Monday, October 18, 2010


Hello everyone! We were on vacation last week, visiting family in Kentucky and then travelling on to Asheville, North Carolina. I had some good vegan food in Kentucky, but took no pictures, as most of the places we went to were chain restaurants.

Not only Asheville is a lovely city, but it also has a buttload of amazing choices when it comes to vegan food! I did some research beforehand, writing down a list of restaurants and cafes with vegan choices, but I really didn't need it. Great vegan food was literally everywhere.

Our first stop was at Rosetta's Kitchen, a cute, laid-back cafe. Everything on the menu is vegetarian or vegan, which meant there was an incredible amount of choices. J decided on the cornbread and greens. I sneaked a few bites and can vouch that it was yummy, but the picture I took was way too blurry, so you'll have to use your imagination! 

I ordered the tacos, filled to the brim with vegan chorizo, and a side order of mashed potatoes with amazing  gravy.
Really, the potatoes were kind of overkill, but I ate almost everything. Rosetta's Kitchen also had some tempting looking vegan desserts, but I managed to restrain myself! 

We visited Biltmore, which is the Vanderbilt family's mansion and grounds. The mansion itself was crazy opulent, but I preferred the gardens, which were so infinite and vast we didn't even get to see everything.
The Biltmore had extremely limited dining choices for vegans, and everything seemed very expensive, so we waited to have lunch in downtown Asheville. We went to the Jerusalem Garden Cafe. I had a falafel sandwiches with fries, which was good but not very exciting.

J, on the other hand, had the Moroccan Couscous, which was so pretty. The tomato sauce was amazing!
We spent the rest of the afternoon wandering around downtown Asheville, stopping for a drink at a bar (for J) and frequent shopping excursions (for me). We passed an impressive looking Mellow Mushroom, and I remembered hearing from different blogs that they had started carrying vegan cheese.

Inside, the place was merrily decorated. I particularly liked the bear statue with a pizza box in its mouth.
And the pizza was great. I ordered mine with artichokes and black olives, yum! So good. I wish we had a Mellow Mushroom in Pittsburgh ...
The next day, we decided to try a Mexican place called Salsa's we had walked past the night before. It had been packed (always a good sign), and we glimpsed lots of delicious-looking food through the window. Like all the other restaurants in Asheville we'd tried, there were tons of vegan options.

I had the 2010 Nachos, pictured below.
Look at those lovely chunks of squash and zucchini! And the homemade refried beans were delicious. Really, everything was fresh and amazing, down to the salsas.

We have a vegetarian friend in Asheville who recommended we try Sunny Point Cafe in West Asheville, a neighborhood we hadn't yet explored. So for our last morning in town, we had an amazing breakfast! I had vegan hot cakes. But not just any hot cakes. No, these were Orange Scented Gluten Free Cornmeal Hot Cakes! They were light and deliciously orange flavored. I wish I could have these every week for brunch. Thanks for the recommendation, Kathleen!
What impressed me so much about Asheville, besides its super-fresh and delicious food, was the city's emphasis on buying local, and supporting local businesses. Almost every restaurant we went to had a list of the local produce or products used to create their dishes. And most businesses had 'buy local' (or maybe it was 'buy Asheville,' I don't remember) stickers in their window.

And I believe it would be really easy to buy local in Asheville. There are so many cute boutiques and independent bookstores, reminiscent of New York City. It made me think about how many of my own dollars are spent on big box stores or clothing chains in Pittsburgh, all because I was too lazy to seek out local and independent businesses. Granted, I don't have as easy in Pittsburgh, where there aren't entire city streets lined with independent stores. But I could definitely make more of an effort.

So I came back to Pittsburgh with a personal challenge. From now until the beginning on January, I will only buy from local businesses,  second-hand stores, or independent businesses online (like Etsy!). This doesn't include food, although I'm going to make an attempt to go to the Farmer's Market more often, or holiday presents (mostly because of my brother, who heard of my challenge and made me promise not to buy his gifts from little boutiques). I know this is a food blog, but I thought it might be fun to make occasional updates on my progress.

Anyway J and I were very sad to leave Asheville, so we consoled ourselves by going to the Quiet Storm Coffeehouse for breakfast. I also made the Sweet Potato Pie with Three-Nut Topping from Vegan with a Vengeance as a special treat.  

I was feeling out of sorts when I made the sweet potato pie, and accidentally used a cake pan instead of a pie pan! And okay, I don't actually have a pie pan -- I usually buy the disposable ones from the grocery store. So maybe it's time to invest in a glass pie pan.

I also forgot to add 1) brown sugar to the graham cracker crust and 2) silken tofu to the sweeet potato filling. Despite this, the sweet potato pie (or in this case, sweet potato cake) turned out really well. The hazelnut, almond and walnut topping was especially decadent.

Here's another picture.

I bought a copy of Vegan Soul Kitchen at a secondhand bookstore in Kentucky, so expect some soul food pictures soon!

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