There are few things more enjoyable than a Saturday in September, especially if you live in (or visit) Western North Carolina. Today was all warm sun and wind; almost no humidity; and a sky the color of “the blue-tiled walls near the market stalls”* that we only get in the fall when the faded chambray sky of summer is flooded with a fresh infusion of bright blue.
No one needed anything from me today, so I caught up with an old friend and we gave ourselves over to the enjoyment of a September Saturday. We started with lunch at the Apple Crate Cafe** in Waynesville–a charming little restaurant just off the main road, and brimming over with apples and angels in its decor. My friend and I both opted for a tuna melt and a side of baked potato salad, and were delighted to find RC Cola among the fountain drink choices. When you visit–and I hope you’ll do it soon–be sure to check out the restrooms (“hens” or “roosters,” depending on your equipment); they’re just as nice as the restaurant itself!
We ran a couple of errands and one of our stops netted me, unexpectedly, the particular Webkinz one of my nephews has tried to find for months. (His birthday is next week, so now I’m all set!) We went downtown next, and I remembered how much I always enjoy my visits to Waynesville. It’s just half an hour west of Asheville, but like Hendersonville (see my last post), it’s a world away.
Stopped in at Vin Wine Bar on Church Street; talked to the owner and picked up some info on next Saturday’s excursion to the Rockhouse Winery in Tryon, NC. Vin hosts a ladies’ wine club that meets monthly, I believe, and this is a club-related outing (there are a few spaces left; call 828-452-6000 for more info).
Then it was on to Barber Orchard (2855 Old Balsam Rd. in Waynesville; 828-456-3598), which feels a little like driving into the past. The older part of the building is all field stone rockwork, with a newer shed and packing area built onto the side. A long line of old apple trees screens the view of Highwa 19-23, and the trees were loaded with a bumper crop of purple-red fruit that makes you wonder which old heirloom variety they might be. There are plenty of apples for sale at the moment, including Cortland, Honeycrisp, Gingergold, McIntosh, and Golden Delicious. Other produce included locally grown tomatoes, cantaloupe, field corn, white and red potatoes, squash, muscadines, and plums. Barber Orchard is also known for its fresh-baked apple cakes, apple fritters, cookies, pies, cider, and cider slushies–plus pickled okra, dilly beans, and more kinds of pickles and jams and preserves than you can shake the proverbial stick at. (When a Waynesville-dweller brings a Barber Orchard apple cake to a staff meeting or office potluck, co-workers have been known to fight over even the crumbs left on the plate!)
Two apple turnovers, a bottle of cider, a half-peck of Honeycrisps, a jar of pickled okra, and a sample of fresh cider later, my friend and I parted company and I headed home with the top down, the radio up, and a downright satisfied smile on my face at the September-ness of it all.
* I’ve been on an Al Stewart kick lately, and I have his 1976 classic “Year of the Cat” to thank for that description of the color blue. Thanks, Al (and happy “Time Passages” for your birthday yesterday)! watch?v=QM7LR46zrQU
** For more reviews on the Apple Crate Cafe: http://local.yahoo.com/info-13357050-apple-crate-cafe-waynesville