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Food & Drink

Blackberry Farm: Reception & Dinner


After my incredible afternoon touring the farm, I was invited by the Southern Food Writing Conference to attend a champagne reception in the garden, followed by a lavish dinner in the barn. It was in conjunction with the International Biscuit Festival, and the guests were there to celebrate, and dine on, authentic and inspired Southern cuisine.

Perfectly worn picnic tables were set out under the trees, and adorned with simple country floral arrangements and galvanized bucket candles. The setting and ambiance were gorgeous.


There was a bluegrass band plucking away at tunes that made you feel as though you’ve lived there your entire life. And that maybe Tennessee is where you were meant to be born.


The elegant hors d’oeuvres and icy cold champagne were served by their excellent wait staff….



And those freshly picked radishes from earlier in the day, made their appearance on a slate tray. I loved the presentation and will be sure to recreate something similar at home using butter and dijon, topping them with sea salt flakes.


After the champagne reception, we walked up to the barn for our dinner…


Please excuse the quality of the following photos, I shot the remaining ones with my cell phone, as to not distract from the dinner or intrude on the other guests enjoyment. Although looking back, I think everyone was snapping away.


When we first walked in, I admired this entry table. In fact, I can’t stop thinking about it and hope The Man will make one for me some day.


They have an amazing demonstration kitchen in one area of the barn for culinary classes.



We were seated in the central dining area, with towering vaulted ceilings and iron chandeliers. The tables were dressed in linen with a selection of wine glasses, beautiful china and flatware.



Let me know in the comments, if you’d like to know which wines were my favorite. We were served five. Although I didn’t get to drink them all, I made sure to taste them and take notes.


And I loved this wall filled with wine glasses from floor to ceiling. And the library ladder too. Really, everything about the place was impeccable. In fact, I’m still dreaming about the best shrimp and grits I’ve ever had…sublime!

All in all, it was the perfect day. From beginning to end.
And I can’t imagine ever forgetting a single moment.


A Southern Adventure

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I’m packing for an early flight tomorrow. I’ll be heading to the beautiful state of Tennessee to visit the famous Blackberry Farm and attend the International Biscuit Festival. That’s right, an entire festival devoted to biscuits! Can you imagine?

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I’ll be sure to take lots of pics for you because….


If you know of any other “can’t miss” stops in the Knoxville area, I’d love to hear about them!
And I’ll be sharing some of my adventure on Instagram if you care to follow along.
See you in the South!


Food Crafting 101


The Food Crafting 101 class at The Institute of Domestic Technology, began with bread making. Erik Knutzen of Root Simple, started off by sharing his thoughts on various flours and yeast, followed by a hands on demonstration for making our own Twenty-One-Hour Boule. Now, I know that sounds like an enormous amount of time to make bread, but it’s only about 10 minutes worth of work, the remaining time is resting & rising the dough.


After we made our own dough, we stored it in a container to bring home and bake later.
Here’s my finished loaf I shared on Instagram


From there we moved on to my favorite part of the day, jam making! We made a Strawberry Rhubarb Jam with Balsamic and Black Pepper. Holy smokes it is so good!


We washed, sorted, and cut the strawberries and rhubarb. Then added them to an enormous bowl (10+ lbs of berries!) and mixed in the sugar. No commercial pectin was used in the recipe, as the natural pectin found in the fruit was all that was needed.
The fruit and sugar mixture were brought to a boil on the stove, and the balsamic vinegar and black pepper was stirred in just before it reached gel point.


Here Steve Rudicel of Mariposa Creamery, and the Institute of Domestic Technology’s Director, Joseph Schuldiner transfer the cooked jam into a large pitcher. This makes it easier to pour the jam into individual jars. Much better than scooping the hot jam out of the pot for each jar!



After adding the jam to the jars, the inside is scraped for air bubbles and the outside rim is wiped clean. From there, the lid is added and they go into the large canning pot of boiling water.

While our jam was being watched by their staff, we were treated to a beautiful luncheon…


Next came our Mustard class. So many of the students were interested in this portion of the day. Have you ever made your own mustard? I hadn’t, but found it couldn’t be easier.


The mustard seeds had been soaking in a mixture of red wine vinegar and Guinness Extra Stout for a day or two. All we needed to do was add our own creative “spice mixture”.


I chose a combination of ground ginger, orange peel, saffron salt, black peppercorns, and honey. After tasting and stirring your mixture, it’s blended in a food processor for about 3 minutes, or until it reaches a consistency you like. That’s it.
I can’t wait to add mine to a smoked turkey sandwich or grilled fish entree.

Our last class of the day was to learn how to make chevre from the creamery’s fresh goats milk.


This started with a milk tasting, which I must admit, was my least favorite part, since I don’t enjoy drinking milk. At all. But I still tasted it so I could observe the differences between the brands and varieties. We learned about rennet and starter cultures and how few steps there actually are to making really delicious chevre. And do you know how amazing homemade chevre is with freshly baked bread and Strawberry Rhubarb jam? Divine!


Lastly, I thought I’d show you a peek of their open kitchen. I loved their subway tiles.


The Institute is also a zero waste facility. Meaning, they encourage you to bring your own containers, and the majority of waste is either recycled or composted. Why, they even took the leftover milk from the tasting and fed it to their chickens. Natural recycling at it’s finest.