Nancy Christy, the former owner of the Wilson Street Grill in Madison, Wis., recently visited Asheville, writing about her experience in Madison Magazine, a Wisconsin publication with approximately 127,000 readers, according to the publishers.
Christy hit up the usual spots (Tupelo Honey) and some places that we're happy to see getting a little more national press (Cucina 24). She was justifiably impressed by our local food scene, remarking on the number of tailgate markets in Asheville, which she counts at about 80. While that's a rather overblown number — there's maybe that many in all of WNC — we'll take the praise.
Here's more of what she had to say:
The story of how we found ourselves on vacation in Asheville, North Carolina, is long, and better suited to a travel piece. But find ourselves there we did, over a gorgeous October weekend that we learned was the busiest weekend of the year as visitors arrived in droves to bask in the beauty of peak color in the Smoky Mountains.
It was our first extended visit to “the South,” and it had its charms. We were attracted in part by the city’s reputation as a haven for artists, and there was street art, galleries, exhibits and music galore. The nearby Penland School of Crafts is responsible for launching hundreds of working galleries throughout the area. It’s also hosted artists in residence like Fred Fenster, professor emeritus of art metal at UW–Madison, and metalsmith Hiroko Yamada, owner of HYART Gallery on West Johnson Street.
The school is located on a stunning site along the Blue Ridge Parkway with a beautiful gallery featuring some of its students’ and staff’s representative work. The Parkway itself is a national treasure with more scenic vistas than it is possible to take in. And the Biltmore House, built by George Vanderbilt in 1895, with its eight thousand acres of gardens, farmland, forests and winery, is a history lesson all on its own. Put it all together and it’s understandable why so many people think Asheville is the genuine article.
While “retirement village for old hippies” is perhaps a bit broad, the mild weather, liberal politics, thriving arts scene and beautiful mountain setting has obvious counterculture appeal. And then there’s the food. We were aware that local food was of some importance to Ashevillians. And we were expecting both traditional and updated takes on Southern cooking. But we weren’t prepared for the depth and breadth of the local food scene, the preponderance of farmers’ markets or the variety of restaurants and food and wine establishments.
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