Tuesday, August 14, 2012

Weekend Wrap-Up: Road Trippin' to Asheville, NC

When I was a kid, my mom would load my brother and I up in the car for our annual summer vacation to Asheville, North Carolina. My grandmother and grandfather had moved there for their retirement, and it was always such a treat to go visit 'Grandma in the Mountains' and 'Papa' (or 'Saint Arthur') as we fondly nicknamed them, mostly because we knew they'd have gummie bears and gummie worms for us to demolish when we arrived AND a hot tub for us to 'work the kinks out' after driving four hours to see them.

It was a tradition to have some Twizzlers on hand in the car for sustenance (yes, my mom let us splurge on summer vacations) and some good jams. My most vivid memories include listening to MC Hammer's 'U Can't Touch This', to which I know ALL the words, and listening to the whole 'Sister Act' movie soundtrack. We were so cool.... obviously.

My mother also peppered our road trips with her own original songs, little redneck-style diddies that went something like 'my wife ran away with my best friend, my dog got hit by the mailman again...'. You know, the typical ridiculous country song on the radio, but with the stylings only my mother could add. Those were the days!

I was lucky enough to escape to Asheville this past weekend for a girl's trip with Grandma in the Mountains and my mom, who drove up from Atlanta. My grandmother lives in a beautiful house on the top of a mountain. The house is particularly special because Papa designed it. It has his touches throughout the house, and since he is no longer with us, it's nice to spend some time in the place he dreamed up and created. 

Our trip was marked by lots of wine consumption (I clearly get my love of vino from my g'ma) and some exceptional lunches out on the town. On Saturday, we dined at the Grovewood Cafe, which is on the grounds of the beautiful Grove Park Inn. I had the Vegetable Plate, a sampling of the areas local fare, which included fresh green beans, rhubarb, sauteed kale, fried green tomatoes, fried okra, slaw and homemade mac n' cheese. Talk about good Southern 'comfort food'.

Sunday morning, my mom and I started the day off with a hike up my grandmother's hill. This was urban hiking (as it's paved the whole way), but I'll tell you what... that hill is steep. A few minutes of that and we were ready to have some coffee and read the paper, but the exercise and fresh mountain air were well worth it. For lunch, we dined at their newest pick Travinia. They've been raving about the crab cakes for months now and I just had to get my hands on one (or rather, they made me come to town TO try one). They were absolutely right. That crab cake was worth writing home about and the spinach-roasted tomato and pine nut orzo with a lemon buerre blanc sauce on the side was cooked to perfection. I wish I had ordered two.

After lunch, we enjoyed perusing the shops nearby, especially 'Oil and Vinegar', a gourmet store where you can fill up your own bottles with every type of flavored olive oil and vinegar that you can imagine. Damn you, carry-on bag and TSA regulations!

We wrapped up the day with a little happy hour on g'ma's back porch, followed by homemade salads with arugula, zucchini, bella mushrooms, craisins, sliced almonds and kalamata olives with chipotle ranch dressing. I basically combined all the leftovers in the fridge and the end result was surprisingly complimentary. Not to toot my own horn, but....

Yesterday, we enjoyed sleeping in before hitting up my favorite little restaurant in downtown Asheville, Chorizo, which is owned by famed chef Hector Diaz. His Puerto Rican roots shine through the food, which is authentic and fresh. I would tell you more, but I'll save that for this week's 'Saturday Splurge'.

Asheville is one of those places that you have to visit before you kick the bucket. There's something for everyone. It's an artist's dream, a college town, an intellectual haven and a nature lover's playground. You can hike, raft and swim OR you can attend gallery showings and poetry readings. The people are incredibly friendly and the views are majestic. Asheville will always hold a special place in my heart and girl's weekend... well, we'll never tell!

And now... a few more photos from the trip of some very special things!

My very first stuffed animal, 'Bunny Rabbit', given to me by Grandma in the Mountains. I loved him
so much that his ear fell off and had to be sewn back on.
The butterflies that I bought g'ma to replace the ones she had on the wall when I visited her as a child.
My early birthday cake. My favorite, a Poppyseed Cake, made with love by mama.
My new bedroom slippers, a birthday gift from mama. I LOVE slippers.
The 'Fun Girls'... g'ma, mama and me.

1 comment:

  1. People I love and care about tell me that it's their life, that it's their choice, that they can do what they want, that I have no right to judge them. While I could only wonder, "Your choice in life affects me too.

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