Tuesday, November 5, 2013

Vegan adventures in North Carolina

Rob and I took a trip this weekend down to western North Carolina to visit his parents.

We took the pups and left super early Friday morning. This meant we arrived in Durham around 9:30 am. We stopped at the Ninth St. bakery, where they serve vegan options for lunch each day.

Unfortunately, we were too early for lunch, but we picked up some vegan banana cookies and seltzer water, and some vegetarian biscuits for the pups.

We took our treats to nearby Duke Park, where we stretched our legs with a brisk walk.

The leaves in the Appalachians are gorgeous this time of year.

A few hours (and some yucky rain driving) later, we arrived in Asheville, which is a very hip town with a number of vegan options!
We lunched at The Laughing Seed Cafe on Wall St., a vegetarian cafe with a ton of vegan options.

The pups sat with us at a table outside, and our waitress brought them a bowl of water.

Rob and I both ordered the Green Man Porter, a local, organic brew.

The service wasn't very fast, but a local jazz musician who had set up shop across the street entertained us with some lovely music, covers and originals.

Rob ordered the jalapeƱo fries, which he really liked (but were just okay to me).

I ordered the carrot dill soup, which I really enjoyed!

We wandered around the downtown area, and found ourselves downstairs from the Laughing Seed, at the Jack in the Woods pub, where we ended up drinking a few beers with our waitress, Allie, and the cafe's pastry chef, Rose.

We sat at table on the sidewalk outside, and tasted their firkin IPA.

This town is very dog friendly, too! We found a number of shops downtown had water bowls out for visiting pups.
For dinner, we visited Plant, which is all vegan, and reviewed as one of the top ten vegan restaurants in the U.S.  Since it was suggested so highly, I asked a few locals about it, and got some mixed reviews, but I can honestly say that this was the best vegan restaurant I've ever been to! Everyone was very friendly, the food was amazing, and this, too, was dog friendly, allowing our pups on the porch area.

We started with some pickled carrots and a beer.

The fried plantains were topped with a vegan bacon, made of Shiite mushrooms. They were amazing!

I ordered the Red Curry Tofu, which was served with jasmine lime rice dumplings and arugula. I loved the sauce, it had a sense of anise, or licorice! Amazing!

Rob got the Herb Crusted Seitan, which was served over some broccoli I and creamed cauliflower. Talk about comfort food!  Jesse told us that the seitan comes from Rayin Philadelphia, PA.
Everything was plated so beautifully, as well, and our waiter, Jesse, was awesome with suggestions and prompt service.

For dessert, we were told by Rose (Laughing Seed Pastry chef) that Plant's vegan ice cream was the best in the world. We took her word, and ordered two coffees and some peanut butter chocolate ice cream. I like my ice cream best served as a spoonful in my coffee.
In Maggie Valley, where Rob's dad, Ron, and step-mom, Meredith live, we like to stay at the Alamo motel, which is touted to be one of the dog-friendliest hotels in town. I agree, the owners, Dawn and Mike, have a German Shepard, and live on-site. If you leave during the day, Dawn will come by and let your dogs out for a little walk. She's got our pups trained- they know she's the nice lady who gives them snacks.

The next morning, Copper and I took a 6.5 mile run through the mountains in Maggie Valley. We ran on the main road, and the trees and mountains were just beautiful.
After my run, Rob had green boiled peanuts for us to snack on. Have you ever tasted them? I'd never heard of them before I visited NC with Rob. They're boiled and soft, you shell them, and they're just slightly salty.  Rob likes them with Cajun flavor.
We finally got over to see Rob's folks mid morning on Saturday. We played a rousing game of Farkle, then went into Frog Level, an artsy neighborhood in Waynesville. We looked around some neat art shops, and stopped into the Frog Level Brewery for a stout beer.

Meredith picked a great little restaurant called Frogs Leap Public House. There were no vegan options on the menu, but the hostess assured us that they could accommodate me.

Our waitress, Anna, went back and talked with the chef, and he promised to make me a vegan entree.  That is one of my favorite ways to eat, when a talented chef creates something special. Kane, the chef, did a great job.

I got a ragu made with black eyed peas, arugula, tomatoes, and lemon curd.

Two sides were also served of roasted Brussels sprouts and whipped sweet potatoes.

I was in LOVE with those Brussels sprouts! So good! After dinner, I asked the chef to come out and thanked him.
Sunday morning, we headed towards home. We had some coffee with Ron , then stopped to buy road snacks (nuts) from a local, and drove east.

Rob wondered if Tunnel Road was true to its name, so we took a tiny detour, and there was a tunnel!
The Pups were not impressed.

Going back through Durham, all of the strictly vegan places were closed on Sundays, so we stopped at a veg-friendly pizza joint called The Mellow Mushroom.

We ordered a vegan pizza with Daiya cheese, portabello mushrooms, kalamata olives, jalapenos, and marinated seitan (which LOOKED like sausage!  I was surprised).  It was delicious.  The service here was pretty slow, too, but Rob and I sat at the bar and watched football- they were showing the Redskins game!
We took the pups for a walk afterwards (I like to plan our road trips around vegan places to eat and parks to walk the dogs in!) and got back in the car.  We had planned on stopping again in Richmond on the way home, but by the time we arrived there, we weren't very hungry, and were kind of anxious to get home.

All in all, it was a lovely weekend!  The visit with the in-laws was great, and the food was amazing.  I love road trips with our pups, too.

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