Celebrating Spring in Asheville

Check out my new travel page by clicking on TRAVEL in the header, or following this link: Travel. Need restaurant or activity recommendations for any of the places listed? Check out my posts on the subject via the Travel page or send me an email at vegologyblog[at]gmail[dot]com.


Kyle and I recently took a road trip on the Blue Ridge Parkway to Asheville, North Carolina. Catch up on our adventure here:

We left off at our late night arrival in Asheville, NC after a closure of the Blue Ridge Parkway sent us on a crazy, steep, white-knuckle-inducing detour down the mountain and into town. The trip was all roses tulips from that point on.

I may be getting a little ahead of myself though. In order to wake up and smell the flowers (whatever variety they may be), the first step is waking up. On a beautiful first morning in Asheville, we chose to wake up at Early Girl Eatery.

I have mentioned before that we chose our road trip destination based on the wide variety of local, sustainable, and vegetarian food that is readily available there. Early Girl Eatery did not disappoint. It offered the best breakfast I have had in a long time. We started with coffee, of course. I ordered the Early Girl Benny, which featured a soft-on-the-inside-crispy-on-the-outside grit cake, topped with wilted spinach, poached local eggs, sliced avocado and the most amazing tomato gravy I had ever tasted.

Kyle ordered the Veggie Breakfast Bowl, which was also fantastic. This well-composed dish consists of black-eyed peas, kale, scrambled eggs, and farmstead cheese, topped with herb cream gravy. He also ordered a side of smoky tempeh. It was such a treat for both of us to be able to get gravy at breakfast, since most gravies include meat and we usually have to skip it.

The service was great, and it was evident that the attentive staff was as passionate about food as we are. We sat next to a friendly couple who were retired and easily 40 years my senior, and they offered sight-seeing tips and suggestions for local restaurants and activities that were a little more off-the-beaten-path. It was a really enjoyable experience. The delicious food kept us full for hours during our next adventure: a visit to the majestic Biltmore Estate during the Festival of Flowers. We enjoyed a house tour and walk through the gardens, where we were greeted by thousands of tulips in full bloom and dozens of flowering trees.

After touring the grounds of the main house and the gardens, Kyle and I went on a winery tour and tasting. The Biltmore has converted their old dairy into a winemaking operation, which was pretty interesting to see. The estate vineyards supply some of the grapes for their wine, but most of the grapes are purchased from California. I wasn’t in love with many of their wines but it was a nice tour and tasting in a beautiful setting.

When our day at the Biltmore was complete, we headed back to our hotel and took a cab downtown for dinner and drinks, along with a loud and crazy visit to a local bar to watch the Pittsburgh Penguins game (a must for my NHL super-fan companion). Dinner was at Laughing Seed Café. I had the Berry Bliss organic herbal iced tea, “a calming boost to the immune system, loaded with vitamin C,” and Kyle enjoyed a local beer from Highland Brewing Company.

It was so refreshing to see a menu full of meatless options for us to choose from. It was a tough decision, but we finally ordered our food. I wish we could have had four more nights at Laughing Seed to try all of the creative dishes that we wanted to sample.

My entree was one of the dinner specials, the Jet Set Salad. Check out all of these awesome specials!

“a salad of grilled tempeh, roasted coconut sweet potatoes, pomegranate glazed wild cherries, toasted pumpkin seeds, roasted red peppers, shaved onions, and cilantro tossed with mixed greens in maple-Dijon vinaigrette; topped with goat cheese.”

not a great photo - I was in a rush to dig in!

Kyle ordered the Havana Cuban. We have tried many times to recreate the beauty of a Cuban sandwich in a vegetarian version at home, and we have had a few successful attempts that we were quite proud of. The Laughing Seed version blew our creations out of the water. It was a.ma.zing.

“Herb and spice battered organic tempeh, crispy housemade pickles, black bean spread, tomatoes, caramelized onions, Swiss cheese, and Asheville’s Lusty Monk mustard on grilled flaky Cuban bread”

I highly recommend the Laughing Seed Café if you are headed to Asheville. For me, no trip to Asheville will ever be complete without a visit to this inventive restaurant. It was a relaxing and nourishing place to share a spring evening.

From there we traveled a few blocks down the street to a bar called the Bier Garden to drink a few beers and watch the Penguins game. Honestly, the service was lousy and the crowd was out of control, but they offered an impressive selection of beers with over a dozen taps and hundreds of bottles. We were able to grab two seats at the bar right in front of a flat screen TV showing Kyle’s game so we had a pretty enjoyable evening.

That night and the next day featured a lot of beer tasting. As we sipped beers from near and far on Friday night, little did we know that the very next day we were about to taste some of the best craft beer we had ever had, at a little organic brewery hidden in the mountains of western North Carolina. If the theme of Friday was fresh, local, seasonal food to celebrate Spring, the theme of Saturday was hops, yeast, and malt, in the most delicious combinations we had ever tasted. We were in for a real treat.

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