Monday, June 15, 2009

Asheville Adventures

by Meghann on June 15, 2009

Guess who found their way to Asheville?

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The infamous Kath!

As soon as Kath saw the words ‘NC Vacation’ mentioned on my blog she commented right away that we must meet up. We had been planning this get together for weeks and I was so happy to finally have a chance to meet one of my favorite bloggers in person. :)

Needless to say after all of the activities my family participated in yesterday we all woke up a little sore. My Sister was begging for some yoga so I used my nifty computer to download Sun Salutations Flow #1 fro Yogadownload.com. Gotta love the convience of technology.

The description called for Advanced Beginners so we got the impression that it would be an easy flow yoga class. I’m not sure if it was our sore, tired muscles or our poor yoga skills, but this class was very difficult and hard! We both had a good sweat going at the end and our arms were even more sore and tired then they were before. Next time well know better. ;)

As soon as we finished the yoga session breakfast was ready. Good thing I was hungry!

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I had 2 scrambled eggs seasoned with Rosemary, S&P, a Peach, and a Biscuit with a taste of homemade Sausage Gravy.

After breakfast we set out for our Asheville adventure. Asheville is just under an hour away from our cabin and after so many recommendations from readers, I was excited to have the opportunity to explore it.

My Dad had a read about a week day Farmer’s Market online, so we made that our first stop.

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They had plenty of fun samples of spicy nuts, dried fruit and vegetables that I nibbled on.

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I bought some Rhubarb Jam and Honey to take home with me, while my Dad bought some fresh bacon for breakfast in the morning.

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I also managed to drag my family to my first Earthfare adventure.

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It really was a beautiful grocery store that reminded me exactly of a Whole Foods. :) I only wish it would have been lunch time so I could have enjoyed the beautiful fresh salad bar. I had fun patrolling the aisles and I’m glad my family let me enjoy this small adventure.

We finally headed to downtown Asheville around lunchtime. My Sister and I may or may not have stumbled into a chocolate shop where we may or may not have sampled a piece of Turtle Fudge. ;)

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It was good too!

This is the part of the story where Kath and her husband, Matt, enter our Asheville adventures and met us for lunch at The Laughing Seed.

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I remember reading about Kath’s and Jenna’s adventure dining at The Laughing Seed last summer and after so many readers reccommending it I could not wait to try it.

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The menu was filled with so many wonderful options, I had a hard time deciding! I wanted to taste and try it all. After spending a good time debating I went with the Caribbean Empanada: An island inspired filling of curried butternut squash, fresh spinach and fire roasted tomato mojo, wrapped on a whole wheat flour tortilla and topped with slow cooked organic black beans and vegan cilantro sour cream. Served over a bed of mixed greens.

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The dish contained all of my favorites and it was just as delicious as I imagined it would be. I mean how can you go wrong with butternut squash and black beans? I ate 3/4 of the dish and could have easily finished the whole plate if it weren’t for the fact I wanted to try a bite of everyone else’s as well.

Kath ordered the Indian Pankoas of the day that were filled with Eggplant and Butternut Squash. She is a sharer, just like me, and let me sample a bite of each kind.

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I really enjoyed the cornmeal breading that surrounded the butternut and eggplant. The couple of bites I had were a great addition to my meal.

Food blogger in action.

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When my family found out we were going to be dining at a vegetarian restaurant they were VERY skeptical. It’s funny how as soon as you say the word vegetarian and people automatically get scared. My brother was the most skeptical of them all, but we talked him in to the Tempeh Ruben for lunch.

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He liked it! He did state something was ‘off’ about the dish, but the flavor was there and he enjoyed it. I had a bite of his as well and I did find it tasty.

I sipped on a Lemon Mint Iced Tea during lunch as well.

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As we were leaving I grabbed a small handful of what turned out to be Chocolate Covered Fennel Seeds.

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I was not a fan. They had a very licorice taste to them. I tried a few then tossed the rest of the handful.

In preparation of our meet up in Asheville, Matt had organized a brewery tour for us with the Highland Brewing Company.

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I had never heard of Highland Brewery before, but I was informed they just started distributing down in Florida. They are a fairly small operation that used to brew out of a basement under a bar in downtown Asheville. They have grown since their humble beginnings and now distribute to the majority of the southeast.

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Throughout the course of our tour we were given the opportunity to sample the 6 different kinds of beer Highland brews.

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#1 Cattail Peak Organic Wheat:

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This was of course my favorite. I’m a big wheat fan. :) It’s the one Organic beer that Highland currently offers and is their summer seasonal beer. The wheat beer is not brewed in the traditional belgium style such as Blue Moon and therefore did not have as quite of defined of an orange taste.

#2 Gaelic Ale:

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This is one of Highland’s most popular brews and the one they distribute the most of. It was an amber beer that I really enjoyed. The flavor was rich and very smooth. Steve, our tour guide/ marketing director, said the closest he could compare this to would be Colorado’s Fat Tire only a much stronger, flavorful rendition.

#3 St. Terese’s Pale Ale:

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This was Steve’s favorite of all the flavors. I am not a particular pale ale fan in general, but I do admit this one was pretty good. I learned this is what you would consider a ‘hoppy’ beer. :)

#4 Kashmir IPA:

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We tried the IPA right after the Pal Ale to do a side by side comparison of a hoppy beer-the pale ale-to a bitter beer- the IPA. My Sister and I both agreed we prefer a bitter beer to a hoppy beer. I liked the IPA.

#5 Oatmeal Porter:

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I am a fan of dark beers and I admit I was looking forward to the Oatmeal Porter. The flavor was strong and rich and the body went down smooth. Me like.

#6 Mocha Stout:

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I think my whole family was looking forward to the stout and this one did not disappoint. It has a little more bite then a Guiness has and was great to slowly sip on as my final sample. I think it would be great in a Black & Tan. Yum!

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I drank the full sample of the beers I enjoyed and only took a sip of the ones I didn’t care for and poured the rest of the sample into my brother’s glass. It was a good system that my brother did not mind.

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The tour was very intimate and we learned alot about the process of brewing, fermenting and bottling beers.

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The base of most beers consist of a roasted barley that is referred to as malt.

The lightly roasted barley has a nice grainy taste that resembles the texture and crunch of Grape Nuts.

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The heavily roasted barley has a bit darker taste and has an almost burnt taste that resembles coffee.

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Check out all the grains that go into producing beer. Any combination of these grains can produce which ever flavor of beer you are looking for.

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Highland Brewing Company does offer organic beer selections, mostly in their seasonal varieties, such as the Cattail Peak Organic Wheat we sampled. I found it interesting that the reason why all of their beers are unable to be considered organic is because of their inability to secure organic grains. It seems like the bigger brewing companies such as Budweiser and Miller House have a monopoly on the organic grains in the region. Apparently a lot of the beers those companies produce are in fact organic without us even knowing it.

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The brewery tour went on for a good 2 hours and about three quarters of the way through Kath and I were starting to get a little anxious. We let the boys continue the beer talk and chatted up on all things life. Kath is seriously just as sweet and down to earth in person as she seems on the blog and was very easy to get a long with. I am so happy I got the opportunity to meet her and Matt in real life and look forward to more chances in the near future.

As we said our good byes Kath and Matt presented us with some yummy baked goods.

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A loaf of experimental Sourdough Wheatberry Bread & two Carrot, Date, & Walnut Muffins.

My family and I immediately had to break into one of the muffins.

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I had a small sample.

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Holy yum! This muffin rocked!! Thanks Kath & Matt for the great treats!

When we finally made it back to the cabin the dogs were restless from being stuck home alone while we went off to play. Luckily in Asheville I had picked up a belated birthday pupcake for Abbie and Scooby to celebrate Abbie’s 2nd birthday.

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I think Abbie liked the mini celebration. We sang her Happy Birthday and everything.

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Chicken was on the menu tonight. My Dad had cut up a whole chicken as well as some thin sliced cutlets this morning and they had been marinating all day. When we returned home he fired up the grill and tossed on some summer squash as well.

On my plate I had a cutlet with some grilled summer squash, spinach & tomato with a slice of the Sourdough Wheatberry Bread.

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I topped the slice of bread with some Rhubarb Jam I had picked up this morning at the Farmer’s Market.

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The bread was very dense and chewy. I loved the addition of the wheat berries, it added a great overall texture to it. The rhubarb jam was very sweet, almost like honey and added a great southern touch to the bread.

I love how my family unwinds in the mountains.

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Addicted anyone? I know I am!

I just enjoyed a cup of hot tea and am more then ready for bed. These full days sure are fun, but totally exhausting.

Good night!

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