Monthly Archives: May 2012

Drinking from the Chocolate River


Attention Chocoholics: This is your nirvana. It’s the French Broad Chocolate Lounge in Asheville, North Carolina. Now, they have a lot of things to enjoy here, but my favorite is the sinfully delicious liquid chocolate truffle.

Who hasn’t dreamed of taking a drink from Willy Wonka’s chocolate river? Well, I certainly have. And when I put my lips to a mug of liquid chocolate truffle, my dream comes true. This is the smoothest, richest, thickest, creamiest, most decadent drink on the planet. Matched only by a similar liquid chocolate drink I tried in Anchorage, Alaska at the Modern Dweller’s Chocolate Lounge.

But since Asheville is much closer to my home in Florida, I’m able to drink from the chocolate river at the French Broad Chocolate Lounge much more often. As a matter of fact, I imbibed twice on my most recent visit to Asheville earlier this month. (By the way, the French Broad is the river that runs near Asheville.)

I could go on and on about the liquid truffle, but I must mention that the French Broad Chocolate Lounge also has coffee, desserts, brownies, cookies, cakes and so much more. It’s a casual hangout downtown patronized by the likes of actress Andie MacDowell. (She lives in the area.) I’m not sure what she likes to eat or drink there. Maybe she likes the liquid truffle too. You can get it in different flavors like plain dark, plain milk, with different spices like cinnamon, cardamom, even lavender and honey…am I gushing about it again? Sorry.

If you find the place a bit crowded, you’ll know why. It’s because everything there is fabulous. And if you can’t find a table, venture upstairs where they have lots of extra room. And if you come on a day when they’ve got live music, sit down and enjoy a liquid truffle…okay, you can try something else if you like!

Dates of Visit:  May 2009, May 2012

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Getting away from it all at Abner’s Cabin


If you’re looking for somewhere to get away from it all on your next trip to the Asheville, North Carolina area, Abner’s Cabin is a nice little place to stay.

This quaint, cozy cabin was built in the 1920s by Abner Gwaltney. At the time, it was only a one bedroom cabin with no running water and an outhouse. It may still be rustic on the outside, but inside, after renovations, there are two bedrooms, a full kitchen (with running water), a living room and yes, a full bathroom.


Even though Abner’s Cabin is off the beaten path, tucked away in the quiet hills near Weaverville, North Carolina, it’s still very close to all there is to see and do in the Asheville area. And less than a 10 minute drive to downtown Asheville. So, it’s a great central location for your Western North Carolina vacation.


There are a few things about Abner’s Cabin that kept it from getting a higher rating from Teddy. The cabin had been closed up for some months, so it smelled a bit musty. Even airing it out for a while didn’t help much. When we first arrived, there was static on the phone line and the internet didn’t work. (An internet connection is listed in the amenities section on their web page.) There are limited electrical outlets in each room. There are some minor repairs that need to be done on the interior: the ceiling is cracked in one of the bedrooms, the bathroom tiles and linoleum are discolored and the front screen door is coming apart which let in a lot of bugs.

On the positive side — the landscaping around the property is very nice. One of the beds has a pillow top mattress, so it was very comfortable. And the owners, who are very friendly, provide some food in the fridge (milk, eggs, cereal, coffee) in case you arrive too late to do any shopping. The owners have also stocked the cabin with plenty of brochures about the area and easy to read maps. And Abner’s Cabin is very affordable. We shopped around and you couldn’t get a two bedroom cabin of this size for the price. It was less than $100 a day (plus tax) if you stay  seven nights. And there are no extra fees, unless you bring a pet.

Overall, our stay was pleasant. I think I might look at some other places in the area for our next visit, but Abner’s Cabin was still very comfortable.

Dates of Visit: May 3-10, 2012

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Scampi’s – A Hometown Italian Eatery


I always like to try out small, family-owned, hometown restaurants and not always patronize the big chains. Scampi’s Italian Eatery is a small, hometown restaurant near where I live. So, we like to go there every so often for Italian food.

I’ve read some very mixed reviews online about Scampi’s. Some people absolutely love the place, others have rated it only one star because of the service. We had a nice time when we went. The service was good, although we were there early on a Sunday evening and there were no other customers. Other reviewers have stated that they were turned away at the door, even though they arrived well before the 10pm posted closing time.

Scampi’s has a very extensive menu. They have everything: pizzas, calzones, all types of pastas and sauces, hot and cold sandwiches, salads, soups, chicken, veal and seafood. The menu is almost too large. But it is all freshly cooked to order.

I had the Chicken Marsala. The sauce was very light in both flavor and consistency.  The portions are quite large. I had enough leftover for at least one more meal. The small calzone is a very good size as well. Other members of our party had lasagna and spaghetti with sausage. The lasagna was very good, but the sausage was rather bland. Dinners come with a side salad and garlic knots. We were too full to enjoy dessert, but they do offer tiramisu, bread pudding and cheesecake.

Scampi’s does have a web address. The site is not really up and running yet, but you can access their menu on it.

Dates of Visit:  April 29, 2012

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Fort Clinch – Still Standing Guard


Fort Clinch is a brick fortress on the northernmost tip of Amelia Island, Florida. It was built to guard the mouth of the St. Mary’s River and to protect the port of Fernandina Beach where goods were shipped into the area.

It was named after General Duncan Lamont Clinch, a soldier who fought in the First and Second Seminole Wars. Construction of the pentagon-shaped fort began in 1847, at the end of the Second Seminole War. Progress was slow going. In 1860, only a portion of the walls were complete and some of the buildings. No cannons were in position.

Though Fort Clinch was a haven for Confederate soldiers during the first year of the Civil War, in 1862 it became the Union’s base of operations in the Florida-Georgia area for the remainder of the war.

Construction was nearly completed in 1867, just about the time the fort was deactivated. Advancements in weaponry made the fort obsolete.


The State of Florida bought the site, which is now Fort Clinch State Park, and restoration on the fort took place in the 1930s. The fort opened to the public in 1938, closing only during the years of World War II when it was used as a communications and security post.


It was fun wandering around the grounds and investigating the buildings and inner walls of the fort. It was very quiet that day. Hardly any visitors were there, so it was a bit eerie. But the way everything is set up — inside the buildings, the beds, tables, supplies — you could almost travel back in time and experience what the soldiers experienced who were stationed at Fort Clinch.


If you would like to get a more accurate picture of life at the fort, or if you’re a Civil War history buff, visit Fort Clinch on the first weekend of the month where “living historians” recreate life at the fort. Soldiers perform marching drills, artillery demonstrations, and civilians cook, do laundry, make candles and perform other activities of daily life at the fort.


Dates of Visit:  January 2012 

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Categories: Florida, Play | Tags: , , , , , , , | 3 Comments

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