I can't recall the last time I was so motion sick. I was so glad to be off the tour bus. I was hot. I thought I might vomit. No buttermilk cocktails were offered on this jaunt. Boooo.
So Cruze Farms was an oasis of dairy delight after being cooped up on a miserable rocking tour bus. It is an oasis no matter what circumstances brought you there, mind you. The farm is located inside Knoxville city limits, but falls within the historic (think National Register) Riverdale community, one of the oldest parts of the county first settled given its prime location at the crotch of the French Broad and Holston Rivers. Just not enough occasions to use the word crotch.
Although dining at Blackberry Farm was a once in a lifetime experience, being at Cruze Farms was like coming home, even though most of my farm experience is recent and equine in nature. I could have spent all day there. We were treated to hoecakes hot from the griddle which we drizzled or drowned with as much honey as we could stand. Jaanki flipped the hoecakes and I chatted with her a bit later, after the freak lightening storm popped up. Turns out she spent time growing up in Johnson City, so we were on the same plane comparing notes with that.
The longest line was for buttermilk biscuits. Oh. My. Golly. Had to be the best biscuits I've ever eaten in my life. They were HOT out of the oven and ooooozzing butter. It was one of those die-and-gone-to-heaven biscuit experiences. Better than the ones at the Loveless Cafe. Hmmm, trying to think of other places where I've had stellar biscuits. Cracker Barrel's are fairly good, actually. Where else? I make darned good shaggy biscuits. And I learned a thing or two about biscuits from Nathalie Dupree and Cynthia Graubart from their panel at the conference.
Pair all that biscuit eating with samples of buttermilk and the one percent (I think?), and the chocolate, that I didn't sample. Despite my chocolate aversion, I would have drank the chocolate milk if Cristina made another round offering them. She didn't. Her primary role as milkmaid came to an end when the thunderstorm hit.
Ayaka was busy scooping salty caramel ice cream when the downpour hit. Everyone scrambled to squeeze under the two tents, but I sought cover under the farm-shed close to where Cristina doled out the milk, which was well protected and gave me a birdseye view of everything.
The rain and the lightening turned our biscuit party into a danger zone given the electrical cords and other items that could easily shock any of the Cruze farm workers if they stepped in the wrong direction. Colleen scrambled, shoving the tent covering Ayaka closer to the shed I sheltered in so that there was no gap to let water cascade down her back. Alas, Ayaka was drenched, but she cheerfully kept scooping while Cristina, in the true spirit of teamwork, held the roof of the tent so that it would not drip water down Ayaka's back.
As soon as everyone had adjusted for the storm, it stopped and the sun shone almost immediately. Emma left the protected cover of shelter and offered everyone a biscuit. She helps Colleen assemble the buttermilk biscuit dough. What a charmed chore that is! Lucky girl.
While some may think that a thunderstorm "ruined" the biscuit party, I don't. It offered a lovely interlude. Mother nature is unpredictable. Learning to roll with it offers the best learning environment for everyone. As far as I can tell, all were in good spirits. The storm cooled the day and offered visitors a memorable experience.
Going on this field trip was part of the Southern Food Writing Conference that I paid for so in accordance with the new FTC regulations, I received no other form of compensation for the udder love and affection I show for Cruze Farms and their bovine products.