The boutique hotel experts and gallivanting gastronomes at Mr & Mrs Smith spill the beans on the green-fingered gourmets behind Blackberry Farm in the Smoky Mountains of Tennessee…
Hugged by the mist that gives them their name, the Smoky Mountains form the southern tip of the Appalachians and are a haven of biodiversity and a cradle of classic Southern Americana. Amid a patchwork of picket-fenced fields sits family-run Blackberry Farm a slow-foodie’s fantasy brought to life. This is real work-the-land, cook-its-produce country, and despite the spa, the luxey linens, the Lexus fleet, and all the other pampering paraphernalia, this farm estate turned hip hotel is true to its rustic roots.
Housed in a reconstructed 18th-century Amish building, its restaurant, the Barn, is helmed by chef Jospeh Lenn — a proponent of ‘Foothills’ cuisine, which takes traditional Southern fare and applies a touch of nouvelle know-how. Prepared in the open kitchen, his menu is seasonally driven and draws on local produce — and produce doesn’t come more local than the sheep, pigs, chickens, fruit, beans, peas, carrots, mushrooms, black truffles, and all the other culinary essentials that are to be found in the farm’s 4,200 acres of garden, field and forest.
From such ingredients, Joseph creates dishes such as pancetta-wrapped sturgeon with smoked onion marmalade and wood-grilled guinea fowl breast with morels, cipollini onions, rice grits, and snow peas — all of it local, all of it delicious. It’s not all about the chef, though; pity the sommelier, who has an 8,000 square foot wine cellar to negotiate every time he needs to collect a bottle.
There are others to thank for Blackberry Farm’s success, of course: the in-house butcher, who ensures each cut is the freshest, the cheese-maker who turns the milk from the farm’s East Friesians into delectable Blackberry Blue and Singing Brook cheeses, the man behind the jellies and preserves, the beekeeper who looks after Blackberry’s honey production, and the gardeners, who supply the kitchen with their lovingly tended vegetables and herbs.
As well as the Barn, there’s the Main House: a cosier, less formal affair featuring the tucked-away, wood-panelled Dogwood Bar: a tea room by day, and a traditional cocktail spot by night, with a huge range of signature drinks (such as the Strawberry Fizz, a zingy blend of tequila, berries, and mint), and a passion for artisanal bourbons.
After your nightcap, bed down in one of the spacious and secluded Singing Brook cottages (our favorites), ready for a hearty southern breakfast the next day: eggs, grits, and fennel-cured bacon, naturally.
Oh, and did we mention it’s all-inclusive, so you never need to panic about the bill — and, once you’ve checked out, you can always pick up a copy of their recipe book if your stomach gets withdrawal symptoms…
For more insider tips, and to book your next trip, call the travel experts at Mr & Mrs Smithon +1 800 464 2040 or visit Mr and Mrs Smith.
(All photos courtesy of Mr and Mrs Smith)