Travel + Leisure plots food-lovers drive along the Blue Ridge Parkway

Travel + Leisure explores the Blue Ridge Parkway and the sights — and food — to be sampled along the way. Here’s a taste”

“The Blue Ridge was clearly summoning us. Small-scale food operations with a keen sense of place and an upstart, indie spirit were breaking out all over, some to national acclaim. And it seemed noteworthy that these hives of local-food culture were clustered along the path carved by one of the largest government-sponsored public works of the 20th century.”

“What becomes apparent, dining from town to town along the parkway, is just how many different styles of cooking arise from a locavore’s devotion. You thought you were bored with “fresh-seasonal-local”? Go to the Blue Ridge for a new perspective, and rejoice in the fact that a single region can inspire so many food interpretations. At the Admiral, in Asheville, North Carolina, a cinderblock dive lit by a flickery, old-timey TV against the wall, the kitchen sources its grass-fed beef tenderloin and pork belly from the stellar producer Hickory Nut Gap Farm, its ramps and mushrooms from forager friends. But here, they’re the basis of a playful, offbeat — dare we say elegant? — cuisine that pairs seared scallops with foamed brown butter, smoked Vidalia onions and navel orange supremes. Cooking local here doesn’t preclude flashes of sriracha and dashi and the occasional Marcona almond from making appearances. (In true dive-bar spirit, PBR finds its way into mussel broth.)”

“We found heartening evidence of revival at Knife & Fork, a spare restaurant overlooking the train station and freight lines in Spruce Pine. We were the first to show up for brunch, and ordered nearly everything on the menu, which exudes virtue without a hint of sanctimony: nettle soup with fruity olive oil; grilled bread with sautéed ramps, prosciutto, and two gorgeous sunny-side-up eggs with soft yolks the color of orange peel. There was flaky, sweet redfish with tangy grilled rhubarb, and a shatteringly crisp fried trout with lemony tartar sauce. Within half an hour every plate was clean, and every table around us was filled.”


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