enjoy yourselves as you look over these attractive pictures and explanations of some of the highlights of the day, and leave any comments with your thoughts, questions, or praises below!
The whole event as accompanied by ear pleasing music from the Old City Buskers, cornhole and jenga provided by The Mill and Mine out on their beautifully landscaped and arranged outdoor patio, and just good times all around.
With ticket prices at just $60 a person, and the option to buy them online ahead of time, or even at the door, the amount of food, drinks and entertainment you get in a total of 7 hours (should you stay that long) is definitely a great value for the price.
I cannot wait to attend again (hopefully) next year, and hope those of you who hadn't heard of this, or were skeptical to go, join in next time as well!
Here at East TN Tours, we couldn't be more thrilled than to come up with one more way to give folks a chance to experience our great city of Knoxville!
Seek Knoxville is now the first EVER continually run and locally owned and operated scavenger hunt in downtown Knoxville. You will figure your way through our clue booklet, filled with puzzles, riddles and ciphers to make your way to the final destination and obtain a prize! And don't worry, we haven't excluded those who may not be "smart phone savvy", as your entire scavenger hunt is all pen and paper based. (Side note--we hope to be launching a totally digital hunt in the near future, as well! )
Seek Knoxville is basically your own "self guided tour" through our picturesque downtown, where you'll see sights you may be familiar with, and some (hopefully) new ones you've never been to, or never even knew were there!
We've made this scavenger hunt from the ground up, concocting the various brain twisters with historical information in mind, and making it flow in such a way that you can get a wonderful overview of our lovely downtown during your time Seeking.
Our Seeks will be perfect for birthday parties, church outings, team building, bachelor/bachelorette parties, corporate events, anniversaries, dates and much more!
And as a super special bonus for reading this blog, you can type in code
when checking out to receive a 15% discount on your booking now through the end of June, 2017!
We hope to see you Seeking Knoxville soon, and finding more ways to explore the area!
Every March 17th, even if you're not Irish, you pretend like you are!
We spend the day preparing for a night we probably (and maybe even hope) we won't remember.
Now you might not feel completely enthralled and excited about reading these St. Patrick's Day fun facts, but trust me, you'll be the life of the drunken party when you can spew out these random tid-bits and impress your friends!
--Did you know St. Patrick wasn't even born in Ireland?! And his real name isn't even Patrick, for that matter. He was likely born around 387 A.D and was born as Maewyn Succat in Britain (which was then part of the Roman Empire). Legend has it that he was sold into slavery when he was only 16, was held in captivity for 6 years, becoming religious during that time, escaped back to Britain, became an ordained Priest and decided to go by Patrick, and then started his mission converting Irish pagans to Christianity.
--St. Patrick's day is celebrated on the date of his death, which is believed to be somewhere around 460 A.D. All this time many people believe this day marks his birthday, sanctification, etc. But nope, it's the day of his death!
--Did St. Patrick really get the snakes out of Ireland? Much to disbelief, he did not. There were never actually any snakes in Ireland at that time, and some say it's more of a metaphor for him driving out paganism from the country.
--Was the shamrock really used by St. Patrick for his teachings? While it can't be proven or disproved, it's believed he used the three sides of the shamrock to explain the Holy Trinity--God the Father, Jesus Christ, and the Holy Spirit.
--St. Patrick's day was first celebrated by people of Irish decent in Boston in 1737, as a way to keep their heritage alive. Ireland didn't even start celebrating the holiday until 1903! Some historians even credit America solely for the popularity of this holiday, where it's thought the massive festivities in America are what lead to pubs and bars in Ireland to open on the holiday in the 1960's.
Alright, enough with the "history nerd" stuff...here's some delicious and interesting St. Patrick's Day FOOD facts!:
--Guinness should take the Guinness world record for the most beer ever drank on a holiday (see what I did there?). Worldwide consumption of Guinness almost triples on St. Patrick's Day, from 5.5 million pints on a regular day to 13 million pints. Cheers to 150 pints per second!
--Corned beef eating was actually invented by Irish people living in New York, not even native Irish people started that! That might explain why in the U.S. over 26 billion pounds of beef and 2 billion pounds of cabbage are produced during this time of the year. And the majority of that beef comes from Texas, and most of that cabbage comes from California.
--And that original Guinness Brewery in Dublin? Yea, it has a 9,000 year lease...
--And that oh so delicious Bailey's Irish Cream we (all) love was launched in Ireland in the 1970's, is now the most popular liqueur in the world.
--"A side of mashed, please." If you didn't know this already, most everything in Irish cuisine centers around potatoes. Whether they're mashed, boiled, roasted, smashed, fried, or however you eat em', they're delicious. Chef's at the best Irish restaurants in the world will tell you no meal, even the fanciest, 5-star one, isn't complete without them. Sadly, The Great Potato Famine that struck during the mid 1800's killed nearly one million people during a span of five years.
So how can you get your Irish on in our scruffy city of Knoxville?
Here's a great list of events, festivals, and more going on in our green little city!:
--The big, general "Knox Shamrock Fest" or "2017 Irish Festival" kicks off Friday March 17th at 3pm and runs until 7pm, starting again Saturday March 18th at 10am in Market Square, ending at 4pm. This two day, festivity filled festival is perfect for the entire family, and features live music, inflatables, slides, obstacle courses, a carousal, food vendors and more, and promises to be a lucky time!
*Find out more information HERE
-Friday, March 17th, starting at 7pm is the ever-popular Knoxville St. Patrick's Day Parade. The first ever city-sanctioned parade in Knoxville was way back in 1869. Proceeds from this event benefit Catholic Charities of East Tennesse and the East Tennessee Kidney Foundation.
*To find more about this year's parade, click HERE
--The Old City is also hosting a Pub Crawl starting after the parade at 8pm. For just a $10 wristband fee, you can get into 7 different Old City venues, with proceeds benefiting the Historic Old City Association.
*To find out more, check out their Facebook event page HERE
--East Tennessee Kidney Foundation's Lucky Kidney Run happens on Saturday March 18th at 10am, and features a 6k and 2k course. These two different runs go through Market Square and Gay Street and surrounding streets, and promises to be a fun (and healthy) time in Knoxville
*Read more about these fun runs HERE
--And last, but DEFINITELY not least, you can hop on one of downtown Knoxville's most exciting, tasty and delightful food tours our "scruffy city" has to offer!
We've got our yummy five restaurant, three hour Chef's Table food tours running Friday March 17th and Saturday March 18th from 2-5pm.
You can also cure your hangover blues with a Sunday Bountiful Brunch food tour on Sunday March 19th from 1:30-3:30pm, joining us on a three restaurant, two hour brunch extravaganza.
Any of these Knoxville food tours would be a wonderful addition to your planned St. Patrick's day events, and space will soon fill up, so book your tour today!
And just as a "thank you" for making it down to the end of the blog, we've got a special discount that's good starting now through the END of March!
Type in code STPATKNOX when checking out, and you'll get 15% OFF your entire booking!
Oh, Valentine's Day...or as many people call it "Single's Awareness Day".
But you're never truly alone when you're with the one you love...and if you love food, then you're never really alone, right?!
Here's some fun and frivolous Valentine's Day facts to spice up your next conversation:
--You know the infamous Cadbury Creme Eggs? Well, Richard Cadbury, whom they are named after and invented by, actually invented the FIRST box of Valentine's Day themed chocolates in the 1880's.
--More than 36 million heart-shaped boxes of chocolate will be sold for Valentine's Day.
--Cherries actually belong to the rose family, making them an even more passionate fruit than we had originally thought.
--In the 1800s physicians commonly advised broken hearted patients to eat chocolate to calm their pining.
--The avocado isn’t just an excellent source of protein and healthy fat. This fruit is also an Aztec symbol of love and fertility. As if that wasn’t romantic enough, they also grow in pairs. Isn’t that sweet?
--Throughout history, chocolate has always been seen as an aphrodisiac: Madame DuBarry served chocolates to all of her suiters, Cassanova consumed chocolate instead of champagne to induce romance, and the ancient Aztec king, Montezuma believed chocolate would make him fertile.
--Starting your Valentine’s Day meal off with oysters may truly help set the mood. This seafood is considered an aphrodisiac due to its high zinc content, which is linked to testosterone production and male fertility.
--8 billion conversation hearts will be produced this year, enough candies to stretch from Rome, Italy to Valentine, Arizona 20 times and back again.
Personally, I cannot think of a BETTER way to show that special person in your life you care about them than by giving the gift of a one-of-a-kind food tour through downtown Knoxville!
We've got unique food tours running the Friday, Saturday and Sunday before AND after the big day, and even one ON Valentine's Day!
Our standard, three hour, five restaurant "Chef's Table Tour" runs Friday February 10th, Saturday February 11th, Tuesday February 14th, Friday February 17th and Saturday February 18th.
Our more specialized, two hour, three restaurant "Sunday Bountiful Brunch Tour" runs Sunday February 12th and Sunday February 19th.
Each one of these unparalleled downtown Knoxville food tours is sure to please anyone you gift it to!
Interested in gifting a special and unique food tour to someone exceptional in your life?
If you're unable to physically be with your loved one this Valentine's Day, we've got a solution just for you!
Simply head over to our "Gift Certificates" page, and see how you can easily purchase as many of our amazing experiences as your heart desires!
As we're about to ring in 2017, make resolutions we know we won't keep, and hopefully not be too intoxicated that we need Ryan Seacrest's help to count backwards from ten, here's some fun facts about New Years and the food traditions that go along with it:
1) Black-eyed peas and greens...what's the big deal?
If you talk to a Southerner, they'll tell you eating black-eyed peas on New Year's Day dates back to the Civil War. Black-eyed peas were considered in the low class of animal food, much like other types of peas were. When General Sherman's Union troops raided the Confederate food supplies, legend states they took everything but left the black-eyes peas and salted pork. The Confederates considered themselves very lucky they left those items behind, so they'd still survive through the winter. From that point, black-eyed peas became a symbol of luck.
Others will tell you that since much of the South is farmland, and black-eyed peas hold up well through the winter, they're cheap and just make sense!
An interesting note, though, is that there are records dating back to the ancient Egyptians stating that Pharaohs of the time would eat black-eyed peas, as it was considered a "meager" food, to show their humility before the gods. The thought was, you showed your meekness, and you'd be blessed, and avoid the gods wrath,
As far as preparation, black-eyed peas are often served with collard, turnip or mustard greens, with the peas symbolizing coins, and the greens symbolizing money or cash. Cornbread is also typically served with black-eyed peas, with the cornbread representing gold. Some people will even tell you to put a shiny penny or dime into the pot right before you serve the peas, and the person who receives the bowl with that coin will get the most luck in the New Year. Let's just hope no one ends up chipping a tooth, or accidentally swallows the coin, which seems to me like it might definitely be a sign of bad luck in the year to come...
2) Don't eat anything that can turn around or go backwards!
It may sound silly, but this is actually a huge superstition with many people! Pork is a very popular and tradition rich food to eat at New Years for two reasons. One, is that it was left by the Union troops during the Civil War and not stolen (see above). But another main reason is that swine cannot turn their heads to look back, therefore they're always "moving forward." They also "root" themselves into the ground before going forwards, symbolizing a rooted new year to come. So eat up that pork!
The opposite goes for lobsters, however, as they can move backwards, representing setbacks instead of good fortune for the new year. You may even run into people who tell you to avoid eating chicken (or anything that flys for that matter) on New Years, as it symbolizes your good luck and fortune flying away. Chickens in particular scratch themselves backwards as well, so there's a double no on those birds!
3) We shouldn't clean our plates?
There is also a superstition saying that you should leave a tiny bit of food on your plate at the end of the night, symbolizing you'll have plenty in the year to come. Or you can look at it as a "jumpstart" to your new years diet,..
4) If you believe in some British superstitions...
If you go to crack open eggs for any reason, be sure to crush every bit of the remaining shells. If you don't, there's a legend that a British witch will scoop them up, use them as a boat, then sail around causing storms and a string of bad luck.
5) Drink up that wine, but take careful notes with the grapes!
That's right, people over in Spain eat exactly 12 grapes at the stroke of midnight, each one symobilizing a month of the year. Word has it, that if you get a particularly bad or sour one in your mouth, say, for your third grape, then March might be a rough and rocky month for you.
6) Eat something round...not square, not triangular, round!
Whether it be cakes, doughnuts, pastries, you name it, as long as it's round, you're sure to bring in a great new year, as the round shape represents things coming full circle.
7) If you're in Greece, be prepared to waste a perfectly good piece of fruit!
In Greece, as soon as the new year is here, they take a whole pomegranate and smash it (that's right, SMASH IT) on the floor. Once it's broken open and seeds are a spillin', they view it as "the more seeds, the more luck."
8) Have you practiced your slurping technique?
In Japanese and Chinese traditions, get yourself a big bowl of some type of noodle (like soba), and slurp the night away. But you only get the good luck if you can slurp the whole noodle without breaking or chewing it!
9) Let them have cake!
Let's hope you like your family, because one tradition says when baking a cake, you're suppossed to let each member of the family get a turn at mixing the cake batter, symbolizing family and togetherness. Some countries also place "special treats" inside the batter, like a candy coated nut or even a money coin into the cake batter, and whover gets that special piece when cut will have the most fortune in the year to come.
10) It may smell, but eating fish is also definitely a must!
Numerous countries and people groups also eat some type of fish for a couple of reasons. One being (similar to pigs) is that they cannot go backwards, and only swim forwards, thereby symbolizing progression and moving forward in the coming year. Some countries, like Japan, specifically eat Snapper, because of the color of the skin symbolizing good luck.
So there ya' have it, the most generally talked about and read about New Years food traditions you may come across.
Here's to hoping we can stay awake past 9pm, stop lying to ourselves about making lifestyle changes and do something else on New Year's Eve besides trying to figure out where to spend New Year's Eve.
Do you or your family have any "must have" New Years food traditions, superstitions or beliefs? Comment below and tell us about em'!
If you want to skip right to the "holiday things to do in Knoxville", just scroll down to the bottom.
"Thanksgiving is an emotional time. People travel thousands of miles to be with people they see only once a year. And then they discover once a year is way too often."--Johnny Carson.
Oh, the joys of Thanksgiving, am I right?! What's better than spending countless hours planning for one day of the year, being especially stressed out for those agonizing hours right before the big day arrives, all the have it disappear at the stroke of midnight on November 24th. And immediately when you wake up the next morning...BAM, Christmas here we come. Well, that is unless you're one of those "over achievers" who put their Christmas decorations up right after Halloween. And to you I say...
But in all seriousness, did you know there are some REALLY COOL facts about Thanksgiving, and why we eat what we eat, do what we do, and more?! Well, in case you didn't, East TN Tours is here to enlighten you! So here we go...
1) A person consumes an average of 4,500 calories on Thanksgiving. Roughly 3,000 of that is for the actual meal, and 1,500 is just for snacking!
So you know how we set our clocks back each November? My advice...set your scale back 10 pounds...
2) And the food with the most calories? It's none other than the beloved pecan pie.
Shhh, don't tell anyone, but I actually really hate this kind of pie...
3) Turkey doesn’t really make you tired; the tryptophan in the meat doesn’t really take effect because of all the other amino acids present. It’s more likely that all the wine and beer you’re drinking has made you sleepy.
Ok, my husband is a doctor, so we're gonna argue with you on this one...
4) Let's face it, your history is a "little off" if you think turkey was on the menu at the first Thanksgiving. The pilgrims and Indians most likely ate things like deer meat, duck, pumpkin (NOT pumpkin pie), actual cranberries (not relish!), and no, turduckens were probably not on the menu either.
I'll admit it, several years ago when I was still in high school, I convinced my mom to let us try a turducken, and it was gross....
5) This yummy holiday has actually had a long lasting effect on our society in the field of TV dinners. That's right! The TV dinner was actually invented by Swanson in 1953 because they had so much leftover turkey, and a salesman convinced them they should package it up in an aluminum tray with other sides. And BAM, the first TV dinner was born.
I can only imagine those days back in the 50's when these things first came out...families sitting around with their pop up tray tables all eating a reheated TV dinner together. I'm lucky if my husband will let me buy a lean cuisine...
6) The National Turkey Federation estimated that 46 million turkeys—one fifth of the annual total of 235 million consumed in the United States—were eaten at Thanksgiving.
Sorry, you poor, sweet birds...you don't stand a chance...
7) Black Friday is the busiest day for Roto-Rooter, a major plumbing service. They are called in to clean up “overwhelmed” sewer systems.
Ew, just ew.....
8) Not so fast. Only male turkeys, called toms, gobble. Females, called hens, cackle.
Gobble, cackle, we don't care...as long as you taste good!
9) If Ben Franklin had it his way, the turkey would be our national bird. An eagle, he wrote in a letter to his daughter, had "bad moral character." A turkey, on the other hand, was a "much more respectable bird."
Ben Franklin has been right most of his life...
10) Last, but not least a quaint little poem to brighten your Thanksgiving spirits:
"May your stuffing be tasty,
May your turkey be plump.
May your potatoes and gravy never have a lump.
May your yams be delicious,
May your pies take the prize.
May your Thanksgiving dinner,
Stay off of your thighs!
So are you curious about what's happening in Knoxville this holiday season? No fear! We've compiled a great list of all the fun, festive things going on in and around downtown this year:
Oh, and don't forget! East TN Tours has Chef's Table and Bountiful Brunch food tours running Thanksgiving weekend, on Friday, Saturday and Sunday! Slots are starting to fill up, so get yourself, family, friends and loved ones booked while you can!
Do you have any favorite Thanksgiving recipes, traditions, or funny family quirks? Comment below to tell us about them!
Three Sunday's ago, my hubby and I decided to try our hand at the local brewery tour, Knox Brew Tours, here in Knoxville. For your reading pleasure, here's the good, the bad, the....wait...there is no bad! This local Knoxville tour is a definite must try for anyone new to the area, new to craft brewed beers, or a local who hasn't had to chance to explore all the great offerings our city has to offer! Here's how the tour went for us...
We started off meeting the Brew Bus at the Casual Pint downtown, basically adjacent to Market Square. Keep in mind, you'll need to find parking downtown in a garage (free on nights and weekends) or on metered spots, which are either free or pay per hour (depending on the day and what street you parked on). I would suggest planning MORE time than you need to find parking, and then walking to the Casual Pint, because there is always something going on during the weekend days (Friday, Saturday, and Sunday), when their brew tours are typically held. My husband and I THOUGHT we left in enough time to even get there early and check out the Casual Pint ahead of time, but we were sadly mistaken, as it look us quite a bit of time to find parking, due to the Hola Festival taking place as well.
We knew our tour was for Knox Brew Tours smaller, more "intimate" bus, which is a 1989 VW Vanagon Bus, which only holds 6 guests (plus the driver/tour guide), named "Scruffy." Knox Brew Tours does offer a larger bus tour as well in their 1990 GMC mini-bus named "Kathy." I personally loved this smaller bus atmosphere, as it gave you a chance to really interact with everyone on board, hear the guide better as he talked from place to place, and it overall just had a more "comfy" feel. I'd be interested to try the other larger tour sometime as well, just to get a comparison of styles.
Our tour guide (who is not the owner/starter of this business, but a good friend of his), was so gracious, funny, accommodating, and knowledgeable. They will ask to see your ID at the beginning of the tour, to verify everyone is over 21, but it does say on their website you can still come and enjoy the tour WITHOUT drinking (but you must still be over 21), and be a "designated driver" and that gets you a cheaper rate as well!
It does state on their website as well that snacks and complimentary water bottles will be provided, which they are. I would still suggest eating beforehand, and even bringing your own snack/drink bag along, since their snacks are pretty limited (on my bus experience at least) to small bags of cheez-its, gardettos, etc. You can view their whole FAQ page HERE.
You are allowed to bring your own growlers with you as well, as some places (not all) will fill them up (obviously you pay for that separate, it's not included in your ticket price). The Knox Brew Tours website also states all samples will be no more than 4 oz in size, but you'll get about 4 samples of different beers from each place. If you're like me, and aren't really a fan of most beers (I'm more of a wine gal), they do have a "dump bucket" to pour out what you don't like. Or you can just dump it into your husband's cup like I did, if you feel so inclined.
Our first stop took us to Balter Beerworks on 100 S. Broadway. Even the name of this place has a unique backstory, as the word "Balter" is defined as "to dance or tread clumsily, without much skill, but with enjoyment." That seems to be their whole philosophy at their restaurant and brewery--to not necessarily care if they're the best, the most popular or the most liked, but to do what they do with enjoyment and passion. Balter is actually a former service station, and you absolutely get that vibe from being there. It's a gorgeous building, with the "Brew House" being right across a little sidewalk section next the the bar, which is where we got to spend our time for the tour (normally they don't let people in here!). They also appear to have a great food menu, and a pet friendly patio as well! It was so neat getting to go into their "Brew House" and hearing and seeing how their process works, what goes into brewing beer, their "not so secret" laboratory, and into their giant walk in cooler.
Another great and cool factor was that after we left Balter Beerworks, our guide said we couple spare an extra couple minutes and go to Knox Whiskey Works to check out their store, if we wanted. Of course, we all agreed and yelled "take us there!" Here, we got to sample a variety of liqueurs, some of which we liked, and some of which we didn't. They pride themselves on being a small batch, craft distillery, using locally sourced products, to create unique spirits representative of East Tennessee. I'm not a liqueur drinker myself either, or a coffee drinker, but my husband is OBSESSED with anything coffee flavored, so when he saw their Coffee Liqueur, he was sold, so a bottle of that ended up coming home with us. Side note: that same Coffee Liqueur has now been used to make a homemade coffee ice cream, which we made together, and is to die for!
Our second (brewery) stop was to Alliance Brewing Company, located at 1130 Sevier Avenue. They have a super cool sculpture outside made completely of old bicycle parts, that's definitely a photo op as well. I'd say their outdoor patio section is the same size, if not larger, than their indoor space, which is a great concept to get people outdoors and socializing, and enjoying the (mostly) good weather East Tennessee has to offer, and it is pet friendly as well. They don't serve food at this location, however, but there was some kind of small food "truck" cart stand type deal outside as well, that seems to have a sort of "partnership" with Alliance, where they let her serve food, since they don't and she has somewhere to sell food! We ordered some deep fried okra in a basket, which came to us as legit, fresh okra with the most amazing breading on okra we've ever had. TRULY homemade recipe type taste to it. The inside and decor of Alliance isn't anything to do a double take on. It's very industrial in its styling, with simple gray and wooden tones throughout. As with our first stop, we got to prowl to the giant walk in cooler contraption and see "where the magic happens" as far as brewing their beers and their whole process.
Our third stop was to Last Days of Autumn, at 808 E Magnolia Ave, which started from a husband and wife's home brewing hobby, and once friends and family realized they could make stuff as good, if not better, than what's already out there, they decided to start a brewery of their own. Right off the bat, my husband and I noticed a vintage Donkey Kong electronic game against a wall, topped with an assortment of traditional board games as well. We also saw a group of people simply sipping their beers, and enjoying a game at the game as well. They do not serve any food here, either. Their website says their goal is to give you a "homey" feel, and they definitely hit that mark.
Lastly, the "little bus that could" took us to Crafty Bastard Brewery at 6 Emory Place, which labels themselves as a nanobrewery. Some things about the decor that really stuck out to me inside this brewery were the seats alongside the wall made of big wooden barrels, and the tap lever adorned eyes and a little green mustache. They do not serve food here either, but on their website it states they have, only in the summer(?), a food truck schedule that seems to provide good eats as well.
Overall, this is absolutely an experience I will be back on and take any visiting friends or family on as well! The whole tour was just an informative, easy going adventure, for beer drinkers and even those who aren't!
Have you ever been on Knox Brew Tours, or any brew tour before? Tell us your experience or thoughts below!