Weekend getaway: Asheville, NC

A couple of years ago, “S” and I discussed plans for his 30th birthday. He said he wanted to be in a cabin in the mountains reading books with whiskey. Needless to say, I took that suggestion and did what I thought was interesting for the both of us. I planned one hell of a weekend getaway in Asheville. I thought it would be cool to combine his ideal 30th with the things we would both enjoy- food being the top priority, plus he was stressed from school and needed a break from reality.

We left Greenville on a Friday morning with plans to stop in Hendersonville to check out HenDough Chicken and Donuts, a popular breakfast and lunch spot in Hendersonville, NC that has a second location planned for Greenville’s GVL Gather- a 12 restaurant shipping container food hall planned for Downtown Greenville. HenDough has made an impression on the Western North Carolina foodie community with their fun donuts and fried chicken-based entrees, ranging from chicken biscuits to a variety of chicken sandwiches with a try at your favorite southern sides such as smoked gouda mac and cheese and dirty rice with sausage.

During our visit we tried the Southern chicken sandwich, smoked mac and cheese, and the smothered chicken biscuit. There was no disappointment, and it was definitely one heck of a way to start the weekend’s food adventures. Greenville will definitely welcome HenDough to the food scene with open arms!

After our late breakfast in Hendo, short for Hendersonville, we went on into Asheville to await our tour with Asheville Food Tours. Unfortunately for him, “S” had to complete some school work, at which he requested a coffee shop, but we ended up at Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar. I mean, vacations call for cocktails, so why not meet him in the middle? Book store meets wine bar, yes PLEASE!

Asheville Food Tours was so much fun, it got it’s own post. Check it out here.

During our stay in Asheville, we stayed at Bear and Butterfly Bed and Breakfast, which is a gay-men’s bed and breakfast in Fairview, North Carolina, about 30 minutes outside of  Downtown Asheville. Owner’s Sam and Shane treat you as if they have known you for years in their 4 suite bed and breakfast atop Morgan Hill, complete with a theater, outdoor hot tub, fresh eggs for breakfast from the chickens roaming the property and one heck of a view. I’m pretty sure the alpacas were a favorite for “S”.

Just fyi, the breakfast at Bear and Butterfly is so good! We definitely weren’t disappointed. We often wondered how we were going to eat throughout the rest of the day.

Our visit to Asheville, NC, also consisted of a trip to the North Carolina Glass Center, which is located in Asheville’s River Arts District, known for unique artists’ studios, fun eateries, and the New Belgium Brewery. “S” is always up to learning a new skill, and I thought this would be a fun new experience for both of us. The instructor was patient and went through the steps of creating our own drinking glasses together and then took his time with each of us to make our glasses.

Of course, we ate our way through Asheville during the Asheville food tour, but with Asheville being the ‘foodtopia’ it has become, we had much more eating to do. We had lunch at Cúrate, the popular Spanish-tapas restaurant by female-chef Kate Button. “S” and I tried several tapas for our lunch. While everything was scrumptious, we loved the buñuelo de bacalao (light and airy salt cod fritters with rosemary infused honey), pincho moruno (lamb skewers marinated in moorish spices served with cucumber pickles), and the merengue de “gin & tonic” (gin-soaked berries, vanilla-yogurt ice cream, torched meringue, and tonic snow). The sangria, which was made table-side was also a winner!

Dinner was at Ghan Shan Station, a restaurant with inspired East Asian cuisine that had a life as a former gas station just outside of Downtown Asheville. I don’t often eat Asian cuisine, I’ll do sushi and hibachi every now and then, but since it was a special occasion for “S”, I thought I would let him eat something he would enjoy, but doesn’t eat often. For appetizers, we shared the dumplings and som tam salad. Both were very good, but the salad was a little too spicy for my taste. For entrees, we had the Taiwanese beef noodles and the grilled hangar steak. Oh my goodness were they delicious!

Before we left town, we checked out Rhubarb for brunch, a contemporary farm-to-table concept by 5 time James Beard semifinalist for “Best Chef in the Southeast”. Our brunch appetizer was the bagel and lox nachos- cream cheese mouse, fried capers, cold-smoked sunburst trout with house-made bagel chips. “S” had the brunch burger for his entree, which had pickles and pimento cheese. I enjoyed the sweet potato breakfast bowl. Definitely a great way to end a delicious weekend of eating.

Asheville has lots of fantastic restaurants, unfortunately, I nor anyone else can probably hit them all in a weekend. I was happy to have experience these restaurants during my visit, as I can cross them off of my list and enjoy others during my next visit.

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