Archive for September, 2010

Test Farm to Table Menu

Sunday, September 19th, 2010

A couple weeks ago I went out to Riverplains for lunch. I arrived at the house and Jennifer’s niece and nephew were playing upstairs with each other. Cindy (Jennifer and Anna’s mom) was sitting talking to her sister in from out of town and Rachel, Jennifer and Anna’s other sister, was getting ready to make some hot pepper jelly.

I went downstairs to Anna’s kitchen and it smelled amazing. When they invited me out I thought we would just have a simple lunch, but they had gone all out. They cooked the test menu for the upcoming October farm to table dinner that they were proposing.

We served our plates of slow cooked brisket, roasted pepper squash soup, braised greens and corn muffins. They apologized for not having home made butter. I was just happy to have some butter! We took our plates up to the porch and a storm of wind but no rain moved in and cooled it off.

The food was amazing. Of course. I probably could have eaten 10 of the muffins. I could not believe how different the happy corn meal grown on Riverplains and ground at a local mill, made the muffins taste. We are at a point where a lot of the food we is more like eating versions or caricatures of whatever the food is really supposed to taste like. We have processed, commercialized, and modified our food sources so much we don’t even notice it doesn’t have a lot of flavor. These muffins, they tasted like corn. Like real corn, almost like corn off the cob but in cornmeal form.

The same goes for the beef. It tasted like meat from a river bottom in Tennessee somehow. When I was in Oregon in August I had local grassfed beef as well and I tasted a bit of it before adding any outside flavors beside salt and pepper, and it tasted like Oregon to me. This stuff matters and once you taste it in a different way your eyes light up and the flavors just bounce around they are so fresh, so local, and so of the place.

Buy a ticket to the Riverplains Full Moon Farm to Table here. Come enjoy the bounty and flavors!

Blooming Earth Flowers

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

Blooming Earth Flowers has been at the Market Square Farmer’s Market all summer. Every time I walked by her booth this summer I would smile. Stacey has a way to take the already lovely summer bounty and arrange them with a modern and sophisticated eye. All her work is eco-friendly and sustainable.

As we all start to look towards the fall, Blooming Earth is launching a holiday season decoration CSA! I love, love, love decorating for the holiday season. It can be expensive and it is never sustainable. The tree farms most of us get our trees from are pretty detrimental to communities and the environment. This CSA is a great solution! I am so excited.

Info from the letter Stacey sent below or just email her.

Blooming Earth Flowers


(Community Supported Agriculture)

Holiday Package For 2010

Welcome to Blooming Earth Flowers’ first ever Eco Friendly Holiday Decor CSA. There are many cities all over the country that have CSAs exclusively for flowers and home décor now Knoxville is one of them. This CSA offers Holiday décor that is harvested right here in East Tennessee without the use of non-sustainable growing practices.

Our Holiday CSA packages range in size and number of items consisting of: a fresh green wreath, a “Charlie Brown” Christmas tree, door swags, garland, and a Thanksgiving Day arrangements. All crafted by our farmer and artist. Stacey Adam. All products are eco-friendly and sustainably harvested. No monocultures, no pesticides or herbicides, and local.

Options: please check one

Small Holiday package                                                                                              $55

  • A medium wreath, a small Christmas tree, and your choice of swag or 10 feet of garland.

Medium Holiday package                                                                                                   $ 90

  • A large wreath or 3 small wreaths a large Christmas tree and your choice of 2 swags or garland 20 feet of garland

Large Holiday Package                                                                                            $140

  • 2 medium or 4 small wreaths, a large Christmas tree 2 swags and 20 feet of garland, and admission to our wreath making class

Small fall and Holiday package                                                                                           $85

  • A medium wreath, a small Christmas tree, and your choice of swag or 10 feet of garland. A large thanksgiving day arrangement

Large fall and Holiday package                                                                                            $225

  • 2 medium or 3 small wreaths, a large Christmas tree 2 swags and 20 feet of garland, and admission to our wreath making class, a large table arrangement for thanksgiving day a smaller arrangement, and a fall wreath.

Benefits of membership

  • Members get extra attention on their arrangements and wreaths
  • The assurance that your products are eco-friendly from the raising and harvesting to the design.
  • Stacey will also cater to your specific style and desires

Requirements of membership:

  • A $25 dollar deposit is required upon sign up, and the total balance will be expected by the first pick up. Pick will be at the Market Square Farmer’s Market on Saturdays.

A little about the farm:

Still Waters Farm is home to Blooming Earth Flowers. The farm was established as a farm, residence, and office for the Gibbs community country doctor in the 1920’s. It was purchased by my family in 1993, and has been a hobby farm since then. We are working towards creating a couple of acres of you pick berry farm and a little over an acre for Blooming Earth. Things are very much in the development stage currently, and we welcome visitors to come see what we’re doing.

Oh My Brain…

Thursday, September 16th, 2010

…Here’s how it works. Planning for August’s Farm to Table:

Tuesday Field Trip: Avanti Savoia

Tuesday, September 14th, 2010

Avanti Savoia is an incredible, unassuming warehouse in Halls. Halls you say? What amazing food discovery could be in Halls? Well, Avanti Savoia. It is an importing business of the finest degree: olive oils, balsamic vinegar, pastas, salts, pickles, and hard cheese. The products are almost exclusively of the Italian variety, but not all.

For an hour and  half I toured their products and learned about a female Italian olive oil maker who is certified organic, I tasted aged balsamic which blew my taste buds away, and purchased some white truffle sea salt to test for Public House popcorn. Owned locally with the most friendly chef I’ve ever met on staff, this was the most fun afternoon I’ve had in a while. In addition to all the amazing goods they have to offer there are cooking classes!

This field trip is why I started writing these posts. Discovering something amazing and new and inspiring hopefully in Knoxville, but not always. Avanti Savoia is in located at 7610 Maynardville Pike. It is open to the public and has a website. Go visit!

An Elegant Luxury

Monday, September 13th, 2010

On Saturday, driving right through the heart of that insane lightening storm, my brother, boyfriend, and sister-in-law headed to Blackberry Farm to celebrate my sister-in-law’s birthday. It was an elegant luxury. I was trying to figure out how to write about it because, well, the whole experience was incredible but to just relay the details of that kind of evening doesn’t really do it justice.

Then as we were sitting outside on Sunday enjoying the hint of fall in the air, Carlos and I started to talk about the meal. He asked what my favorite dessert was and it went from there. He mentioned how special the evening was and  he had never had that kind of dining experience before and he would like to take his mom there one day.

While these kinds of meals are expensive they are also accessible and I think everyone should get to have a meal like that once. I know that is pretentious and somewhat unrealistic, but ten courses prepared to the utmost perfection. Local ingredients highlighted and taken to culinary heights you thought impossible. Risotto? Yes, with mushrooms, Parmesan cream/foam, and aged balsamic drizzled on top. Sweet potatoes? Yes, pureed, with a piece of pork belly and kimcheed greens on top.

Beyond the food experience there is also the experience of being taken care of in a way that is seamless. All the expectations we tend to have for service are met at a place like Blackberry. Any one who eats out enough knows what kind of service you should, but rarely, get. We travel in circles of familiarity here in Knoxville and that extends to where we eat and drink. When you have the chance to step outside of that and really experience a situation where the people working have been trained to actually be of service it is wonderful. Asking for a bourbon to finish the meal with and getting to see the bottle, smell it before it’s poured and then have a small taste to make sure you like it, is not what we expect but we know that it is right.

Blackberry is an incredibly special enclave right here in east Tennessee. It is staffed locally, the head chef is from Knoxville, and they are pushing the realm of what is sourced locally and what is produced locally. Their connections to the community seem to be expanding as well and that is a good thing for everyone of us who lives here and loves food.

Simple Pleasures

Friday, September 10th, 2010

Even though NPR only recently discovered that people are willing to pay more for artisinal food, I think most of the rest of us are aware of this trend. As much as we all want to eat the most local and most healthy food I think the biggest draw for this kind of cooking is generally this artisinal style food is often a simple, simple food elevated to it’s highest.

I finally got a BLT from the Cruze farm truck the farmer’s market. I’ve been meaning to all summer, so on this that was the last weekend of the summer I finally had one. After eating one of these, I would have paid twice the price and in someways it’s good for the ol’ waist line I didn’t know how good this sandwich was given the number of Saturday’s I’m at the market. It was amazing. Benton’s bacon, an incredible bread that was part baguette part brioche with a salted outside, lettuce and tomato and delicious mayonnaise.

It got me re-thinking about how lucky we are here in Knoxville to have the number of amazing producers of products that we have. So, this weekend do yourself a favor, if you haven’t already as I’m a bit late to this, and go to the Market Square Farmer’s Market and get a BLT for $4. Be sure to get mayo on it.

MORE Pickles

Thursday, September 9th, 2010

Zucchini bread and butter with tumeric, onions, celery seeds, and yellow mustard seeds. I ran out of apple cider vinegar and supplemented with white wine. The zucchini and onion slices were salted before boiling in vinegar for 5 minutes. I think I’m going to have to have a pickle party this winter!