Tim Mercier grew up beneath the shade of apple trees at Mercier Orchards, helping his father tend the fertile mountain soil while snacking on juicy winesaps plucked straight from the branch. To this day, Tim continues to run his family's 50-year-old farm, where he harvests apples by hand, wears John Appleseed’s cooking pot hat, and manages the market alongside his wife, children, and grandchildren. At the 200-acre farm, tree branches sprout dozens of kinds of apples, including sweet ambrosias, tart dandee reds, and crisp pink ladies. Beyond the apple groves lie stretches of cherry trees, peach trees, and blueberry bushes, as well as strawberry fields blossoming with chandler, camerosa, and sweet charlie varieties.
The Mercier family opens their farm to visitors year-round, inviting guests to stroll the verdant grounds and pick their own berries and apples. Afterwards, guests pop into Mercier Orchards’ rustic shop to survey jugs of fresh cider, colorful jams, and caramel-coated candy apples. In the bakery, they sample apple cider donuts, pecan breads, and the farm's famous fried pies, which can now be found on the shelves of local Whole Foods.
The cooks at Suck Creek Bar and Grill crowd a grill with sizzling patties and load hearty sandwiches with fried chicken, thick-cut bologna, and bacon. Patrons crack open a Budweiser ($2) while perusing a menu that promises starters of fried mushrooms ($4.25). Hearty specialty burgers ($3.75) romp on fluffy buns loaded with american, pepper jack, or colby queso. In a cozy dining room with crimson trim, a hamburger-steak dinner ($6.75) prepares diners for revelry like a save-the-date note from Bacchus. Fried-fish sandwiches ($3) arrive on a tidal wave of tartar sauce, and the crispy bacon and tomato slices of a time-tested BLT ($3.50) fuel karaoke performances and air-guitar smashing on Friday and Saturday nights.
Mother Earth Meats pledges to raise its antibiotic-free livestock under humane conditions, bolstering animals' quality of life as well as patrons' nutrient intake. Grass-fed cows, bison, and lambs yield butcher’s cuts chock-full of healthy omega-3 fatty acids, and eggs laid by free-range chickens boast denser concentrations of nutrients than their conventional brethren. Staffers also stuff chorizo, andouille, brats, and other sausages by hand and even make a bison hot dog mixed with pork. Mother Earth sends finished meats on to groceries such as The Market in Maryville as well as eateries such as Blackberry Farm Restaurant in Walland and French Laundry in San Francisco. Additionally, the Beer Barn's staff is on hand to lend their knowledge to patrons looking to complement their cuts of meat with craft brews.
In addition to cultivating a rich assortment of herbs, Erin's Meadow Herb Farm welcomes visitors into its greenhouses, fields, and classrooms to learn the best uses for its multitudinous varieties of herbs. Inside, visitors can peruse a variety of gifts and products made using all-natural ingredients, or drop in for classes that include demos, spa-centric herbal recipes, and the recipe for creating a love potion disguised as peppermint tea.
Long hailed for a mastery of ham far beyond the skills of mere mortal meat cookers, the meat mavens at HoneyBaked Ham invite you to put their newly honed turkey skills to the test with today's Groupon: a whole roasted turkey breast for $12 (an up to $25 value). Get your moist turkey breast unadulterated, or let the HoneyBaked masters finish your bird with crackling sweet glaze, which may or may not be cooled by having volunteer glaze-pixies fan it with their wings. Call one of HoneyBaked's participating locations (found here and in the sidebar to the right) to reserve your order, and pick up your juicy bird.
It’s not hard to find cuts of meat that rival those at restaurants—if you live near Findley’s. Whether grilling outdoors or searing steak on the stove, the butcher shop supplies quality cuts and wild game that boost your meal offerings at home. Angus beef, Berkshire pork, and Ashley Farms organic chicken are just a few of the shop’s markers of meat quality, though raw meat isn’t the only currently the team works with. Among of the central parts of Findley’s processes is a smokehouse that produces fresh jerky, smoked sausage, brisket, and other specialties.
Through a special-order program, the crew also packs customer coolers with items such as caviar, catfish, and fois gras. Alternatively, anyone with little time to spend in the kitchen can grab items from the shop’s selection of heat-and-eat foods such as baby back ribs and twice-baked potatoes. To give customers a unique insight into the shop’s processes, Findley’s also encourages new customers to take free tours of the shop’s backstage areas to see the processes Findley’s is so proud of and to get their bacon autographed.