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Resurgence of Prohibition Era Cocktails Is Alive In Asheville

Prohibition made participating in the public enjoyment of alcohol illegal from 1920 to 1933.  Regardless, the art of the cocktail thrived during this time, as underground establishments known as “Speakeasies” continued to operate.  The South gets a lot of credit for being innovators in modern era cocktail creation.  From New Orleans to North Carolina, mixology is alive and well.  And Asheville is no stranger to the adult beverage.

Asheville is known for beer.  You can’t walk two blocks downtown without hitting a popular watering hole or local brewery’s tasting room.  There is no better destination in the Southeast for beer enthusiasts.  The Thirsty Monk is one such destination.  Locals and tourists alike have been enjoying craft and hard to find beers there since 2008.  Last fall, the Monk embarked on the new, yet old, cocktail trail.

Top of the Monk specializes in cocktails and they’re doing it old school.  There are no mixes or blenders.  Everything is homemade, fresh squeezed and a work of art.  From the Bloody Mary to Bourbon based  and Gin with Absinthe,  there is an element of mad science in the execution.  The recipes are true to a bygone era, but with a signature all their own; the drink list is impressive but the women behind the bar are not limited to it.

As if the drinks weren’t enough, the establishment is a beautiful piece of nostalgia, complete with roof-top seating offering both urban and mountain views.  The skyline of downtown Asheville hasn’t changed all that much in the last hundred years.  Top of the Monk is a welcomed piece of Americana that reaffirms a time when drinks were hand made and patrons appreciated the process.

 

Hiking Along the Blue Ridge Parkway at Craven Gap Near Asheville NC

There’s a saying in the mountains of North Carolina. If you don’t like the weather here, wait 15 minutes; it will change. We do have four distinct seasons, and sometimes two in the same month. This February lives up to that reputation. A week ago, there was several inches of snow on the ground.


Today, motorcycles and bicycles were everywhere. The sky was blue. Children and dogs roamed the trails and water flowed. The temperature was in the mid 60s. We hiked the trails near Craven Gap along the Blue Ridge Parkway. This trail has the notoriety of having been trekked by the President and the First Lady on one of their recent trips to Asheville.

By mid-week, those same trails will be slick and icicles will form once again. The only thing you can count on is rapid weather changes, sometimes without notice. Nevertheless, outdoor activities thrive even in the winter in North Carolina. Come see what makes the Asheville area such a wonderful place to live. For more information on local hiking trails, go to http://www.exploreasheville.com/things-to-do/hiking-trails/craven-gap/

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Biltmore Estate – It’s not just a big house.

It’s hard to find someone who hasn’t heard of the Biltmore House.  A brief synopsis: Built around the turn of the century by George Vanderbilt, the Biltmore House is 250 rooms, 175,000 sq. feet. with magnificent grounds and impeccable gardens.  It is still owned by the family and is opened to the public as a popular tourist destination.

Wine drinkers are also familiar with Biltmore brand of wines distributed through the Southeast and beyond.  Vineyards on the estate are harvested and grapes are processed and aged in the estate’s own winery.  There is also a large wine tasting room for visitors touring the facility.

What most people don’t know, however, is how many other things there are to do without tasting wine or stepping foot into the magnificent home.  The estate has truly become a vacation destination for tourists, and a relaxing hangout for locals with season passes.

This weekend, we took advantage of a special deal and purchased season passes with the explorer package.  Basically this gives guests unlimited access to most things on the Biltmore Estate property, and discounts on the rest.  If you think the house is big, consider the property it sits on is 8,000 acres!  There are miles of hiking, biking and horse trails.  I took advantage of those trails, biking over 15 miles.  Some trails are paved, flat with little elevation change that meander through the grounds.  For mountain bike enthusiasts, single track trails can be found at both ends of the estate.

Bird watchers will appreciate the bodies of water on including a bass pond, lagoon and the French Broad river where fly fishing is permitted.  At dusk, it is common to see deer roaming the grounds.  We were lucky enough to encounter a few with a very young fawn.  There are places where you can simply park, set out a few lawn chairs and have a picnic or sit by the river and watch kayakers go by.

One appealing aspect of Biltmore Estate is that guests staying at the Inn never have to leave.  In addition to the many activities, there are several great restaurants, Cedric’s Tavern and shops at Antler Hill Village.  You can also rent bicycles, go on a Segway tour or go offroading with the Land Rover Experience.  Summer concerts draw big names

While I highly recommend touring the Biltmore House, an informed guest could spend an entire day of fun activities and never get to the house at all.

Brewgrass Festival 2011

Craft beer lovers were in a state of bliss this Saturday as Brewgrass Festival 2011 transformed Martin Luther King Jr. Park in Asheville, NC into a beer tasting paradise. Regional craft brewers Like Southern Appalachian Craft, Highland, and Green Man Ales teamed up with many other popular brewers such as New Belgium, Brooklyn and Lagunitas. Get the complete list here.  Food was provided by local restaurants like Barley’s and Doc Chey’s, and a talented lineup of Bands kept the crowd energized.

One of the greatest things about Brewgrass is the festival goers.  Everyone is there to have a good time and you always leave with new friends.; and the level of beer knowledge among the crowd is truly impressive.  The brewers were equally friendly, and wouldn’t hesitate to discuss their brewing techniques, private reserves and plans for expansion.  The economy may be struggling, but craft brewing continues to be a boon for Asheville, Hendersonville and other markets with a craft brew presence.

For those new to craft brew, it’s basically a dedication to making excellent beer with high quality ingredients, usually in much smaller quantities that mass produced beers.  Love for the process is a big part of the craft brewing.  Many beers adhere to the traditional Ale styles, Stouts and Belgians.  Limited quantity cask brews were a big hit this year including Green Man Ale’s coconut firken.  Southern Appalachian Brewery‘s IPA and Belgian Blonde were very popular along with the Copperhead Amber and Black Beer Stout.

Considering the 40+ brewers with an average of 4 to 6 beers per brewer, the only way to truly understand the beauty of craft beer is to be lucky enough to get a ticket to next year’s Brew Grass Festival.  Tickets go fast, so once the sale is announced, you have to move fast.  Hope to see you next year.

Bele Chere Festival 2011

Who is Bele Chere and how did she get her own festival?  Belle Cher is some chick on Facebook, but Bele Chere is an annual event in Asheville, North Carolina.  It is always held during the last weekend of July.  According to the organizers, Bele Chere means “Beautiful Living” in an ancient Scottish dialect.  I’m not ancient Scottish, so I’ll take their word for it.  It’s a fitting name, however, as the event meanders through the blocked off streets of beautiful downtown Asheville.Bele Chere 2011Free live music is a staple at Bele Chere.  Multiple stages are setup at different points throughout the festival map.  Genres of virtually every type can be heard at the 3 day event. The wide array of talent, offers something for everyone.  As one attendee said, If you don’t find fun and music you like at Bele Chere, then you don’t like fun and music.

Asheville is known for it’s diversity, and people watching is part of the fun.    A few dress in costumes and there is never a shortage of eclectic attire.  Bele Chere has sort of a Mardi Gras air about it, but with a western North Carolina flair.  Local Street musicians and performance artists display their talent as an integral part of downtown culture.

Music Stage at Bele Chere

What you can expect to experience:

  • Free Live Music
  • Art In All Forms
  • Crafts
  • Food
  • Local Craft Beer
  • Crowds
  • A Child Friendly Area
  • Diversity
  • Fun

Performance Artists

You are asked not to bring any pets to the festival.  This sounds like a real drag as a dog lover, but after watching the City of Asheville’s video explanation, I fully support the position.  The Ultimate Air Dogs attraction continues to bring enjoyment to the event, however.

A few pictures and a short write up can’t possibly describe such a wonderful event.  The sounds, motion and mood is unique to Asheville.  In short, if you have a festive spirit and don’t mind a good crowd, then the Bele Chere Festival should be your destination next July.

Click here
to see a quick slideshow.

Linamar – New Jobs For Asheville Area

Manufacturing has always been a large part of the economic development of western North Carolina, specifically in the Asheville area.

As the U.S. had seen a steady decline of manufacturing jobs in the last few decades, that trend is slowly changing.  A week American dollar has one bright side:  Manufacturing jobs are starting to return.

Linamar is a Canadian company who manufactures components for the automotive industry, and is well diversified in other markets.  They recently announced the opening of a plant in Asheville, NC with plans to hire nearly 400 employees over the next four years.  For more information, click the link below.

WMYA MY 40 News :: Top Stories – Perdue Announces New Jobs For Asheville Area.

Why Western North Carolina?

I have lived in Hendersonville, NC all my life. Meeting people that have relocated here from all over the world has taught me that Hendersonville, North Carolina is the best place to live! Many professionals who have lived abroad have told me that Hendersonville, by far, has been the place they love the most.

Charleston is only 3.5 hours away if you want to satisfy your need for sand and surf.  Boone, North Carolina is only 2 hours away for a great mountain ski getaway. The Biltmore House with it’s grand architecture, expansive lawns and lovely flower gardens draws hundreds of thousands of visitors annually.

Asheville has been voted Beer City USA 3 years in a row due to it’s active craft brew culture. There are about a dozen breweries to choose from within a 30-45 minute drive.  Tours are available at most of them and the atmosphere is casual.  Hendersonville is proud to have it’s own Southern Appalachian Brewery which opened recently.

All of these surrounding areas are wonderful places to visit, but living in Hendersonville, is “Better every day in every way!” Many enjoy evening strolls down Main Street, meeting up with friends. There is fine, yet casual dining, art galleries and now the Flat Rock Playhouse has opened a venue right on Main Street.  We have a strong Chamber of Commerce sponsoring many annual events such as The NC Apple Festival, Garden Jubilee and Music on Main Street, just to name a few.

If you are an avid golfer, I don’t have to tell you that we have some excellent golf courses.  We boast the private award winning Tom Fazio course at Champion Hills, Hendersonville Country Club, and the Joe Lee designed course at Kenmure in Flat Rock.  Public golf courses include Cummings Cove, Etowah Valley, Highland Lake, and Crooked Creek.  Many more great courses are withing an hour drive.

If you can visualize yourself loving this area as much as I do, give me a call. I’d love to find your dream home here in the mountains.