Tuesday, April 28, 2009

Asheville Highlights, Day 2/Part 2

April 18th: Day 2/Part 2. After a peaceful morning at the North Carolina Arboretum, the foodie and art lover in me was ready for the downtown Asheville food trip and art gallery hop.

But first, I decided to head back to the inn, have last night's leftovers (from Zambra) for lunch. Since the paella was good for two, I saved half of it to go and was able to store it in the inn's refrigerator.

So I decided that lunch was Zambra "take two", on the inn's patio. I enjoyed the vegetarian paella again, this time al fresco.

Then I had to figure out my plan for the rest of the day...

I drove downtown, parked my car, and started to walk towards this "must" destination on Lexington Avenue....

the gates of heaven, in my opinion :)

On the menu were chocolates in all forms. Cakes, solid truffles, and liquid truffles in various flavors. I opted for the lavender honey liquid truffle (because I love lavender in dessert). Thick, bittersweet hot chocolate with the subtle but distinct flavors of lavender-infused honey.

Some minutes later...

 This needs no explanation.

I could really use a spatula right now (to scrape all that chocolate goodness from the cup). Believe me, I would have.

Blissed-out from chocolate, I then decided to continue my walk. I stopped at this art gallery/shop:

Kress Emporium has almost any art form you can think of - from photography to paintings, jewelry, fabric, woodwork, glasswork... I loved it!
Then I continued on and saw this bookshop. I love small, cozy, local bookstores!

 In case the photo is too small, the sign reads:
"Coffee, Books, Cards, and nice folks inside!"
I went in...
and came out with a couple of books. 
One of which is this delightful kid's book that I gave to my niece. 

I love how local/independently-owned bookstores have this sign.

And the kids' version:

There's something about being inside a children's bookstore that makes me want to be a carefree child again, who believed in her heart that she could one day become a mermaid or a dolphin. :)

I stopped at an old-fashioned ice cream parlor in time to see someone making sugar cones.

And there you have it...

But I didn't buy anything, as I was still slightly full from the liquid truffle I had earlier, AND I had the Laughing Seed Cafe next on my meal itinerary. I had really been looking forward to trying this place, for all its vegetarian options. (I admit to perusing their online menu a few times before my trip - there were so many choices!)

It was a nice evening, so I asked to sit outside and dine al fresco. 

I wanted something clean-tasting and somewhat light, because I had dessert in mind. So I opted for all-vegetable sushi....

It had marinated tofu, butternut squash (a bit surprising because this is not the season for squash) and broccolini. To be honest, it was... ok. Not life-changing. (In  my opinion, this place in Cincinnati serves the best sushi, hands-down... and they have at least 3 really good vegetarian sushi rolls.)


What Asheville calls "The World's Best Carrot Cake", which I remember seeing online and was happy to find at this local, eco-vibe coffee shop during my walk.

It was REALLY good. Moist and flavorful, with an excellent texture from the carrots and nuts. And, the cream cheese frosting was not at all overwhelming and overly sweet like some frostings. I think this cake was deserving of its name. I think I ate 1/4 of it and saved the rest for tomorrow.
(Even the to-go container was made of recycled materials.... which I found to be quite common in the restaurants I visited in Asheville.)

So on that note, I end my nature-tripping, food-tripping, and art gallery-hopping Saturday. 

Photos and highlights from Day 3 coming soon...

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