You might not think fish are synonymous with Christmas. I didn’t either … until I got this post assignment about Christmas gift shopping in Highland County.
Not being a permanent resident any longer … I’ll admit I was skeptical and a bit out-of-touch with all the gifting opportunities Highland County has to offer. (In fact, you can really get some cool things here!) Nor did I imagine there would be enough fish-themed present opportunities to write an entire blog post about!
Does Highland County ever tire of providing pleasant surprises?
Virginia Trout Company
Of course, the best fish is the most traditional option. Highland County is known for its Allegheny Mountain Trout. There’s nothing better than trout fresh from the frying pan or still warm from the oven. To give an authentic Highland County gift, check out the Virginia Trout Company, north of Monterey on U.S. 220, where trout are raised and processed on-site and have been for many, many years. They have walk-in hours Monday-Wednesday from 8-noon. For more specifics, call them at (540) 205-6689.
Big Fish Cider
You won’t only find fish in the waterways of Highland County! Certainly, each of you know of Big Fish Cider in Monterey. If you don’t, you must get acquainted! Gift-giving is easy and reasonable with Big Fish. Check out their online store, and order directly from the company! Bottles start at $11 and go up from there. You can select a single bottle or a variety of your own choosing. Or, one could go with the Taste of Highland Gift Package, which includes two bottles of cider along with a bottle of locally-made maple syrup from Puffenbarger Sugar Orchard and local honey!
Paul at High’s Restaurant would be happy to hook you up with a gift certificate. And… he’s got fish on the menu! You can choose from a fried trout sandwich or the fried (or grilled) trout dinner. Yum! As one would imagine there are TONS of other items available. You can select from sandwiches, salads, and even Chinese entrees. Don’t forget dessert! They have incredible cakes and pies. The “Chocolate Explosion” cake comes highly recommended by the local person that runs this blog. I, personally, enjoy their wonderful “Lemon Berry Perfection Cake,” and my daughter believes their Peanut Butter pie is the best thing on Earth.
The Curly Maple
Located in the heart of Monterey across from the Courthouse is The Curly Maple – the newest dining and shopping experience in town. The Curly Maple has dishes prepared for breakfast and lunch on their regular menu along with daily specials, some of which occasionally intermingle seafood, such as an Oyster Po’Boy with Remoulade Sauce. On-site dining is available as well as take-out. Toward the front of the building, you’ll find the makings of an old-time general store with local treats, such as baked goods, maple syrup, wellness products, and art. In addition, a decent supply of necessary groceries (including fish!) are available to fill your fridge. Plus, place your order for Friday Pizza Night featuring creations by local pizza legend Chris Royal. (Would fish be good on pizza? Anchovies? We’ll let Mr. Royal decide!) Gifts certificates are available. (Follow The Curly Maple on Facebook for daily specials and other announcements!)
Hull’s Hideaway Restaurant & Tavern
Treat your loved one to a home-cooked meal at a family-run restaurant – small town charm at its best! Hull’s Hideaway Restaurant & Tavern, owned and operated by the Hull family and a long-time-dream of Missy, the family matriarch, can be found smack-dab in the middle of Monterey next to Fast Break. “The Hideaway,” as some affectionately call it, features specials, such as Vegetable Hamburger Soup (by request of a happy customer!), Stuffed Peppers, and Memphis-style Baby Back Ribs, made by Missy and her wonderful staff. And, of course, they have Allegheny Mountain Trout. Actually, they have THREE options – Fried, Grilled Almond, or Baked Lemon Pepper (pictured to the right). YUM! (Follow their Facebook page for updates!) Other menu items include pizzas, salads, and appetizers. Gift certificates are available.
Blue Grass Mercantile
Yet another locally-owned, family-operated business, Blue Grass Mercantile is situated in the heart of the village of Blue Grass. Martha Colaw stocks the store with produce, deli goods, and Mount Crawford Creamery milk products from the Shenandoah Valley as well as locally-made Big Fish Cider, maple syrup from Bruce’s Syrup & Candies, and honey from Thorny Bottom Bees. (And, that’s just a small sampling of her products!) She also offers prepared food for take-out including appetizers, salads, hot and cold sandwiches, and pizza. (You can see a menu on their Facebook page.) Plus, there are daily dinner specials to whet your appetite. And, guess what? Martha has a fish filet sandwich on the menu!
Hiner Town Trout Fishing
Toss in a line, and catch your own! Located a few miles north of Monterey on the left, Hiner Town Trout Fishing offers fun for the entire family and all ages. And, it’s only $5 per pound to keep what you catch. No licenses are required, and pole rentals and supplies are available. Spend time with family, make memories, enjoy the beautiful view from the pond, and then, cook your catch for dinner! HIner Town Trout Fishing is open year-round. (So, you truly could CATCH a fish for Christmas!) In the winter months, just call ahead to schedule your trip – (540) 679-6194.
So, if fish-giving works in the scheme of your gift-giving plans this Christmas, you’ve come to the right place – Highland County!
Merry Fish-mas to all!!
About the Author
Crysta Stephenson grew up in the Meadowdale and Vanderpool areas of Highland County. She loved it so much that she returned to raise her daughters on the family farm, Glenwood. She received a B.A. in mass communications with a minor in history from Mary Baldwin College. For 13 years, she honed her journalism skills as a staff writer and editor at two small Virginia newspapers. Her second career - also lasting 13 years - focused on managing two small historical museums here in Virginia. These days, she juggles lots of odd jobs including writing and museum assignments that give her time to enjoy life and admire the accomplishments of her daughters, Rebecca and Suzanna, and play with her grandmutts, Alex and Snoopy. She splits her time between her family home in Highland and her apartment in Augusta County.