Sunday, May 20, 2012

The Admiral

With all the bad press North Carolina has gotten recently, I thought now would be a good time to point out a bright spot in that much maligned state.  Though the rest of their state refers to it as a "Cesspool of Sin" Asheville, North Carolina is a place of beauty, class and progressive ideals.  

Halfway through my journey from NYC to Nola, I had a blessed stop in the beautiful mountains of Asheville.  I adore this little town.  It reminds me of the beautiful Catskill Mountains where my family homestead lies.  But this town also has the beautiful weather and a very hip artist vibe that makes it one of the most desirable laces to live in America.

I call it a town, but it is actually a full fledged southern city that was grew around the building of a Vanderbilt mansion.  In 1985 George Vanderbilt searched far and wide for the perfect spot for a mountain house getaway and decided on Asheville.  This estate is still family owned, but has also become a sort of Disneyland for grownups, with gorgeous gardens, shops and the magnificent estate itself.

It also is the best Craft Beer city in the nation (wanna fight, Portland?) and has a great local food scene.  My recent stop on my way down to NOLA included having breakfast in an actual chicken coup where the chef cooked everything in beautiful cast iron skillets.

But the culinary highlight of the stop was having dinner at The Admiral.  I had only been to the Admiral once before, after a wedding.  We poured in this little roadside stand in out formal wear and entered a time warp where hip 60's soul records were spun and young kids danced with unabashed joy.  I was basically in heaven.  Then I found out that though it may not look it, this was one of Ashville's finest restaurants.  So imagine my joy when I roll into Asheville around 8pm after a long day on the road and my dear hostess and friend Cathryn states she needs dinner and that we are going to the Admiral.

Despite the prime hour on a Friday night, we only had to wait about 10 minutes for two seats at the bar (that is where I always want to sit anyway, natch).  My friend, due to Lent restrictions, graciously offered to be the designated driver, so I started with some lovely crispy Spanish white and we had some delicious raw oysters.  The food then just kept coming in waves of goodness.  There was Celeriac soup, muscles in a smokey tomato broth that I could take behind the middle school and get pregnant and pork chop with grits and collard greens.  I do believe it was one of the best meals in recent memory.  Dessert was not an afterthought either with homemade key lime pie ice cream in a float of Cheerwine, a local cherry/Dr Pepper -like soda.

And just think...after all this food you can stay late and dance it off when the kitchen closes and the room and your belly is full of good Soul!

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