September is the most sultry time of summer: muggy, hot days, even if the calendar officially says autumn starts on Sept. 23. The divas like to stay out of the kitchen and escape to someplace cool, and this year our getaway was to Asheville, N.C., where you can splash in icy mountain water at places like Sliding Rock and Skinny Dip Falls. Ahhhhh!
We kicked back in high style at the gorgeous Inn at Biltmore, tucked back in the astounding 8,000 acres of the Biltmore Estate, relaxing in Adirondack chairs on blissfully cool morning and evenings with soothing views of Mount Pisgah in the distance.
Forays into town for supper (Forbes magazine named Asheville one of the Top 5 "secret foodie" cities in the U.S.) were rewarded with remarkable tastes like this kale salad at elegant Posana Cafe, where every dish is gluten free, and Chef Peter Pollay appreciates his local farmers.
Posana Kale Salad
1 bunch kale, washed, stems discarded and thin julienne
Juice of 2 lemons
1/2 cup olive oil
1/2 cup grated Manchego cheese
1/4 cup toasted pumpkin seeds
1/4 cup currants
Coarse salt, freshly ground black pepper
Place julieneed kale in large salad bowl. Squeeze lemon juice over kale, then drizzle with olive oil.
Massage kale until it softens and wilts, about 2 to 3 minutes. Add cheese, pumpkin seeds and currants. Season with salt and pepper.
Diva confession: Massaging kale with your hands takes away the bitterness and transforms the tough leaves into tender, silky ribbons that are delicious raw. Smaller leaves will be more tender and milder in flavor – we especially like rich, dark Lacinto kale. Store kale, unwashed, in a zip-top plastic bag for up to five days in the refrigerator.