Last weekend, two close friends got married in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. The wedding was gorgeous, but we were also so, so lucky to have a chance to spend the weekend relaxing and eating at their wedding venue, Blackberry Farm.
Blackberry Farm is an exquisitely run Relais & Chateau hotel known for their food. They have a strong farm-to-table ethic and grow a good amount of their produce on site. They also have chickens and a dairy. Most everything served was in season and, if not from the farm, locally sourced. The nicest thing, though, was that Blackberry Farm never hit us over the head with their approach. On the menus I never read any words like house-made or foraged. Instead everything was just fresh and brilliant tasting.
So, we ate. We ate and ate and ate – formal dinners and casual BBQ lunches. And we loved every minute of it.
But, I think we had even more appreciation for the food after we took a trip through the vegetable garden.
At the farm, we talked to master gardener John Koykendall for a while. He is incredible. He’s worked at Blackberry Farm for twelve years, but has had a long term interest in gardening and preserving heritage species. As far as I could tell, he’s been collecting rare vegetable seeds his whole life.
He was also kind enough to teach us a little bit about planting beans. Here’s Farmer John (couldn’t help it, sorry) telling us that a “hill” in old gardening terms is not actually a big mound of dirt. You’ve got to listen to this — it’s almost like he’s a character in a trip to Williamsburg or Sturbridge Village, but he’s totally authentic.
I could have hung out with John for hours, trying to spin gourds like tops and talking about all the projects they have going on — from the fruit in the orchards to cultivating truffles.
But, eventually we had a wedding to get to! And a 15 liter bottle of wine to help drink!
Since we returned home, I’ve been
thinking about how we can permanently move to Blackberry Farm totally inspired to cook and garden. I spent hours yesterday morning reading through cookbooks. I even ordered the Blackberry Farm cookbook. So, we’ll be cooking from that together later this summer. Unfortunately, we won’t have a nabuchodonosor (new vocab word for the weekend) to drink with our Blackberry Farm food, but I still can’t wait!