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A New Chapter for the Library

Johannes Klapdohr exudes enthusiasm about his work, and luckily for us, the fruits of that work are accessible. The chef and co-founder of Sapphire Valley’s Library Kitchen & Bar, Klapdohr has hit his stride in the creative reinvention of the local landmark.
The “new” Library opened over the New Year’s holiday in 2016-2017, and in the past year has become the epitomic place for fine dining, brilliantly positioned against the historical backdrop of the 1864 farmhouse that it once was.
On any given night one can see a comfortable blend of regulars and out-of-towners enjoying food and drink at the sleek kitchen bar, a small room with a fireplace, or the happening main dining room. “I like to think it has a ‘clubby’ feel,” he explains, and he’s right. There is a familiarity about the place, but don’t be fooled. This new Library is sophisticated, state-of-the-art, and delicious.
The menu, which changes seasonally to augment the use of fresh local ingredients, ranges from trout with Jerusalem artichokes to seafood risotto and chocolate bread pudding.
Johannes, as most everyone calls him, grew up in a family that respected the process of food preparation.  He is the third generation of family chefs and has warm childhood memories of his grandfather’s hotel restaurant in Bad Kreuznach, Germany, a quaint area founded by the Romans. Everything was made from scratch, he recalls, and everything was fresh.
His culinary ambition fueled fourteen years of study and work under various European chefs at several Michelin-starred restaurants.  It was while he was serving as the executive chef in a Berlin restaurant that his sister, who was in Atlanta, suggested he take a temporary assignment working at the Olympic Games, to be held in Atlanta in 1996. In preparation for the Games, the city was actively looking for international chefs.
What was to have been a brief stint in the United States proved eye-opening and challenging and, at the end of the job, he knew he was hooked.  His post as executive chef at the famed Nikolai’s Roof introduced him to the vibrant chef community in Atlanta and provided the contacts that propelled his life of gastronomic adventure.  It was in Atlanta that he met his eventual wife Liz, well known to the Library clientele for her uncanny ability to make first-time guests feel as if they are coming to her home for dinner.
Next stop after Atlanta was Sea Island, Georgia, where for three years Johannes served as executive chef at The Lodge. It was an exciting time to be there, as considerable development and re-building were underway, but the passion to cull the source of gourmet food proved strong.  And so, he accepted the position of executive chef of the famed Culinary Vegetable Institute in Milan.  Milan, Ohio that is.
The Culinary Vegetable Institute celebrates the collaboration of chefs and farmers working together. Located at the tip of Lake Erie, it is renowned for having the most fertile soil in the United States and is a leading supplier of sustainable foods. It was here that he saw first-hand, for example, the importance of soil regeneration for the maximum nutritional value of crops.
“You can’t cheat nature,” he explains, detailing how the proper rotation of crops yields the best output.  
Beans, for example, release nitrogen while tomatoes need nitrogen.  Thus, it makes perfect sense that tomatoes would be planted in soil that most recently grew beans.  He rues the fact that peaches are slowly losing their nutritional value because of improper soil regeneration, and that is merely one example.
The stint at the Culinary Vegetable Institute has informed his attitude about food ever since.  Johannes bemoans the common health problems that are increasingly being experienced by younger people and blames a chemically-enhanced, unnatural diet.  He cites the well-known book by Michael Pollan, In Defense of Food, and would wholeheartedly embrace its doctrine of “Eat food. Mostly plants. Not too much.”
The father of three children, ages 8, 7 and 2, Johannes makes it a practice to take them on walks to discover the smell and feel of “real” food and advocates water and milk over soda. Not surprisingly, the big planters located in the Library’s front yard are actually fresh herb gardens and the iconic red tractor on the lawn gives a nod to his guiding philosophy.
After Milan, Ohio came The Old Edwards Inn in Highlands, where opportunities abounded to put into play the healthy yet delicious principles that were celebrated at the Culinary Vegetable Institute.  As executive chef of the entire resort, Johannes had responsibility for all food services which, in addition to the hotel’s famed restaurants, included infinite special events and all activities at The Farm. The farm-to-table movement was in high gear and there seemed no better place to run with it.
But a chance encounter with Marvin Gralnick at the Lonesome Valley Food Show in 2014 set the stage for a brand-new venture.  
Gralnick and his wife Helene may be best known for the successful retail emporium Chico’s.  Beginning in the 1980’s with one small store on Sanibel Island that sold Mexican folk art and sweaters, by the time they retired in 2006, the chain boasted over nine hundred stores, including the Black Market/White House brand.
But Marvin’s true passion is art, and his visionary works that call to mind Pollock and Miro have found their way to extensive public and private exhibitions here and abroad. At the time of this chance meeting, Gralnick owned the building that had been The Library and was contemplating its future.  
As the two men talked over a period of months they discovered a common wavelength for excellence and creativity and a dream of a cutting-edge restaurant, highlighting Johannes’ food and Marvin’s art. The Library began to take shape.
The building itself was basically a shell, and the two strategized to somehow create a contemporary environment that would also honor its considerable history.  Thus, the name “The Library” was set in stone.
“Our guests chose the name,” he says, recalling that the name was originally selected by the previous owner Scott Rooth, who wanted the restaurant to be reminiscent of a popular bar of the same name that had been in the old Fairfield Inn during Prohibition days.
While the core farmhouse, said to be the oldest building in Sapphire Valley, remains nearly intact, much of the property has undergone extensive renovation. For Johannes’ part, he wanted a “transparent” kitchen, so the design is purposefully open, and guests may even sit at a heavy wood bar and watch their food being prepared.  A prominent chandelier in the center of the kitchen/bar room looks as if it could have hung in the original house, but was rescued from a Chico’s store in New Orleans following Hurricane Katrina. Other lamps were culled from Marvin’s considerable collections. Tables were handcrafted to complement the original Library chairs which are currently used, and copper accents were utilized extensively at the bar for a funky “industrial” look.  The interior is painted a clean white, providing the perfect backdrop for Marvin’s bold and often edgy art.
A rendition of the flag with the words “America, A Work in Progress” hangs high above the kitchen and bar room and another work proclaiming “LOVE” in lights sparkles in the main dining rooms.
For his part, Johannes creates his art in the kitchen where a staff of eight works its magic five nights a week, year round.  The menu changes frequently, to reflect the best of what’s fresh. Temperatures are dropping as this is written, and the Library’s menu offers savory stews and cassoulets and side dishes celebrating brussel sprouts, acorn and butternut squash, pears and apples.
If the always crowded parking area is any indication, the two artists have delivered on their collaboration and are providing what Johannes calls “making the exception the rule.”
At the end of an evening at The Library, guests are presented their checks inside an antique bound journal.  Almost all are compelled to write a brief message, a fitting preamble to the next wonderful chapter at the Library.
“Your food is amazing.  I like it, and I am only a kid,” writes one recent patron, while another calls the dining experience “a slice of gastronomic heaven.”
 Like the proper rotation of crops, everything old is new again, and, in the case of the Library Kitchen & Bar, better than ever.
 

Old-Fashioned Family Fun

Trending today is the idea of strengthening the family bond by sharing more memorable and meaningful moments together. Families are increasingly electing to put down their smartphones and turn off their televisions in order to find group activities away from screens. In the new year, if you and your family resolve to find quality time together then the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau has several terrific options to enjoy good old-fashioned family fun outdoors. The small town of Highlands, surrounded by national forest and nestled in the mountains at 4118’ in elevation, may appear like something out of a Norman Rockwell painting. The town plan lays out ideally for visitors and residents alike to easily walk the sidewalks and enjoy the quaint shops and plentiful restaurants, or sit on a bench to watch the world go by (perhaps with an ice cream cone in hand). Steepled churches, rhododendron walkways, and front porches adorned with rocking chairs make for a handsome picture-perfect postcard. Adding to the charm and character of the town is the newly opened ice skating rink that draws more families to experience the fresh air and find fun on the ice. Sandwiched between Main Street and Kelsey-Hutchinson Founders Park, the town green space named after Samuel Hutchinson and Clinton Kelsey who founded Highlands in 1875, the state-of-the-art rink was a gift to the town by Art and Angela Williams of Old Edwards Inn and Spa. Open from November to March, Thursday through Tuesday, the ice rink entices people from families to singles to wrap themselves in fleece and don their skates. People of all ages take to the ice amid gleeful faces and peals of laughter. While lively background music plays, you’ll see some young and old holding hands, solo skaters finding their own magic, and observers on the sidelines snapping photos of loved ones and sipping hot chocolates. While there is the option to use your own skates, the $5 entrance fee includes skates, making it an affordable form of entertainment. And for those with more limited skating abilities, plastic Skate Helpers are available to assist in keeping everyone upright on the ice. One visiting Atlanta family staying in town was thrilled to find amusement of this kind for their five kids ranging in age from 5 to 13. They loved the accessibility of the rink and the beauty of its surroundings. While the rink hosts birthday parties, after-school gatherings, and events, “date night” has become popular on Friday and Saturday nights when the rink remains open late. No matter who is on the ice, bliss and delight seem to be a common theme. If you need to be outfitted for chilly weather, go to Highland Hiker in Cashiers or Highlands to find the best brands in outdoor apparel. Around town or at the rink, you may just run into an old-timer who recalls many years past when ice skating on local lakes was commonplace. Neighbors and families would gather to enjoy a good skate, but not before shoveling lots of snow off the ice. Times have changed because winters are not as cold as they once were, but this area is fortunate to have two manmade rinks on the Highlands-Cashiers Plateau, along with other outdoor sport offerings for you and your family. With the summer crowds gone, winter is a perfect time to enjoy the beauty this area holds. Don’t let time skate by before you and yours find some adventure on the ice.

This Is How You Beach: Experiencing the laid-back luxury of Harbour Island

Imagine, pink-hued soft flour-like sand embraces your toes as you walk down a three and a half-mile turquoise water shoreline. Warm sun trickles through the fresh sea air as it glazes your cheeks. Pristine water paired with a perfect blue sky, a feast for the eyes. Does it sound like a dream? Welcome to Harbour Island. • A three-and-a-half-mile-long and mile-and-a-half wide island of the Bahamas greets with its color-popping homes perched on the hill as you approach in your water taxi transportation. Once on the dock, the sound of golf carts, sights of wild roosters, and graceful Bay Street transport you to another world. Paradise. • “It’s 5 o’clock somewhere” takes on a new meaning with the island’s favorite cocktail, Goombay Smash. In an instant, you feel the charm of the island, and welcome time standing still. • It has everything, dive bars, 5-star cuisine, R&R, salt water, sun, and sand. And that’s not all. Accommodations so perfect it is hard to choose where to stay, and conversations so delightful you never want to leave. 

RESTAURANTS

/ lunch. Sip Sip - Overlooking the Atlantic ocean, this is a must for lunch. Open from 11:30 a.m. - 4:00 p.m., Wednesday - Monday, this restaurant is first come, first serve. I personally love the chili dogs here, and I don’t usually eat chili dogs. 

/ cocktails. Miami Vice at Pink Sands - There is something special about a strawberry margarita, pina colada mixed drink while overlooking the turquoise blue waves as they gently touch the shore and whisk away back out to sea. Pink Sands is the place to enjoy a beachy afternoon sun cocktail.

/ snack. Queen Conch - Fresh conch salad, need I say more? Conch prepared with lime juice and mixed fresh tomatoes and onions is the perfect snack on a hot afternoon!

/ bakery. Arthur’s Bakery  - This artisan bakery serves the best chocolate cupcakes I have ever tasted. You must try the coconut or the jalapeño cheese bread, and the mini-donuts are great as well.

ACCOMMODATIONS

/ Runaway Hill inn  - This boutique hotel overlooking the ocean is owned by hockey great Mark Messier. It is a perfect escape on the island, and you will enjoy the palm tree-lined courtyard leading to its entrance. Indulge in an in-room massage while listening to the waves kiss the shoreline.

/ The Landing - This is a boutique hotel and restaurant with inspired design by famous Ralph Lauren model India Hicks. If you don’t stay here, you must at least enjoy cocktail hour at the bar and reserve a table for dinner. The cuisine is some of the best on the island. Try the beef tenderloin or lobster ravioli, and ask to visit the “Cellar,” it offers an incredible wine selection!

/ Valentines Resort and Marina - The yacht-filled dock is beautiful at sunset. Enjoy a cocktail with the neighboring island of Eleuthera in the background at dusk or enjoy a selection from the menu at any time during the day.

/ The Rock House - Another of the island’s incredible boutique hotels. Its ambiance will make you swoon. Make reservations to dine poolside in a cabana. 
 

THINGS TO DO

/ Sugar Mill Trading Co. - A beautiful shopping boutique owned by India Hicks. Filled with men and women’s clothing and unique gifts. Did you know India Hicks is the godchild of the late Princess Diana?

/ Gusty’s - With a sand dance floor and good music, Gusty’s is a perfect way to end your evening. 

/ Ocean Fox Diving - Whether you are a diver or a snorkeler, Jeff Fox will take you out for an amazing under-the-sea swim, and if you love to deep sea fish, the fresh tuna is the best sashimi I have ever tasted.
 

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Effortless Entertaining Minutes from Cashiers

This spacious home on over six acres is located just minutes from Cashiers and offers beautiful Whiteside Mountain views. Soak in the tranquility of the mountains while sitting on the wraparound porch, or take advantage of the central location and enjoy the area's renowned dining, shopping, and golf, all just minutes away.

The expansive great room is part of an open floor plan that offers plenty of room for entertaining large groups with a large dining area, hardwood floors, and a dramatic floor-to-ceiling fireplace. A wall of windows floods the entire space with natural light. Enjoy the stunning view as you cook in the gourmet kitchen equipped with premium stainless steel appliances and fine custom cabinetry.  

There are multiple bedrooms on the main level, as well as additional bedrooms on both the lower and upper level. The family room on the lower level features a fireplace and its own complete kitchen and dining area, providing guests with privacy and comfort. 

 

Luxury Living on Trout Pond in Lonesome Valley

 

No detail was spared in creating this like-new home in the coveted Lonesome Valley community. Situated in a serene setting that overlooks Trout Pond, the property is bordered by creeks on three sides. Nearly flat, the almost two-and-a-half acres are walkable and beckon you to explore every inch.

Every room of the home is on one level with a guest apartment over the two-car garage. The light, bright, and open floor plan features a gourmet kitchen that is open to both the living and dining areas with stunning views in both directions. Outside, you'll enjoy sitting on the covered screen porch with wood burning fireplace overlooking Trout Pond. You can cast your line only a few steps away from the porch.

This home could be enjoyed seasonally or year-round as the current owners do. The property is the perfect combination of beautiful, tranquil solitude with a convenient location only three miles from the center of Cashiers. Lonesome Valley is the largest boxed-faced canyon east of the Mississippi, comprised of 750 acres—300 of which are common green space. The amenity package includes extensive hiking trails, fly fishing in the streams and ponds, lake activities, a fitness facility, an outdoor heated pool, tennis courts, rock climbing, fine dining, and a day spa. This is a home and location for the discerning buyer.