There’s a bevy of information to come about my recent trip to Asheville, but in the spirit of brevity and Friday Five (which has its own spirit, doesn’t it?), today’s post will be five things I loved about my Appalachian jaunt.
This creatively named brew featured flavors that made my much beloved Great Lakes Christmas Ale seem weak and watery. Although Craggie (a relatively young operation) is one of only a few Asheville breweries that distribute, they can’t be found outside of North Carolina. A growler of this gem of a beer (spiked with spruce and ginger) sits in my basement.
We stumbled across these industrial buildings-turned-studios as we waited for nearby brewery Wedge Brewing Company to open for business. A passer-by may not even realize that within these buildings, dozens and dozens of Asheville’s artists create the work featured in nearby in downtown Asheville’s more svelte areas (and beyond). From hand-sewn undergarments to platters featuring the impressions of antique lace to a bowl with a pig on it (which I promptly purchased), each floor revealed memorable and unique pieces that help define my Asheville experience.
3. Carolina Bed & Breakfast’s Breakfast
While I preferred the privacy, view and fireplace of the cabin we stayed in for the beginning of our trip, the breakfasts served at the Carolina were unforgettable. Perhaps a name change to “Carolina Breakfast and Bed” would be appropriate. It was worth getting up early to eat multi-course breakfasts showcasing the owners’ kitchen prowess. We had blueberry clafoutis, apple-kissed quiche, hand-made Belgian waffles and, pictured above, poached pear with wine and pistachios in our two days there.
I don’t know if it’s a southern thing, an Appalachian thing or maybe just an Asheville thing, but the people we encountered along the way were friends before we left. Brewmasters invited us into their work spaces, servers told us their favorite foods, bartenders did not duck out of the countless photos I took of them. All in all, we felt welcome in Asheville. Local artist and teacher Elizabeth Lasley, (a friend of a friend) met us for coffee, complete with a detailed list of places to eat, including Early Girl Eatery and Laughing Seed Café, two restaurants we visited and loved. She does her collage and landscape work in the aforementioned River Arts District and has an exhibition at the National Association of Women Artists Annual Exhibition in New York City. Our coffee with Liz brought forth history, sociological and anthropological details we wouldn’t have been able to glean from Asheville’s visitor-friendly site, nor from Wikipedia. Perhaps it makes me a strange tourist, but somehow, I enjoy a place a little more when I can talk to someone who can give me just a tiny bit more insight than a brochure can.
Even if I didn’t fall in love with Asheville, it was difficult not to like the place, with its constant insistence that folks (local and imported) “Put your $ where your heart is” in its buy local campaign. T-shirts, posters (“Local is the New Black”) and stickers decorated the city, in this gently and lovable reminder about the economics of keeping Asheville cool.