Monday, August 17, 2015

Birthday Weekend in Asheville

Last Sunday was my birthday (I have many thoughts about turning 33 - more about that soon) and to celebrate, Nathan and I decided to spend the weekend in Asheville, NC. Asheville is about six hours west of us, in the mountains, and it's a beautiful, peaceful, strange little town, full of vegetarian food, breweries, and various vagabonds. Suffice to say we fit right in. 

Where We Stayed 

We used Airbnb for the first time ever (we don't get out much) and spent two nights in a truly unique and beautiful place. It's called Franny's Farm, located just 20 minutes from downtown Asheville. Franny and her husband Jeff bought the place three years ago, and in that time they've started growing organic food, raising sheep and poultry, and building an eco-cabin project, which was the main reason we chose to stay there. At the top of a very steep hill on their property, they've built a camping area that has a really nice, fully stocked kitchen, bathroom, and showers, complete with electricity and running water. 

The camping area also includes two eco-cabins, which are tiny dwellings with no power. The cabin we stayed in was 12 x 12 with a loft bed. It was very well made, comfortable, and - most important - super cute. We loved staying at the farm, talking to Franny and Jeff, visiting the animals, and drinking coffee each morning while enjoying this amazing view. 

Nathan and I have a (very) long term dream of building something similar - a farm, filled with tiny houses, where we can host writing workshops and yoga retreats, sort of like what I attended in Aspen. Staying on Franny's Farm was incredibly relaxing but also incredibly inspiring. They're pretty much living our dream, and doing it well. We're excited to continue visiting them, staying on their farm, and watching as their operation grows and evolves. If you're ever in Asheville, I highly recommend booking a night in one of their cabins

What We Ate 

I love to eat more than just about anything, and Asheville didn't disappoint in the culinary category. Somehow, I failed to take photos of most of the delicious things I consumed, possibly because the task would have been too overwhelming. (The above photo, of a delicious vegan eggplant parmesan, was my only foray into food photography on this trip. Worth it.) 

We arrived in Asheville at around 4PM on Friday and headed straight to the farm to check in. That night, we had dinner at Laughing Seed Cafe, where I took my one and only photo (see above). We walked around Asheville for a bit after that, then bought a bunch of wine and snacks and spent the night hanging out in our cabin and enjoying the peace and quiet. 

The next morning we woke early, made coffee and drank it on our tiny porch, ate some granola, then hiked to an abandoned moonshine still on Franny's property. We did not find any moonshine, nor Moonshine Mary, who is rumored to haunt the still. 

Once our obligatory amount of exercise had been obtained, we headed back to Asheville. It was Saturday morning and all the brunch spots were pretty packed, but we ended up at Mayfel's, which was fine with me. Giant mimosas, eggs on top of vegan black bean patties, and vegetarian sausage - just what I always wanted. Once we had food in our bellies, we began our self-guided tour of Asheville's breweries (see below). We ended the night at Rosetta's Kitchen for their famous family favorite - peanut butter baked tofu, sautéed kale, and smashed potatoes with vegan gravy. Our final stop on our culinary tour of Asheville was on our way out of town the next day - brunch at West Asheville's Sunny Point Cafe. We had to wait an hour for a table, but it was worth it for the tofu bacon, lettuce, tomato, and avocado sandwiches we devoured. Plus we spent that hour drinking coffee and wandering through the restaurant's extensive organic garden, from which they source most of their menu, and for which I will love them always. Asheville is the best! 

Where We Drank 

Asheville is widely known as "Beer City, USA" and is currently home to 21 craft breweries. While we knew we wouldn't be able to visit them all on our brief trip, we gave it a good shot. On Saturday, we started early and crawled through a good number of these fine establishments, tasting and touring as we went. 

We started at Hi-Wire Brewing and enjoyed a tasting flight of delicious beers. Then it was around the block to Asheville Brewery, where we had more delicious beers AND met up with Eric, a friend from my MFA program who recently moved to Asheville. We held on to Eric for the rest of the day as we sampled beers from Wicked Weed Brewing and Thirsty Monk, where I sent some free postcards to a few friends (whether anyone at the United States Postal Service will be able to read the addresses I scrawled on the postcards has yet to be seen). From what I can remember, the beers were amazing, the conversation was brilliant, and every single person we saw was utterly beatific. In other words, a pretty great day and weekend for this birthday girl. 

I Love Asheville 

This was my first time spending more than a handful of hours in Asheville, and even though we were there for a full weekend, there was so much we didn't have time to do. I'd love to hike to the top of an actual mountain, watch the leaves change along the Blue Ridge Parkway, drink more delicious beers, float the river, and go back to Sunny Pointe Cafe, because honestly, that was the best brunch ever. Luckily six hours isn't very far, and we have a great little cabin waiting to welcome us back. Until next time, Asheville. I'm already looking forward to it.