Writers received a Pimm's Cup garnished with lemon and cucumber for the ride from Knoxville to Walland, TN. The danger in the Pimm's Cup is Pimm's being such a subtle liqueur makes tossing a half dozen down quickly, quite easy, and that can surprise a drinker. This was not the case with me. I received one. Just saying. Beware the seductive nature of the Pimm's Cup.
The hills rolled. Light filtered through leaves and around the bend of each curve of the road. The last leg of the ride was lovely and anticipation mounted as our tour bus pulled up to the white gates of Blackberry Farm. Necks craned for a peek at the farm's famed red barn. The bus struggled along the road and dropped us off near the garden where a bevy of servers awaited us with a cocktail, an International in small Ball jars. An International is a dangerous cocktail as well.
Hors d'oeuvres included a mint and fava pesto on bread. As I took my first bite I glanced into my cocktail because the taste made me think it should be coming from my glass. The mint was unexpected. The other offering was a meaty thing that I didn't take so as to not seem so greedy. Should have tried it all. You know what they say about hindsight. A couple of violinists serenaded our party until we were shooed up to the barn for a glass of champagne and a six course meal that began after six and ended after eleven.
Oh what a night. Seating was assigned. Not sure who arranged that. Twas good and evil. I sat with strangers and they became acquaintances. Our was the last table served. Thus consciousness of whom the people sitting at the table being served first erupted, well, in my head, not so much in anyone else's that I know.
Pausing before tasting to capture images of food with my camera or iPhone was a travesty, especially since the low-lighting made my 5D inoperable. The iPhone with flash was what I used for the following photos, and they're wretched, really. Cannot do justice to the courses served.
Blackberry farm beet and blue cheese salad: strawberries, purple mizuna, pea tendrils, pecans and saba. Golden beets, regular beets, and a cheese so soft and creamy that it couldn't be cheese. I suck as writing about food and describing it. Restaurant reviewing is not my forte. All I can say is how I love beets, and this was an extraordinary way to begin with beets from the garden.
North Carolina mountain sunburst trout: smoked Cruze farm buttermilk consomme, watercress and red turnips. Trout so tender and buttery it melted in my mouth. The confusion came when my tablemates and I discussed whether to use the fork of the spoon to attack this dangerous fish with. Service refreshed our silverware between courses, otherwise we would have struggled with eight to ten inches of flatware on either side of our plates.
Guinea and dumplings: poached farm egg, guinea confit, potato gnocchi and hen of the woods mushrooms. This was my favorite. Divine. Yummy. I could eat this all night. Every night. The poached egg was simply fantastic. And the salty flavors were fantastic, too. Who knew you could, or should eat guinea? As I told my tablemates, I've contemplated going vegetarian for some time, for a variety of reasons. But it's occasions like these, when the opportunity to eat guinea arises, that I simply could not go vegetarian. Yet, how often do I get such an occasion? Once in forty years. So, it will be okay to go vegetarian. If I live to be eighty, perhaps I'll have another chance at eating at Blackberry Farm, or trying a novel game meat.
Grilled and braised painted hills beef: open faced biscuits with carrots, lamb's quarters and fava beans. And so the beef. We were confused at first, thinking that one of these was beef and one was lamb. Tasty, indeed. I wish I had taken notes. My memory has faded at this point. It was an astonishing meal. I can't say that every course outdid the next because the guinea and dumplings was my favorite, but this grilled and braised beef was delicately flavored in a style reminiscent of barbecue.
Biscuit ice cream: biscuit feuilletine and strawberry jam. Should have set a coin adjacent to the plate to give you perspective. This bite of dessert was small. It was just enough, really, after all the courses. We were stuffed so much that our brains were spewing out of our ears by the time dessert came 'round. So, this was delicate and lovely, but rather anticlimactic. I'm so particular about dessert. If it isn't pie or cheesecake, then I'm usually disappointed. This taste was enough to cleanse and freshen the palate.
Biscuit cuillere: chocolate mousse and raspberries. As not-a-chocolate fan, this was ever-more anticlimactic than the previous dessert. Fresh raspberries inside were tasty treats, and the crunchy bottom crust was notable. If I loved chocolate, no doubt the dark chocolate flavor would likely make me al orgasmic and such. The moussey-bits were perfectly moussey: fragile and refined.
As a wine-loather I confess that the wines served were excellent. Perhaps I've never had wine as good as these and that is why I do not prefer wine at all. They were: Domaine Thomas et Fils Sanserre 2010, Chateau Montelena Chardonnay 2009, Belle Glos Las Alturas Pinot Noir 2010, and another Chateau Montelena Cabernet Sauvignon Calistoga 2009. Loved the Chateau Montelena's and shall seek out their product and start a wine habit.
Eating at Blackberry Farm was part of the Southern Writer's Food Conference that I paid to attend, so according to the new FTC regulations, I'm including this statement that I received no other form of compensation for this endorsement.