Framed by the rising crags of the Blue Ridge Mountains, Blue Ridge Shadows Golf Club’s 18-hole course incorporates mature hardwoods, immaculate greens, and dramatic elevation changes into a pristine layout that earned a position on Golfweek’s list of the Best Courses You Can Play in 2009. Cresting hilltops give way to sweeping panoramas of the natural surroundings, including a 60-foot waterfall stationed behind the 18th green that used to host Gary Player's famed cliff-diving exhibitions. A grass-tee driving range, large putting green, and short-game practice area unfurl across the mountainside terrain, helping players warm up neglected swings. Additionally, players can prepare for an upcoming round with a lesson from Blue Ridge’s staff of sage instructors or by scrutinizing the course’s splendor from the wraparound terrace of the stately clubhouse.
Course at a Glance:
The flavors of the Southwest add a spicy touch to all the dishes at Poblanos Southwest Grill. Guests stroll up to the counter to order jalapeño poppers, chile rellenos, steak fajitas topped with peppers and onions. With the build-your-own option, they can customize tacos, burritos, and taco salads to their personal tastes using a choice of three marinated Mexican-style meats, shrimp, or vegetables. For a slightly fancier meal, guests can opt to order the pan-seared cod atop a bed of cilantro lime rice, hand cut flank steak with chimichurri, or a half peruvian chicken in a casero sauce, paired with a hot cup of coffee.
In production since 1988, Mackintosh Fruit Farm introduces city slickers to country life with seasonal crops available for handpicking and a meandering corn maze. Harvesting hands can make their way through rows of ginger gold, gala, golden delicious, york, and fuji apples, filling containers with up to eight pounds of potential pie-fillers or impressing dates by playing catch with squirrels. Couples may alternatively opt to adopt a newborn pumpkin from Mackintosh's patch to serve as protective porch guardians during late-October monster invasions, then find their way through a maze of corn, where seven game and activity stations entertain along the way. The corn maze takes most people an hour to navigate, though delays can result from sightings of a translucent James Earl Jones.
Run by French-trained chef-de-cuisine John-Gustin Birkitt, The French Hound serves up a menu of European palate pleasers that, like the fashion-forwardness of seersucker jumpsuits, is subject to shift with the seasons. Starters such as saucissons et cornichons—dried salami with pickles—($4) and salade endive ($9) regally introduce diners to formal entrees such as traditional cassoulet_stew ($30) or the poisson l'espadon, a grilled swordfish mobbed by an entourage of baby carrots, turnips, and broccoli behind a veil of roasted beet sauce ($26). Desserts of creamy crème caramel ($8) or the tort au chocolat ($8) offer delicately sweet massages to post-meal mouth muscles.
À la Carte Catering and Event Design shoulders the entire burden of event planning, from the food and wait staff to flowers and decorations to entertainment and lighting. Hosts just meet with an event specialist to describe the basics behind their dream party, and À la Carte hammers out the kinks to make it a reality. The company's executive chef draws on his training in France, New Orleans, and the Caribbean to craft elegant and casual menus, and partner vendors manage other accoutrements, such as coat checks, valet parking, or live musicians. Civilians get a glimpse inside the trade at cooking classes with À la Carte’s chefs during interactive demonstrations that cover professional techniques for butchering meat, cooking pasta, or licking brownie batter off of a spatula.
In 2009, Southern Louisiana native Melissa Crosswhite decided to show the nation's capital what Cajun cuisine is really about. With eight generations of family recipes in her hand, she set up shop in a historical 18th-century home. Soon enough, the mouthwatering aromas of her spicy étouffée, jambalaya, and gumbo filled the house and out onto the street, where it started drawing crowds from Maryland, Washington DC, and West Virginia. Today, diners enjoy meals prepared from those same trusted family recipes, including blackened chicken, alligator, and fried oyster po' boys. All sandwiches are made with New Orleans' famous Leidenheimer bread, spicy chipotle sauce, and the laments of a poor, poor boy. Guests enjoy their meals on a quaint patio or amid the historic home's Mardi Gras masks, crimson walls, and vintage touches. Chef Crosswhite's dessert skills can put a sweet cap on any creole feast with pecan pie and authentic Café Du Monde beignets.