From left, Marty Begalla, Dawn Ford and Mickey Mallonee enjoying made-to-order donuts from Jo’s, which sells them from a trailer in the parking lot of Yoder’s Country Market in Bulls Gap, Tennessee.
It all started with our friend Dawn Ford telling us during a dinner party about some great knives she had found at Yoder’s Country Market in Bulls Gap, Tennessee. She also raved about other items at the (ostensibly) Amish store. “We want to go there!” said Mickey Mallonee, Marty Begalla and I.
So, this past Saturday, off we went on a “field trip” to upper East Tennessee. Since we were so close, we planned also to have lunch at the fabled General Morgan Inn in nearby Greeneville. What a fun trip it was. Just sharing this along with a recommendation that you, too, plan a visit to these interesting, historic and entertaining places.
First of all, a question: Is Yoder’s Country Market really Amish? Not sure. Importantly, it doesn’t really claim to be. Check its Facebook page. (Would practicing Amish really have a Facebook page?)
Look for this sign. It says “Dutch Country.” Not “Amish.” But, you get the idea.
The name Yoder is to the Amish as the name Patel is to people of Indian descent. Very common. While the Amish tend to eschew modern conveniences such as electricity and technology, Yoder’s Country Market certainly has electricity and all the things a modern day grocery store needs. They accept credit cards, for instance.
But it does have an Amish sensibility. According to Wikipedia (the source of all knowledge), Amish cuisine is noted for its simplicity and traditional qualities. Food plays an important part in Amish social life. Many Amish foods are sold at markets including pies, preserves, bread mixes, pickled produce, desserts and canned goods. Yoder’s Country Market has all these things and more.
But before you even get into the store, you have to have a donut from Jo’s.
Folks coming to the market visited Jo’s last Saturday, as did folks from the neighborhood. We met a friendly local guy named “Junior” who gave us some directions we needed.
Making our order.
After eating our donuts, time to go inside. Past these cute birdhouses.
Cakes looked awesome.
Since it was just before Valentine’s Day, many cakes were in the shape of hearts.
Breads were just made.
I bought these bread heels because I have a new bread pudding recipe I want to try. Price seemed right.
There were many samples available to test. Here’s Mickey tasting a dip.
Here’s one sample. Gourmet cheese puffs. They were great, but I resisted.
Natural peanut butter was on sale.
Big variety of cheeses.
Marty carefully considers her selection.
Never seen so many different sizes of ladles.
As we left, I saw these cute hummingbird houses.
I bought a knife, which is what I came for. It is super sharp and cost less than $5.
Next stop: downtown Bulls Gap. Bulls Gap was named after John Bull, a famous gunsmith who made his home in the gap in the mountains and set up a trading post there in 1792. The railroad has been important to the town, which, according to the 2000 census, had a population of 714. Railroad tracks run through the center of town, which has a total area of 1.2 square miles.
Welcome to Bulls Gap! From left, Dawn Ford, Marty Begalla and Mickey Mallonee.
Entertainer Archie Campbell is from Bulls Gap and every Labor Day the town celebrates with a festival in his honor. The Archie Campbell Museum is in the center of town.
We found it odd that a tourist attraction is only open Monday through Friday from 9 to 4.
There’s a railroad museum, too.
Plans are for both the Archie Campbell Museum and the Bulls Gap Railroad Museum to move into Gilley’s Hotel once it is renovated.
The general store is closed. Its building has been turned into a community center.
It’s near City Hall.
I liked this building, but I don’t know what it is. It’s just a few inches from the railroad track.
OK. You have seen Bulls Gap. On to Greeneville and lunch at the beautifully restored General Morgan Inn.
The General Morgan Inn originally was built in 1884 as a railroad hotel. Today, it is the crown jewel of Greeneville’s downtown historic district.
General John Hunt Morgan, known as the “Thunderball of the Confederacy,” was killed by Union soldiers on Sept. 4, 1864, near what is now the Inn. Some say he was killed after being betrayed by a woman who, from a window of Lane House, the tavern located on the site that is now the Inn, shouted out his location to the soldiers.
The lobby of the General Morgan Inn.
A cozy fireplace in the lobby beckoned.
But we had reservations at Brumley’s Restaurant & Lounge, named after a family that once owned and operated the Inn.
A remnant of that era.
Brumley’s has a beautiful bar.
But we settled into one of the dining rooms.
The biscuits and scones were fabulous. (We all put our diets on hold.)
Big shout-out to the crab cakes Benedict. They contained large pieces of crab and were delicious.
After lunch, we would have enjoyed a nap in one of the Inn’s 51 beautiful guest rooms, but we had to get back to Knoxville. Our trip took about five hours total. We felt it was a nice part of Saturday well spent.