On V.V. Summer Assignment, Day 4: Bluegrass to the Blue Ridge
Another jam-packed day ahead of me and needing the boost, I had the tart from Louisville’s Flora Vegan Treats for breakfast. Clearly by observing Exhibit A below you can see it was light and crisply satisfying–like you want these kinds of tarts to be. The filling was blackberry, the ideal partner for the lemon zested creme drizzle. Real food that is really good. What will I do when my goodies run out?
Before leaving Tennessee I headed back north a bit to trespass the grounds of this little abandoned amusement area by a truck stop in Jellico. It was called Patriotic Palace, part of the attractions surrounding the defunct Fire Works Super Store. It used to look like this. It was urban exploration light: low risk, not secluded, minimal creepiness factor–although the truck drivers were curious why I parked my little car by them.
You can still hear the echoes of the children. That jerk big brother who insisted on rocking the car… some carny not paying attention at the controls, three parallel lines buzzed into his hair by his ears.
I saw a couple of these big crosses so far. This was also at the same truck area as Patriotic Palace… next to the “adult” center on the other side of the interstate. Redeem yourself, perverts.
I got some Tennessee moonshine to take home. Not one of these beautiful, expensive moonshines that the tourists like. But a bare bones corn whiskey in a ceramic jug that didn’t photograph quite as nice.
I made it to North Carolina for food and other various forms of fun.
And guess what?! North Carolina is the 41st state to enter the VeganVictuals union! I have been eyeballing North Carolina, or should I say Asheville, North Carolina vegan eats for quite some time, waiting to strike. My first stop, Firestorm Cafe Co-op, an all-vegan coffee shop connected to a wonderful book store. It’s across the street from Family Dollar, where I illegally parked.
Most of the menu board.
To meet the card minimum, I also bought a truffle. But it was the caffeine I really needed. So I got a “latte.” You know, I’ve never had one before. Is that totally weird? All I ever drink is black coffee. But this was a good experience, frothy and easy to knock back quickly.
Next was lunch at Bean Vegan Cuisine. Bean is also all-vegan, thank you very much. It’s on the Southern comfort food tip, so here the Daiya is expected–and is easily left off. It’s also next to the Frugal Framer and some eye places. I am kind of amused to see the v-word within stripmall signage.
This wonderfully satisfying lunch consisted of the Cowboy Burger: house-cured seitan bacon, onion rings, pickles, BBQ sauce, and Ranch dressing on top a very delicious veggie burger formed in-house. My side, a tater tot casserole. I cleaned my basket. This lunch was just what I needed. I wish I was around for their weekend breakfast menu.
Digesting stop 1: a pretty spectacular fabric store. I roamed around it admiring the organization and the colors. Digesting stop 2: A bit of a fail. It was a cluster of antiques shop that turned out to be in a yuppie area with hefty price tags–with bad parking and some sort of road closures for some music festival. See ya!
Digesting stop 3: Looking Glass Falls inside the Pisgah National Forest. Cropped: the ton of people at the bottom of the falls.
After winding through the rest of Pisgah National Forest, I took the beautiful Blue Ridge Parkway back towards Asheville. And I think I stopped at every scenic overlook. Taking this route was the best decision of the day, the easy downhill ride was isolated and had some stunning views. The kind of view that fills you with reverence.
It was time for dinner at Plant. Plant, like I say often, lived in my bookmarks for quite some time. But it wasn’t just hanging out patiently. With every dinner destination on the road, it pestered me that I hadn’t been to Plant yet. I knew it would be worth the trip. I knew it’d be spectacular, just like the way you about a good melon.
To save you the suspense, Plant was exceptional, from start to finish, from space to service. What a relief! After years of build up, that would have been a real let down. I decided to get two smaller plates. First, their [Plant] Cheese: aged cashew wedges, zucchini involtini with another housemade cheese filling, rosemary amber & peach slices, pickled vegetables, warm focaccia, and a black garlic oil drizzle. It hit every note, and at the same time in a splendid symphony.
My other plate: The Grilled Beets: plump grilled reds, balsamic & herbs, a smooth horseradish mayo , crispy onion tumbleweed, and garnished with candy cane striped beets. Another heavenly dish.
I couldn’t resist picking up a dessert to go. I got the carrot cake, which didn’t enjoy the trip to the motel; one layer slid off the fantastic cream cheese frosting and the candied ginger unicorn horn was flaccid. But boy was it dreamy. Thank you, Plant & Bean for some of the best all-vegan grub.