Several weeks ago my wife suggested that we go on a little adventure and asked me to check out a food tour taking place in Black Mountain, NC, a little over and hour and a half’s drive from our home in Boone. Apparently a friend of hers had taken the tour, was really excited about it and thought that we might be interested in it as well.
And as it almost takes an act of congress to get me out of my comfort zone, I was a bit reluctant to check it out, but after a few proddings from Sandi, I looked into it and signed us up to take the tour at 2pm last Saturday the 28th.
At the time, I thought the price was a little high but decided that we hadn’t been out of town in a while (a long cold winter) and what the heck—let’s live a little.
In the two weeks after signing up, the weather went from the high sixties to the low forties and this past weekend was forecast to be below seasonal norms with lows in the twenties and highs in the thirties. However, as it turned out during our tour, the sun was out in Carolina blue skies and the temperatures reached the low fifties with just a little breeze.
This is fairly typical weather for spring in the North Carolina high country—ups and downs every which way and almost a vengeance in letting go of winter. Sometimes it seems we go directly into summer without ever experiencing the delights of a milder spring that slowing advances into shorts and tee-shirt days outside.
Anyway, we get to Black Mountain and have a few minutes before the tour begins and being Terry and Sandi, we start walking around the small mountain town on our own. Our first stop was a garden center on the main drag that seemed to stock everything a backyard gardener would ever need. I could have spent several hours in that shop but was limited to buying a few High Mowing seeds and some other seed starting supplies. After that, it was quick trip around the block and then back to our food tour beginning destination.
We began our delightful tour at the restaurant inside the Monte Vista Hotel. The chef fixed a pulled pork empanada and a half a glass of a good Pinot Noir and at that point, with such an auspicious beginning, I was glad we had made the trip. Within the next two and a half hours, we visited 5 more food places and were treated to what amounted to at least three lunches. We were served chicken on waffles at the Red Rocker Inn, vegetable soup and a half sandwich at the Black Mountain Bakery and a great ruben and pasta salad at the Dark City Deli and Pub. At Louise’s Kitchen we ate a pulled pork quesadilla served with their homemade lemonade and ended the tour at the Asheville Place with spiced tea and pound cake. Not to shabby for an otherwise lazy Saturday afternoon.
It was on the way to the third foodie place that I realized that the price that we paid was not really that high and that this adventure would be one that Sandi and I could add to our scrapbook of things that we have done over the past 10 or 12 years. This includes a walking food tour that we took in NYC, which at the time I thought cost too much as well. After it was done, I realized that I probably would have paid more had I known what we were getting for our investment of time and money—lots of good memories to share on those long, cold winter evenings.
As you can suppose, I can’t say enough about this recent tour. Each and every host was genuinely happy to see our group of 12 arrive and most importantly to me, each and every one seemed to take great pride in serving the community and were grateful to be a part of the tour. During the many question and answer times, we were able to ascertain that most used locally sourced ingredients in their food preparation and that each an every one worked very hard but felt satisfied and fulfilled in their chosen occupations. This feeling that they shared, was to me, almost worth the price of admission as was the food and town history that accompanied the tour.
In Ecclesiastes 5:18 we read: “Here is what I have seen to be good and fitting: to eat, to drink and enjoy oneself in all one’s labor in which he toils under the sun during the few years of his life which God has given him; for this is his reward.”
To enjoy what we do on a daily basis, that which we call work, is indeed a blessing. And one that I was reminded of several times last Saturday, walking through a small town in the mountains of North Carolina.
That’s what I call a great ride.