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gwilson

Where I spent the best three days of my life

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It was at Blackberry Farm. But first, a little back story...

Last October I went to California for a vacation. Since I'm in the industry, I somewhat keep up with what's going on in other cities' culinary scenes. There is a young lady named Suzanne Goin who had gotten a lot of press, so I decided to eat at one of her restaurants, A.O.C. It was divine! After eating her braised pork cheek dish, the bartender asked me how it was. I said, "It was so good - it makes me want to propose to the chef." And we both laughed. (Although I will admit, I was only half-joking. At the time, I did have a little crush on her.)

So anyway, time passes, and over this past summer, I decide to put Chef Goin's name into Google. Didn't really get too many links to anything that I didn't already know. Except for the one about Blackberry Farm (different link) and the cooking school classes that she would teach there. So long story short - I went. And it was incredible.

Blackberry Farm is beautiful itself. It's in Eastern Tennessee in the mountains (foothills). The property is very old, but the Bealls have only owned it since the '70s (if I remember correctly). But they have transformed it into something wonderful. The service, the food, the atmosphere, the staff. Every little detail was thought of in advance. (Like having a very yummy box lunch waiting in your car when you check out.) I could go on and on about all the little things that I noticed that just made the stay so incredible. But let's get to the food (and wine)...

The executive chef of Blackberry, Chef Fleer, did a demonstration before lunch one day. And Suzanne did one the next day. Chef Fleer's food is some of the best that I have ever tasted. It has a decided Southern Flair, and every bite is delicious. The picnic lunch we had on the last day consisted of suckling pig, roasted corn, seafood and bean salad, fig and walnut green salad, house-made spoon/pone bread, and some other things that I don't recall. He did not cook this particular meal, but I'm sure he oversaw its conception and execution. This one meal is actually something they do fairly regularly for the guests - as I'm sure the guests have demanded.

And for the wine people - Ehren Jordan was there. He is the winemaker for Turley Winery and winemaker/owner of Failla Winery. Failla is a very small, fairly new winery, named for his wife's maiden name. Turley is known for their production of cult Zinfandels (no the grapes don't go around killing other varieties - though I could imagine people killing for these wines). The wine tasting was a vertical of 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 "Hayne Vineyard" wines (probably their most famous bottling). And Ehran was a joy to talk to. Unlike so many in the business, he is completely unpretentious. He doesn't say things like "How did you feel about the notes of the ula berry hiding underneath the pine scents?". He drinks/enjoys/educates about wine because he's passionate about it.

Now for the first batch of pictures. (I couldn't figure out the image thingee, so they're all links.)

The Main House is where I stayed. These are the, um, 'cheap' rooms. This also holds the dining room and the main kitchen. Next to it is the Guest House and the Oak Cottage (concierge), which I didn't get pictures of for some stupid reason. And just down the drive are the Holly Glade Cottages - where I really really couldn't afford to stay.

My small, but cozy, Bedroom. And the Bathroom, which had a HEATED FLOOR!!! I'm thinking that is my vote for best invention ever.

The Sitting Area of the Main House leads into the Bar Area (two pics), which leads into the Dining Alcove, which leads into the Main Dining Room. There is also the Game & Snack Room. Named such, by me, because it has games & snacks. (It's a bit hard to tell, but those are bottled Coke products. Bags of chocolate chip cookies, trail mix, M&Ms, etc. And the drawer underneath has Perrier, juices, and other stuff. And it was all free. Well, you weren't charged per item. But you sure were paying.)

This is the view from the Sitting Room and the same view from the veranda.

This is getting long, so I'll skim over the rest:

Walland Pond

Farmhouse Spa

Hammock by the brook

Horses

A couple of Artsy Pictures. (Although I am proud of the second one. It turned out just like I wanted.)

Footbridge

The view from The Overlook, which I renamed Fat Man's Death. Because the short, but steep, hike to it almost killed me.

Pretty Sunset (two pics)

(For the rest of the pics, go to here.)

Now for the good part - the food. The last night, the two chefs team up for dinner. This is what we had.

Ham Hock Consomme (three pics)

Salad Of Smoked North Carolina Trout - fennel and avacados with orange/sherry vinaigrette and saffron pickled fennel

paired with Failla "Keefer Ranch" Chardonnay 2002

Roasted Pears, Endive, And Arugula - with hazelnuts and shaved saint agur

paired with Turley "Alban Vineyard" Rousanne 1999

Eastern Skate - with parsnip puree, glazed Brussel sprouts, and Balsamic brown butter

paired with Failla "Keefer Ranch" Pinot Noir 2001

Liberty Farm Duck Breast (two pics) - with Kabocha squash, cavolo nero, and pomegranate salsa

paired with Turley "Vineyard 101" Zinfandel 1996

Tea Smoked Rack of Summerfield Farm Lamb - with sweet garlic wilted watercress and red pepper grits

paired with Turley "Hayne Vineyard" Petite Syrah 1995

Coffee Creme Caramel - with a ribbon cookie

paired with Alban Vineyards "Rotten Luck" Viognier 2001

Believe it or not, there are even more details that I could share. And every single one of them contibute to why, about 3 days later, I'm still unbelievably happy. (Although a little irked too, because I had to leave. lol)

-Greg

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Congratulations on a great three days. I have heard a bit about the place, but it was nice to get your level of detail. The photos are a welcome addition, but I'm getting carpal tunnel from all the clicking back and forth! :raz:

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Thank you for such a remarkable addition to the Southeast Forum! And on Blackberry Farm in particular!

One of my friends and her husband spent a week there on their honeymoon ... that is when I first heard about this treasure in the heart of the Great Smoky Mountains of Tennessee. She raved about the accomodations and the food.

This is the website for Blackberry Farm and even the professional photos don't begin to touch your own 61 pictures, gwilson! Impressive in all respects!

Blackberry Farm website

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I'll be at Blackberry Farms from Sunday until Wednesday to assist Chef Paco Rancero (el Bulli, casino de madrid) with his cooking Demo, I'll be taking lots of pictures and lots of notes...............can't wait...............

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does anyone know when their jamery/bakery is scheduled to open?

this is a beautiful place.

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Has anyone eaten there, and can you tell me about your experience?

(edited to read: Gifted Gourmet has helpfully directed me to the account above (thanks!); if anyone else has comments about the food, I'd love to read them.)


Edited by Laurie Woolever (log)

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This is basically a reposting of the first post, but I've updated the image links. A couple of other small things: John Fleer is no longer the executive chef at Blackberry Farm. I believe that he is/was planning on opening his own restaurant somewhere in Tennessee, but I haven't really heard any news on it. And if I remember correctly, his executive sous chef took over his position. Also, something I should have said from the beginning, the food pictures of the final night's dinner were not taken by me. They were all taken by a member of John Fleer's staff. And to whoever you may be - thank you for doing that.

It was at Blackberry Farm. But first, a little back story...

Last October I went to California for a vacation. Since I'm in the industry, I somewhat keep up with what's going on in other cities' culinary scenes. There is a young lady named Suzanne Goin who had gotten a lot of press, so I decided to eat at one of her restaurants, A.O.C. It was divine! After eating her braised pork cheek dish, the bartender asked me how it was. I said, "It was so good - it makes me want to propose to the chef." And we both laughed. (Although I will admit, I was only half-joking. At the time, I did have a little crush on her.)

So anyway, time passes, and over this past summer, I decide to put Chef Goin's name into Google. Didn't really get too many links to anything that I didn't already know. Except for the one about Blackberry Farm (different link) and the cooking school classes that she would teach there. So long story short - I went. And it was incredible.

Blackberry Farm is beautiful itself. It's in Eastern Tennessee in the mountains (foothills). The property is very old, but the Bealls have only owned it since the '70s (if I remember correctly). But they have transformed it into something wonderful. The service, the food, the atmosphere, the staff. Every little detail was thought of in advance. (Like having a very yummy box lunch waiting in your car when you check out.) I could go on and on about all the little things that I noticed that just made the stay so incredible. But let's get to the food (and wine)...

The executive chef of Blackberry, Chef Fleer, did a demonstration before lunch one day. And Suzanne did one the next day. Chef Fleer's food is some of the best that I have ever tasted. It has a decided Southern Flair, and every bite is delicious. The picnic lunch we had on the last day consisted of suckling pig, roasted corn, seafood and bean salad, fig and walnut green salad, house-made spoon/pone bread, and some other things that I don't recall. He did not cook this particular meal, but I'm sure he oversaw its conception and execution. This one meal is actually something they do fairly regularly for the guests - as I'm sure the guests have demanded.

And for the wine people - Ehren Jordan was there. He is the winemaker for Turley Winery and winemaker/owner of Failla Winery. Failla is a very small, fairly new winery, named for his wife's maiden name. Turley is known for their production of cult Zinfandels (no the grapes don't go around killing other varieties - though I could imagine people killing for these wines). The wine tasting was a vertical of 1998, 1999, 2000, 2001, and 2002 "Hayne Vineyard" wines (probably their most famous bottling). And Ehran was a joy to talk to. Unlike so many in the business, he is completely unpretentious. He doesn't say things like "How did you feel about the notes of the ula berry hiding underneath the pine scents?". He drinks/enjoys/educates about wine because he's passionate about it.

Now for the first batch of pictures. (I couldn't figure out the image thingee, so they're all links.)

The Main House is where I stayed. These are the, um, 'cheap' rooms. This also holds the dining room and the main kitchen. Next to it is the Guest House and the Oak Cottage (concierge), which I didn't get pictures of for some stupid reason. And just down the drive are the Holly Glade Cottages - where I really really couldn't afford to stay.

My small, but cozy, Bedroom. And the Bathroom, which had a HEATED FLOOR!!! I'm thinking that is my vote for best invention ever.

The Sitting Area of the Main House leads into the Bar Area (two pics), which leads into the Dining Alcove, which leads into the Main Dining Room. There is also the Game & Snack Room. Named such, by me, because it has games & snacks. (It's a bit hard to tell, but those are bottled Coke products. Bags of chocolate chip cookies, trail mix, M&Ms, etc. And the drawer underneath has Perrier, juices, and other stuff. And it was all free. Well, you weren't charged per item. But you sure were paying.)

This is the view from the Sitting Room and the same view from the veranda.

This is getting long, so I'll skim over the rest:

Walland Pond

Farmhouse Spa

Hammock by the brook

Horses

A couple of Artsy Pictures. (Although I am proud of the second one. It turned out just like I wanted.)

Footbridge

The view from The Overlook, which I renamed Fat Man's Death. Because the short, but steep, hike to it almost killed me.

Pretty Sunset (two pics)

(For the rest of the pics, go to here.) <Actually, I can't figure out a way to get the whole album to be viewable to the public. I have quite a few more pictures of the grounds and stuff - if you want to see them, just let me know, and I'll email them or something to you.>

Now for the good part - the food. The last night, the two chefs team up for dinner. This is what we had.

Ham Hock Consomme (three pics)

Salad Of Smoked North Carolina Trout - fennel and avacados with orange/sherry vinaigrette and saffron pickled fennel

paired with Failla "Keefer Ranch" Chardonnay 2002

Roasted Pears, Endive, And Arugula - with hazelnuts and shaved saint agur

paired with Turley "Alban Vineyard" Rousanne 1999

Eastern Skate - with parsnip puree, glazed Brussel sprouts, and Balsamic brown butter

paired with Failla "Keefer Ranch" Pinot Noir 2001

Liberty Farm Duck Breast (two pics) - with Kabocha squash, cavolo nero, and pomegranate salsa

paired with Turley "Vineyard 101" Zinfandel 1996

Tea Smoked Rack of Summerfield Farm Lamb - with sweet garlic wilted watercress and red pepper grits

paired with Turley "Hayne Vineyard" Petite Syrah 1995

Coffee Creme Caramel - with a ribbon cookie

paired with Alban Vineyards "Rotten Luck" Viognier 2001

Believe it or not, there are even more details that I could share. And every single one of them contibute to why, about 3 days later, I'm still unbelievably happy. (Although a little irked too, because I had to leave. lol)

-Greg


Edited by gwilson (log)

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