“Roughing it” in the NC mountains….
September 6, 2012

Canyon Kitchen in Cashiers NC….wait ’til you
see the rest….

Most of you know I’m not really a girl who roughs it when she travels. Give me a good Ritz Carlton, some scented candles, a fireplace , a nice view and I’m all good. Oh…and great food. While on a recent holiday…I had everything but the Ritz Carlton. But the house where we stayed  could compete…definitely.

From the dock in front of our house…no
motor boats or jet skis allowed…shhhhh!

House…VRBO, of course. Angler’s Point-here(everyone in the Cashiers area seems to name their house…don’t know why but there it is)….is a great house….beautifully furnished, right on a pretty lake(great view,check), great fireplace(check)….it was blissful.

Charcuterie plate at Madison’s in the Old Edwards Inn.
What a great restaurant….and they make their own

Heirloom tomato starter also at Madison’s…too cute to eat!
But I ate it anyway….

Ok , there was a lot about food this trip(great food, check)….and I went to a restaurant I had been reading about for a while.

Patio area of Canyon Kitchen, where drinks are served…

I first met Chef John Fleer when he was the head chef at Blackberry Farm-here outside of Knoxville. Blackberry(such a fabulous place) and her both became justifiably famous for their food and service. A couple of years ago, John started Canyon Kitchen…wow.

Exterior of Canyon Kitchen….and the inside is just
as kicking….

Dramatic, no? And all the doors open up so that when the weather
is nice(most of summer and fall) you’re kind of dining al fresco.

Canyon Kitchen garden….gorgeous…

Not everything was so hi-falutin’…we bought some great
boiled peanuts from this nice man at a road stand…peanut
pot behind him!

Discovered Tabasco mayo on this trip. this stuff is the bomb!



Little girls in cute southern dresses play with the llamas
at High Hampton Inn…pretty classic place…

High Hampton-here by the way, is an amazing family mountain resort….a shoot there for TLC’s Great Country Inns years ago is what first led me to this beautiful area.And there are lots of cute shops in Cashiers and Highlands…where I saw the prettiest hanging baskets ever…

Loaded with nasturtiums, and lots of other things
I don’t know the names of….

I have a thing lately for owls….even mossy ones.

Ended a couple of nights by the fire(at 4000ft. altitude it gets quite cool at night!) with s’mores made with “stacker” marshmallows, and dark and milk chocolate…your choice. Or both. And we discovered something that makes s’mores even more fab…use Reece’s Cups. A. Maz. Ing.

The good life. No doubt….












A New York Thanksgiving….
November 30, 2010

Doughboy, doughboy, doughboy, doughboy.....

I must first apologize for no blogs last week…it’s just that my kitchen was gutted on Wednesday…what a word, gutted…but it perfectly captures the scene. I was attempting to get things at home ready for the carnage, though as it turns out, I didn’t do such a good job…and trying to go to New York for Thanksgiving and working. Just…too much. You know?

Spidey from my vantage point...

My son and lovely Jennifer declared this Thanksgiving a travel free(for them) holiday, but any and all were welcome to come to NYC to celebrate. So via Megabus, we made the trek and created our own little Miracle on 34th Street, starting with the Macy’s Thanksgiving Parade….something my husband has ALWAYS wanted to see in person.

Argh, hurry...there goes Kermit!

Two of us(my daughter had a sleep-in) got a cab to deposit us on the East side of Central Park and then followed the crowd to the west side…where the parade was just kicking off by the time we arrived. Wait, Kermit…don’t go! But the balloons just came and came and came….and we didn’t have a problem finding a good place along the route….not where the bands performed but we got to see the cantankerous but talented  Kanye West and the much maligned Jessica Simpson on their respective floats as they rolled by. Great fun…

Cheese and chive biscuits anyone?

And of course we had some fabulous food….New York is chock-a-block( is that you spell that?)with wonderful little eateries and bakeries and cheese shops. And we stayed in a VRBO apartment-click here in Grammercy, about 15 minute walk from the west village. It was small for 3 people(which we knew) but just fine as we didn’t spend tons of time there…comfy mattress, tiny well equipped kitchenette(though we always had breakfast at the Moonstruck diner down the block). The apartment was clean, and adequate for us(and $200 a night).  Funny story…the first night we were there(exhausted)…the windows of this first floor apartment(with bars so no worries) were open because the heat was POURING in and you couldn’t stop it. Three guys decide to stop right outside our window about 3:30 am and argue in Spanish for about 20 minutes…and then they light up a couple of joints. So we can’t sleep, and the smoke is floating in and no one wants to say anything because hey, we don’t know these guys aren’t packing heat, but we do know they’re high. Just before we think about calling the cops, they leave. Best Thanksgiving Ever!! More of my special kitchen hell tomorrow. Did I mention we are covered in dust?

Back to DIY….I miss my housekeeper and cook…
September 22, 2009

Another town scene in San Miguel....

Another town scene in San Miguel....

OK, I’ll admit it….I like being waited on as much as the next person. And one spectacular thing about the house we rented in San Miguel de Allende, was that a wonderful woman named Malena, came with the house. Oh, Malena, I miss you. I miss your tomatilla sauce, your chicken enchilladas, your roja sauce, my bed being made without me doing it. I miss the whole frijole.

I wasn’t sure how I would like having someone being around the house most of the day…maybe you’re used to it but I’m not. But I adjusted rather well I think(boy did I). Malena lets herself in about 9, and leaves the same way around 3:30 or 4…depending. She was happy to cook you breakfast, which we never did, as we usually had some croissants and coffee(decaf for me), earlier than 9. But Malena was a whirlwind…doing towels and sheets, sweeping, making beds, cleaning the kitchen, getting the guest rooms ready. And always so pleasant. I loved her.

But here’s another thing..I hope I didn’t step on her toes, because I liked to “help”. We asked her to do dinner for us one Friday night when the “chilluns” came in for the weekend…and made sure that she wanted to do it…and what the menu would be. You pay her extra of course, to stay over, and cab fare home….so it’s a some extra income.

All of this was accomplished thru the handyman Jose, who unlike Malena, spoke very good English, and translated for us. I know a little Spanish, but not enough to explain something  the least bit complicated. But that Friday night I found myself helping her clear the table, and she would “NO, Senora…” and wave me back to the table.  I’m not used to having help,ok?

The living room looking out on the garden....

The living room looking out on the garden....

And if you’re wondering about the house we rented(off VRBO, naturally)…I’ve provided a VRBO link for you here. It was such a gracious home…I think that’s the proper word for it. And I know I’ve written about VRBO before….but I’m a VRBO addict. Love that site. And it’s just such a great way to travel…to have an entire house, instead of a hotel room. See the garden outside? Under the portico on the left is where you eat meals, with a little fountain burbling just a few feet away. I’m back to DIY…washing my own towels, and clearing my own table , and doing all my own cooking….but Malena, I hope to see you again. And soon.

Being a Charleston homeowner….
April 4, 2008

houseOh for Pete’s sake, NO I’m not one, but I got to play one for a week. Here’s what I do on vacation when the fam comes along…I go to V.R.B.O….vacation rentals by owner…and find a home! The two story house on the right is where we stayed in the gated Wild Dunes community on Isle of Palms. bridgeIt’s about 20 minutes to Charleston over the most beautiful bridge in the world. I love driving over it, but I forget who it’s name for. Someone important, no doubt.The reason  I like a house is everyone has their own space, we have a gathering space for watching tv, meals, and when all is said and done, it would be a lot more expensive to stay in a hotel and eat all the meals out, and neatly as nice. Check it out sometime when you’re traveling.

Anyway, the house was 3 pretty bedrooms, 3 baths so no fighting over showers…right on a golf course with pretty view, nice walking around ponds with alligators in them(!), a big great room with beautiful kitchen and dining room…in truth, much nicer than my kitchen at home. And that way I can take food I want , and wine, and music, and candles…yes I take candles with me…my sisters think I’m crazy too. But really, it’s nice to have the things you like around you on your vacation. They are very important to me. And we cook a lot on vacation.

sublimeOK….places I found that you might not stumble across…Sandy Unitas, yes that Unitas, turned me on to SubLime.I met Sandy when we did a story about her heart troubles a couple of years ago, and she was about to embark on a long visit to Charleston. While she was there last spring, my family and I also went down for a week(another house) and I called her cell and invited her over for dinner. She was staying not too far from us….we did have a delightful dinner, shrimp and grits, natch, and she brought over the most delicious key lime pie I’ve ever seen. Presented in a pretty pink box with a big lime green grosgrain ribbon. It was from SubLime. So this year, I found them, thanks to Sandy, and got a pie. Really, the best ever. AND, they also sell “Dirty Pie”…this is the seductive concoction of putting a slice of frozen pie on a popsicle stick, and dipping it in dark chocolate. Yeah…I know.

stellaShopping on King Street is insane….some of the best shops and boutiques you have ever seen. LaTiDa, Nula, Berlins, and Stella Nova. If there is a better makeup and and skin care store, with a better selection, I’d like to know about it. Product lines I’ve never heard of before…seriously I could have spent hours in there.

A reader responded that I should have gone to Jestine’s Kitchen for dinner in Charleston…and I have heard good things about it, but a week goes by fast. Maybe I’ll put it on my list for next year….