Sunday, May 30, 2010

Vacay - Part Two: The Carolinas

After leaving beautiful Tennessee, we traveled to welcoming South Carolina to see other friends. We had visited them last year and had a great time
This time A and I went to Asheville, North Carolina (they’re close to the SC/NC border) for the day. I had no idea what a fabulous town it is. It’s like a throwback to 70’s hippiedom, but with lots of modern touches. The city is full of artists and artisans, and everywhere you look there are galleries, street vendors and interesting shops, sculptures AND citizens. Very cool. 

When was the last time you saw a sign that said this?

It was hanging here.

Along our way, we stopped at “Asheville’s Greenest Restaurant”, The Green Sage, for coffee and a little quleque chose.

The coffee wasn't great, but the atmosphere was so friendly and communal-like. The staff was having a meeting near our table and they were talking about how to get more kids into the place. It just seemed like a homey, comfortable place to hang out. 
We stopped at SO many galleries, stores and stands that I’m going to make a list (a LONG list) and gather them in one place. And then if you go to any of these places, you can take this list (soon to be posted in the future) with you as a great starting point. And don’t worry, H, I didn’t buy stuff at EVERY place we went into…maybe just every other. ;-)
We had lunch at a quintessential Asheville outpost, The Laughing Seed
It’s a fun-loving vegetarian café that serves deliciously fresh and interesting food. We split one sushi (Miyabizushi - it was good, but I was surprised it wasn’t made with brown rice) and one truly sensational falafel

Look at how soft and warm and good the pita looks. (You can tell the pita was warm, just by LOOKING, can’t you?) The pickled beets were a great foil for the deliciously crusty falafel. Yum!

I was sooo excited to try a Reed’s Ginger Brew. I guess I’m not alternative enough to have liked it. 
Here’s a great video about The Laughing Seed, where they talk about, among other things, their own brewed beer. Fast forward through it just to get an idea of the place.

Definitely check out Asheville and get your groove on if you’re ever in that neck of the woods.

Two more meals to tell you about.
A Day In The Country. No, I’m not talking a rural outing OR the Jean Renoir movie, but a little lunch place in Hendersonville, North Carolina.

Actually, it has a BIG shop attached to it with all kinds of fun and countrified chotzkes. The lunch part is actually called Cafè on the Veranda. A sweet talking Southern lady at the counter takes your lunch order.
Then you get a number, which you display on the table of your choice. Another Southern lady serves you, always purring in that soft drawl that’s so easy on the ears. 
It was a bit chilly outside,
so we sat near THIS lady.

I had the quiche and tomato soup combo and THEN A and I spilt an apple dumpling. Just saying the word makes me think of Paula and warm and wonderful things. It was finger-lickin’ good…and this is a picture of only HALF the dumpling. (Gosh, I LOVE that word.)

I decided to ignore A when she tentatively suggested that the dough could have been those canned biscuits that I get so hot and bothered about. All I know is that I loved my dumpling and I wasn’t having any of her intrusion into my dumpling reverie. 
The other really nice meal we had was in Greenville at the Northampton Wine Café. (Why does every place call itself a café?) The food was beautifully prepared and served in a lovely setting on the same premises as a wine store. (How handy.) 
This Spring Salad with strawberries was completely delightful and well as gorgeous. The honey mango vinaigrette was nicely tart and the radishes made the salad not too sweet. Plus I loved the curried maple cashews. 

The Cavendish farms quail had a chili and garlic rub that wasn’t particularly robust, but the meat was sooo tender and the pomegranate glaze was perfect. Quail is a good choice for an appetizer, since there’s not tons of meat on it.

My scallops were wonderfully cooked with a good sear on them. I could eat mango with every course, so I liked them as a garnish. 

The cheddar grits with the Scottish salmon were yummy. HOW exactly are grits different from polenta? I know that real grits are supposedly made from hominy and soaked in lye water (YUM-MEE!) and that polenta is made from ground corn, but I still don’t really know what the taste difference is except that grits are coarser. 

I really should have made it my business to research that when I was in the South. Next time, I will, but I’d love to avoid lye water, if I could. It doesn’t surprise me, though, that the same folks who drink moonshine, eat grits.
Anyway, dessert was an ambrosial croissant bread pudding. The crème anglaise, I believe, was made with white chocolate, which was a fabulous addition. It was so moist and mushy (in a good way) AND I loved that they had scrunched the croissants so tightly together that they could cut perfect squares. What a stunning dessert. 

One other stop was at the outstanding Fluor Field to watch the Greenville Drive minor league baseball team. The game was good (I'm told) but the BBQ sandwiches were superb and the soft ice cream in the little plastic helmets was nothing short of superduper. Sorry, no pictures of the food. My hands were too sticky.

What a wonderful trip with great friends, great food, great places (AND great shopping). I’ll tell you about Blackberry Farm next with a nifty giveaway.


DebCarol said...

Hey Sue!! Sorry for my "leave of absence" . . . been away from my computer alot lately, helping a family member recover from some surgery. All is OK now but I feel like I've been away in another world. AND ~ I'd rather be in your world, love this post. I feel like I've had a mini getaway just from reading about your Carolina getaway. Yum on all the food, all looks amazing, you describe it so well I do think I want to schedule a trip there immediately.

Sue said...

I missed you! I hope all continues to go well. It CAN be like an alternate universe when you're caring for someone 24/7. Maybe you can take a little time for yourself now...

The Carolinas were beautiful, and so was Tennessee. It's good to get away every once in awhile, but I admit I get a little apprehensive when I'm further than a hour away from Rt. 95.