Every year toward the end of September, I make the ten-hour drive to North Carolina with my two best friends and a bucket of a coffee. We leave sometime after work and drive through the night until we make it down the steep driveway to the most wonderful mountain retreat: Papa's house. Last night we also battled thick fog and detours and much bad singing of made-up songs after midnight (when we'd been awake 20 hours already), but we made here safely a little after 1am. The journey is worth it; I just love it here.
The backdrop for writing and reading and even working in the mountains is so restorative; somehow the chorus of bullfrogs and crickets and barking dogs in the distance (not to mention a glass of Biltmore wine) makes even working on vacation seem palatable.
Today was good.
It started with a freshly baked batch of bran muffins, baked with batter we'd used part of and saved in Florida earlier this week. Did you know you could save your leftover bran muffin batter for up to four days in the fridge? I didn't know this until I read it in The Grand Central Baking Book (also where I got the delicious bran muffin recipe).
We had lunch at the beautiful Square Root restaurant. Grilled Zucchini, Asparagus, Onions, Alfalfa Sprouts, baby Arugula, with a Roasted Red Pepper Spread in a Tomato Basil Tortilla Wrap, accompanied by a side of sweet potato fries… Thin ribbons of beautiful fresh sweet potato lightly fried until nearly crispy. They are by far my favorite way to enjoy a sweet potato.
Dinner was at the Biltmore's new Cedric's Tavern. I sampled one of the first two Biltmore Estate beers, a traditional English style Brown Ale, alongside an evil platter of Fish & Chips. Absolutely disastrous nutritionally, but flaky and delicious and salty enough to dissolve all of my regrets.
Tomorrow, Vance and I are venturing into Asheville alone, with only one item on the agenda: Tupelo Honey Cafe. SHOO Mercy.