Asheville North Carolina has been on our “to visit” list for years – so this year we decided to make it happen for the Fall trip and to do it over Halloween/Samhain week because – why not? Upon our arrival on Sunday the 30th we were greeted with quite the eye full of Autumn and some peaceful chill country vibes. Nice people and good food. How can you go wrong?
As flying into Asheville can be quite expensive we took a super early flight into Charlotte, picked up our Turo rental car with a little bit of hassle because of unlabeled parking garages, and began our two hour journey West. We attempted to have lunch at a tiny off the road location and learned that it was quite busy and popular on a Sunday mid-day so we went next door to a brewery/gastropub that appeared to be very used to getting sloppy seconds from its next door neighbor. But our first taste of Southern food did not disappoint – at least not me. I got a pimento fried chicken biscuit sandwich. All the flavors of the South squeezed into one brunchy item – with a side salad.
We made our way to Asheville attempting to take in some views along the way – which brought us to Veronet Vineyards & Winery. A very large establishment parked on top of a hill with beautiful autumn views and some very undescribed wine with questionable quality. It was odd because although they appeared to grow some of their grapes and have been in business since 2019 – there were no dates, descriptions, or details about the wine making involved in their salesmanship. It was “Here, we have wine. You don’t want wine we have some other things, and snacks are available over there. Tables are first come first serve.” The winery was very full of very pretty looking southern gentry-esq looking people enjoying the fall vibes and the final days of the “wine slushy” that was pointed out by our hostess. It came in a commemorative skull mug according to the menu. So despite the questionable wine quality and pedigree it appeared no one seemed to really care and were happy to be imbibing in wine, beer, other things and charcuterie plates.
And finally we made it to Asheville in time to settle into the Airbnb and catch our evening dinner reservation at the Copper Crown. Our Airbnb is gigantic and ironically too large for just the three of us. But our original plan included 4 to 6 persons, and was then 4, and then thanks to Covid became 3. So here we are in a giant party house in the suburbs of Asheville – just the 3 of us and a hot tub!
Copper Crown is a cute little place sandwiched inside a Medical Dental strip mall.
From the outside you would not think much of it. But from the inside its cozy booths and friendly staff really make you feel at home. Then there is the food – which was phenomenal.
The best dishes were the beef cheeks and the squash gnocchi, and maybe that messy cheesecake at the end. The theme of this meal = rich as a Southern smile. Such flavor saturation though with unique preparation of common Southern staples. Brussel sprouts are always maple bacon, so these were pickled carrot and feta. Okra is alway fried with butter and these were fried with almost a tempura and served with a green sauce, radishes, citrus and cilantro. We over ordered and over ate – but it was worth it. And after a big meal and a long day we took a dip in the hot tub looking out over the forest and went to bed to ready for tomorrow’s adventure.
After a relaxing morning on Samhain we got it together and headed to downtown Asheville for breakfast and exploration. Our first experience, appropriate for Halloween and the thin veil, was to encounter a young man in a white button down shirt screaming the theme song from Casper the Friendly Ghost as he walked down the street aggressively. We got out of his way. I pretended that this fountain/art work was the most interesting thing in the world as he passed.
We walked to The Rue – a local and popular breakfast spot featuring artisenal and heirloom ingredients like pimento cheese grits.
Well, not sure how heirloom grits really can be but these were the best grits I’d ever had. The texture was so chunky and the pimento cheesy was delightfully light on the tongue versus cloyingly heavy.
Inside the warm cafe we were greeted by the music of Trampled by Turtles new album Aspenglow, causing me to stop conversation and point to the speakers and yell “Hey! its Trampled by Turtles!” Shocking that we would hear them here in Asheville. Not really, but it was fun to eat my pastry and drink my tumeric tea to their music.
After breakfast we began our wander of downtown Asheville, taking in the color, the art shops and the various other sundries we could find.
One of those things we found was the Moogseum. A museum dedicated to Bob Moog and his invention invention of the synthesizer. We learned that although he worked very hard to invent the Moog synthesizer, and the advancement of the technology was all as a result of him and his innovations – his technology was copied and he ended up pretty much dirt poor and unappreciated for his efforts that created pretty much all of what modern music is today. The Moogseum is dedicated to educating people about his legacy and does not allow photos. You can take a selfie with the Bob painting in the foyer though.
Inside the Moogseum I ran into old friends I used to work with in Seattle at metaphysical fairs before the pandemic. They were out celebrating their wedding anniversary in downtown Asheville (they now live nearby having left the Seattle metro area in 2020). It was nice and surprising to run into the only person I knew in Asheville completely on accident on Samhain.
For a Monday, downtown Asheville was alive and happening. Perhaps because it was Samhain/Halloween, or perhaps because people move to Asheville to retire while they are still young? It didn’t feel like everyone around us was also tourists, but I could have been wrong. We finished our day with some more art and shopping and then regathered ourselves for dinner at The Marketplace.
In our traditional fashion we ordered too much food. Everything on the menu seemed so tasty so we had a hard time making up our mind – and Southern “small” plates aren’t all that small, and the a la carte options for “dinner” plates are also quite large.
The food was so filling we couldn’t even split a dessert. I enjoyed the quail, it was a nice crispy smokey flavor on top of a set of tangy swiss chard. I barely touched the grits. The boys gave up on being part of the clean plate club this time around – and we all admitted to the very friendly staff in Halloween costumes that food won this round. It was a nice and relaxing and early evening for us again. We made it home way before the 3rd night of sold out Billy Strings concert fans fell upon the streets in the varying states of non-sobriety and were happy for it.