Down on the farm...

I'm delighted to introduce my very first adult guest blogger Elizabeth F. who is a faithful follower and commenter. Unlike me, she is totally tech savvy. She "clouded" me her photos, which threw me for a huge loop. [Note: I had to reformat her text, so if you see any typos, etc. it's my bad, not EF's.]  I'll also add that she is a fab baker. Her macaroons put Alon's to shame.

When Elizabeth told me she was going to Blackberry Farm for her birthday I just knew you all would want to see and hear about it. I've been jonesing for a trip to the farm for years. Jealous, of course.

Before turning it over to EF, I thought you might want to get to know her a bit.

Tea or coffee? Tea, preferably English breakfast with lemon and honey
Favorite city? San Francisco
Spring or fall? Spring, with a few points deducted for pollen
Bloom of choice? Tulips 
Style icon? Gwyneth. Don't yell at me.
Linens? Serena & Lily
China pattern? Wedgwood signet platinum
Most prized possession? Our family photos on hard drive and the vintage cake topper from my grandparents' wedding
Girl crush? Carrie Brownstein 
Boy crush? Alex Trebek, the mustache years 
On weekends… A "long" run, children’s sports, the Sunday NYT and hitting up Taqueria de Sol

Interesting, especially the Alex Trebek crush. Without further ado...

Hello blue mopheads readers! I had a milestone birthday at the end of last year (let's not talk about it) and my husband J planned a weekend at Blackberry farm as my bday present. I have been interested in BBF for a while. It appears on those "best places to stay" lists pretty often, and it sounded amazing -- a working farm that is known for great food and unique events like concerts, visiting chefs, etc. And, it's nearby in Tennessee. So, I added it to my mental bucket list. I may have mentioned this to J at some point. I'm older now, so I can't be expected to remember everything.

So when J told me that he had booked us a weekend there, I was THRILLED. But then sad because we would have to wait three months to go. But then happy when the weekend finally arrived!  
The property is immense with thousands of acres. The main buildings are spread over just a few. 

We stayed in the “Washday” cottage -- named for a type of pea, not how I describe most of my days at home. It was adorable. The furnishings and a fireplace made it so cozy. It came with a golf cart, so we could zip around the grounds to explore.

We roamed the grounds during the day. You can just pop into wherever - the dairy, the butcher, the horse stables, the greenhouse. The staff is happy to stop and chat with you about what they do and life on the farm.  

Dinners were held in the barn (the restaurant at BBF), which is gorgeous -- all reclaimed wood inside and these massive chandeliers and candles everywhere. Downstairs there is a wine cellar that stores 150 thousand bottles (!!!).  I mean, wha? It just is beyond. 

The fabulous barn designed by Susan Kasler via
During our stay, the main event was a big Americana music festival with late-night concerts in the barn both nights. The first night was the Howlin’ Brothers from Nashville – lively and fun. The second night Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett performed. They were just indescribably lovely and warm and amazing.  

Let's move along to the food, because that's something I never get tired of talking/thinking/reading about. We enjoyed some fantastic meals.  

Things I ate that I loved. [Title is a ripoff of this hilarious blog that Mindy Kaling used to keep.]

Mac and cheese
My favorite part of any m&c is the crunchy, browned topping. You guys, their version for Saturday lunch had crispy bits on top AND throughout! I don't understand how they worked this magic this but I found the
actual recipe and I will be trying it asap. I can make a lot of things, but I do not make a good m&c. I think this is because I find a recipe and it always has like 48 lbs. of cheese and cream and whole milk and I immediately go into substitution mode and use skim milk and less cheese and then I wonder why it is bland and not creamy. I'm going to try and resist doing so bc this one is sooo good.

Poached egg with asparagus and bacon vinaigrette
This sounded delish, but its inclusion in the "Small and Light" section of Saturday's breakfast menu worried me. When I questioned our server, she tried to assure me, oh yes, it's the smallest thing on our menu, we can take away some of the toast, etc.  I was like, let me be clear. I do not desire small and light. But it was divine. I mean I love a poached egg anytime, but the dressing added salty, tangy deliciousness to it and the super fresh, barely cooked asparagus underneath. [Just to be safe, I also ordered a biscuit with spicy sausage gravy on the side.]

Salad with preserved lemon and radishes
Those guys can work a dressing, but the preserved lemons OWNED that salad. The teensiest cubes of lemon among the snap peas and radishes provided incredible little zings of flavor. I think the lemons could easily be added to an at-home salad to make it special. Not sure where to find. Alon's? Research needed.

Caramel popcorn
Unexpected treats are the best kind -- like when you discover leftover birthday cake in the office break room at 3 pm on a random Tuesday. You wish a silent happy birthday to "Steve" and you dig in. During Friday night's concert, servers came around to the tables to deliver this still-warm caramel popcorn, which was puffy, crunchy, sweet, salty perfection in beautiful hammered copper bowls in an amazing setting of candlelight and music.

An unknown number of Diet Cokes from the room fridge and elsewhere. Diet Coke is delicious and healthy. I think I learned this on Dr. Oz one time. DC in a glass bottle is a delight. The clever BBF people stock the room minibar with complimentary [not complimentary in the least, because you are paying to stay there, but there is the illusion of them being free] glass-bottled sodas, juices, waters and little snacks. But there's more! This nice couple we met clued us in to the fact that there are secret stashes around the property. So you'll be wandering around and go into a little tackle shed or whatever and find a minibar hidden behind a door. Like geocaching with peanut M&Ms as the reward!

Sweet tea fried chicken and cheese grits
LAST MEAL FOOD for reals. Dinner Saturday night was all divine (s/o to the Brussels sprouts + bacon), but these two dishes were exceptional. Everything was served family-style. Unfortunately I was last to the grits (not cool), so I did not get the quantity I wanted (aka very many bowls). Super cheesy bc of the homemade chevre-like cheese and amazingly velvety in texture. The chicken was brined in the sweet tea, so it was juicy and just the tiniest bit sweet but then kicked in with some cayenne spiciness in the golden crust. YUM.

We left Sunday after brunch rested and happy and more than a few pounds heavier.  I admonished J because he wanted to take some of the cokes with us (“Omg, no!  That’s so tacky!”), as I counter-swept all of the Aveda toiletries into my bag.  It was an unforgettable weekend at BBF and the perfect birthday present.  

Thanks Elizabeth for sharing your trip with us. 

Have you ever been whisked away for a special occasion weekend? My most memorable was an anniversary weekend on Cumberland Island -- accommodations at the Greyfield Inn, not camping out in the wilderness with the wild boar and other creatures.


  1. Awesome guest blog, Elizabeth! I love your writing style and will be using the term "counter swept" and your Diet Coke nutrition facts regularly. BBF sounds like a place to put on my bucket list (which is more like a bathtub list because I've done nothing). Love all the pictures, too! My only wha?? moment is your crush on Alex Trebeck...especially the mustache years!

  2. Wonderful guest blog, Elizabeth - well done! The food porn was particularly great. Let's go for tea sometime.
    Leslie J.

  3. Loved it E! Great guest blog. I think I must have some of that mac'n'cheese, as I am a self-proclaimed connoisseur. God, the cottage looks gorgeous!

  4. Thanks you guys!

    @susannah: ok not really on the trebek thing, although I do appreciate a guy who can grow lustrous facial hair.

    @leslie: yes please!

    @asl: aaah! My link to the recipe didn't come thru. Here it is:

    @maureen: thx for the opportunity to post on one of my fave places on the internets. Long live blue mopheads!

  5. No, I've not been whisked away anywhere at any time. On Cumberland I endured swarming, biting hordes of mega mosquitoes b/c I was out with the boars. I've pined to go to BBF for years but to no avail. Elizabeth, I just lived vicariously through you. Thank you for sharing!! I enjoyed immensely though, I'll admit, I am pretty darn jealous!!

  6. I really want to go to BBF - it was on Rue La La a few months ago and I almost bought a weekend. Guess I will have to wait a little longer, or maybe Suzann and I can go and leave the men at home with the kids.
    I am uber jealous of Robert Earl Keen and Lyle Lovett. I can't believe they played together. I am a long time fan of both - I see REK once a year if possible (used to see him much more when I was still in Texas), and have only seem Lyle Lovett once, and it was in Boston of all places. I bet it was a fantastic show. Do you know if this concert is an annual thing? Stan might be willing to go if I promise REK and LL.

    1. I have to admit, I didn't know anything about REK before we went. He was hilarious and his songs are so vivid. I have since downloaded a bunch of the live stuff. I love LL but we hadn't seen him since a concert (w his large band) at chastain like 10 years ago. I also didn't realize the 2 of them are old friends - they would tell stories and trade off playing songs and then sang together on a couple of old songs. I completely teared up at one point. It was magic!

      I believe the Americana music fest is an annual event, but I think the talent probably changes each time. Def worth it to go when they have a concert - there were maybe 75 people in the audience, which was crazy and surreal.

    2. Yes Naomi let's go! Also my high school classmate, Rich Brotherton, plays with REK. We went with the Harrison's at the end of our street out to some cowboy palace dance hall to see them perform a couple of years ago.


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