So the official name is the International Biscuit Festival because our little city is proud of the fact that people come from all over to celebrate a staple of southern comfort food – the biscuit.
It really is a week long affair – there is a southern food writing conference, Blackberry Farm biscuit brunch, Biscuit Bash, Biscuit Bake-off, Biscuit Boulevard (the best part in my humble opinion) and a Biscuit Bazaar. You even have a chance to be crowned Mr. and Miss Biscuit.
No form of bad weather will deter a biscuit lover from hitting Biscuit Boulevard on Saturday morning and a little rain certainly did not keep us away. We met up with pals, Matt & Erin, and headed downtown as early as we could.
Each $10 ticket is good for 5 biscuit samples and one voting ballot for your favorite at the Biscuit Boulevard. The Biscuit Bazaar is adjacent and lots of local purveyors, including Scoop’d and Benton’s Bacon, were also giving out samples of their goodies.
There were many fantastic vendors this year – 17 to be exact – handing out their signature biscuit creation for ticket holders to try, so please know that this is just a sampling of what was available. We are posting links to the vendors we tried that morning so that you can learn more about each of them.
First, we perused the available booths and then chose our first victim, er, biscuit of the day from Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts.
A bananas foster biscuit speckled with sprinkles topped with caramelized bananas and a boozy caramel sauce. Who can say no to dessert for breakfast when it’s 9:00 in the morning?? Not this gal.
Our next stop was the Biscuit Love Truck out of Nashville.
Their “Bonut” was delicious and got my vote. It was nestled on a blueberry compote and topped with a luscious lemon cream that was out of this world.
RT Lodge in Maryville, TN had our first savory offering of the day – a deep fried biscuit filled with braised short ribs and pickled onions. Yum yum! The fried biscuit was a soft pillow on the inside and the pickled onions were perfection.
Next up was Sapphire Knoxville with their Blueberry Oatmeal Scone.
The oatmeal gave it a slight nutty taste and texture.
We were delightfully surprised by the Herbed Strawberry Scone from Tea at the Gallery.
A crumbly scone scented with rosemary and filled with a dollop of sweet strawberry jam. The perfect bite for a cup of tea.
Applewood Farmhouse known to many locals as the Apple Barn brought a biscuit steeped in classic southern cajun flavor.
Their fluffy biscuit had the perfect texture and it was topped with a spicy savory shrimp andouille sausage gravy. Incredibly rich and flavorful!
As we headed for our next booth, we realized that there was quite a line…it turned the corner and ran down an adjacent street.
They were all waiting for Tupelo Honey Cafe’s green-eyed monster.
Tupelo is a newer restaurant to downtown Knoxville and we welcomed their fresh, locally purveyed fare with open arms and there is almost always a wait. They have quickly become one of our personal favorites. And anyone that’s eaten here knows they serve up a mean biscuit instead of rolls, so we were certainly not the only ones excited to taste what they were bringing to Biscuit Fest. After all, their pimento cheese filled biscuit from 2012 was very memorable.
What they served up was a jumbo buttermilk biscuit baked with pimento cheese and stuffed with a pickled fried jalapeno. I mistakenly thought it was a fried green tomato and that I’d be eating most of it on my own since Remington doesn’t eat tomatoes. Rats. Darn! I had to share.
Bella Luna is another newby restaurant to the Market Square scene.
They sampled an Italian pizza biscuit with classic pizza flavors – oregano, tomato, sharp cheddar.
We were all very excited to see what The Plaid Apron brought this year – their smoked chocolate biscuit last year was to die for, so we knew they would have another unique flavor.
They did not disappoint. A buttermilk biscuit with candied Benton’s bacon, filled with clabbered cream and drizzled with a honey & balsamic reduction that was definitely unique in flavor. This biscuit had a distinct sweet and tangy profile when all of the ingredients came together! And if you are asking yourself, what is clabbered cream? It has a texture similar to créme fraîche, only slightly thicker in consistency, with a flavor akin to buttermilk. It would be a tangy alternative to sour cream. Clabber cream once commonly found in Ireland, Scotland and the U.S., no longer exists due to the pasteurization of milk.
Southern Living was the official media sponsor of this year’s events. Naturally the Southern Living test kitchen held booth space at Biscuit Boulevard.
They offered up a two-for-one deal featuring a Conecuh sausage biscuit and a pickled strawberry biscuit topped with whipped cream. I would have never thought to pickle strawberries for a biscuit, but the flavor was great – sour and sweet against a flaky biscuit and creamy whipped topping.
Somehow we ended up with one sampling leftover, so we made our way back over to the Flour Head Bakery tent to try their Sweetwater Valley smoked cheddar and onion biscuit. It was ooey gooey and packed with smokey onion flavor – the biscuit just fell apart! We were glad we got to try this one.
And the winners by category of this year’s Biscuit Boulevard were:
1st Place: Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant – Biscuit with Shrimp Andouille Sausage Gravy
2nd Place: Flour Head Bakery – Sweetwater Valley Smoked Cheddar and Onion Biscuit
3rd Place: Tupelo Honey Cafe – Pimento Cheese Biscuit stuffed with Breaded Pickled Jalapeno
RT Lodge – Deep Fried Biscuit with Braised Short Rib and Pickled Onion
Rel Maples Institute for Culinary Arts – Walters State – Bananas Foster Biscuit
BEST BISCUIT NAME
Tupelo Honey Cafe – Green-Eyed Monster Pimento Cheese Buttermilk Biscuit
LAST BISCUIT STANDING
Latitude 35 – Country Apple Cinnamon Biscuit
The dates for next year’s Festival have already been set. May 15th-17th. See you there!