Tuesday, February 28, 2023

Dinner in Asheville North Carolina

…continuing with our early October brief exploration of Asheville with Laurie’s sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill.  Following a couple of adult beverages at The Loft Hotel in downtown Asheville, we discussed possible dinner destinations.  Once Bill discovered a reputable restaurant that served seafood…his favorite food…the decision was made.

Our destination was Jettie Rae’s Oyster House, which is quite close to downtown Asheville.  Parking in the neighborhood was a bit challenging and it was no surprise that we had to wait a bit for a table.  Jettie Rae’s was quite busy.  Like the rest of the restaurant, the busy bar area has that industrial ‘look’.   

The reason for the architectural look is that Jettie Rae’s occupies an old time renovated Gulf Gas Station.  A restaurant of note has occupied this location for almost 70 years.  The seafood served at Jettie Rae’s has been inspired by Gullah Geechee, French, Native American and Spanish culinary traditions.

I took this photo of our happy wives…who had just finished a long day of browsing through countless stores.  No photo of Bill and me though.  It was not a good photo with both of us looking whipped and grumpy.

I’ve never been ‘into’ oysters, raw or otherwise.  Bill and Bonnie love fresh oysters though so they ordered this platter of ice and condiments along with six (6) fresh oysters. ($24.00)

Laurie and I ordered this appetizer without understanding what it meant.  Called a “Tin Fish Selection”, this was our canned octopus starter… ($13.00 but $16.00 currently) We like octopus…but not canned!  The chips were OK and Laurie liked those olives.  FYI, Jettie Rae’s also offers canned or ‘Tin’ mussels, sardines, tuna, scallops and razor clams.

I do like fried clam strips.  These are ‘Chubby’ Woodman’s clam strips from Essex Massachusetts. ($10.00/now $11.00) The clam strips were very good and the portion was more than fair.  The only problem I had with this appetizer is that it took about 10 minutes for our waitress to bring some cocktail sauce as I’m not into tartar sauce.

Very few restaurants provide bread gratis to the table like they used to.  Jettie Rae’s Bread Service ($7.00) was this dark OWL Bakery ciabatta accompanied by whipped butter and sea salt.  The crust was so hard it was almost not edible…but the center was nice.

Jettie Rae’s menu isn’t huge by any means.  I’m guessing that many diners order cocktails and browse through the menu.  We did a bit of that too, in this case ordering the Blue Cheese Potato Chips with Danish blue cheese, buttermilk and chives. ($8.00) The amount of blue cheese drizzled over the chips was underwhelming…but the quality was decent.

It took forever to get our entrees…and the restaurant had partially emptied out after we were seated.  Our waitress continued to ignore us most of the time. 

This particular offering was the Gullah inspired Crab Rice. ($33.00) It included Carolina gold rice, bacon, fresh jumbo lump crab, basil and corn.  I don’t remember what Bill and Bonnie thought about this entrée but it seems overpriced to me.  On the other hand, I’m not a big consumer of jumbo lump crab meat...

If Bill can order seafood, especially a variety of seafood in an entrée, he’ll always do it.  We’ve watched him order towers of seafood in Charleston South Carolina as well as on Loch Leven near Ballachulish Scotland.

In this instance, he ordered Jettie Rae’s Fisherman’s Stew. ($28.00/now $32.00) It included both fish and shellfish…all in a tomato and fennel broth, and accompanied with some bread to sop up the broth.  He said that it was OK but unremarkable...

Laurie stayed safe, ordering what she knows she likes.  Her “Proper Fish and Chips entrée, with fresh cod in a light and crispy beer batter was just what she hoped for…satisfying and just the right amount of fish for her. ($24.00) The French fries were just OK.  I can’t remember having fish and chips with just one fish filet for the price we paid…and it’s something we order more often than most standard items.

I also stayed safe with my entrée selection… This was my Shrimp Po Boy on Leidenheimer bread. ($16.00) The usual sides included with the Po Boy are French fries or chips but I ordered the succotash…which is priced the same as the French fries.  I was fairly happy with my selection…perhaps a bit too much bread to shrimp ratio, but everything, including the succotash hit the spot.

Despite the fact that it is very popular in Asheville, we just weren’t crazy about Jettie Rae’s Oyster House.  Pricing aside, the kitchen was really slow…it took an hour to get our entrées after our starters…and our waitress didn’t understand the word ‘service’.  FYI, a 3% kitchen appreciation charge is automatically added to your bill.  It is clearly stated on the menu.

Try it yourself if you’re in the area and let me know what your experience was like.  Jettie Ray’s Oyster House is located at 143 Charlotte Street in Asheville North Carolina.  Closed on Mondays.  Phone: 828-505-4499.  Website: https://jettieraes.com/.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, February 24, 2023

Food, Here and There + Flora and Fauna

…taking a short break from Laurie and my short exploration of the Asheville North Carolina area with Laurie’s sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill.

So…on to some dining at home, some dining out, 4-legged visitors and a giant plant.

We don’t like cooking all the time so we are always looking for packaged entrees and sides that are easy to serve with minimal clean up.  Recently we purchased Sukhi’s Chicken Tikka Masala...2 pouches of chicken breast meat in a tomato curry sauce per package.  

Sukhi’s brand also offers Lemon Rice, Chicken Coconut Curry with Mango, Chicken Vindalo, Roasted Tomato Curry, Chicken Biryani, Cauliflower and Kale Curry and Paneer Biryam.  We bought our Chicken Tikka Masala at Costco on a recent shopping trip… 

We served our Sukhi’s Chicken Tikka Masala over Manhatma Cilantro Limon Jasmine Rice.  The Manhatma brand offers 24 different brands of rice…and the Cilantro Limon Jasmine variety worked well with the chicken and tomato curry sauce.  As you can see, we sided our entrée with some bite-size pineapple pieces.

We enjoyed our meals and for those that fear spicy/heat in Indian cuisine, fear not.  This is a mild tomato curry and shouldn’t be a problem for any palette no sensitive it might be.  FYI, the Sukhi’s website provides definitions for the words used in Indian cuisine.  We will be buying more of these products…

To learn more about Sukhi’s different Indian cuisine offerings as well as where you can buy them, go to https://store.sukhis.com/collections/shop-all.  For information about Mahatma’s offerings, just go to https://mahatmarice.com/products/.

Time for some breakfast… True to my reputation in our family, leftovers rarely go to waste at our house.  In this case, we had some leftover pasta carbonara that I reheated in butter and then topped with a couple of easy over eggs.  I did use a fair amount of pepper on my eggs…plus of course, I added Tabasco after I took the photo.

There are so many homes under construction in our neighborhood that sometimes it’s challenging just driving down the local streets.  There are at least 10 homes under construction within a quarter mile/1,300 feet of our home.  Consequently, we haven’t seen any turkey around our home for at least 3 months…but occasionally a few deer do wander through grazing on plants and grass.  We do miss the critters but they’re being squeezed out…

It’s been quite a while, actually over 3 years, since I’ve commented on or about one of our favorite local restaurants, Thai Bistro.  The cooks are Thai and the food is genuine.  While I didn’t do much different for dinner on this occasion, Laurie has found a new favorite entrée.  Note: I borrowed the photos shown above from one of my earlier posts… As per the first photo, our trees are not leafing out yet despite temperatures in the mid-70s F or higher this week. 

Some things never do change… Laurie loves Thai Bistro’s Crab Rangoon, ($7.00), so it’s a must have for her every time we dine here.  I went for the Spring Rolls this time, ($7.00), although sometimes I do get a bit more adventurous and order either the Fresh Rolls ($6.00) or Fried Thai Dumplings. ($10.00)

The last time we ate at Thai Bistro I had one of their Chinese offerings, General Tso’s Chicken. ($15.00) This time I reverted to my all-time favorite, the Pad Thai. ($15.00) Rice noodles are stir fried with egg, beansprouts, scallions and peanuts, then served with a slice of lime.  Diners have a choice of chicken, pork, beef or tofu for their protein.  Vegetarian is yet another option.  I chose the chicken. 

The spice ‘scale’ goes from 1 to 5, the highest being “Thai Hot”.  I’ve had the ‘5’ but for overall enjoyment and plenty of heat for me, I decided to hold it down a bit…to a ‘4’.  It makes my head sweat a bit…yummy!

Laurie discovered her new favorite during our last visit to Thai Bistro.  She followed through this time with the same order…the Lo mein, a Chinese entrée on the menu. ($13.00) It had been a special the last time but it was so popular that it is now on the regular menu.  Basically it consists of egg noodles stirred in with a choice of protein and vegetables.  Laurie chose the chicken both times and for a bit of heat, she went for a ‘3’.

As usual we were very satisfied and happy diners at Thai Bistro!  This restaurant is located at 222 Lakeside Plaza in Loudon Tennessee.  They do a lot of take-out business in addition to their in-house service.  Phone: 865-657-6440.  Website: https://www.thaibistrotellico.net/.

This is not a chicken!  We were wandering through a Food City grocery store when I spotted a large display of Cornish Hens.  Memories for sure.  Laurie and I used to roast Cornish hens fairly regularly when we lived in the Chicago suburbs, serving them with wild rice.  So on this occasion on impulse we picked up 2 of these plump little birds and roasted them for dinner.  We had most of one left over which we used to enhance a noodle dish a couple of days later.

Dining out again… This time we were in Knoxville for one of my all too frequent medical tests or appointments and it was almost 11 AM.  Where could we have breakfast at this late hour other than a Waffle House or Cracker Barrel?  It had been quite a while since we’d dined at Don Delphi’s but I remembered that they served breakfast and brunch only…closing before dinner.  The real clue for diners is the full name of this restaurant… Don Delphi’s Pancake House and Restaurant.

Laurie decided to have the Eggs Benedict with hash brown potatoes. ($10.25) As you can see in the photo, the hash browns served by Don Delphi’s are really American fries…but we do like them done that way.  Laurie told me that the ham with her eggs was a good quality and the eggs were done right.  However, she didn’t care for their version of Hollandaise sauce and we couldn’t identify the fruit on her plate even though we both tried it.

With my lack of imagination, I just ordered my usual breakfast when eating out.  This was the standard 2 eggs over medium with hash brown potatoes, rye toast and sausage patties. ($10.95) The eggs were cooked correctly, the sausage patties were large and you could taste the pork…a good thing as far as I’m concerned. 

The menu at Don Delphi’s Pancake House and Restaurant is expansive, especially as regards the breakfast options.  There are omelets, pancakes, waffles, crepes, French toast, steaks and chops, 3 – 4 Mexican style offerings as well as a variety of skillets… The latter consists of a pile of cubed and fried potatoes covered with 3 eggs and your choice of meats, cheese, etc.  This is all sided with either toast or pancakes.

Don Delphi’s Pancake House and Restaurant is located at 120 West End Avenue in Knoxville Tennessee.  Phone: 865-288-3696.  You can view this restaurant’s menu at https://restaurantguru.com/Don-Delfis-Pancake-House-Knoxville/menu.

So I’ll end with a little ‘flora’.  Last year this giant philodendron, which Laurie had named “Phil”, lived outdoors in our screened in porch.  When cold weather came, we moved it into the whirlpool tub that we never use.  It really liked this environment and grew even larger.  It began to remind me of “Audrey II” from the cult classic movie, “Little Shop of Horrors”.  Was she watching us, waiting for her opportunity to grab us?!

In any case, Laurie realized that the plant, “Phil”, aka Audrey II, was far too large to put back in the screened porch without eliminating a place for someone to sit.  It was not an easy decision, as her plant had been with her since before we met and she/it is about 45 years old!  It had moved with us 6 times over the last 44 years…

Laurie posted “Phil” (Audrey II in my mind) on the local “Nextdoor” network for free for anyone who wanted it.  The great news is that a couple from southern California quickly claimed her/him!  They had given up their plants when they moved to their new home in East Tennessee.  So Laurie’s plant has a new home in a spacious room with lots of natural light…and "Phil/Audrey II" lives on…watching for her chance to ‘grow’.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Tuesday, February 21, 2023

A Short Visit to Asheville North Carolina (II)

…continuing with the short visit we made to Asheville North Carolina at the very end of September 2022.  Laurie’s sister Bonnie and Bonnie’s husband Bill joined us for this little adventure.

I’ll start this segment with yet another historic building in downtown Asheville…

The name, Battery Park Hotel has been given to two hotels in Asheville.  The first version, built in 1886 on the same spot, was a Queen Anne style hotel that was 125 high.  In 1924 it was replaced by this 14 story structure.  It was built by Edwin W. Grove, the same wealthy entrepreneur that built the Grove Arcade, which is right across the street from the hotel.  The name of the hotel, “Battery Park”, came from the fact that Confederate forces used this hilltop site as the site for batteries of artillery during the American Civil War.

Historically, the tourist business boomed after 1880, when the railroad reached Asheville.  The mountain town attracted 20 passenger trains every day, especially in the summer.  They came from America’s largest cities.  Located in the mountains, Asheville was much cooler and less humid than those cities along the coast or along the piedmont area.  The clean mountain air also helped people with health problems, such as tuberculosis.  Actually, many fine hotels were built in and around the city. 

The Battery Park Hotel had 220 rooms.  It was built with reinforced concrete, brick, limestone and terra cotta…and that Mission Revival roof provided a dining area.  The hotel closed in 1972 and it was taken over in 1979, by Housing Projects, Inc.  That organization kept the historic exterior with the aid of preservation tax credits…and the rooms were converted into apartments for senior citizens.  Today the property is owned by National Church Residences.  To learn more about the apartments, just go to: https://www.nationalchurchresidences.org/communities/battery-park-senior-apartments/#affServices.

I borrowed this photo of a corner of the Grove Arcade in Asheville.  It gives a nice view of part of the building as well as of Carmel’s Kitchen Restaurant, where we stopped in for lunch.  There are 11 places to eat along the Page Avenue side of the Arcade…ranging from fine dining to casual restaurants, wine bars and ‘grab and go’ establishments.

Carmel’s Kitchen and Bar’s mission is to provide “exceptional contemporary southern cuisine along with imaginative specials using the freshest ingredients.  Options include a bar area, a very large outdoor dining patio and an intimate dining room.

Carmel’s Kitchen has 9 items listed as appetizers…and we ordered 6 of them!  The Fried Green Tomatoes were accompanied with fresh mozzarella, arugula, balsamic vinaigrette and they rested on a bed of basil aioli. ($15) Beautiful presentation indeed and this appetizer was well received by everyone at our table.

Our next appetizer was the Feta Stuffed Shrimp. ($15) As you can see, the stuffed shrimp were wrapped in bacon and then they were broiled.  Finally, they were served on a bed of greens with a sherry lemon drizzle.  Shrimp with feta cheese and bacon…hard to beat this one!  The only problem was that one shrimp per person left me wanting more...

Bread service, i.e. the rolls shown above in the first photo, is listed as an ‘appetizer’. ($6) I fondly remember the days when bread on the table was part of the meal without ordering it or having it priced separately from the meal.  In this day and age, the norm in many restaurants is no bread unless its requested...  

The ‘Soup du Jour’, aka the soup of the day is also part of the appetizer menu.  I don’t recall what it was but no one said they didn’t like their food and it did come with that crostini. ($8)  

Continuing with the appetizer theme, Laurie ordered the Creamy Tomato with Goat Cheese and Basil Soup as her main course. ($8) She liked it but she had expected more of a ‘pop’ of flavor from the goat cheese…

One of the entrees/mains we ordered was the Catfish Reuben with French fries. ($17) This sandwich consisted of fried panko crusted catfish, Swiss cheese, 1000 island dressing and coleslaw…all on marbled rye bread.  The sandwich was well enjoyed and the fries were better than average.

Of course this sandwich begs the question…when is a Reuben not a Reuben?  A true Reuben is made with thinly sliced corned beef and it’s layered with sauerkraut...plus the 1000 island dressing and Swiss cheese.

Another sandwich/main course was Carmel’s Kitchen version of a BLT Sandwich. ($15) It was served on grilled wheat berry bread with Duke’s Mayonnaise, apple smoked bacon, heirloom tomatoes, green leaf lettuce.  It was a very satisfying sandwich.

Duke’s mayonnaise is a southern thing that has slowly spread around the country.  For Laurie and me, it’s just too sweet but it worked alright with the other sandwich ingredients.  As for Bonnie and Bill, Duke’s is their ‘go to’ mayonnaise...

I was really surprised that Laurie and Bonnie didn’t order and split the Mushroom Pizza. ($18) It is described as being covered with locally cultivated mushrooms, roasted garlic and smoked cheddar sauce with spinach, shaved parmesan and a truffle oil drizzle.

Carmel’s Kitchen and Bar has a modest menu as regards the number of selections available for its patrons.  It is imaginative though… There are 3 salads (with added meat options), 5 sandwiches, 3 pizzas and 6 entrees plus 3 desserts.  The biggest bargain price wise was the beer at $4 each.  To learn more and to peruse the menu, go to https://www.carmelsofasheville.com/.

As we headed back to our hotel to pick up our car so we could visit yet another shopping destination, I noted this little building facing Asheville’s Pack Square.  This handsome Romanesque Revival structure with its rock faced arch windows is quite appealing…at least to me.  I did learn that the store front was modernized ca. 1910 but the building was completed in the 1890s.  Today it is the home of Rhubarb, a fine dining establishment with a very interesting menu.  Learn more at https://www.rhubarbasheville.com/.

The Tobacco Barn Antiques Store was only a mile or two from our hotel.  Both Laurie and I were a little disappointed to see that it wasn’t a classic tobacco barn but rather more of a big metal structure where bales of tobacco were once auctioned off to buyers.

Tobacco Barn Antiques is huge, definitely not your modest local antique store or antique ‘mall’.  Instead it is an ‘antique mall’ on steroids.  This building houses 70,000 square feet of furniture, lamps, dinnerware, clocks and weird items plus, plus… More than 75 dealers have their collectables and antiques for sale on display.

Stuff everywhere!

I 'had' to take this photo of old Montgomery Ward catalogs.  First of all, the contrast in women's fashions between the 1950 and the 1965 catalogs is pretty remarkable.  Secondly, I worked at MW headquarters for many years until the Company closed in 2001.

Perhaps you need a nice buggy to drive into your village for groceries?

What the heck?!  Perhaps that big fellow by our front door!  Weird fits!

Rather than try to explain the types of items on display at Tobacco Barn Antiques, I thought that photos would be more appropriate.  Weird, collectable and wonderful might best describe the selection.  Some areas are well organized and others are just ‘there’, looking like they haven’t been rearranged anytime recently. 

As per a review I read about the Antique Tobacco Barn, visitors should keep in mind that it isn’t air-conditioned.  Temperatures inside in the summer can be sweltering so early morning or evening visits during hot weather might work best for most folks.

For us, we like more organization and the size and mix of items for sale was a bit overwhelming.  As the saying goes, ‘different strokes for different folks’.  To learn more about the Antique Tobacco Barn and its offerings, you can go to https://www.atbarn.com/.

Following a long day of walking up and down hills…no, downtown Asheville isn’t flat…and shopping until the guys were ready to drop, we headed back to The Loft Hotel where we were staying…for a little break before dinner.  Part of the package deal that Bonnie had found for us at the hotel was a free cocktail for everyone!  After a little relaxation, we headed out for dinner…but that’s another story.

Just click on any of the photos to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave

Friday, February 17, 2023

A Short Visit to Asheville North Carolina (I)

In late September…actually at the very end of September…we decided to drive over to Asheville North Carolina to explore the city itself.  We’d been to Biltmore, just outside Asheville, but we’d never taken a good look at the center of town.

Laurie’s sister, Bonnie, found a deal at The Loft Hotel in downtown Asheville North Carolina and she booked the rooms for both couples.  This is a Marriot property that, as the website states, “Different. By design”.  The Loft Hotel is located at 51 Biltmore Avenue, a great spot for anyone wanting to explore downtown Asheville.  As you can see from the photos, the building is hardly traditional, nor is the lobby area.  There is even a snack bar/coffee bar available for guests.

As with most hotels, room rates bounce all over the place depending on what’s happening around town.  When I wrote this I checked and room rates went from a low of $141.00 a night on 2/26 and 2/27 up to a high of $$379.00 for 3/4/23.  Website: https://www.marriott.com/en-us/hotels/avlal-aloft-asheville-downtown/overview/.

This double decker bus is a popular local landmark in Asheville.  Located at 41 Biltmore Avenue, it is very close to The Loft Hotel where we stayed.  Double D’s Coffee and Desserts definitely stands out on its corner…and they had plenty of business too.

Double D’s offers coffees, tea, iced drinks, smoothies, milkshakes, special drinks and locally baked goods and desserts.  You can check out their website at https://www.doubledscoffee.com/#.

Let me start with the fact that the Downtown Asheville Historic District is listed in the National Register of Historic Places.  Asheville’s historic district is extensive…encompassing about 280 contributing structures.  Commercial, governmental and residential buildings in the district include several architectural styles including Colonial Revival, Queen Anne and Art Deco.

By way of example, the Fine Arts Theatre began life in 1947 as a mainstream, first-run movie house.  During the 1960’s it declined significantly, becoming an “Adult XXX Theater”.  VHS tapes killed off that business and by 1986, the theater was closed.  The theatre was reopened in its current reincarnation in 1996, by the same local entrepreneur that opened the Blue Spiral 1, shown above on the right side of the theater.  The old theatre is now a venue for first-run art and independent films as well as special events.  The “colored entrance” box office window has been restored and is not used for group ticketing.  In the early days, nonwhite patrons could only sit in the theater’s balcony.  To learn more about the theatre, go to http://www.fineartstheatre.com/.

The Blue Spiral 1 fine art gallery opened on New Year’s Eve of 1990.  The vision was to create a home for the many artists who’d settled in the area in the latter portion of the 1900s.  At the time that Blue Spiral 1 opened, Asheville had been in a serious decline…partially due to the post-industry depression that impacted so many southern cities.  The founder of both the revamped theatre and the fine art gallery replaced an adult theater, a closed radio supply shop and a plumbing supply store with 2 anchors upon which Asheville could reinvent itself.

Blue Spiral 1 presents more than 25 shows/artist’s exhibits every year and its upper level features works for sale by over 100 artists.  To learn more about this art gallery, go to https://bluespiral1.com/.

While Asheville is home to many artists and expert craftsmen, it is also the enemy of anyone who doesn’t like to shop…myself and Bill included.  The ladies were as happy as clams though, a plus for us guys, given truth that ‘Happy Wives mean Happy Lives’ for the men in their orbit.

I’ve included this little store packed with goodies as an example of the plethora of stores and shops available for the addicted shoppers out there.  Modern Home Goods and Accessories promotes itself as a place to find carefully curated gifts and goods/accessories for a “Peaceful Home”.  Learn more at https://www.handlmoderngoods.com/.

This is the Kress Building in downtown Asheville.  Samuel Henry Kress (1863 – 1955) opened his first store in 1887.  His company grew quickly and his chain of retail stores, known as the S.H. Kress Company, was a type of ‘dollar store’ that, in the early 1900s were also called “Five and Dime” stores.  FYI, Kress stores and Kmart stores are not related in any way.  Kress built his stores in smaller cities which didn’t have big retail outlets.  The fact that Kress stores provided customers with variety and quality at the lowest possible price made for a winning combination.  Kress expanded his chain nationwide with over 200 stores in 29 states.  In the end, the advent of shopping malls brought about the end of downtown stores, with the last Kress store being closed when their new owner, McCrory Stores, another five and dime retailer went out of business in 2001.

Enough background… What made the Kress stores stand out was their eye-catching architecture.  Samuel Kress had his own in-house architectural division.  E.J.T. Hoffman designed Asheville’s neoclassical Kress Building in 1927.  The glazed terra cotta on the front façade combined with the orange and blue rosettes around the window bays…plus the curved Kress emblem at the parapet all combined to make this structure really stand out.

Today, the Kress Emporium Gift Shop occupies this handsome building along with condominiums in the upper levels.  The main floor is packed with individual booths or small stores full of objects of every kind.  Even I found it interesting as there was so much to look at and it wasn’t all “the usual” stuff found in gift shops.  To learn more, just go to https://www.thekressemporium.com/.

I took this photo of the old S&W Cafeteria in the Downtown Asheville Historic District.  This 3-story brick building is a stunning example of the Art Deco style.  The polychrome ornamentation and exotic motifs really make it stand out!  After undergoing renovation for about 2 years, the S and W Market, a food hall, taproom and event center opened here in 2021.

The revamped cafeteria building features the Highland Brewing Company’s downtown taproom and it showcases Asheville’s local independent restaurants.  With 10,000 square feet, 5 food stalls and the taproom, plus 170 seats inside plus an outdoor patio, it looks like a great gathering place.  To learn more, go to https://swmarketavl.com/.

How many of us remember Woolworth Stores?  The last Woolworth stores were closed in July of 1997.  However, the old Woolworth building in downtown Asheville North Carolina is alive and well.  Now called “Woolworth Walk”, it was built in 1938 and the store was closed in 1989. (That first photo was 'borrowed' from the Internet)

In 2001 the building was restored to showcase a piece of the past…and it has received awards for the historic accuracy of the restoration.  The Woolworth Walk includes a unique art gallery/shops and a fully operational old time soda fountain built to resemble the original Woolworth Luncheonette.  The luncheonette serves many of the items from the original menu including egg creams, club sandwiches and old fashioned ice cream sodas.  The building has been restored to feature the original colors and floors and today if supports the work of more than 170 local artisans.  The 20,000 square foot space features 2 floors full of their works.

To learn more, just go to https://www.woolworthwalk.com/.

The Minor Basilica of St. Lawrence the Deacon and Martyr is a major and very impressive structure despite it ‘just’ being a minor basilica of the Roman Catholic Church.  This ornate church was designed and built by a Spanish architect in the Spanish Renaissance style, along with an American architect and the Roman Catholic community of Asheville.  It was completed in 1909.

Pope John Paul II elevated the status of this parish church to minor basilica in 1993.  The church’s dome was inspired by the Basilica do los Desampardos of Valencia Spain.  With a span of 58 feet by 82 feet, it is reputed to be the largest freestanding elliptical dome in North America.

Located at 97 Haywood Street, the basilica is open for visits on a daily visits on weekdays from 7:30 AM until 5 PM.  If you visit the basilica’s website, you can take an on-line self-guided tour of this impressive and beautiful church.  Go to https://www.romanticasheville.com/basilica.htm.

This very large structure is known as the Grove Arcade, the Arcade Building or the Asheville Federal Building.  It was completed in 1929 in the Tudor Revival and Late Gothic Revival style…basically consisting of 2 stacked blocks.  It was designed to serve as a base for a skyscraper that was never built.  The Grove Arcade occupies a full city block, 269,000 square feet, and it housed one of America’s first indoor shopping malls.  It was home for candy and cigar stores, a haberdashery, a public stenography office, fruit stands, millinery shops, beauty and barber shops, a photography center, bookstalls and specialty grocers.

As part of the war effort in WWII, the Grove Arcade was closed by the Federal Government and it was used by the military for the duration of the war.  It was chosen because it was large and it was located in a relatively safe area away from the Atlantic coast.  At some point after the war, the building became the headquarters for the National Weather Records Center…housing millions of paper records or punch cards in filing cabinets.

So…who built what is now referred to as the Grove Arcade?  In the 1800s malaria struck residents of the southern USA with deadly effect.  There wasn’t any cure at the time.  E.W. Grove, who had a little drug business in Paris Tennessee, lost his youngest daughter and his wife to the disease.  He became determined to find a remedy for malaria.  It was well known that quinine would reduce the symptoms of the disease although it would never be a cure.  In 1878, Grove came up with a method of creating a tonic that contained quinine…that was called Grove’s Tasteless Chill Tonic.  He became a self-made millionaire.  When he permanently moved to Asheville in 1910, he built a resort and began construction of the Grove Arcade, but he died 2 years before the skyscraper portion of the structure was built...

The National Weather Service moved out of the building in 1995 and in 1997, the city of Asheville became the new owner.  The building was restored and reopened in 2002.  Today, the Grove Arcade features shops and no less than 11 restaurants/places to dine on the first floor, offices on the second and residential apartments above that.  For more information, go to https://grovearcade.com/. 

Two other buildings in downtown Asheville are so dominant on the skyline that I couldn’t avoid checking them out.  The 17-story steel frame skyscraper that is The Buncombe County Courthouse was completed in 1928.  This 17-story brick sheathed steel frame skyscraper with its Neo-Classical Revival ornamentation was designed by Frank Pierce Milburn.  Milburn was a prolific architect, involved in the design and construction of at least 24 courthouses and 9 railroad depots along with a number of other structures.  The interior of the courthouse features a sweeping marble staircase, a coffered ceiling and a mosaic tile floor.  It was added to the National Register of Historic Places in 1979.

This striking structure also occupies the City-County Plaza in Asheville North Carolina.  This historic Art Deco brick and stone governmental office building is Asheville’s City Hall.  The structure’s unique shape and colorful exterior have made it into an iconic Asheville landmark, as well as a symbol for the city.  It is featured on the city’s seal… This city hall has been part of the National Register of Historic Places since 1976.

This Art Deco masterpiece was the result of the architect’s imagination and his desire to reflect the contours and textures of the city’s mountain backdrop.  That ziggurat roof is covered with red tiles that are split into layers by the use of interrupting green and gold feather motifs.  Originally intended to be a twin to the Courthouse, the latter was built in a more conservative and classic style.  A wing connecting the 2 buildings was planned but never built.

FYI…The city of Asheville North Carolina has 94,589 residents while the greater Asheville Metropolitan area has a population of 469,000 plus.

Note: The 2012 movie, “The Hunger Games”, was filmed near Asheville as was a 2017 film, “Three Billboards Outside Ebbing, Missouri”.

Just click on any of the photographs to enlarge them…

Thanks for stopping by for a visit!

Take Care, Big Daddy Dave