I am writing this from post from Blackberry Farm. I’m here giving a series of short talks to some guests participating in a motivational boot camp.  If you aren’t familiar with Blackberry Farm it’s a farm to table property in the Smoky Mountains. All of the produce served here is produced on the farm. Last night on the way to dinner we passed the truffle farm and saw the building where the cheese and jam are made. Before dinner, I met the participants as they returned from a hike.
I introduced people, singles and couples, from Texas, Mississippi and Westchester to Foodtraining. The premise of the talk is that we all know the “shoulds” in terms of exercise.  Yet there is a gap between what we know we should do and what we actually do. Whether it’s cooking or exercise or snacking or drinking we each have our behavioral Achilles heel. My proposed antidote to these weak areas is planning (more on that later). It was my first talk I’ve ever done with a glass of champagne in my hand. I raised a glass to the group and we headed into dinner.
Dinner was a delicious four-course meal with a wine for each course. I worked with Sam Beall, the proprietor of Blackberry, offering a few suggestions (they clearly don’t need my help). We started with a Beet Carpaccio served with Hen of the Woods mushrooms and “crispy buckwheat.” Buckwheat is gluten free and the crunch in the salad was fantastic. The following course was a vegetable soup utilizing the last kale of the season here. Also in the soup were the flowers from the kale this time of year. These flowers have a name but two wines in, it’s no wonder I cannot recall it. Our entrée was Guinea Hen serves with ramps (wild leeks) and brown “basmati rice grits”.  The flavor of the ramps with these polenta-like grits was insanely good. I chose not to lick my plate but scraped it clean. And finally, on a beautiful slab of slate we were served Blackberry Farm’s “Singing Brook” cheese with Honey Turnips.
It was one of those nights where I felt the rest of the world was so far away. Marc and I were seated with Mary Celeste and Sam Beall who live at Blackberry Farm with their four children. Marc was next to a couple married when they were in their 50’s in the French Quarter. Stories were shared about travel and cooking and wine and more. As I relaxed from a long week I realized I was supposed to talk “sleep tips” after dinner. Everyone grabbed his or her tea or coffee (or remaining wine) and we walked down a path to another house. In a living room-like setting we all talked about sleep which I didn’t think would be too hard after all that good food and wine.
What do you feel is your Achilles heel when it comes to nutrition or exercise? Are you at all sat to say goodbye to root vegetables or kale as spring arrives? What are your favorite meal memories where the menu and company seemed perfect?


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