Books, Food, Travel

This Is Asheville, NC

Whenever my wife and I road trip, we always try and swing by Asheville.  Even if it’s a little out of the way.  Well, even if it’s more than a little out of the way.  I can’t remember the first time we visited so ingrained is the place in my memory and routine, but Asheville has become a second home to me in a peculiar way.  We never visit long – maybe a day, maybe two – before setting off again for unseen places, though the taste is enough to make me question again why I’m in Ohio and not there.  I can’t even place what it is about Asheville that strikes me so.  It’s not the most remarkable of places.  The surrounding landscape is beautiful, of course, though the layout of the city is confusing for the most familiar of travelers.  Folks seem kind, those I interact with anyhow.  There’s a place in Columbus where my wife and I currently live known as the Short North which is the arts area of town with food, galleries (though less of these as of late), more food, shopping you’d expect to find in such a place, etc. etc.  Asheville has been referred by us a handful of times as a less dirty version of the Short North which feels largely appropriate.  Anyone unfamiliar with either won’t get the comparison so maybe it’s not a helpful one, but perhaps it might inspire you to visit both and put together the contrast.

One reason for our continuous return which does spring to mind is the food.  My favorite restaurant is a place there called Tupelo Honey Café.  They make a sweet potato pancake with pecans and maple honey butter which is just ridiculous.  Ridiculous.  I try and branch out as best I can when going to eateries I’ve been to before, but Tupelo works against me in this way; pancakes are my favorite food, and their sweet potato pancake (which is the size of a charger) is the best pancake I’ve ever had, which ties my hands in an insurmountable way.  And they give you these biscuits, fluffy on the inside with just enough crispness on the out that are unreal.  The jam – I can’t remember what type – is equally unreal.

The Green Sage is a coffee shop we also tend to visit, though the past few experiences food-wise have been just okay.  Their coffee is still great (which I guess is the entire point of a coffee shop) meaning I won’t not return, but we may stagger times between from now on.

Mela is an Indian Restaurant we tried for the first time on our last stop.  I think it was the last time.  Maybe the time before.  Trips are blurring.  Mela is spectacular, that’s all you need to know.  I ordered the coconut something-or-other, and it was delicious.  Rarely do I get food envy, but whatever my wife got was better than my delicious coconut something-or-other.  Seriously, if you like Indian food, go there.  Even if you don’t like Indian food, Mela might convert you.

Sunny Point Café is a fantastic breakfast spot.  I’m becoming thematic.  If humanly possible, I’d eat breakfast for every meal.  I had some type of egg sandwich concoction, and that turned out to be the correct choice.

This particular trip was done both coming and going.  We didn’t get in until sometime around midnight on our way toward the Keys, and my wife and I decided to sleep along the Blue Ridge Parkway.  By the time we got settled into the back of our car, it was about 12:30, 12:45, and we were awoken about quarter after 3 by some flashing blue and red lights behind us.  Apparently Asheville suffers from people who like to drive along the parkway at night shooting at cars pulled over on the small parking spots (a claim we saw none of when looking on the Google, though who knows), so while it was fine for us to be where we were, the officer suggested we head down to Walmart and sleep there.  We did.  I apparently parked in the wrong spot because somewhere around 7ish a good number of other cars had surrounded us, and that makes for some awkward pant changing situations.

On the way home we made a little better use of our time, stopping in only for half a day, getting a chance to eat pancakes, swing by Malaprop’s which is an awesome local bookstore, and stop into The Battery Park Book Exchange which is a cool little used book store where they serve coffee, wine, cheese, all that good stuff.  I’ve only experienced their cheese once and it was forgettable.  Books were good though.

Some people move to Florida for retirement.  If I make a obscene amount of money, which I don’t really foresee given my skillset, I’d choose San Francisco, because it’s awesome.  Given how life will likely play out, perhaps Asheville will be the place.  Though, as I think on it, Asheville may be the visiting sort and not the living sort.  Not sure.  I don’t know if I have a vibe of permanence there.

Anyhow: everyone should give it a whirl.  Great place to eat and walk around.