Tuesday, June 15, 2010

Great Find: Cities: Bar-B-Que & Beer in Asheville, NC

So when the news finally settled in that injuries sustained in my recent motorcycle accident (read more here) would prevent me from just about any flight, let alone a three-legged one from Atlanta to Chicago to Madrid to Barcelona, a second plan for a honeymoon, a back-up if you will, had to be made. Rebecca thought that plan should include a whole lot of nothing in case I was still somewhat immobile. And what does her mind translate that meaning? Sitting around on the veranda reading while sipping cocktails. And who am I to argue with that? As a child she had visited Asheville, NC to see the Biltmore Estate and found online that the Inn on Biltmore Estate had a large veranda with a view of the Blue Ridge Mountains. I had seen History Channel shows on the place and it intrigued me quite a bit, so why not? I was more interested though by the fact that I had heard of some great BBQ and eating down in Asheville. The BBQ part was almost a given in the Carolinas, but my uncle had recently sent me an article about the ten most surprising food cities as rated by a magazine, that included his beloved Pueblo, CO. Also on the the list was Wichita, KS (Rebecca's one-time home) and Asheville, NC, touted as a leader in the farm-to-table movement and also a city big on beer (recently named BeerCity USA). So sign me up!

In Chicago, those that do their best to abide by the Farm-to-Table philosophy proudly tell you so in their various ways, be it on the menu, in an interview with the chef, or by the high-priced PR firm's press releases. Asheville seems to follow suit. But the big difference is the ratio of those offering FtT cuisine far outnumber those in Chicago. It almost seems inverted: for 1 of every 20 Chicago places might boast it, it seemed like 20 in Asheville boasted it for every 1 that didn't! I am certain that this is skewed by the fact we went primarily to a more tourist geared neighborhood and researched online. But you do the same, and you'll see what I am saying!

The main area of the more reviewed restaurants was a downtown area full of little shops, a couple fine art galleries, a few, well, no, a LOT of hippies. This caught me off guard a bit. Granted the first night we parked outside a head-shop to grab dinner a few doors down. But the next day as we returned in search of some of the several brew-pubs, we noticed an even larger number of our dreadlocked, patchouli oil scented, tie-died friends. Later thinking and conversing with a local it made me wonder, which came first, the Asheville hippie or the earth conscious happenings found all around from dining to general living? After thinking that, everything else seemed less surprising.

Though we enjoyed some pretty good food on the Estate itself, such as those at The Bistro and The Dining Room, and snacks like delicious ice cream from The Creamery, they don't really fit the LotH approach. Nor did the delicious Indian meal the first night at Mela. Instead I will post about two great BBQ meals enjoyed in Asheville at Luella's Bar-B-Que and 12 Bones Smokehouse. Two great meals worth checking back in to read about! OK, I might write a little something about the great charcuterie the Chef de Cuisine Dave from the Dining Room sent out for us to enjoy!

(jump to my Luella's review here or 12 Bones here)

1 comment:

  1. I was surprised by how much I liked Asheville...I have been there on business a few times and made a point to stay an extra night so I could check out a few sites. Was only able to hit one restaurant when I was there...Ed Boudreaux's Bayou Bar-B-Que, which was pretty darn good.

    Asheville has a very artsy-fartsy kind of feel and you aren't joking about the hippies (was wondering if there was a Phish show that I missed). But, it has a nice laid back feel and the weather seems to be rather temperate for the south.

    Thanks for the report.