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Asheville, North Carolina

1.26.2015

asheville
Last weekend was my birthday & per usual I was insistent it would not be spent at work or moping around the house.  It's a given that tears will be shed on my birthday (despite it being on my 30 by 30 list to get over that crap).  I knew that this would be my last birthday of my 20s & there would be many a blue moment (yeah, yeah- woe is me...)  I figured if I'm going to cry, I might as well do it in a cool & interesting town.  Enter Asheville...

I'd heard many great things about this bohemian, artsy mecca.  This town is nestled in the foothills of the Appalachian Mountains & is undoubtedly a foodie paradise.  Asheville also boasts more breweries per capita & is surrounded by an overwhelming amount of natural beauty.  I decided this would be the perfect birthday getaway.  You know this girl loves a Groupon & you better believe that's my first stop when planning a trip.  I found a good deal for a two night stay inclusive of daily breakfast & a $50 spa credit.  Score.

We made the 6 hour journey Friday morning & arrived at the historic White Gate Inn.  This quaint little b&b offered the perfect amount of quirkiness (we were greeted by an eccentric lady singing us dated showtunes) while still offering that homey, 'grandma's house' vibe.
White Gate Inn
If I'm being honest, this was probably my least favorite hotel out of all of our Groupon trips (which is a lot).  The one staff member we encountered during our 2.5 days there was friendly & helpful, providing us with a city map.  While it was exactly what I would have expected for a bed & breakfast- think an overwhelming amount of floral motif plastered across anything that would sit still long enough, it definitely wasn't my cup of tea.  This was my first b&b experience & I've learned I'm just not social enough for the inn arena.  I rather get out & explore the town than sit around the dinner table with 10-12 people I don't know for each meal of the day.  To each their own.  The inn was clean enough but the shower did leave a little something to be desired & we had to keep all the windows open in our room whenever we were in it.  I am cold-natured & spent the entire weekend sweating as soon as we entered the doors of the inn.  It made for impossible sleeping our first night as we were told we were not allowed to touch the radiators in the room.  Even with the windows open to the room in the middle of January it was still upwards of 80 degrees- so much so that I found some of my makeup products had melted when I pulled them out of my bag!  I will say that we both enjoyed our spa time- Brad enjoyed an hour long deep tissue massage as I opted for a facial, upper body massage, & foot reflexology treatment.  It was a great start to our weekend there, although it did make us completely worthless for the remainder of Friday night.

Once we were able to pry ourselves from the massage tables, we ventured out for a stroll about the town & dinner.  Being the foodie that I am, I had thoroughly researched many eateries in the area.  As luck would have it, we threw that list out the window & stumbled across the White Duck Taco Shop
white duck taco shop
We each got a few different tacos to sample.  If you ever find yourself wandering into this joint, I highly recommend the Bangkok shrimp, lamb gyro, & Thai peanut chicken.  Plus who doesn't love a place that serves drinks in Mason jars?  duh...
church
church
the grove arcade
the grove arcade
battery park
After wandering around the town for a bit in the cold (um, y'all- Asheville is wind-y), we made our way back to the inn to rest up for a fun filled Saturday.  And by fun, of course I mean more eating...  The next morning we hit up the renowned Tupelo Honey Cafe & have mercy was that place excellent! 
tupelo honey cafe
tupelo honey cafe
We both decided upon omelets.  Brad had the Shoo Mercy which involved jalapenos, ham, fried green tomatoes, bacon, & pimento cheese & I opted for the Samlette (salmon, capers, cream cheese, & asparagus).  The goat cheese grits were slap-yo-mama good & the giant biscuits were phenomenal when topped with homemade jam & whipped peach butter.  You read that right- whipped. peach. butter.

When we were finally able to roll ourselves away from the table we marched on through downtown to several shops.  At the top of my list was the Spice & Tea Exchange- whut.  Um, yeah.   I could have easily spent many hours (& dollars) there.  It's really no surprise that I love tea & have to exercise serious self-control whenever it is involved.  Brad & I managed to escape with a slightly less than ridiculous amount of items.  The staff was super friendly & if you can dream it- chance's are they have it, & then some...
spice & tea exchange
spice & tea exchange
spice & tea exchange
spice & tea exchange
spice & tea exchange
spice & tea exchange
As though I hadn't made it apparent enough that homegirl likes her food- we also made our way to Olive & Kickin', a gourmet olive oil & balsamic vinegar tasting gallery.  I know, I know- you should be jealous.  We coated our mouths with an absurd amount of both & bought a few delicious bottles of each.  Once we left that little slice of heaven, we decided we needed something to wash all those samples down.  We headed across the street to Double D's Coffee & Desserts.  This kitchy double decker bus sits on a street corner offering walk-up or 'dine-in' service.  We made our way to the upper level for a unique view of Biltmore Ave. 
double d's
double d's coffee
We spent the afternoon browsing more shops & wandering around the town, where we stumbled across the Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar.  This bibliophile paradise offers hours of endless entertainment.  If I lived in Asheville I'd be spending many a quite afternoon curled up in this dog-friendly library with a good book & a cup of hot tea. 
battery park book exchange
battery park book exchange
battery park book exchange
We wound up our evening with a visit to Ben's Tune-Up for ramen bowls & pork dumplings.  The service was less than impressive but the food made it worth the while.  In keeping with the Asheville theme, this restaurant boasted eccentric decor, scrumptious cuisine, & a crowded venue.  I'd definitely recommend Ben's but this hole in the wall joint fills quickly so be sure to hit them up early to avoid the long waits.
sunny point cafe
The next morning we hit up Sunny Point Cafe for more delicious brunch before hitting the road.  Sidenote: does anyone know how I can make brunching into a career?   This family owned restaurant prides itself in farm-to-table products, so much so that they have an onsite garden where they grow many of their ingredients.  I had a stack of sinfully delicious organic carrot hot cakes.  I'm determined to find a recipe for them because oh. dear. heavens. were they ever exquisite.  Sadly, we bid farewell to Asheville but not before hitting up the Blueridge Parkway on our way out.  Unfortunately, we were only able to drive about 8-10 miles as we found the roadway closed just as the views were getting good. 
blueridgeblueridge
blueridge
blueridge
blueridge
While I still did find myself in a melancholy state on my birthday, it was definitely lessened in this impressive little mountain town.  If you're looking for a unconventional getaway spot, consider Asheville.  If there's one thing you should've learned from this post, it's that there's no shortage of chuck wagons to tickle your culinary fancy.  Find an excuse to get away to this charming town!

What's your favorite getaway spot?
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