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Asheville Anniversary (Part II)

December 2nd, 2008 by Brooke

As you know, I had an amazing time in Asheville, NC. Many people think of Asheville and think of touring the Biltmore Estate. But, there is so much more. When we weren’t stuffing our faces, we did a waterfall hike in the Dupont National forest to see a triple-water fall. We took a two hour foliage drive on the Blue Ridge Parkway after which we bought a pumpkin at the foot of Cold Mountain.  And, we did visit the Biltmore estate, but in classic form, we skipped the mansion and opted instead to tour the winery. We also booked the champagne tour and tasting with the concierge and it was a cool added bonus.

In town, it’s all about the boutiquing and the food. We shopped every other day in the boutiques on Lexington Ave which were surprisingly stylish and affordable – I scored a wool winter coat for $80 and my husband certainly enjoyed Bruisin’ Ales beer store on Broadway. Speaking of beer – many bars have bottled GF options like Green’s, New Grist and Redbridge which made happy hour blissful. As for the food, with only seven days, we couldn’t eat everywhere but we did hit a few great spots. Healthful, alternative eating is encouraged and most restaurants are completely amenable to food sensitivities: no haggling with wait staff about what gluten is and what foods contain it!

  • Salsa’s, with its somewhat lacking bustling ambiance, is a great food spot that offers a perfect fusion of Mexican/Caribbean food with farm-fresh ingredients. The trio of unusual salsas is a tremendous appetizer. The food is so good we ate there twice and both times I ate pumpkin-steak enchiladas and loved every bite.
  • Zambra, a Spanish and North African tapas place boasts a lovely décor, tranquil ambiance and a knowledgeable gluten-free-friendly wait staff who recommended a great bottle of wine we could pick up for a steal.
  • Usual Suspects, a stylish (think warehouse décor with votives) restaurant off the beaten path has unique nightly specials that are worth calling in advance about – we went without doing so and were sort of underwhelmed by the menu. But, I had a great hanger steak, the ambiance is very cool and it’s crawling with a diverse local crowd.
  • Mela, a swanky Indian joint that offered one of the top five Indian meals I’ve ever had. Subtle herbs and delicate but rich sauces make all the difference. It was so good we ate it for breakfast the next day.
  • The Grove Park Inn, a beautiful old stone hotel high on a hill outside of town, is where we spent my favorite nights lingering in the great room. I imagined we would bump into Zelda and F. Scott Fitzgerald sipping cocktails in front of the fireplaces or grabbing a bite on the Sunset Terrace.

Undoubtedly, the lively town, the food and the scenery filled our days and our hearts. The entire city has a refreshing and invigorating emphasis on living green, healthy and happy. In fact, they have adopted a common motto as their own: “Don’t postpone joy!” And gluties, Asheville = joy.

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