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ASHEVILLE, NORTH CAROLINA: BOHEMIANS, VEGANS, AND LOCAVORES
Asheville never ceases to amaze us. An amazing mix of history (think the Vanderbilts and Biltmore Estate), nature (the Blue Ridge Parkway is at their front door and the Great Smoky Mountains at their back), big city amenities (eclectic shopping, dining, arts, culture), and small town charm (tailgate farmers markets, outdoor festivals, neighborliness, southern hospitality). Our latest visit was no exception.
Based at the new Grand Bohemian Hotel just steps away from Biltmore Estate, the authentic Old World, rustic ambiance of this boutique hotel combined perfectly with the upscale contemporary conveniences of a Kessler Collection hotel experience. In addition to luxurious accommodations, gourmet dining, spa facilities, and an in-house art gallery, the highlight of the stay was the in-room Roomlinx® Interactive TV, which gives visitors instant access to the Internet, on-demand HD movies, hotel services, local information, travel tools, international and U.S. television, music (including iPod and other MP3 player connectivity), local news and weather, business and sports updates, games and shopping. All on your large-screen wall-mounted television/computer monitor. It made it hard to leave the room.
But our stomachs began to growl and we knew that amazing dining awaited. With breakfast planned the next morning at the sultry and sophisticated Red Stag Grill, Grand Boheminans three-meal restaurant on premises, we decided to venture out to satisfy our hunger. Asheville has been getting tons of press lately for its burgeoning vegetarian/vegan scene and its commitment to farm-to-table (including our upcoming feature in AirTran's GO Magazine), so we thought wed see what all the fuss was about.
We started out with appetizers at Laughing Seed on Wall Street. With the attitude that vegetarian food shouldnt be a punishment, Chef Jason Sellers whips up unique and creative dishes that utilize the best of local produce with vegetarian proteins including hemp, seitan, tempeh and tofu.
Then it was on to Rosettas Kitchen in the North End for coconut curry, vegan mac & cheese, and comfort food like friend peanut butter tofu with mashed potatoes and vegan gravy and steamed kale. Enjoying our meal, we looked around to see that we were surrounded by a cross-cultural crowd of diners including business professionals, families, older couples, and dread-locked college kids. Proof that vegetarianism is definitely mainstream today.
After consuming so much health and goodness, we felt that a visit to French Broad Chocolate Lounge was in order to satisfy our sweet tooth. From truffles to brownies, sipping chocolate to ice cream, and tea to wine, the Chocolate Lounge offers up comfort, convivial socializing, wireless internet and sweets and treats all day. And just so we wouldnt forget the joys of being an omnivore, we had an order of the bacon ice cream. Yum-O!