Strawberry Rhubarb Pie

Sometimes I’m such a cliché that I just shake my head at myself. For example, yesterday, when I pulled a pint of strawberries out of the fridge and realized I should put on a record to play before my hands were stained red with berry juice. I knelt down at my small little vinyl collection, pulled out the Beatles’ blue album, and noticed that “Strawberry Fields Forever” is the first track. Of course I have to put that on and listen to the most literal track possible as I slice strawberries.  strawberry-rhubarb-ingredients-recipe.jpg I wasn’t even sure if I liked strawberry-rhubarb pie, but I knew Ty did, so when I saw rhubarb at our neighborhood market as I was buying local strawberries, I decided to attempt it this weekend. 

I was looking for a recipe that didn’t involve tapioca or strawberry gelatin, mainly so I didn’t have to go back to the grocery store. On Friday, while doing analytics work for our websites, I stumbled across this Strawberry-Rhubarb Pie recipe from before we started publishing that magazine.

In true Jessy fashion, I didn’t fully read the recipe or research how many stalks of rhubarb translates to 4 cups, but spoiler alert: it’s more than two. I think I got about 1 1/2 cups, so I just added more strawberries. I also tried one little diced piece of rhubarb, and it’s pretty gross on its own, so less couldn’t hurt. I would’ve used the whole pint of strawberries, but I ate probably six or seven. Who can resist? And since I was going with less fruit and the taste-tested fresh berries were so sweet, I also decreased the amount of sugar for the filling. strawberry-rhubarb-pie-unbaked. That leaves the crust. My mom has made it her mission to teach me how to make homemade pie crust this summer. But until we get around to that (I’m not resisting it, but… this is not as time consuming and much less messy), I used pre-made, store-bought crusts. In fact, my freezer contained two single 9-inch crusts from two different two-packs (generic Kroger brand and some organic whole wheat one), so I used the latter on the bottom to hide under the filling. It broke a little as I stretched it to cover the glass pie plate, so I pinched off some dough from the other crust and added a little flour to fill the holes.

I was planning to slice up the second crust into strips to make a lattice, but the defrosted crust dough came out of the pie pan so perfectly that I just flipped it over and pinched it together. Then, as I was about to cut the vent holes, “All You Need Is Love” started playing, and, well, you can see just how basic I am. strawberry-rhubarb-pie-recipe I also made homemade whipped cream to go with this, and I’m baffled as to how I did this before I inherited my granny’s KitchenAid stand mixer. I had to chill the mixing bowl because it was so hot in my house, especially in my kitchen (thanks, 90-degree May), and then it still took forever before the whipping cream thickened, but my arm didn’t get tired so I didn’t care. strawberry rhubarb pie Anyway, for my first strawberry-rhubarb pie, it turned out pretty great. Much better than my food photography.

Strawberry Rhubarb Pie
Serves 8
Fresh strawberries and rhubarb combine with on-hand ingredients for the perfect spring pie.
Write a review
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
Prep Time
15 min
Cook Time
50 min
Total Time
1 hr 15 min
  1. 2 cups fresh strawberries
  2. 1 ½ cups rhubarb
  3. 1 cup sugar
  4. ½ cup flour
  5. 1 egg
  6. 2 nine-inch pie crusts (homemade or store-bought)
Homemade Whipped Cream
  1. 1 cup heavy whipping cream
  2. 1 tablespoon sugar
  1. Heat oven to 425 degrees. Hull and slice strawberries, and dice rhubarb. Mix together in a large bowl with flour and sugar. Beat egg in a small bowl, and add to fruit mixture.
  2. Place pie crust in a 9-inch glass pie plate. (Metal pie tins react with the fruit.) Sprinkle lightly with sugar to keep the bottom crust from getting soggy.
  3. Pour strawberry-rhubarb mixture into pie crust. Cover with top pie crust, and cut holes to vent. Flute the edges to seal.
  4. Bake at 425 degrees for 20 minutes. Reduce heat to 350 degrees and continue baking for 30 minutes, or until top pie crust is light golden brown.
  5. To make whipped cream, chill a metal mixing bowl for 15 minutes. Pour in heavy cream and sugar, and beat until cream forms stiff peaks. Slice pie and serve with whipped cream.
Adapted from North Carolina Field and Family

Where to Eat in Nashville If … You Want Brunch on a Saturday

Husk Saturday Brunch Nashville

Nashville has tons of brunch options for Sunday, but Saturday brunch can be elusive. Here are a few of my favorites. What am I missing?

  • Husk (Downtown): I wasn’t as impressed with their dinner, at least for these prices and all the buzz, but the brunch was pretty fantastic. Oysters on the halfshell, amazing biscuits and gravy (move over, Loveless), and quite possibly the best veggie plate I’ve ever had, even though I went in the wintertime (see above). Not cheap, but worth it.
  • Mad Donna’s (East Nashville): Not the best of the best, but consistent and affordable. I usually go for the crab cake benedict or veggie omelets, but the Big Don breakfast sandwich also gets rave reviews. Get the 2-for-1 mimosas, not the bloody mary bar. (I’m a bloody mary connoisseur, and their mix tastes weird to me.) 
  • Jackson’s (Hillsboro Village): Like all good brunch spots, you can get lunch foods here too. The best part is sitting on the patio and getting your meal before the people waiting in line at the Pancake Pantry have moved very far.
  • Josephine (12South): If you want a fancier brunch with amazing appetizers, get the caramelized onion tart, and thank me later.
  • Adele’s (The Gulch): Celebrity chef Jonathan Waxman’s Nashville venture is great for dinner, but you can get his signature chicken and incredible side of potatoes at brunch too. I’ve enjoyed the Benedict, but the pizzette topped with a runny egg can’t be beat. Warning: The bloody mary is a mound of horseradish and hot pepper with a tiny bit of vodka and tomato juice. Skip it in favor of a mimosa.
  • Cafe Fundamental (if it ever re-opens)


Roasted Eggplant and Summer Veggie Pasta

summer vegetables 

This is not the best year for my summer garden. I planned on only doing containers, because we’d been house hunting and planning to move by June – and you can’t really take your tomato plants with you. But while weeding my lettuce and cabbage in late May, I noticed two volunteer tomato plants growing in my raised bed. Figuring it was a sign, I decided to go ahead and plant a few more in the bed, along with a few other vegetables – eggplant, zucchini, peppers.

Flash-forward three months. We’re still living here for a few more weeks, and I have at least a dozen green tomatoes (despite those that some brazen squirrels have been stealing – caught one in the act yesterday). I’ve picked two rather small Early Girls and one eggplant. Plus a lot of basil and cilantro (though that’s on its last leg). 

As for the cornucopia of beautiful fruits and veggies above, those are all from my mom’s magnificent garden. She even gave me an eggplant, which is apparently the only thing I’m finding success with this year.


So, what to do with these guys? Of course, there’s Eggplant Parmesan, but I feel like that’s too much breading when everything is so fresh. Plus, those cherry tomatoes from my mom weren’t going to stay ripe much longer. (Sidenote, next year I am only planting cherry tomatoes. They’re my favorite, they ripen the earliest and I miss having my own.)

I googled, as you do, eggplant and cherry tomatoes, and came up with this recipe from Seinfeld’s wife. I decided to add in a couple summer squash and zucchini, too. And I grow basil, not thyme, so that’s what I went with. I also only had one clove of garlic – the bulbs I harvested earlier this summer is probably about ready, but I just used what was left of the only garlic I’ve bought since this time last year. 

You just chop up everything (except the tomatoes), add salt, pepper, red pepper flakes and olive oil, and stir it up with your hands.


Then, you stick it in the oven at 400 degrees. I took this opportunity to go on a quick walk/run (I’m trying this app), and fortunately didn’t burn down the house. I set the timer for 50 minutes, and walked in with 4 minutes to go. 


I took it out of the oven and stirred it up, then taste-tested the eggplant and decided it was done. And maybe I was just starving, but it was perfect – almost caramelized. The tomatoes were just about to burst, adding a sweet flavor to the slightly bitter eggplant. (You can remove the peel to get rid of the bitter taste, but who has time for that?) The red pepper also gave it a nice little kick.


My original plan was to mix the roasted veggies with some jarred pasta sauce, but I really didn’t think it needed it. Instead, I just boiled some spaghetti, and spooned the eggplant mixture over it, sort of as a really chunky sauce, I guess. And probably healthier, too.20140729-200939-72579583.jpg

But I added Parmesan cheese, because I’m not THAT healthy. You gotta live a little, and who could live without cheese?

Roasted Eggplant and Summer Veggie Pasta
Roast eggplant, summer squash, zucchini and cherry tomatoes and serve as a chunky sauce over pasta.
Write a review
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
Prep Time
10 min
Cook Time
1 hr
  1. 2 medium eggplants
  2. 1 medium zucchini
  3. 2 small yellow squash
  4. 2 cups cherry tomatoes
  5. 2 cloves garlic
  6. 6 fresh basil leaves
  7. 1/3 cup olive oil
  8. red pepper flakes, to taste
  9. salt and pepper, to taste
  10. spaghetti or other pasta, cooked according to package directions
  11. Parmesan cheese, to taste
  1. Preheat oven to 400 degrees.
  2. Chop eggplant, squash and zucchini into 1-inch cubes. (Peel eggplant first to make it less bitter, if you have time.) Put in a 9-inch baking dish.
  3. Crush garlic and add to baking dish. Chiffonade basil and sprinkle over the veggies. Drizzle all with olive oil, and add red pepper, salt and pepper to taste. Stir it using your hands so everything is coated with olive oil.
  4. Bake for 40-50 minutes, or until eggplant is tender. Remove from oven, and spoon over spaghetti. Top with Parmesan cheese.
  1. Could be adapted to include other vegetables you have on hand, such as peppers and mushrooms.
Adapted from Jessica Seinfeld's The Can't Cook Book

Nashville Restaurant Review: Josephine

I don’t get over to 12South very often, but it seems like something new has popped up every time I drive down it (read: get stuck in traffic). I had never even heard of Josephine until celebrity chefs started touting it, but boy, am I glad I did. It recently opened in that same fancy new building (RIP, Rumour’s, I think) with the other Jeni’s.

We went for brunch on the Saturday of Fourth of July weekend, and though I had made reservations, it wasn’t that busy. We sat in the mafia booth, which is always fun. I had the bloody mary, which is garnished with pickled okra, if that’s your bag (not mine), but I also heard good things about the blood orange mimosas. Caramelized Onion Tart at Josephine, Nashville

The appetizers were simply killer. The caramelized onion tart (pictured) was nothing like it sounded, or even like the flatbread as it was described by our server. But basically: delicious bread smothered with creamy mascarpone cheese, sprinkled with bacon and topped with mixed greens so you feel like you’re being healthy. Ty turned up his nose at the menu description, but we both thought it was even better than our entrees (which were also good). We also ordered the pistachio-cherry sticky bun, which comes piping hot in a cast iron skillet. About three-quarters of it went home with us in a doggy bag, but it was inhaled that evening and tasted just as good heated in the toaster oven.

For the main course, I had the quiche (asparagus), which comes with salad and fries. Not the best fries ever (that award goes to Uber Tuber fries from Riverside Grill Shack), but I think I was just full from the appetizers. The quiche was good, albeit the small French kind, not the tall American kind. Our table also saw a couple of eggs benedict, perfectly poached and served on something better than an English muffin and featuring the most thinly sliced country ham and brown butter hollandaise (that apparently could  have used a tad more lemon). And someone also ordered the fried oyster sandwich, complete with bacon, the perfect item for those in your party who are NOT looking for brunch on Saturday.

Anyway, despite my hatred of 12South traffic and parking (they do valet, though we were able to street park), I have to say I’ll be back here for more. Definitely encourages me to venture outside of my neighborhood.

Where I’ve Been: 2013

foursquare google map 2013

4,324 miles. 620 check-ins. Nine states and a district. Six airports. Not as much travel as 2012, but we can’t go to Hawaii every year.

Airports 2013

New Places:
Asheville, NC
Greensboro, NC
Little Rock, AR
Raleigh, NC

Old Favorites:
Atlanta, GA
Tampa, FL
Washington, DC

Well, I traveled a lot in North Carolina… mostly for work. I can’t even really count the other “new places” besides Asheville (and I’d technically been there before… but not since 1995). I also hadn’t driven 10 hours each way to Oklahoma and back in ten years, but I don’t count that as new. Or old favorites. I love my family, but Tampa was also a trip to visit family, and it gets bonus points for beaches and amusement parks.

Anyway, I resolve that in 2014 I will have more new places on that list. I’m going to San Antonio on Friday and Los Angeles in two months, so we’re already off to a good start.

Related: Where I’ve Been: 2012

Books I read in 2013

Previously: 2012, 2011, 2010

download (1)

Bold means I recommend it. Asterisks denote book club books. Listed in order from January to December.

  1. Beautiful Ruins by Jess Walter*
    Great book if you love Old Hollywood and present-meets-past type settings. Starring Richard Burton.
  2. The Paris Wife by Paula McLaine
    Great book if you love/loathe Hemingway. A fictionalized perspective of his first wife, Hadley.
  3. The Secret Keeper by Kate Morton
    Honestly, I don’t really remember which one this is, because I’ve read all of Kate Morton’s books and they tend to blend together. Most involve some sort of family secret spanning generations.
  4. Reached (Matched #3) by Allie Condie
    I read the other two last year, and the series is no Hunger Games, though it tries. If I read another trilogy, I’m going to wait until all three have been published, because I’d forgotten almost everything about the first two by the time I got around to reading this.
  5. Cutting for Stone by Abraham Verghese*
    A really good book, but it took me a while to get going. There’s some extremely vivid imagery of a birth scene in Ethiopia that has stayed with me…
  6. A Moveable Feast by Ernest Hemingway
    Great companion to The Paris Wife. The only other Hemingway I’ve tried to read before was The Old Man and the Sea, and this was infinitely easier. Loved all the commentary on Gatsby.
  7. The Book Thief by Markus Zusak
    I really enjoyed this, but not enough to go see the movie version. I’m positive the book is better. World War II setting, narrated by Death.
  8. Kitchen Confidential by Anthony Bourdain*
    Nothing too surprising here if you watch any of his shows, but a bit of insight into how he developed his palate (oysters in Europe) and what day of the week to avoid seafood at restaurants.
  9. Dark Places by Gillian Flynn
    Excellent book if you loved Gone Girl. It’s not quite as plot-twisty or clever as GG, though definitely dark, disturbing and a page-turner. It’s a mystery/thriller revolving around an In Cold Blood-type Midwest family farmhouse murder, taking place 20 years later from the perspective of the lone surviving daughter.
  10. The Best of Everything by Rona Jaffe*
    Adored this book about women who work for a book publisher in the 1950s. Pre-Mad Men, but there are a lot of echoes (drinking, the glass ceiling and horrible relationships), plus the campy movie version has Mommie Dearest-era Joan Crawford.
  11. Ender’s Game by Orson Scott Card
    Ugh, I haaaated this one. Usually I love a good dystopian futuristic society book for young adults, but I was literally falling asleep during the climax. Too much testosterone for my taste.
  12. Life After Life by Kate Atkinson
    I know this wasn’t everyone’s cup of tea, but I really enjoyed this one. However, I hated the two books I previously read (Ender’s Game and the failed Wolf Hall), so I think I just relished a book that I found interesting. The main character is born and (almost?) dies in the first chapter, and keeps (almost?) dying throughout the story, set mostly in wartime Britain.
  13. The Night Circus by Erin Morgenstern
    Great book if you love the Prestige.
  14. Call Me Zelda by Erika Roebuck
    I enjoyed this one, but it took me a while to get into the heart of the story. Not as good as The Paris Wife, but I’m going to read this author’s Hemingway’s Girl soon.
  15. Beautiful Creatures by Kami Garcia and Margaret Stohl
    Well, it’s Twilight with witches, excuse me, casters, narrated by a human boy who seems about as helpless as Bella. Not going to read any more of the series, though I did watch part of the horrible, horrible movie. 
  16. I Love You More Than You Know by Jonathan Ames
    I loved the show Bored to Death and liked the movie based on his novel The Extra Man, so I thought I’d give this collection of essays a shot. He reminds me of David Sedaris, but… a really gross version. He admits in one story that there are two types of people in the world – those who appreciate scatalogical humor, and those do not. And I do not. Still, a couple of the essays were really good, like his reflections on Kerouac and Cobain. Anything not about him, really.
  17. The Road by Cormac McCarthy
    I read this in one night because I knew I’d have nightmares if I put it down. Really good, but really depressing, post-apocalyptic novel, and another one where I’ll skip the movie.
  18. The Interestings by Meg Wolitzer
    I hated her other book, The Uncoupling, but this one was surprisingly enjoyable. It follows the lives of a group of friends from summer camp in the ’70s through their adult lives, combining intriguing plot twists with character-driven realism. I felt like one subplot was tacked on at the end, but I think this was one of the best books I read this year.
  19. Sharp Objects by Gillian Flynn
    Definitely a can’t-put-this-down book, but… not as good as Dark Places, which wasn’t as good as Gone Girl. I don’t know how this author makes me want to keep reading about characters that I kind of hate, but she does. This one is another whodunnit, narrated by a Chicago newspaper reporter who returns to her hometown where two little girls have been murdered.
  20. The Story of Charlotte’s Web by Michael Sims
    I really just wanted to get to an even twenty books for the year, and this has been halfway-read, sitting on my shelf, since either last Christmas or the year before. I think this is the year where I’m going to straight up admit the struggle I have with a lot of nonfiction (minus the rock bio genre). Basically, this book just made me want to reread Charlotte’s Web.

Gave up on: Wolf Hall by Hilary Mantel. Maybe I’ll pick it up again, but yawn.

What books should be on my list for 2014?


Creamy Ham and Potato Soup


I love a good potato soup, and my mom just gave me a bushel of her potatoes that were starting to grow sprouts. Usually I make potato leek soup, which was my original plan, but I don’t have leeks in my garden right now, and I did have leftover ham from Christmas at my parents’ house, so I started looking up recipes for a ham and potato soup. This one is sort of adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything, though I start off by sautéing the vegetables (while Ty cut up the potatoes) to add a little more flavor.


Mirepoix might be my favorite French word. I just love the color, the aroma, the chopping, the sautéing. Yum. Typically, of course, this means carrots, celery and onion, but I throw a little garlic in there too for good measure (so at least one thing from my garden makes an appearance).


After the onion turns translucent, into the (new cast iron Dutch oven) pot goes the chopped potatoes (I leave on the skin, but that’s personal preference), diced ham, enough broth to almost cover it, and salt and pepper to taste. Because ham is pretty salty, I went easy on the salt and heavy on the pepper.

potato soup

Then, you get to the hard part – the roux. My usual problem is that I get distracted and don’t pay close attention and then the flour turns too lumpy and burns. This time, I did a decent enough job, but it took a lot longer for the mixture to thicken after adding the rest of the milk.


But that’s the hardest part of the recipe, and I think it turned out okay. You then add the milk mixture to the potato soup, let it cook, and then this is where I vary from the recipe. I like a smoother soup, but not completely pureed – a balance of creamy and chunky. To get this consistency, I ladled out some of the vegetables into a bowl and then used my immersion blender (stick) to liquefy the rest. Then I added the veggies back in.

Finally, grate some cheddar cheese, or any other toppings (bacon, chives, etc.), and it’s ready to serve.

cheesy ham potato soup

Creamy Ham & Potato Soup
Creamy, roux-based soup with ham, potatoes and vegetables.
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
45 min
  1. 1 celery heart
  2. 1 onion (yellow or white)
  3. 1/2 cup carrot
  4. 2 cloves garlic
  5. 1 tablespoon oil or bacon grease
  6. salt and pepper, to taste
  7. 4 medium-large potatoes
  8. 1 cup cooked ham, diced
  9. 3 1/4 cups vegetable broth
  10. 5 tablespoons butter
  11. 5 tablespoons all-purpose flour
  12. 2 cups milk
  13. cheddar cheese, for garnish
  1. Dice the celery, carrots and onion, and mince the garlic. Heat bacon grease (or oil) in a Dutch oven or stockpot over medium heat, and then add the diced vegetables. Add salt and pepper to taste. Sauté until the vegetables soften and onions begin to turn translucent, about 10 minutes.
  2. Meanwhile, cube the potatoes (leave the skin on, if desired). Add potatoes, ham and broth to the mirepoix, and bring to a boil. Cover and simmer for 20 minutes or until potatoes are tender (use a fork to test).
  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the butter over medium-low heat. Slowly whisk in flour, one tablespoon at a time, stirring until thick. Then, slowly whisk in the milk a little bit at a time. Continue to heat until mixture has thickened.
  4. Stir the milk mixture into the potato soup, and heat thoroughly. Ladle out about 3 cups of the veggies into a bowl, and set aside. Using an immersion blender, process the remaining soup and vegetables until smooth. Return the vegetables back to the pot, and stir.
  5. Serve with cheddar cheese. Other optional garnishes include bacon, chives, etc.
Adapted from The Girl Who Ate Everything

Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies


It’s December 1, which means the tree is up, the halls are decked and I’m in the mood for baking. I don’t even want to know how much butter I consumed this past week in the form of gravy, sweet potatoes and pecan pie, but something about the Hershey kiss commercials and the Bing Crosby songs just make me want to use butter, sugar and a hand mixer.

This fall I made a different chocolate chip cookie recipe, but I felt like using up the last of our Elmer T. Lee bourbon (since we have two more bottles of other bourbons). So after failing to find a recipe for bourbon sugar cookies that didn’t require a trip to the grocery store, I ended up with these.

It’s more of a cakelike cookie, lighter and not as crispy, and though the recipe didn’t call for chilling the cookie dough, I did refrigerate it for about 30 minutes before baking. (I also may have added an extra tablespoon of bourbon… Just to finish the bottle, but it does have a slight kick, so I wouldn’t not recommend it…)

All in all, it took me about an hour to make these, including 30 minutes spent yelling at the Titans while the dough chilled. Plus, I had all the ingredients on hand in my fridge and pantry. Easy, quick soft, chewy cookies.


Bourbon Chocolate Chip Cookies

Yields 18
Classic chocolate chip cookies with a slight boozy kick.
Write a review
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
13 min
Prep Time
20 min
Cook Time
13 min
  1. 1 1/8 cup all-purpose flour
  2. 1/2 teaspoon baking soda
  3. 1/4 teaspoon salt
  4. 1/2 cup butter
  5. 1/4 cup sugar
  6. 1/2 cup brown sugar
  7. 1 egg
  8. 3-4 tablespoons bourbon
  9. 3/4 cup chocolate chips
  1. In a large bowl, stir together flour, baking soda and salt with a fork. In a separate bowl, cream butter and sugars, beat in the egg, and add the bourbon. Slowly stir flour mixture into wet ingredients. Fold in chocolate chips, cover in plastic wrap and refrigerate 30 minutes.
  2. Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Scoop dough onto baking sheet covered in parchment, and bake 10-13 minutes or until golden brown.
  3. Cool for 1 minute on baking sheet and then move to wire cooling rack.
Adapted from There Will Be Bourbon/All Recipes

How to Use Foursquare to Freak Out to Customers of Your Small Business

A few weeks ago, my family and I went to a local restaurant here in Nashville. Nothing special, but a place I have been frequenting for more than five years, one that I go to about every three months or so.

I use Foursquare, not every time I go to work or the grocery store, but I usually check in to small businesses or when I’m on vacation. So I checked in to this restaurant, per usual, and thought nothing of it, until the following day when, out of nowhere, I received this tweet from the restaurant:

foursquare privacy

Now, my Foursquare account is linked to my Twitter account, but I hadn’t posted this on Twitter. I didn’t follow or connect with the restaurant on Foursquare, and most disconcerting, its Twitter account didn’t even follow my private one. I checked Instagram, though I hadn’t posted any photos linked to the restaurant’s name. I also wondered that because I had made the reservation, they somehow had my name.

I texted my husband, who was as freaked out as I was, and my friend who handles social media for a small business in a different city. None of us could figure out how the restaurant would know that I was there.

And then I poked around in the Foursquare privacy settings and found this:
foursquare privacy settings

At the time, everything was unchecked except “Let venue managers see when I check in to their business.” I realized it was my fault. Some social media manager just tweets a thank-you to anyone who checks into their small business. They don’t realize how unsettling this is for the customer. And maybe I’m not the average customer/social media user. Maybe if you are publicly announcing that you’ve been to a business on a location-based social network, you should be open to the fact that strangers are going to publicly announce that you’re one of their customers. But without any frame of reference, it feels like stalking. I guess in this day and age where we share everything on Facebook, Twitter and blogs (yes, I see the irony), we should expect this. But I didn’t, and it freaked me out.

So, this is a PSA for small businesses – don’t do this unless you want to freak out your customers. Or maybe don’t do this unless you’re, like, giving out a good deal to frequent patrons. Not just patting them on the back in a creepy way for giving you money. Especially if their Twitter account is locked. And using your restaurant’s hashtag in the thank-you tweet? Now that just feels like shameless self-promotion – I feel they were using me.

But, I realize this should be a PSA for social media users who still want to hold on to just a bit of privacy: Double check – or should I say uncheck – your privacy settings every few months to avoid being freaked out.

Adventures in Asheville, Part 2: Brews Cruise, Blue Ridge and BBQ

[Continuing from Asheville, Part 1]

Saturday morning, we did not wake up in time for breakfast. I’d heard good things about Posana Cafe, the only certified green restaurant in the state, so we headed to downtown Asheville for coffee and brunch.

I’m not sure how certified green lobster can possibly be, but it was rich and buttery, at least.

Guitars in Asheville

Next we moseyed over to a little artisan market, where I ogled skirts and scarves while Ty ogled cutting boards and intricate wire tree art, and all we bought were funky magnets. Then down to Kress Emporium, where I could have an probably should have done 90% of my holiday shopping, and a neat little custom-made guitar shop called Axis, where Ty’s lefty upside-down-and-backwards technique got some attention from another customer and the owner, obviously a Jimi fan. We also wandered into a few more shops, including a record store where we got a decent tax-free discount for paying for our vinyl in cash.

By then, it was mid-afternoon, so we decided it was beer-thirty.

Wicked Weed Asheville

We ended up at Wicked Weed, since it had an awesome patio and the weather app showed no rain on the radar map. There was a little confusion with the hostess, who told us we had to wait 20 minutes to get a table just for drinks, but when we sat down outside near the fire pit with our little wait buzzer, a server came over and gave us the beer list and said if we were just drinking, he’d take our orders. He also told us a little about the place – it’s been open less than a year (December 2012), but it’s already winning awards and acclaim. (This was later affirmed by our beer guide.) I debated between two Saisons – Apple Pie and Sweet Potato & Grits – and ultimately chose the latter. Not as sweet as what you would think (no Blue Moon, for example), so I really enjoyed it. Of course, it started to rain, but we just took it upon ourselves to start a trend of opening the patio umbrellas. And by the time we were finished, it had cleared up so we could walk to our next adventure…

Asheville Brews Cruise

… the Asheville Brews Cruise. We hopped on the bus, which comes complete with a funny driver and a popcorn machine, and headed out of town up a mountain to learn how our favorite moonshine is made.

Troy & Sons Asheville

Last January, we attended a Skillery lecture/tasting about whiskey that introduced us to this smooth, delicious moonshine. (Not gonna lie, I’m a bit bummed Skillery changed its focus and no longer offers this type of class.) So Troy & Sons was on our list of places to visit, and when my coworker told me about the brews cruise, it seemed like a great idea to get chauffeured to and from this distillery, since it’s atop a mountain a few miles outside of Asheville.

Troy & Sons Asheville

The tour was given by Troy’s son, so we learned how his mom (Troy) was welcomed to her new mountain home with a knock on the door and no sign of anyone – just a bottle of shine on the doorstep. It tasted gross, but she then had some from another guy “who disappeared into the woods every Saturday” – and this kind, made with heirloom corn, did not have the harsh, rubbing alcohol flavor of Everclear. So she researched it, made friends with farmers and grew the operation to include the only German-made copper still in America, pictured above.

Troy & Sons Asheville

I mean, it’s seriously like Willy Wonka’s whiskey factory. We learned about the head and the heart of whiskey, because what makes Troy & Sons so unique is that it’s all heart – so no bite, no shudder, all smooth.

The only downside (besides the guy asking insanely detailed questions who obviously was trying to make his own ‘shine) was that we couldn’t buy any at the distillery. Fortunately, it’s now available in Tennessee, which it wasn’t last winter after our bourbon class. Apparently, we’re the only state outside of North Carolina where you can get the Oak Reserve.

Highland Brewery Asheville

Then, we headed next door to Highland Brewing Co. I’d only had its gaelic ale in bottles before, but we got to sample all sorts of drafts from light (St. Therese’s Pale Ale) to dark (Thunderstruck Coffee Porter) while touring their massive facility.

Highland Brewery Asheville

It’s been a couple weeks since our trip, so now I don’t remember as much, but there are some hops and barley. They were in the process of brewing the Cold Mountain Winter Ale, which all the beer nerds on the bus were sad wasn’t ready just yet.

After the tour, we hung out at the outside bar since they were getting ready to host a high school reunion. (Jealous, since I grew up in a dry county, where reunions do not take place in breweries…)

Blue Ridge Films Asheville

Oh, and where Troy & Sons and Highland are located now used to be a film studio, and Patrick Swayze filmed parts of “Dirty Dancing” here, so that was a nice little fun fact to learn.

We hopped back on the bus and inhaled some popcorn for the drive back into Asheville.

Hi-Wire Brewery Asheville

We ended where we started, at Hi-Wire Brewing, whose claim to fame is being the only circus-themed brewery. And because we hadn’t left the Southeast, we watched some SEC football and the sunset before walking to dinner.

I knew after sampling four kinds of moonshine and at least seven or eight beers that we’d probably not want to do fancy dining, so we didn’t make reservations, even though our B&B guy said this was the busiest weekend in Asheville and we really should. We tried to get into Barley’s, but the wait was 30 minutes, so we walked up the street to Circle in the Square.

Circle Square Pizza Asheville

And had a delicious, carb-tastic meal to soak up the alcohol before calling it a night. I’m sure we should have stopped in a bar and seen some live music somewhere, but sleep sounded so much more enticing.

Grove Park Inn Asheville

After our B&B breakfast, we checked out and drove up the mountain to Grove Park Inn. I’ve recently gotten into Hemingway and Fitzgerald (I didn’t read Gatsby in high school, though we did watch the Robert Redford movie… quality education), so I was excited to see this place.

I mean, I can definitely see why F. Scott moved in. (Though a bit depressing to know he lived here while Zelda was locked up in an asylum.)

Grove Park Inn Asheville

But anyway, it was gorgeous, with fall colors just barely beginning to show. It was a chilly, 48-degree morning, so we were planning to order some delicious-sounding boozy hot chocolate while sitting out in the sunny patio, but it turns out that North Carolina, like I recently learned in Georgia, doesn’t serve alcohol before noon on Sundays. I mean, you can buy wine in a gas station or grocery store (after noon, of course), but if you want brunch at 11, it has to be beverage-free.

Grove Park Inn Asheville

So instead, we left our relaxing spot in the sun to explore the hotel before hopping in our car to head up the Blue Ridge Parkway, winding through the back roads out of Grove Park.

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville

Despite being the usual peak season, there wasn’t much color yet. But we saw more and more fall foliage as we gained altitude, stopping at pretty much ever overlook along the way.

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville

We eventually reached Craggy Gardens, or I guess we passed it, but we did a quick mile-long hike up to Craggy Dome to the pinnacle, where the view was simply gorgeous.

Blue Ridge Parkway Asheville

Then we sped back down the mountain for lunch. We tried to go to Salsa’s, which everyone says is amazing, but it was Sunday at noon in Asheville and we simply couldn’t find a parking spot downtown. We weren’t about to ruin our weekend of not having to wait for things on the last meal, so instead, we headed out of town on Merrimon Avenue to a place my parents had been.

Luella's Bar-B-Que Asheville

Luella’s Bar-B-Que, where we decided to just split a three-meat combo plate so we could try the trifecta of BBQ pork, chicken and brisket. Definitely a good decision – although if I have to choose one, it’s the brisket. All the sides, especially the beans, were pretty amazing too.

Luella's Bar-B-Que Asheville BLT Bloody Mary

Oh, and there’s this guy, the BLT bloody mary. A novelty item for sure, but pretty good in theory. I can probably skip it next time. In fact, my next trip I need to hit up all the highly recommended Asheville restaurants on my list that I didn’t make it to:

  • Curate
  • Early Girl
  • Rezaz
  • Salsa’s
  • Tupelo Honey
  • Zambra

And I’m sure dozens of others.

Anyway, lovely anniversary trip, and it only took me a whole month to write about it. The end.Craggy Dome Asheville