Thursday, June 6, 2013

A Lake Lure Visit and Cook-A-Thon AND BLT Sandwiches with Cajun Aioli

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This is day three of my trip to Tennessee for lunch, the annual East Tennessee Blogger party.

Day one I spent with the King of the Big Green Egg and all things fire cooking, Chris of the Nibble Me This Blog.  I made a Massaged Kale and Fruit salad for Chris and his wife, Alexis.  But the most fun for me was when I got an Egg cooking lesson while we made a Smoked Jerk Pork Loin and then (Still on the Egg) we made Grilled Cherry Tomatoes and Snap Peas.

Day two was the Annual East Tennessee Blogger Party hosted at Larry's (of the Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings Blog) boat house where I made a big batch of Grilled Teriyaki Shrimp and Pineapple Bite appetizers.

The next day we were off to Lake Lure, North Carolina to have dinner with Penny and her Dave at the home of the Lake Lure Cottage Kitchen!

While I would never say we saved the best for last, the combination of a couple of days with Penny and Dave as hosts, Their beautiful lake front home, the boat tour of the area and getting a chance to watch and even cook along side Penny made for a perfect cap to our travels.

Our first night at the lake was after the long weekend, party at Larry's and the drive from Knoxville to Lake Lure.  We also stopped in Ashville for a French Crape lunch.  We decided on a lighter meal for dinner and save the heavy cooking for the next day.

This particular sandwich really is just about as good a BLT as you can find.  On the way to  the lake Penny took us to one of the most amazing fresh markets you could find.  We selected a couple of bog Heirloom Tomatoes, a loaf of freshly baked artisanal Sour Dough Bread and some nice curly lettuce leafs.

But there are two specialty items here.

First was a gift.  Larry (again from the Big Dude's Eclectic Ramblings Blog) had gifted Jackie and me a couple of pounds of his area specialty, BENTON's Hickory Smoked Bacon.  Just a side note, I sure do appreciate fellow food bloggers.  We are always proud of our are a specialties and enjoy sharing these unique best of's with other bloggers...

Thanks Larry!

Benton's is just up the road from Larry's place, but they do a bang up mail order business as their meats are very much in demand.  There are some amazing restaurants specializing in the food of the Smokey Mountains.  Most of those restaurants are serving up Benton's Smoked meats.  The bacon sure does live up to it's reputation as the slices cooked up crisp, thick, crunchy but PACKED with flavor! Thanks again Larry.

I made a contribution to the sandwich by making up a little Cajun Garlic Aioli.

1 Cup Mayonnaise
Zest from 1/2 a Lemon
Juice from 1/2 a lemon
2 cloves Garlic, minced
1 tsp Onion Powder
1 tsp Garlic Powder
1/2 tsp Cayenne Pepper

Mix well and slather on the sandwich!

Penny had whipped together Ina Garten's Guacamole Salad  which was amazing!

A little wine, a lot of conversation and we were setting the tone for a FANTASTIC visit!

 Here's just a sampling of the time we had at Lake Lure.

The photo above was from a brief stop in Ashville on the way to the lake.  Penny and Dave in the foreground and Jackie and myself behind (note, I am much better looking in person... but I digress)

The cottage was designed by Penny's Dave.  He is a retired engineering professor and everywhere we looked there were extras in the house designed and built by Dave.

But nowhere is the attention to detail more visible than in Penny's kitchen.  From her walk in pantry to all of the counter space and cabinets it is a cook's dream.

Here's Penny whipping up that Ina Garten Salad

When we woke, Penny was already at work entertaining... with cut fruit for breakfast...

Scratch made (of course) pancakes, fruit and orange juice

But then she let me cook!!!  Pizza over an open fire!!!  And yes, they have a couple of fireplaces, one of which is in her kitchen so she can cook in the hearth!  Come back Sunday and I will give some more details about fire cooked pizzas, but here is the classic Margherita Pizza...

Since I always say pizzas are about the best way to use up leftovers, I suggested making one with the remaining Ina Garten Guacamole Salad (it ended up being my favorite)!

I had planned to make 4 pizzas, but we were full.  Instead I made some flatbread crackers that were a big hit.

And then we were treated to a tour of the lakefront.  Dave is active in local politics and has a lot of the history of the lake and the inhabitants.  All the stories made for a very entertaining trip.

You have to look through the leaves, but this is a shot of the top of their boat house and their cottage behind.

OK... Here I am putting my baby in a corner...

Lake Lure has Hollywood history.  Behind jackie is the site of a former boy's camp which became the setting for the Patrick Swayzie movie, Dirty Dancing.  Yep, about where the top of Jackie's head is - is the area where the clubhouse where Jennifer Gray and Patrick danced their Mambo in the final scene (Cause you know, no one puts Baby in a corner)!

And you remember when I told you that Dave did a lot of the design work, and loves the history of the lake... He bought up enough of the salvaged floorboards from where they did their Mambo to make a small landing at the foot of a staircase.  It's only a bit over a yard square, but I must confess to doing a little softshoe on the floor boards (and I am surprisingly light on my feet).

 Everywhere we turned there were extra little touches... Like this old carved wizard, taller than life size just hanging out their back door.
Or these swinging hanging bench beds that are on the guest floor back porch.  These are especially amazing as David designed and built them himself.

 And finally our adventure was coming to an end...  But we had one final dinner together.  I must confess that I was taking a nap while most of the heavy cooking was done by Penny... The perfect hostess...

Penny just published a post about our visit called, "A Lake Lure Visit and Cook A Thon" (Yes, I stole the title).

In that post you will find her recipe for HUMMUS which we slathered on those fire roasted flat bread crackers.
And some beautiful and fantastic roasted glazed carrots

A Fresh Salad just LOADED with plenty of extras

Braised short ribs that were fork tender 

Served on a bed of Mashed Potatoes

And we settled down for our real favorite part of the visit.  We started the meal just as the sun was setting.  We lit a few candles, opened a bottle of wine (or two or three) and spent the evening laughing talking and visiting.  Penny and Dave are fantastic people.  Living their dream and happily share their little corner of Heaven.  Jackie and I could not have had a better time, more caring and gracious hosts.  A perfect cap to our weekend.

Oh and we had dessert... A fancy Apple pie that I am sure has a wonderful lyrical name.  But all I remember is Penny calling it  an Apple Pie.

Thanks again our very dear friends...

Dave and Jackie

Oh and a PS Directed to Penny...
During our wine infused dinner discussion we talked about a cooking school in Italy... Here's the link to the hotel/restaurant experience... La Petraia
and a link to the school... 3 days total immersion in all things Italian, Fresh local and best...
La Petraia 3 day/night Program
It's part of my 5 year plan.


  1. Great post Dave and in retrospect it really was a cook-a-thon, but in the moment it was just great fun. I enjoyed cooking with you and love Jackie's sense of humor. We ought to do that Italy trip as a foursome or maybe get some of the other food bloggers to join us.

  2. I freaking LOVE that fire place pizza insert, that is wicked cool! I want one. First I need a wood fired fire place I guess.