MBFW: A British Bach Bash

My Best Friend’s Wedding” – The 1997 hit featuring a young Julia Roberts pining for Cameron D’s man just moments before their wedding.

My best friend’s wedding (MBFW): the upcoming 2016 production wedding featuring my boon companion Claire and her fiancé, Theo, a strapping young Brit who’s taken a shining to my favorite Brooklyn babe.

Where we last left off, these lovebirds were celebrating their future wedding with tarts and Pimm’s Cups at a Rustic Engagement Party. It was a classy affair.


The Bachelorette Party…. decidedly less so.

Ok, I kid, I kid. If you know Claire, you’ll know that she strictly forbade any of the typical debauchery of a Bachelorette Bash. No sexy police officers or firemen went Magic Mike on us. There were no phallic tiaras or necklaces. The only sign of the corruption of Claire was this artfully done wall courtesy of this garland kit from Paper Source. Maybe there were some questionably appropriate straws, but don’t worry, they didn’t leave the confines of our quaint Asheville Airbnb.


From all along the East coast (ok, let’s be honest, Jersey, NYC, and rogues from Philly and Richmond), 8 of Claire’s nearest and dearest (and one gorgeous puppy) gathered in Beer City, USA. We made sure that, immediately after arriving, we enjoyed a few of the city’s signature cocktails (spoiler alert: it’s BEER!)


Don’t worry, she shared.

And after visiting Burial Beer Co. (where we appreciated their INCREDIBLE Bolo Coconut Brown and their gorgeous Tom Selleck painting), we figured “Hey, let’s keep this party going.”

Luckily, Twin Leaf was merely a stone’s throw away (seriously, I could probably throw a stone from the one and hit the other. I LOVE ASHEVILLE SO MUCH!) We enjoyed some spirited competition….


Laser-like focus

And some competitive spirits (ok, you got me, it was beer again).


Flights at Twin Leaf: A MUST!

We also hit up Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium. Unfortunately for y’all, my camera could not capture the glory of this house of sours, this barrel-aged paradise…. Or maybe I was too busy sipping the nectar of these brewing gods to whip it out. Either way: it was amazing.

Thoroughly versed in the fermented brews of the town, we scampered (Uber’d*) home for some homemade tacos and gal time.


Fueling up while cooking

I’m gonna shoot you straight: after a day of travel and brewery hopping, I’ll be the first to admit: I was asleep before 10pm.

No shame in my well-rested game. 

Plus, we had a big day ahead of us. Trombatore Trail and the Blue Ridges beckoned, and we could only heed the call. So, we suited up.


Holly channeling her inner Damian a la Mean Girls



As a non-hiker (I walk to the bus stop like, every day. Sometimes I walk to get a hot dog when I’m on the beach. That’s nature, right?) This 5-mile round trip hike… was tough.

But I’ll do almost anything for a good photo op, right?


Sorry, Ashleigh. Blame the crummy log/tripod

There was a light at the end of the tunnel, though. And that light…. was more tacos.



Bangkok Shrimp and Crispy Fish

White Duck Taco Shop: MUST visit on any Asheville jaunt.

We bopped for a bit, napped, showered, and dolled up. Because we had rezzis at Rhubarb.


Angel or bride-to-be? 

Our resident videographer, Marianne, nabbed a shot of the blushing bachelorette before we ate our faces off.

There was goat cheese burrata, there were lobster corn dogs and rabbit rillette, and there were, of course, drinks.


As for where the night went from there…. well, we’ve all gotta maintain some mystery around these female bonding traditions. Right?

See you at the wedding, ladies. Thanks for the memories. And the tacos.



The Perks of Yelping and Optimism: Han Dynasty Dumpling Class

I’ll start this post with a few caveats. First of all, I’m a Yelp Elite. They explain it better than I do, but basically it means that I “Yelp” often, and I Yelp “well” enough that some group decided my reviews are pretty legit. About once a month, this also means I get to go to some cool party or event with free food, or booze, or mini-facials. I’ve written almost 300 reviews, so what this really means is I’m a total geek. And the Elite events…. They’re full of total Yelp geeks, too. It’s okay, it’s all in good fun. But the other night, I was invited to an event not because of how often I Yelp (too often), but because of a glowing 5-star review I gave to one of my favorite spots in the city.


Spoiler alert: this was the final product

Han Dynasty has several locations around the city, but I’ve been to the one in Old City more times than I can count. From a quick happy hour drink and snack to a dinner for 72, to a bottle share with Philly Beer Scene, Han’s team always delivers. And I reflected this in my review. Apparently, Han and his squad are digging around on Yelp, inviting folks that left 5-star Reviews for some in-house experiences. A little “Behind the Scenes at the Dynasty”. In our case, it was dumpling creation.


We made dough (well, we kneaded dough that he mixed for us.)


We rolled out tiny dumpling skins.


We mixed up chicken, pork, and vegetarian fillings.



We stuffed and folded about a ZILLION dumplings. Some looked great (see below).



Some looked awful (nope, deleted all photos of that. Shame.)

We took a break for some chit and some chat while the dumplings were being served. It was AWESOME to see Han in his natural habitat. He explained how, when he was growing up, his grandmother would do full days of dumpling prep while the kids would be stuffing and folding dumplings.

He also explained how he’s got a parody in the pipeline for all those awful one-star reviews (think “Celebrities reading mean tweets” gone dramatic), but I’ll let him share that with y’all closer to the release date.

He also explained how dumplings don’t always have to be perfect.

As long as it’s sealed up, it tastes the f***ing same.

Wisdom from the master.



Roomie and I posed (as we often do), and then… I ate dumplings we’d created in a style that winded me.

That’s right.

I crammed dumplings into my mouth so fast and so furiously that I was winded.

Needless to say, despite some of them looking a little less than professionally made…. they were delish.

If you’re ALSO trying to get some lessons from the master, I’d recommend heading over to HD and living an experience worth rating 5-stars. But trust me, that won’t be too difficult. Might I suggest the dumplings?

I promise, I didn’t make them.