For many Knoxville locals who love food, crafts and music, Saturday mornings are all about the Farmers Market in Market Square. Every week the square fills with local farmers selling organic produce and free-range meats, artisans displaying uniquely crafted products, and delicious stands where you can enjoy the perfect brunch. While wandering through the many stalls admiring vendors’ goods, the sound of local musicians playing guitar and bluegrass mingles with the laughter of excited children playing in the fountain.
Last Saturday, I arrived at the Farmers Market hungry and looking for something to satisfy my appetite and fuel several hours of shopping. As common knowledge dictates, the restaurant with the longest line is bound to be a crowd-pleaser – this was certainly the case at my brunch spot of choice, the Cruze Farm Milk Bar.
The family-owned Cruze Dairy Farm milks pasture-kept Jersey cows to produce buttermilk, light (1-2%) and chocolate milk, along with all manner of dairy-based delicacies. The cows are hormone-free and the milk is not homogenized; in addition, a conservation easement was recently placed on the farm in order to ensure that the land will be used as “a farm forever”- a slogan visible on the farm’s milk products. The Cruze Dairy Farm may be familiar to you already – it was featured in the August/September 2012 edition of Garden & Gun magazine as a Knoxville staple – look for the magazine on newsstands now to read about the farm and other local Knoxville personalities!
As soon as I tasted the absolutely delicious food at the Cruze Farm Milk Bar on Saturday morning, I knew that it would be the subject of my next blog post. The pictures below display the offerings that were available to me – as I walked by, I was intrigued to see that the handwritten menu featured Southern cooking with an Indian twist! Although it took me a while to decide on a dish (salted caramel ice cream?? Delhi cornbread salad?? a peach lassi??), I eventually opted for the paneer in cashew buttermilk curry with sweet peppers and basil oil, served with a buttermilk biscuit. I have no doubt that I made the right decision.
Mildly cheesy chunks of paneer and chopped red and green peppers were served in a creamy buttermilk cashew curry with the perfect hint of nuttiness. Chopped cilantro leaves and whole pomegranate seeds, aside from lending the dish a beautiful pop of color, cut the thickness of the curry with a wonderful freshness. Finished with a drizzle of basil oil and slivers of peppery radish, the flavors worked together perfectly! I was able to construct the perfect bite for the picture below, combining each element of the dish together in harmony – it didn’t last long. J The entrée was the perfect portion size for breakfast or brunch – the small cup of curry, along with the accompaniments, was more than enough to satisfy my appetite.
It being the middle of July, Saturday morning in Knoxville was hot and steamy and my curry, although only slightly spicy, was certainly heating me up. To provide a refresher for the palate, the cup of curry was served with heirloom cherry tomatoes and a fresh cucumber and onion salad. The vegetables provided a nice balance to the meal, preventing the dish from becoming too hot and heavy. However, the entrée wasn’t finished yet – no Southern breakfast is complete without a homemade buttermilk biscuit! In this regard, the Cruze Farm Milk Bar did not disappoint. My biscuit was warm and fluffy on the inside, just a tiny bit flaky and had a golden brown top. Served with fresh butter, honey, or simply used to sop up any leftovers, this biscuit provided just a bit of Southern flair to this delicious Indian-inspired meal.
Guests can either order at the window of the truck or with one of several “milk maids” that staff the Milk Bar; I chose to enjoy my snack underneath a tent set up to shade several long bar tables and stools. The staff is very friendly (I received a free sample of the peach lassi – also delicious) and knowledgeable about the products. Each Saturday throughout the summer and fall, you can find the Milk Bar sitting at the bottom of Market Square and I would highly recommend a visit. You can either head to the Farmers Market or check them out on Facebook to discover the various restaurants and locations where their products are sold. All in all, I truly enjoyed my experience at the Cruze Farm Milk Bar – with the exception of filling up too quickly to sample a salted caramel ice cream cone. Luckily, there’s always next Saturday!