If you’ll remember, back in May I spent a few days in Knoxville at the Southern Food Writing Conference, which you can read all about here. While I enjoyed getting to spend some time learning from the best of the best in the food writing world, I would be lying if I didn’t tell you that my favorite part was getting to tour Blackberry Farm.
While I had been to Blackberry Farm the night before for the most amazing dinner, I had only gotten a chance to see the Barn so I was extremely excited to see everything else the farm had to offer. Nothing could have prepared me for the awesomeness that I was about to experience.
From the moment we pulled up at the farm, I was in awe. We stepped off the bus and were personally welcomed by the proprietor of the inn, Mr. Sam Beall himself. It was southern hospitality at it finest as he welcomed us to the farm that he has called home since childhood.
After a quick welcome and history lesson from Mr. Beall, we were invited to begin our tour of the property. Our first stop would be to meet Tom and Jim. I’ll tell you all about them in just a minute, but for now I want you to see some of the beauty that Blackberry Farm has to offer.
The house pictured is the Guest House that was the original home on the property and is currently host to 11 cozy guest rooms. Standing at that hill top where the house sits, we looked over the peaceful waters and rounded a corner to find the beautiful horses grazing in the pasture. And I just couldn’t pass up the opportunity to snap a picture of the lovely barn when I had dined the night before.
Finally we arrived to meet Tom and his trainer Jim. Tom is a Lagotto Romagnolos, an extremely rare breed of dog trained to hunt the Black Perigord Truffle. Jim explained to us that Tom was personally responsible for hunting and retrieving several hundred pounds of the black truffle on a recent hunt. He is kind of a big deal and the most loving little dog. Thanks to the efforts of those at Blackberry Farm, the Black Perigord Truffle is now being cultivated in Tennessee. If you visit the farm during truffle season, there is a good possibility it might just end up on your plate.
Our next stop on our tour was over to the gardens where all of the produce grown is used by Chef Joseph Lenn and his team of culinary professionals in The Barn. While in the garden we had the pleasure of meeting the Garden Manager, Mr. Jeff Ross and Mr. John Coykendall, Master Gardner. In addition to being extremely knowledgeable about his craft, Mr. Coykendall is also one talented artist. His sketches actually adorn the beautiful charger plates used for dinner at The Barn.
As I was standing in the garden shed having a chat with Mr. Coykendall about heirloom seeds, I turned around to find Executive Chef Joseph Lenn and his Sous Chef taking a stroll through the gardens. When I inquired about what they were doing I was told they had made a trip down to the garden in search of a plant or flower to use for garnishing dinner that evening. It is truly farm-to-table at it finest and every chef’s dream to be able to pick your own fresh ingredients.
Our last stop on the tour was perhaps my favorite spot of the day. We took a stroll over to the Larder where all manner of animal and vegetable products are preserved. It is home to the preservation kitchen, the creamery, and the butcher. Everything that is harvested from the gardens and not used in meal prep for dinner is sent into the preservation kitchen. There is it turned into all sorts of jams, jellies, pickled vegetables and other goods available for purchase here. I can personally recommend the Pumpkin & Pear Butter. It is incredibly yummy.
The Larder is also where the master cheese maker is responsible for making the most delicious cheeses. I had the opportunity to personally try Under The Pines, a raw cows milk cheese aged in pine needles and the Magnolia, an aged soft ripened sheep’s milk cheese. Both were superb and available for purchase in their online store.
In addition to the creamery and preservation kitchen, the Larder is also home to the butcher shop. All of the animals purchased from local farms are sent to the butcher shop to be processed for dinner. We had the opportunity to taste the various cured meats that are produced on the grounds and much like everything else, they did not disappoint.
I was so sad to see our time at Blackberry Farm come to an end. It was like saying goodbye to a family friend. I am counting down the days to my next visit but until that day comes, I’ll just have to stroll down memory lane with my pictures.
I hope you’ve enjoyed my stroll around the Farm and I hope you’ll make time to go expereice life on the farm for yourself. I gurantee you, you will not be sorry!