Earlier this month, I headed down to North Carolina for a food and photography workshop. I had never been to Asheville before but had heard really great things; the town was supposed to be filled with a thriving music scene, up and coming food spots, and an endless background of mountains viewed from any point in the city. The food scene alone was enough to urge me to get down there early and do some exploring. I managed to talk Grace from Earthy Feast into joining me in the city a night early as well so we could do some adventuring together.
My original plan was to leave the day before the workshop started so I could get there in the early afternoon and spend all day exploring whatever I wanted before meeting up with Grace for dinner and drinks. However, my six hour drive was quickly bombarded with a snowstorm that struck the south and the wide open highways were turned into deadly ice patches. Kentucky had completely shut down and declared a state of emergency which caused a weird twilight-zone effect to my trip; everything was closed and the one gas station I did find was packed with panicked southerners wandering the store aimlessly in an attempt to not have to get back on the highway. Nine and a half hours later, I finally arrived in Asheville just before sunset. Worn and defeated, I had to cross off most spots on my Bon Appetit guide I snagged from their most recent issue; fortunately, I did still get a chance to stop by Harvest Record shops and treat myself to a comforting breakfast plate of egg topped grits and broccoli cheddar hush puppies at Early Girl Eatery.
After dinner, I headed back to the AirBnB and waited for Grace to arrive. I hadn’t met Grace in person yet but we’ve been online blog friends for years and I already felt we were close friends. I’m not sure when we first connected but Grace’s comments have always stuck out as they are so genuine and engaging. She is the type of person that always just completely gets what I’m saying and her comments are always met with a big smile from me and a ‘she totally gets me’ feeling of satisfaction. I’ll admit I had a few butterflies while waiting for her to arrive but wasn’t too worried as all the other online friends I had met in the past were fantastic and we clicked right away.
And just as expected, Grace and I hit it off right upon arrival. She has that polite southern charm that I never experience in the standoffish Midwest. We headed out to Wicked Weed Brewery for some drinks / late night snacks and I gawked at their modern twist on southern cuisine. We ate the best candied brussel sprouts I’ve ever had in my life and Grace talked me into trying boiled peanuts for the first time (which I had only heard of because of House of Cards! note: they are not like you would expect. they are squishy (!!) but super flavorful!). We also nerded out over the menu and obsessed endlessly over the Three Grain Burger that was topped with homemade pimento and pickled okra. Well, when I say ‘we’, maybe I just obsessed over it? Pimento is basically nonexistent on the menus in Indiana and I was in awe of the perfect mix of modern vegetarian and traditional southern cuisine that it managed to create. We weren’t hungry enough to order it (after all, they brought us A LOT of boiled peanuts) but that burger stuck in my mind the rest of the trip and I knew I needed to create my own version when I got back home.