“We’ve been married five years—how have you not told me about this place yet?” said my husband, Emmett, as he stared at The Apple Valley Creamery’s mouth-watering menu. The Creamery is an incredible ice cream and bake shop in my hometown of Sevierville, Tennessee—a place we hadn’t visited in a while. Wanting to give Emmett an authentic taste of the town, the creamery was just our first stop of a trip filled with delicious and eventful treats.
Always start with dessert
Emmett’s eyes bounced from one delicious flavor to the next—from banana splits and hot-out-of-the-oven apple cobbler to every awesome ice cream flavor known to man. There was so much to choose from. But I knew exactly what I wanted: the award-winning Smoky Mountain Fudge ice cream. Delicious, rich, and creamy chocolatey goodness. Not only is it mouth wateringly delicious, but one bite and I’m right back there with my family as a teenager enjoying some of the best summers of my life. I placed my order and waited for Emmett to decide. He kept pointing between two different treats and mouthing something to himself.
“Are you doing eeny, meeny, miny, mo?” I asked, laughing.
“I can’t decide if I want ice cream or the blackberry cobbler bread,” he said with a mild tone of panic in his voice.
The kind lady behind the counter, seeing his dilemma, piped in, “We ship our homemade goodies all across the country. So, you could have ice cream today and place an order for the bread later if you’d like.”
I could barely contain my laughter as relief washed over Emmett’s face. “I’ll have the White Elephant ice cream then,” he said with confidence.
I polished off my ice cream and tried a spoonful of Emmett’s White Elephant, a creamy vanilla mixed with roasted macadamia nuts, roasted cashews, white chocolate, and toffee pieces, all topped off with gooey caramel. I was starting to think I may have a new favorite flavor.
“Yes,” Emmett said as we pulled up to the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant for lunch.
“What are you talking about?” I wondered out loud.
“Just, yes.” He nodded and smiled. I followed his gaze to the charming front porch of the restaurant, adorned with white picket railing and rocking chairs. “I can already tell the food is going to be amazing.”
Emmett is from the northeast, and since marrying me he has fallen in love with down home Southern cooking. My big Southern family and I are all big fans of the Applewood Farmhouse Restaurant, and I knew Emmett would enjoy it, too.
Southern comfort food
We were seated right away, and our server, Zach, brought us their signature apple fritters, hot from the kitchen and covered in powdered sugar, to get us started. The fritters, along with two glasses of applewood julep, were complimentary and the perfect introduction to an authentic southern meal. I savored the first taste of the julep’s sweet and tangy blend of pineapple, orange, lemon, and apple juices and glanced at Emmett. The look on his face as he took his first sip made me smile. “That’s summer in a glass,” he said, before taking another refreshing drink and diving into the crispy fritters.
Zach came back and took time to answer all of Emmett’s questions about the delicacies of Southern cooking, ultimately recommending the Original Farmhouse Sample Trio when Emmett had trouble—again—choosing between so many delicious options. The trio came with the tasty farmhouse favorites: creamy chicken and dumplings; chicken pot pie filled with tender chicken and fresh vegetables beneath a buttery, flaky crust; and crispy fried chicken seasoned to Southern perfection. I ordered the farm fresh local trout, a new item on their menu that I had never tried before. The light, delicate flavors only got better with each bite. Every dish was divinely delectable, as evidenced by the complete lack of conversation at our table. Like Momma always said, “Don’t speak with your mouth full!”
A visit to Sevierville just isn’t complete without a trip to Hillside Winery. As wine lovers, both Emmett and I have enjoyed many an afternoon wandering around vineyards and wineries, and the beauty of Hillside did not disappoint.
Wanting to enjoy the gorgeous sunshine, we cozied up next to a table on the patio as the fresh mountain air stirred a nice cool breeze. We chatted with Katie, one of the staff at Hillside, who took us on a tour of the winery. She led us into the bottling line first, where we got a sneak peek into the entire production line. We were lucky enough to catch the production in process, and it was fascinating to watch. Empty wine bottles were first filled with wine then measured to make sure each bottle had the exact amount. Next they were capped and heat sealed before being labeled with Hillside’s signature logo.
Katie led us into the tank room and gave us a run down on the massive steel tanks, explaining the differences in the flavors of their wines, depending on whether they are stored in tanks or aged in oak barrels, like some of their popular red wines.
In the crushing area, we saw the large fruit presses with mesh filters that sorted out the pits from the fruit. Katie told us that they also do a “Stomp Out Breast Cancer” event every October where they set up barrels for people to get in and physically crush the fruit themselves.
The tour ended in the bar, where we were delighted to get a free tasting of four of their most popular Italian wines. My favorite was Hillside Winery’s #1 seller, the Black and Blue, a sweet wine made from blackberries and blueberries. Katie explained that it takes three to four sips to really get the full volume of the wine. The first sip is tart, the second sweet and the third merges them together in a perfect blend. Emmett favored the semi-sweet Don Rosso, Hillside Winery’s proprietary red wine that is great either on its own or with food. We bought a bottle of each to take with us and enjoyed another glass with a yummy cheese tray back out on the patio.
“This has been a delicious day,” Emmett said as he stretched back in his chair and took another sip of wine.
“The Sevierville tasting tour isn’t quite over yet,” I said with a mischievous grin. “There’s still dinner tonight.”
A taste of the past
Emmett is a bit of a gearhead and loves old cars, especially 1950s era. Working on cars was something he enjoyed doing as a kid with his dad and grandfather. So, I knew The Diner had to be included in our “taste of Sevierville” tour.
It’s a 50s-style diner with all of the nostalgia and atmosphere that you would expect, from checkered floors and red vinyl chairs to black and white photographs on the walls. I knew that they would just happen to have restored 50s cars and trucks on display outside the diner that weekend (a show that happens once a month). I couldn’t wait to see Emmett’s face when we pulled into the parking lot.
He went nuts—like a kid in a toy store. Especially when he got to look under the hood of one of the cars and then sit in the driver’s seat and crank it up.
Then he got even more excited when he realized that fried green tomatoes were on the menu. “This is my favorite!” he said taking in his surroundings.
“The tomatoes or the cars?” I asked.
“All of it,” he said with a grin. After we placed our order for burgers, shakes, and, of course, fried green tomatoes, he looked at me and said, “Thanks, Babe. I can’t think of a better way to have gotten to know your hometown better.”