did someone say boiled peanuts??

Good God... How have I never tried these before? If there is snack heaven then this, surely, is it. How can something that sounds so simple, boring even, be so very delicious and addictive. Picture a styro-foam cup, filled with hot peanuts, just scooped from the pot from where they have been gently boiled in a salty cooking liquour until they are soft and creamy with the consistency of a cooked butter bean but all the flavour of the most peanutty peanut you have ever eaten.

The plain ones are amazing, the Cajun spiced ones are even better. This is going on my list of things I have to try and recreate at home - though i think you ideally need fresh green peanuts, which i'm doubtful I will find back home, but I will give it a go with the dried variety and let you know! If anyone hears of a green peanut making its way to markets of south London please do let me know!

cornbread and butterbeans

What on earth was i thinking?! A week is just not long enough to discover North Carolina.... no way... not even a little bit. I've barely scratched the surface and already i'm utterly hooked. The food, the music, the people, the scenery, I love it all.

Laurel Cottage, NC

Laurel Cottage, NC

To backtrack a little, I am here because of my dad. He turned 70 this year and we decided celebrate with a big family holiday, and through all the discussions and debates and probably rows, the destination materialised. Laurel Cottage, Waynesville, North Carolina.

Why didn't i arrive sooner?!

I arrived late on Sunday night into Atlanta to be picked up by my sister who had spent the last 2 weeks (much to my seething envy) travelling all over the south and is fully in the swing. As we start the drive to NC she is full of tales of amazing meals, of cornbread, grits, fried chicken and green tomatoes and drive thru 32 ounce daiquiris which are positively encouraged in the state of Louisiana, particularly it seems, before you go to check out the lounging alligators.

Apparently I have just the day before missed an epic meal in Atlanta at The Gunshow. Somehow inspired by  a mix of Brazilian churrascaria-style dining and Chinese dim sum, where a selection of chefs create dishes that they bring to you on a wheely hostess trolley to waft under your nose as you pick and chose which dishes take your fancy. The trouble being, once you have seen, smelt and heard all about a dish, it is very hard to say no to to the chef that is presenting it to you, you eat rather a lot more than you intended!

Heaven is a house on Cold Mountain

We finally arrive at Laurel Cottage well past midnight exhausted but buzzing, though that could have been the midnight pit stop at taco bell which was the only thing open having missed all the Five Guys en route. We find my parents drinking wine and eating steak, so it would be rude not to join in! The house is stunning, but that's about all I can see as its pitch black, but I know out there somewhere is a beautiful mountain. I'm lulled to sleep by the sound of crickets and a rushing river

outdoor kitchen and barn at Laurel cottage

outdoor kitchen and barn at Laurel cottage

cold bath   

cold bath


I'm woken by the lilting, Dolly Parton-esque tones of a lady called Kendra talking excitedly and welcoming us to North Carolina and urging us to swim in the ice cold mountain river, fish, eat and relax. The view is breathtaking. I love mountains, but these are something else. quietly undulating tree covered and so peaceful.

A swim before breakfast is definitely in order, to say it is cold couldn't possibly do it justice! Crystal clear and icy it blasts away the jet lag far better than any cup of coffee ever could.

I just know i'm going to love it here. I can feel it already. Next to explore... and eat... a lot.