Archive for January, 2015

Happy New Year!

I hope you’ve had your fill on black-eyed peas, because now it’s time to get loaded on chocolate & start obsessing over hearts for Valentine’s Day!

Just kidding.  Or am I?  I swear I saw some advertisers already posting stuff for V-day on January 2nd.

But this is about vegan food, and the title is not about Valentines, unless it’s a misnomer.

Which it isn’t.

There wasn’t any vacation time for me for the holidays so I was allowed to put two of my week’s days off together to have a nice block of days off.  Unfortunately, it wasn’t enough time to visit family in Ohio & too much time to sit around the house cuddling with the pups(I know, that’s hard to believe).

I could have cooked food all of the days, but instead Ashley & I chose to go to Asheville, North Carolina to kick the new year off right.

I had never been there before, so it was absolutely insane to me.  All of the vegan options, all of the beards, all of the tattoos & a bunch of pups(not mine sadly, we left them behind with a couple of awesome friends that took great care of them).

The drive there wasn’t too bad, but we did get sidetracked in South Carolina somewhere around what looked like the set from the Blair Witch Project & Deliverance had a cinematic gem baby.  So when we got back on track, we did what any normal day-tripper would do–we went to a bar along the way & grabbed a drink, which was in turn paid for by an interesting jeweler who was sitting right beside us & offered to buy us another round in his broken English.  We had to turn him down, the road was still ahead, & he pulled each of us in for a hug before we left.

We really needed a picture with him & the bartender, who had a hairline with really curly brown hair that resembled a clown wig.  We failed in getting a picture though & decided it might be weird to go back into the restaurant to get the photographic image after being in the parking lot gorging on trail mix in the car(the restaurant had nothing vegan about it except for a salad bar which is anything but the freshness that it claims to be-I used to work there many moons ago).

We moved on & eventually came to the mountain valley that makes up Asheville.  I love the terrain-roads curving & changing in altitude, mountains everywhere, and nature touching everything up to and including the downtown area.

We hadn’t figured out a hotel, which was sort of how I go about with trips anywhere–just figure it out on the road for the most part, so we jumped on a smart phone, looked up some hotels & went with a Best Western.  I wouldn’t call it the best, but it was okay.

It was at least proximal to Highland Brewing, a brewery up a curvy mountain road which might be a bit more difficult to navigate after having a few too many drinks.

Even babies like good beer. *this statement has not been evaluated by the FDA*

Even babies like good beer. *this statement has not been evaluated by the FDA*

We had a couple of drinks with some friends that just so happened to make it to Asheville around the same time & then we all migrated to a cool vegetarian restaurant called the Laughing Seed Cafe for dinner.

If you're going to put your sign anywhere, put it at the bottom of some stairs in front of a beautiful mountain.

If you’re going to put your sign anywhere, put it at the bottom of some stairs in front of a beautiful mountain.

The food was awesome & despite being the last people in the cafe, service was great too.

The Banh Mi hoagie & some jalapeno onion fries, just a little delicious.  Also, the French Broad Kolsch beer was great.

The Banh Mi hoagie & some jalapeno onion fries, just a little delicious. Also, the French Broad Kolsch beer was great.

Ashley had the Havana Cuban.  Which was also fantastic.

Ashley had the Havana Cuban. Which was also fantastic.

I ended up eating everyone’s leftovers because I basically have no shame & enjoy eating vegan grub more than anyone I know.

After dinner, we all went downstairs to Jack of the Wood, a Celtic pub under Laughing Seed, for some after dinner drinks.  Local brews were plentiful in both of the bars & very tasty.  We didn’t get too crazy on booze, I think everyone was kind of tired from the drive & initial excitement from the day, so we all headed back to our nightly destinations for sleep.

The next day, we tried to get the same hotel room for the night, but all the okay Western had was a smoking room, which wouldn’t do & we had already packed & found a potentially better place by the time the desk clerk had told us about it.

We had most of the day to lounge before check in at our new hotel, so we went to breakfast at a nice cafe in the west side called Sunny Point Cafe.  It was jam-packed with hipsters drinking coffee in wool hats, which I was very much so fine with.

Pretty awkward when all you wanted was a picture of the Playground Rules sign & you get photobombers.

Pretty awkward when all you wanted was a picture of the Playground Rules sign & you get photobombers.

Vegan fucheros & tofu bacon.  Start your day off right.

Vegan fucheros & tofu bacon. Start your day off right.

After breakfast(which we had a wait for that turned breakfast into lunch), we headed to downtown Asheville to catch the sights & have an urban hike.

The people at the City Hall building will let you get high in one of their board meeting rooms(six stories up until restorative construction is finished).

The people at the City Hall building will let you get high in one of their board meeting rooms(six stories up until restorative construction is finished).

DSCN0404

In Asheville, the wildlife run free.  Walk.  Stand motionless.

In Asheville, the wildlife run free. Walk. Stand motionless.

I missed my pup companions.

I missed my pup companions.

How Asheville farmer markets.

How Asheville farmer markets.

More street art.  Still miss my pups.

More street art. Still miss my pups.

I need this bike in every city.

I need this yarn-bombed bike in every city.

We walked around until it was time to check into the hotel & then made our way there to check in & check out the place for the night.  It wasn’t too far off of the beaten path, but it seemed like everything was from six to ten minutes away according to navigation on the phones.

We were starting to get hungry & wanted to kick off the New Year’s Eve festivities, so we headed to the Asheville Brewing Co. for some brews & vegan pizza.  We weren’t disappointed.

Really didn't need coercion to try black beans & corn on pizza.  Not at all.

Really didn’t need coercion to try black beans & corn on pizza. Not at all.

There was a jalapeno beer there that I tried called Fire Escape, & I fell in love with it.  Just the right amount of heat for seasoned characters, watch out if you’re new to the pepper scene.

Our server was really helpful, throwing out ideas for us tourists to partake in, things like a speakeasy-style bar on top of another bar called the Thirsty Monk.  We made it as far as looking at the drink list before we walked outside to check out the bar upstairs only to be turned around seeing the VIP-style line to get in & then not allowed admittance into the initial bar because they were supposedly at capacity.

So we went across the street back to Jack of the Wood.

It was a busier night & a zydeco band was getting ready for what seemed like two hours.  Every time it looked like they were ready, one of the band members would jump off stage to give someone a hug & the drummer would look on longingly wishing to make sounds, as he was sitting behind his set the entire time in the corner of the room with the lights on him.

At one point a couple of hours in, one of the small male bartenders with a beard demanded that we go pay a cover, get a stamp on our hands & then return to the bar to buy the overpriced drinks.  Why we were in the bar for so long & then were prompted to pay a cover was just ridiculous.

These are the moments that make me happy to almost always have a pen handy.

The hand stamp was as simple as a happy face & so was easy to replicate on both of our hands.  We continued drinking merrily & dancing with the crowd all the way to when the bar counted down to the new year.

Then we left to go back to the hotel & cause mischief there with our neighbors.  Well, not with them really.  Just mischief all around.

No, we didn't ride this down the stairs.  No, we didn't throw it down the stairs.  Mischief, not anarchy.

No, we didn’t ride this down the stairs. No, we didn’t throw it down the stairs. Mischief, not anarchy.

We woke up the next day deciding to go back to Sunny Point, grab some breakfast & relax for the day.

The Southern Hoppin' John veggie burger.  The bun wasn't vegan, so switched it out for a tortilla.  Still awesome.

The Southern Hoppin’ John veggie burger. The bun wasn’t vegan, so switched it out for a tortilla. Still awesome.

People don't float the mainstream here.

People don’t float the mainstream here.

We went back to the hotel after breakfast/lunch & took a quick nap to power up to watch some games & enjoy some more food.

It’s almost like we relived New Year’s Eve on New Year’s Day, because we ended up going back to Asheville Brewing.  They were, after all, one of the few places we noticed that remotely resembled a sports bar & had vegan food.

Yes, we had pizza again.

Once we had sat through one of the games & a few of the delicious brews they make there, we decided to get some more sustenance from another location that was suggested to us:  Rosetta’s Kitchen, a whole foods vegetarian cafe.

We actually started downstairs at the newly renovated Buchi Bar, an extension of the restaurant with some very cool drinks.

"A Stitch in Time"...apple brandy, cinnamon & cava make for a delicious nighttime drink.

“A Stitch in Time”…apple brandy, cinnamon & cava make for a delicious nighttime drink.

Best tempeh wings I've ever had.  I need to figure out this recipe.

Best tempeh wings I’ve ever had. I need to figure out this recipe.

The Buddha Bowl: spring mix, brown rice, sea veggie salad, tomatoes, avocado & smoky tofu with tahini BBQ sauce.  In the background, some house-made kimchi & smashed potatoes & gravy.

The Buddha Bowl: spring mix, brown rice, sea veggie salad, tomatoes, avocado & smoky tofu with tahini BBQ sauce. In the background, some house-made kimchi & smashed potatoes & gravy.

The food was sensational, the atmosphere was awesome, & I think, if given the option, I would’ve eaten at Rosetta’s Kitchen for every meal it was so good.  Just an overall amazing place.  They do all kinds of great things for the community & there’s even a sliding scale rice & beans dish where you pay what you can–anyone that pays more covers for those that can’t afford more.  Beautiful concept & the staff was all really cool too.

We did run back to Asheville Brewing to get a nightcap with a friend & then called it a night.

The next day was kind of bittersweet.  It’s the feeling of finally knowing where you are, how to navigate around & then having to leave all of a sudden.

Plus, THE FOOD.

& THE ART.

I loved Asheville & can’t wait to go back.  I think the longest, most arduous task was the drive back, even though Ashley did the predominance of the driving.

We still managed to smile a little.

We still managed to smile a little.

In any case, this was a wonderful trip to kick off the new year & wrap up last year.  So many great food options tucked away, so many cool people(yes, even the hipsters everywhere), & the most interesting history.

Is it time to go back yet?

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