What could I tell you about Asheville, North Carolina that would do it justice?
I could mention the 854 photographs that Colin* took.
Or I could tell you that a certain chef with a very bright future in the Bay Area moved on a whim when his wife BOUGHT THEM A HOUSE there on vacation. Without him.
I could speak volumes about my difficulty in starting this post, and finally realizing that it needs to be a series to really express my little infatuation with this town.
Look, I know I couldn't really live there. It's still a town where young people (albeit heavily inked and pierced young people) settle down to have their families, and we all know that I don't want bebes. And it's still awfully close to the Deep South, a place where people with names like "Fatemeh"stand out like... well, for lack of a better term, giant bulls-eyes.
But that Asheville... there is something very special going on there.
A "vibe" that keeps the energy flowing well into the night, whether you're strolling down the main drag in the center of town or parked on a barstool near the Grove Arcade with a sampler of local beers in front of you.
Artists who capture your heart and take your breath away, simply by creating Japanese maple leaves out of nothing more that a small square of iron, a hot oven, and their life force.
Chefs who speak with passion about the farmer's they talk to every week, and farmers who swear by their relationships with those chefs. And their love of southern food -- biscuits and gravy with homemade sausage, pineapple upside-down cake, and anything made with cornmeal.
As you can tell, I've got lots to say about Asheville. So why haven't I written sooner, you ask?
Well, it turns out I've got this thing called a conscience. And there's a rather large part of me that has felt truly odd writing glowing reviews about a place that I spent only a small bit of my own money to visit.
The more I thought about it, though, the more I realized that the whole point of this exercise was to explore a place I hadn't seen, had hardly heard of, in fact. And why SHOULDN'T I open up my experience to you? I would have written about the poorer aspects of our visit, too, if there'd been any. It just so happens that these people and this place are so damn friendly, and so damn pleasant, and so hospitable** that there was honestly nothing to complain about.
(Except maybe the Aveo. Really, Chevy? Did you have to put a golf cart engine into this thing?).
So, yea, I've got a couple of posts coming about Asheville. And then some catch up posts about Vail and the Farmer's Market, plus a couple of snarky tidbits from the food (and elsewhere) news pages.
*Yes, Colin is the mysterious "C". I finally got him to agree that you stalkers out there would find him out soon enough, especially since his (stellar and stunning) landscape photography may soon be featured in a few places out there in the interwebs.
** You don't know from hospitable until you've been offered a slice of Fruity Pebbles birthday cake by a sweet-as-molasses cafe worker on -- get this -- the Biltmore Estate. Colin's drawl comes in handy after all.