A long weekend in Asheville: Days 2-3

SO.  When we left off (you know, like a year ago), we were just leaving the Frog Level Brewing Co on a trip to we took with friends to Ashevile, NC that occured almost two years ago.  Don’t remember (because, why would you)?   Let me refresh your memory:

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We had spent the morning hiking and ended up at Frog Level to hydrate and grab some snacks.  We decided that we wanted to be able to enjoy more than one beer and we had about a 30 min drive ahead of us, so we went back to the apartment.  We had a pretty exciting activity set up for the night:

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Drunk bike rides!  I’m sure you are familiar with the setup, I’ve seen similar activities in a lot of different cities (on our recent trip to Budapest we even spotted a bachelor party wearing tighty whities having a brisk ride around town).  The premise is that you bring your own beer on board and ride around for about an hour and a half.  For anyone that was worried about physical exertion like I was, the bike has a small motor and is not actually dependent on your pedaling.  The driver was funny and we had a good crew on our ride.  We used Amazing Pubcycle and it looks like they’ve changed their tours up a little bit.  Now they offer a 1.5 hr ride with stops at a few bars or a 40 minute Nomad tour.  Either sounds fun, but the one we did had no stops.

After our ride we decided to track down some dinner.  We heard a lot of good things about Tupelo Honey Cafe, but they had a ridiculous wait time (seems to be the norm, we have one in Greenville and it’s ALWAYS packed).  We walked around a bit more and happened upon Mayfel’s.  We looked it up, it had good reviews and a more reasonable wait time, so we got in our best Mardi Gras mindset and Cajun’ed it up.

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Our waitress recommended peel n eat shrimp, so we got that as an appetizer.  It was good, but didn’t really stand out from any ol’ peel n eat shrimp?  We also enjoyed some Seafood Etouffe, Gumbo, and Meatloaf, among other things.

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All of our main entrees were great, but the dessert was probably the best part.  Beignets!  P.S. I’ve tried to make beignets before from a mix someone brought us back from New Orleans and they were so flat.  These were 1,000,000x better, unsurprisingly.  Very soft and fluffy.

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After dinner, we continued to chip away at the population of Asheville breweries.  Our first stop of the night was Funkatorium.  This is Wicked Weed’s brewery and taproom that is dedicated to sour beers.  Which, as it turns out, I was the only one in our little quartet that likes sour beers.  So, I loved it.  Everyone else tolerated it.  We decided to split a flight rather than get individual drinks and I think I ended up finishing them all after everyone had a sample.  You certainly have to like sour beers to enjoy but it’s so unique and a cute space so I think it’s worth a stop!

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Our last stop of the night was Hi-wire Brewing.  This place was pretty packed and had some sort of live music going on.  I was impressed with their diverse selection of beers and had a hard time narrowing it down.  We sat at the bar and enjoyed a few beers before calling it a night.

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We started off our final full day much like we started our first full day.  Exactly like it, in fact, with a plate full o’ biscuit.  I went with the Chicken Mimosa biscuit this time and a side of fried chicken gravy.  All delicious again of course.

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After breakfast we drove to the Biltmore with plans to see the estate all dolled up in holiday splendor.  We drove all the way there, stood in line, and were told that tickets were $75 PER PERSON to walk around this giant house.  A bit steep, no?  Ultimately we decided that we weren’t willing to invest several hundred dollars into this high fallutin’ endeavor and went back to what we do best, beer.

We went to Sierra Nevada for lunch, we couldn’t get all of the food that we saw the other day out of our heads.  We inquired about a tour but they were booked up for the next few weeks (??), apparently this is the sort of thing that you need to do arrange in advance.  After two failed attempts at activities, we decided to just accept what the universe was telling us and just sit/eat/drink some more.  At this point in the trip my body was completely rebelling against all of the rich and fattening food and demanded some vegetables and roughage (ifyaknowhatimean).

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We each did a beer flight and I got the seasonal salad (which was some combo of arugula, chickpeas, roasted red pepper and a vinaigrette).   The food at Sierra Nevada is almost all small plate/shareable type dishes with a focus on local ingredients.  The menu changes often and everything we tried was fantastic!  Nick and I have been back on a few occasions and have always been impressed with what we’ve tried.asheville73

While we were out and about we decided to visit another brewery outside of town, Oskar Blues.  This place was about as different from Sierra Nevada as you can get.  No grand entrance, no fancy hipster menu.  Just a warehouse, some beer, and games.  My favorites from here were their IPA Pinner Throwback IPA, and their pilsner Mama’s Little Yella Pils.

We enjoyed several challenging games of Jenga (Nick’s first move was always to remove the bottom two sides so the whole tower was balancing on ONE block) before heading back to Asheville proper.

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Once we were back at our apartment we decided to stay close by and enjoy a few West Asheville establishments (besides Biscuithead).  Things were a tad fuzzy at this point so I don’t exactly remember where we went for dinner.  I do know that we went to Pour Taproom, which was such a cool place.  Rather than serving beers by the pint, you get a wrist band and they have like 30+ taps set up.  You scan your wristband and pour as much as any beer (or cider, or wine) that you want and just pay by the oz at the end.  I was able to enjoy more sour beer here and have this lovely, blurry, pic to commemorate the event.

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They also had a lot of games in the basement (including pool and GIANT SIZED Jenga) that we enjoyed until we went home and concluded our Asheville trip.

Overall this was a great trip with great friends, we loved staying in West Asheville and found it to be a great cheaper alternative to downtown Asheville.  I don’t think I had a bad beer or meal the entire time we were here and can’t wait to go back!

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A Long Weekend in Asheville: Days 1-2

I have been dying to share details and photos of our trip to Asheville (in DECEMBER) for some time now.

We went with two of our favorite friends from when we lived in Pittsburgh. We don’t get to see them nearly enough but when we do we end up taking a cool trip to somewhere new, so that works out really well. We also traveled to St. Maarten with them a few years ago!  It’s really nice to have a couple friend that you are compatible with travel wise. We are all pretty laid back and enjoy the same kind of things and are interested in seeing the new and different.

We ended up staying in West Asheville, mostly because we waited until the last minute to book a place and there were few places downtown and the ones that were available were pretty expensive. West Asheville is across the bridge and has more of a residential cozy neighborhood feel. There are a few smaller breweries and restaurants but overall we really enjoyed staying there and the Uber to main downtown was only about $10, so it really was worth it.

We drove to Asheville from Wilmington and got an early start. We ended up getting there a little too early and needed to kill some time before we checked into our Airbnb. I was looking up breweries on the way in the car and we ultimately decided to make a stop at Sierra Nevada to kill some time. This place was seriously impressive!  The brewery really had a huge ski lodge kind of feel. It was also packed af on a Monday afternoon (granted it was the week between Christmas and New Years). We got lucky and found a spot at the bar and decided to do one of their flights.

I tend to like wheat and fruity beers, so I stuck to those.  As we were sitting there, plate after plate of food was brought by and it all looked amaaazing.  The beers were also delicious, except for maybe the lemon verbena. It was a bit too lemony for me. I was surprised by how much I liked the tropical IPA!  Up until this point, I always found IPAs to be bitter but I think the fruitiness of this one made it a little lighter.

Local roasted heirloom pumpkin beer – I didn’t know my fav beer could sound so pretentious

After our beers we checked into our apartment and looked up a West Asheville spot to walk to while we waited on our friends.  We found a trippy hippy little spot that weirdly reminded me of Morgantown. It was here that I had my first sour beer. The bartender forced my to try a sample before she would pour me a full one, I guess people order the sours not fully knowing what they are getting themselves into?  The sour reminded me more of a cider or kombucha or something like that, tart/vinegary/fruity. I loved it!

After we met up with our friends we decided to head downtown for dinner. We went to Wicked Weed and enjoyed an array of hummus, a cheese plate, burgers and salad. It was all really good!

One of 2,833,656,987,515 beard and flannel combos we encountered

After Wicked Weed we apparently stopped by Asheville Brewing Company, I only know this because I had the following picture on my phone, no recollection of this place whatsoever.

You are welcome for this value added photo

We then walked over to Top of the Monk. This bar is split into three floors, each which has a unique theme and beers. We started at the bottom which featured Belgian beers. Megan and I did another flight.


Later we ended up heading upstairs to the fancy bar. They had a speakeasy theme going on and specialized in cocktails. I think this was some sort of gin and grapefruit? I saw in the menu that you got a key to the snack chest with each drink, so after I ordered my drink I went over and unlocked some olives. Turns out, we only got one key PER GROUP and I used it on OLIVES of all things, which is totally polarizing and there weren’t even four of them. #theworst. By the time we were done with our drinks here it was absolutely pouring so we got an uber and headed home.


The next morning we decided to head to the famed Biscuit Head for breakfast.  Leading up to this trip we all asked family and friends for restaurant recommendations and EVERY SINGLE PERSON recommended Biscuit Head.  We tried to get as there as early as our hangovers would allow but still ended up waiting in line for a while.

It was completely worth it though because the food was god damn fantastic.  They obviously specialize in biscuits, and have an entire bar dedicated to biscuit toppings.  Every  combo of honey, jam and butter that you could ever imagine.  I had a REALLY hard time deciding, mainly because of their multiple types of gravy and the fact that a GRAVY FLIGHT was an option.  Gravy is like, one of my top 3 favorite foods (of course it’s a food, don’t tell me otherwise).  There is also a GRAVY OF THE DAY (bestill my beating heart) but I ultimately went for the Brisket Biscuit, which was smoked pulled brisket, goat cheese, and buffalo hollandaise on a biscuit, topped with a poached egg.  It was AMAZING.  The biscuits were so large and buttery.  I’ve only ever attempted biscuits one time and they turned out like inedible dense little pucks.  These biscuits were the complete opposite of that, fluffy yet rich.  A real feat of chemistry.  Everybody’s food was really amazing, there wasn’t a bad thing between the four of us.

So yes, in case you can’t tell I think this place is a must-do in Asheville.  They currently have 2 Asheville locations and have recently opened a GREENVILLE SC location(!!!!!).  SO MANY CAPS but I’m just so passionate about biscuits and gravy guys.

 

This day was also our best day of weather, so we decided to take our full bellies outside and hike some of these famed Smokey Mountains that we kept hearing so much about.  We thought we would do a nice hike, but there are SO many mountains around Asheville it was really hard to narrow it down to an area, let alone a single trail.

I ended up finding this site on my phone, which seemed very helpful.  But Nick seemed to have an idea of where to head for the entrance of the National Park, so away we head.

I don’t want to criticize, because I certainly didn’t want to navigate..but Nick decidedly did NOT know where he was going.  I think we had to turn around 2-3 times, and we ended up climbing some mountain that a Toyota Corolla should never have attempted.

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We hiked around for about 30 or so mins and decided to head back and find some waterfalls.  More beautiful mountain driving later and we found ourselves at a random roadside waterfall.

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After all that adventure we were more than ready for a freakin beer and found the cutest little gem, Frog Level Brewing Co.  This place was in the middle of the tiny little downtown of Waynesville, NC and had an awesome outdoor area.  It actually ended up being one of our favorite spots!  There were about 8-10 picnic tables along the river behind the place.  The scenery plus the Salamandar Slam IPA made for a very happy crew.  In addition to the beers, we got some chips and chipotle hummus (which was amazing).  We were pretty hungry from our hike and it had been a while since our late breakfast, so it really hit the spot.

 

So….I know this seems like a really unnatural place to end this post, but this is getting really long and we did a lot of activities and breweries, so I cannot even fathom how long you would have to listen to me blather on if I actually attempted to finish out this day.  So I’ll wrap it up here and save the rest for next week’s travel post!

 

This post is part of the Wanderful Wednesday link-up, be sure to check out the other posts!

 

 

Random Friday #17

Oh hey it’s been forever, and I’m out of platitudes about how busy I’ve been and why I haven’t been blogging because I used them all the last time I returned from a long hiatus.  So I won’t try to insult you and make up more, I’m just gonna jump right into it!

About two weeks ago Nick and I went to the Hank Williams Jr concert here in Greenville and fulfilled a life long dream of mine.  A few years ago I had an opportunity to see him in concert and didn’t, and have relentlessly complained about it since. Not this time!

Me, my still bafflingly short hair, and Nick

I would include a photo of the actual concert here but we tailgated pretty hard and all I have are blurry shaky videos that no one enjoys watching.

The concert was awesome but also a shitshow, the likes of which I haven’t seen since FallFest my senior year at WVU. There was the normal puking/stumbling but also a pretty epic 20 person fight that broke out near us.

Reading:

I did a lot of reading on a recent trip to the Caymans (oh yeah, since we last talked we spontaneously booked and went on another trip to the Cayman Islands).

I went to Barnes and Noble for the first time in forever and I forgot how much I like real books! I find them to be so much easier for traveling (don’t need to charge them) and for the beach (don’t have to care about getting them wet).  I tried to get two fun books and a classic. I went with these three:

Good Girl – random story but I actually realized about 10 pages in that I already had this book digitally and had already read it, so I gave it to my sister in law. Then this week I was reading a description on iBooks and almost bought it AGAIN. Apparently the synopsis of this book really calls to me and I just want to throw more money at it.  Needless to say I really really like it and would recommend it.


The Light Between Oceans – this book was ok. I didn’t love it and it wasn’t as “twisty” as I usually like.


Wuthering Heights – these two are the worst communicators ever right?  And two of the whiniest whiners who ever whines. I’m forcing myself and rolling my eyes through this one.



Watching
:

Nick has been working late this week so I’m having to wait on our usual shows until we can watch them together.

So instead I’m rewatching shows I’ve seen again, which Nick hates doing. I’m in the later seasons of The Office and realizing just how unlikeable Andy is.

Eating:

I have no photos to share of food I’ve eaten this week but I’m trying really hard to get back on the healthy train. A combination of traveling and crazy work hours has taken a toll on my routine and my pants do not like me right now.

I made a Chicken/Sweet Potato/Cauliflower Curry and a Zucchini Lasagna. Both super delicious and healthy, I’d make them again.

Travel:

Since the last time we talked we had our Germany/Austria/Hungary trip and our jaunt to the Cayman Islands. I also went to Shreveport, Louisiana to visit my brother and enjoyed some crawfish and Southern food.


Cornbread with Crawfish Etouffe on top

And right now I have no big upcoming trips on the schedule and it’s making me really sad.
Help me plan a new trip. Where in the world would you go right now if you could go anywhere?