Thursday, June 27, 2013

2013 Southern Baking Retreat - A Recap

Recently, the wonderful folks at White Lily & Martha White invited 10 food bloggers for a fun-filled weekend in Nashville, TN for their first ever Southern Baking Retreat.  I was lucky enough to be among those 10 bloggers chosen, and it truly could not have been more fun.  It not only was a great opportunity to learn a little more about two southern brands that I already love, but it was also an unforgettable experience filled with great food, fun times, incredible music and new friends.

Here's a fun little video that they put together of the retreat.  It does a great job of summing up all the fun we had!

Also, here's a list of the other 9 fantastic food bloggers in attendance.
Be sure to check out their sites:

Mike Rutherford welcomed us into his studio.
DAY #1:  
We spent Day #1 at the photography studio of uber-talented photographer Mike Rutherford.  His studio is simply incredible.  One of Mike's specialties is food photography, and he has an entire room FILLED to the brim with the most amazing props you've ever seen.  As you can imagine, I was practically drooling at the sight of all those beautiful plates, bowls, forks, spoons, cutting boards, etc. etc.  You name it...he had it.  Here are a few shots from his studio:

Glorious props:

The next part was really fun...They paired us up into teams of two and tasked us with creating a recipe using Martha White muffin mix.  There was a beautiful kitchen filled with pre-heated ovens and every utensil and tool you'd ever need.  After a little brainstorming, we all got to work on our creations.  The experience was so fun!  I pretty much felt like a contestant on The Next Food Network Star...Only there was no judging and no one got sent home...thank goodness! :)

There we are hard at work!

Julie and Robyn were all smiles!

There's me and my partner, Stacey Little, from Southern Bite!

Our creation - Red, White & Blueberry Tartlets

 That night, we were treated to what was probably one of the most special dinners I've ever had the pleasure of attending.  We dined on the rooftop in downtown Nashville, TN at a place called Aerial, with a breath-taking view of our surroundings.  It was really quite spectacular. 
I chose the Sweet-Tea Pork Loin with Pimento Cheese Grits (OMG!), Molasses Glazed Green Beans & Bourbon Jus.  It was heaven!  Chocolate Cake with a Raspberry Ganache followed for dessert, which was beyond.words.delicious.

And if that wasn't incredible enough, dinner was followed by an intimate performance by Hall of Fame singer/song-writers Tony Arata and Pat Alger, along with the grammy-nominated Bluegrass Queen herself, Rhonda Vincent.  

If you're a country music fan, you've probably heard of 3 little hits called "The Thunder Rolls," "Unanswered Prayers," and "The Dance."  Tony and Pat actually wrote those songs, and it was amazing to hear them sing those, among many others.  Rhonda is also incredibly talented and their performance was one I'll never forget.

Tony Arata and Pat Alger

DAY #2:
We started Day #2 off right, I tell you!  We took a field trip to The Loveless Cafe for one mouth-watering breakfast.  I'm talking fried chicken, perfectly seasoned grits, farm fresh scrambled eggs, bacon, country ham, fresh fruit, hashbrown casserole, and buttermilk biscuits (made with White Lily flour, of course!).  Needless to say, we were STUFFED when we left.

White Lily biscuits in the making at Loveless Cafe

Fried chicken for breakfast?  Yes ma'am!

Gosh, those biscuits were tasty!

After breakfast, we traveled back to Rutherford Studios and got back into the kitchen for one last challenge.  We were paired up again and got the chance to put our biscuit-baking skills to the test.  There were 5 teams of 2, and we each were assigned a different White Lily biscuit recipe.  The results sure were yummy!

Here's me and my partner, Lindsay, of Love & Olive Oil.
 Once the biscuit-making festivities were finished, we got to meet and listen to the new Southern Living Test Kitchen Director, Robby Melvin, dish on all things southern.

And that, my friends, just about wraps it up.
I want to say a special thanks again to the great folks at White Lily, Martha White and DVL Public Relations & Advertising for putting together such a great event.  It's surely something I'll never forget! 

Also, many of the photos that you see here were taken by Erick Blackwood, the talented  photographer/producer that followed us around like the paparazzi during the event.  He also created the video above.  Thanks, Erick!


Debra Ann Elliott said...

Looks like a lot of fun! I forgot we were cooking neighbors. I'm in Grayson Valley.

Anonymous said...

Celeste, what an AMAZING and INCREDIBLE adventure! I am so thrilled for you that you were chosen to attend! An experience of a life time!!! Proud of YOU! Donna Carson

Amy said...

Looks like such a fun weekend!