Mountain Food Traditions, Harvest Adventures Thrive in Appalachia
Top chefs and home cooks across the country are returning to traditional dishes and preparations from the past—many of them borrowed from the larders and woodstoves of Southern Appalachia. Flavors that were preserved for decades by cultural isolation are now trending and popping up on menus and dinner tables: apple stack cakes and warm biscuits, chow-chow and pickled okra, fresh-caught trout and free-range chicken. As summer winds down into fall, growers and artisans in the Asheville area are ramping up for the harvest season where heirloom ingredients and handcrafted flavors take center stage.
Early settlers in the Blue Ridge Mountains turned to farming, fishing, and foraging to survive, and that agricultural heritage has remained in the area, enriched by the innovative craft of newcomer chefs and next-generation growers. During the harvest season, visitors to the Asheville area can experience the local flavor for themselves—on the table in creative local restaurants, in the fields at area family farms and fresh from the forest on unique foraging adventures. Travel ideas, Appalachian-inspired recipes and a calendar of events are available at http://www.ExploreAsheville.com/Appalachia.
Six Harvest Adventures: Taste Your Way through the Season
- 1. An Apple a Day: Take part in apple picking season at dozens of Western North Carolina u-pick farms, including the Orchard at Altapass, which also features bluegrass music, hayrides, and authentic mountain culture. Take home a basket of apples to make this traditional Apple Stack Cake recipe.
- 2. Wild Foods for “Find” Dining: The Blue Ridge forests are teeming with wild edibles, from mushrooms to native blueberries. Visit Graveyard Fields for a sweet bite of this year’s bumper blueberry crop, or team up with Asheville forager Alan Muskat for a personal walk in the woods.
- 3. Artisanal Cheese Trail: Nine regional creameries have teamed up to showcase the flavors of local cheeses with the WNC Cheese Trail. The self-guided trail links farms and creameries where visitors can pet goats, watch cheesemaking, and taste and purchase delicious cheeses from chèvre to cheddar curds.
- 4. Fishing for Flavor: The cool, pristine streams of the Blue Ridge Mountains are alive with rainbow, brook, and brown trout. Book a guided fly fishing trip, or make a reservation at one of the many Asheville restaurants that serve locally raised Sunburst trout.
- 5. In the Market: Enjoy the plentiful harvest at one of the area’s 20 tailgate farmers markets, which feature baked goods, crafts, jams, and flowers in addition to local meats and produce. You may even run into a local chef shopping for the evening’s entrees.
- 6. Moveable Feasts: Culinary tours are a great way to sample a variety of regional foods. Check out the Eating Asheville tour for a guided outing to downtown restaurants, or embark on the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s Farm Tour in September to see family farms firsthand.
Mountain Travel Deals
- Taste of the Blue Ridge Package: two nights at a bed and breakfast, cheese tasting, horseback riding, and a picnic and hiking guide
- Wild Food Foraging Package: accommodations, guided mushroom walk, a signed mushroom hunting book, and your “catch of the day” prepared at dinner
- Get-a-Way Fly Fishing Package: accommodations plus a full day of guided fly fishing
Nestled in the Blue Ridge Mountains, Asheville is home to the highest peaks east of the Mississippi River, more than 2,000 miles of hiking trails, 250+ independent restaurants and 16 craft breweries. Recently named a top food and wine destination, the Asheville area’s food scene is supported by more than 20 area tailgate markets and numerous regional growers and artisans. Find packages, travel inspiration, photos and culinary experiences at www.ExploreAsheville.com.