We crave November for many reasons.
Chaotic Black Friday stampedes and college football rivalry weekend aside, the month’s arrival also heralds an implicit invitation, one that urges us to gather with friends and family over food and drink. We sip and sup with reckless abandon, savoring one another’s company as much as the cuisine. November is a celebration, food its guest of honor. If you’re looking to pay respects, the Highlands Food & Wine Festival has a seat at the table.
Highlands has long been a fall getaway for urbanites, who, lured by abundant treetops, brisk temperatures, and brimming rivers, abscond to the Western North Carolina region’s lofty altitudes. But as any true Highlands addict will tell you, they don’t make the drive to this small mountain town just to hike trails and watch the leaves transition from green to amber—they come here to eat.
Eleven years ago, Highlands Food & Wine (formerly Highlands Culinary Weekend) was launched. While the program draws heavily from within the community’s own impressive list of renowned chefs and sommeliers, guest talent from neighboring North Carolina counties and other culinary capitals—New Orleans, Atlanta, Greenville—are also slated on the active four-day schedule of events. Here’s a small taste—pardon the pun—of what awaits around the mountain.
TRUCKIN’ // Remember unlimited soup, salad, and breadsticks at Olive Garden? Yeah, this is way better than that. A $100 ticket grants you unfettered access to as much food truck fare as you can handle, plus bottomless pours of Oskar Blues brews, wine, and artisan libations. The eclectic lineup of mobile kitchens includes organic eats from Asheville’s Farm to Fender, Backwoods Bakery’s locally sourced, brick oven provisions (pizza!), and 2017 James Beard Foundation Awards’ “Best Chef: Southeast” semifinalist—and Buxton Hall Barbecue pitmaster—Elliott Moss. And because all senses matter, folk rockers Dawes, and Athens indie darlings Futurebirds, have been tapped to bring the noise.
Friday, November 10; 12–4pm; $100.
A GENEROUS POUR // A double entendre affair, A Generous Pour is held after the Main Event and gives foodie patrons an opportunity to give back to the festival’s host town. New Orleans iconic jazz musicians the Preservation Hall Jazz Band will head up the charity concert, with proceeds from the evening donated to the Highlands Food Pantry, a non-profit organization dedicated to ending hunger in and around Macon County. Saturday, November 11; 8pm; $50.
GOSPEL BRUNCH // Oh, we believe in the holy spirits. Take a seat and give reverence to Canyon Kitchen’s Chef Adam Hayes along with Steven Satterfield of Atlanta-based Miller Union, and Chef Susan Spicer from New Orleans’ Bayona as they tempt your tastebuds with a deliberately crafted menu you’ll swear is divine. And because no Southern brunch is complete without them, be sure to snap up one of Callie’s Hot Little Biscuits and load up your glass at the Tito’s Bloody Mary bar. Add in a live gospel troupe, and it’s basically church, right?
Sunday, November 12; 12pm; $100. For more information and a full schedule of events, visit highlandsfoodandwine.com.