Have you ever had one of those glorious weekends where it seems that all the stars align to create a perfect balance of everything that a great weekend should be? Perfect weather, fun activities, wonderful friends – all characteristics of the best kinds of weekends, and the exact kind that I just had.
In an effort to get my third, and final, biscuit entry entered for Biscuit Fest, I wanted to get some of my ingredients straight from the source. So Saturday morning, J and I headed about 45 minutes south of Knoxville to Madisonville – home of Benton’s Bacon.
I’ve been noticing a resurgence of restaurants in Knoxville making an effort to purchase most, if not all, of their ingredients from locally grown or farmed sources. I love this idea as it increases business for area farmers and various vendors and it also means super fresh food for the consumers (such as myself). As a result, it appears that the bacon of choice for virtually all of these types of restaurants has been Benton’s. This is not without reason, as the products I’ve had the opportunity to try in various dishes have knocked my socks off. Thick, smokey pieces of crunchy pork can add the perfect compliment to any dish as far as I’m concerned and Benton’s really does taste better than any store bought bacon I’ve ever had.
We pulled up to their “headquarters”, walked into a small store, and were immediately overwhelmed with the pungent, smokey smell of cured meats that preceded to permeate my clothes and hair for the remainder of the day. Aside from the various cuts of pig quite literally hanging around on hooks, I also took note of a man in a back room stuffing casings, by hand, with sausage meat. It would be a lie if I said I didn’t appreciate the down-home, nostalgic feel of the place.
J and I found what we came for…
…and headed back home for our next leg of my biscuit ingredient adventure: South’s Finest Chocolate Factory for some local chocolate.
Located near World’s Fair Park, beneath what is now apartments (p.s., how awesome would it be to live in an old candy factory?) is a tiny chocolate store that I am almost embarrassed to say that I’ve never been to. Actually, that may have been a good thing because now I will be going back on a fairly regular basis to gorge myself.
The shop contained row upon mouth-watering row of assorted made-in-house chocolate deliciousness. I was sure to snatch up what I came for – some solid milk chocolate. Then, obviously, I couldn’t resist the plethora of other treats so I grabbed some chocolate covered coffee beans (potential pre-run fuel?), some mandarin orange chocolate ball thingys (these should be renamed amaze-balls, because they were) and finally a strawberry cordial.
A strawberry cordial is essentially the same thing as a cherry cordial (like those chocolate covered cherries you can buy by the box around the holidays) just with a strawberry in it. But don’t be fooled into thinking these are one of those overly syrupy globs with a small piece of fruit in the middle – no, no. These bad boys are legit fresh strawberries with just the right amount of sugary syrup to make them perfectly, not overly, sweet. So delicious, so juicy (per the juice stain that ran down the length of my maxi dress after my first bite) and extremely addictive.
Now adequately supplied, and coffee beans in hand for extra energy, J and I headed to Market Square to soak up some more of the perfect weather and enjoy the Dogwood Arts Festival where art and food vendors filled the square, selling their various wares. Obviously, I was far more interested in the food than much else, and happily meandered around slurping some salty caramel ice cream from Cruze Dairy Farms (top 5 best ice creams I’ve ever had).
Then, J won the boyfriend of the year award and bought me this:
Signed AND personalized to moi, by Tupelo’s head chef. Tupelo Honey Cafe is somewhat of a landmark in Asheville, NC and ever since I went there a few years back, I’ve been obsessed. The perfect mix of southern food with innovative flare – they are opening a new location in Knoxville around the end of the summer and I am eagerly waiting with breath that is bated. Bring on the delicious brunches!
Our decidedly Knoxvillian Saturday ended with an event so epic, I am actually waiting to save it for its own separate post – it’s that out of control. I love living in a city that has so many fun treasures to offer.
Leaving me exhausted and happy, the weekend flew by in a blur and before I knew it Monday was here to ruin all the fun. What a jerk that Monday is…
Hope everyone had just as wonderful weekend as I did – and your Monday isn’t too big of a jerk to you!