Markets are all across the city throughout the week, but Rattigan's favorite is the Asheville City Market on Saturday mornings downtown.
"I go religiously with my family every week, bring the kids and play," Rattigan said. "It's the way I plan my meals for the week."
But if you are on vacation, you might want to have somebody else cook for you.
If seared scallops, roasted duck breast, house made chorizo or Georgia quail whet your appetite, go visit Jacob Sessoms, chef and owner of Table who was named one of 20 semifinalists for a 2010 James Beard Foundation Restaurant and Chef Award.
For a bit of authentic Southern cooking, check out local institution Tupelo Honey Café. Check out the cheesy grit cakes, stuffed with a blend of cheeses, drizzled with a spicy red chili sauce, the blackened catfish or the buttermilk fried pork rib chop. But be prepared to wait. Crowds line up, especially for Sunday breakfasts, at this non-reservation eatery.
For something completely different, try one of Rattigan's favorite spots: Zambra, a tapas restaurant serving up a mix of Spanish, Portuguese, and Moroccan dishes.
"The chef is really great at using the best of the ingredients for local purveyors. And their wine list is phenomenal," Rattigan said.
For a touch of the Obama fame, swing by the 12 Bones Smokehouse, where the president had a barbecue lunch the last time he was in town.
Other great dining options include: Early Girl Eatery for breakfast (get the biscuits), the Well-Bred Bakery and Café in nearby Weaverville for breakfast or lunch and Cucina 24 for fantastic Italian food.
Finally, Asheville has plenty of ties to the literary world worth exploring.
F. Scott Fitzgerald, author of "The Great Gatsby," stayed at the Grove Park Inn while his wife received psychiatric treatment at a nearby hospital. While waiting, Fitzgerald is said to have drank on the inn's large porches while admiring the view or seeking the romantic company of a number of young ladies.
One local tale says that a picture once hung in the Grove Park labeled as "F. Scott Fitzgerald and wife Zelda." Despite the caption's claim, in reality the photograph depicted Fitzgerald and one of his lovers.
Ashville is also home to Thomas Wolfe, author of "Look Homeward, Angel" and "You Can't Go Home Again."
But the town hasn't always been so friendly to him. A wave of anger swept through Asheville after "Look Homeward, Angel" was published in 1929. Locals read a book portraying their town as less than desirable and describing them as ignorant and unfriendly. Anger and even threats against his life kept Wolfe away until 1937.
Today, the city embraces him with the annual Thomas Wolfe Festival, a four-day event built around his Oct. 3 birthday. The festival highlights the life and times of the author through workshops, writing contests, tours and theatrical interpretations of his work.
The 29-room boarding house his mother ran is also now preserved as a state historic site and memorial to the author.
With reports from ABC News Karen Travers