Christmasy dinner

There’s a place in Saluda, NC called The Orchard Inn where proprietors Marc & Marianne Blazar will rent you a room for $140 or serve you a four-course dinner (reservations required, jackets suggested) for $60. Taxes, gratuities and libations not included.

Friends who’ve stayed at the Inn for retreats and weddings and whatnot speak highly of it, and I’ve driven past its almost hidden hillside entrance many times, but it wasn’t until this month that I found an excuse to travel so far and pay so much for a meal that I could approximate for half the price within walking distance of my already-paid-for bedroom.

The excuse I found is the Orchard Inn’s annual Dickens Dinner. No, it’s not the kind of thing that would interest me under normal circumstances, still scarred as I am from doing dinner theater in the mid-80’s, but I have it on good authority that my friend Peter and I are in for a treat … Appetizers at 6:30, first course at 7, a local man dressed as Pickwick reading Dickens between courses, a glass of smoking bishop and carols by the fire at 9:30.