I awoke early on Thursday morning before my alarm went off. Got up, showered, and left early enough to get to Asheville by about 11am. I almost always stop at the Davie County Rest Area for a bathroom break and stretch.
I got into Asheville with enough time to find Cafe Azalea on Tunnel Road about 30 minutes before it opened. I roamed down around a few mountain roads and went past Warren Wilson College before turning around and making it back to the restaurant.
There are a few outside tables, at which there were a few adults and a little girl. I walked into the darkened interior and was seated by the waiter near the back, but facing out (the establishment having a large glass front).
I looked through the menu, and the waiter brought me iced tea, and waited on several other customers (a couple by the front door, a man reading a paper by the front window, and a couple which came in, went to the register/bar area, talked briefly with the staff and then left).
I ordered the Shrimp & Grits, which I had seen reviewed online as being distinct in that they weren’t too spicy, but perfect for the reviewer. *And my review would be the opposite. They weren’t distinctive, because they weren’t spicy, and although not totally bland, just “nothing to write home about.” However, they are worth blogging about;-)
I also ordered a cup of the Ginger-Carrot Soup, which in addition to those ingredients already mentioned, included creme fraiche and coconut flavoring with a topping of chives (I think.). I enjoyed the slight flavors, but eventually added some raw sugar to “turn” the soup for a sweet element.
The Shrimp and Grits were a disappointment, but the soup was different, and good.
I finished my meal, left and entered the Blue Ridge Parkway below the restaurant. I soon found the Folk Art Center (a museum, working art studio and gift shop). I roamed the aisles, and bought a couple of coffee mugs, toured the museum and then left.
I found the Days Inn via my GPS (almost) and after checking in, realized that this was a really old hotel which had been renovated… The cheap price had not entered my consciousness as a question mark. *The hotel, room and facilities were adequate for me. If I were married, I would not bring my wife…
I did ride around downtown Asheville, by the Grove Arcade, and then eventually out to the WNC Farmer’s Market where I made a quick tour. *I did not intend to buy anything on Thursday, especially ramps. But returned on Friday morning to buy cheese, honey, some potatoes, a couple of tomatoes, and a couple of bunches of ramps (@$3).
At some point, around 5pm, I set my GPS to find Luella’s BBQ Restaurant. It appears to have been a curb side service at some point, but no longer, and is located at one of the entrances to UNC-Asheville.
I entered and was seated by a young blond waitress in a black t-shirt and black jeans (the uniform of the establishment). I was given a menu and ordered sweet tea. There are tables, booths, and bar stools at the “bar” by the kitchen.
I ordered a half-rack of ribs, a bean salad, and a house salad with a sundried tomato vinagrette and hush puppies. I tried various sauces, liking the Luella’s sauce. *I left with about half the ribs and a small cup of the Luella’s sauce.
So, I head out on US 40 West, eventually turning off and winding my way to Canton, NC. I then took a southerly leaning road, hoping to find the Blue Ridge Parkway at some point, and then take that back to Asheville. The road followed a small winding river, sometimes close and sometimes further away, but then returning.
Eventually, I found myself on Hwy 215 which I followed for a good distance. The sun began to dip behind the mountains, but I chose to continue on Hwy 215, not knowing for sure that it would cross the BRP.
I came to a large mountain lake ( ), which I think was an Episcopal summer retreat. I continued on although there were no longer any homes visible from the road, and I only recall passing 4 motorcycles and an old truck heading down the mountain(s). *It finally dawned on me that the tops of the mountains were coming nearer. I passed a rushing waterfall, and continued to wind back and forth along the road.
Finally, I saw a sign for the Blue Ridge Parkway. I was pretty close to being as far along the Parkway as I had ever come southward. I think I was about 30 miles from Asheville when I started back along the road. I stopped at several points to take a few quick pictures. I noted a few instances of lovers stopped in vehicles to view the setting sun.
I passed what must have been a landslide which closed the Parkway a few years ago. A large portion of the mountain-side appeared to be sandy soil with a few large boulders dotted about. It looked none to secure, and I would not be surprised to hear that the Parkway was closed again due to another slide in less than two years.
As I neared Asheville, it was already night-time, and the increased lights of homes and businesses were obvious.
The next morning, I ate the breakfast buffet provided by the hotel. The food was good, but I did note that most of the guests were speaking Spanish, and that pinto beans and jalapenos were included on the buffet.
I packed up, filled the cooler with ice, and headed downtown to find an Indian restaurant. I did find it, but parking would have been a problem for lunch, so I decided to eat elsewhere. I headed out to the Farmer’s Market where I bought my goods.
Just before leaving Asheville on Friday, I drove along Tunnel Road (which parallels US 40) and turned into the East Village Grille, which is a sports bar & restaurant located diagonally across from the Veterans Hospital (east Asheville). The sign appears to be old, but inside could be 5, 10, 15 years or older.
There were several tables of customers when I walked in. A waitress smiled and told me I could sit where I liked. I walked to the end of the room, nearest a large window facing Tunnel Road. Traffic was not worrisome or noticeable to me as I watched TV, and people.
A male waiter, dressed in black (as were all… dressed in black) came to my table and I made a comment about the menu being like “War and Peace,” or some other large tome. I ordered sweet tea (which was sweet and good when it arrived), and the Philly Cheese Steak and potato salad (good, but could have had a touch of sweetness). *The bun was good, the cheese was melted, and the steak & mushrooms were well done.
I asked the waitress if I could have a small amount of “Tiger” Sauce. My waiter came back with a small black cup of Tiger Sauce, which was a rich deep ruby red, with flecks of pepper seeds in it. The Tiger Sauce was worth the whole meal. I dipped my Philly Steak, cheese and even the bun eventually to get every hot drop of this sauce. It was hot, and I believe had Habaneros in it, but it wasn’t too hot. *Today, I googled for Tiger Sauce, and see that it is a known quantity, sold by various companies. I’ll go looking for something that looks like what I remember, and hope it will have the same flavor. Habanero hot, but without garlic, and sweet.
After lunch, I decided to drive along Hwy 70 instead of US 40. I think I’ve done this one other time, with the same result. You eventually take US 40 over the Continental Divide, and down the mountain. But once down to Old Fort, I intentionally got back on Hwy 70 and took the scenic tour toward Winston-Salem. Eventually, at Hickory, after shopping at Belk for pants, shirts, socks and even a pair of new shoes (brown suede), I did get on US 40 and made it to my Comfort Suites hotel by a little after 6pm. I did stop off to eat supper at Panera Bread where I had some vegetable soup, a ham sandwich, and a cold lemonade.
I fell asleep almost immediately after getting in my room, leaving the television on, while on the Weather Channel. My sleep was basically restful, while having brief bouts of awareness that there were severe storms coming up from the south and doing great damage as they did. About 10:43pm I finally woke up, and turned the TV to the movie Avatar, (by chance, not intent). I cussed as Spanish sub-titles panned across the screen, but eventually found the CC (Closed Captioning) button and turned off any text display.
The next morning, when I awoke about 6:30am, rain was coming in brief waves and rain drops bouncing in puddles on the parking lot and vehicles below. I showered, and went downstairs for breakfast. I had a large Belgian waffle, some syrup, a glass of cranberry juice, and later, some milk, and some coffee before heading out on tour. It was still raining when I left the hotel and quickly found a gas station where I filled up my tank. I then took the Hanes Mall (road or parkway) path and came to Silas Creek Parkway. I now know that I turned in the opposite direction from which I should. Eventually, I would use my GPS to get back on track, and crisscrossing roads, would find Reynolda Road, and take a brief tour of the Wake Forest University campus on a rainy, early morning.
When I returned to my hotel, I googled for Indian restaurants, and found one Tumeric, which ended up being only a short distance from where I was. I called and found that they opened at 11am. So, I packed up my goods, loaded them into the Civic, and drove around town to kill time until about 11:30, when I hoped that there would not be many customers, but would have all of the lunch buffet deployed.
I tried the buffet at Tumeric Indian Restaurant in Winston-Salem on Friday at lunch. They open at 11am, and I was apparently their first customer about 11:30am. Three more customers arrived before I had finished my meal.
As I pulled up to the curb, there was a young red headed, white guy, sitting out on a bench beside the front door. He hopped up and went inside, which made me think he might be a waiter or clerk. Sure enough, he was my waiter, and sat me at a table for two near the cash register. There was a young Indian, probably in his 30s, at the cash register. I almost choked as I sat down because the air was stifling from whatever had been cooked already. I quickly got over this feeling and was quite comfortable before I was deep into my meal.
I ordered water to drink and was told the buffet was ready.
I hopped up and went back to the buffet area which was behind my table.
I can tell from an online recipe that one of the deserts that I had, and went back for a little more, was Dal Payasam. There were raisins and cashews on top.
I had some yogurt rice, and tried both the goat and chicken curry. I’m not sure if it was called a chutney, but I had a couple of other mixtures, which I suppose were not a main course.
The food was good, the water cold, and the desserts simple but delicious. I talked briefly with my waiter about being from the Coast of North Carolina, and that I liked going to the beach when everyone else was not there. Especially like the rainy day that was that morning in Winston-Salem.
The day would clear up quickly as I drove down to Pinehurst to visit Russ and Deborah Savage. But, later, one of the storms of the day would blow quickly thorough the Village and then no more rain or breeze there. That was not the case across much of middle and eastern NC for the rest of the day. Russ and I watched the storm(s) reporting on TV as tornadoes touched down in Sanford, Raleigh, and other points.
On Sunday, Russ, Deb and I drove up to Winston-Salem to tour the Reynolda House Museum. Afterwards, we ate at Old Staley’s Grill & Ale Restaurant which is directly across from the house, but not visible because of dense vegetation.
Russ drove past the restaurant at first because there were only about 4 cars visible. It was a large deserted parking lot at about 4 pm. He turned around at the Reynolda House entrance and then drove into the restaurant’s parking lot and up near the front door. The sign said that they should be open. Russ parked across several motorcycle parking spaces, so that the car would be in the shade, and we all went inside.
We were seated quickly, as there were only a few customers sparsely sitting about the restaurant. It is a sports bar with large TVs and at least one really, really large TV. A NASCAR race from Talledega was coming to an exciting finish… if I had the least bit of interest in stock car racing, which I haven’t since I graduated high school.
Bright, bubbly Bailey was our waitress, quick with a smile and information. We ordered burgers all around. Russ had the waffle sweet potato fries (good), Deb had crinkle cut regular fries (good, crisp, chewy middle and just the right amount of salt), and I had baked beans (a good sweet bean). Russ did order sour cream (at my suggestion) for his fries. Whether it was Bailey, or the “new” cook, what Russ got was a dollop of butter (which Deborah said was actually margarine). None of us ever brought this faux-pax to Bailey’s attention.
My burger was large and good, a little pink in the middle. I scraped off the chili, and asked if I had actually gotten any Pepper Jack cheese, which I had ordered. It was pointed out to me that there appeared to be a little cheese around the edge of the burger, and that the rest had probably melted into the hot burger. There were dill pickle slices on the burger (I prefer sweet.), and a large dill wedge on the side.