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Happy National Beer Lover’s Day! Asheville, North Carolina is a beer-lover’s dream-come-true, and we recently had the chance to spend a few days in this beautiful city for a family wedding. Getting to Asheville from Boston was easy; we took a quick JetBlue flight from Boston to Charlotte and drove about two hours to Asheville and straight to Asheville Brewing, where the bride and groom were dining with friends and family.

 

Asheville Brewing Companyasheville brewing co

It felt so good to see my aunt and cousin after a few years, and Asheville Brewing was the perfect place for it. Long picnic tables in a covered outdoor area gave way to easy mingling and meeting new people, and the berry beer I had was the perfect post-travel refreshment. I loved that the restaurant was showing the Olympics on a big screen outdoors as well. It added to the summery festivity of the evening.

Boojum Graveyard Fields

That evening, after some pub food and family fun, we ventured off to the grocery store before settling into our Asheville rental house (More on that later; it was fantastic. ) Now, I know that beer and wine in the grocery store takes away from mom and pop shops, but I LOVE the convenience of it, and Ingles stores in Asheville had excellent selections of local beer, making it fun and easy to stock up for tasting at home. I absolutely loved the bitter-yet-fruity Boojum Graveyard Fields Blueberry Coffee Porter. I found it on tap a few times over the weekend and always gravitated towards it.

wicked weed brewing

wicked weed brewing asheville

coolcumber beer

When planning our Asheville beer tasting, Wicked Weed Brewing kept coming up as a recommendation, so when we had some time pre-wedding, we headed there. Right downtown, it was also right up my alley, with two levels of open space and a great outdoor area which we took advantage of on a beautiful summer day. I started things off with a light, refreshing, and slightly briny cucumber beer, their Coolcumber and then moved on to a beer from their Funkatorium, the Genesis, which, with pineapple notes and sour finish, was possibly my favorite beer of them all.

 

catawba brewing 

The day after the wedding was almost too hot, and in between hanging out by the pool and visiting Lake Lure, we made a quick stop in Biltmore Village for a tasting at Catawba Brewing Co., another recommendation.  We tend to avoid IPAs and pumpkin beers and developed a yummy flight which included some Catawba standards like Farmer Ted’s Cream Ale and the Black Dome Stout. Catawba had a super chill vibe and great beer. It’s in the heart of the shopping district and would make a great stop for a break while you shop-til-you-drop (Except that I hate shopping, so I’ll skip straight to the beer tasting.)

New Belgium Asheville

 New Belgium Brewery

New Belgium beer

On our final day in Asheville, we had a bit of extra time and finally made our way to the much larger and well known New Belgium Brewing. I expected this to feel like a more corporate experience than the others since New Belgium isn’t quite the small craft brewery. However, it was a fantastic experience with great, fun service and a wide selection of excellent beers. I am all about sours lately, and I loved the Fruit Fly Citra Sour Ale which had just the right amount of sour and fruit, so drinkable. I also loved the Fat Funk Ale and Snapshot Tart Wheat. The selection at New Belgium was so extensive, and if we didn’t have a flight to catch, we could have spent the day there. We hit up the taco food truck on our way out, and away we went, leaving Asheville behind and vowing to return soon.

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Tags: Asheville, beer, blogger, brewery, North Carolina, Travel, travel blogger

It’s Friday, and you know what that means, Friday Foodie Feature time. As I mentioned yesterday, I am still pretty behind on blogging and just about everything else, so I was excited when Megan from the blog Cooking Whims agreed to be the Friday Foodie Feature. Megan started out as a baking blogger, and, as a result has some great baking posts, but I also really love her other recipes. Definitely check out the link to the Roasted Garlic Soup below. It looks divine!

Thanks, Megan, for being featured, and for the rest of you, remember I always welcome guest posts and participants for the Friday Feature. Just send me an email to let me know you are interested!

Have a great Friday morning. I’ll be back later with some more wine country fun!

Cooking Whims

How long have you been blogging?

I’ve kept an online journal ever since I was a teenager. But I became serious about food blogging after I started a baking club with my friends after we graduated from college about two years ago. As an excuse to hang out, two of my best friends would come over once a week and we would whip up something tasty. Then I thought, “Hey, why don’t I blog about these?” So I started “Baking Whims”. But once I moved out of my parents’ house, I discovered I had to cook for myself. But I didn’t want it to be a chore, I wanted it to be fun! So I got a ton of cookbooks out of the library, started following blogs, and decided to add onto my baking escapades–so expanded “Baking Whims” into “Cooking Whims”. And that happened about a year ago. :)

What is your favorite thing about blogging? Least favorite?

My favorite thing about blogging is being a part of the food blogging community. When I first moved to the Boston area, I was a bit lost. I moved away from all of my friends, so my baking club get-togethers stopped. I didn’t know how to meet people and felt isolated in my little apartment. But once I joined up with the Boston Food Bloggers, I discovered a whole new world of friendships and activities I never would have found out about if I wasn’t blogging!

My least favorite part about blogging? That’s hard to say because I love all things about blogging! If I had to pick something, though, I would say it’s the dim light in my apartment. I live in a basement with little natural light, so it’s really challenging to capture a well-lit picture of my food.

What has been your most fun blog post to write?

I think the blog post that was the most fun to write was my Roasted Garlic Soup recipe. I was meeting up with some Boston Food Bloggers for a soup swap back in January, and I wanted to try something I never tried before. I love taking on challenges like that and stepping out of my comfort zone because then I actually learn something about cooking. Before I made the garlic soup, I had never roasted garlic, or even bought more than two heads of garlic at once in the store. I bought six for this recipe! (and had some left over).
I love writing about my learning experiences, whether they are good or bad, and hoping others can learn from what I learned–and that they’ll go out and try these recipes on their own too! Cooking for me is fun because I’m always finding things I don’t know about. And the blogging is a great way to log what I have done :)

Where do you see your blog this time next year?

Hopefully next year I’ll actually buy a domain for my blog and give it a redesign!

Is there anything else about your blogging experience you would like to share?

I look forward to blogging about my cooking adventures every night, and I would have to say it’s become my favorite thing to do outside of work. It’s much more than just a hobby, it’s become a part of who I am, my identity. If people ask me what I do and what I like to do, I always mention my food blog and my love of food! :)

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Tags: blogger, Food, Friday Foodie Feature, Guest Blogger, guest post

Enough snow for ya? I think I have officially had enough. It’s not really the cold or snow that bother me, per se, it is the conditions of the sidewalks and the inability for Boston’s public transport to work, even in the best of weather. It makes running outside impossible and going out at night less than attractive. I am 100% ready for spring, so if the universe is listening, no more snow in Boston, please.

Since I have been baking more and more these days, I am excited to feature Jen from the blog Beantown Baker for today’s Friday Foodie Feature. I met Jen briefly at this summer’s Stop & Shop luncheon, and since I got to spend more time with her on the big King Arthur Flour blogger weekend, I thought the below photo was appropriate. Most recently, I saw Jen at the Guinness dinner at the Landsdowne Pub and realized that I hadn’t featured her yet. I don’t know how that happened! Her blog is full of beautiful photos and delicious dishes, but what I love most about it is, of course, her baking. She makes bakery-worthy treats that are beyond my wildest baking dreams. You may have already checked her blog out, but if you haven’t, make sure to visit Jen’s favorite post, mentioned below.

Happy Friday, everyone! And don’t forget, if you would like to be a Friday Foodie Feature, just send me an email!

How long have you been blogging?

I started Beantown Baker in August of 2007. In the beginning I didn’t blog regularly, and you couldn’t schedule posts on Blogger so my posting was sporadic at best. After three and a half years, I’ve gotten into a groove and post on a more regular basis.

What is your favorite thing about blogging? Least favorite?

Choosing one thing as a favorite about blogging is tough. Really tough. So I’m picking three favorite things. First of all, I’m very proud of the progress I’ve made not only in my cooking and baking skills but also my photography skills. If you look back at some of my old posts, I used a lot of shortcuts (including cake mix from a box!) that I would never use now. I’ve also tackled my fear of yeast because of my blog. Now I am proud to admit that yeast doesn’t scare me at all anymore. My photos have also improved. Not only in the food styling and composition but I’ve come to realize the importance of natural light on my photos. I’ve always said that my blog is for me and it’s been a great ride so far.

Another thing I love about blogging is hearing from my readers. When I started my blog, I didn’t expect to ever get comments or emails from readers. Every time I get one, I get very excited and try to write everyone back who writes to me. I love to hear what my readers enjoy or what they’d like to see more of.

And the last thing I love most about blogging is meeting other bloggers. Boston has a great blogging community and it’s fun to meet other people who “get” this crazy little hobby of mine.

As far as my least favorite part of blogging, that has to be the mean-spirited people out there. Whether they’re leaving nasty comments or whatever the case is, they’re no fun. I know you’ll find them anywhere on the internet, but it’s not cool.

What has been your most fun blog post to write?

These are tough questions Meghan! For me, the writing isn’t the fun part, it’s the fun in the kitchen that I enjoy the most. My favorite post therefore is something that I love to make. You see, I have an unhealthy love of Oreos. I really try not to eat processed foods, but if there are Oreos nearby, I can’t control myself (so we never have them in the house). I had made a couple variations of a cookies and cream cupcake and finally developed my own version of an Oreo Cupcake (http://www.beantownbaker.com/2010/04/oreo-cupcakes-third-time-is-charm.html). It’s by far the favorite cupcake in our household and it’s one of very few desserts that I have made multiple times. I enjoyed baking these cupcakes and taking some photos during the process. If you like Oreos, I highly recommend trying this recipe out. You can thank me later ;)

Where do you see your blog this time next year?

This time a year ago, I hadn’t met any other bloggers and could not have guessed that I would call some other bloggers friends at this point in time. This time next year, I just hope that I’m still challenging myself in the kitchen, learning when I’m behind the camera, and having fun with my blog.

Is there anything else about your blogging experience you would like to share?

I feel very fortunate to have found a hobby that I’m truly passionate about. As I mentioned, I never imagined that I would have opportunities to try new things and meet new people just because I write a blog, but I’m so grateful that I have these opportunities.

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Tags: baking, blogger, Boston, Boston Food Bloggers, Friday Foodie Feature, Guest Blogger

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