Dan and I recently returned from a road trip to the Asheville, North Carolina area. We drank lots of hoppy beer, ate lots of good food and spent most waking hours soaking in a cedar tub overlooking the snowy farm where we spent several nights. Ah, spring break.
People in Madison always like to compare our city to the other hip ones: Austin, Texas. Portland, Oregon. Burlington, Vermont. “You know, people always say Madison is a lot like ________ (insert hipster/ progressive/ beer or bike-friendly city here). But I’ll tell you what Asheville’s got that Madison ain’t: Breakfast places where the default side dish is raw kale salad. Not bacon. Not toast. Kale salad. And, while we’re talking about it, in Asheville they use compostable containers for to-go food. Ahem, Madison…
The place where I would eat breakfast every day of the week if I could is Over Easy Cafe on Broadway in downtown Asheville. I stumbled into the bright and noisy cafe at about 9:30 a.m. on a Monday morning. It was a reprieve after emerging from our very clean, but very dark and claustrophobic, windowless private room at the hostel. I took a seat at the bar and lolled over the juice menu, ordering one for “waking up:” Apple, celery, greens and ginger.
Next I pondered food. Tempted by the grits, biscuits with vegetarian herb gravy, and lavender french toast, I decided to try the breakfast tacos: Corn tortillas filled with scrambled eggs, green onions and southwestern tempeh, topped with ginger-lime slaw and cilantro. Raw kale salad and pickled carrots on the side. As I waited I sipped my juice and coffee, people-watched and sang under my breath to the 80s playlist. (“I Want to Know What Love Is” is still a really good song.) Pretty soon I got company at the bar- a gentleman with a newspaper and a cap who sat down on his stool and ordered a carrot juice. He spoke to me about every 5 1/2 minutes, inquiring about my juice, what I ordered, how many apps I have on my phone (“zero- it’s a flip phone”) and to tell me that race car drivers are acting like kids- getting into fights. Just as my food arrived he was scoffing at the man at the end of the bar who he didn’t think had the moxie to finish his double order of pancakes. “You’re too skinny!” I stopped listening as I admired my colorful plate for a few seconds before devouring my first taco. It tasted fresh, healthy and delicious.
After taking care of my check I said so long to my neighbor and went to rouse Dan from the bat cave- we went back 30 minutes later and again on Friday.
See ya next time, Over Easy.