Ode to the Onion

It’s hot as blue blazes just about everywhere it seems, and the Mister and I (especially I!) are big believers in the adage of “if you can’t take the heat, then stay out of the kitchen.”  So, since we are childless for a few days, we decided to get out of town for the evening.  When we left at six-thirty, the temperature was 95 degrees; 33 steep and winding miles later, the thermometer was reading a cool 70.  Ahhhhh.   IMG_2115Flowers outside a Saluda antiques shop.  I loved the yellows of the pot and the chair, perfect for the deep greens and pinks of the geraniums and vinca.IMG_2117 The Mister considers mountain cabins on the market.  Someday, maybe.IMG_2118I loved these arched windows.  Most of the town’s buildings are designated historic sites.
We were eager to re-visit a restaurant we had enjoyed a few weeks ago, with friends and two of our children, for an early Father’s Day dinner.  It’s called The Purple Onion, located in Saluda, North Carolina.  Specializing in  organic, locally sourced, and sustainably harvested produce, seafood, and beef, The Purple Onion offers a casual atmosphere with lots of outdoor tables.  Near the covered patio area is a natural mountain spring, surrounded by fern and cress and other native plants. IMG_2123IMG_2124Everything served is fresh and made-to-order on site.  Choices offered the night we were there included: corn husk roasted mountain trout, duck breast with balsamic fig and red grape chutney, and an Appalachian green plate special, featuring heirloom tomatoes, sweet corn, okra, greens, and beets.  Blackberry cobbler for dessert. Strawberry and Blackberry Cobbler
Saluda itself is a sweet little place that started as a railroad town.  Originally known as Pace’s Gap, the community was primarily a stopover for traders and herders. IMG_2119 As railroads began crossing the country, Captain Charles Pearson, chief  engineer of the railway,  was sent to determine the best way to traverse the Carolina mountains.  After assessing the topography, with its sheer cliffs and multiple underground streams, Pearson made the decision to have the tracks built across Saluda Mountain rather than through the gap.  The cost to the railroad and to the community was high.  Many lost their lives building the line that became known—and is still known—as the steepest mainline standard gauge grade in North America.  The Carolina Special painted by Howard Fogg.  The Special ran from Charleston, SC, to Cincinnati, OH, crossing the 5.3 /100 Saluda grade.
The first passenger train to climb Saluda arrived on July 4, 1879.  Soon, some eight passenger trains a day steamed into the tiny depot, occasionally bringing such notable writers and artists as Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald and Dorothy Dix, who found Saluda a restful haven.
IMG_2114 Today the glitterati are long gone; a few art galleries  and antiques shops cater to the day trippers.  The summer residents enjoy cool mountain hikes and Appalachian sunsets.  And, I suspect, frequent dinners at The Purple Onion.


  1. Sounds, and looks, so wonderful.

  2. Sounds so lovely! And thank you for sharing part of your area of the country as well as a bit of American History with us. I'll have the cobbler too, by the way!

  3. isn't it amazing how refreshing it is to climb
    into cooler temperatures? i'm happy you had
    such a wonderful respite from the heat.

    . . . and my husband has those same shorts,
    his only preppy item of clothing.

    how are you doing with the college countdown?
    my daughter leaves for brazil sept. 7th. :(

  4. Wouldn't you just love a mountain home?! I know I would!

  5. We were going to stop by Saluda on our way home, BUT it was Coon Dog Day! No way we could have stopped in and out.

    Great meeting you last Saturday... going to post about it tomorrow! (Trying to catch up on reading blogs first... whew!)

  6. what a great post! I felt like I was with you all (wish I had that pie right now!) Just got back from college tours with my son in your neck of the woods (Raleigh) then to Nashville-boy was it hot! But we had great fun and delicious food. Have a great week, Barbara


Post a Comment

Thanks for taking time to leave a comment! I love hearing your thoughts.

Popular Posts