chai pani

Asheville: Part II

Anyone get hungry reading the first installment of our Asheville trip? I seriously did when I wrote it (WHITE DUCK TACOS COME TO ME). Thankfully, though, the eating and frolicking around the city didn’t end after just one evening–we still had Sunday to enjoy.

For breakfast, we braved the crowd at Tupelo Honey, a little mini-chain of Southern bistros that always has a brunch crowd. Although we had to wait, the weather was nice (a tad cooler, not as sunny as the day before, but still nice) and the fried chicken and biscuits was totally worth it. Boneless fried chicken breast served on top of a creamy gravy and fluffy biscuit. But what wasn’t worth it? NC liquor laws that don’t allow for a mimosa or bloody mary with Sunday brunch. What the what? This is the 21st century, right? Apparently no liquor on Sundays until noon. Ugh.

No liquor meant no lingering, so we jetted off to the North Carolina Arboretum which is, conveniently, free (and totally awesome). Since it was still wintery, there weren’t many flowers to ooh and ahh over in the gardens, but the trails were fantastic to hike on. If I lived in the area, I’d use the place for trail running/mountain biking all the time. I even found some native orchids in the forest which made my afternoon.

Other highlights of the Arboretum include the bonsai garden (tiny trees!) and the frog pond. The noisy, teeming frog pond. Why so noisy? Oh, it’s mating season, no biggie. Try explaining all that goings-on to your toddler….ha!

More day drinking at The Imperial Life, but then we needed some more substantial fare so we hit up Chai Pani, an Indian street food themed restaurant that also just opened a branch in Decatur, GA.

Can we just take a moment and talk about the kale pakoras? Kale chips, take a step away from this fried goodness, I don’t care about you anymore. I know, I know, not nearly as healthy as a kale chip, but, seriously, look at the chickpea breading on those leaves. Look at the green kale-ness of it all. The combination is stunning. Deep fried, crunchy kale. I need another plate of it. Now.

As for the Pav Bhaji sandwich? You might think that a potato sandwich can’t be all that, but let me tell you, it can. Like a samosa, but on a bun, the sandwich features a potato and mixed vegetable patty, fried, and served on a bun with several chutneys. It’s fried, starchy goodness. And the okra fries? Pretty awesome too–loved how crunchy they were. The lime/salt was a bit heavy handed, but overall, delicious.

After stuffing ourselves with fried Indian goodness, we were off to the real reason we traveled to Asheville in the first place–Nick Cave and the Bad Seeds. Renae has some waaay better pics posted on her blog from the Nashville show (G’s new camera wasn’t on the right settings), but, blurry, grainy pictures aside, the show was out of this world. Sharon Van Etten opened and, fuck, her voice is solid gold. And her lyrics just get it.

As for Nick Cave? That man may be 55, but he has way more energy than me. And the fact that he didn’t just play new stuff, but went waay back to early Bad Seeds days sealed the deal for me. The new album is pretty mellow–the show was nothing of the sort. I can’t wait to see him again in Barcelona next month, that’s for sure!

But all things must come to an end, and this trip with one last brunch, this time at Sunny Point Cafe. As far as vegetarian brunches go, Sunny Point’s takes the cake with their Huevos Fucheros–black bean cakes served with tofu chorizo, feta cheese, roasted tomatillo salsa, and potatoes topped with two eggs over easy, cilantro crema, and crisp tortilla strips. It’s a mouthful in more ways than one. The tofu blended into the mound of eggy, potato, salsa goodness, but that was ok because the spice was really what it was all about. A little terrifying that the place was jammed at 10 am on a Monday morning (do people in Asheville have jobs??), but the huevos fucheros was awesome and a great way to end the weekend.

Asheville, you’re alright. Maybe a little too white. Maybe a little too laid back, but that’s what makes you a great place to visit. Next time, I’ll hit you up for all the fancy places–Table, Curate, The Admiral–but for the meantime, I’m pretty pleased with my more laid-back, affordable eats. See you when it’s warmer, maybe?

Tupelo Honey Cafe
12 College Street
Asheville NC 28801

Chai Pani
22 Battery Park Ave
Asheville, NC 28801
(828) 254-4003

Sunny Point Cafe
626 Haywood Rd
Asheville, NC 28806
(828) 252-0055

2 Responses to “Asheville: Part II”
  1. Eileen says:

    Yay, lots of Indian food! I have to tell you that the pav bhaji we get in CA does not look anything like a solid patty–it’s more like a very lentil-y and spicy sloppy joe mix on a buttery (or I suppose a ghee-y) grilled bun, with lots of shredded red onion, cabbage, and cilantro on the side. You get everything separately and make a plateful of your own little sloppy sliders. So good!

  2. renae says:

    The Indian food looks yummy and the arboretum look lovely! And I don’t know what you are talking about – your picture of Nick is as good if not better than mine! Plus, I’m super jealous you get to see him in Barcelona, which is high on the list of places I want to go.

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