I spent last weekend in Walland, Tennessee. Where you ask? Well I asked the same question. It's just outside of Knoxville and I had to look up both Knoxville and Tennessee on a map, my grasp of the geography of the centre of the USA is very weak. The US border official said " that's too bad, why do you have to go there?" He'd not heard of Blackberry Farm and neither had I until I was invited to visit this oasis of calm, comfort and elegance in the shadow of the Smoky Mountains.
I stayed in this cottage that was at least two thirds the size of my Toronto apartment - I loved the heated bathroom floor. I could have stayed longer except there was no kitchen, and it was way too quiet for a city girl.
The weather was beautiful and I spent the Saturday morning walking around the property; visiting the vegetable garden, seeing the animals and breathing in lots of fresh air. As well as being a luxury resort Blackberry Farm is a working farm and what they raise and grow ends up on your plate.
I met two of the artisans Andy the cheese maker and Michael who butchers the meat and makes fantastic cured meats and sausages. Both are fat lovers, Andy making lots of wonderful sheep's milk cheeses, here is showing us a blue cheese. Michael has his homemade guanciale in hand here and at the end of the tour he showed me his own lardo. There is also a girl who makes all the preserves and pickles, but she was off for the weekend.
If you can't make it to Tennessee, you can buy the book The Blackberry Farm Cookbook: Four Seasons of Great Food and the Good Lifefilled with recipes and beautiful photographs. Back in Toronto and it has turned cold again, so I am trying hard to imagine myself on this swing idling away my time and knowing that three sorts of fried chicken was being prepared for my lunch.