OK, so this LA Hound found herself with sister and cousin in tow, on the road from Louisville via Knoxville to Ashville over last weekend. A little help from my CH friends, a little help from a guidebook and a little luck found us with three good meals under our belts.
We set off on Saturday morning about 10:00. We were equipped with maps and the AAA tour book, but more importantly with a copy of Dave Hunter's "Along Interstate-75: local Knowledge" For Those Driving The Popular Interstate Between Detroit And The Florida Border". My cousin's stepson had given this book to her recently. If you don't know it, it's a stitch -- a sort of mile-by-mile graphical/textual map of I-75 showing the services at every exit, the points of interest along the way and so on. I'm not sure which edition this was -- it was at least a few years old. But along about page 103 it detailed the winner of Hunter's quest for the best BBQ ribs north of Georgia. His pick? Calhoun's in Knoxville. Even though we'd intended to cut off I-75 on the outskirts of Knoxville on the way to I-40, we took a few-mile detour to Calhoun's, and it was worth it. The ribs were tender, juicy and flavorful. The slaw and beans and baked apples stood up to them well. The brown ale was a great accompaniment. Well fortified, we pushed on towards Ashville.
We checked into the Fairfield Inn near the Ashville airport, along with the Carolina Porsche Club. My cousin's Volvo was the only non-Porshe in the lot that night, I think. My sister feels travel is a good excuse to check out the local malls. Somehow she'd gotten into her head she "needed" a pair of cowboy boots. I think she somehow thought she was in Texas. Anyway, we wended our way around Asheville to the Asheville mall. A couple hours of shopping later (with your humble correspondent making a fruitless and, I realized soon enough, foolish foray to the local Waldenbooks in search of a copy of "Lincoln's Melancholy : How Depression Challenged a President and Fueled His Greatness" -- by Joshua Wolf Shenk. What was I thinking?? It's most likely illegal to sell biographies of Lincoln. in North Carolina. But I digress.) By now we were more than ready for dinner and in a strange town. So we rolled the dice and ate at the mall's "fine dining establishment", McGuffey's.
Inexplicably, McGuffey's has a sort of New Orleans motif to its decor. But the food was surprisingly servicable for a mall restaurant. Fresh salads and good French onion soup hit the spot, and we retired nourished and ready for the main event the next day, Sunday brunch.
The brunch was something of a production. Not only cousin, sis and I were in attendance, but sis's girlhood friend who lives in Asheville was in the party. So were my parents-in-law who drove up from Columbia, SC, for the meal. So there was some pressure on me to produce a houndly brunch. Having consulted in advance with y'all, I'd made a reservation at Limone's in Asheville. It was a hit. Good Mexican-influenced dishes were the fare offered. We especially liked the scones with lemon curd (decadent) and the chilequilles -- sort of the Mexican version of French toast -- that is a meal based on yesterday's leftover bread, with scrambled eggs served alongside yesterday's fried tortillas heated in a tasty chile sauce.
With brunch under our belts, we parted company with sis's friend and mom- and dad-in-law. Cousin, sis and I booked on back to Louisville with only a couple of very brief pit stops, so there are no further culinary adventures to report.
But thanks to the guidebook, some luck, and most especially to the Carolina Hounds, the trip was a gastronomic success!
10020 Kingston Pike
Knoxville, TN 37922
in the Asheville Mall, on the lower level near Belk's
13 Eagle St
Asheville, NC 28801