Sometimes the stars align perfectly. For example, in 2017 we were in the totality path for the solar eclipse during the time period my eldest son wanted to be an astronaut and was truly and completely obsessed with all things space. The eclipse itself was magical, but seeing my son experience it during his space phase added an extra dose of wonderful. Needless to say, we have fond memories of that day and the feeling of the eclipse has stayed with us.
Fast forward to 2019 and Downtown Knoxville and The Phoenix Pharmacy, a beloved authentic soda shop and pharmacy, have teamed up and challenged their Facebook communities to create a new sundae. With the anniversary of the eclipse approaching, I couldn’t help but enter the contest with an eclipse inspired creation. My entry was titled Total Eclipse and is chocolate upon chocolate: dark chocolate ice cream, topped with chocolate sauce, chocolate whipped cream, chocolate sprinkles, and a chocolate covered cherry on top. There were so many delicious sounding entries; I honestly wasn’t sure I even had a chance! But lo and behold, the power of chocolate prevails and y’all- I was one of the winners!
The winning entrants were invited to go behind the scenes at The Phoenix Pharmacy and learn how they make the ice cream, go behind the soda bar and create their concoctions. We got to bring family or friends along, and since my eldest has changed course from astronaut to chef in the last two years, the stars again aligned in our favor. We feel so lucky! Not many chef wannabes get to go behind the scenes at a real local eatery and learn how to not only make these amazing creations, but also the process of perfecting the recipes themselves.
The store itself is absolutely gorgeous. Brick walls, a tin ceiling, a retro vibe that’s not too themed and feels completely authentic. The wood floors and historic building are the perfect setting for this eatery. With the complete pharmacy and soda fountain bar, it feels like stepping back in time to when communities gathered here for lunch or to stop by and grab whatever they need on their way home. A wall of wooden toys immediately fascinated my crew, and I definitely know where to shop for upcoming holidays.
Once all the winners and their groups were assembled, we were shown the kitchen. This space marries modern technology and resources with the classic recipes perfectly. With clean stainless steel surfaces and the biggest jar of chocolate chips I’ve seen, this space is a baker’s dream. All the ice cream is made on-site, with high quality ingredients. If you’re wanting to make your own ice cream at home, the home ice cream maker recommended by owner Nolan Sherrill is Breville.
While my chocolate confection was improved with a chocolate cake base (YUM!), we mostly focused on the other winner’s recipe while in the kitchen. We made peach ice cream, a whiskey caramel sauce, an sampled candied pecans. We also learned how they make their chocolate whipped cream for my Total Eclipse chocolate-fest. With delicious chocolate imported from Belgium and France, my total eclipse got totally fancy (and totally delicious!)
Making the Whiskey Caramel sauce and Peach Ice Cream for Life’s a Peach.
Once we’d learned all about how to make the individual components, we headed back to the soda fountain- but we got to go behind the bar! As a huge fan of soda fountains, from going to one growing up in Oklahoma to getting all googly-eyed at every I Love Lucy scene that features one, this was a dream come true unto itself. Then more dreams came true as we put together the sundae I crafted.
First, Sherrill pulled out the delicious cake baked in house earlier that day. The cake was placed in a beautiful glass, topped with hot fudge, Oreo crumbles, chocolate ice cream, milk chocolate sauce, the chocolate whipped cream we’d just made downstairs, chocolate sprinkles, chocolate chips, and a dusting of cocoa. OMG. So much delectable chocolate.
The cake and the base of the sundae.
Building the sundae.
Then came what was possibly the kid’s favorite part (or at least for the one who doesn’t want to be a chef when he grows up!)- eating it!
Look at those delicious layers!
Luckily for us, we also got to try the Life’s a Peach sundae by fellow winner Kate. The kids were occupied eating the Total Eclipse so I actually got some pre-eating photos of this delectable dessert:
Delicate blanched peaches surround vanilla peach ice cream with a crumbly delicious base, with the whiskey caramel sauce, whipped cream, and candied pecans topping it off. Y’all, that whiskey caramel sauce. These flavors combine perfectly, with various textures working together to just wow you. My mouth is watering again just thinking about it.
You’ll be able to try these new menu additions next week. Make sure to follow Downtown Knoxville and The Phoenix Pharmacy to stay up to date on all the new and exciting things going on here in Knoxville.
What’s your favorite sundae at The Phoenix Pharmacy?