Celebration of Place
From the lyrical opening essay from food writer Molly O’Neil to the closing image of horses in a frigid Tennessee pasture, The Blackberry Farm Cookbook celebrates the place and the family that have made Blackberry Farm and its storied kitchens synonymous with southern charm and hospitality.
Sam Beall’s “Letter from the Innkeeper” reminds the reader that this is a family affair. Sam’s father, Sandy Beall founded Ruby Tuesday’s, and after moving the family frequently as that business grew finally settled at Blackberry Farm in 1975.
Over the year’s Sam’s mother, Kreis Beall designed and expanded the original farmhouse into one of the nation’s leading luxury inns, now part of the famed Relais & Chateaux organization. This beautiful book, its stories of farm life and its recipes are organized by season. Beginning with summer’s bounty celebrating blackberries and barbeque and ending with cool spring mountain days featuring the season’s first greens and perhaps a rhubarb tart, this is a sumptuous 287 page journey. Its stars are at once the gorgeous Tennessee Mountain setting, the charming rambling inn and the inventive Southern cuisine.
Along with members of the Beall family, Blackberry Farms kitchens are run in a collaborative manner with three leading chefs, Josh Feathers, Adam Cooke and Joseph Lenn contributing their talents.
The recipes run the gamut from the traditional fried chicken and skillet okra to the more adventurous chilled corn soup with garlic custard or cornmeal blinis and American caviars. The recipes are presented in a clear and accessible manner. Buttered Quail with Pan-Roasted Hominy, Giblet, and Black Truffle Ragout certainly sounds exotic and delicious but it contains 12 easily obtainable ingredients and the preparation instructions are delivered in 3 simple short paragraphs.
For a little more adventure try Sam’s Cassoulet, a winter treat featuring a variety of sausages, cannellini beans and spices.
Each recipe is expertly photographed (the blinis and caviar almost leap off the page into your mouth!), and the stage is set with stunning mountain scenes and beautiful interiors from the inn. The photographer, Heather Anne Thomas, has captured the essence of Blackberry Farm and her photographs are a key reason that this is one of the year’s most captivating cookbooks. The book’s back cover carries a wonderful tribute from Birmingham’s own Frank Stitt; “If the saying “God is in the details” rings true, then he may reside along the green hills in the shadows of The Smoky Mountains Of Blackberry Farm.” Whatever the season, this is a book to savor and these are recipes to make your own.
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