I would have liked to take a few extra days for this trip, but a weekend jaunt is what I have. The necessity to go at this time is based upon the seasonal availability of “ramps”, a mountain food oddity similar to a wild onion with a flat green leaf instead of a tubular one. The flavor is as pungent and unique as garlic, but it isn’t garlic. It is one of those things that when you eat it, everyone knows you have eaten it. It is probably best to eat it with friends and lovers and therefore you are not the “odd man out” according to smell.
Ramps are only in season in the early to mid-Spring of the year and only grow above a certain elevation. I checked with someone with the NC State Ag Dept./Western Carolina Farmers’ Market (Asheville, NC) and they are in season currently. I found that I could clean them. Chop them up, and then freeze them and they would last for quite a while. They are sold in bunches, with the dirt still on the tubers.
About 5 or 6 years ago, I first learned of the ramp, and also bought fingerling potatoes about this time. On that trip I also visited south-Georgia, Thomasville, and bought various cheeses. Home again, I cooked the ramps on the stove, added the potatoes, sliced, and then goat cheese to make a cream sauce. This went well with a pan-fried steak.
I am planning to drive down to Columbia, SC after work today (about a 3 hour trip), and stay at a Best Western Motel on Bush River Road. It will be about another 2 ½ hours to Asheville, NC tomorrow morning. Depending upon how early I get up, I may either drive downtown Columbia, or head up to Landrum, SC (just off of 26W) and seek out the honey of Les Spangler (S. Blackstone Rd.).
I should get to the WC Farmers’ Market by 10 or 10:30 am, depending. *Not sure if Les Spangler is still alive. Never met him, although I have bought honey at his place. Left the money where it said to, and bought a couple of jars.
Going up 26W to Asheville from Columbia, I will get off at Exit 33 and then take a left at the next intersection (Toyota dealership on the left). It is just a short distance up the road to the Market.
The Market has cheeses also.
After the Market, I plan to drive downtown Asheville. Not sure if I will park and go to Grove Arcade. May try it because there was a shop that had the balsamic vinegar I like.
Don’t know if I will try to eat downtown, and then meander back to Columbia. Stay overnight, and then roam Columbia and back to Fayetteville on Sunday.