Blue Ridge Parkway & Plant
Have you ever had a moment when you’re driving and you see a sign or a turn off and you say, what the hell, and take it, even though it’s going to add time to your route or maybe even take you off course? I’ll admit, I rarely do that. But on the way back from Atlanta, I couldn’t help myself when I spotted a Blue Ridge Parkway sign 20 minutes or so from Asheville.
I was already being a tad more adventurous, taking a route via Asheville instead of my normal paths (through Charlotte or Knoxville), but with the tree color peaking the weekend I left Roanoke, I wanted to catch a little of it on the way back (and eat a delicious vegan lunch). The Parkway itself is so high in North Carolina that many of the leaves had already fallen or were a drab brown, but the vistas of the lower mountains were breathtaking (not to mention the perfectly clear skies and 75 degree temperature).
In the 40ish miles that I drove, I passed the highest point of the Parkway, Richland Balsam Mountain at 6053 feet above sea level, as well as Looking Glass Rock. While the detour added a good hour to my drive, I loved being able to cruise up and down the backbone of the mountains, stopping every few miles to take pictures, and getting road rage at the people driving 20 mph. Oh road rage, it never ends, does it?
After hopping off the Parkway, I wound my way into Asheville to eat a late lunch at Plant–an all vegan, slightly more fancy restaurant. Since I ate on the patio, I didn’t get an interior shot of the restaurant–but I loved its open kitchen layout with the cool, neutral colors. Very modern & comfortable at the same time. Plus the bathrooms smelled great, an added bonus.
Since it was just lunch and just me, I didn’t get to sample much of the menu, but the Shaved Seitan Reuben with live cabbage & rutabaga kraut, cheddar (Daiya, I think), caramelized onions, and creole spread on rye, was incredible, as was the side salad (something about the pepitas in the salad made me really happy). A bit messy (like every good reuben should be), I thought this one balanced the tart, acidic kraut & spread with the more savory, sweet seitan and onions, and I loved the live kraut. Definitely more fermented tasting than your store bought stuff, this kraut reminded you that you were eating vegetables, and that they were good for you–which is always positive when you’re indulging in something like this sandwich!
I definitely want to go back to Plant for dinner–the Peppercorn Crusted Seitan and Wild Forest (lobster & chanterelle mushrooms with smoked-jalapeño mashed Yukon & herbed baby vegetables) sound amazing–so I guess G & I need to schedule an Asheville-specific trip soon, instead of just hitting it up as a via point. Plus the Asheville breweries…oh man, so many reasons to return and actually spend a little time in the town.
Though I spent almost 9 hours on the road between side tracks and lunch and accidents backing up the freeway for miles, it was totally worth it. I’m missing Atlanta already (homesickness, go away, please?) and wishing I could grab some more grub in Asheville, but it’s good to be back and settle in a bit to get things done before the new job starts.
I’ll be back next week to finish off MoFo with a few more recipes, so stay tuned! Have a great weekend, everyone!
165 Merrimon Avenue
Asheville, NC 28801
On This Day in Posts of MoFos Past:
2009: Apple Butter
2011: Sumac Roasted Butternut Squash