Hot Spots in a Really Cool Town
Highlands is a hot spot for food, wine, and fun! I just attended the 2010 Collective Spirits Wine Festival (www.collectivespirits.com) in Highlands (www.highlandschamber.org) and it was a blast. This was a benefit for The Bascom - A Center For The Visual Arts, located just outside of downtown Highlands. It was a three-day event of wine dinners, lectures, wine tastings, and auctions. We arrived there on the last day, Saturday afternoon, just in time for a wine tasting lecture on “Teaching the Palette” how to recognize different wines.
I was fortunate to sit with a table of vibrant women who were there to learn about and taste great wines. We started with four whites and after being instructed in the correct way of holding the glass stem, swirling, smelling (smell it twice and then wait at least 45 seconds before smelling again), swishing in the mouth and swallowing (you must do this at least once to capture the taste on the back of the mouth), we tried to match the glasses with the type of wine they held. I did not do well with the whites!
The Chardonnay and the Gewürztraminer were easy but the Sauvignon Blanc and the Riesling threw me a bit. The Sauvignon Blanc was a young French wine with a subtle sharpness and the Riesling, for some reason I could not smell the distinctiveness (or as the sommelier described it as a “gasoline smell”), thus confusing the two. The next four wines to learn were reds. All four of us did very well with this group, easily recognizing the Cabernet Sauvignon, the Pinot Noir (a great smell of pepper), the Zinfandel, and the dark richness of the Syrah.
Armed with this knowledge and after sampling all of this wine at 1:30 in the afternoon, we were ready for a nap before the evening was to begin! Fortunately the tasting was held at the renowned Highlands Inn, the Crown Jewel of Highlands (www.highlandsinn-nc.com), where we were staying.
The dinner and auction that evening at the Basom was a very lovely affair, located under the veranda, with hundreds of local arts supporters. If you have not visited the Bascom, please do, as you will find a wonderful gallery, several studio buildings, and a Sculpture & Nature Trail (www.thebascom.org).
To top off evening, we decided to visit a hot spot that several folks from the Bascom recommended. Located in the unassuming Highlands Creek Village shopping center, Cyprus International Cuisine (www.cyprushighlands.com) turned out to be a true gem. It was filled with people enjoying themselves while eating, drinking, and dancing to quite loud music. The DJ spun records while the strobe lights and smoke machine kept pace with this active crowd! The chef is Nicholas Figel, whose experience includes Venice and Milan. Nick brings old world international traditions and street-food favorites combined with fresh vegetables, fish, and meats.
The night passed much too quickly and as we drove back to the Inn, we promised to return to Highlands in the near future. In fact, I definitely recommend visiting this café/club and all of the wonderful places in Highlands any time you have the opportunity!