September 17th, 2018 is now an important day in downtown Knoxville/Old City history.
It marks the official opening day of Rebel Kitchen, a one-of-a-kind unique dining restaurant in the heart of the Old City in downtown Knoxville.
(*from Rebel Kitchen's website)
"Rebel Kitchen's mission is to create a unique dining experience that is adventurous, creative, interactive, and inspiring.
Through inspirations of culinary trends, modern techniques, creativity, and seasonality, Rebel Kitchen creates a fine dining experience that is approachable and fun.
With a focus on seasonality and sustainability, an ever-changing menu is created with the freshest ingredients. So gather your family, friends, or neighbors and join us for good food, craft cocktails, fine wine, and conversations."
We were invited to attend their soft opening this past weekend, and it's an experience I'll never forget. You can find numerous other articles already written about them, from one of our favorite local writers and city dwellers, Knoxville Urban Guy, and fellow foodie pals, KnoxFoodie.
Another reason why Rebel Kitchen is so special to our food tours is that it is adjacent to "sister" restaurant Old City Wine Bar, which has been a stop on our food tours from the beginning of our businesses conception, now a full 2 years ago. I've never been disappointed in ANYTHING I've ever gotten on a plate from them, so that fact that the same chef who's been heading up the small, understated kitchen at Wine Bar now has his own space to let the culinary juices flow is just so incredible.
The passion embedded in this space just oozes from every corner, and the passion also flows from the "staple" employees/familiar faces you have probably seen at Wine Bar. Chef Paul Sellas, who's the avant-garde mastermind behind the kitchen and food, is very different from most chefs you may have encountered in your life. He loves talking to guests, explaining techniques and (from what I can tell) is supportive of all his kitchen staff, compliments them, and promotes their creativity. Front of house manager and cheese and charcuterie connoisseur is the lovely Franchesca Sellas, who is, you guessed it, Paul's wife! Then there's also Matt Burke, head sommelier and wine expert who has always been a joy to talk to on food tours and educates our guests in a very unique way, even letting us see the underground wine cellar on every tour!
So I'm mostly here to showcase and talk about the food (of course), so definitely check out the other published articles/posts about Rebel Kitchen's opening if you want to know more "juicy deets".
Now without further ado, enjoy these mouthwatering photos and get yourself a reservation to visit this downtown gem soon!
*Press PLAY in the top left hand corner of the photo to start the slideshow*
On a separate side note, yesterday 9-16-18 was East TN Tours OFFICIAL two year anniversary...how exciting?!
You'll see some exciting new things coming soon, and we feel like our amazing Knoxville is about ready for some more fun, delicious and unique tours...don't you? :D
Lauren Quinn, founder, owner and operator of East TN Tours, founded in 2016. A former vegan now converted "to the dark side", home cook extraordinaire and lover of all things Knoxville, outdoors and dogs.
Y'all... I have SERIOUSLY been slacking on the blog writing for a while (*cough cough, like a year*), but I am SO excited to share with you this article written by one my new favorite local Knoxville social media presences and writers, 865 Foodie. Below you will find a post (in her own words) of Lindsey Watson's experience attending one of our Chef's Table food tours back on July 21st, 2018. There's also some suuuuper yummy looking pictures at the bottom from the tour that day, so browse through those as well :)
(All writing credit goes to 865 Foodie....be sure to like and follow them on Instagram and Facebook!)
A Bite of Downtown Knox: My Experience with East TN Tours
September 9th is national “I Love Food” Day, and it’s the perfect excuse to book a food tour. September also marks the two-year anniversary of East TN Tours, owned and operated by Knoxville local Lauren Quinn.
Do you find yourself wandering into the same restaurants, coffee shops, and bars every weekend? If so, it’s time for a nudge in the right direction. Er, how about a walk? An easygoing walk stopping at five delicious restaurants along the way. Even if you’re familiar with the stops, you’ve never experienced them like this: an intimate Chef’s Table tour.
I recently took the tour myself. Here’s a bit about the experience:
It was obvious that East TN Tours has built a solid relationship with the restaurants and their chefs. Each eatery took time to talk with us and explain the restaurant’s beginnings and the chef’s personal passions.
We shared our tour with 14 people coming from all over, from the outskirts of Knoxville all the way to England. It was a unique and engaging way to dine with strangers and enjoy some local grub.
Seriously, come hungry! The tour partners with only local restaurants, so if you’re an out-of-towner you’re guaranteed to get the full homegrown experience.
Lauren explained that each tour’s offerings are unique, so what’s possibly served to you will likely be different than my experience. All of the restaurants are passionate about sourcing locally and serve up only the freshest seasonal produce.
During our tour, we saw a theme in fresh tomatoes as they had just hit their peak. They were presented beautifully at Old City Wine Bar, a restaurant that prides itself on having an astounding assortment of wine and serving up unique food pairings. We enjoyed fresh tomatoes and Burrata cheese made with buffalo’s milk.
At Café Vicolo, we met Chef Phil and ate a small plate of local tomatoes (plucked from the farmers market the very same day), cheese, a warm baguette, and olives. Impressively, the café cures their own meat. Chef even allowed us to sample a piping hot pork belly right out of the oven.
During the tour you’ll consume historic insights as well as calories. Did you know Clancy’s Tavern was once Knoxville Bank and Trust and still has the original vault? Their corned beef sandwich was the best I’ve ever had.
We enjoyed a private room at Boyd’s Jig and Reel, Knoxville’s authentic Scottish music and whisky pub. They also have one of the most extensive scotch selections in the world, along with over 800 whiskies to enjoy. Feel free to imbibe along the tour, too – hey, you ARE just walking, right?
If you’re lucky enough to stop at Sugar Mama’s, you’ll be sweetened with some seriously delicious treats (we’re talking a great-great grandmother’s recipe, here!). Wash it down with one of their beers on tap, all of which are brewed in or around Knoxville.
I didn’t even mention the museum, underground bowling alley, or old-timey pharmacy and soda fountain you’ll visit, the historical downtown tidbits you’ll acquire, or the freebies you’ll walk away with. The three-hour tour packs a whole lot of Knoxville into one bite-sized afternoon.
Both longtime Knoxville residents and visitors will find something special about this tour.
And if you’re looking for additional downtown experiences, check out Seek Knoxville, the first and only continuously locally run and operated scavenger hunt in downtown Knoxville also operated by East TN Tours!
The 4th of July is right around the corner, and you know what that means...
IT'S TIME TO EAT ALL THE FOOD AND GRILL ANYTHING (AND EVERYTHING) YOU POSSIBLY CAN!
It's a day for spending time with those you love, and even those you don't...
Let's face it, most of us all have the "Uncle Eddie" somewhere in our family tree.
Here's some things going on in good ole' K-Town this coming weekend and through July 4th:
Saturday July 1st--Market Square Farmers Market from 9am-2pm. A GREAT way to get those cookout goodies while supporting local farmers and artisans!
Saturday July 1st--The start of Downtown Knoxville's "Find Waldo" Scavenger Hunt. This family friendly (and basically any age) event runs from the 1st through the 31st, where you pick up your passport from participating venues, collect stamps, and explore downtown. *Side note: I'd also HIGHLY recommend trying out my other new business, SEEK KNOXVILLE, to do a different type of scavenger hunt NOT involving Waldo ;)
Monday July 3rd--City People presents "Red, White and Blue Coast" at Blue Coast Bar and Grill from 5:30pm-8pm. I personally recommend this event due to the fact that I (owner Lauren Quinn) am a board member of this fantastic non-profit called City People that operates in downtown Knoxville. You do, however, have to be a member to attend this event, so I'd suggest signing up to be a member ahead of time, or you can simply sign up to be a member at the door upon arrival. City People membership gets you all sorts of great benefits and discounts from numerous downtown businesses, so there's no reason NOT to sign up!
(Now for the big day!)
Tuesday July 4th--James White's Fort "Celebration of the Declaration of Independence" from 10am-11am. Admission is free (yay!) and you're sure to get your fill of historical information in a short amount of time.
Tuesday July 4th--Fourth of July on Mabry's Hill from around 6pm-whenever(?). To ensure a high quality event and overcrowding, Mabry-Hazen house has limited the amount of tickets sold (which also cost 60 bucks for anyone 12+) to 200, so definitely get those as soon as you can if you've been thinking about going! They'll have a historic home tour starting at 6pm, dinner served at 7:30, and alcohol is BYOB! And the best part? All the joys of viewing the downtown fireworks show (yes, you can see it from the house!) without all the traffic!!
Tuesday July 4th--Volunteer Princess Fireworks Cruise, with boarding starting at 6pm, cruising from 6:30pm-9pm, and dockside for (what feels like a private viewing) fireworks show from 9pm-10:30pm. For just $80 for adults and $40 for children, you'll get champagne, "pre-dinner" appetizers, and then a scrumptious 4-course dinner followed by dessert. A cash bar is also available, so come happy, hungry and ready for some amazing fireworks!
Tuesday July 4th--The "big to-do" in downtown Knoxville is none other than "The Festival on the 4th" at World's Fair Park. From 4pm-10pm, Knoxville's great downtown green space will be turned into a celebration including entertainment, like the KSO (Knoxville Symphony Orchestra) free concert from 8pm-10pm accompanying the magnificent fireworks show, a kids zone, food, and much more. Fireworks start at about 9:42pm, the event is rain or shine, and they ask for no pets, alcohol, tents, or canopies.
If you aren't planning on venturing out for one of the busiest days in the year for Knoxville, and are in need of some delicious, good home-cooked recipes, take a browse through the list below to find one (or more!) that suits your fancy!
4th of July/July Fourth (personal pick) best and favorite recipes:
Start things off with some thirst quenching drinks like Lemonade Iced Tea, Blueberry Lemonade, Boozy Adult Sno-Cones, or a Watermelon Blueberry Cooler!
Satisfy your hungry guests with some appetizers before the "main event food" is ready with things like Pigs n' a Blanket Stars, Skinny Summer Crab Dip, Red White and Blue Potato Salad, or BBQ Pork "Cupcakes".
For the main course, try some things like Spicy Grilled Shrimp, Honey Mustard Grilled Chicken, Rosemary Ranch Chicken Kabobs, Strip Steak with Rosemary Butter, or Hot n' Sweet Baby Back Ribs.
Then top your previous masterpieces off with some decadent desserts such as a Fruity Flag Cake, Red White and Blueberry Trifle, Peach Plum Cobbler with Buttermilk Biscuits, or Crispy Treat Cheesecake Bars.
**Do you have any favorite family/friend Fourth of July traditions, celebrations, or recipes? Let me know about them by commenting below!
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!