Just a week ago I visited historic Sherrill's Inn in Hickory Nut Gap just South of Asheville, North Carolina. Set against a backdrop of rolling hills and manicured gardens I enjoyed a leisurely cooking demonstation that utilized produce and meat from farms less than a mile away. Descendants of the family that owns the inn operate Flying Cloud Farm, named after an old stagecoach, and Spring House Meats. Local farms in the area such as Flying Cloud are primarily organic but have not sought certification. Spring House raises antibiotic and hormone free grassfed beef, lamb, pork and pastured chickens. Both sell at the local "tailgate markets" in and around Asheville.
I enjoyed a tour of the property and the inn, which dates back to around 1800.
Outside was a stone house with a spring running through it that served as a refrigerator.
There was also an old stockade on the property that serves as a smokehouse.
In one room were murals painted depicting early scenes from the inn.
Local chef Joe Scully and owner of the Corner Kitchen just outside the Biltmore Estate in Asheville prepared wilted Swiss chard, cheddar grits and pork chops with blackberry ketchup. Forget any notions of commercially prepared tomato ketchup, this spicy, sweet and tangy sauce is wonderful with pork, chicken or even turkey. Joe said his kids even it use it to dip their fries! It's a North Carolina recipe that can be easily made at home. You can use frozen or fresh blackberries and because they are cooked down into a sauce it's a good way to use berries that may be a bit over or under ripe.
1 quart (or 1 1/3 lbs) blackberries
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup water
1 1/2 cups light brown sugar
1/2 teaspoon ground cloves
1/2 teaspoon ground ginger
2 teaspoons cinnamon
1/4 teaspoon cayenne
salt to taste
1/2 pound butter
Combine all but the butter, boil until reduced by half, syrup consistency, about 20- 30 minutes. Puree and strain out seeds. Return pot to the stove and whisk in butter while sauce is hot. Season to taste. Joe said the sauce will last in the refrigerator for up to one month.
FOOD + ASHEVILLE