It wasn’t long ago that eating out on Christmas Day meant settling for an overcooked burrito at the lone open convenience store. While a dash of packeted salsa could add a dab of holiday cheer to the meal, the finished product couldn’t hold a yuletide candle to the majestic savories now being churned out on Christmas Day by savvy restaurateurs. Highland Lake Inn in Flat Rock is one of many local lodges keeping its kitchen open on the holiday, banishing bad-burrito memories with a menu fit for an overweight king. The lineup includes wild-forest mushroom and Silver Queen corn chowder with redfish-spiced oyster crackers; sugar-cane-cured, bacon-braised Smithfield pork-shoulder confit with brown-sugar cider reduction and dry-sherry creamed spinach with pearl onions. The buffet is open for brunch and dinner on Dec. 24 and from 10:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. on Christmas Day. Call 696-9094 or (800) 762-1376 for reservations.
Hickory Nut Gap Farm owners Amy and Jamie Ager will celebrate loyal patrons with a “Customer Appreciation Thursday” at their Spring House Meats store in Fairview (57 Sugar Hollow Road), but even first-timers are invited to enjoy hot cider and reduced prices on meat from 3 to 6 p.m. on Dec. 7. The farm store has legs of lamb, hams and rump roasts available for the holiday. To place an order for your favorite cut of meat, call 628-1027.
Americans may not sit still to watch grass grow, but marketing surveys show they’ll travel hundreds of miles to look at grapes, apples, berries and cows. Agricultural tourism is becoming big business, generating millions of dollars for strapped farmers looking for new ways to market their products. The Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project is hoping to help local farmers cash in on the national trend with a full-day workshop entitled “The Business of Farm Tourism: Will it Work For Me?” The Dec. 5 seminar at Haywood Community College costs $10 and features speakers from HandMade in America, Split Creek Farm, North Carolina State University and N.C. Cooperative Extension. To register, call 236-1282.
– Mackensy Lunsford