“A place where the books are the stars.” ~ Malaprops Bookstore
Asheville, NC: full of hippie-free-spirited-tattooed musicians, dreamers, poets – a young crowd, a mountain crowd, a sometimes rowdy crowd. It reminded me so strongly of Boulder, CO, with mountains taking up backyard residency, the food co-op around the corner sporting local goods with pride, an organic clothing store touting “Goddess Gear,” and a few beautiful bookstores, including one that completely stole my heart. In another life, or perhaps in this one, I would get a sleeve tattoo, three more piercings, dye my hair, and move to Asheville. I loved it there – it felt full of life, in an easy-going way. The town is rugged and laid-back, a few interesting characters lingering in doorways and on corners of streets, art studios lining the River Arts District, and the Blue Ridge Mountains calmly presiding in the background.
Where we ate:
The Noodle Shop ($) – Asian twist; huge bowls filled to the brim with fresh noodles, veggies, and tossed with a ginger-garlic sauce – or a soup bowl for warmth and the most refreshingly light broth, akin to egg-drop soup.
French Broad Chocolate Lounge ($$) – the most wonderful Mexican Hot Chocolate I have ever tasted – spicy and not too sweet, fully flavourful, reminiscent of Chai. Vegan chocolate ice-cream was a winner, but I think the Tres Layer Olive Oil Chocolate Cake stole first prize – airy, with a richer ganache, beautifully layered, and an after-taste of smooth olive oil. Completely addictive.
Farm Burger ($) – the black bean and tempeh burger was on point, and so were the sweet potato fries.
Early Girl Eatery ($$): a hole-in-the-wall restaurant with a neighborhood vibe. The Eggs Benny, topped with tomato gravy, stole the show.
67 Biltmore Eatery ($): Counter Culture coffee and biscuits.
Sunny Point Café ($): the cozy yellow walls and bright windows made me want to stay in this cheery café all morning. I think their AvoGoddess sandwich was one of the best I’ve ever tasted.
Where we drank:
Wicked Weed Brewery: the winners for us were the Orange Peel Pale Ale & Belgian Red Ale. We also loved their in-house-made potato chips and onion dip.
Twin Leaf Brewery: the light summer fruity ale named the Olivia at this brewery was by far my favourite of the trip.
Where we went:
Blue Ridge Parkway: we drove to Craggy Gardens and did a little hike there, bringing our lunch for a picnic.
The River Arts District: we went on a quick run down to the French Broad River and discovered a whole row of art galleries and studios alongside the river. We were able to check out Jonas Gerard’s beautiful gallery and art studio, and even had the chance to meet the artist himself. Embarrassingly for me, he gave me a big hug despite my being drenched in sweat from our run. Such a wonderful soul. And his paintings are incredible.
Malaprop’s Bookstore: One of my favourite spots in Asheville. When I was there the first time, I picked up a “blind date book,” but this time around when we tried to visit, there was a huge line out of the front door. We soon learned that Sally Mann, author of Hold Still, was visiting the store and giving a talk. It was too late for us to go in and listen, but I managed to catch a glimpse of the author and photographer through the window. I still think it’s kind of exciting to have been in the same space as an admired author and artist.
To Keep Dreaming: