Biscuit Utopia in Tennessee
Who doesn’t love a biscuit?
Apparently everybody loves biscuits. People poured onto downtown Knoxville’s Market Street to get their hands on tasty biscuits during the International Biscuit Festival’s Biscuit Boulevard event on Saturday, May 19.
For a mere $5, they could call on about 20 biscuit bakers and get five different biscuits. Though the festival, which ran May 16-19, is only three years old, it already has the pull to attract big players from Nashville to Asheville and many points in between. “I’m honored to be here to celebrate a quintessentially Southern food,” said Tyler Brown as he prepared mustard seed biscuits with finely seasoned sausage for the many patrons lining up at his tent. He is executive chef of the Capitol Grille, the restaurant at The Hermitage Hotel, Tennessee’s only AAA Five Diamond hotel.
The Loveless Café and Nashville Urban Gardens made the trip from Middle Tennessee. Tupelo Honey, the much-loved Asheville cafe, greeted Knoxville customers with biscuits stuffed with pimento cheese and country ham. Tupelo Honey is promoting its restaurant scheduled to open in downtown Knoxville this fall.
Clearly the top biscuit makers had taken what is good and made it better. The Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant fed the masses, as did Ruby Tuesday offering garlic cheese biscuits with recipe cards. Dazzo’s had buttermilk asiago and rosemary biscuits with garlic butter. The Plaid Apron Café topped biscuits with smoked chocolate and whipped sorghum. Not to be outdone, Oodles dazzled with a chocolate buttermilk biscuit with balsamic strawberries and fresh Chantilly cream.
The crowds showed their pleasure by eating up the delicious morsels. From conversations with people in line I tried to determine what type of biscuit is best. Light, fluffy, huge cat head biscuits or heavily seasoned biscuits. Anything but whomp’em biscuits: “You get a can and you whomp it against a counter,” I was told.
People grabbed tables or curbstone for noshing their breakfast and listening to musicians on a stage at Church Avenue. Vendors at the Biscuit Bazaar along Clinch Avenue gave away samples. Who can say no to sorghum syrup on fresh biscuits from Muddy Pond Sorghum Mill, or biscuits with Benton’s Smoky Mountain Country Ham, or giveaway packets of Southern Biscuit Self-Rising Flour?
“There are plenty of biscuits and everybody seems happy,” said Mary Constantine, Knoxville food writer and a judge in the Biscuit Bake Off. The grand champion was Elizabeth Blanchard of Spartanburg, S.C.
Farm-to-table food lovers made their way to Krutch Park for the Blackberry Farm Biscuit Brunch on Saturday. Under a white tent, a three-course meal was served on crisp white cloths. The congenial event was sold out in advance of the festival. Guests included attendees of the Southern Food Writing Conference, an event that coincided with the International Biscuit Festival. “Biscuit Boss” and festival organizer John Craig estimates this year’s crowd was more than 20,000 people. http://biscuitfest.com/