Mind Your Own Biscuits...
For a variety of reasons, the South has been on my mind the last month or so. First, I have been really into country music, like pop favorites I Got the Boy by Jane Kramer (my Summer song) and Biscuits by Kacey Musgraves. While these songs may seem trite, upon further reflection, they are very sincere; I guess I am a sucker for catchy lyrics and southern charm. Second, I traveled South to Tennessee to see the Eclipse in the Path of Totality because if not now, when? Afterall, who knows where I'll be for the next North American eclipse in 2024.
I must say that what I found when I went South was sincerity, hospitality, and warmth. For example, my daughter left her laptop at a hotel, and Sara May (handwritten letter above) brought it to us (it was her pleasure) in her free time, 45 minutes away! The very next day that same daughter left her iPhone 7 outside of an ice cream parlor in Blue Ridge, Georgia, and they called (after charging said phone) the next day to find out where they could send it! Then, it arrived in NYC, as promised, less than 48 hours later, along with some of their handmade fudge. In this week's Loupe, I introduce you to some Southern style finds!
1471 West Millers Cove Road Walland, TN 37886
Blackberry Farm has been providing excellent hospitality since the early 90's. The place has been in a constant state of renewal, expansion, and improvement. However, their most ambitious project is in process and includes an entirely new concept of homes and rooms neighboring their existing property. The new gourmet restaurant is set to open this Fall, while the homes and rooms won't be available for use until next year. The concept is a tightly guarded secret but seems to cater to the uber active (hiking, biking) versus the more well-rounded offerings at Blackberry Farm. Think it will be hard to top the existing property which has fabulous 5-star accommodations, incredible food (included), a very productive farm, and a broad array of activities.
Most people in the service industry go out of their way to make your life easier. However, we experienced above and beyond service on our recent trip to the South. If you have an assistant at work who won't do personal things or you don't have an assistant, then Get Magic is the perfect solution to outsourcing tedious tasks. I signed up for their Beta trial 18 months ago (really had forgotten about it), and it just went live in the last couple of months. Magic assigns a team of 15 people (nameless/faceless), who are available 24/7, and bill $35 per hour for the time they spend on your task. I have found them very productive so far at finding professionals to do various tasks like, "Find me a yoga instructor for next Tuesday at 5 pm?" They will generate a list of leads, send bios, book appointments and confirm before arrival. They let you know when they will provide feedback on their progress, and you can cap the time spent on a task. I could do this work, but value my time (way, way!) more than $35 per hour. Download the app here and use the referral code W66W63URFL and you will get one free hour of service (so will I!). Use that hour to try out the service and find the right use for you.
Southern Guns (for Northerners)
Laser Tag Pro
When we go to Blackberry Farm, we do what the locals do, shoot guns! They have an incredible teaching facility (off property, don't worry!) where anyone can learn to shoot a rifle. For the experienced shooter, their grounds have skeet, trap, five stands, double wobble, and flurry. If you don't want to shoot real guns, they have the most amazing paint ball field. For some reason my family can't resist paintball, so we dressed in fatigues, loaded up or guns, and played a fierce paintball battle for 90 minutes. There is something truly special about being pinned down behind a tree by your daughter or being taken out by a headshot by your son! I recognize real guns and paintball don't work well in urban environments; therefore, you need your own laser tag set. We have been testing out this excellent system from Laser Tag Pro. They have developed a gun that is more advanced than most commercial systems (they have those too) for the casual user. We have been playing in our home and having the best time. The user can choose the type of play and the type of gun. The guns have laser sights and real sounds. Order these and you won't have to head down South or ruin your walls with paint!
Southern Food (Delivered)
Mail Order Food
Nothing embodies the South more than soul/comfort food. In our travels, we couldn't resist the fried green tomatoes, biscuits and gravy, and of course, the Memphis-style dry-rub ribs! Unfortunately, these are not foods that are easily found outside the deep South, until Goldbely came onto the scene. Goldbely's mission is to find and deliver America’s most iconic and epic local foods Nationwide. While they have curated a collection of some of the finest foods in the US, for this post, I'm going to focus on some regional highlights. For biscuits, order from Nashville's Loveless Cafe. These were some of the best biscuits, my family has ever had, and we made sure to hit this spot on our road trip to Graceland! For ribs, check out Charlie Vergos' Rendezvous for world-famous and legendary ribs from Memphis. These ribs make the perfect summer BBQ addition (*last week's post). And lastly, we must not forget the amazing peaches that come out of Georgia. When we were just there, we ate the most delicious peaches (they outdo Hampton's farmstands) that my nieces picked in Blue Ridge. For those, try The Peach Truck --- this is a '64 truck that drives through Tennessee, Kentucky, Ohio, Indiana, and Pennsylvania selling their handpicked peaches ... unfortunately, they're sold out for the season! For Fried Green Tomatoes, you're on your own ... no fried green tomato purveyor here!