By JESSICA ISAACS
The Blue Ridge Wine and Food Festival will return to Blowing Rock this weekend for its 10th annual celebration of all things wine, beer and dining in North Carolina.
In addition to a long list of seminars and programs slated for the four-day festival, visitors will get a taste of life in the high country through a variety of dinner and food events, and local residents will indulge in all the things they love about mountain living.
The festival’s “TASTE!” restaurant showcase will take place Thursday evening under the Grand Tasting Tent in the Maple Street Parking Lot, offering an assortment of flavors from establishments across the area.
Participating restaurants will serve up small, plated portions of their signature dishes and most popular menu items. Along with dinner, guests can enjoy a sampling of other beverages, including North Carolina-produced beers and wines.
Admission for the restaurant showcase will be $35 in advance or $40 at the door.
Later that night and throughout the weekend, many of the area’s leading restaurants will host special events and showcase featured food and drink pairings.
Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce Events Director Billie Rogers said that local establishments are working with their favorite wineries and breweries from across the state to create the ultimate wine and dine experience for festivalgoers.
“For foodies, this is Mecca. If you love food, you want to go to a really good restaurant, get some fantastic food, have a nice drink and listen to some music,” Rogers said. “At these brew dinners and wine dinners, you get to learn about the beverage you’re drinking from the person who made it.
“These are all local breweries, too, so they’ll tell you how they made this beer taste so much better than other beers you could get. You’ll get that whole farm-to-table thing and you’ll know you’re doing something to support the economy in your immediate area.”
To purchase tickets for the restaurant showcase or other events and avoid the online service charge, call the Blowing Rock Chamber of Commerce at 828-295-7851.
ROWLAND’S AT WESTGLOW AND JONES VON DREHLE
Rowland’s Restaurant at Westglow Resort and Spa will host a “North Carolina-centric” dinner with Jones von Drehle winery at 6:30 p.m. on Thursday. Participating guests will choose a three-course meal for $75 or a four-course meal for $100 (plus tax and 20 percent gratuity).
The menu will include sweet potato bisque, spring vegetable salad, crab stuffed mushrooms and roasted potatoes, rabbit hushpuppies, crispy pork belly, shrimp and grits, seared pork chops, pan-fried North Carolina trout, tomato pie and more.
Dinner will focus on locally sourced products used at Rowland’s. A tasting of Jones von Drehle wines is included with dinner and paired with each course, and will available in the Blue Ridge Parlor, as well. Special prices will be available on all Jones von Drehle wines.
THE GAMEKEEPER AND FAIR GAME BEVERAGE CO.
Pittsboro-based Fair Game Beverage Company and Head Distiller Chris Jude, who has strong ties to the high country, will team up with the Gamekeeper at the launch of its new bar menu at 8 p.m. on Thursday. Live entertainment by the Lazybirds will be featured, and Fair Game will be launching its first aged rum spirits.
“I was an App State student years ago and I worked in the Boone restaurant world, so that’s when I first found out about the Gamekeeper. I really think they’re doing some exciting, cool stuff in North Carolina food,” Jude said. “We’ve been friends for a few years and they’ve been really into the products we’re making. They’ve been supportive and waiting for us to release these two spirits, so we’re happy to work with them.”
Guests can try Fair Game’s new products, which are both made with western North Carolina ingredients — a French-style Apple Brandy and the Sorghum-based “No’lasses” rum. Jude said he grows some of the sweet sorghum that’s used to distill the “No’lasses.”
“We’re always really excited to participate in food and wine stuff (in the high country) in the restaurant world,” Jude said. “The customers are excited about North Carolina products and excited to try new things. Plus, it’s a beautiful place to get to go for a wine festival.”
THE NEW PUBLIC HOUSE AND FAIR GAME BEVERAGE CO.
The New Public House and Chef John Dean will co-host an afternoon Luau cocktail party from 3-6 p.m. with Fair Game Beverage Company. Food and drink specials will be featured.
THE GAMEKEPER AND REVELRY VINTNERS
Additionally, the Gamekeeper will host a dinner on Friday with Revelry Vintners at $75 each (plus tax and gratuity), with 6 p.m. greeting and 6:45 p.m. seating. Menu items will include Riesling and peppercress with fish, bisque and caviar; Merlot and Favas with Fazzoletti Carbonara, pheasant and Gouda; Red Cuvee and asparagus with frieze, quail eggs, almonds, radish and lemon; Cabernet Sauvignon and mushrooms with chard, lamb, carrots and potatoes; Bald Guy Brew and pears with Chevre Tarte, honey and buttermilk ice cream.
THE NEW PUBLIC HOUSE AND RAPTOR RIDGE
The New Public House will host a winemaker’s dinner on Thursday featuring winemaker Kevin Wiles and Raptor Ridge Winery. American Classic cuisine will be featured and paired with Raptor Ridge wines. Reservations are required.
An a la carte tasting menu will include pork short rib, baby Arugula salad, skillet crusted Angus beef bistro filet, almond torte and Raptor Ridge wine flights.
For start time and to reserve a space, call 828-295-3487.
RUSTIQUE AND APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN BREWERY
Blowing Rock’s newest restaurant, Rustique, will host a four-course beer dinner at 6:30 p.m. on Friday with trained chef Shayne Lewis. Dinner, $65 (plus tax and gratuity), will kick off Rustique’s opening weekend and will feature beers from Appalachian Mountain Brewery.
Rustique Wine Steward Paula Horton said the restaurant’s casual approach to contemporary American cuisine will bring an interesting new element to this year’s wine festival and to the community.
“I think that we will be known for our service and for Shayne’s culinary expertise. He trained at Le Cordon Bleu in Paris and has owned several restaurants,” Horton said. “To me, it’s that French influence. We also have a 500-bottle wine cellar, so we will make sure to find just the right balance to please your palate.”
Menu items will include house pretzels, steamed clams with crisp pork belly and gigante beans, confit of duck and house s’mores, each course paired with an AMB beer.
Call Rustique at 828-295-9474 to make reservations.
GIDEON RIDGE INN AND JONATA
The Restaurant at Gideon Ridge Inn will host a winemaker’s dinner on Friday featuring “an eclectic blend of fresh mountain ingredients” prepared by Executive Chef Hunter Womble. Dinner will be paired with wines from winemaker Michael DiGiovani and Jonata Winery. Make a reservation and get more information by calling 828-295-3644.
BREAKFAST AT FOGGY ROCK
Foggy Rock Eatery and Pub will host a pancake and/or French toast breakfast at 7:30 a.m. on Saturday. Each $5 plate will include bacon or sausage. Beverages, tax and tip are not included. Call the restaurant at 828-295-7262 for more information.
TOWN TAVERN AND APPALACHIAN MOUNTAIN BREWERY
Town Tavern will celebrate North Carolina Beer Month during the festival all afternoon on Saturday with a pig pickin’ and live entertainment. Barbecue plates will be available for $8 each, as well as beer samples from Appalachian Mountain Brewery and cookies from Appalachia Cookie Company. Bands will perform at 1 p.m. and at 4 p.m., and guests are invited to stay for 9:30 p.m. karaoke.
Visit www.towntavernbr.com for more information.
SOUTHERN COMFORT PANCAKE SPECIAL
Southern Comfort will offer Granny’s Pancake Breakfast Special from 7 a.m. to 2:30 p.m. on Sunday. Each $6.89 breakfast includes two eggs, grits or hash browns and livermush, bacon or sausage.
Establishments participating in the TASTE! Restaurant Showcase will include:
- Best Cellar, Roots, Table at Crestwood
- Timberlake’s Restaurant at Chetola Resort
- Six Pence Pub
- Town Tavern
- Bistro Roca
- New Public House
- Restaurant at Gideon Ridge Inn
- Trout and Barrel
- Stick Boy Bread Company
- The Gamekeeper Restaurant and Bar
- Chestnut Grille at Green Park Inn,
- CR Catering
- Ugga Mugga Bakery
- Grandfather Vineyards
- Blowing Rock Ale House
- Defiant Whisky
- Covington Vodka
- Blind Squirrel Brewery
- Southern Grace Distillery