Thursday, February 17, 2011

Valentines Day In The Smokies - Part 1

For Valentine’s Day, Bev and I were alone and did one of the things we enjoy when we’re up in this area - we headed over the mountains to Cherokee, NC to make a little donation to the Eastern Band Of Cherokee Indians via a visit to their tribal owned Harrah’s Casino.  While we had limited cooking options, I did manage to whip up a little breakfast for My Valentine before we started our adventure.

When we started up the mountain it was 50* in downtown Gatlinburg and when we got to the top, at Newfound Gap, it was 42* with a very brisk wind - going up 3600' made a big difference.  Here's a shot over into NC, but the sun was wrong.

Note the large number of dead trees on the mountain in the background - they are hemlocks being ravaged by a little critter called a wooly adelgid.  When we got down into Cherokee, the temp was back up to 51*.

The casino was an impressive structure located just out of downtown Cherokee toward Maggie Valley, NC.  I'd planned to take a picture of the beautiful front entrance, but it was gone as they are remodeling to build a big new hotel and increase the gaming floor to one of the largest in North America, with what I'm sure will be an even more impressive entrance.  What's it tell you about the amount of money casino's make when they're spending $633 million to remodel.  As I understand it, every member of the tribe gets a significant check as a result of the casino, in addition to the jobs it provides. It’s easy to see from the increased prosperity of Cherokee why the Native American communities are choosing to do this.

The complex also contains the newly opened Paula Deen's Kitchen, which we had to give a try, even though we were underwhelmed by The Lady & Sons in Savannah.  From my web search, this is the third marriage of Paula and a casino (second Harrah's).  I had fried green tomatoes, which I liked and will look for her recipe, and a crabcake sandwich, which I won't try to find.  Bev had a shrimp Po'Boy which had a giant roll and 4 fried oysters.  Even though it was reasonably priced, I'd call it typical tourist food and will likely skip it on our next visit.

Tune in Saturday for the return trip to Gatlinburg and thanks for stopping by.



  1. I'm amazed at the fancy casinos and their attraction. They sure draw a crowd. Rumors say there will be one in our county soon, which happens to be Cherokee County, but not where you and Bev were.

    Larry, I would bet that the fried green tomatoes that you make are better than what you had at Paula's. When I was checking out at the grocery store, I saw one of those rags that had a story "Paula Deen made me slim." I laughed all the way out of the store.

  2. I'm surprised Paula's kitchen wasn't more impressive. Good to know though :) We have a Harrah's casino out's pretty amazing!

  3. I've never been to a casino on Indian grounds, they sure are popular however. You wouldn't believe the devistation in our mountains with dead trees due to the pine beetle. So sad. Mostly in the Northern part of high country. Hillsides of orange dead Lodge Pole pines. I suppose this will really encourage future hillsides of Aspen groves.

  4. It sounds like a fun way to spend Valentines with your Sweetie. Fried green tomatoes are the best, now I have a craving for them.

  5. HI There, We are home after a few days with friends in North Carolina.

    We were at Biltmore on Valentine's Day --and had that VERY brisk wind also!!!!

    I've been 'by' Harrah's --but have never stopped. Glad you enjoyed it...

    Hope you are having a good week. Enjoy this gorgeous weather.

  6. I have to check this out sometime. I love poker!

  7. Larry, I've contributed to Indian Casino's in Michigan, Minnesota, Wisconsin, Oklahoma, California and New Mexico. Just my generous nature at work... I'd guess that the Eastern Band of the Cherokee Nation will be next! Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

  8. I have made that drive over that mountain twice, and was not crazy about it. Let's face it, that winding, skinny road was not built for a 15 passenger Ford van. Cherokee is a cute little place, but I'm not one for tribal donations; I'm just too "thrifty" (my kids have another word for it).

  9. I like Cherokee, even the tourist trap type of places. Nice of you to whip a little something up for Bev!


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