Mostly The World Is Filled With Good People. You Should Meet Them Sometime.
Well. I’m back.
I didn’t mean to neglect you for the entire week — I really didn’t. But there’s just something about the B&B atmosphere — the bed and breakfastry of it all — that makes one sloggy.
See? Thirty-five words in and I’ve already made up 2 of them.
I even brought a computer along with perfectly good intentions of using it, but I find that when I’m surrounded by food and wine and luxury bedding and fall leaves and wine, I have absolutely zero motivation to turn it on.
Zero. (This image is straight from the iPhone. No filters or instagrammin’ or enhancements. Just pure, unadulterated, vineyardy goodness.)
Plus, we had a full case of Travel Mojo happening, and you don’t interrupt the flow of good TM with trivialities like technology.
Especially when there’s a full case involved.
You’re unfamiliar with Travel Mojo?
Well that could be because I made it up.
In fact, maybe I should trademark that.
And its acronym. So it’d be: TM™.
Travel Mojo is what happens when a trip just has good vibes. You go into it all, hey. Whatever happens, happens. I might make reservations at a couple of restaurants just so we don’t turn into B&B porch lumps and starve to death, but other than that, I’m not going to over plan it.
And you know what happens?
Rainbows and butterflies and fantastic people and complimentary drinks and entire free meals, that’s what.
It’s letting go of the anal schedules and planning and trying to squeeze every possible attraction into an already overstuffed agenda because the thing is, the world is full of wonders.
It’s about kicking off your shoes, enjoying the drive, and sticking your toes into random photos of fall foliage.
It’s about books.
And sometimes just silently admiring a particularly interesting view.
We’re getting old.
But don’t get me wrong — there was also raucous laughter, swing dancing attempts and inebriated strolls through the city of Asheville.
And the TM was with us then, too.
And while it really was with us the whole time, it culminated on our last evening in Asheville.
See, I actually spent an entire day planning the basic milestones — food and lodging — of this trip before Justin came home from Afghanistan (which for me and my miniscule attention span is remarkable). I’d heard that Asheville is the type of town where you need to make reservations pretty much every night of the week. Many of the restaurants are small, privately owned boutique eateries that concentrate on quality over quantity, so I spent an impressive amount of time just deciding where we should dine.
And the winner for our last night was a place called Cúrate (cu-rah-tay), which apparently means “to cure yourself.”
And that, it did.
They say they serve authentic Spanish style tapas (“small plates”), but having been to Spain and eaten Spanish tapas, I would say the ones at Cúrate are significantly better. By far.
The Chef, Katie Button, quit her prestigious PhD program in Neuroscience (yes, and that’s after earning her master’s from L’Ecole Centrale in Paris, France, and her bachelor’s from Cornell University) in “pursuit of passion, life, and happiness.”
Sounds like my kind of chick.
All of this information is available on the restaurant’s website, but I’d actually read it in a book about North Carolina chefs just down the street from the restaurant while we waited for our reservation, which meant I was super excited when I saw Katie in person. Like, celebrity sighting excited.
I used the Open Table app on my phone to reserve us a place at the bar. (If you’ve never used Open Table to make reservations, you should start immediately. It’s so simple to use.) From there, we could see all of the action because the restaurant’s kitchen actually runs along the back wall of the bar.
We were practically inside it.
The atmosphere was my favorite — small, energetic, and full of shiny glassware.
We ordered many phenomenal dishes:
Butternut squash soup with smoked Spanish paprika.
Piquillo peppers stuffed with caña de cabra cheese (my favorite dish).
Sautéed shrimp and sliced garlic.
Lamb skewers marinated in moorish spices.
Fried eggplant with honey and rosemary.
Tapas dining is perfect for me because when it comes to menu options, I’m often paralyzed with indecision. But at a tapas restaurant that doesn’t matter, because I can try a bit of everything until I can’t try no mo’.
We were pretty much at that point when I stared talking to one of the couples sitting next to us. In an intimate setting like the one at Cúrate, it’s easy to start commenting on what your neighbors order and from there, strike up a conversation. (If the thought of starting a conversation with strangers terrifies you, start thinking of it the way I do — if they’re rude and unreceptive, they’re not the kind of people I’d enjoy talking to anyway.)
It turned out they were celebrating a birthday, and they ended up sharing their intricate sugar raspberry dessert with us and the couple I’d been talking to on my other side.
Before long, the birthday couple was ordering us more drinks and we ended up having a grand old time — it felt like we’d been friends all along, even though we didn’t even know each others’ names.
Then they were saying goodbye as we wrapped up conversation with the couple on the other side. I snapped a photo, we hugged, and they walked out of the door.
A few minutes later, we asked for our bill.
Server: Can I get you anything else?
Us: No thanks, that was fantastic! Could we please have our ticket?
Server: Um. It’s already been taken care of.
Server: The couple that was next to you. They took care of it.
Us: No, they just bought us drinks. We still have to pay for our food and original bottle of wine.
Server: You’re not getting it. They paid. They picked up your entire tab.
Server: Have a nice night!
Maybe they’d had too much to drink and felt overly generous. Maybe they just really liked us. Maybe it was their way of thanking Justin for his military service. Maybe they’re just extraordinarily nice people.
Whatever the reason, we won’t forget them.
The Travel Mojo – it works in mysterious ways.
I actually feared discussing the Mojo because I was afraid that would weaken its power.
But you know what?
I think it’s like most positive forces in the Universe: The more you give, the more you get.
It’s not about hoarding and saving and tucking it away where no one else can see.
It’s about spreading the wealth. Sharing the fortune. Pouring butter over everything and not adding any calories.
If you see this couple, please let me know. Pronto.
It’s energy and smiles.
Can you feel it?