Sunday, December 30, 2007

Web in front.

I spent most of the last two weeks in the beautiful mountains of Western North Carolina, residing literally in the shadow of Cold Mountain. I'm gonna blog on the entire trip, but choose to do it out of narrative order. So I'll start with my first weekend there and a Saturday (the 22nd) trip from Lake Junaluska east on the The Great Smoky Mountains Expressway and then I-40 to Asheville.

Eric Bachmann and his ensemble in Archers of Loaf, a Chapel Hill band that really originally hails from the west and Asheville, provide our entry title, their second single and the first track from their epochal 1993 release, Icky Mettle, a noisefest which mimics among other things the sound of boulders falling in the Pigeon River Gorge on I-40 between Waynesville,NC and the Tennessee state line. Hope they don't mind my "Backwash"!

Anyway we went to Biltmore Village first for lunch at Rezaz.

This quaint area of arts and crafts homes and some nice brick buildings is where the railhead ended, the supplies were dropped off, and the artisans lived while building the largest private home in America (to this day) for George Washington Vanderbilt II. Nowadays even the Mickey D's is nice!

Here's a typical street scene in the very heart of Biltmore Village.

This Biltmore Village street garden is out front of the New Morning Gallery, a fun two story maze of everything from kitchsy $2 magnets to high five figure bedroom sets.

Another fine restaurant at the back of Biltmore Village on Boston Way is The Corner Kitchen, where Joe makes his own fantastic potato chips to couple with the gourmet American cuisine.

Across the street is Chelseas: a tea shop and frilly emporium as its subtitle —A Country French & English Store— suggests.

It does have some pretty planters out front of each entrance.

Here the festively bedecked BV Christmas shuttle passes between Chelseas and The Corner Kitchen.

A great place for concerts is All Soul's Episcopal Cathedral.

We headed up and over two hills on Biltmore Avenue to the Asheville Wine Market and then retraced our steps and hit the Blue Ridge Parkway to visit the Southern Highland Craft Guild's Folk Art Center for a Christmas concert featuring The Blue Ridge Orchestra and The Voices in the Laurel youth choirs.

On the way back to Junaluska, we stopped at the W(estern)N(orth)C(arolina) Farmer's Market, as featured in the legendary Rick Sebak's PBS documentary: To Market To Market To Buy a Fat Pig (And yes, the Dekalb Farmer's Market is that incredible; he also did the ones on ice cream, sandwiches, hot dogs, and old style amusement parks, for starters!).

One of my favorite places to shop at the Western North Carolina Farmer's Market is Coates Produce, with both fresh produce and delicious jams, jellies, preserves, and butters.

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