“Thou art thy mother’s glass, and she in thee
Calls back the lovely April of her prime.” ~William Shakespeare
It is a known fact that daughters don’t think they are like their mothers. It is another known fact that mothers know their daughters are just like them, and just wait patiently for their daughters to figure that out.
Mothers are so smart. Must be that eyes-in-the-back-of-your-head thing.
But the writing is on the wall in my case. I am sliding down the slope toward “You-Have-Become-Your-Mother-Ville,” population: all daughters.
I feel like I need to rebel against this. I mean, I never ever thought ankle-length Mom Jeans were flattering in any capacity, and my mom had a strong streak in the 80s (and 90s… and I’m not going to lie, the first part of the millennium) where they were her go-to pant of choice. I don’t like stewed prunes, no matter how much fiber they contain. I wear high heels, no matter how badly they hurt my feet. And I don’t think Johnny Mathis is attractive. At all.
(To be fair, Mama Hound finally ditched her Mom Jeans and now wears the very attractive boot-cut variety. And she has entered the wonderful world of fashion-meets-comfort Dansko shoes. But she still loves stewed prunes and thinks Johnny is fine lookin’. Ouch.)
Still, the similarities far outweigh the differences. We keep Hallmark in business. We get excited about wool socks. We have a voice for our dogs and talk it in ad nauseam. We both have writing that is simultaneously legible and illegible. We both talk a mile a minute and wonder why you can’t keep up. We both think there is no problem that can’t be solved with a hot cup of tea.
Ultimately, though, our strongest bond is food: making it, buying it, thinking about it, talking about it (at a mile a minute), preserving it and eating it. And if there were something else you could do with food, we’d do that, too.
Naturally, when we get to see each other for our painfully brief visits throughout the year, it’s basically a food orgy! And I’m not even embarrassed to say that! We start thinking about what we want to make and eat weeks in advance. Who am I kidding… months in advance!
This visit was no different 🙂 Mama Hound just came for a lovely long weekend, and we packed it with about as much food as we could. Knoxville restaurants never cease to deliver delicious food, but this time we decided to take a day trip to groove-tastic Asheville, NC, about 2 hours away.
I always describe Asheville as the Woodstock of the South. Am I right?? Very groovy, very funky, very natural, and there’s a high likelihood you’ll find someone who disagrees with female armpit shaving. Hey, whatever floats your boat, ladies. We’re just here for the food. And it’s good.
Asheville has an enormously large number of amazing restaurants, with the added bonus that many of them source their ingredients locally. This time, Mama Hound and I chose the Tupelo Honey Cafe
. Why? Mama Hound wanted southern cookin’ and I needed a napkin to catch my saliva while I perused their menu online.
We had a small wait, which was fine, because they have a lovely waiting area in the back with their cookbook on display. This cookbook is unreal, and yes, Mama Hound treated us to a copy! Look for Tupelo favorites on the Food Hound soon…
I swear this is not the reason I chose to eat there, but I figured out quickly that your server delivers fresh biscuits and blueberry jam to your table while you wait for your food. Even though I still can’t get the word “y’all” to pass my lips, I love two things about biscuits: eating them, and getting to say “well, butter my butt and call me a biscuit!” whenever I eat one. The jam and Tupelo honey at every table were the butter on the biscuit. Or the icing on the cake.
We started out in true southern fashion with fried green tomatoes over cheese grits. Just fabulous. Everything was fresh, fried to perfection, and beautifully plated. I don’t know who first decided to take an unripe tomato and fry it, but way to go, man. It’s awesome!
Mama Hound was bent on getting fried okra. I despise okra. I find it mucous-y, slimy, and utterly vile. But you know what? Even I liked their fried okra. Damn, they’re good!
If I’m getting southern cookin’, I’m going for broke: I’m getting fried chicken. But this fried chicken is different: it’s skinless and it’s coated in a Panko-ground nut mixture. I know that sounds like a dietitian’s idea of fried chicken, but please note that I have enjoyed BoJangle’s fried chicken, which makes KFC look like health food, so I’m not afraid of real fried chicken. I just wanted to try it, all smothered in gravy goodness.
Oh my. Was it good. Crunchy, juicy, tasty, not greasy. And those sweet potatoes? I’m not sure how they are able to cram as much butter and brown sugar into them as they do, but they were about the best sweet potatoes I’ve ever had. I’m now ruined for life- I can only eat them the Tupelo way!
Mama Hound decided to be a little holy and order the grilled vegetable melt. I was smug and
thought she’d regret it and wish she had ordered my lovely gravy-smothered chicken, but ’twas I who had my tail between my legs because her melt was amazing. Did she know something I didn’t? Must be that eyes-in-the-back-of-your-head thing…
As if fried okra, gravy, and biscuits weren’t enough, we needed chocolate as a finale. And we never need an excuse for chocolate 🙂 When you’re in Asheville, I’m of the firm impression you can’t do any better than the French Broad Chocolate Lounge
The FBCL has comfy chairs, a large display case of truffles and other sinful confections, and the richest hot chocolate you ever want to taste. They call it “Liquid Truffle,” and it’s no joke- it’s like a melted truffle. It’s very
different from Belgian chocolat chaud
because it’s thicker and much less sweet, so really, one can’t compare the two. My recommendation? Drink both regularly 🙂
Thus concluded the food portion of our trip to Asheville. We waddled around from store to store, perfectly content with our meal choices, excited for the rest of the weekend’s plans.
And did those plans include more food? Why, yes! How did you know?
My favorite meal the rest of the weekend came from one of my favorite Knoxville haunts that, surprisingly, I have yet to write about: The Crown and Goose
I’ve eaten at the Crown and Goose many, many times but never for Sunday brunch. I learned that they have $3 champagne at said brunch, and I can guarantee it will become a Hound family favorite with that golden nugget of information 🙂 The extra bonus is that there is outside patio seating, and we were in the mood to sit in the warmth and watch the tired, sagging eyelids of last night’s merry-makers file past us, bloody mary in one hand, sunglasses in the other.
And what is the best food to eat whilst you are basking in the sun, drinking champagne and people-watching? Bread and cheese, of course!
Deciding to eschew the traditional brunch fare, we ordered one each of the fabulous cheeseboards, the Ploughman (English cheeses) and the Frenchman (French cheeses). Nothing elaborate, just nips of gorgeous cheese, a hunk of hunky baguette, and a little melange of fruit, nuts and preserves as the crowning jewel of the board.
We felt so en vogue.
And although there is a nip of sadness in the air now that she has vacated Chez Hound and is back at the Mother Ship in PA, it was a fabulous weekend of fabulous food and fabulous time spent together. And of course, I always come away knowing more about her. I learned that she can clean a plate of fried okra faster than the Doberhound. She loves consignment shopping. She eats an apple every single day. I’m pretty sure she didn’t learn anything about me because she knows it all already… must be the eyes-in-the-back-of-the-head thing 🙂
If you’re worried you will turn into your mother, don’t worry. You will. And it doesn’t mean you’ll have to wear Mom Jeans or forever swear off your 4″ heels. But it does mean that you’ll take after the fabulous woman who raised you (with enough forethought to avoid fashion pitfalls and a high-fiber food obsession). And maybe, just maybe, you’ll be able to handle life’s ups and downs with as much poise and grace as she did. For me? That’s a fine prospect, indeed 🙂