Dispensing Happiness

A good cook is like a sorceress who dispenses happiness.-Elsa Schiapirelli

That's me, the magical good cook.

Borrowing from my friend Dexygus, I've created my own food blog.

Read of my exploits in the kitchen! Salivate over the descriptions of fabulous desserts and savory meals I've concocted!

No, seriously...go ahead. It'll make my day.

Sunday, August 21, 2005

Dine & Dish #4: Rachel Ray for a Day


It's Dine & Dish time with guest host Becks & Posh, and today I get to show you how to eat tasty, and not-too expensive, food in Knoxville, TN!

Because for one day, I am Rachel Ray...

Knoxville is a college town, home to the University of Tennessee, Knoxville. And the great thing about college towns? Cheap eats!

A popular place to hang out in Knoxville, and a Southern institution, is Waffle House. Waffle Houses are housed in small, diner-esque buildings; instantly recognizable for their yellow-blocked signs. And while there are Waffle Houses throughout the country, they are predominantly found in the South.

Waffle House is a great place to fill up while not spending a lot of cash. Their menu is made up of mostly of breakfast items...and because they're open 24/7, they do a pretty good business, serving both bored and/or hung-over students, as well travelers and truckers.

As I mentioned, the Waffle House menu is packed with breakfast items, so that's where I began my day. Eggs, waffles, combo plates, and of course...their famous hash browns! Hash browns at Waffle House come 'six ways', including 'smothered' (onions), and 'topped' (chili).

And the service is what you'd expect from a greasy spoon in the South: a waitress who calls you 'honey', 'sugah', and 'darlin'. She was friendly and attentive.

I placed my order of Cheese & Egg Sandwich, Hash Browns, and a large Orange Juice.

Egg and Cheese Sandwich, Hash Browns, and Large OJ

My drink was brought to the booth almost immediately, with my food coming mere minutes later.

The breakfast sandwich, also available with meats, was nicely toasted. The cheese was perfectly melted, and the egg fried exactly the way I like them. The hash browns, which are good enough to eat plain, were crispy on the outside and tender in.

A quick, but filling meal; and all I spent, with tax, was $6.35.

Next, I tried a new (to me) restaurant: Tomato Head, a nicer-than-it-sounds pizza and sandwich place, located at Market Square.

What a fantastic place! Although the skies were threatening (making me feel sorry for that night's performance of Shakespeare on the Market), we (Matt was along for the meal) choose a table on the patio in front of the restaurant. Large, metal grill, tables, a view of the market, and a cute string of party lights around the window...through which we could watch the chef tossing the pizza dough!

I ordered a sweet tea (very Southern), and an appetizer of Black Bean Nachos, while I waited for my No sauce, Gorgonzola, Roma tomato, Walnut & Ricotta cheese Pizza.

Black Bean Nachos

The nachos were amazing...gorgeous black nacho chips, surrounding melted cheddar cheese, corn, red onion, black beans, crema, and either banana or jalapeno slices (we've been unable to come to an agreement on this one!). Crunchy, full of flavor, and just the right size. I was afraid it would be so filling I wouldn't have room for the pizza, but the nachos were the perfect proportion. I liked them so much, I'm attempting to replicate the recipe at home!

Then, the pizza arrived...

Gorgonzola, Walnut, Ricotta and Tomato Pizza

A nine-inch pizza, with one of the best crusts we've ever tasted; melted gorgonzola and ricotta. Tomatoes which were exactly as they should be...not over-cooked, not mushy. And the walnuts? Not a typical pizza topping, but they go so well with gorgonzola. Absolutely wonderful pizza.

Our waitress was a little flustered, but very friendly, very helpful. Tomato Head is a place we plan to visit again.

For a drink, appetizer and pizza (price split as I shared half with Matt), plus tip: just $13.00.

(weather and improper camera setting lead to over-exposed pictures)

And finally, for dinner: Kashmir Indian Restaurant.

For this trip, we brought the whole family. Which meant lots and lots of fabulous foods...

Kashmir is actually one of our favorite restaurants in Knoxville. One of the reasons I like this place so much, their menu has more than a dozen vegetarian options, not to mention the great vegetarian appetizers!

Don't expect the staff to bend over backwards for you; they seem to keep customer interaction to a minimum. But their food tends to make up for it.

I started my meal with a Mango Lassi

Alex and Mango Lassi

and the Vegetarian Platter.

Soup and Vegetarian Appetizer Plate.

The lassi? Just slightly sweet, and fruity. As you can see, Alex liked his quite a bit.

The appetizer platter consisted of a samosa, an aloo tikki, a cheese pakora, and several vegetable pakoras, served with a tamarind chutney. Spicy, and delicious.

And for my dinner: Vegetarian Thali, the Indian version of a full course meal. A cup of lentil soup, and small servings of matter paneer, channa masala, dal makhni, and raita, served with rice and a poori.

Vegetarian Thali

I order my dishes 'mild', because while I don't mind spice and a little heat, their food tends to run a bit hotter than I like!

The matter paneer and dal makhni are my favorites; creamy and packed with flavor. And I love, love, love their pooris.

I ate lots of food, took some home with me, and shared a good meal with my family.

And the cost? $18.29, including tax.

Total cost for three meals: just $37.64! That's a lot of hearty food for the price.

There's definitely some good, cheap eats in Knoxville!

19 Thoughts for food:

At 8:38 AM, Blogger Nupur said...

This sounds yummy :) I am so glad you tried Indian food and liked it ;)

At 9:38 AM, Blogger Nic said...

Good job, Stephanie. Great tips for TN and I think you definately picked more enjoyable places than RR would have (does she have fish at *every* meal?).

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Nupur, Matt first introduced me to Indian food while we were still in Oakland. I didn't fall in love with it then, but between what we made ourselves and the really good restaurants we have here in Knoxville, it's definitely one of my favorite cuisines!

At 10:13 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, Nic!

I've noticed that, too...even when I still ate meat, I rarely (if ever) had fish...I want to know about the other dishes!

At 12:09 PM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

Stephanie - this is great. You are making me very hungry. The pizza topping sounds just like my cup of tea and I love Indian food, especially a thali because you can try a little of everything.
Thank you for putting Knoxville on the culinary map, well within budget.
-Rachael Ray

At 2:14 PM, Blogger Cate said...

Hey Stephanie - great, now you have ME craving Indian food. It's been a few weeks since we've had some ... must be time.

At 6:21 PM, Blogger Joe said...

Awesome idea! You give RR a run for her money. Sounds like you had a great time!

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Well, golly; Rach...I'm flattered!

At 11:01 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Sweetnicks; it had been a while for us, as well. It's just so darn good!

At 11:02 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, Joe...though I can't claim credit for the idea; that's all Sam!

We did have fun...we hardly ever dine out, so it was a real treat. Especailly dragging Alex along for two of the meals!

At 12:03 AM, Blogger Sam said...

Stephanie - I am really touched you made such an effort to dine out with your family for this edition of Dine & Dish. I hope I didn't make you blow the housekeeping budget too much.

It sounds like you really had fun though so I am sure it was worth it!


At 12:07 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, Sam...and no; we didn't break the bank...I mean, look at my final total!

It was fun...especially since Alex behaves so well in restaurants...lucky us.

At 9:26 AM, Blogger Helen (AugustusGloop) said...

Those black bean nachos look great. And how funny that you had Indian for dinner too!

ps. Alex is super cute!

At 11:27 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...


The nachos were amazing...we're having our own attempt at them this evening.

I think Indian food works well for this exercise; lots of tasty and filling food for not a lot of cash!

At 11:28 AM, Blogger Stephanie said...

PS...thank you about Alex; we think so, too!

At 3:26 PM, Anonymous sarah said...

aw, stephanie, your baby is so adorable!!! can i give you give 40 bucks for him? i'll even pay for the FedEx to have him delivered here to LA. LOL!

thanks so much for playing in the dine and dish party and filling us in on all the goods in TN! hope to see you in the next one!

At 3:32 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thank you, Sarah! And no...40 won't cover it.

After 15 hours of back labor, without meds, and an emergency c-section...plus the fact he's the sweetest, happiest kid I've ever met, raise his value considerably!

He's such a good kid, I've joked with Matt about taking Alex on a city-wide tour; after a day with him, the birth rate would soar!

There are a frightening number of restaurants in this town...but I personally have to avoid all the 'steak' and 'burger' joints. Thank goodness for ethnic food!

At 5:33 PM, Blogger Cathy said...

Everything sounded - and looked! - so good :)

At 6:31 PM, Blogger Stephanie said...

Thanks, Cathy!


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