Have you ever wanted to sell everything you own and just "take off?" Travel the country's back roads, paddle down a meandering stream, experience breath-taking mountain views, walk among 100-year old trees, and just marvel at America's beauty? That is the dream that my partner, Betsy, and I decided to make a reality. This blog describes our adventure. The food we eat, people we meet, sights we see, and the enjoyment we find in traveling.

Tuesday, November 4, 2014

Exploring Asheville, North Carolina’s Countryside

After exploring downtown Asheville, we were off to see what the “country” had to offer. If Asheville is known for its “farm to table” movement then we needed to see (and taste) some of the farms.
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Let’s start by saying we never miss a farmers market in any town we visit. Even if we are not intending to buy produce, fresh flowers, lavender soap, freshly ground coffee, or firm turnips, we are still going to see what there is and enjoy the earthy vibe. There is something about seeing fresh crisp brightly colored food that inspires me to want to cook. And God forbid there is freshly baked bread. Which is exactly what we saw – a woman selling freshly baked soft pretzels. With a pretzel and home-made tamale in our bellies, we were satisfied and we could move on. Next stop – the country.

          


The Western North Carolina Cheese Trail has a following that is rapidly growing and pleasing cheese mongers who aren’t dismayed to drive miles out of town off the beaten path for some artisan goodness. The Looking Glass Creamery is only fifteen minutes from downtown Asheville and well worth the jaunt. Set in the beautiful mountain side, the creamery welcomes visitors for a tasting. But you get so much more with the opportunity to talk to well-informed people, pet some goats and sheep, or the opportunity to settle down on a sunny patio enjoying wine and cheese while looking at the mountains – which is exactly what we opted for. The goats and cows milk cheeses were divine and we left happy and full.

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Just a few miles from Looking Glass is the Hickory Nut Gap Farm.  Lucky for us there is no better time to be on a farm than the fall and Hickory Nut Gap looked like a Martha Stewart function came to town. Pumpkins, squash, apples, and other fall foods abound. Rides for the kids, farm animals to pet, copious varieties of apples to try, a corn maze, pumpkins ready to be transformed to scary Jack O’ Lanterns, and a food truck to provide the munchies were what the farm was serving up.

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Nope, we were not yet done with the farm scene – we were headed to the West North Carolina Farmers Market. This is a permanent 7-day a week establishment that serves retail as well as wholesale with more than 2 million people shopping here each year. This is North Carolina agriculture at its best. And by that I mean peanuts, freshly butchered ham, potatoes, cabbage the size of my tires, apple cider, an ice cream parlor, and cheese made fresh.

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No wonder local chefs are so inspired and create such incredible culinary delights with all the bounty cultivated in the Blue Mountains. Now that we spent our day seeing and tasting food, it was time to head home for dinner!


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