Preparing to shoot a few segments of Big Jon in 5 for BEER2WHISKEY in our upstairs studio at Barley's Taproom in downtown Greenville. That's owner Josh Beebe preparing for his closeup.

Wednesday, September 14, 2011

Italian Food, Homeless Musicians and Illinois Gal Pals: Just Another Weekend

I had a fun, action-packed weekend.

A couple of my gal pals drove down from Illinois to spend a few days. They arrived late Thursday afternoon and drove out of my driveway at 0'dark-thirty on Sunday morning.

These girls can't be characterized as hard chargers. I'm sure they have their moments, when conditions are just right and all the planets are aligned, that they get cranked up; but this is mere conjecture on my part.

Actually that's not entirely true. I dated one of them 20 years ago and have a vague memory or two of her letting her hair down, so to speak. Today she trots out the "age" excuse as the reason she no longer keeps up with me. I'm 11 years older, so that doesn't really fly, but I smile politely and nod my head. No point in debating the issue.

I always take advantage of out-of-town company to experiment with a new joint or two. I know I should only take visiting guests to places that I know to be good, but I'm not keen on squandering my limited money-and-time resources going by myself to places where I don't know anyone. I'd rather go to one of the joints where I'm already known and have made friends with the bartenders and/or servers.

On the first night of their visit, I took them to a relatively new Italian place on Main St. called Milano Kozani. It bills itself as a Mediterranean restaurant. It sure appeared Italian to me. We split a bottle of Chianti and each ordered a different dish. My choice was meat ravioli, something I rarely find on the menu anymore.

My ravioli was good, if not great, reasonably priced and served by a server who was attentive enough. If I awarded stars, on a five-star-is-best scale, I'd give the place three and a half stars. It was nearly empty, which is never a good sign for a restaurant's longevity. It's a big room and needs more than three tables filled to make a go of it.

The prices are reasonable and bottles of wine are half price on Mondays and Wednesdays. I will go back.

The remainder of the weekend was filled with a downtown pub crawl on Friday and a trip to Asheville on Saturday.  

I have been to Asheville several times, but never just parked downtown and walked around. I was thoroughly surprised by all the street people lingering around. My general impression of Asheville is that everyone who isn't a tourist either works in one of the shops or restaurants, or is homeless. The curbside beggars/street musicians with donation cups fairly litter the downtown streets. We had to step around them or over them to get from one little over-priced shop to the next.  I thought I had somehow been transported to San Francisco.

Was it worth the 90-plus-minute drive to and from Asheville? Nah. But it was something to do. Maybe next time we'll just pass on downtown and head to Biltmore.

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