Saturday, November 7, 2009

Dillsboro Pottery Festival. Part II. The Whistlestop Cafe

Click here for the first post in this series.

The trout stream murmuring over semi-submerged rocks just behind our campsite persuaded us to sleep well past dawn on Saturday, the 7th. We’d decided not to bring anything to cook in the Aliner, and to rely on local restaurants for meals. That meant we’d have to wait for breakfast until we arrived in Dillsboro. Including coffee!

It seems to be impossible in this part of North Carolina to drive more than a mile or so without encountering majestic Great Smokey Mountains scenery. It really must be seen to be believed. So I won’t rave on about it here unnecessarily. But click here for just one example.

Those of you used to the soaring peaks of the Rocky Mountains, and other dramatic mountains of the American West, won’t find that sort of grandeur here. It’s a different sort of scenery. But every bit as beautiful. No wonder people have chosen to live here for thousands of years. It’s hard to imagine the shock of being evicted at the point of a bayonet. More on that during a later visit.

So, the natural scenery encountered during a drive of just a few miles from Cherokee to Dillsboro on an early fall morning was, for me, worth the whole trip. Here and there tourist-directed commercialism intrudes near the road. And at one point a whole side hill was being planed away, probably for additional commercial development. But enough of the natural beauty of the surrounding mountains remained to make the drive well worthwhile.

We arrived in downtown Dillsboro around 9:00 a.m. Or even a little later. To find the whole downtown area choked with traffic and parked cars. So we followed the traffic, and eventually were directed by a helpful policeman to a parking lot not far from the south entrance to the pottery festival area. $3.00 rented us a parking spot for the entire day. Again, right beside a picturesque stream!

Cafe Front Walking from the car toward the Festival entrance, the first restaurant we passed was the Whistlestop Cafe. It looked too inviting to pass. So we stopped in for a late breakfast.

Cafe Sunday Brunch Well! “Inviting” doesn’t quite describe it. The food was delicious. Not just “good,” but really delicious. We ordered simple fare. But simple fare offers any cook the greatest challenge. It’s fairly easy to make “good” over-easy eggs, biscuits, fried potatoes, bacon, toast, and jams. But it takes a master to make them “delicious.”

When we arrived the place was full of diners. Both local folks and obvious visitors like us, here for the pottery festival. I asked if I might take a few photos and was given permission. Take a closer look at the photo above. A white board describing tomorrow’s Sunday breakfast buffet. $6.99 for all you can eat. And look at the dishes offered. What a price!

Proprietor, Mr. Louis Blair, came out of the kitchen to say hello. We were able to ask him about the restaurant and who did all of that great cooking! Turns out that he’s not only the owner. He’s also the chef! Now, that man knows how to cook. Rail Photo 4Louis and his wife bought the restaurant a couple of years ago. While the railroad terminal was still in Dillsboro. Hence, “Whistlestop Cafe.” Both he and his wife come from a long line of railroad people.

In fact, both had grandfathers who were railroad engineers. This is Louis’s Grandfather, on the day he became an engineer, in 1951.

Rail Photo 1When you visit Dillsboro and the Whistle Stop Cafe, take time to look carefully at the photos and paintings on the wall. Lots of interesting material.

Rail Photo 6

Mr Blair All too soon, we had to end our chat with Louis to join the crowd heading to the pottery festival entry gate. More on that in the next post. So stay tuned.

Click here for scenes of the pottery festival.

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