Back in January Deb and I were suffering from a touch of cabin fever. It was time to take a drive! Without a destination in mind we started by heading through Newport Tennessee on US-25, alongside the French Broad River, towards Hot Springs. At the fork in the road we could have went to the right and Maggie Valley, or left and into Asheville. On this day we went to the left as we’d recently been to Maggie Valley.

There was still snow left in the mountains before we reached Hot Springs, and I was thinking of a fellow bereaved father who was soon to start hiking the Appalachian Trail. This was a trip he had planned to do with his son but instead must now do with the memory of his son to guide him. If the timing works, I am planning to meet up with him in Hot Springs, as it is a layover point for hikers on the AT to refuel, rest, and resupply.

We arrived in Asheville a bit past noon, after driving through Weaverville. We stayed here a few years ago for a weekend in the area to attend a String Cheese Incident concert. There used to be a good German restaurant next door but I saw it had closed.

A Real Bookstore!

After we decided on Asheville, I told Deb that I wanted to stop and browse “the bookstore” to look for the bread cookbook “Southern Ground”, by Jennifer Lapidus. The name of “the bookstore”, which I can never remember, is Malaprop’s.

Malaprop's Bookstore and Cafe logo

I know Deb rolled her eyes even though I couldn’t see it. She knows I rarely manage to get in and out of a bookstore in less than a couple of hours. Especially since visits to a “real” bookstore are few and far between.

time to take a drive - Malaprop's Bookstore's "Blind Date with a Book" section
Malaprop’s Bookstore’s “Blind Date with a Book” section

I quickly found the cookbooks section, but I was not able to find “Southern Ground”, so I continued wandering a bit. Right around the corner was a section labeled “Blind Date with a Book”. This is an interesting idea where plain brown paper completely encloses the book, with a short summary on the front. The ISBN is a spoiler included for ones who just have to know what the book title is.

Close up view of "Blind Date with a Book" plain brown wrapper with summary
Close up view of a “Blind Date with a Book”

I was able to quickly find help in locating the cookbook in the local authors section of the store. Since I have many books to read piled up waiting to be read, I found Deb and asked if she was ready to look for a restaurant for a late lunch.


If there is one thing Asheville has no shortage of, it is restaurants and breweries! We opted for Mayfel’s located in the downtown area at 22 College Street. The menu is chock full of Louisiana and southern staples, as well as a selection of drinks and local brews.

time to take a drive - image of Mayfel's specials menu for January 23rd
Mayfel’s specials menu for January 23rd

While the crawfish scramble looked good, I opted for a cup of gumbo, and their version of a muffaletta. The muffaletta was good but looked more like a panini. The Parmesan cheese grits were a fitting side. Deb chose beignets as a starter with biscuits and gravy. This gave me an opportunity to compare the biscuits I make for guests at The Sidecar Inn to Mayfel’s. Instead of giving it away here, I’ll let you discover the answer on a visit to the Inn!

Image of Red Ginger Dim Sum and Tapas restaurant time to take a drive
Red Ginger Dim Sum and Tapas restaurant

Following this feast we went for a stroll around downtown Asheville, finally ending up at the parking garage. I spotted a Dim Sum restaurant, the Red Ginger Dim Sum & Tapas, that we’ll have to visit on the next occasion it is time to take a drive!