Activities, attractions, Food

GreekFest 2018

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So a few weeks ago, we got to take part in one of my favorite yearly activities- GREEKFEST! If you’ve never been, add this to your yearly calendar! It is a good time for all ages!

I am always down for some delicious Greek food and dancing! This year, we tried a few new food items. Pastichio is a pasta dish that was somewhat similar to lasagna, and quite tasty. We also enjoyed some stuffed grape leaves (Dolmades) and Saganaki! The saganaki ended up being my new favorite. It is basically cheese that has been fried in Brandy so that it has a golden crispy exterior, while the inside remains gooey and delicious. They then slide this on a piece of crusty bread, and hit it with a little squeeze of lemon juice. YUM!

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If it looks like I was sitting in a random patch of grass close to the dumpsters, it’s only because I was. It was so crowded, there was NO PLACE to sit. We enjoyed our delicious food picnic style.

After eating, we watched all the dancing shows. I seriously don’t know how all those kids do that all day long. What a work out!

As soon as the shows were done, Neyland had to get in on the action and hit the dance floor.

Last year, I purchased Neyland one of the “jingle skirt” wraps that all the dancers wear. She was stoked to wear it to the festival this year, and has even worn it to dance class quite a few times. She felt quite “authentic” on the dance floor.

After trying out our Greek dancing skills, we hit up my personal favorite area- “The Wall-o- Baklava.” Ok, it’s really more than just baklava. It’s an entire wall of delicious Greek baked goodies. We got a lovely assorted box for the road.

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If you’ve never been to Greekfest, I highly recommend that you visit next year!

Check out their website HERE

You can thank me later! 😀

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Activities, featured, Food

Sunday Sundaes

How is the weekend already over??? We had such an awesome weekend, it just doesn’t seem fair that tomorrow is already Monday. Well, here’s to starting this week off right!

This weekend, my friends and family were kind enough to throw me a surprise birthday party for the big 3-0. Thankfully, someone decided it was a good idea to tell me about it since they planned it at MY HOUSE. Pretty sure full blown panic would have set in if 20-30 people had just randomly shown up at my place on Saturday. It was a great time full of food and lots of laughs! Thanks to everyone who came and celebrated! (Unfortunately we were all having such a blast, we totally failed to take any pictures!)

This morning we enjoyed an absolutely fantastic church service! I love when service just “happens” to be on things that I’ve been studying privately! Our service today was on worship. We discussed the different examples of worship in the bible and the specific kinds of worship God specifically asks for! There are many terms for types of worship in Hebrew. It was really interesting and eye opening!

After service, we enjoyed a nice relaxing day out by the pool, followed by homework for Neyland, and most importantly…..the post homework treat! ICE CREAM!

We discussed taking a trip downtown to try the new Cruze Farm location…but as with most new places, IT WAS PACKED. We elected to give it a few more weeks to let the “newness” die down. We decided instead to visit one of my favorite ice cream spots of all time. It is also conveniently, right across the street.

Phoenix Pharmacy & Fountain is everything you could possibly want with a super authentic “old time” feel. This place has a HUGE menu of sundaes, malts, floats, and seasonal specials. They make everything from scratch. All the toppings, whipped cream, you name it. All their ice cream is served in old fashioned glass dishes, and the staff even dresses in classic attire! The pharmacy is still in operation too! Bottom line: This place is the FULL experience. Amazing treats and a full authentic soda shop experience. Check out what we got this time!

 

Check out their website & menu HERE.

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Neyland’s Sidecar – Classic Sundae, only smaller for kids
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I had the “All American.” It was mixed berry cobbler with homemade vanilla ice cream!
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My brother had “The Great Smoky Mountains.” A fudge soaked vanilla cake  & a fudge brownie topped with vanilla ice cream, homemade brittle, and homemade caramel sauce!
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My Mom had the “Twixy.” Scoops of vanilla on top of homemade shortbread crumbles with milk chocolate & caramel drizzle.
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Neyland was happy to help finish off any leftovers.

We enjoyed a nice stroll through Market Square and Gay Street before calling it a night!

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If you’re into an authentic experience, don’t pass this place up! After all, Sundays are for Jesus and Sundaes!

 

 

Food, Informational

I Love Pho! Pho Sho!

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So I had my very first Pho experience recently! I am a huge lover of any kind of broth + noodle dish, and I’ve always wanted to try pho, but haven’t really been certain where to go for an authentic experience. I had a few places that were recommended to me numerous times. The two restaurants that stood out were: Sticky Rice Cafe and Bida Saigon.

Sticky Rice Cafe is Laotian cuisine. It was pointed out to me, that pho is actually a Vietnamese dish. The reviews led me to go ahead and give it a try. I was NOT disappointed! I tried the seafood pho, with shrimp and squid. The aromatics were fantastic and the broth was SO GOOD. I had no other experiences to compare to at that point, but I could certainly enjoy pho on the regular based off this experience alone!

The staff was fantastic and very helpful. I even heard several customers rave about the cooks preparing special “off menu” items when requested. The only negative is that there simply isn’t a lot of seating at this place. You could have a pretty decent wait time if you go during peak meal hours.

My dinner companion was VERY much into eating authentic exotic cuisines, and did a fair amount of research on Laotian food before our visit. Not only did he order a traditional Laotian dish, but he ordered it completely RAW! His reading indicated that this was the way all the natives eat this dish. The waitress asked numerous times if he was certain that he didn’t want the beef cooked. All the workers seemed pretty impressed that he ate the dish the way that they did! We also shared an order of fried chicken skins, which were AMAZING! I would highly recommend them as an appetizer if you visit. Pictured below is the plate of Beef Laab along with one their adorable little steamer baskets of sticky rice.

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Beef Laab with Sticky Rice

Check out their Menu Here – Sticky Rice

Not long after trying Sticky Rice Cafe, I tried out my second bowl of pho. This time I tried out another reputable place that also came very highly recommended. This place is indeed Vietnamese, so I was “fully authentic” this time around. Bida Saigon is located in West Knoxville, and certainly worth a visit! My Mom and I tried this place on Sunday after church. Our visit was my Mom’s first pho experience! This time I tried the Pho Tai, which is basically delicious broth with rice noodles, thin slices of rare beef, and aromatics. I was a bit more adventurous this time, and added a decent amount of spicy pepper paste and fresh jalapenos. It was AMAZING.

*Bida Saigon doesn’t have a website, but you can check them out on Facebook*

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My Mom tried the Pho Ga, which is the same base, but with chicken as the protein. Her pho was very mild, but full of flavor. I was pleasantly surprised by the subtle differences in the pho from both restaurants, and would absolutely recommend them both! We also shared some fresh spring rolls with peanut sauce that were a great appetizer!

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It’s safe to say that I’m pretty obsessed with this dish now, and will be on the lookout for more opportunities to try more pho! Where is your “go to” spot for pho?