CAROLINA IN MY MIND
I just returned from a last minute trip to Asheville, NC. My husband, Peter, scheduled a business trip to Charlotte & I decided to tag along (being empty-nesters has its advantages) to see old friends and their beloved Asheville. At the airport, Peter headed to his car rental & his meetings. He joined us a couple of days later for a long weekend. My dear friend, Margaret, was waiting for me. I threw my bag in the back (well not really, the bag was a tad heavy to throw), hugged her neck, jumped in the car & we were off, headed for the hills…literally & figuratively…to Asheville!
En route we stopped into Bridges BBQ right off of Rte 74 in Shelby, NC. I’ve spent the last nine years in Texas, I am not a newbie to great BBQ. But I do admit that I am very partial to the vinegar based NC style of BBQ sauce ~ sweet & tangy. Bridges did not disappoint with mouthwatering bites of rich, smokey pork brisket, combined with the red tangy slaw, a match made in “hog heaven”. Even with all the trips I’ve made to NC, evening living in Charlotte for a short time, the red slaw was unlike any I had ever eaten. Bridges version is simple ~ grated cabbage, Hunt’s ketchup (not Heinz, Del Monte, French’s or heaven forbid any of the gourmet brands) & apple cider vinegar! The owner told me that the recipe came from the 30’s when they had little refrigeration & were afraid that the folks would get sick if the mayo based slaw went bad. The saying works here - “Necessity is the mother of invention” and I for one am glad…not the prettiest of slaws, but oh the taste!!!
Back in the car, we were soon in view of the breathtaking mountains that encircle Asheville. The sky was a brilliant “Carolina” blue, the puffy white clouds spotted the skyline and I had to roll down the windows to breath in the clean, crisp air ~ heaven! While it was still early, fall was ever so slightly in the air. A few of the maple trees were tinged with colour. I can only imagine how spectacular it will be in couple of weeks.
Thursday was girl’s day. Margaret & I headed down to Historic Biltmore Village. We meandered along the brick sidewalk, popping into quaint shops in what were originally homes built for the workers at the Biltmore Estate. We stopped into the lovely Village Antiques, the shop was filled with such beautiful furniture, silver, china & so much more. We restrained ourselves and left empty handed.
All that shopping made us hungry! We had a delightful lunch at Fig on Brook St. My Duck Confit salad was delicious. The shredded confit duck thigh was served on frisée, topped with a poached egg, chives & served with a refreshing cumin/walnut vinaigrette that cut through some of the richness. Margaret’s quiche of the day was creamy & luscious with goat cheese, baby spinach & fresh herbs, served with a fresh mixed green salad couldn’t have been better. We topped lunch off and shared a pumpkin panna cotta with a mixed berry sorbet. We lingered on the patio, laughing, sipping our wine and people watching!
We ended our day combing the 70,000 sqft of The Antique Tobacco Barn on Swannanoa River Rd, voted the best antique store in Western NC by Mountain Xpress. Big is an understatement! The place was chock full of everything you can possibly imagine, things you couldn’t, and things probably don’t want to!!! Last stop was Oddfellows Antique Warehouse a little further down the same road, a meager 12,000 ft space! These 2 were just the tip of the iceberg, but that was plenty
for one day! Such a fun first day. There's plenty ahead!!!