All things Asheville

So last month I was lucky enough to head down to Asheville for an annual writers’ retreat I do with a group of friends. It was my fourth trip to Asheville, and if you haven’t been, GO. It’s artsy and hip and full of fun things to do. You can hike or bike or kayak–all of which you can figure out–but I’m going to recommend the really useful: WHERE TO EAT.

*Curate. Our annual pilgrimage here for tapas is a sacred event. We each order 2-3 plates of the most luscious Spanish food you can imagine. Crisp fritters, unctuous cheeses, and so many decadent scribbles of honey. It’s recently expanded and HOPPING, so be sure to snag a reservation before you go.

*Chai Pani. All is right with the world when we are at Chai Pani. This is our customary first night meal because there is NOTHING better when you’ve been traveling than a good spicy thali. The butter chicken was divine. Also recently expanded and they were very kind even though we were pressed up against the windows until they finally opened after renovations.

*French Broad Chocolate Lounge. An Asheville landmark. You’ll know you’ve found it when you come across the line of people standing outside when it’s 30 degrees. The gelato and flourless chocolate cake are superb, and don’t forget to grab a box of truffles for the road.

*Wicked Weed Brewing Co. Disclaimer: we haven’t eaten here, but we do stop by every year to collect an assortment of beer for the husband of one of our number. (Hi, Dan!) A must-visit if you’re into craft beer or cool t-shirts.

*Biltmore. The Vanderbilt estate doesn’t occupy a spot on our usual itinerary, but this year it was well worth a stop because of the TITANIC exhibit. Little did we know, our tickets also included a tasting at the winery and we staggered out after some delicious wines, carrying off in triumph a bottle of port we uncorked for our nightcaps.

*Mast General Store. A fun stop with a large assortment of vintage-style candy and heaps of useful things. A great place to find Columbia sportswear on sale if you’re feeling outdoorsy or some cast-iron skillets if you have an inclination to cook.