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Bill Leslie's Carolina Conversations

Asheville Getaway

Posted August 18, 2008 9:19 a.m. EDT
Updated August 18, 2008 3:50 p.m. EDT

What are your favorite things to do in Asheville? As you ponder that pleasant question let me tell you about my getaway to the Land of the Sky over the weekend.

With a very busy schedule on the horizon, Cindy and I decided a relaxing weekend was in order. We checked into the Grove Park Inn Friday evening. If you’ve never been there it really is quite special with its granite exterior and fairytale land look. It’s such a friendly and accommodating place and steeped in history. The Great Hall was alive with beautiful music from Maddy Winer and her band including the incomparable pianist Bill Covington. As the sun began to set we soaked up a spectacular view of the mountains and called it a day.

On Saturday we checked out the new Blue Ridge Parkway Destination Center with the cool plants growing on the roof. The only disappointment there was the movie projector was not working and I really wanted to see the video about the history of the Parkway which I dearly love. Our next stop was the Folk Art Center just a few miles away on the Parkway. We were very impressed with the quality of pottery on display. Later we made our way up to Craggy Gardens where the Parkway is currently closed due to a rockslide. We hiked for a couple of hours and enjoyed some splendid views. Then it was on to magical Montreat near Black Mountain. We admired the renovated rim around Lake Susan and browsed through the book and gift store. If you’re ever stressed spend an afternoon in verdant and peaceful Montreat and you will come away a renewed person.

We had lunch at the Moose Café at the Western North Carolina Farmer’s Market. They could have the best biscuits and apple butter in the Old North State. We enjoyed some good ole country cooking here. Service was polite and quick and the food delicious.

We dressed up a little for dinner and hit a culinary goldmine in Biltmore Village. The Mediterranean cuisine at Rezaz knocked our socks off. I never realized hummus could be so exciting. My salmon entrée was superior and Cindy’s shrimp dish was outstanding. Great wine selection here. And our chocolate dessert was divine. My only complaint – the coffee was weak. The drama came when the waiter announced he would have to leave early because his wife was in labor.

Sunday we did the buffet at the Grove Park. Wow! What a feast in the Blue Ridge Dining Room! It was more like going to a culinary museum. The personable chef Denny Trantham puts on quite a show. The presentation was stunning and the taste was just as impressive. It was our only meal of the day. It was all we needed. I’m still licking my lips this morning.

Okay. I know I missed a lot of great stuff in the Land of the Sky including the Biltmore House. What else should I check out the next time I’m in Asheville?