Blackberry Farm with Paula Lambert
Story & photos by Colleen Duffley
It’s been over a year since the world shut down and we were left wanderlusting. I had the opportunity to get back to some feeling of normalcy last month when I packed a bag and left my newly purchased house piled up with boxes in Florida to go meet my very dear friend at Blackberry Farm in Tennessee.
I have been to Blackberry numerous times for work, but I had never had the chance to experience it from the other side. Nor have I been there in over ten years.
Enter Paula Lambert, cheese maker, foodie, traveler, and in my mind, an American treasure. The founder of the Mozzarella Company, she saved us from Velveeta and introduced us to artisanal cheese. Paula invited me to spend a few days with her while she was on her Great Southern road trip.
I met Paula when I was a young photographer and she was as big as life to me. I looked up to her and aspired to be even a tiny bit as well traveled and well-rounded as she is. Over the years, we have formed a wonderful friendship, centered on our mutual love of food and travel. We have bonded over many kitchen counters and glasses of wine, we have shared our life and we have shared the death of loved ones and relationships.
Paula has been a constant. When I recently sold my house of twenty years, Paula took that opportunity to invite me to meet her at Blackberry Farms for a cooking demo. I toggled back and forth in my mind with whether I should go. I was nose deep in boxes that needed unpacked in the new place, I had just gotten engaged, and my fiancé, Steve and I had also just purchased a cabin and a lodge in Alabama.
It seemed like my life was a never ending to do list.
But if I have learned anything over the last year, it is that you have to take every moment that’s given to you and hold it close. I didn’t know when I would get to see Paula again. COVID may have been a grave disaster but it has also been a great teacher.
I quickly decided that I probably needed to see Paula more than she needed to see me. I needed to feel that constant in my life that has been our friendship. I needed to hug my friend. I needed to laugh with her and hear her voice. We needed to catch up in a way that only being in person can do.
So I set off with a bag of clothes and my phone.
This was not a work trip so I left work at home. I also left my camera equipment. Over the years, I’ve taught iPhone-ography classes which will be starting up again soon to show that you can take amazing photos with the bare minimum. After all, the best camera you have is the one that’s with you. So that’s what I used, my iPhone.
We had the best time catching up, watching the demo and eating fabulous food. When that was finished, we continued on Paula’s Great Southern Road trip to Alabama where we spent a couple days at our new cabin where, even as a guest, she threw together a dinner party with leftovers and some random items I picked up at Trader Joe’s on the way.
Watching Paula is always like watching a symphony or a ballet. She is so well orchestrated and does it with such ease.
Before we parted ways, we went by to check the lodge that Steve and I have just purchased in Alabama. We have named it Andiamo Lodge.
Andiamo means “let’s go” in Italian. It was one of the first phrases I learned on an early trip to Italy and it has stuck with me.
Paula gave it the Lambert seal of approval and agreed that it is going to be a special place.
Time is one of the rare things in life that we can never get back. I’m so glad I made the trip and got to spend some much needed time with my friend. My hope is to make Andiamo a place where stories like this one are born and cherished and talked about for years to come. Visit Andiamo’s Instagram page and website.
Visit Paula Lambert to learn more about the trips that she creates.
Colleen Duffley has been shooting people, places, and things around the globe for 25 years. She’s worked for national and international magazines, as well as on commercials and ad campaigns. Her images have appeared on the pages of high-end clients such as Neiman Marcus, Volkswagen, India Hicks, British Homes and Gardens, Elle Decor, Met home, Departures Magazine and American Way. An avid adventurer and athlete, Colleen has competed in two Olympic trials for cycling and has run seven marathons in seven days in the Congo. She jumps out of airplanes, sails, and paddleboards in her spare time. Visit her website and her Instagram page.