Thursday, August 27, 2015


On our final day in Asheville we made the trip over to THE BILTMORE ESTATE.  I have wanted to go see this home for a long time and being there in person was so much more than I ever could have imagined.  It's obvious that the property and the home itself are grand on any scale, but the beauty of it all was really overwhelming. 
We chose to take the audio tour which took about two hours total to get through the house.  It was really interesting to learn about George Vanderbilt wanting to build his "little mountain escape" -aptly named George- and the time it took him to complete the project.  It was especially interesting for me to learn that George himself traveled all over the world to find furniture and carpets and even little trinkets to fill the home.  Seems like the man knew what he wanted and had the time and money to make it happen.  I won't turn this into a history lesson but I will say that if you are in Asheville or anywhere remotely close to an exit for Biltmore, you should certainly get tickets and go see the estate.  Yes, it was crowded and no, you are not allowed to take photos inside the home, but to be in the presence of the history of that property is certainly a memory that you can hold onto.

Before they broke ground on George's modest "little mountain escape", he had a temporary 3 story lookout post built to take in the views and make sure that this was what he would want to see off of his porch.  I think he chose a pretty good view if you ask me.

With a property of 125,000 acres, you probably aren't going to Home Depot and getting on with the whole "You can do it. We can help" philosophy.  George Vanderbilt hired Fredrick Law Olmsted on as his landscape architect and let him buy, propagate, nurture, invent, and plant just about anything he wanted to make the place the lush oasis that he had envisioned.  There are 75 acres of proper gardens and the rest would seem like a forest but it was all planned down to each and every shrub.
The green house was absolutely magnificent.  I got split up from Mom and Ali so I wandered around lost for a bit until I found them.  There were plants from all different regions and I especially liked the desert room.  The garden staff changes out the flowers seasonally and from the looks of it, keep up serious hours to have such beautiful grounds.

After Biltmore and one night of shameless room service and movies, we were on our way home after one last view of the mountains.  I couldn't finish these posts without giving you a shot of all of us together in our commemorative shirts for the weekend.  We took on Asheville, we loved it, and hopefully we will be able to come back again some day.  Thanks for having us!


Wednesday, August 26, 2015


2015 seems to be the year of the restaurant here in Savannah.  We have had some seriously heavy hitters come into the area and they are taking our once standardized southern food scene and elevating it.  One such place is THE COLLINS QUARTER. Located downtown on the corner of Bull and Oglethorpe, The Collins Quarter seems to have been busy from day one.  After getting breakfast there over the weekend I can see why.  
My friend Caila and I decided to go try it out for Saturday breakfast.  At 9:30 we were able to get a table, but quickly after we arrived the place filled up so make sure you arrive early or be prepared to wait.  For once in my life I wasn't overwhelmed by the menu which was a huge relief.  I was pleasantly surprised by the amount of menu items and that it wasn't just 'eggs-meat-toast' presented 15 different ways.  While the menu isn't overwhelming, there is a great variety to choose from whether you've got a sweet tooth or you crave the savory. 
Being that we were enjoying a girls morning out, we both decided to get cocktails to go along with our coffee and eggs.  Caila had the Bondi Sunrise Mimosa and I enjoyed the Drunken Berry Mimosa.  They've got an extensive drink menu, both alcoholic and non, favoring the coffee lover with a full page of menu items from their ESPRESSO BAR

For the breakfast, Caila had the Biscuits and Gravy and I chose Leo's Aussie Breakkie. One thing that I really enjoyed was the chorizo sausage with my breakfast as opposed to standard breakfast sausage.  I had more than enough on my plate and they even served it with a nice little salad to trick me into thinking that I was eating a somewhat health-concious meal.  Caila also loved her biscuits and gravy, although she was a bit jealous of my chorizo - hers came with chicken sausage instead.  The meal was really delicious and the interior of The Collins Quarter just made me want to stay and hang out all day long.  

While the price points are higher than some other breakfast spots in town, the setting, service, and quality of the food completely made me fine with the price.  What I look forward to trying next is their walk-up window directly to the right of the main entrance.  If you don't have time for a sit down, you can still get an amazing coffee to take on a stroll through the squares of Savannah.  I will be heading back as soon as I can, possibly making this my new Saturday morning tradition.  


Tuesday, August 25, 2015


Welcome to day 3 of my trip to Asheville and hello to all of the new visitors of The Outside In!  After a seriously action packed second day in Asheville, Mom, Ali and I were all ready for a very relaxing day at THE GROVE PARK INN taking full advantage of the spa pools and treatments that they are known for.  I woke up a bit earlier than them and got to enjoy the sunrise over the mountains before breakfast.  

Still wanting to take advantage of our little home away from home for the week, we decided to tour the shops at the Inn and go on the Sunset Nature Trail before heading down to the spa for the rest of the day.  The shops at the Grovewood Gallery were fine if not a bit impractical for your everyday shopper.  Yeah I like what you're up to, I just can't afford your $6000 rocking chair at the moment.  What I really enjoyed was the Antique Car Museum.  They've probably got about twenty antique cars ranging from the early 1900s to late 1950s, including a 1922 American LaFrance Type 20 fire truck that was in mint condition.  It was free and open to the public and I would suggest stopping by if for no other reason than that fire truck!  

The nature hike was a lot shorter than we thought, maybe a mile total, but it was very peaceful.  We finished that off by looping the rest of the property, getting our bathing suits, and heading to the spa.  They had notices everywhere about the fact that the spa area was technology free so sadly I've got no photos to show you.  I couldn't paint a picture that would do any justice but it was certainly an experience to be remembered.  I've never been pampered like that before and I'm not sure that I ever will be again but I'd say that was enough for a lifetime.  
After a long day of relaxation and a treatment at the spa, I stayed in for the night and Ali and Mom got dinner at one of the hotel's restaurants called EDISON where we had watched the sunset our first night.  A quick check in with them confirmed that they had a good dinner,and great service. I honestly wasn't feeling too amazing and wanted to do whatever I needed to be okay for Monday's big event - THE BILTMORE ESTATE.  It was what I had been looking forward to the most and I wanted to make sure I got to enjoy every minute of it.  Our fourth and final day in Asheville will be up on The Outside In this Thursday.  Check back to take a look at our trip to the Biltmore and my final shots from a perfect summer adventure with two of the best women I know.


Thursday, August 20, 2015


For our second day in Asheville we wanted to make sure and take advantage of what the city had to offer outside of a beautiful view.  Since it was Saturday we decided to check out a local farmer's market close to downtown and then get lunch in the RIVER ARTS DISTRICT.  We had planned our lunch and visiting galleries, but left some open time in case anything caught our eye.  
These two looking ready to hit the town after a nice breakfast and walk around the Inn. 
Fresh flowers and produce at THE ASHEVILLE CITY MARKET held every Saturday from 8am until noon.  The market was a good size with options from fresh produce, ready made foods and meats, to jewelry, flowers and preserves.  
We had planned to head straight out to the River Arts District after the City Market, but Ali thought we should try to take a drive through the city center before heading in the other direction.  In full swing downtown was the first day of a two-day music and arts festival.  THE LEAF FESTIVAL promotes the non-profit organization by the same name working towards building the community with music and arts.  
The festival was free and open to the public with 3 music stages, food trucks, and local vendors throughout the streets that it blocked off.  Clutch call made by Ali to swing through downtown.  We had a great time talking to local artists and perusing all of the different tents. 

After enjoying the live music and picking up some souvenirs along the way, we continued on to the RIVER ARTS DISTRICT to see all of the different artists and also to get lunch at THE WHITE DUCK TACO SHOP.  When researching Asheville online in preparation for our trip, White Duck Taco Shop kept popping up as a must-do on all of my restaurant lists.  I am so happy for all of that internet advice because it was delicious!  There are two locations, one downtown and one in the arts district.  The arts district location is mostly outside seating with a smaller indoor section.  Walk up to order, take your number, magical tacos are delivered in minutes.  Very simple procedure.  The menu was really creative and had something for everyone.  I heard great things before going, we enjoyed a great meal while we were there, and I have heard great things since.  Definitely gets an A+ for mellow lunch spots in Asheville when you need a taco fix.

In case you find yourself at the White Duck Taco Shop, I would suggest getting one - or all - off the following: 
- Nachos with the salsa trio
-Korean Beef Bulgogi Taco
-Chilled Lump Crab Taco with Old Bay Remoulade
-BBQ Carnitas Taco
-Mole Roasted Duck Taco with an Apple Cranberry Slaw
-Crisp Chicken BLT Taco *so what if it's on the kid's menu?
We walked off lunch around the area, meandering through the different studios and wandering around outside.  We enjoyed waving to all of the tubers for a minute or two as well.  I was amazed with how many people were out on the river and will be adding that to the to-do list for my next trip to Asheville.

After a postcard worthy Asheville day, we closed it out with dinner at THE LOBSTER TRAP.  Completely unsuspecting from the outside, walk in and you are sitting in a lobster house up in Maine.  Our server Katie gave us the royal treatment - we would later find out that after 7 years serving at The Lobster Trap we would be her very last table as she was promoted to FOH Manager and would be taking over the following day - and made sure we were filled in on the menu and enjoyed everything we got.  She was even a Pawley's native, not too far from our starting points down in the low country.  
A bit of a note about my family: we have spent many summers in Maine and love some good lobster.  I think we may think that is special, but writing this I realize that this is untrue.  Save for a few poor souls who have a shellfish allergy, I do not think we are special.  Everyone loves lobster because it's lobster, duh.  Ali got a grilled lobby because she's fancy.  Mom and I both got lobster rolls because we are traditionalists and by traditionalists I mean lazy.  We all shared the lobster mac and cheese.  Aside from the lobster mac and cheese being a little low on the lobster and the cheese, our dinner was super awesome and I have put in an application to live in their kitchen.

With day 2 successfully under our belts and lobster in our bellies, we headed back to the GROVE PARK INN to get some rest for a taxing day 3 - spa treatments.  Let's Go Day 3 will be up early next week so be sure to check back for that.  Thanks for reading!
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