Beyond the Triad: triadfoodies vacation on the Rock

ASU view from Howard's Knob, Boone

ASU view from Howard’s Knob, Boone

Greetings, Foodies! After a week in the mountains and a busy first half of this week, I’m ready to share all the deliciousness we found on the ROCK. If you don’t know what the ROCK is…just look west and you know that I mean the area of Boone, Blowing Rock, Valle Crucis, Banner Elk, etc, otherwise known as the High Country.  But Rock is shorter :).

This is going to be a not-so-brief recap of the week and I believe a couple of these spots deserve their own blog post and, if time permits, that will happen one day soon. First, we head straight to our Date Night at one of my favorite places to be and eat ON THE PLANET. Gamekeeper Restaurant & Bar.

Known for Mountain Cuisine, The Gamekeeper offers an adventurous gastronomic experience. You may find Ribeye but you’ll also find Boar Belly or Elk or Ostrich and delicious seafood items. A charcuterie plate could feature Rabbit Livermush (which ours did…and it was fantastic). The menu changes constantly. The service is absolutely impeccable. It’s a cozy and casual atmosphere where you can be dressed up or down comfortably. And the view is so very serene. Here’s what you look out and in at.

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Gabriel, our server, brought us an amuse buche of mystery food. It actually turned out to be very thinly sliced lavosh with berries (including Huckleberry) and dusted with cocoa and yogurt powders. Interesting and eaten right up.

IMG_5156  Just a little something to get us tempted….

The charcuterie also had quail egg, beef tongue, homemade mustard, pickles and grilled bread. Fab. We also ordered an appetizer of the wild mushrooms with pattypan squash.

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Mr. foodie ordered the Braised Ostrich which featured meat from the wing and had been shredded and was incredible. It was on gnocchi, with smoky eggplant. Divine. I ordered the seafood of the day which was 3 huge scallops on brussels, okra, corn, field peas, gherkins, purslane with tomato vinegar. Fresh and gorgeous. Look!

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After meeting Edwin Bloodworth, the chef-de-cuisine, and receiving a sweet little cherry sorbet to top off our night (too full for dessert) we bid farewell to this incredible place, knowing there are many visits to come!  Here’s the menu and a list of their local farms and purveyors.

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Gamekeeper Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Onward! On Tuesday we got to try 1861 Farmhouse TWO ways. For lunch, we stopped at the 1861 Farmhouse Market for some sandwiches to take on a picnic. They have great sandwiches that are specialty creations or you can custom build. Plus an awesome market featuring Carolina Coffee and all kinds of jams, jellies, ham, bacon and local baking mixes. I ordered a Hawksnest with ham, capicolla and provolone with fixings on sun-dried tomato bread. And Mr. ordered the Valle Scorcher with turkey, spicy pepperjack on jalapeño bread WITH horseradish. He’s a stud.

IMG_5176  This is just a portion of a wall.

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IMG_5190  Later that night, I was so excited to go with the fam (including my MIL) to 1861 Farmhouse. A beautifully restored house that features its OWN winery’s selection and delicious southern cuisine. You need to visit their website to get an idea of how this 150 year old home was transformed into what it is today by its owners. It’s also the kitchen of previous Fire on the Rock winner, Sam Beasley, a true talent. He was chef-ing that night!

IMG_5194 IMG_5198  Wine room

IMG_5196 Wine from their own winery.

For apps, we ordered the pork belly that was braised with Cheerwine and topped with shallots and served with a grilled banana that worked mighty well. And we shared a grilled romaine salad that was like a BLT on a plate, with bleu cheese. Yum. We also got a bottle of wine, the Victoria’s Vale, that was really good.

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My MIL ordered the BEST trout I’ve ever had.

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I ordered the NC Snapper special on cheesy grits with a crawfish and bacon gravy. Amazing.

IMG_5203 And Mr. ordered the cumin and cocoa rubbed pork. It was lovely and gives me an idea for preparation at home. Thanks, Chef!

Image 52 My eldest wanted a hotdog. And the little one wanted grilled cheese. Oh well..they liked. And after seeing claims of the BEST banana pudding EVER, the MIL and I each ordered one and Mr. foodie ordered the terrific bread pudding. It WAS the best banana pudding, no lie. And my boy saved me some calories again by stealing some of it.

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1861 Farmhouse on Urbanspoon

Art by Ava

Art by Ava :)

We also experienced the joy of eating at Coyote Kitchen in Boone. It’s a small, “Southwest Caribbean Soul Food” type restaurant with chips, salsa, nachos, burgers and these killer “boats” that are like naked burritos but with all kinds of interesting toppings and combos. You have to try this place. We couldn’t decide if we wanted a “boat” with coconut rice or sweet corn bread so we ordered one with rice and then corn bread on the side. We know how to call it. We just tried a nice sampling of the chips with 3 salsas (all homemade from sweet and mild to spicy), the mixed fries (sweet and russet), the Cactus boat and MIL ordered a Catalina Salad. Coyote Kitchen also has tacos, melts and burritos. And on top of the salsas, they also have these homemade hot sauces that just pack an even bigger punch so you should try them with your meal. Definitely going back!

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Oh and the chicken right there? “Pups” Menu. Yummy battered is all I can say.

Coyote Kitchen on Urbanspoon

We couldn’t leave Banner Elk out of our culinary adventures so we took the recommendation of Chad-the-Wahoo’s Whitewater rafting-guide and headed over to The Painted Fish the day before our departure. Banner Elk has come a long way in the past few years and there’s no shortage of places to get GREAT food. Chef/owner Tom Jankovich’s Painted Fish Cafe is no exception. You get a wonderful view of Sugar Mountain and enjoy burgers of all types, entrees, salads …all featuring local ingredients and fresh seafood. I ordered the Tuna Burger and Mr. ordered the Tilapia Tacos (fried). We both got a sweet potato salad as our side. So good with bacon and onion. Perfection. Kids ordered …I don’t know…grilled cheese and plain pasta with butter (who are these people??).

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The chef was in the kitchen but he was nice enough to grace us with his presence, give us a few more dining suggestions (for our next trip) and pose for a triadfoodies pic.

IMG_5249 Chef/Owner Tom Jankovich

Okay…so dessert…yes, yes. What you see here is a Krispy Kreme cheesecake. The doughnuts are the crust, with a traditional cheesecake, topped with a salted caramel and bacon sauce. Whaaaat? I die.

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Oh and while you are there, you should really take advantage of the Liver and Onions on the kids menu. It’s only $82.00.  There’s a similarly-priced broccoli AND cauliflower casserole I bet the kids would LOVE. I know mine would ;).

Painted Fish Cafe & Beer Bar on Urbanspoon
So that’s a sampling why you should eat LOCAL on the ROCK. It’s a wonderful place to get locally-sourced dining at a variety of locations. The great thing about that area is there’s way more local than chain. Just the way it should be. I could really live up there…but then I’d have to change our name to Rockfoodies….ooooh…I kind of like that.

Stay tuned….my next post will be an exclusive on the brand new, just-opened The New Public House & Hotel (which is in the former Crippen’s) in Blowing Rock. We gave them a try on what ended up being the first REAL opening night and we have lots of pics. Until then…there are links within the blog to the places we visited. And I look forward to hearing what some of your favorite restaurants are on the Rock.

What say you, foodie?

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