My husband and I were in desperate need of a road trip. Didn't care much where or why, we just wanted to hit the open road and get out of St Louis for a while. We ended up heading toward Charlotte, North Carolina, to see friends who'd moved out there. Along the way, we planned on taking my food adventures to the South, hoping to sample some casual fare.
For several reasons, mostly time and unplanned detours, we ended up eating at only two places worth mentioning. The first was in Asheville, North Carolina, a town in which I could easily see myself living.
Despite its relatively small population -- around 70,000 in town, 400,000 in the surrounding areas -- Asheville is packed with interesting shops and restaurants -- and it's surrounded by the Blue Ridge Mountains. Not only is it beautiful, but it's weird and quirky as hell, meaning I loved it.
We at a late breakfast at the Early Girl Eatery
, hidden on a pedestrian-only road in downtown. Early Girl prides itself on its commitment to local producers and serves up southern fare cooked from scratch. On a late Saturday morning, the sunny restaurant was bustling with people starting their weekend with a hearty breakfast. Chris had biscuits and gravy with outstanding fresh-squeezed juice; I had the quiche of the day (bacon, green onions and cheddar). We both enjoyed the meal: simple comfort food properly prepared with high-quality ingredients.
We also stopped and bought a jar of the same berry jam used in the restaurant. The guy who makes it does so from fruit he grows on his property. This seemed pretty typical for Asheville: We found people hawking their wares, edible or otherwise, in several locations around town on Saturday. As we explored downtown, I saw several restaurants with intriguing menus, many with a locavore slant. People here take their food damn seriously, and I wished I had more time to sample the plethora of places we saw.
I vowed we'd return.