The ramp is an early spring vegetable, and one you might never had heard about. A perennial wild onion with a strong garlic-like odor , it has a pronounced onion flavor. It’s horticultural title is Allium tricoccum and a.k.a. spring onion, wild leek, wood leek, and wild garlic. It grows wild in the Appalachian forest beds, and the North Georgia Mountains is about as far south as you’ll find them. Quebec is the northernmost vicinity where these delicacies can be found roaming the Canadian countryside.
Ramps were first introduced to Britain in 1770 and to Appalachia in the 19th century. Their high vitamin content and blood-cleansing properties meant that the ramps were highly prized by the American Indians for their nutritional value. Native American tribes such as the Iroquois and Cherokee have traditionally used ramps to treat cold symptoms . Because they were one of the first greens to appear in spring, ramps were considered an important “tonic” by providing vitamins and minerals that had not been available during the winter. Both the Ojibwa and Menominee dried and stored parts of the ramp to be used in the winter months. The Chippewa decocted the root to induce vomiting, while the Cherokee consumed the ramp to treat colds and made a juice from the plant to treat earaches.
Modern Day Uses
Two centuries later this amazing spring vegetable has emerged in the nouveau culinary scene with even more gusto than pungency. Yet, there’s the distinct possibility you’ve gotten to this stage of your life never even having heard of a “ramp”.
Their harvest season is short — just a few weeks from late April to early June. You won’t find ramps at the grocery store. Though growing ramps from seed are possible, it can take five to seven years until harvest time, too long to tie up land by commercial farmers. That’s not to say that you can’t find it to harvest yourself. Put on your hiking boots in search of this green leafed perennial and head out into almost any forested area up here in our spring green mountains.
A Foraging Adventure
Ramps are easily recognized by their 1 or 2 broad leaves measuring 1 to 2 1/2 inches wide and 4 to 12 inches long. Because deer avoid eating ramps you will find these plants in large clusters, with the surrounding area already chewed down. Ramps like shade and being covered up with leaves, but they don’t like pine, for some reason, so you won’t find them at the base of pine scrub. The plants favor sandy, moist soils and are often found near streams, though you might also find them carpeting the forest floor where poplar and maple trees are found.
Eve Fox writes in her blog The Garden of Eating, “Ramps are such beautiful plants. I think they look just like a cross between a Lily of the Valley and an onion. Strong but slender with green leaves and a beautiful purple stem, they have a “seam” that runs partway up the leaves.” If you see such a plant and you are still not sure, pull a leaf and tear it. Take a sniff. Debating if it is onion or garlic? You most likely have found a ramp.
If your hike has produced a bounty of ramps, you might just be wondering how to best prepare them. Historically, the Cherokee boiled or fried the young plants, while the Iroquois consumed them seasoned with salt and pepper. The ramp’s bulb and its leaves are consumed when the plant is still young. The ramp is similar in taste to the spring onion, but with an aromatic pungency closer to garlic. Here in these Appalachian hills, they are commonly consumed by frying them in butter or animal fat, though they are also consumed raw in salads. They can be pickled and are delicious just beer-battered and fried, similar to an onion ring. They are frequently consumed with potatoes or scrambled eggs and used in soups and other savory dishes.
Here are three easy recipes that we think you might enjoy, using your foraged plants.
Ramp and Apple Quesadilla
8 six inch flour tortillas 2 Granny Smith apples – thinly sliced 1 ½ cups of sharp cheddar cheese, finely grated 1 cup of chopped ramps 2 tablespoons of olive oil 2 tablespoons of butter – room temperature
Butter one side of each tortilla and set aside. Heat olive oil in pan. Sauté the ramps until they are tender, even caramelized. Place 4 tortillas butter side down on a cold grill pan. Next spread ¼ of the apple slices on each one. Top each with ¼ of the ramps. Cover each with ¼ of cheese, then place a tortilla, butter side up over each. Turn the heat on to medium and cook till side one is nicely toasted and then flip and do the same to other side. Cut in four to serve as a lunch portion and cut into eight pieces to serve as an appetizer.
Black Bean and Ham Ramp Chili
1 cup shredded carrots ½ cup of chopped celery 1 large sweet onion chopped 1 cup of ramps chopped ¼ cup of olive oil 1 ½ lbs of ham, chopped 3 cans of black beans 2 can of diced tomatoes with peppers 1 packet of McCormick original Chili mix Sour cream for serving
Heat olive oil in large saucepan. Add ramps, carrots and celery and sauté until tender, stirring often. Add chopped ham and sauté till ham is heated through. Add beans, tomatoes and chili powder and stir all together, well. Simmer for 30 mins. Serve with a healthy size dab of sour cream (not low fat) in each bowl.
1 lb of fresh asparagus, washed, trimmed and cut into two inch pieces ½ cups of ramps, finely chopped 1 lb of fresh snap peas ¼ cup of dried cranberries ¼ cup of chopped walnuts 1 bag of fresh spinach and baby kale mix ¼ cup of your favorite vinaigrette
Steam the asparagus and snap peas. Run cold water over them to cool them before tossing in your salad. Add them to all your other ingredients, salt and pepper to taste. Toss well with the dressing. Serve immediately.
In Blue Ridge there are amazingly diverse, reasonably priced, restaurants designed with families in mind. It’s not all just chicken fingers, tater tots, and buffet lines. Dining out with children, especially if you’re on a budget, is tough. But if you approach things differently, and look at it more as a family outing, you will be much more satisfied, and to be honest, so will the kids.
You might be surprised by the variety. You might also be surprised at the way in which many restaurants have managed to cater to families’ needs, including recognizing that, with all there is to do in Blue Ridge, dining out is an important part. So, in addition to providing good food at a good price, their approach is more – “ya’ll take your time, enjoy your meal and plan your day”; or “don’t worry about a thing, we can move things along quickly to get you out there enjoying your day”.
In the end, it all comes down preferences and choices, and Blue Ridge has many choices to choose from. Sample traditional Southern cuisine, classic barbecue, or everyone’s favorite – pizza! The following is a list of tried & true places to go that your kids (and Mom) will like, but that won’t break the bank.
What’s in a name? Well, quite a lot actually, when you can simply say what you are. Southern Charm is Southern and it is charming! But it’s location, in the heart of Blue Ridge, makes this a great starting spot that will appeal to all members of the family.
This is traditional family style dining, featuring Southern cooking in a casual setting. Biscuits and apple butter? Yup. Fried chicken? Of course. Collards? Need you ask? Expect to be called “honey” or “darlin” by the attentive staff. Reasonably priced and worth every penny!
How can you be so bold as to pronounce, in large block letters, on the front and side of your building, on your website, and in your advertising that you have the “Best Burgers in Town”? Well, it seems when you have testimonial confirmations online, in local “best-ofs” and random people-on-the-street recommendations for where to go for a great burger, and it all comes back to “Sue’s Best Burgers in Town”. Sue’s is most loved for their crispy, crinkly fries and fabulous desserts.
Affordable? Yes. Fast food burger prices? Sue’s Burgers is the oldest restaurant in town, family owned and operated since 1976, and will settle for nothing less than the best in food quality, service, and friendliness!
The Trailer Drive-In
When was the last time you ate at a place that accepted cash-only? Now that is indeed old school. And this throwback Trailer Drive-In diner is old school. It’s actually exactly what you expect – delicious food, large portions, outdoor picnic table seating, monstrous breakfast biscuits, a chicken sandwich that can’t be beat, and ridiculously good sweet tea! This is one of those under-the-radar kind of places, but your kids will love it! They can be sloppy outside, if you decide to dine outside, and it’s decidedly dog-friendly.
Mystic Mountain Pizza
No list of family-oriented, affordable restaurants would be complete without the obligatory entry from the pizza category. In this case, Mystic Mountain is not your ordinary pizza joint. It comes with extra sauce – live music! Plus it’s Blue Ridge’s “grooviest pizza parlor”. But seriously, folks, Mystic Mountain is family-friendly, relaxed, trendy, and colorful. Oh, and by the way, they also have great pizza, cooked in oak-fired brick ovens, unique hot dogs (like a Deep South Texas Dog), and crazy tasty wings, plus sandwiches and salads. It’s a great place for a family to be laid back. Like totally, man.
Mike’s Trackside BBQ
You knew we’d get there. You just knew it! After all, who doesn’t like barbecue? You are in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Georgia!! And you deserve some great barbecue. Which is why we are recommending Mike’s Trackside BBQ. Mike’s is another one of those tiny places with a big heart for food and great service. Although barbecue is in the name, you might want to be adventurous and try their extraordinary, fall-off-the-bone ribs or the chunked smoked chicken.
Mike’s is located exactly where it says it is – trackside. That doesn’t mean you can bet on the ponies from there. It means you’ll hear that lonely train whistle loud and clear, and you might even be inspired to load the family onto the Blue Ridge Scenic Railway after lunch for a ride that will be long-remembered.
This is an American-styled restaurant that’s rustic and homey, and it’s Southern enough to have great grits. We recommend you trying the delicious, locally-caught, and freshly-prepared trout, but any of their classic choices like chicken parmesan or pecan chicken salad will delight your palate. At Pete’s Place the prices are reasonable, the service is great, and not only do they welcome your children, but they also welcome your furbabies to dine on the patio!
Rum Cake Lady Cuban Café
And now for something completely different. Okay, calm the kids. We’re gonna get a little crazy here. We’re moving off into something far, far away from hot dogs and brown beans. But we will survive, and maybe even thrive. Besides, the name of this restaurant has “cake” in it so that, kids, is a good thing, because, very likely, there is dessert at the end of this meal!
Indeed, the Blue Ridge rum cakes are amazingly delicious. But so are the sandwiches, plantain chips, and the Cuban food bowls. This is called adventure. Striking off into the wild Cuban yonder to discover new foods. Try it. You’ll like it!
March is when things start to come alive in North Georgia. After a winter that’s been warmer than normal, then colder than normal, then wetter than normal, and finally, just … normal! Now we have buds and early flowers, parades and green beer, and of course the wineries and brewpubs are waking up with tastings and special events. What a great time of year! Let us help you plan your next getaway. Check out the events below and come stay with us this month!
If you love eating and music then you will love the laid back vibes of Misty Mountain Hops. Good food and sweet tunes make this Vinyl Pub a must!
March 3 – Open Mic Night Hosted By Danny Rhea March 6 – The Orange Walls (duo) March 7 – Paul Constantine March 13 – Quinn Leach March 14 – Gopher Broke March 20 – Travis Bowlin March 21 – Danny Rhea March 27 – Dave Dale March 28 – Rivertown Road
Forgive the name, but enjoy the play! This is one of those plays where the setting could be anywhere, like “Our Town”, but when you localize it (in this case, Helen, Georgia), it makes it all the more fun for those who know the places and the sometimes obscure references. For those who are not familiar with North Georgia’s little slice of Bavaria, just sit back and relax, you’ll get it soon enough!
Starting from a historic rail station in downtown Blue Ridge, this classic ride of 26 miles, or about four hours, winds its way along the scenic Toccoa River, through small towns and along pastoral and dramatic topography. You have your choice of vintage, climate controlled or open-air cars, and there’s even time built in for lunch and shopping for unique gifts.
Pizza, beer, tunes. It’s a perfect combination for relaxing, refreshing, rejuvenating. And it’s simply fun. The atmosphere in Mystic Mountain allows you to dine and delight with food, beverages, and live music! Every member of the family will enjoy this, and they serve soft drinks too!
March 6 – Gopher Broke March 24 – The Foothill Brothers
You don’t have to be crafty to make crafts, especially when you have the care and guidance of accomplished artists. In this case, you’ll have a chance to make three macramé bracelets, and you choose your own focal pieces. Then take it easy, maintain attention to detail, get into a rhythm, and complete your piece at your own pace. It’s fun, and rewarding.
Great beer (18 beers on tap), a fun atmosphere and a stellar philosophy (delicious beer, dog-friendly, people tolerated). Plenty of craft beers, including those brewed in the brewery, and lots of live music. It’s one of those places that locals like!
March 6 – Travis Bowlin March 13 – Captain John March 14 – Steve Baskin March 20 – Hunter Lyons March 27 – Trailer Hippies
The Blue Coyote is known for their live music and entertainment. While you’re there you can enjoy their tasty bar food and a whole bunch of beer! They even have a dog-friendly patio! Stop by, check it out, and enjoy the music!
March 6 – Bad Ju Ju and the Ems March 7 – Adrian Stover March 13 – Natti Lovejoys March 14 – Gregg Erwin March 20 – Topper March 21 – Mind the Stepchildren March 27 – Donnie Hammonds March 28 – Breaking Point
It’s hard to beat a relaxed setting for live music and Bin 322 Tasting room and Tapas Bar has managed to accomplish that with comfy, family style furniture in a restaurant so you don’t have to cook or even walk to the fridge. Relax. Take your shoes off. Well…at least relax!
March 7 – Chip McCain March 14 – Robbie Litt March 20 – Loose Shoes Duo
This should be obvious – cork=wine; canvas=art. Put the two together and you have the perfect combination for some fun and fundraising. Wine, a silent auction, a count-the-corks raffle, live music and tasty delectables all contribute to a fine event each year.
It’s not like there’s any shortage of kudzu. So, what do you do with it? Well, it’s rumored that goats eat it, but what fun is that? Much better to get all crafty and artistic with it. Weave it, along with some nice green ribbon, into a kudzu vine shamrock! A perfect gift for your favorite leprechaun.
A beautiful vineyard and winery set in pastoral farmlands in the heart of the Southern Appalachians. Cartacay’s wine history dates to 2007, but it’s heritage is comprised of Cherokee roots (in fact, Cartecay translates to “bread valley”). The winery features plenty of locally sourced wines, tastings and special events, plus live music on most weekends.
March 7 – Craig Hendricks March 8 – Camille Rae March 14 – Gregg Erwin March 15 – Cagle Pitts Duo Review March 21 – April Cummings March 22 – Thomas Hinds March 28 – Adrian Stover March 29 – Travis Bowlin
This is a day when you’re encouraged to act a little nuts! Dress up in green, maybe even dress your dog up in green. Starting at about 11 am, put on funny hats, pants and shoes, maybe some green sunglasses, and join in a parade down Main Street in Blue Ridge with a couple hundred of your new best friends. Then stay in costume if you like, do a little shopping, eat some cabbage, and maybe drink a bit of green beer. It’s a party, ya’ll!
There are discernable differences in how different towns celebrate St. Patrick’s Day in these parts. For Ellijay, it includes all the usual green stuff. Dress in green, eat green muffins, drink green beer, but add to that, green pets. A pet parade is a big part of Ellijay’s St. Patrick’s Day Parade. So, get your dog, or cat, or turtle ready to have fun!
Forget Green Eggs and Ham! Despite the urgings of “Sam I Am, this unique event is a chance to eat green stuff that tastes GREAT! It’s mostly for kids, but, as always, adults get drawn into the fun, and before you know it, you’ll find yourself combining colors to make various shades of green cakes, cookies and frostings. And it’s highly likely you’ll be eating more than you take home!
Here’s a simple concept: 1. Love wine 2. Get passport for wine tastings 3. Taste wine all over North Georgia during an entire week! Several of the participating wineries are located central to Blue Ridge, Ellijay, and Blairsville, so you don’t have to go far. But if you decide to venture further, you can use the Blue Ridge Region as home base for hub-and-spoke forays into WineLand. It’s a fun and fruitful way to explore new wineries, enjoy different wine venues, music, entertainment and tasting varieties. One piece of advice: don’t overdo it in a single day. After all, you’ve got all week. Take your time; sip and enjoy!
Here’s a chance to enjoy wine and do something truly good for the local community. Purchase a piece of local pottery and a contribution will be made to the Fannin area food banks. You also get to sample local soups (use your new bowl!), breads and desserts from local restaurants.
If all those sound like kitchen and living room amenities, you probably missed the 1950’s and 60’s the first time around. You’re young. Be happy. But if you remember the Drifters, Coasters and Platters, or you found them among the nostalgic music on YouTube, dig out your dancing shoes and come join the fun!
Randall Blamblett is quite simply a wonder. He’s like a musical encyclopedia (remember those?) of the last thirty years, having played with, and written music for, the likes of Bonnie Raitt, The Allman Brothers, The band, Widespread Panic, and he and his band effortlessly cover iconic bands like Hot Tuna, Delbert and dozens of recognizable others. As part of the Live Music is Better series, all attention is on Bramblett – his skills, diversity and variety.
NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM
This 4-bedroom, 3-bath cabin is the epitome of beauty and class! Aska Easy Day features incredible views of both the Blue Ridge mountains and Lake Blue Ridge, once you check in, you’ll never want to leave! The best part about this gorgeous cabin is that you can bring your 4-legged family members with you on your escape!
Perched on a mountaintop more than 3,000 feet above the trees with dramatic, sweeping long-range mountain vistas in the distance, The Owl’s Perch is like a magnificent picture postcard come to life. Located northeast of Lake Blue Ridge on a large lot in Morganton that borders unspoiled U.S. Forest Service land, it’s a calm oasis far removed from stressful city life, but just a short drive away from the shops and dining of downtown Blue Ridge.
Spring Break is just around the corner and now is a great time to start planning your end-of-winter getaway. Afterall, we only get 18 school years with our kids, so we should make each and every school vacation count! Because if we’re being truthful, you are dying for a reason to escape from the stresses of work and Spring Break is the perfect guilt-free excuse for a fun family trip! KEEP READING.
I’m often referred to as the “ Santa Claus for Lovers”. I have a little bit of a problem with that. See, the big guy gets to wear a full suit, hat, gloves, boots, and the whole bit on December 25th. I get to fly around, shooting arrows to connect the hearts of couples, which isn’t a bad gig if I didn’t have to perform it wearing barely a loincloth, my chubby body exposed to the elements, in the second week of February.
This is one of the reasons I’m going to encourage you to cuddle up around the fire in your cabin on Valentine’s weekend. Yes, the big day falls on a Friday this year, so you and the person you love most in this world get to spend the whole weekend together. And if you’ve chosen to be here in one of the comfy, cozy and romantic cabins in Blue Ridge, you’ve already set the tone for a weekend to remember. So, get the checklist ready.
Plenty of firewood. Check.
Now we need something intoxicating. That could be wine. Out Of The Blue has you covered. They have an extraordinary selection of the finest wines, beers, and artisan cheeses from around the world. Chocolates are also intoxicating. Try the delectable hand-dipped chocolates at Chocolate Express. They are sure to win any heart.
Let’s face it. You aren’t the only romantic out there. It’s a busy weekend and though spontaneity is great in the boudoir, some of the other activities just might need reservations. I’m going to suggest you make arrangements with a private chef to have that quixotic feast for two, right there at your cabin. Chef Trey Griffith or Chef Jeff Servin can serve up a luscious feast, but they need fair warning. There are also very intimate dining experiences even in public eateries. The porch at The Black Sheep, with it’s towering flame heaters, is a place I’ve noticed lovers getting very starry-eyed over a plate of cold water select oysters.
It has been my experience (my parents are Mars and Venus, so I’ve been around the block a few times) that occasionally destressing from the cacophony of everyday life needs an assist. A Salt Cave Couples Massage at Serenity In the Mountains is an experience neither of you will soon forget. And it might just be your favorite activity away from home, ever. There’s also an opportunity to engage in public intoxication without being unlawful. Imagine indulging in wine with chocolates that have been paired by the connoisseurs at The Vine Wine Bar on Main St. in Blue Ridge. This only happens on Friday evenings, so call for your reservations quickly.
Destressing mode. Check
Now. Maybe you’ve been together a very long time, like most of your adult life, and there needs to be more than a spark added to your relationship. You need an eight-cylinder rev to throw complacency out of neutral and into drive. That usually means you need to find a way to depend on one another again. Be a team. Find a new challenge. Like maybe drive a military tank together.
And, why just drive a tank when you can crush a car with one? Get your heart pumping with 25+ minutes of driving excitement which starts with Tank Town USA’s exciting tank driving course and finishes with smashing a car. Yes, they have a couple’s package. And if that’s a little over the top, you could be locked in a room together for one hour, with only clues as to how to escape. Sound like fun? Make your reservation with Escape Blue Ridge and see if the two of you can figure out how to outfox your captures.
Team challenge mode. Check
If the two of you love these mountains, almost as much as you love each other, why not merge the two and enlist a professional photographer to help? The professional shutterbugs at ZoLu Photography know these landscapes well. They will take you to beautiful places to capture your love in natural light, to be viewed for many years to come.
Photo memories. Check
Before I mention the Hot Tub stuff, let’s be sure to talk about the one big event that takes these mountains by storm every February, that happens to fall on Valentine’s Weekend this year! It’s the 10th Annual Fire & Ice Chili Cook-Off being held Saturday, February 15 from 11:00 am – 5:00 pm, in downtown Blue Ridge. The cook-off will happen come rain, snow or shine. You’ll enjoy live music, ice sculptures and amazing chili. You can purchase a $10 Tasting Card to sample the competition and vote for the People™s Choice Award. There will also be live entertainment from the Blue Ridge Community Theater actors. You’ll love strolling through an amazing display of individual and unique ice sculptures from the award-winning, National Ice Carving Champion Rock on Ice including several ice carving demonstrations.
Fire and Ice Festival. Check.
Now let’s talk about the hot tub. Well…..
No, I think you already know enough about the hot tub.
After all, we only get 18 school years with our kids, so we should make each and every school vacation count! Because if we’re being truthful, you are dying for a reason to escape from the stresses of work and Spring Break is the perfect guilt-free excuse for a fun family trip!
The Blue Ridge region is a
mountain playground full of fantastic opportunities to enjoy the outdoors,
including hundreds of miles of trails for hiking, as well as waterways for
paddling, fishing, and boating. So go ahead, take that much-needed vacation,
get recharged, and finish the school year strong. Here are a few of our ideas
for a perfect family-friendly Spring Break experience.
Play: Breathe in that fresh mountain air and take in all the views from your own electric bike. That’s right! You don’t have to worry about any family members getting too tired when you have an electric bike to help out and keep you moving when you run out of energy. Adventure out on your own or take one of their four guided tours provided by Pedego Electric Bikes in Blue Ridge. Choose a tour through the Chattahoochee National Forest and visit Fall Branch Falls, experience the Tennessee National Forest around the Ocoee whitewater Trails, adventure around the Toccoa River and Shallowford Bridge, or just cruise around downtown Blue Ridge!
Eat: Mystic Mountain Pizza is a family owned and family friendly pizza restaurant has fantastic food and an inviting atmosphere often featuring live music. They have a passion for crafting fresh salads, all-beef gourmet hot dogs, wings, desserts, and specialty pizzas in their oak-fired brick ovens. You’ll be happy, stuffed, and a part of the Mystic Mountain Pizza family before you finish your first slice of pie. Now that’s amore!
Sleep: Perched on a mountaintop more than 3,000 feet above the trees with dramatic, sweeping long-range mountain vistas in the distance, The Owl’s Perch is like a magnificent picture postcard come to life. Located northeast of Lake Blue Ridge on a large lot in Morganton that borders unspoiled U.S. Forest Service land, it’s a calm oasis far removed from stressful city life, but just a short drive away from the shops and dining of downtown Blue Ridge. The western-facing view from the cabin offers you magical sunrises, revealing the mountains as the fog lifts across the lake, and spectacular sunsets that will take your breath away.
There are two spacious, comfortable living areas: the main floor has French doors and huge windows to bring the outside in, and the lower level space doubles as a game room, outfitted with foosball and ping pong tables, puzzles, board games, TV with DVDs, and a PlayStation with games. The main floor kitchen features wood cabinets, new stainless appliances, granite countertops, drip and Keurig coffeemakers, a blender, crockpot and all the dishes, pots and pans, utensils and implements you need to prepare, cook and serve. Plastic dishes are available for children and outdoor use. The dining table has room for ten, plus two at the breakfast bar. There’s a selection of toys, blocks, games, a pack n’ play, and movies for younger kids. The road to the cabin is paved, leading to a roomy gravel driveway. You’re welcome to bring up to two dogs with you as you relax, recharge, and enjoy a memorable stay at this cabin above the clouds.
Play: The iconic Blue Ridge Scenic Railway is a must do when in town. Enjoy the scenery aboard an eleven-car train as your ramble down the tracks through the Chattahoochee National Forest and the Toccoa watershed. Enjoy a relaxing 26-mile round trip journey beginning and ending in downtown Blue Ridge with a stop in the newly revitalized twin cities of McCaysville, Ga & Copperhill, TN.
Eat: Made famous for their four flavors of incredible rum cakes, the Rum Cake Lady Cuban Food Cafe offers two locations to serve you. The downtown Blue Ridge Café is similar to a Cuban walk-up window, or “La Ventanita”. They offer fresh, authentic Cuban sandwiches, tamales, empanadas, plantains, rice, and beans. Their Copperhill location includes indoor seating, dinner hours, the same great menu plus a Cuban grocery. Both locations boast the best Cuban coffee in the mountains, but their dessert is what made them who they are so how can you not take home a rum cake or 3? We must admit, their guava and cheese pastelitos are pretty incredible and we would be hard pressed to pass on their tasty caramel flan or Tres Leches cake!
Sleep:Blue Mist Heaven is a luxurious mountaintop cabin with spectacular 180° views that can be yours for a very special vacation getaway. This tri-level showplace is decked out with designer touches and upscale features. Ideal for large families or a group of friends, this spacious cabin sleeps 12 in its four bedrooms and library/loft, with king beds in the upstairs master, main floor and downstairs bedrooms, twin bunk beds and twin over double size beds in the second downstairs bedroom that kids will love. There’s also a full size crib and Pack ‘n Play in the closet.
Outside, three sets of stairs lead down to a large, level
backyard with a lighted covered Gazebo, four bench swings and a rock fire
pit. The backyard has a giant playground
set for the kids with slides, swings and playhouse. Also, there is an
additional large deck with a picnic tables, swings and chairs to lounge in
while you take in the view and watch the kids at play. Blue Mist Heaven’s other
amenities include high-speed wireless Internet, a movie room with recliners,
giant 82” TV, two-person cocktail game table with 412 games installed and a wet
Heart Pumping Fun
Play: Bring a little excitement into your family’s life when you try zipping through the Blue Ridge Mountains at Zipline Canopy Tours of Blue Ridge. Here you’ll get to see the mountains from the treetops with over 6,000 feet of cable, it includes 13 zips ranging from 250 feet to 1000 feet and 3 sky bridges to cross. Your whole family will giggle with delight as you zip into the valley and soar over pastures before landing on the banks of Fighting Town Creek!
Eat: Nourish your body with the most delicious tasting BBQ in the mountains at Carroll’s BBQ. This family owned restaurant doesn’t skimp on their portions and if you leave hungry, it’s your own fault! Offering classic pulled pork options, we highly recommend you try their fall-off-the-bone ribs or brisket. A kid’s menu is available, but whatever you do, save room for dessert because you really NEED to try their banana pudding. It’s so good it’ll make your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows right off your head!
Sleep: If you are imagining a scenic mountain getaway that the whole family will enjoy when searching for your North Georgia cabin rental, look no further than EddieBear! This inviting cabin was named for the owners’ constant canine companion Eddie, who loved being in the mountains. The cabin even has a fenced-in yard so everyone, including your best buddy, can safely play in the beautiful outdoors. Perched on a wooded hillside with sweeping mountain views, the cabin has a traditional log cabin exterior and warm pine interior that beckons you to step in and start relaxing. A striking wood-burning fireplace made with large river stones will keep you warm as you stretch out on the leather sofa or reclining armchair and watch the game or read by the light of the distinctive wine barrel chandelier.
Step down to the lower level into the game room and engage in
some friendly competition at the dart board or billiards table that converts to
a ping-pong table, a poker table and even a roulette table! There is a flat
screen TV and an adjacent kids room with a chalkboard wall, games, small
rocking chairs, and a pullout sofa. As you venture outside onto the lower deck,
sink into the steamy waters of the hot tub, recline in the wooden lounge
chairs, or have a snack at the wooden table that seats four. Directly off the
deck is the fenced-in yard where you can play or gather around the fire pit and
roast marshmallows for S’mores you can eat at the nearby picnic table.
Play: On the outskirts of downtown Blue Ridge in the Aska Adventure Area, you will find the uber kid friendly Lilly Pad Village. Here you can mine for large and colorful gemstones. Your kids will especially love “gemstone magic” where a large gemstone or two magically appear out of nowhere in their trays! Here you can also play a round of mountainside mini golf. If you think regular putt putt is challenging, just give this nine-hole course a try! Bonus: Children under 7 play free! The fun is not over yet at Lilly Pad Village. Pick up a pole and some live bait and throw a line or two in their cute little catch & release fishing pond.
Eat: There is no shortage of tasty items at Mercier Orchards in Blue Ridge. The main location features a bakery boasting several varieties of fried pies, as well as apple cider donuts, and a large variety of bread, cookies and many other delectable baked goods. The Market Café (open 7am-6pm daily) serves a delicious breakfast each day till 11 am. Lunchtime is just as scrumptious with a wide variety of sandwiches including their specialty pecan chicken salad which we highly recommend you trying it in a stuffed tomato with pimento cheese!
Sleep: If you’re looking for the perfect place to bring your whole family on your next vacation, look no further than Toccoa Playground, a Blue Ridge, GA cabin rental that promises you and your children a fun-filled getaway. True to its name, this spacious cabin in the woods near the Toccoa River, considered to be some of the best fly fishing in the Southeast, is a playground for both adults and kids, with plenty of child-friendly features and amenities.
Large family? No problem: the cabin sleeps ten, and has two
sets of twin bunk beds in the downstairs bedroom and twin beds and a toddler
bed in the upstairs loft, perfect for your young ones. The loft’s play area
includes a puppet theater, play kitchen, a 32” flat screen with Blu-ray, and toys
to delight kids of all ages, and the swings, slide, and playhouse on the
railing-protected deck will provide hours of fun. A crib, bassinet, baby swing, carrier,
portable child seat and high chair are available, and there are safety gates on
Play:Project Chimps provides lifelong care to former research chimpanzees at its 236-acre forested sanctuary in the Blue Ridge Mountains. The sanctuary is not regularly open to the public, but they do offer periodic tours and events including their Chimp Rock and Discovery Days. You may even consider making your trip a Volunteer Vacation where you have the opportunity to give back, see chimpanzees up close, meet other animal enthusiasts, and enjoy the mountains!
Eat: It’s hard to pass up a good burger joint, but when the locals know it as “the best hamburger in town” you just have to stop in and try one! Sue’s Burgers is the oldest restaurants in town, so they’ve had some time to perfect their craft and perfect they did! If you like your burgers big and juicy, then you are going to be a happy camper here. For the hungry one in your group, Sue features a double or triple stacked bacon cheeseburger you can even add a beer battered onion ring on every layer!
Sleep: Everyone has their own idea of paradise on earth, but if yours is an exquisite mountain retreat with awe-inspiring, absolutely breathtaking views, the North Georgia cabin rental Uplifting is the answer to your vacation prayers. Located on a hillside in Mineral Bluff, 13 miles from the shops and restaurants of downtown Blue Ridge, this stunning showplace is your own private resort in a glorious sylvan setting. Handsomely constructed with natural log beams, natural pine walls, custom hardwood and cobblestone tile floors, the cabin is professionally decorated in an elegantly rustic style with upscale furniture. The adjacent kitchen offers everything you need to prepare meals for your family and friends.
When it’s time to turn in, you’ll sleep well in your choice of three professionally decorated bedrooms, each with its own bathroom. The upstairs master has a king bed, vaulted ceiling, 36” TV, and a sliding barn door that opens to reveal the amazing mountain view through the windows of the living room below. The main level master also has a king bed, a 31” TV, and, like the other master, an en suite bath with walk-in shower and double sinks. The third bedroom has a queen bed and a 39” TV, and its adjacent bathroom features a shower/tub combo and double sinks. A queen sofa bed in the game room and twin bunk beds behind a sliding barn door—great fun for kids—bring the sleeping accommodations to ten.
If you haven’t already experienced the Blue Ridge Mountains in Georgia, you should! Our families have been visiting this area for the last 6 years. Each time we return, it becomes even more special. There is something so incredibly quaint and peaceful about the small town of Blue Ridge.
Growing up in South Florida, we do not get to experience the amazing change in seasons. If you know us sisters, we are always talking about “sweater weather” and how badly we want to see the leaves change colors.
Well, we’ve teamed up again with Escape To Blue Ridge who always help us experience incredible family trips in the Blue Ridge Mountains! As we gear up for our next trip, we are excited to share information about Escape to Blue Ridge, the company we rent the cabins from, as well as some of the best activities and spots to hit up on your journey. If you love a vacation with a small town feel and views to die for, this trip is one for you.
We also want to lend you some pointers for traveling with a ton of kids! You may deal with plenty of tantrums, tears, accidents, and fights along with the fun. But if you’re well prepared, you’ll make it out in one piece.
Escape to Blue Ridge
For the past 6 years, we have reserved our mountain family cabin with Escape to Blue Ridge. The most amazing part about this company is that they have hundreds of homes you can reserve, making it easy to choose the cabin that best suits the needs and preferences of your family.
The trip we took a couple of years ago was AMAZING! We want to share those adventures with you again, so let’s get started!
We love a cabin with mountain views and a great outdoor space that’s big enough for our three families. We could not believe our eyes when we arrived on this trip. The kids were in heaven, and the views were spectacular!
There are no words to describe this place.
The name of our cabin was Falling Waters Lodge, named after the two small waterfalls running down the front yard. Let me tell you, the house was spotless, at least in the moment we all arrived. The details and decor that went into creating this home were unlike anything we’ve ever seen. The cabin had a large open kitchen with top-of-line appliances and large windows to look out over the Blue Ridge Mountains while you cook. *NOTE: While this cabin is no longer enrolled in our rental program, we have several other cabins that are just as fabulous like Waterfall Lodge and many more!
There was also a hot tub on the downstairs patio to enjoy the few cold mountain nights. The bottom floor had a media room for movie nights with the kids and a play room with ping pong, billiards, and air hockey. There was a large open fire pit in the front next to the waterfalls where we made s’mores every night.
And even with all that, the most incredible part of this home was being able to wake up at 7am (before the kids) to enjoy a cup of coffee while watching the sunrise and seeing the most amazing fog spread across the mountain tops.
That view was worth the entire trip for us!
Things to Do in the Blue Ridge Mountains
On this particular trip, we spent 6 event filled days in Blue Ridge, Georgia. Here are some of our favorite activities from the trip and our top must do activities when visiting the Blue Ridge Mountains!
This aquarium is amazing, and the kids will love it. Take some extra time after flying into Atlanta before heading to Blue Ridge, or before you head home, check out this great aquarium.
For us, this stop is one of the most memorable stops in Blue Ridge. There is something so special about visiting an orchard. We took a hay ride with the kiddos up to the orchard fields where they let you roam around picking and eating apples. The kids had a blast, and Mason even lost a tooth biting into an apple!
After picking apples, we walked around their enormous shop trying homemade foods and buying tons of their famous maple syrup and homemade fried apple pies. The fried apple pies disappeared before we even made it back to the car!
What is fall without a pumpkin patch? This day was so much fun! Besides a few major temper tantrums, we managed to have a really great time. The ride around this property on the tractor was so much fun, and the kids had a blast. We got to see how the pumpkins grow and some of the biggest pumpkins we have ever seen! And of course, they had fun Halloween decorations to give us some good decorating ideas for home!
The parents decided that one afternoon the guys would get some alone time, and the ladies would get to do the same the next day. Our husbands went fly fishing in the Toccoa River (please see the hilarious, yet handsome, photo below), and we went hiking.
We made videos on toddler bathroom accidents and literally almost peed our pants laughing so hard!
Everyone was in full hiking gear, but we were probably the least prepared on our trail! We hiked at Springer Mountain, which is the very beginning of the Appalachian trail that leads north all the way up to Maine. There are so many great hikes and waterfalls around the Blue Ridge Mountains, even ones that are less challenging and more kid friendly.
Lily Pad Village
This spot has the cutest little fishing pond and gem mining spot that you ever did see! The kids loved spending the morning here. They sorted through their rock buckets full of soil, mining for gems and keeping some of the cool rocks and gems they found. We spent some time fishing by the pond using live bait. They also have a mini-golf course built into the side of the mountain!
Blue Ridge Scenic Railway
This trip was very cool for the kids and great for the parents, especially if you go during the fall when the leaves are changing. The scenery on the ride is beautiful. The hour-long train ride on Blue Ridge’s old train cars takes you to a quaint town in Tennessee where you can shop the general stores and enjoy some southern food.
Our kids enjoyed riding the train and sitting in the open cart! Also, close to the train station in Blue Ridge is an amazing public park for the kids. We spent a lot of time there, until one of the kids had an accident in his pants, and we had to leave!
Three Sisters Fudge & Das Kauffee Haus
All day, every day! We ate so much fudge and drank so much coffee, and I am not upset about it! These are just two of the many perfect little shops you can stop at for fudge and coffee in downtown Blue Ridge.
We are obsessed with walking around main street going in and out of all their great shops.
BBQ and S’mores
Do not miss out on BBQ and s’mores – you don’t even have to leave your cabin! Yes, going out to dinner is fun but not always with 6 kids in tow. So we cooked at the cabin most of the time, and it made things a lot easier. We ate dinner outside and built a fire for the kids to make s’mores.
Some of our best memories from this trip were made staying home at the cabin!
Once the kids were in bed by 8:30pm, the parents enjoyed alone time and even some of our own s’mores, too!
Black Sheep Restaurant
Hands down, Black Sheep is the restaurant you want to visit in Blue Ridge. We were lucky enough to have one parent’s night out during the trip and decided to head to the main street of Blue Ridge and try this raved about dinner spot. This place is an historical home converted into one of the coolest restaurants we have ever seen. In the past when we visited Blue Ridge, we heard about this place but we didn’t feel like it would be family friendly.
But on this trip, new owners had completely revamped the restaurant in the best way possible. The ambiance and atmosphere are comfortable and casual, but it still has that fine dining feel we were craving.
We were lucky to be seated outside on the patio where the guys could watch their football during the meal. They even have an old-school movie night on the front lawn, which is such a great touch for bringing families and children to the restaurant!
Our meal was amazing, and the food was top notch. Seriously, everything was delicious, but we must say the crab cakes and the lamb bolognese were our favorites. For dessert, we had the most amazing pumpkin cheesecake ever…a slice of heaven.
Tips on Traveling with Kids
Oh man…before you do anything else, read this article Katie wrote on traveling with kids.
Now, for the tips. Our first tip is simple – just don’t take the kids with you!
We were all nervous before we left, but I have to say, the kids were great. We had a few tantrums and one nasty cold that spread around fast, but we did well. The one thing that helped us immensely was preparation!
For the airport, make sure you stock snacks, iPads, movies, games, and whatever you can stuff in your bag. Entertainment and distraction are key! We had some really fun travel games that the kids LOVED playing.
The looks we got boarding a plane with 6 kids were laughable. But never say you’re sorry as a mom. We realized we were apologizing for having kids on the plane…that’s ridiculous, right? This is life. Kids fly, and we will do our very best to keep them happy, but sometimes, kids will be kids. Luckily, ours all behaved pretty well, and we didn’t get too many dirty looks.
A great tip to keep your kid busy and interested is to let them oversee their own suitcase. Each kid had their own personalized suitcase that they were responsible for. It was so cute how much they loved having matching luggage with their cousins, and they were proud to show off their bags!
We also brought nap mats which the kids used for movie nights in the media room. Sleeping bags would be fun, too!
Final Thoughts on Traveling to the Blue Ridge Mountains
All we can say is that Blue Ridge is a magical escape that takes you to a different world. It’s a great place for families or for couples.
Blue Ridge has it all!
We are so happy we discovered this amazing vacation spot, so we can create more memories over the years. All the cabins from Escape to Blue Ridge are incredible. We have stayed in a few cabins now, but if you need a 4+ bedroom home, and it is available, we highly recommend you book the cabin Falling Waters Lodge. It has that special, warm feeling of home you long for on family vacations. We most certainly will go back!
Thanks Escape to Blue Ridge for having us and letting us experience this amazing trip with our families!
As the season changes from summer to fall, make sure you don’t miss out on the crisp weather, changing leaves and fun fall festivals in the beautiful Blue Ridge Mountains of North Georgia! Fall is one of the most beautiful times of year so don’t miss your chance to create memorable traditions with your loved ones! Check out the events below and Escape To Blue Ridge!
There’s nothing better than excellent wine and food, unless it’s consuming both for a good cause. Enjoy wine pairings with a selection of salmon, chicken cordon bleu, lamb chops, or lasagna with all proceeds benefiting Habitat for Humanity of Gilmer and Fannin County. Live entertainment and a silent auction round out the event.
House concerts are an old concept made new, and they are growing in popularity. It’s a new/old way of helping to sustain music arts in a radically changing music industry landscape. For the audience it provides exceptional acoustics in an intimate environment, where you can meet neighbors and new friends, and get to know the performers personally. Najar and Soledade are accomplished jazz and acoustical guitar performers with an international following.
For those who haven’t had a chance to visit the Vietnam Memorial in Washington, DC, the traveling version provides a scaled version of the same thing, and it brings it to your hometown. In October it’s coming to Blue Ridge. The display, a 3/5 scale, stands as a reminder of the sacrifices made during the Vietnam War. The Wall travels to help heal the emotional wounds of that war, and to rekindle friendships of that era.
Visit Grumpy Old Men Brewing for great live music and delicious beer! Eighteen beers are currently on tap, and new brews are added frequently! Open Tuesday through Saturday. Dogs are welcome and people are tolerated!
October 4 – Mike Bohnam October 6 – Barktoberfest October 18 – Steve Baskin October 25 – Greg Erwin
The Blue Coyote is known for their live music and entertainment. While you’re there you can enjoy their tasty bar food and a whole bunch of beer! They even have a dog-friendly patio! Stop by, check it out, and enjoy the music!
October 4 – Natti Lovejoys October 5 – Slickfoot October 11 – Southern Vantage October 12 – Breaking Point October 18 – BEATS Workin’ October 19 – Mind the Stepchildren October 25 – Fiction October 26 – Gregg Erwin Band
Here’s your monthly opportunity to drink wine with no guilt. A yoga workout – then drink wine. Easy. The guided yoga lasts about an hour – the wine tasting and wine drinking has no set time parameters. Enjoy!
These are not marbles. Those small, round things that young boys and girls used to “shoot”, kneeling on the floor, or trading them. Remember “purees”, “cat eyes” and “steelys”? No, this festival is a celebration of indigenous rocks, quarries, and local art. Tate marble is historic and world famous and marble quarry tours will be given during the festival.
One of the best ways to enjoy fall is with others who enjoy it just as much as you do! You can do that at the John C. Campbell Fall festival, in the company of a couple hundred of your closest, new friends, and among nearly 300 art and crafts vendors from throughout the region. Traditional and contemporary crafts; bluegrass, gospel, folk, and Celtic music on both days. Tap your toes to clogging demonstrations or just listen to the music. It all takes place on the Brasstown, NC campus, home to hiking trails, and winding wooded paths.
Two separate events, two separate places, on two different days – both benefiting local pet rescues. The first, a football party at a vineyard, with raffles, live music and football on large screens, will take place October 5 (Pours for Pups benefits Tri-State Pet Rescue). The second, innovatively called “Barktoberfest” on October 6, also will feature live music, a silent auction and raffles, to benefit the Humane Society of Blue Ridge. Not surprisingly, Grumpy Old Men Brewing is dog-friendly.
Artists from a large number of states, and perhaps even a few foreign countries, will compete for cash prizes in this 12th annual juried art show. The entries, including show winners, will be on display in the Arts Center in Downtown Blue Ridge from October 5th – 9th. Opening reception is October 5th from 5pm – 7pm.
A beautiful vineyard and winery set in pastoral farmlands in the heart of the Southern Appalachians. Cartacay’s wine history dates to 2007, but it’s heritage is comprised of Cherokee roots (in fact, Cartecay translates to “bread valley”). The winery features plenty of locally sourced wines, tastings and special events, plus live music on most weekends.
October 5 – Craig Hendricks October 6 – Scott Stambaugh October 12 – Timothy O’Donovan October 13 – Man Bites Dog October 19 – Gregg Erwin October 20 – Adrian Stover October 20 – Surrender Hill October 26 – Adrian Stover October 27 – Johnny Summers
What’s even more fun than a town called Cherry Log? Why, a festival in a town called Cherry Log, of course! And this one goes on for three straight weekends in October! Homemade everything (cakes, pies, canned goods, crafts, breakfast, lunch, etc.) and some good old fashioned bluegrass, gospel and country music. Festival hours are 9am – 5pm each weekend day.
You’ve got to love a fair that spans weekdays, welcoming visitors for nine straight days! That gives you a chance to enjoy this annual event during large crowd days and during quiet times. You can even plan a fair food lunch. As usual, this year’s fair will feature musical performances, arts and crafts vendors, educational demonstrations, a flower show and, one of the fair’s annual highlights, Georgia’s Official State Fiddlers’ Convention.
Anytime there’s an adjective in front of a race, you should pay attention. It’s usually a pretty clear indicator that there’s going to be something different, challenging, or outrageous about this race. In the case of the Blue Ridge Ultra Race, the Ultra means a 50 mile running race, including six miles of hidden trails and nine miles of Forest Service road, with creek crossings, steep ascents, even steeper descents, jumping over logs and sometimes quite, as they say, “technical” spots throughout this 50 mile race. Needless to say, this race challenges the most expert racer, but 50 miles is not required; there are also 30 and 15 mile options over the same terrain. Whew!
A true sign of autumn, the fall version of Blue Ridge’s popular Arts in the Park, set amidst the lovely, tree-filled downtown park, with fresh food smells all around, local art, special events and musical performances.
Sorghum is one of those mystery words. Pork product? Dental affliction? Nope. It’s actually a cereal grain that grows tall, like corn, but boiled down it produces a sugary-like syrup. You’d be able to deduce that from one item on a list of events that’s part of this annual festival: a biscuit eating contest, with sorghum on top. You may know sorghum better by its full name – sorghum molasses. Whether the taste speaks to you or not, this festival also features live music, arts, crafts, and more fun contests like rock throwing and log sawing!
For 46 years, apples have brought folks together in Ellijay, East Ellijay and Gilmer County. These days, people come from all over for the apples, the parade, the antique car show, the arts and crafts, and almost everything you can imagine (or eat) made from apples!
Spoiler alert: the rock doesn’t actually talk! But this is a cute event in a charming town with everything you’d expect of North Georgia autumn beauty in small town America. Antiques, bluegrass and Southern gospel music, and plenty of food.
NEW HOMES ADDED TO OUR PROGRAM
Like the private treehouse retreat you loved as a kid but a thousand times more spectacular, Little Bird Landing is a hillside oasis that elevates the idea of living in the woods to a whole new level. With a wraparound deck, soaring vaulted ceilings and enormous windows that showcase the magnificent long-range mountain views from every angle, this rustic yet modern showplace has everything you desire in a Blue Ridge vacation hideaway. The cabin can accommodate eight guests in its three comfortable bedrooms plus a queen-size pullout sofa in the game room. Whether you’re planning a family vacation, a couples’ weekend, or a getaway with your best friends, Little Bird Landing offers you fun, peace and quiet, and all the comforts of an exclusive resort in a breathtaking mountain setting.
Located on a mountaintop in Morganton, GA, and named for the deer you’re likely to see nearby, the custom-built, beautifully designed and decorated cabin has wraparound decks that showcase long-range mountain views from sunrise to sunset. Deer Haven Hideaway has three comfortable bedrooms, one per floor and featuring hand-carved queen beds, and luxurious bedding designed to create a cozy, warm, and inviting setting. Each has access to the covered decks through French Doors. At this magnificent mountain oasis, it’s all about relaxation, with an ambiance that encourages you to exhale, unwind, and de-stress while enjoying time with family and friends.
Just as with restaurants, we all have a wide variety of choices in the world of golf experiences. In North Georgia, you can easily find a golf course to suit your basic needs, then spend a couple of hours chasing the small ball, in high traffic, over unremarkable terrain, or you can be more discerning and decide to play a more sophisticated and truly exceptional track. When you Escape to Blue Ridge, you have many choices within a short driving distance from you cabin. Let’s take a look at a few great options. Keep Reading.
Last week this blog featured a tremendous round up of cabins
with great firepits. One of our favorite things about the weather changing is
sitting around the fire pit with a chill in the air, but you are completely
warm, not just by the heat of the fire but by the company you are so
enjoying. Adding to the ambiance of the
evening includes singing songs, swapping tall tales, and of course fire pit
It’s so fun if someone in your group has a guitar or harmonica, they could play for everyone to sing and clap along, but you don’t even need music to sing your favorite campfire songs! Telling ghost stories always proves to be a good time too. Although the ghost stories typically end up in squeals of laughter because you know that one person that is SUPER scared and they end up falling out of the chair, jumping & panicking, or making funny noises as they try to tame their heebee geebies. Oh yes, good times! Most importantly, you can’t forget about marshmallows!
Who doesn’t love to roast marshmallows? This might be the best and most memorable part about having an outside fire. First, you go on a stick hunt to find that perfect length and sturdiness then roast your marshmallow to the perfect amount of burnt that you prefer. Or, take it to the next level and break out the chocolate and Graham crackers for a melt in your mouth, perfectly crafted s’mores! But s’mores aren’t the only thing you can cook over the fire. Try one (or all) of these “fire pit fixing” ideas next time you Escape to Blue Ridge!
The Healthy-ish Approach
Have you ever considered roasting fruit over an open fire? No? Well, you should because it is F-A-B-U-L-O-U-S! Choose from pineapple, bananas, watermelon, apples or peaches. The fruit sugars almost caramelize making for a divinely delicious guilt free treat. Of course, having a little caramel or chocolate on hand to dip your roasted fruit into never hurt anyone, and definitely adds more “pow” to your taste buds! Make ahead fruit kabobs or just place them on your stick like you would a marshmallow! Side note: strawberries dipped in marshmallow fluff and then roasted will make your mouth do a happy dance!
Who says fire pit cooking has to be basic and boring? Impress your guests with fireside Shrimp Scampi! This meal is super easy to prepare, but even more divine to eat! All you need is foil, butter, peeled & deveined shrimp, a little lemon, and your favorite seasonings. We typically improvise with a little bit of this and a little bit of that, but for you by-the-bookers, here’s a simple go to recipe with exact measurements.
It may not be fancy, but there is something extra delicious about a roasted hot dog! It really doesn’t get any easier than this. Pick your favorite dog, we are partial to the Hebrew National all beef hot dogs, pierce it with your stick and roast away. You can even toast your hot dog bun on a stick for a well-rounded hot dog experience!
Fast, easy and delicious…that’s my kind of cooking! You can prepare these French bread pizzas ahead of time or create a little make-your-own station on the picnic table. Slice your French bread, cover with marina sauce, add your favorite toppings (pepperoni, mushrooms, Canadian bacon, olives) and finish with mozzarella cheese. Wrap your creation in heavy duty aluminum foil and throw them on the fire!
Dare To Be Different
Super easy, but super delicious is campfire cinnamon rolls! Simply buy your favorite brand of refrigerated cinnamon rolls, we personally love Pillsbury Grands. All you have to do is unroll a cinnamon bun and divide the long pieces of dough into sections. Wrap a portion around your stick, careful not overlap for even cooking, and roast away!
Next Level S’mores
Bacon. Yes, you read that right. A little graham cracker, a little
marshmallow, a little chocolate, and a couple of pieces of bacon (which you
could also roast over the fire) will have your tongue jump out and lick the eyebrows
right off your head!
We also encourage you to mix up your chocolate options. Truth be told, it’s hard to beat a piece of Hershey’s Milk Chocolate, but have you ever thought of using a Reese’s Peanut Butter cup? What about a Kit Kat Bar? We suggest you try a York Peppermint Patty next time, you won’t regret it. In fact, you may never go back to the traditional s’mores again!
If you’re looking for a way to warm up from the inside out, a Hot Toddy is definitely in order and extra enjoyable sitting outside by the fire. Boil water over your fire and add a tea bag to your cup. Let your tea steep for about two minutes, then add a shot (or two) of whiskey, a little honey, a slice of lemon, and some cloves for extra spice. Bam! Now we are ready to make some fireside memories!
Over the last decade, the number of Farmers Markets in this country has grown four-fold. Today’s consumers want our food to be as fresh, tasty, GMO and pesticide free as possible. We use the expression “sustainable food” to give a modern term to our intentions. What we really mean is we are more interested in calculating our food miles, or how far it’s traveled before we put it on our table.
But sustainable food isn’t only about proximity of the food. How the food is produced, how it’s distributed and how it’s consumed are all factors. Many of our local chefs take these factors into consideration when creating their menus. They’ve made a commitment to provide culinary fare from food grown, raised and delivered locally, and under the best possible sustainable conditions. With their Farm to Table menus, they celebrate the small local farmer, and honor the connection between the land and the patrons they serve. We would like to introduce you to a couple of the regions most committed chefs.
Harvest On Main
Don’t let the downtown location fool you. When you cross the threshold at Harvest on Main you enter a superbly appointed mountain lodge. Chef-owner Danny Mellman and his partner Michelle Moran bring over three decades of culinary mastery and magic to the Blue Ridge food scene. Chef Danny creates the menus and Michelle is responsible for sourcing the best products from local producers. Grass fed Brasstown beef, Springer Mountain chicken, and Bramlett Farm Trout are the local suppliers for such house favorites like Painted Hills Beef & Veal Meatloaf topped with Cabernet-Veal Demi-glace.
Local produce is delivered daily and those who prefer a more vegetarian fare will not be disappointed with the menu options, such as Vegetarian Shepherd’s Pie, layered with brown rice, beets, Portabella mushrooms, baba ganoush, red skinned garlic mashed potatoes and topped with Gouda cheese.
Mellman and Moran have other restaurants on the Blue Ridge scene, all focusing on locally grown and raised products. They even have their own farm where they’ve developed and produce their heritage rabbit, honey, and quail. If that wasn’t enough, these amazing humans also host a summer camp for children age 6-16 sharing their vision of sustainable living within the community.
Reviewers rave about the service and have more accolades for the ample number of locally brewed beers as well as Harvest on Main’s extensive wine list. The Chef describes his menu as internationally inspired with a southern twang. His patrons describe it as 5-star.
Harvest on Main (576 E. Main St., Blue Ridge) features both a lunch and dinner menu. Click here for hours and days of operation. For reservations (highly suggested) call 706-946-6164.
The Sawmill Place
The restaurants tagline says it all. “Farm Fresh, Harvest Driven, Locally Sourced”. Local suppliers include a pretty impressive list including produce from 7M Farms and Freddie Collins Farm; grits and flours for their scrumptious breakfast fare from Logan Turnpike Mill; toppings for their (patron favorite) pancakes from Tim Dyer’s Blueberry Patch, Michael Surles’ Honey and Hughes Sorghum Mill; and that coffee mug is filled endlessly with beans from roaster, JumpinGoat Coffee.
Co-owners Shawn and Amy Kight serve breakfast and lunch six days a week in this delightful cabin located just a slight jog off the downtown Square in neighboring Blairsville GA. Their giant homemade biscuits start popping out of the ovens by 6:30am. And if you don’t like to wait for a seat, you might want to get there that early. But bring a big appetite.
The breakfast menu is quite extensive and features large portions of high quality food, exceptional service and truly inspired southern recipes at very reasonable prices. Take the “Nottely Scramble” as an example. Chef Shawn scrambles 3 large Lathem farm eggs into spicy collard greens, onions, bacon and cheddar cheese. He serves this with your choice of 2 strips of Applewood smoked bacon or 1 local sausage patty, along with grits or gravy, a buttermilk biscuit, coffee or tea all for around $10.
The lunch menu boasts burgers from Certified Angus Beef raised by Georgia Cattle Farmers. There are several salad choices and all include a delectable freshly baked morning glory muffins. The hydroponic -grown lettuce and other produce are delivered daily, 12 months a year from local 7M Farms.
As we already mentioned, this place is hopping from the time it opens till the time it turns the biscuit oven off, but don’t let the possibility of a wait for a seat at the table deter you. The Sawmill Place has a lovely front porch with lots of rockers to pass the time, as well as a new Market building adjacent to the restaurant where you can shop for all things local including produce harvested locally in Union County, flower bouquets grown on Blairsville’s Whimsy Flower Farm and other artisan goods from the Tri-State area. Leave some room in your trunk to bring home honey, syrups, jams, soaps and beeswax products. They all make great souvenirs.
The Sawmill Place (1159 Pat Haralson Dr., Blairsville) features both a breakfast and lunch menu. Click here for hours and days of operation or call 706- 745-1250 .