Living In WNC

FEATURED COMMUNITY: The Lake Club

Nestled on 150 acres along the shoreline of Lake Glenville near the resort village of Cashiers, North Carolina, The Lake Club is a private community offering the very best of mountain and lakefront living. Touted as “a place where memories are created and traditions continue to grow”, The Lake Club is a very special family-focused development featuring 36 estate-sized home sites and a quaint cottage division. Special attention and careful planning have been given to the architectural and environmental covenants within this exclusive gated community in order to preserve and celebrate the pristine natural setting.

One of the finest examples of this concentration toward marrying architecture to its environment is found in The Lake Club Lodge. Exquisitely designed by renowned architect Tom Greene and Associates to be reminiscent of an Adirondack camp from a bygone era, The Lodge features native poplar bark, locust wood, and stone accents. This well-appointed clubhouse is an ideal place where friends and neighbors can gather together near the stacked stone fireplace or enjoy breathtaking views from one of many covered porches. Another popular Lake Club amenity, The Marina, is not just a place where homeowners can park their boats; it also offers a generous sundeck to soak up the sun on large Adirondack chairs and an enclosed swimming area, safe from passing motorboats and jet skis. In addition, The Lake Club Meadow is a two-acre park set at the heart of the community where neighbors can play a game of horseshoes or warm themselves by a bonfire under a sea of stars on a cool fall evening. The Meadow also offers many beautiful natural features, ideal for strolling or splashing – including streams, three ponds and hiking trails along a cascading waterfall. There is no shortage of fun to be had nearby, as well. Beautiful Lake Glenville provides 1,400 breathtaking acres for fishing, boating, and watersports, and the historic villages of Cashiers and Highlands feature abundant choices for fine dining and eclectic shops for exploring.

 

The Entertaining Season

Nothing says summer quite like kicking back with friends over some good eats and chilled beverages on a warm summer night. With stunning views of the Blue Ridge Mountains as your backdrop, ready the grill and don your “Kiss the Cook!” apron for your next backyard soirée. With holiday weekends fast approaching, take note of our entertaining tips and recipes to help inspire your planning. 

setting the mood al fresco
Create a warm and inviting ambiance with cozy seating adorned with festive throw pillows and Mexican blankets if someone gets chilly. Decorate the table with craft paper as an alternative to a tablecloth, festive melamine dinnerware, mini pots of succulents or rosemary nosegays, and colorful cotton napkins. Douse the lights and decorate the scene with tea lights, globed candles of different heights, twinkling fairy garland and light the outdoor fireplace. Finally, choose one of Spotify’s BBQ Summer playlists to set the tone and add to the fun. Putting your guests at ease allows them to relax and savor the moment.

what to serve
Since you have set the mood, mingling over a signature cocktail such as an Aperol Spritz, a chilled glass of rosé, or a craft beer will be ideal at the start of the evening. Serve simple small bites such as bright, seasonal strawberries and/or cherry tomatoes with basil and mozzarella (secure with toothpicks) to dip in nicely aged balsamic vinegar. Since we are grilling out, prepare skewers of grilled shrimp and lemon ahead of time and serve with a feta-dill sauce (click here for recipe on foodandwine.com).

When it comes to the main course, BBQ is always a winner especially when it comes to wine and beer pairings. Ribs are easy, and our recipe is a fan favorite. However, if you want a little less mess, go with a brisket or burgers on the grill. For sides, a grilled peach, Vidalia onion and bacon salad is divine along with a favorite corn bread. For an easy dessert, individually fill small glasses or espresso cups with gelato. Keep in the freezer until ready to serve and top with a sprig of fresh mint.

For beverages, pork and rosé are great pairings, but if you prefer to serve a red try a zinfandel or pinot noir. For beer lovers offer a local golden IPA to pair with your pork. For other food pairings, consult seriouseats.com. 

tools of the trade

The Charcoal Weber for the Traditionalist: 
Nothing beats the taste of charcoal and Weber is known in the industry to make a quality, long-lasting charcoal grill. Prices range from $50 to $3000, but capacity can sometimes be a problem when buying the less expensive versions. Weber offers multiple sizes and upgrades and the price goes up accordingly. Light your charcoal with an electric starter or all natural grill starters to avoid the chemical taste imparted by lighter fluid.
 
The Gas Grill for the “No Fuss” Cook: 
Looking for something easy, go for the gas grill. According to TopTenReviews.com, Weber Genesis II gets the best reviews for its grill space, price and heating consistency. Despite its hefty price tag ($1200 and up), the Napoleon Mirage is recommended for its quality construction with stainless steel burners that provide heat consistency, an infrared back burner for rotisserie and infrared side burner for searing meats.

The Big Green Egg or Kamado Joe for the Serious Food Enthusiast: 
These round ceramic grills/smokers are well constructed and will last a lifetime. Using better lump charcoal, it is all about temperature control with these popular grills for fast or slow cooking. There is an initial learning curve and a considerable investment, but users swear by the results. Since both cook all types of food from pizza to smoked meats to veggies, they make an ideal all-in-one choice. Note: In the event you get strong winds at your mountain home, these heavily weighted grills will stay put while a gas grill could skip across your deck unless secured (this writer has witnessed it!).

For great grilling accessories, shop Amazon for Elizabeth Karmel’s BBQ tools. We especially love her long handled silicone basting brush and burger press.

GOOD TO GO!
If you want to take the night off from cooking, “take away” the hog from anyone of these local haunts. Don’t worry you can still wear the Kiss the Cook apron and no one will know you didn’t do the cooking!

On the Side BBQ
Cashiers Farmers Market
78 Highway 64 East 
Cashiers, NC 28717
828-743-4334
www.cashiersfarmersmarket.com 

In addition to sandwiches piled high with pulled pork, smoked brisket, smoked turkey and more, On the Side BBQ also serves up Carolina Chicken, Ribs by the Rack, Pulled Pork, Smoked Sliced Brisket and Smoked Sliced Turkey Breast by the pound. Famous for their flavorful sauces, you should try them all! True to its name, the sides at On the Side BBQ are worthy of your attention, as well, featuring barbecue-complementing classics like baked beans, macaroni and cheese, and collard greens.


Mountain Fresh Grocery & Wine Market
521 East Main Street, Highlands, NC 28741
828.526.2400
www.mfgro.com 

Located at the end of the main drag in Downtown Highlands, Mountain Fresh Grocery offers a barbecue feast as part of its “Summer Dinners To Go” Menu. On Saturdays, patrons can take home a fully prepared meal for four featuring tender hand rubbed pork butt, pit-smoked overnight and pulled to order served with coleslaw, apple-bacon baked beans and yeast rolls. Available on a first-come, first-served basis, it is best to call ahead to reserve your order. Make sure to pick up one of their handmade desserts too- your guests will appreciate it!
 
 


 

Simple Summer Recipes

4 Easy Steps to an Aperol Spritz

Fill a wine glass with ice.
Combine equal parts of Prosecco and Aperol.
Add a dash of soda.
Garnish with an orange slice.

 

Foil-Wrapped Baby Back Ribs

RUB 

1 T. kosher salt
2 tsp. paprika
2 tsp. granulated garlic
2 tsp. dried thyme
1⁄2 tsp. freshly ground black pepper 
2 racks baby back ribs, each about 2 pounds 
1 cup prepared barbecue sauce 

 

INSTRUCTIONS 

Soak the wood chips in water for at least 30 minutes (wood chips are optional if you want a smokier flavor). 
Prepare the grill for direct cooking over medium heat (350° to 450°F). 
In a small bowl mix the rub ingredients. 
Remove the membrane from the back of each rack of ribs. Cut each rack crosswise in the middle to create two smaller racks. 
Season each half rack evenly with the rub. Using eight 18-by-24-inch sheets of heavy-duty aluminum foil, double wrap each half rack in its own packet. 
Brush the cooking grates clean. Place the ribs on the grill over direct medium heat and cook for 1 hour, with the lid closed, occasionally turning the packets over for even cooking, making sure not to pierce the foil. 
Remove the packets from the grill and let rest for about 10 minutes. Carefully open the foil packets, remove the ribs, and discard the rendered fat and foil. 
Drain and add the wood chips to the charcoal or to the smoker box of a gas grill, following manufacturer’s instructions, and close the lid. When the wood begins to smoke, return the ribs to the grill, bone side down. Grill over direct medium heat, with the lid closed as much as possible, until they are sizzling and lightly charred, 10 to 12 minutes, turning and basting once or twice with the sauce. Remove from the grill and let rest for about 5 minutes. Cut into individual ribs and serve warm with any remaining sauce. 

Recipe from Weber's Time to GrillTM by Jamie Purviance 
 

 

Grilled Peach, Onion & Bacon Salad with Buttermilk Dressing 

Total Time: 45 minutes | Serves 8

 

Ingredients 

How to Make It 
Step 1 Preheat the oven to 325°. In a small bowl, whisk the mayonnaise with the sour cream, buttermilk, mint, parsley, chives and vinegar and season with salt and pepper. Refrigerate. 
Step 2 Line a large rimmed baking sheet with parchment paper. Arrange the bacon slices on the sheet in a single layer and sprinkle with the brown sugar and cayenne. Bake for about 25 minutes, until caramelized (the bacon will crisp as it cools). Let cool, and then cut the bacon into bite-size pieces. For a vegetarian option, skip the bacon.
Step 3 Meanwhile, light the grill. Brush the onions with olive oil and season with salt and pepper. Grill over moderate heat, turning occasionally, until softened and browned, 10 minutes. Separate the onions into rings. Brush the peaches with olive oil and grill over moderately high heat until tender, 2 minutes. Transfer to a plate. 
Step 4 In a large bowl, toss the onions with the peaches and bacon.  If preparing ahead cover with foil and set aside. Add the buttermilk dressing and toss to coat. Serve right away. 

 

 

Tags

Community Update: Phase One of Easing Restrictions

On Friday, May 8 at 5 pm, North Carolina will move into Phase One of easing restrictions. The Stay-at-Home order stays in effect with some modifications:

 

- Retail stores can open with 50% capacity and customers standing 6 feet apart
- 10 person limit on general gatherings indoors
- Teleworking and face-covering are still encouraged
- Salons, spas, entertainment venues, gyms, playgrounds, and theaters are still closed
- State parks and trails are encouraged to re-open
- Restaurants will still only be able to serve food via take-out, drive-thrus, and delivery

Living With Unparalleled Privacy

Barbara Singleford is a freelance writer who finds respite hiking in the Blue Ridge Mountains. Her favorite activity is wildflower hunting during the spring. You’ll often catch her on a paddleboard during the early morning.

Give me some space! How many times have you shouted that after dealing with crowded highways, restaurants, or theaters? The need for privacy and alone time is now more important than ever with the nation in the middle of a public health crisis.  Once this is all over, you'll find the perfect outdoor solace and unparalleled privacy in a Western North Carolina mountain town. The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau has fewer people, cool breezes, more space, and a small-town atmosphere. 

The Highlands-Cashiers Plateau rests off the beaten path atop the Blue Ridge Mountains between Knoxville, Tenn., and Charlotte, N.C. The area includes the towns of Cashiers, Highlands, Sapphire, Glenville, and Lake Toxaway, to name a few. The popular recreation and brewery town of Asheville is just a 90-minute drive to the northeast. Western North Carolina has a literary history, as well. Its serenity inspired such famous writers as Thomas Wolf and Deanna Klingel. The unparalleled privacy still serves as an inspiration to writers, journalists, and novelists.

 

Waterfalls

You'll find attractive retirement communities for people wanting to escape the heat of the Eastern Seaboard. With an elevation of more than 4,000 feet above sea level, the Highlands-Cashier Plateau earned its nickname of the “Land of the Waterfalls.” With plenty of rainfall, geological spires, and mountains, the plateau creates spectacular cascades. You can duplicate the peaceful feeling of the waterfalls in your own backyard by installing a rain garden or fountain.

You can already imagine sitting on your back porch in an evening breeze, enjoying your garden after an afternoon shower. Rain gardens are popular in Asheville and in the higher elevations to prevent your lawn from becoming a soggy mess. Combined with water-friendly plants, it works with nature instead of against it.

 

Small Population

With summer temperatures averaging 78 degrees, it's not surprising to see the population in towns such as Cashiers temporarily swell to 25,000. As for the rest of the year? These small towns are sparsely populated, leaving plenty of elbow room. Tourists come here to get away from the crowds and you’ll enjoy the same solace when you move here. You’ll have easy access to hiking and biking trails, and rock climbing. Head to Lake Glenville to fish for small and large-mouth bass, rainbow trout, and walleye. You’ll also enjoy the solitude of Lake Fairfield and Lake Chattooga.

Finding privacy is essential right now, and Western North Carolina has plenty of it. So with interest rates at some of the lowest levels in the past decade, now's the time to consider ways to practice social distancing … but with a little more distance.

 

Community Updates

 

We will keep this list updated as we receive information. If you are a business and have an update for us, please email info@ncliving.com. (Updated 5/7/20 at 2:24 pm)

 

NORTH CAROLINA STATE COVID-19 HOTLINE: 866-462-3821

On Friday, May 8 at 5 pm, North Carolina will move into Phase One of easing restrictions. The Stay-at-Home order stays in effect with some modifications:

- Retail stores can open with 50% capacity and customers standing 6 feet apart
- 10 person limit on general gatherings indoors
- Teleworking and face-covering are still encouraged
- Salons, spas, entertainment venues, gyms, playgrounds, and theaters are still closed
- State parks and trails are encouraged to re-open
- Restaurants will still only be able to serve food via take-out, drive-thrus, and delivery

 

Black Sheep Taxi is offering delivery of takeout from restaurants, grocery stores, pharmacy, shopping, etc. Call, text 828-200-7006 or  theflock@blacksheeptaxi.com. Rates are posted on their website for one-way trips.  

 

Events

Highlands Festivals Inc. Spring Concert is canceled.

The Village Green is open but all Easter activities have been canceled.

Highlands PAC and Highlands Playhouse have canceled their 2020 seasons.

 

Cashiers Businesses

Cashiers Kitchen Co. is closed.

Cashiers Valley Pharmacy Open Monday - Friday 8 am-6 pm and Saturdays 8 am - 2 pm 828-743-3114

Ingles is offering a special shopping hour for seniors, Tuesdays and Wednesdays from 7 am to 8 am.

Paws on the Mountain (828-743-7500) is delivering and offering curbside pick-up.

Woof Gang Bakery (828-743-9663) is delivering and offering curbside pick-up.

United Community Bank will remain open by drive-thru and appointment only.

Zoller Hardware is open and offering curbside pickup.

 

 

Cashiers Restaurants

Buck's Coffee - Open for takeout 7 am - 6 pm. Every Wednesday morning from 7 am to 10 am, all medical & emergency personnel can enjoy a complimentary to-go beverage.

Chili Loco - Offering takeout. Call 828-743-1160. See website for menu.

Cork and Barrel Lounge - Offering takeout Wednesday - Saturday 4 pm - 9 pm. Call 828-743-7477

Cornucopia is closed at this time.

Mica's - Offering takeout from 11 am - 6 pm. Call 828-743-5740. See website for menu.

Randevu - Offering takeout from 9 am - 2 pm. Closed on Monday and Tuesday. Closed 828-743-0190.

Slab Town Pizza - Offering takeout from 11:30 am-5 pm Call 828-7743-0020 See website for menu.

The Library Kitchen & Bar - Offering takeout and delivery (5-mile radius) Tuesday-Saturday place order between 12 pm - 6 pm and pick up between 4 pm-7 pm. Discounted menu for takeout and offering wine by the bottle to-go. 

The Ugly Dog in Cashiers - Offering takeout. Call 828-743-3000 and visit their website.

Winslow's Hideaway - Offering to-go and delivery orders. Call 828-743-2226.

Whiteside Brewing Co. - Call 828-743-6000. Offering takeout 11:30 am - 8 pm (closed Wednesday and Sunday).

Zookeeper Bistro is closed at this time.

 

 

Highlands Businesses

All businesses and restaurants are closed except those offering curbside service:

Highlands Playhouse has canceled their 2020 season.

Highlands Wine Shoppe - Offering wine delivery. Call 828-526-4080, Tuesday - Saturday 12pm-5pm.

The Skin Lab - Offering medical-grade skincare for home care or curbside by order. Call 704-575-2038.

Zen Spa is offering chair massages. Therapist and the customer can wear a mask while they receive quick chair massages at $2 per minute with 10-minute minimum, as well as foot reflexology. Call ahead for an appointment Monday to Saturday 10 am - 5 pm at 828-200-9934 to avoid delays. They also carry spring sugar scrubs and anti-viral essential oil blend on sale now for curbside pickup at $24.99 per bottle.

 

 

Highlands Restaurants

4418 Kitchen & Bar - Offering curbside pickup from 11:30 am-7 pm. Call 828-526-5002.

Asia House is closed at this time.

Blue Bike Cafe - Offering curbside breakfast and lunch, Monday-Friday 9 am - 2 pm. Call 828-526-9922 or order off ChowNow.

Bridge at Mill Creek - Offering curbside takeout from 5 pm - 9 pm (Closed on Tuesdays). Call 828-526-5500. See the menu on their Facebook page.

Cake Bar - Taking orders Monday through Thursday for Friday or Saturday afternoon pick up. Call 828-421-2042.

Calder's Coffee Cafe is closed at this time.

Serving Highlands since 1999, Fresser's Courtyard Cafe offers take out. Opens at 11 am, Monday, Tuesday, Thursday -  Saturday for May. For now, closed Sunday and Wednesday. Call ahead at 828-526-8847. Menu is available at www.wecaterhighlands.com.

Four65 Wood Fire Bistro & Bar is closed at this time.

Highlands Burritos is closed.

Highlands Smokehouse - Offering curbside pickup, Thursday - Saturday 11 am-8 pm and Sunday 11 am - 7 pm. Call 828-526-3554 or order online.

Kilwin's is closed at this time.

Lakeside Restaurant - Offering curbside and in-town delivery. Open Tuesday- Saturday. Call 828-526-9419.

Midpoint - Offering curbside pick-up, Thursday-Sunday 1 pm - 7 pm. Call 828-526-2277.

The Ugly Dog Pub - Offering curbside and delivery from 11:30 am - 9 pm. Call 828-526-8364 or order online on ChowNow.

Tug's Proper is closed at this time.

Wild Thyme is closed at this time.

Whole Life Market - Offering curbside service. Call 828-526-5999.

The Musical History of Western North Carolina

Sitting on a mountaintop in the Blue Ridge Mountains of Western North Carolina, legend has it that if you listen very carefully, you can still hear the drumbeats of the Cherokee Indians that once rose above these mountains. Prior to the 1800s, the powerfully moving sound created by these Native Americans juddered through the mountains, telling the stories of tribal life. Their community centered on music that led them into ceremonial games, dances, celebrations, healing chants, and daily activities. Their musical notes came from instruments such as homemade drums, hand-carved flutes, and rattles or idiophones made from turtle shells. Their original staccato-like drumbeats, as well as their more elaborate melodies, laid the roots for what was to develop into a land even more abundant with sound, vibration, and song.
The rich history of music in these mountains is varied, to say the least. Once the early settlers from England, Scotland, and Ireland arrived, bringing with them traditional ballads using flutes, fiddles, and pipes, the deep musical sounds that once echoed from mountain to mountain changed. The old Cherokee melodies began to mingle and mix with the new to form something multi-cultural. With the additional influence of enslaved Africans, who brought to the southern states the banjo made from gourds and animal hides, the melodic notes, beats, and tunes blended together to form a bluegrass-country style of music using drums, banjos, mandolins, harmonicas, and fiddles. 
Along with these musical enrichments came clog dancing, known today as “clogging.” Toe-tapping with clogs was a musical instrument on its own but paired with the fiddle, this new style of music became a popular accompaniment to any gathering in the southern region. Again with the confluence of dance styles of the Cherokee and African slaves, a harmonious series of step dances came to eventually form square dancing.
As the music was handed down from generation to generation, the expressive lyrics told stories of the past brought forth by the early settlers’ balladry. Slowly this classic music became more twangy and progressive, leading to country, bluegrass, blues, and sacred sounds. String bands began to form and lively performances of vocal and instrumental compositions could be heard far and wide around campfires, on front porches, at jamborees and festivals, and meeting houses.
The twentieth century brought explosive change to bluegrass and country music with the entrance of Charlie Poole and Bill Monroe to the scene. An old-time banjo player from North Carolina, Charlie Poole formed one of the first well-known country string bands called The North Carolina Ramblers that recorded many popular songs from 1925 to 1930. Monroe performed live on North Carolina radio stations in the mid-30s on his way to forming the Blue Grass Boys, which was dubbed the “Original Bluegrass Band.” Then came Earl Scruggs, who was born in North Carolina in 1924 and joined the Blue Grass Boys along with Lester Flatts in 1945. Scruggs was a chief influencer in bluegrass until his death in 2012 and was a musical hero to folk-bluegrass-rock musician Jerry Garcia of the Grateful Dead. It was Lester Flatt and Earl Scruggs’ classic recording of Foggy Mountain Banjo that influenced so many newcomers to bluegrass.  
Famously called a “walking archive of mountain music,” Mary Jane Queen, a twentieth-century Irish ballad and banjo player from Jackson County, was one of the few local greats to receive a distinguished National Heritage Fellowship in 1993 and, posthumously in 2007, the North Carolina Heritage Award.  Multi-Grammy award-winning Doc Watson, considered the father of southern Appalachian root music with his fingerstyle and flat-picking guitar skills, was another twentieth-century North Carolina trendsetter of bluegrass, folk, country, blues, and gospel music. 
Today, music in these mountains continues to be heard, but with even more fervor. Comedian, actor, writer, producer, and musician, Steve Martin, who played banjo with Scruggs in 2001, is a common fixture in the bluegrass music scene and is known for his impromptu pop-ups at music festivals here in Western North Carolina. A legend of our time, Peter Rowan (www.peter-rowan.com) continues the traditions of bluegrass music along with more regionally recognized bands, including Silly Ridge Round-Up (www.sillyridge.com) and Nitrograss (www.nitrograss.com), who play regularly in our area. 
A culmination of original melodies of the Cherokee, early settlers, and the Africans continue to live on in the sounds of the country, bluegrass, country-rock, and blues music that dominate our mountain area. Whether the music resounds around campfires, on stages, at barn dances, annual festivals, and major concert venues, it is not hard to find great traditional live music throughout the year. •

The Literary History of Western North Carolina

North Carolina's mountains are well known for pristine lakes, world-class golf courses, and scenic hiking trails. But less visible is the rich literary underbelly known to the lucky readers among us.
Perhaps it's the isolation of life in the mountains, or the spirit of hundreds and hundreds of ancestors and their stories that seem to come alive in the quiet of the woods. Whatever the source, the mountains of North Carolina abound in literary history.
Thomas Wolfe, arguably the most famous of North Carolina writers, grew up in Asheville, the son of a stonecutter, before beginning his writer's life in New York City. The locals knew him to be an able wordsmith...he had, after all, edited the Daily Tar Heel, University of North Carolina's student paper. But when Look Homeward, Angel was released to enthusiastic reviews and sales, it caused an uproar among the town, as apparently some of the characters in the best-seller seemed all too familiar. Wolfe called the town “Altamont” and says in the book, “The mountains were his masters. They rimmed in life...They were his absolute unity in the midst of eternal change.”
Those mountains, of course, have been the setting for countless significant events in our country's history, most notably the Civil War and the institution of the “Trail of Tears” by which native Americans were banished to Oklahoma.  
Charles Frazier's award-winning fiction is firmly planted in the local mountains. Did you realize there really is a Cold Mountain for which his novel Cold Mountain is named?  Just southwest of Asheville, the 6,000-foot peak is the tallest in the wilderness area and was the home of the protagonist Inman's wife, to whom he struggles to return after serving in the Confederate Army.  Inman's character is based on stories handed down—in true mountain tradition—by Frazier's father about his great-granduncle named Inman.
His second novel, Thirteen Moons, is also set in the North Carolina mountains and tells the story of a man's experience with the Cherokees during their removal from the area.
Kaye Gibbons, who grew up in rural North Carolina, is a prolific contemporary writer mostly about complex women with layered emotions. She draws on her hardscrabble upbringing in Nash County and many of her characters have similar struggles, especially as they attempt to push back against a restraining Southern culture. Her voice apparently rings true, as evidenced by her best-selling status, innumerable awards, and selection for Oprah's book club.
Ron Rash, who has been hailed by New York Times' Janet Maslin as an “elegantly fine-tuned voice”, grew up in Boiling Springs, North Carolina, and received a master's degree from Clemson University. A former professor and part-time resident of Sapphire Valley, Hallman Bryant, regrets that “Clemson let him get away.”  Seems he applied for a teaching job there but was turned down because he didn't have a doctorate but only an “ABT” (all but thesis). He concedes it was their loss and Western Carolina University's gain, as Rash spent years on WCU's faculty.
Rash went on to become a prolific novelist and short-story writer. He is perhaps best known for his 2008 novel Serena, which was a finalist for the famed PEN/Faulkner award and was eventually made into a feature film starring Jennifer Lawrence and Bradley Cooper.
Wiley Cash, who made his debut with A Land More Kind Than Home, has more recently published The Last Ballad, a critically acclaimed story of a single mother's fight for rights in a North Carolina textile mill.  Based on a true story, Cash, who has been called by Vanity Fair magazine “a charming North Carolinian”, illuminates a dark period in Appalachian history and breathes life into it through his rich, intriguing characters. He was the writer-in-residence at the University of North Carolina Asheville in 2018.
Perhaps it is the incomparable scenery that stirs the creative soul.
Laura Lane McNeal sought solace in Cashiers, where her parents lived, following the 2005 upheaval of Hurricane Katrina in her hometown of New Orleans.  The quiet winter in the mountains was a useful backdrop as she spent the time here writing Dollbaby, a Southern take on coming of age, which was published to enthusiastic reviews.
“I spent countless hours with my dog Max taking hikes in the fiercely beautiful landscape of the Blue Ridge Mountains,” she says. “The gorges and waterfalls, the hidden streams, the fresh smell of cedar and hemlock, the way the earth and sky came alive after the rain, the ethereal sunsets that reminded me there would be light after the dark...”
Though she and her family did eventually rebuild in New Orleans, the mountains had claimed them, and they now own property in the Cashiers area and spend some of the season here. And, Laura has written two more novels following the best-seller success of her Cashiers-inspired debut.
Deanna Klingel is one of the more prolific writers to set up shop in these mountains.  She didn't seriously get down to fiction until she had raised seven children. Her stories, which she describes as being for the young and the young at heart, include civil war historical fiction and another called Blue-Eyed Doll which is based on a doll exchange that her elementary school class conducted with students in Japan at a time when there existed a deep mistrust of all things Japanese. Not surprisingly, she is a frequent guest at schools throughout the country, where her stories are enthusiastically received. “Maturity,” she says, “is a blessing when it comes to writing.”
But best-seller status is not required to take a stab at creative writing.
That many local residents are inspired by the environs is supported by the popularity of the Highlands Writers Group, a collection of short story writers, memoirists, novelists, poets and journalists who gather each Tuesday at the Bascom Center for the Arts to engage in writing exercises, readings, and critiques.  Highlands has always beckoned writers to visit the area...Walker Percy, Cassandra King, Pat Conroy, and Sandra Brown are examples...and the local literary culture even spawned a Writers Group anthology.
Even if you're just a passionate reader, you can indulge in a bit of literary sightseeing in this part of the world. Start in Asheville, at the Thomas Wolfe House, located in downtown Asheville.  It was actually a boarding house, run by Wolfe's mother, and the setting for Look Homeward, Angel.  Built-in 1883 in the Queen Anne style, the 29-room home is now a National Historic Landmark, and offers visitors an introductory film and guided tour.  Meticulously curated, with many of the furnishings from Wolfe's time there, the museum even displays each holiday season a copy of his original handwritten letter to Santa Claus.
The Grove Park Inn, also in Asheville, has been the backdrop for lots of literary action.  F. Scott Fitzgerald spent summers there in the 1930s and each year on a weekend near his September birthday, the Inn hosts an “F. Scott Fitzgerald Weekend” whereby visitors are taken on a tour of the author's favored suite and treated to insights of noted literary critics. Sadly, Fitzgerald's wife Zelda died in a tragic fire at a nearby psychiatric hospital. 
Another literary road trip could be made to Carl Sandburg's farm in Flat Rock, near Hendersonville.  Sandburg spent the last 22 years of his life in the bucolic setting where his wife was known for the cows she raised.  Visitors may tour the farmhouse, visit the dairy barn where some descendants of Mrs. Sandburg's herd reside and hike over five miles of trails.  In the summertime, visitors may enjoy live performances of Sandburg's Rootabaga Stories and other adaptations of his work at the farm's amphitheater.
But perhaps the best place to celebrate the literary culture of these mountains is from your favorite chair on your private porch with a book in hand.  Let everyone else rush to make their tee times!  
Which begs the question: Have you had a chance yet to pick up Charles Frazier's latest novel?  Varina is the story of Jefferson Davis' wife and the reviews, so far, are excellent. •

 

Wine 101

// what to drink now

Looking for something pink to drink for a Valentine’s Day outing? Turn to rosé in a can by Amble and Chase. This rosé, sourced from Provence, France, will add to the fun while wetting your whistle, $19.99 for four cans

Crisp, fruit forward, and refreshing
Portable, eco-friendly, and a good value

You’ll fall head-over-heels for the 2015 Joseph Phelps Chardonnay, Freestone Vineyards, $55.00

A well rounded Sonoma Coast white that works perfectly with spicy foods
Tasting notes reveal lemon and pineapple, while the nose sniffs out scents of lemon curd, peach and toasted cinnamon

Interested in something refreshing and bubbly, how about red bubbles? Lini 910- “Lambrusca” Lambrusco allows wine drinkers to step out of the box and try something new, average price $15.99

Appellation is Rosso Reggiano from Emilia-Romagna, Italy
A dry, sparkling red with tastes of berries and cream

Calling all California Pinot lovers! This 2014 Cambria, a.k.a. Julia’s Vineyard, Benchbreak Pinot Noir is a luxurious warm red to cozy up to on a cool, winter night $25.00

Rich, deep fruit, mild tannins and very balanced
Flavors of plum, cinnamon and black pepper
Pair with anything, especially pork

Robert Parker highly rates this easy drinking red, 2014 André Brunel Grenache, $20.99

90% Grenache grape
Produced in the Rhone Valley of France
Complex and intense; tastes of strawberry, cocoa and vanilla with round tannins
Ideal to relax by at the end of the day or pair with lamb


// what to cellar

Suggestions by sommelier Jennifer Cunningham at Highlands Wine Shoppe

2013 Emblem by Michael Mondavi Cabernet Sauvignon,  $35.99

93 points by Wine Enthusiast
Rich blend of Cabernet Sauvignon (79%), Petite Sirah (8%), Petit Verdot (5%), Syrah (4.5%), Zinfandel (2%), and Merlot (1.5%)
Polished, full-bodied with flavors of caramelized crème brulee, blackberry and spice
Any vintage of Domaine de la Berthete Chateauneuf-du-Pape, price varies on vintage

2012 was winemaker Pascal Maillet’s first vintage of this wine
50% Grenache, 50% Syrah
Aged 18 months in stainless steel tanks
Handcrafted, limited production from 50+ year old vines
Aromas of black currant and spice; well balanced, rich, with tastes of pepper

2014 Smith-Devereux Cabernet Sauvignon by Steve Smith and Ian Devereux, $40.99 

First release at a great price point, and a champion out of the gate
Sourced by sustainably farmed vineyards from Napa Valley’s Howell and Diamond Mountains
Deep ruby red fruit, complex, well constructed tannins with tastes of black currant, blackberry, cassis, dark chocolate, loamy earth, leather, and tobacco

2016 Booker Vineyards “My Favorite Neighbor” Red Blend by Eric Jensen $84.99

Full bodied and elegant with tastes of crème de cassis, licorice, and tobacco
97 points by Robert Parker 
2011 Bruno Giacosa Santo Stefano Barbaresco, 100% Nebbiolo, $175.99 

Intense and complex with tastes of violets, licorice, and raspberry
Received 95 Points by Wine Enthusiast 
An icon in Italian winemaking, Bruno Giacosa passed away in January 2018. The 2011 vintage was his last that will make this vintage very collectible.


// Wine Education

Highlands Wine Shoppe (828) 526-4080

Wine tastings and education are part of the offerings at this well stocked wine shop. Advanced Sommelier, Nick Demos, is brought in once a month for the Highlands School of Wine, an educational series to taste and learn about wine. Each class has a different theme from bubbles to food pairings to wines from different countries. Call for a class schedule and to make a reservation.


// Wine Events

Tim Lundy of Rosewood Gourmet in Highlands often holds food and wine tastings at The Vineyard at High Holly in Scaly Mountain. There are two coming up in September and October as well as a special wine pairing dinner at a private home in November. Call for more information at (828) 526-0383.

Old Edwards Inn and Spa in Highlands hosts celebrity chef dinners including wine pairings. Go to halfmilefarm.com/chefdinners for the winter schedule

Highlands Food & Wine Festival is a four-day event featuring food and music of course, but also wine tastings, winemaker sponsored dinners, and education. Check out the website for tickets and the schedule of events at highlandsfoodandwine.com


// NC Wine Trail
Wineries and Vineyards in the Mountains
Burntshirt Vineyards - Hendersonville, NC
(828) 685-2402, burntshirtvineyards.com

Growing only estate-grown fruit from rosé to chardonnay to merlot to riesling, Burntshirt has several medal winners to share with tasters. Daily tours start at 2 pm and wine tastings are available all day. A bistro for a sit-down lunch is on premise as well as a food truck to provide sustenance while tasting. Live music rounds out the experience on the weekends.

Calaboose Cellars - Andrews, NC 
(828) 321-2006, calaboosecellars.com

Noted as “the smallest winery in America” and the furthest west located in NC, Jailhouse Winery, a.k.a. Calaboose, is a tiny 300-square-foot winery with award-winning wines. It’s history as an old jail makes the visit all the more interesting. Their vineyards are located elsewhere in the mountains of Cherokee County, but the wines and beers can be tasted Monday through Saturday. Varietals include Chambourcin and Seyval Blanc. 

Biltmore Estate - Asheville, NC
(828) 225-1333, biltmore.com

The most popular wine tasting destination in Western NC due to its fame and Disney-like draw, the Biltmore Estate offers a behind-the-scene tour and various wine experiences. Relax at their wine bar tasting all of their many vintages of reds, whites and roses while snacking cheese and charcuterie. Make sure to taste their award-winning pinot grigio. Consult the website for more general information, hours and about booking a private event.

Addison Farms Vineyard - Leicester, NC
(828) 581-9463, addisonfarms.net

Located seventeen miles northwest of Asheville, Addison Farms is a family-owned-and-operated vineyard and winery sitting on 55 acres that has been passed down through four generations. The Addison family grows six varietals including Cabernet Sauvignon, Cab Franc, Sangiovese, Montepulciano, Petit Verdot and Petite Manseng. Several of their wines have medaled. Receive a personal tour from winemaker, Jeff Frisbee, and enjoy a flight afterwards in their tasting room. Open year-round. See website for days and hours of operation.