Dining, Shopping and Sipping in Asheville and Black Mountain | Eastern North Carolina Now | I'm writing this column from Black Mountain, where my sister has a charming vacation cottage.

Coronavirus Disease 2019 (COVID-19)
    Kathy Manos Penn is a native of the “Big Apple,” who settled in the “Peach City” – Atlanta. A former English teacher now happily retired from a corporate career in communications, she writes a weekly column for the Dunwoody Crier. Read her blogs and purchase her book, “The Ink Penn: Celebrating the Magic in the Everyday” on her website theinkpenn.com.

Kathy Manos Penn
    I'm writing this column from Black Mountain, where my sister has a charming vacation cottage. It's my good fortune that both of my sisters own vacation homes; the other sister has a condo on Saint Simons Island.

    Black Mountain was the perfect midway point for meeting friends from Virginia for what we planned as a five-day stay. It turned out I was the only one able to stay the whole time, so I've wound up happily ensconced in the cottage by myself for a day and night.

    The rain is falling now as it has been almost the entire trip. The first evening was rain free, so we enjoyed cocktails in the porch rockers before walking to the Black Bear Tavern in the Village of Cheshire, the community where my sister's cottage is.

    Day two we had a huge breakfast in the same tavern, where I tried "Goldilocks," a delicious layered dish of grits, bacon, scrambled eggs, sausage gravy, tomatoes, and cheese. Then we toured the small town of Black Mountain despite the rain. We ducked in and out of shops, spending most of our time perusing the earring selection in Seven Sisters and the olive oils, vinegars, and spices in Spice it Up. While we girls were busy with jewelry and seasonings, the boys entertained themselves in the hardware store.

    With the rain still coming down, an afternoon nap was in order. The cottage is nestled among trees, rhododendrons and mountain laurels and the sound of the rain through the open windows lulled me to sleep in no time.

    That evening we made the easy 20 minute trip to Asheville to eat at Rezaz, a Mediterranean restaurant in the Biltmore Village. I had visited the restaurant years ago on a girls trip, and it was just as I remembered it. The grilled octopus appetizer and red snapper entrée were superb.

    We four kept checking the weather forecast, hoping it might change, but no such luck, so day three, we headed back to Asheville, determined to tour parts of it rain or shine. Luckily for us, the forecast was wrong, and the rain held off. I know you're wondering if we ever do anything besides shop and eat, but with hiking plans out the window, indoor activities filled our time.

    We started at Early Girl Café for breakfast, where we were surprised to find the lamp and hitching posts outside cloaked in knitted outfits. One friend labeled them legwarmers, and that's the perfect description.

    Next, we visited Woolworth Walk, an old Woolworth store transformed into booths of art and jewelry plus a soda fountain. I've long admired the digital art of Cynthia Decker, and in her booth, I found the perfect piece to bring home. Titled "The Introvert," its image of a cat, a dog, and books is made for my office.

    Amazingly, it was my friend Charlie who was most interested in our final Asheville stop, Tops for Shoes, where he found two pair of shoes as did his wife.

    After naptime followed by cocktails on the porch, we headed to Black Mountain Bistro for yet another fine dinner, and we topped off the evening with a fire in the outdoor fireplace and more wine. That last bit of sipping is likely why I'm spending today reading, writing, and snoozing in front of the indoor fireplace, "[listening] to the rhythm of the falling rain," as the song goes. I'd say it's another perfect day.
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