BY: JANET STEINBERG
Hopping into a shiny black convertible…top down…sun on my face and wind in my hair…my husband and I set out for a 1458-mile drive through North Carolina, dubbed the “Tar Heel State”.
|GOING TOPLESS IN THE MOUNTAINS|
Greeted by mountains, my spirits soared. Crisp air filled my lungs and the scent of the forest was nothing short of overwhelming. I knew I was about to encounter a timeless natural beauty…a place where nature transcended the ordinary…a place called Asheville, North Carolina, “The Land of the Sky”.
|WELCOME TO NORTH CAROLINA|
In Asheville, the hub of the Blue Ridge and Smoky Mountains, there is a close collaboration between Mother Nature and the friendly mountain people. You might find yourself wandering through a European Chateau in the morning, hiking a twisty mountain trail in the afternoon, and enjoying evening cocktails while overlooking a spectacular mountain sunset.
This classic American town, in the heart of the Appalachian Mountains, boasts more Art Deco architecture than any southeastern city other than Miami Beach.
Asheville’s hop-on hop-off Red Trolley Tour is a great way to get acquainted with the city. The tour guide’s commentary on Asheville’s sights is combined with humor and historical information. Although it is seen on the tour, but not a tour stop, Congregation Beth Israel is the location of Asheville's only Mah Jongg tournament.
|HOP-ON HOP-OFF RED TROLLEY TOURS THE CITY|
George Vanderbilt's 250-room Biltmore House is a step back in time where you will experience Gilded Age elegance at America's largest home. Asheville's oldest home, the circa 1840 Smith-McDowell House-Museum,brings the Victorian Era to life.
|GEORGE VANDERBILT'S 250-ROOM BILTMORE HOUSE|
The newest star on the Asheville food scene is Ruth’s Chris Steakhouse, opened December 2011 in Historic Biltmore Village. I devoured my seared Ahi Tuna appetizer and filet and then dug into my husband’s equally divine Osso Buco Ravioli and New York Strip.
The secret to the culinary magic of Ruth’s Chris begins with a USDA prime steak seared at 1800° Fahrenheit and served on a heated (500° F) ceramic plate. Just before the plate leaves the kitchen a dollop of butter is dropped on the hot plate to create the steak’s signature sizzle. Add to that some garlic mashed potatoes, creamed spinach, and Chocolate Sin Cake. Calories be damned!
For more casual farm-to-table dining in downtown Asheville, try the Lake Lure Chicken or Brasstown Beef Burger at The Table Restaurant, and the Wood-grilled Flatbread and the Sunburst Farms Trout at The Market Place. Thanks to the efforts of a group of young chefs, farmers, waiters, cheese-makers, organizers, ranchers, and winegrowers, these restaurants serve a sophisticated style of down-home Appalachian cooking.
Asheville has held the title of “Beer City USA” for three years. Where else but in Asheville can you find a Jamaican-born, Chinese man brewing award-winning Scottish beer or unwind with local, stout-flavored ice cream? Asheville is also home to the only woman-owned Moonshine Distillery in the U.S.
Asheville is a free-spirited, beautiful city that oozes charm. It is mountains, mansions, moonshine, and much, more. It is magical.
JANET STEINBERG is the winner of 38 national Travel Writer Awards and an International Travel Consultant with The Travel Authority in Mariemont, Ohio.