trip report: blackberry farm
Blackberry's barn, where we had dinner every night.

Well top 'o the morning to you!

I have been too busy to post much because of all the eating I've been doing. Oops. But I'm beginning to make amends now, starting with this review of our recent trip to Blackberry Farm in Walland, Tennessee.

You may be asking: why would you go all the way to Applachia (that's appaLAHchia, naturally) for your birthday, Juliet? Well, a few reasons, but one in particular: Blackberry got voted the #1 resort for food lovers. I may love a lot of things (Mike, American Ninja Warrior, world peace), but those of you who know me well know that I love food -- cooking, eating, speaking of -- more than anything else. We're also big fans of Relais & Chateaux properties; you can read write ups of our vacations at other affiliated spots here and here. And no, Relais doesn't pay me or pay for my trips, but sweet Jesus I WISH THEY WOULD.

The view from our room.

Since my birthday is July 3rd, making a long weekend out of the 4th of July has become a bit of a tradition. So, we woke up bright and early that Thursday and hopped on a very reasonable 1.5 hour flight to Knoxville. From there, the drive to Blackberry is only about 25 minutes and you pass interesting things along the way like the world headquarters of Ruby Tuesday.

The boathouse on the lake.

Once you're on property though, you pretty much feel like you're in Narnia. Blackberry owns about 4,200 acres of land, part of which is devoted to a real working farm with sheep, pigs, turkeys, a dairy, a brewery and truffle-hunting dogs (!).

Hi, friends.

We stayed in the Main House, which is very conveniently where both breakfast and lunch are served. A word of advice: come hungry. All of your meals are included in the room rate and Blackberry brings new meaning to the phrase Southern portions. Lunch every day was three courses and dinner was four. And that's not even counting all of the amuses and pre-desserts (that's a thing) and cookies left by your bedside. We woke up early to eat breakfast just so we'd be hungry by lunchtime. Dedication and courage, folks, that's what I live for. [ALTHOUGH, I will have you know that we did go for a three-mile run every morning. Mostly this was because I wanted to spy on all of the different guest houses on property and play with the horses, but whatever gets you moving, right?]

Mike's eggs benedict during Sunday brunch.

But there is much more to do there than just eat (although there's nothing wrong with that): Mike and I decided to get in touch with our (non-existent) Southern roots and try both fly-fishing and shotgunning. Not beer. I mean real guns. Although the former has its value as well, of course.

My trout!

Fly-fishing was sweet for a variety of reasons. First and foremost, our guide, Dusty (pictured above) is the coolest man on the planet. Second: I actually caught a fish! And while it may look small in the picture, I can assure you it's actually quite large for a river trout. So there. Third: my waders. Rather than fish on property (they have their own Orvis fly-fishing school and stream), we opted for a slightly longer trip out to Great Smoky Mountains National Park, which was definitely worth it.

Don't mess.

Our shotgun lesson was also off site at a shooting-specific property that Blackberry owns a few miles up from the property. It turns out my aim isn't quite as bad as I thought, so, Mike, behave. I have to admit, this was way more fun than I thought it would be and even worth the bruising to my cheek and collarbone from the kickback.

Since we were there for 4th of July, we were also treated to a BBQ cookoff between all the various chefs. Heaven.

Beans, slaw, chicken, beef, pork...

Was the food as good as the hype? Yes. Every meal we had seemed to be better than the last. I also really enjoyed getting dressed up for dinner: jackets were actually required for men. And since the property is so large, they come pick you up at your room and drive you up to the barn for dinner. The hotel has a partnership with Lexus, so there's a whole fleet that you can borrow to drive around the Smokies if you so desire.

Birthday night!

Other than Tented Camp, I'd say this is the best experience we've had at a hotel, ever. I hope we'll be back soon, if only to see how these gorgeous Lagotto Romagnolo pups grow up!

and we're back!

and we're back!

trip report: newport

trip report: newport