Monday, April 24, 2017

Downtown Asheville

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I find it amusing that the next post after Nashville is Asheville. They may have nearly identical names, but they're two very different cities. Mom and I spent a weekend in the mountains, exploring Asheville, in... January (oops I'm behind). Being only a few hours west of where I grew up, I've been quite often over the years. It's only been in the last few years though where I feel like I've really gotten to know it outside of the Biltmore. Don't get me wrong, the Biltmore is an amazing place and I think everyone should go, and often, but there's SO much more to Asheville. It's a foodie and beer lovers paradise. It's alternative and hip, artsy and cool, with just the right amount of Southern.

Brunch is my favorite meal of the day. Mom is gluten and egg free though, so breakfast out can be a challenge. Luckily for her, Asheville and all it's hipness has got her covered. We walked over to Over Easy Cafe and put our names on the (long) list. Good things come to those who wait. Thankfully we found Desirant a few stores down and it didn't seem like much of a wait at all. This boutique is filled with beautiful and local jewelry, home decor, and clothing. Once we got our little table at Over Easy I got the seasonal benedict and Mom went for the GF pancakes. It was worth every bit of the wait. Some sayings are true.

After eating, and doing some more window shopping, we popped into Lexington Glassworks and ended up staying a couple hours. This gallery features live glassblowing demonstrations with the artists describing their work as they create pieces for the studio. It's amazing to see the skill and creativity that goes into every piece. They answer questions, explain the process, and offer witty remarks. My favorite was "the beauty is in the details, the detail is in the beauty." I'm still figuring that one out.

It seems like nearly everyone that lives there is an artist, or it feels that way anyway. The restaurants reflect this. That night we ate at Rhubarb. I remember the dessert the most. It was caramel and chocolate cake served with homemade ice cream, sprinkled with...mushrooms. When I read that in the description I almost didn't want to try it, but it gave it this earthiness that really worked, similar to the sea salt with anything sweet trend.

The next morning we brunched at Over Easy, again. Yes, it's that good. To pass the time while we waited for our table we went to the Herbiary and picked up a few goodies. I've really gotten into essential oils. I have more blends than I know what to do with! Being a Sunday, the wait was pretty long we went next door to Sovereign Remedies for a cup of coffee. I loved the decor of the place. The bartender/barista showed us the dinner menu and I'd really like to go back next time we're up there. Brunch was amazing, of course. Afterwards we walked it off inside the Grove Arcade. Completed in 1929, it's been fully restored and houses many shops and restaurants. You can also just stroll through it, it's that's pretty!

Stay cool, Asheville!

Monday, April 17, 2017

Nashville Girls' Weekend

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Good food and even better friends, that pretty much sums up the trip to Nashville. It's the ultimate place for a girls' weekend. Judging by the amount of bachelorette parties we saw when we were there, we're not the only ones with that idea.

First things first, we ate lunch at Mas Tacos. The line was out the door, which isn't surprising because those tacos were seriously amazing!

The few days we were there were uncharacteristically cold for spring. I was completely unprepared, I didn't even bring a jacket. That didn't stop us though. That afternoon we headed to the Parthenon, modeled after the one in Greece. We walked around the park outside, and paid our respects to the suffragettes. It didn't feel like spring, but it still looked like it with the trees in bloom.

Once we had our fill there we battled the traffic (we had no idea Nashville traffic could rival Atlanta) and found a couple murals. The first we stopped at is the Believe in Nashville mural in 12 South. It's right across from the Draper James store. We went in and eyed some summer dresses and took up the offer for sweet tea. Once back outside we waited our turn to snap a picture. The 12 South neighborhood has the cutest shops and restaurants. There was a flower truck in a vintage VW parked on the corner selling stems. I had the best latte art I've seen in awhile at Portland Brew. The whole area is way cooler than I'll ever be.

Another one of the city's popular murals is the wings in Nashville Gulch. It's a part of the What Lifts You Campaign series. It's Instagram heaven!

The next day was for all the touristy things. Starting with the Gaylord Hotel. we walked around the different arboretums and stopped in a few shops. If I stayed there I'm not sure I'd ever leave the patio of the hotel room. Then we went downtown and toured the Ryan Auditorium, which was the original Grand Ole Opry. I had no idea it started out as a church.

We ended the day on Broadway listening to all the amazing live music, because it's Nashville and you have to!

We pried ourselves away to have dinner at The Farmhouse. It was the best meal of the trip. We shared the hot chicken because I didn't want to leave the city without trying it.  One of my friends, who isn't from the South, had never had collard greens. That had to be remedied! We all agreed the meal was delicious.

On Sunday morning we brunched at the Butcher and the Bee before heading back home. Initially we planned on eating at Biscuit Love in the Gulch but the line was around the block (not exaggerating). This was a good plan b. The interior was super hip, as we came to expect. I got the shakshuka.

Certainly not a bad way to close out the weekend!

Saturday, March 25, 2017

recollections of philly

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The first time I remember going to Philadelphia I was 17. It was spring break of my senior year of high school. While many of the other people in my class were piling into cars to head to the beach, I was on a road trip with my father and one of my friends to New York, DC, and Philadelphia. I guess I've always done things a little differently.

Philly sticks out most in my memories of that trip. I really fell in love, walking through Reading Terminal Market, debating which cheesesteak shop to go to, getting my history fix at Independence Hall while the Fresh Prince of Bel Air theme song was on repeat in my head. It's comical now to look back on, I was the uber tourist taking in all the contrasts. For a time I thought I'd go to school there, so I fantasized about getting an apartment in one of the older buildings once I graduated.

That was the only time I've been to that city when it hasn't been winter. Going in December has become somewhat of a tradition for my Mom and I. At the end of my second semester of grad school we went the week of Army-Navy game. We stayed in a little historic bed and breakfast and after coffee in the morning I'd walk around in the bitter cold. One day I made it all the way to Chinatown on foot. I'd wanted to get dim sum but ended up eating pho because it was so cold that nothing else would do. We found a really good German restaurant where we ate the best spaetzle and stayed up late hanging out at places on Market Street.

Then there was the time I spent an entire Sunday at the Franklin Institute when I was just expecting to go in to see a Genghis Khan exhibit. That trip wasn't as cold but it was more challenging, I saw some of the grittiness of the city. Not to be outdone though,  this past December it really showed off. From the amazing sunset while riding into the city, to one of the best meals I've had, then waking up early that last day there and walking around with the city seemingly to myself.

There are other places I've been just as often, but something about Philadelphia always feels familiar. I think we all have those places, unique to us, that offer a glimpse into our personalities.

What's that place for you?