Up on Craggy Pinnacle. Art by Helen Nagan.

Tuesday, July 15, 2014

Exploring Downtown


On an afternoon when rain and thunderstorms were looming, cousin Amy and I decided chancing trying to hike Mt. Pisgah or drive along the Parkway was not the best idea.  Instead, we opted for exploring Asheville's eclectic downtown, where we could still get in some good walking, yet hang out in a brewery or restaurant if the weather turned sour.  So off we went!  Our first stop was Chocolate Gems for gelato!  After sampling a few flavors, we selected Creamsicle, Cappuccino (made with Dynamite Coffee), Roasted Almond and Mint.  Our idea was that we'd keep nibbling as they day went on - stopping here, stopping there.   The gelato was outstanding, with Roasted Almond taking the top prize.  As we got our stuff together to leave, we looked out and, sure enough, it was pouring.  But rather than let it put a damper on our plans, out came a rain jacket and umbrella, and the expedition continued.  We walked very close to the buildings and would stop a bit under storefront awnings.  At one such stop, Amy says, "Hey, I like this!"  It was some antique silver.  We were right in front of Finkelstein’s, a pawn shop with some big history behind it that I didn't even know existed.  So I followed Amy on in.  Next thing you know we're talking with the owner (guessing) about a couple of huge early 20th Century safes that were on display.  And then I am looking at a $3600 guitar that was belonged to the '80s band Journey!  And by talking with the owner I learned that Finkelstein’s opened in 1903 and is one of the oldest pawn shops in the United States.  What do you know?!?!?   The rain continued, and so did we.  We exited the pawn shop and walked to Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar, one of my favorite places in all of Asheville. I have taken several out-of-town guests there over the years, including my dad, my cousin Carol and an old friend from Headland (AL).  Obviously a great place for quality used books, BPBECB is unrivaled if you are looking for a relaxing spot for a glass of wine, a French press coffee, some champagne (of course) or some hot tea.  And if you have the munchies, you can go the sweet route and get some cake or a pastry.  If you're not into sweets, you can get a charcuterie board and cheese platter with nuts, jams, olives and fresh bread.  The whole point is that you can be in a place where you can sit still or have a conversation or read a good book or gather with some friends and drink a glass of wine.   And if you want to bring your pooch, hey, it's also very dog-friendly.  The overall concept is fabulous, and Amy said, "Wish we had one of these in Atlanta."  As you can see by the images above,  I ordered a bottle of Pinot Noir and a classic cheese board.  And we relaxed, nibbled on cheese and crackers and sipped wine and had a good conversation as the rain passed.  After an hour or so, we corked the remaining wine, gathered our things and were off again - walking, of course.  The target was Wicked Weed Brewing, and our goal was to try one of the locally brewed beers and have a light dinner.  Our waitress brought us some beer samples to help us make a decision. I ended up selecting one of the World Cup Series Beers on tap.  I chose the winner:  Germany!  Amy selected the Freak of Nature Double IPA.  For meal items, we halved fish & chips and a fried chicken sandwich topped with kimchi and miso mayonnaise.  It was just hard to beat.  Back on the street, as we walked to our cars, we saw the BEFORE I DIE public arts project.  It's a participatory, outdoor exhibit where, with a piece of chalk, you and thousands more complete the sentence, Before I die _____________.   We just had to!  Perfect way to end the day. 

1 comment:

Lisa from Lisa's Yarns said...

Sounds like my kind of afternoon! I love Battery Park Book Exchange - I went there on my first trip to Asheville and had a great champagne cocktails and listened to some great live music. Asheville is such a gem! Hope you are having a great summer!