Blog

The Oscars of the Food Industry

It’s no secret that the world currently has an overabundance of celebrity chefs. They put their name on everything from spatulas to dog food. In this day of blogs and YouTube, anyone can aspire to achieve celebrity status and acquire their own show (and a cult following) on the television channel that’s wholly dedicated to food. You could even say that the celebrity chef movement spawned an onslaught of celebrity psychologists, celebrity doctors, and celebrity dog trainers.
But long before reality TVbefore cooking was even a form of entertainmentAmerica was not a place that came to mind when people thought of sophisticated gastronomy. It took pioneers such as Julia Child to bring America to the forefront of gourmet cooking. Although many consider Child to be the first celebrity chef, it was a man named James Beard who hosted the first-ever televised cooking show. 
Many know his name, but few know much about him. Born in 1903, Beard emerged from a culture of microwaved TV dinners, Jell-O molds, and Spam. He was raised in the Pacific Northwest by his self-sufficient English mother, who taught him to cook the seafood and wild berries that they gathered themselves from the Oregon beach.
A fierce student of the theater, he lived abroad for several years to pursue his dream of acting at his mother’s encouragement. After eight years of failing to break into theater or movies, Beard was forced to learn to make money some other way. He started a catering business that later blossomed into a food shop called Hors d’Oeuvre, Inc. He then began what was to be a prolific career writing cookbooks (he would publish over twenty-five of them before his death in 1985). Upon his return from the war in 1945, Beard jumped right back into the culinary world, appearing on NBC in America’s first cooking show. 


“This is Sarasota Unbleached Flour. Let me tell you what unbleached means. It means untouched, unartificial, unfooled with, untampered with, unmessed with, unfiddled with, uncorrected, unperfected,” a stout James Beard matter-of-factly touts to the camera. 
This commercial for Sarasota Flour encapsulates just what made James Beard such an icon. He was one of the first to shake America from its lazy slumber of canned food and baking mixes. Some have described this period as “the death of food.” Companies had discovered the gold mine that was the American housewife and the result was a movement of factory farming, fast food, and processed food that America has yet to fully recover from. Beard railed against the idea that easy is always better. He suggested buying produce when it’s in seasona common sense idea that was revolutionary in a time when “organic” was just thought of as a type of chemical compound. 
As his ideas gained popularity, Beard established the James Beard Cooking School, with locations in New York City and Seaside, Oregon. He spent the remainder of his life writing cookbooks, traveling, and tirelessly teaching others his concepts of good food, ethically prepared with fresh ingredients. He was eventually recognized by the New York Times as the “Dean of American cookery” for his efforts in coalescing American cooking traditions into a national cuisine.
Upon his death, Julia Child urged Peter Kump, a former student of the James Beard Cooking School, to purchase Beard’s Greenwich Village brownstone and continue Beard’s legacy. Although its purpose has expanded over time, the James Beard Foundation’s core principles have remained the same as was originally stated by a press release on the day it opened in 1986: “to provide a center for the culinary arts and to continue to foster the interest James Beard inspired in all aspects of food, its preparation presentation, and of course, enjoyment.”
The foundation now hosts over 250 events annually, featuring bourgeoning chefs from all over the world. It also launched the James Beard Awards, considered to be the food industry’s highest honor and called by Time magazine “the Oscars of the food world.” For more information about James Beard or to see the James Beard Foundation’s calendar of events, visit the foundation’s website at jamesbeard.org. 

A Mountain Christmas

Christmas on the Plateau is much more than a single day or a week. It seems to begin the moment one pushes away from the Thanksgiving table.

Be sure to check out the Highlands ice-skating rink which will be open extra hours during the Christmas holidays. The charge to use the rink is just $5 and ice skates are provided.  For more information regarding the holiday schedule, call the Highlands Recreation Department at 828-526-3556.


With the lighting of these community Christmas trees and the season's kick-off comes thoughts of a tree for one's own home. There is no better place to find a live tree than here in Western Carolina, where Christmas tree farms are a cottage industry. Our region's elevation, excellent soil, and well-dispersed rainfall contribute to its deserved reputation as a reliable source for Christmas trees.


A perfect place to visit is the 80-acre Tom Sawyer's Tree Farm in Glenville, where families can choose and cut their own Fraser Fir trees, measuring from three to twelve feet. While the tree is being packed to take home, visitors can check out the farm's charming village populated with Christmas elves, a craft tent for creating Christmas art, and a storytelling room. Move to the big red barn for food, drink, and evergreen selections, participate in a scavenger hunt and then drop off letters to Santa at his own post office. A ride in a horse-drawn carriage can round out a memorable experience. Tom Sawyer's is open through the season until Christmas Eve for people arriving to the mountains later in December. Please note, because of his busy schedule in December, Santa will only be at the farm on weekends.


Of course, you could choose to create a truly indelible family memory with the “Christmas Tree Package” from Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, the luxury hotel which is included on the National Register of Historic Places. Spend one night, enjoy dinner at Madison's, and take in such family-friendly amenities as popcorn, holiday movies, and games in the Kelsey Game and Theater Room. You can even ask an elf to come to your room to tuck in the children. Awake the next morning and drive to a local tree farm with a voucher for a five-to-six-foot Christmas tree. Now that's a holiday kick-off!


The month-long celebration continues the following week with Highlands' Olde Mountain Christmas Parade, Saturday, December 1 at 11 a.m. This tradition draws participation by area marching bands and school groups and boasts a live nativity scene including real camels, the Mountain Garden Club Dancing Ladies and, of course, Santa Claus. Small children are encouraged to bring bags for the candy that is distributed from the various floats. The merchants in Highlands will be competing in a holiday window decorating contest, making Main Street and surrounding streets perfect for strolling all day long. 


Cashiers hosts its Christmas Parade on Saturday, December 8, at noon. This year's parade is titled “Over the River and Through the Woodes” and honors Camp Merrie Woode's centennial. Look for another appearance by Santa and then head to the nearby Community Center for the eleventh annual Christmas luncheon showcasing Cashiers Cares. The luncheon provides a timely opportunity to learn about the work of this “neighbors helping neighbors” organization which supports ten local charities. A hot dog luncheon will be provided by Cashiers Rotary Club, and Santa (he's everywhere!) and Mrs. Claus will be guests of honor for those wanting photos.


Christmas, of course, would not be Christmas without special music and The Cashiers Adult Community Chorus is practicing for its Christmas concert to be presented in the Sanctuary of the Cashiers United Methodist Church on Sunday, December 2 at 2 p.m. Selections include the "Sing Christmas" cantata.


Another community offering on December 21 is "A Bluegrass Christmas with Sierra Hull" at the Smoky Mountain Center for the Performing Arts. Sierra Hull is a singer and mandolinist who was the first bluegrass musician to receive a Presidential Scholarship to the Berklee College of Music.


Of course, merchants from Highlands to Cashiers will be a big part of the holiday spirit with lots of festive temptations. One must-see is the famed “Christmas Cottage” on Main Street in Highlands which has been a local landmark for more than thirty years. Richard Osborne, who owns the shop with his wife Teresa, says that Downton Abbey and Game of Thrones themed ornaments are very popular this year, as is an electric “climbing Santa” who walks up and down a ladder that can be leaned against a wall. Animated “Christmastime televisions” are also flying off the shelves. A visit here will fortify you for the rest of your holiday shopping and preparations.


And, before you know it, it's here!


Packages wrapped, family safely gathered, pantry fully stocked. By Christmas Eve it's time to slow down and remember what the season is all about. After all, isn't this where the best family memories are made?

First Time on the Market Lakefront Cottage in Tahala Shores

Representing lakefront living at its finest, this completely remodeled cottage offers countless upgrades, including a new seawall and dock, a storage building for a John Deere Gator utility vehicle, and a picturesque concrete path to the lake. 

Fresh style and on-trend design elements result in a sophisticated yet wonderfully relaxed and comfortable atmosphere. The charming interior features shiplap walls, a new kitchen, bathrooms, flooring, HVAC units, a generator, roof, windows, and more. A full bath and powder room were also added. No detail was overlooked when the owners made this home like new.  

This incredible home is being offered turnkey, including its furnishings from The Summer House and the utility vehicle! Spend your precious time enjoying the lake rather than managing a stressful renovation.

 

The Nirvana of Fly Fishing

 

The mountains of western North Carolina lure those far and wide seeking higher elevations, stunning views, waterfalls, and verdant forests. However, it is the copious streams, creeks, and rivers lying within these mountains that draw fly fishermen, of all levels and skills, year-round. North Carolina’s waterways are abundant with wild or stocked rainbow, brown and brook trout as well as smallmouth bass in mid-summer.

 

When asked what attracts them to the sport, many fly fishermen find it hard to put into simple terms. The collective agrees there is no easy formula in making “the catch,” for an angler is challenged before even stepping into the water. The sport requires thought, instinct, and strategy. Great consideration goes into understanding the fish on that particular day, on that particular stream, since it varies day-to-day, stream-to-stream, season-to-season. Sometimes is varies hour-to-hour. One must consider the fish’s relationship with its environment, the weather, water temperature, level, and current. What and where does it eat now? The answers are key in crafting a cunning approach to the day’s journey.

 

“There is an art to fly fishing,” according to Ben Elmer, an avid fisherman, prominent local guide and manager at Brookings Anglers in Highlands. “The draw for me comes with chasing the fish and convincing them to eat my fly.” With tens of thousands of artificial flies to consider, wisely choosing a fly that best matches the current bug hatch creates a greater opportunity for this to happen. Equally as important to an aspiring fish catcher is mastering casting techniques where the fly mimics the actual habits of the “bug du jour.”

 

Elmer describes the scene on the river. An angler first strategically scopes out an ideal location where the fish might be found. He then chooses his fly, not just any fly, the right fly that will tease and tempt the fish. After quietly wading into the water, he fortifies his stance, chooses his cast, and delivers his fly. Patiently he waits. Feeling camaraderie with nature and perhaps his fellow fisher friends nearby, he enjoys the whip and grace of his cast as his fly dances on the surface. There is no impatience in the wait as the rewards are great, and then suddenly, possibly many casts later, STRIKE! He hooks one. A rush of adrenaline courses through his veins as he works to keep the trout or bass on the line. His skill at properly setting the hook will hopefully secure the catch as the duel plays out. However, stalking and catching the fish is only part of the game. “It is not over until the fish is successfully in the net,” says Elmer, “and that is a challenge in itself.”

 

Gail Bell, a ten-year veteran fly fisherwoman from Scaly Mountain, North Carolina says, “Fish are spooky and smart. Stealthiness is always your mantra. Imagine, now the fish has his choice from tens of thousands of natural food floating by. What are the odds he will choose your artificial fly? But when he does ... POW ... lights out awesomeness! It can be spiritual and technical with a little luck thrown in.”

 

“You don’t have to catch a fish though to have a good time,” Elmer shares like a secret. Fishermen are unique in the experiences they seek. Some choose to float rather than wade, some want private over public waters and some prefer to fish in the quiet winter months when they can take their catch home. Finding a peaceful experience grounded in nature is ideal for some who want to “get away from it all,” while others seek the thrill of the chase.

 

American author Norman MacLean who wrote A River Runs Through It equates fly fishing to a piece of music that slowly builds to an exciting crescendo. Maybe this metaphor best explains the growth of the sport and its captive audience of all genders and ages. Regarded as being meditative and therapeutic, restorative fly fishing retreats are plentiful and hosted by groups such as Casting Carolinas for cancer survivors and Project Healing Waters for military personnel and disabled veterans.

 

Brookings Anglers, with locations in Cashiers and Highlands, is a trustworthy resource for finding the best experience. Their guided trips are a terrific way to learn, grow, and perfect techniques. In addition, they offer fly tying courses, licenses, and full or half-day packages for individuals, couples, and groups. Packages start at $200.

 

 

Here is Redington’s Quick Guide to Common Fly Fishing Terms:

Cast: This is the motion you make when you collectively 'throw' a fly rod, reel and line.

Delivery: Used to describe the action of casting the fly to a fish or into a promising-looking area of water. 

Dry Fly: Any fly fished upon the surface of the water, usually constructed of non-water-absorbent materials. Dry flies are most commonly used to imitate the adult stage of aquatic insects. 

Fly: A hand-tied artificial lure imitating natural insects or baitfish to entice fish.
Fly Casting: A standard method of presenting a fly to a target using a fly rod and fly line.

Forward (or Power) Stroke: In fly fishing, casting is a back-and-forth motion of the rod and line that allows you to place your fly where you'd like.

Hatch: A large number of flies of the same species.  

Matching the Hatch: An attempt by a fly angler to select an artificial fly that imitates the color, size, shape, and behavior of natural insects that fish are feeding on at a particular time. Often when a hatch is happening, fish become very selective and refuse insects that do not match the predominant insects present. 

Mayfly: Commonly found in cold or cool freshwater environments, mayflies are the most commonly imitated aquatic insects worldwide.

Roll Cast: This is a main cast every fly fisher should master. It can be used to cast short to medium distances - 15 to 30 feet of line.

Setting the Hook: The act of pulling the hook into the flesh of the fish's mouth.

Stalking: The action of creeping up on a fish so as not to surprise or disturb it. 
Stance: The foot of the casting side should be back at roughly a 45-degree angle from the lead foot and about shoulder width apart. Right handed: right foot back. Left handed: left foot back. This stance allows your body to twist back and forth with the cast easily.

Strike: The attempt a fish makes to eat a fly, successfully or not. This term also refers to the movement of the rod a fly angler makes to set the hook. 

Wet Fly: Any fly fished below the surface of the water; nymphs and streamers are wet flies.

Unbelievable Views and Lake Glenville Amenities in The Lake Club

Situated in the gated Lake Club, this stately manor has huge views looking south over Lake Glenville to the mountains beyond. This architectural masterpiece features a large chef's kitchen with a breakfast bar perfect for relaxed entertaining. The sophisticated living areas flow onto an expansive deck and a roomy covered porch with a wood-burning fireplace. Invoking an old-world feel, antique oak floors, custom built-ins, and ship-lap paneling accent the huge stone fireplaces in the upstairs and downstairs living rooms. 

The luxurious master suite has access to a deck overlooking the epic views below. The top floor offers a large home office or bedroom, while the family room on the lower level has a kitchenette and another deck.

Unlike many mountain homes, this home has storage for vehicles, with both a carport and a two-level garage. The downstairs garage has plenty of room for toys with room remaining for a workshop. The long private driveway provides a picturesque first impression and plenty of parking. 

The Lake Club features a large enclosed clubhouse, offering generous porch and deck space, living and dining areas, a fitness center, children's playroom and kitchen. The community dock provides a convenient place to keep a boat and enjoy sparkling Lake Glenville at a moment's notice.

 

Cedar Hill

Situated between Cashiers and Sapphire Valley, Cedar Hill is an upscale gated community offering its residents awe-inspiring views and the very best in luxury mountain living. Whether searching for the latest in elegant mountain construction or a very special lot to call your own, Cedar Hill will not disappoint. An easy hike from your backdoor will lead you to the natural splendor of waterfalls set amongst a backdrop of hardwoods. Be one with nature, but enjoy the modern conveniences of underground utilities available to all home sites and a short drive into town.

Residents of Cedar Hill have access to all of the amenities of nearby Wyndham Resort at Fairfield Sapphire Valley, including golf, swimming, tennis, fitness and much more (see Sapphire Communities for more information).

 

Trillium Links and Lake Club

True to its credo — "Where Families Belong" — Trillium is among the most exciting, family-friendly properties on beautiful Lake Glenville. Striking homes featuring Arts and Crafts and Adirondack style architecture line the community's streets, showcasing special characteristics such as stone and timber accents, poplar bark siding and exposed beams. Each home is designed to exist in harmony with the awesome show of nature that can be found throughout Trillium. The award-winning 18-hole championship golf course, designed by Morris Hatalsky, is as challenging as it is beautiful. Clinics and private lessons are available with the full-time pro on site. The less challenging par three Garden Golf course is a terrific amenity the entire family can enjoy without the worry of tee times and scorecards. A day of fishing in any one of Trillium's stocked ponds, picnicking at the Lakeside Pavilion or playing a game of croquet on the Arbor Lawn will bring new meaning to the word "carefree."

Set at the heart of the community, Trillium's outstanding clubhouse combines mountain laurel accents with dry stacked stoned for an inspired gathering place that gives the feel of luxury housed within an old, rustic lodge. The clubhouse is an integral part of life at Trillium, offering residents casual dining in the Grille Room overlooking the 18th fairway, a wraparound porch for world-class dining with a view, and an expansive lawn for hosting special community events on holidays like Easter, Fourth of July and Labor Day. Gourmet dining is also available at The Landings, set at the tip of Lake Glenville, with opportunities for a romantic view of the sunset and dinner by candlelight.

Apple Orchard Park is Trillium's popular fitness and wellness center, boasting three indoor clay tennis courts and state-of-the-art fitness equipment, as well as services like fitness classes and spa treatments. Central to it all lies Lake Glenville. Trillium has a fleet of boats available for rental, including canoes, kayaks, fishing boats, deck boats, runabouts and pontoons. Water ski equipment and other water sport items are also available to rent. A short drive to nearby Cashiers provides family members with a fun-filled day of shopping and strolling the streets of an historic resort village. There is no shortage to the number of adventures a family can have while living at Trillium.

 

First Time on the Market in Picturesque Cedar Ridge Estates

Situated on a cul-de-sac for the utmost privacy, this tastefully remodeled one-story home has a stunning view of Whiteside Mountain. Bathed in natural light, the living room with a stone fireplace opens onto the spacious covered deck with yet another fireplace, offering a space for outdoor dining and casual relaxation. The high-quality finishes are second to none, from the chef’s gourmet kitchen and shiplap-covered walls to the custom cabinetry and tailored window treatments. The spacious master suite accesses the open deck just steps away from the fire pit and gently sloping backyard, perfect for an evening of conversation and laughter. Two additional bedrooms with en-suite bathrooms as well as a cozy family room with a wet bar round out this one-story home. The circular driveway and two-car garage provide plenty of parking. On the market for the very first time, don't miss out on this lovely home in a peaceful community.

Cedar Ridge Estates is private, yet conveniently located just minutes from the Crossroads and several golf and country clubs, such as Cedar Creek Club and the Country Club of Sapphire Valley; both memberships are by invitation only. 

 

Thanksgiving, Mountain Style

Thanksgiving on the Plateau is becoming a holiday tradition as more and more people are discovering the pleasures of food, family, and football at 3,500 feet. For others, it is the weekend that officially signals the end of the summer and fall seasons and an obvious time to fill the house or cabin with loved ones. It provides the warmth of a family gathering without all the stress that often comes with Christmas.
But for those of us who see nothing stress-free in preparing a delectable feast, there are ways to ease the burden. More and more local businesses stand ready to streamline the holiday with an array of delicious offerings that seem homemade but require little effort.
Robin Crawford, for example, the well-known proprietor of the Cashiers Farmer’s Market, will be offering everything from all-natural turkeys you prepare at home to multi-course à la carte meals you build from her considerable list of sides.  Typically, she says, she offers meals to serve four to six people and a customer may pick up a fully cooked turkey along with any number of sides, including a squash casserole, green beans, and “pilgrim mashed potatoes,” a recipe similar to twice-baked potatoes without the skin but with lots of butter. She can even provide the homemade gravy. All the traditional pies will be available, of course!  
While Thanksgiving marks the end of the season for the Farmer’s Market, they will stock garlands and greenery to usher in the Christmas holidays.  Some people, she says, will put a fall-colored bow on a green wreath and just change the ribbon to green or red as Christmas nears. She also carries a fun selection of yard decorations—turkeys and pumpkins mounted on wire to be stuck in the ground—and can provide simple centerpieces made from straw.
In Highlands, the Mountain Fresh Grocery at the bottom of Main Street offers a complete traditional dinner for six people, the centerpiece being a butter-basted turkey or spiced, glazed ham cooked Thanksgiving morning. The meal includes dressing, traditional green bean casserole, cranberry relish, Yukon gold mashed potatoes, turkey herb gravy, and homemade yeast rolls. For dessert, the market offers Granny Smith apple, pumpkin or pecan pie.
A new and welcome addition to Thanksgiving take-out this year is Sapphire Valley’s Library Restaurant and Bar. Executive Chef Johannes Klapdohr anticipates a traditional menu with a Southern accent or two,  such as collard greens and macaroni and cheese. He, too, will be preparing ham, and orders may be picked up on Thanksgiving morning.
Ingles is another helpful source, offering a fully-cooked turkey or ham dinner for the holidays. A variety of side dishes are available, including homestyle gravy, sweet potato casserole, broccoli and rice casserole, and Amish-style cole slaw.
If you fall somewhere in between doing dinner from scratch and carrying it home ready-made, the Plateau offers lots of help. The Spice and Tea Exchange in Highlands is stocking a wonderful assortment of seasonings to dial your cooking up a notch. Consider, for example, a turkey or ham herb rub. Manager Adison Harris also recommends a baker’s spice blend, a pumpkin pie spice blend, and an autumn harvest blend which intensify the flavors of fruit breads, soups, squash, and sweet potatoes. Another idea she suggests for a home celebration is a mulling mix spice blend that is delicious with apple juice or red wine.
Fresser’s in Highlands will have “everything from soup to nuts,” according to chef Debbie Grossman. Pick up an order of roasted butternut squash and chestnut bisque or a casserole of bourbon sweet potatoes, made, she assures, with excellent bourbon. She can help with the night before Thanksgiving as well, providing her legendary lasagna.
Save room for dessert, because the choices are staggering. Most all the sources listed above will have traditional pies available. Additionally, Whitney Henson, regional manager of Cream and Flutter in Slabtown, says   by Thanksgiving week, she will have the three favorites in her store: pumpkin and apple, of course, but also pecan, which comes in regular, chocolate, or bourbon flavors. The pies can be ordered with 24-48 hours’ notice and may be picked up from the “take and bake” line, which enables you to take the unbaked pie home to bake it in your own oven just like grandma might have done.
Another sublime source for homemade pie is Appalachian Harvest on Main Street in Highlands, where Kimberly Baldwin already has orders for more than thirty.  The pies, which are so heavy they require two hands to hold, are legendary for their organic and generous fruity fillings. Her jarred marmalades, fillings and jellies, which are also sold in Williams Sonoma and Whole Foods Market, include several which are perfect for Thanksgiving. She makes a rich cranberry relish and also recommends a homemade holiday pepper jelly, made from pecans and cranberry.
Of course, there is always the option of dining out, and the choices are enticing. Madison’s, at Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, will be offering a full-service dinner, as will Wolfgang’s, also in Highlands.
Wolfgang’s will serve dinner in a series of seatings, beginning at 11:30 a.m. and ending at 4:00 p.m. The menu features such favorites as shrimp and lobster bisque, traditional turkey or ham, as well as a slow-braised lamb shank with root vegetables.  
The Verandah, not to be outdone, will be serving an extensive buffet from noon to 6:00 p.m., featuring a “cold table” laden with shrimp and salads and a hot buffet serving the traditional turkey as well as “turducken,” made of boneless turkey, duck, and chicken held together with stuffing. An elaborate dessert bar will finish off the experience, including traditional pie as well as an assortment of cookies.
And so, like those Pilgrims hundreds of years ago, we gather together for what can only be called a magnificent mountain feast. ◊

Lake Glenville

The crown jewel of the Glenville community – at 3,500 feet above sea level – Lake Glenville is the highest lake east of the Mississippi. With a surface area of over 1,400 acres and 26 miles of shoreline, Lake Glenville draws visitors from all over the Southeast to its pristine waters and glorious scenery. The high elevation provides pleasant climates year round, as well as incredible views of the lake, mountains, forest and waterfalls that are common in the region. Whether fishing, boating or swimming in this extraordinary lake, once you set foot in Lake Glenville, gently stirring her glassy surface, you'll feel a stirring in your own heart. This feeling keeps visitors returning year after year, as they continue to build upon their special memories of days spent at the lake.

Lake Glenville real estate offers close proximity to the historic resort village of Cashiers, providing residents with an opportunity to shop and dine to their heart's content. Homes on Lake Glenville provide the best of both worlds – waterfront home combined with mountain home. A handful of Glenville communities provide a country club environment, all of which celebrate the natural beauty of the region.