January 14, 2012 – A gorgeous winter weekend seemed like a great time to drive to the mountains. Asheville, NC is our preferred go-to spot – it’s a small, funky, pretty town nestled in the Blue Ridge mountains.
Saturday morning started off with some wine and cheese tasting. We’d snagged a groupon to Vino de Vaso, a discount wine shop, so we headed in around 11am. We were the only ones there, and had a fun time sampling a variety of wines. Our favorites were a Trebiano (sweet Italian white), an Argentinian Malbec, and a few Chardonnay. We weren’t huge fans of the whites, although Tony preferred them more than Louisa did. By the time we had bought a bunch of wine (gotta stock up when you find a good buy) it was lunch time and we were looking for some grub. Pomodoros, the restaurant next door, billed themselves as Greek and Italian and seemed like a good choice. We started off with the (complimentary) crusty bread and oil (very good), and then split the Greek lemon chicken soup. We’d never had this before, but it was very good – fairly light and refreshing due to the heavy use of lemon, but also smooth and creamy. Tony had a fantastic chicken marsala with home made noodles, and Louisa really enjoyed her lamb gyros with tzatziki sauce.
Our original afternoon plan was to drive the Blue Ridge over to Waynesville for some BBQ. Despite the gorgeous weather, the parkway was closed, so instead we parked and took a nice little hike down the closed road. The road made a great hiking trail. We saw a few cool birds, got to walk through a tunnel, and spotted the Biltmore on the way back.
Then we took the (much quicker) main road over to Big Mountain BBQ in Waynesville. The restaurant wasn’t crowded yet (at 5pm), but it quickly filled up. We tried the sweet corn hush puppies with honey butter (fantastic), ribs (fall off the bone tender), chicken (good if you like chicken), pork (good, but none of the sauces called out the sweetness of it), and brisket (fantastic). Sides were sauteed onions (so-so) and mac n cheese (great), and a salad with blue cheese (wonderful). The sauces are all home made, and include a great Kansas City style sauce. Just before the food arrived we caught a glimpse of the sun setting over the mountains.
January 15, 2012 – On Sunday morning we headed to downtown Asheville for some coffee and an eclair at City Bakery, a local coffee shop. The eclair, and vanilla custard, were declared the best we’ve found. After our snack we walked next door to Barley’s Taproom and Pizzeria. We each got some pepperoni slices, and were pleasantly surprised by the thin, NYC style crust and generous toppings. We also each got a beer flight, featuring mostly local draughts. After lunch we continued exploring and stopped to grab some fresh made sweet potato and chili powder chips before heading back to towards the car.
This time we drove over to the Blue Ridge visitor’s center, parked, and walked up a different (but still closed) section of the parkway. We caught a glimpse of a pileated woodpecker flying away, and got a good view of some smaller downy woodpeckers.
Before leaving town we enjoyed dinner at Early Girl Eatery. We started off with their hushpuppies, then had vegetarian chili (with a biscuit on the side) and an omelet with ham, local cheddar, and mushrooms. As usual, the food was great, and we had a view of the small town square, which had put white Christmas lights throughout the trees.