Cassidee Dabney is the executive chef at The Barn at Blackberry Farm. She has been nominated for a James Beard Award.
While L’Amour du Vin would seem to be about wine, the whole long weekend really is about art. L’Amour du Vin, a wine dinner with a visiting chef, a visiting vintner and a visiting artist, is the single largest fundraiser of the Knoxville Museum of Art each year.
It’s a wonderful whirlwind of activities including, not only the culmination wine dinner at the Knoxville Museum of Art (read about the 2019 version here), but also two other culinary events, both at Blackberry Farm: the Sponsors’ Dinner and the Artist’s Luncheon. My favorite is the Artist’s Luncheon. It’s a little less formal and it’s held at lunchtime on the Friday before the main event, giving all attendees an excuse to knock off work! Hey, it’s for a good cause.
I usually talk my friend Dawn Ford into also taking the day off — it’s not difficult! — we hire a driver (there is, after all, quite a bit of wine!) and off we go!
This year’s featured artist was Andrew Erdos. The Knoxvile Museum of Art already has one of his pieces. The other was auctioned off at the L’Amour du Vin event’s live auction.
Artist Andrew Erdos describing his work to an appreciative audience at The Barn at Blackberry Farm.
Erdos is a charming, unassuming fellow from Brooklyn, New York. He specializes in glass art, often combining glass with light, video and sound to construct otherworldly environments inspired by popular culture. Sometimes, his art features glass sculptures that look like futuristic animals. Sometimes, he constructs huge iceberg-like elements and enhances them with LED lights and two-way mirrors. All very interesting stuff.
The Erdos piece in the Knoxville Museum of Art’s collection was purchased back in 2014 as part of the celebration of the permanent installation of glass artist Richard Jolley’s mammoth Cycle of Life piece in the Ann and Steve Bailey Hall.
Erdos is the youngest recipient of the Rakow Commission of the Corning Museum of Glass. His work has been exhibited worldwide and throughout the United States.
Here’s the piece, titled Smoky Sapphire Endless Mountains, in the permanent collection of the Knoxville Museum of Art.
Here’s a closeup. You can see some of those animals in there.
Here’s the piece that was sold to a local art collector at L’Amour du Vin. It’s called Lone Jade Mountain. (But I think it looks like an iceberg!)
While waiting for everyone to arrive at The Barn at Blackberry Farm, guests were treated to gimlets — topped off with peach bitters. Delish.
Just ask Sheena McCall.
From left, Mary Morris, Dawn Ford and Jackie Wilson. (They agree about the gimlets!)
Here are Jayne and Myron Ely with David Butler, right, executive director of the Knoxville Museum of Art. Big weekend for him!
Karen Mann, pictured here with husband, Reinhold. She is president of the Guild of the Knoxville Museum of Art and, according to David Butler, doing a great job!
From left, Alyssa Sprouse, Caroline Farris and Courtney Jernigan. Nice to see younger people getting involved in the local arts scene.
From left, Nick Fellone, Katie Blakely and Mary and Eric Baugher. Eric, of Ridge Vineyards, was the featured vintner this year.
Melanie Wood, left, and Mimi Turner during the cocktail gathering.
Glenn Irwin and Rosemary Gilliam. Glenn is a wine expert who hosts tastings several times a year. Rosemary loves culture of all kinds.
Angela Hutchinson, left, with Andrea Bailey Cox. More gimlet love.
Charleene Edwards, left, with Arlene Vincent and Alex Rodriquez.
Soon, we were called in for a short presentation on the art of Andrew Erdos.
Stephen Wicks, curator of the Knoxville Museum of Art, introduced him.
And then, lunch! I love the back of the chairs, lest you forget where you are!
This first course was light and delicious. Wood grilled shrimp with grilled carrot conserva, lovage aioli and frisee. It was served with a 2014 Ridge Estate chardonnay from Santa Cruz Mountains. “One of the most complex wines to assemble,” according to vintner Eric Baugher.
Cecelia and Bedford Waters are always fun to see at gatherings.
Andy Chabot, sommelier and dining and beverage director at Blackberry Farm, kept the wine coming. I actually liked this chardonnay very much.
Vanessa Bellamy, left, and Anne Anderson.
Entree was sweet tea brined pork loin with caramelized cabbage, roasted garlic, apple butter and pecans. Wine was a 2016 zinfandel from Benito Dusi Ranch in Paso Robles. I loved all the wines from Ridge we were served all weekend.
The best damn dessert ever! Chamomile and honey frozen yogurt with buckwheat honeycomb. Everyone was raving!
One of my favorite things about Blackberry Farm is how they make the most out of simplicity. Rather than a complicated arrangement, they will pick one bloom to show off, like this hydrangea.
Or they’ll just put an almost flowering branch in a pitcher of water. Lovely.
Head sommelier at The Barn, Jason Drotar, helped keep things flowing smoothly. Thanks!
And with that, we headed back to Knoxville! What a wonderful Friday afternoon.