Sunday, April 26, 2009

Asheville Highlights, Day 1

Now that I'm feeling grounded again, I'm ready to share more about my solo weekend road trip to Asheville, North Carolina.

There's something about traveling solo. As much as I love the companionship of family and friends, traveling solo provides a different kind of excitement. I remember the first time I traveled from the Philippines to the United States years and years ago... I must have been a teenager. I felt so independent!

This trip was short but sweet. I could only spare a 3-day weekend, but I've been wanting to visit Asheville since I read an article about it last year. The food, the art, nature... what's not to like?

So when 2009 started, I promised myself I would plan this trip. And finally I did it...

Here are some highlights from Day 1, April 17th.

Patio of The Wright Inn 
The charming bed-and-breakfast. This home was built in 1899! It is located in a historic neighborhood, just less than a mile from downtown Asheville.


The Inn's permanent garden resident :)

Pansies growing on the Wright Inn's garden

Tulips in bloom 

Naturally, even before I went on the trip, I did my research on what restaurants to try. I'll be honest and say that I love looking at restaurant menus. But it's also for practical reasons - I have to make sure that there's something I can eat. But seeing that Asheville is a vegetarian foodie's heaven, I knew it wasn't going to be a problem. My thinking prior to the trip was: "so many restaurants, so little time!"

Restaurant #1, for Friday night's dinner, was Zambra on Walnut Street in downtown Asheville. It's a Spanish tapas bar and restaurant -- with vegetarian tapas and entrees! 


Appetizer: Italian roasted gnocchi with a Spanish twist, thanks to the addition of cabrales (a Spanish cheese), dates, and dandelion greens. I love their addition of seasonal, spring greens.

All-vegetable Paella!!! 
Finally I found a restaurant that does it. Given the lack of good Spanish restaurants in Cincinnati that serve vegetarian food, I was really excited to try this one. It did not disappoint. Check out those caper berries - they really were that big (compare their size to the lemon wedge).
This paella was amazing. I would have finished it all if I could.

Enjoyed dinner with live music from a trio. Then dinner was followed by really good coffee. The service was great too. It's comforting when a server shows genuine interest in making your dining experience a good one.

Day 2 highlights will feature the North Carolina Arboretum. Stay tuned...

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