Jim Haslam, left, and Bill Arant at An Evening with the Knoxville Symphony at Blackberry Farm. Jim and Natalie Haslam were honorary co-chairs of the alluring event.
The Knoxville Symphony‘s annual fundraiser at Blackberry Farm was even more fantastic this year because it was held in Bramble Hall, Blackberry’s brand new events center.
Bramble Hall was modeled after the huge timber-framed barns that used to dot East Tennessee’s rural countryside. These barns were used for all manner of local celebrations, from community barn dances to weddings and harvest parties. It sounds rustic, I know. But, if you’ve ever been to Blackberry Farm, you know that they do “rustic” in the most elegant way imaginable! Bramble Hall is no exception.
Bramble Hall, equipped with state of the art sound and lighting to accommodate the many musical evenings at Blackberry, is beautifully appointed with huge beams and stone fireplaces set off by comfortable, understated furnishings. An outdoor amphitheater provides an under-the-stars option for entertainment during fair weather.
But we were there for the food and wine — and we were not disappointed. The lovely symphonic music provided by members of the Knoxville Symphony was the perfect complement for what is always one of the most memorable nights of the year.
Welcome to Bramble Hall.
The setting for a magical evening.
Blackberry has a way of making all your senses perk up. When I saw our stunning table, mine definitely were on alert.
Members of one of the KSO’s youth orchestras set the tone as guests arrived. From left: Daniel Choo, Elizabeth Joo, Sarah Johnson and Jerry Zhou.
Sam Furrow, left, and Jim Clayton.
Charmaine Mamantov, left, with Rachel Ford, the executive director of the KSO.
From left, Jenny and Randy Boyd, Thom Mason and Mintha Roach.
Lauren DeCicco offered pinot grigio (yay!) and directed us to the patio for cocktail hour.
Here’s the back patio.
Ann and Dick Ray.
Justin Myers offers hoe cakes — served on an actual hoe!
These tiny hoe cakes were topped with American caviar and creme fraiche. I could have eaten them all night.
The amphitheater has casual outdoor seating for concerts.
Mary Bogert, left, and Susan Brown.
These two were happy to see each other! Cindi DeBusk, left, and Betsey Bush.
J.D. Hibbs with pesto on rice crisps.
Don’t you love the way the pork belly bites with fennel are served?
From left, Michael Higdon, Sara Rose and Scott Bird.
From left, Charleene Edwards, Willene Chalmers and Pat Jobe.
From left, Randy and Jenny Boyd, Marga and Jay McBride, Michell Witt and Jim Clayton.
Soon, we were directed inside for dinner.
R.J. Hinde, left, and Elliott DeVore.
Natalie Haslam, left, with Sandy Bertelkamp.
Frank Gray and Barbara Arant.
John Winemiller and Sheena McCall.
Rick and Mary Johnson.
Jim and Natalie Haslam with her daughter, Jennie McCabe, left.
Check out this creative first course: grilled broccoli and farro with preserved lemon, Parmesan and Marcona almonds. We loved it.
Especially when it was paired with this delicious 2015 Daniel Chotard Sancerre.
This may look like an ordinary dinner roll to you. But, trust me, it’s not! It is the lightest, flakiest roll I’ve ever tasted. I am afraid to ask what the secret is. My guess: butter!
Mary Bogert and Sara Rose were guests at the Moxley Carmichael table.
Next up was a dish of roasted golden beets with hen of the woods mushrooms and pine syrup topped with a slice of black truffle.
Its wine pairing: a 2014 Daumen Cotes-du-Rhone.
From left, Donna Kerr, Donna Geckler Solod and Marilyn Dick between courses.
My favorite course came next: crispy guinea hen terrine with Brussels sprouts and apple rosemary gastrique.
It was paired with a 2015 Au Bon Climat pinot noir from Santa Barbara County. Delish.
My friend Jon Roach was not deterred by the fact that the server had taken away his fork and forgotten to replace it. He ate using only his knife! Trust me — the dish was that good!
Time for a little table hopping!
Seated, from left: Jenny and Randy Boyd, Holly and Russ Watkins, Sibyl Wray. Standing, from left: Charmaine Mamantov, Rachel Ford and Barney Wray.
Seated, from left: Michael Higdon, Scott Bird, Robbie Arrington, Elliott DeVore and Aaron Apaza. Standing, from left: Tom Dillon, Travis Vickery, John Winemiller, R.J. Hinde and Rob Collignon.
From left, seated: Joe and Posey Congleton, Kenneth and Jane Creed. From left, standing: Pete and Cindi DeBusk, Lee Ann and John Tolsma, Ann and Sam Furrow.
From left, Toni and Jon Lawler, Betsey Bush, Sheena McCall, Rick and Mary Johnson.
From left, Lynne and Charlie Harr, Jay and Marga McBride, Michell Witt and Jim Clayton.
From left, Jane and Jim Roberto, Jennifer MacGillivray, Thom Mason, Townes Osborn, Bob Marquis, Mary Ellen and Steve Brewington, Susan Brown and Craig Shelton.
Back at our table, the main course was being served. Painted Hills ribeye cap with smoked fingerling potatoes, creamed kale and grilled oyster mushrooms. Yum-yum. It was paired with a delicious 2013 Justin cabernet sauvignon from Paso Robles. Its label was printed on the bottle itself — not on a paper label — and it was impossible to photograph (with my limited skills and equipment).
Aww. Love this picture of Paul Barber and Betsy Child taken at our table.
Here’s our whole gang. From left, Jon and Mintha Roach, Carolyn and Doug Leahy, Sara Rose, Mary Bogert, Alan Carmichael, Betsy Child and Paul Barber.
And then, dessert! Honey Crisp apples and cream drizzled with vanilla olive oil.
Then, a few selections by members of the Knoxville Symphony Orchestra.
How lucky we are to have them in our community.
Jim and Natalie Haslam enjoying the music.
Resident conductor Jim Fellenbaum with the KSO’s development director, Mary Sue Greiner, after the concert.
From left, Alan Carmichael, Jim Haslam, Jon Roach Paul Barber, Carolyn and Doug Leahy.