Picture this: Highlands, North Carolina, November 2017…not familiar with Highlands? Think small mountain town without the cliché tourist traps and a beautiful Main Street line with cool shops and boutiques, churches, restaurants and an inn. Now, add the beautiful fall foliage to the landscape, beautiful people in their fall attire, and the aromas of delicious foods. This was my experience at this year’s Highlands Food and Wine Festival.
Thanks to Ashley Brown Strategy, I was fortunate enough to participate in 4 events in this year’s festival.
The festival kicked off with The Grand Tasting presented by Pat Allen Realty Group on Thursday, and was it a way to kick off the weekend or what! The Grand Tasting was held in a tent at Kelsey Hutchinson Park glowing with purple, the festival’s signature color and showed off a lot of restaurants from the Highlands-Cashiers area of North Carolina including restaurants such as Wolfgang’s, Meritage, The Library Kitchen & Bar, Canyon Kitchen, The Ugly Dog Pub, Lakeside Restaurant, Madison’s, and Ristorante Paoletti. The night also included live music from Silly Ridge Roundup and Love Canon, as well as beverages from Tito’s Vodka and various wineries and distributors.
Check out some of the delicious bites from The Grand Tasting below:
Day two of the festival included what I think was my favorite event, Truckin’ presented by TJ Bailey’s for Men and TOWN magazine, a woodsy food truck event with food trucks from around the Carolinas and musical talents Futurebirds and Dawes.
Truckin’ showcased trucks from as far as Raleigh, NC, with BrineHaus Meats + Provisions to one of my hometown favorites, Automatic Taco from Greenville, SC. There were also some Western North Carolina favorites from the Asheville area with F2F (Farm 2 Fender), Bun Intended, The Velvet Cup, and Pitmaster Elliott Moss from Buxton Hall. Tito’s Vodka was on hand with their RV, along with Oskar Blues.
Check out some delicious bites from Truckin’ below:
I also participated in the Drink like a Sommelier on a Budget event. It was a very nice change of pace from the partying that had taken place with the other events. Drink like a Sommelier allowed participants to try 6 wines picked by 5 Sommeliers each under $20. It truly was a good learning experience.
Day three of the festival was The Main Event, a street festival on Highlands’ Main Street between 4th St and 5th Street featuring the musical talents of Dead 27’s and JJ Grey and MOFRO. This event brought in culinary talent from all over the Southeast including Dickie Brennan of Palace Cafe in New Orleans, Louisiana, and Joe DiMaio of The Darling Oyster Bar in Charleston, South Carolina. Some hometown favorites from Greenville, SC, were there as well, such as Jon Buck of Husk Greenville and Steven Musolf of The Lazy Goat, and local talent from Western North Carolina like Jessie Roque from Never Blue in Hendersonville, NC, Johannes Klapdohr from The Library Kitchen and Bar in Sapphire, NC, Krysti Henderson from The Chocolate Haven Co., Highlands, NC, and Meherwan Irani from Chai Pani in Asheville, NC. My favorite thing about this event was that everyone cooked for the weather. It was a little chilly out and everyone had warm, fall comfort foods.
Check out some delicious bites from The Main Event below:
While I only participated in 4 events during the festival, there were a lot more events for people to enjoy. A festival goer favorite is the Gospel Brunch on Sunday. This year’s musical talent included Joyful and Liz Vice, and from the clips I saw on Instagram, it was not disappointing. There were also several dinners being held throughout town on Friday and Saturday nights.
Follow Highlands Food and Wine on social media or by email for the 2018 dates! I’m sure it’ll be an event you won’t want to miss! Also, check back on Friday as I give my top 5 eats from this year’s festival!