Sunday, August 14, 2016

Evil Friends

Sheer madness at Silver Fork Winery
I tell you, Ms. Brugger and I have some evil friends. On occasion, certain of them will force us — or at least coerce us — into going out and doing things in public, social things, things that are fun, things like hanging out together, having decent food and wine, seeing cool places, even getting in some geocaching. How is one supposed to be successfully mopey, depressed, and hopelessly off-kilter when you've got friends like that? It's damned tough.

This time, it was Terry and Beth, and they made us go to Asheville, NC, with them. They did the same thing to us last summer, and I had just gotten around to forgiving them that one. Ms. B. and I departed Greensboro yesterday morning, bound for Lake James Cellars in Glen Alpine, out in Burke County, where we planned to meet. I had targeted a handful of geocaches along the way, but for reasons I will graciously decline to discuss, Terry and Beth ran a bit late, which meant there was time to kill, which meant more caching for me, which meant more torture for Ms. B. (so at least there was that). Passing through the little town of Valdese, we found ourselves in the midst of a massive street festival. According to the town website, "since 1976, on the second Saturday in August, Valdese hosts an annual festival to celebrate the 'Glorious Return' of the Waldensians from exile in Switzerland to their native valleys in the Cottian Alps of Italy in 1689." Well, I hope the return was glorious, and I will say that I quite enjoyed what I saw of the festival as well as a couple of the very nice caches there.

Onward to Lake James. Here, we finally confronted our nemeses and made them ply us with wine. Very good wine at Lake James, I will say, particularly their Cabernet Franc. The building has a great big front porch, perfect for picnicking, so we picnicked, all right. Then we ventured forth to visit the scenic Silver Fork Winery, not very far away. Also some good wine there, if a bit higher priced than most in the region. Their Four Dog Red Blend, made with Cabernet Sauvignon, Merlot, Cabernet Franc and Petite Verdot, is their standout dry red.
I saw her hanging out on a street corner with some
kind of strange thing, and I said, "Damn."

So, then it was off to Asheville with us. After we had settled in our respective hotel rooms and plotted and schemed, we Uber'd our way into downtown, where we immediately headed for one of our favorite haunts from our last trip: the Cork and Keg bar at The Weinhaus. There, we enjoyed a nice Tempranillo, alas, sans liver or other organs from unsuspecting victims. Since Terry and Beth have relatively recently discovered the joys of Thai food, we went for dinner to Suwana's Thai Orchid, which was quite good in general, though the Crying Tiger I had did not measure up to the Crying Tiger at a couple of our local Thai establishments. For afters, we wandered the town for quite a while before settling in for a bit of Garnacha at the most excellent Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, where they have books by the thousands and wines by the score. I, and probably Kimberly, could have spent more time there than most reasonable people would appreciate, but we didn't. Regardless, by the time we were done there, it was getting well into the night, so we opted to sit on a bench and listen to a trio of talented young musicians (a couple of whom looked to be about ten years old) cutting loose with guitar, drums, and upright bass. Eventually, the Uber man came back around to pick us, and we bid the day good-night.
A couple of the women-folk in the Grove Arcade

I was up fairly early this morning to grab a couple of caches near the hotel. Our gang went for the hotel's complimentary breakfast, and then we headed back into Asheville proper. Ms. B. and Beth had their sights on some shopping at the Grove Arcade, an architecturally spectacular public market full of eclectic shops and a couple of restaurants. Last year, we had enjoyed the fare and ambiance at Sante Wine Bar & Tap Room on the premises, so we opted to try it again for lunch today. They have these intriguing little pizzas there, and we tried several of them, our unanimous favorite being the Ham and Fig, which features figs, prosciutto, Holly Grove chevre, balsamic drizzle, and an olive oil base. We were also impressed by their selection of "Big Ass Chewy Red Wines," so we chewed our way through a few. And since Ms. B. and I have recently taken to making some mighty fine pizzas of our own, we may try our hands at a figgy pizza thing ourselves.

And, well, it wouldn't be the proper outing for the ladies without some antiquing. We discovered there was this great big-ass Antique Barn not far from Biltmore Estates, and the men were given little choice but to transport the women-folk there. Happily, there was a cache right on the grounds — aptly titled "Old Place" (GC3Q8E0) — and it was nicely done, memorable enough for me to award it a favorite point. Because it was a scorcher of a day, the giant antique barn, open to the elements as it was, could have doubled for a human BBQ smoker, so we decided not to stay long enough to become someone else's picnic.

It was all around a fine time, not that we would ever wish such a fine time on any of our friends. But then, we are not the evil ones.
The view from our table at the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar
Uggh. It's them again. At the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar
Interior of the Grove Arcade market
A particularly fine example of patriotic sculpture found at Big-Ass Antique Barn in Asheville


Beth said...

And just for all of that complaining, I'm thinking we will have to force you to picnic and pillage at Divine Llama in a couple of weeks. ;)

Stephen Mark Rainey said...

You sadistic beast.