Friday, April 22, 2016

Traveling Oenophile: Asheville, Day Three

I prefer beginning vacations to ending them. At least this week I'm tapering off vacation by having gone from Asheville to Blairsville, where Hubby and I are helping my dad celebrate a big birthday ending in 0. I'm so glad we live close enough to my parents to do things like that.

After Battery Park, Hubby and I wandered about and ended up at the Asheville Sky Bar, which is on a series of balconies over the World Coffee Cafe. We enjoyed some pink drinks and the beginnings of a lovely sunset.

We then wandered down the hill and through some more streets and passed by Curate, which our innkeeper had said we wouldn't be able to get into without a reservation. We decided to give it a try, and while the tables were full, there were places available at the bar, which allowed us good dining and entertainment as we watched the busy kitchen. 

Our wine was a fantastic Albarino, the 2013 Arcan from Rias Baixas. It had a similar fruity profile to the Godello we had Monday but with a saline backbone that helped it pair well with the food. The highlights were (copied from the menu):

Salada de Tomate y Atún 
kumato tomato salad w/preserved spanish bonito tuna, black olives, drizzled in extra virgin olive oil & reserve sherry vinegar 

Berenjenas la Taberna 
fried eggplant drizzled in wild mountain honey, garnished w/ rosemary
C's note: an unexpectedly good combination

Gambas al Ajillo
the number one tapa in asheville, sautéed shrimp and sliced garlic

And some pretty awesome meatballs, which weren't on the online menu, but which are called Albondigas.

I'm glad we decided to give Curate a try. It's hard to compare it to Zambra, where we ate on Monday, because the menu styles are different. I would happily return to either.

I do want to give a shoutout to Lynn and Ron of the 1900 Inn on Montford, which is the only place we've ever wanted to stay in Asheville. The breakfasts are amazing, the rooms wonderful, and the house itself absolutely charming.

Asheville is one of my favorite places, and I can't wait to get back.

Wednesday, April 20, 2016

Traveling Oenophile, Day Two in Asheville

Today's post is being brought to you by the Battery Park Book Exchange. Yes, I might be at the bar hanging out with the spoils of my bookstore tour of Asheville and a glass of Prosecco. Hubby and I have our system worked out for visiting beer towns - he finds breweries, and I find books.

Let's back up to last night. Some of the other people at our B&B had raved about Modesto (, so Hubby and I decided to give it a try. I have to give chef Hector Diaz credit for taking traditional Italian restaurant fare and giving it a twist.

Our first course was the fried-green tomatoes with tomato sauce, Gorgonzola, and greens. Yes, Asheville restaurants make sure you get your daily dose of greens:

Then for dinner, since I'm sort of trying to be vegetarian, I had the Eggplant Parmesan, which had tomato sauce, fontina and goat cheeses, spinach, and sweet peppers, and was served over vermicelli.

Oh, and of course there was wine, a lovely Super Tuscan:

We finished the evening at Sante, a wine bar, where I had bubbles and Hubby had Bordeaux.

This morning I started my Asheville book tour, as one does, at Malaprops ( I got a book and a couple of journals, one for my morning pages and a small  one to keep in my purse. Then I made a tea stop and met Hubby at Mojo ( for lunch. I had the half-falafel sandwich and salad combo.

I did some other shopping this afternoon and resumed the book hunt for resources for my talk on hysteria and the occult in Victorian times, which I'll be giving in about a month at the Steampunk World's Fair. I began on Lexington at Downtown Books and News (, where they were helpful but didn't have exactly what I was looking for. Then I stopped by The Captain's Bookshelf on Page Avenue, where I found two good ones that had applicable chapters. It was then time for a coffee stop, which was okay, and more shopping! 

And now I'm at the Battery Park Book Exchange (, where I found another book and a glass of bubbles. It's been a good day. Stay tuned as to what happens for dinner!

Tuesday, April 19, 2016

Traveling Oenophile: Asheville, Day One

Hey, y'all, did you miss me? I'm embarrassed that I haven't posted in so long. Yes, I've been drinking, but most of my writing has been fiction or for the day job. I lost my contract psychologist to a major medical system that provided more financial security than private practice, and my admin has mostly moved on to a full-time position. So, I've been doing most of everything except for what my admin does a few hours per week. Small business-ing is hard.

Which is why I'm REALLY happy that Hubby and I are taking a much-needed vacation to the mountains. We arrived in Asheville, NC yesterday evening just in time to catch the end of the B&B's social hour, which involved wine. Woo hoo! Then we were shown to our lovely room, the Thomas Wolfe suite, which has a newly renovated bathroom with a waterfall bathtub. Yes, I will be trying that out later.

Formatting note - I'm doing this from my iThing, so if stuff comes through funky, I'm sorry. I also can't figure out how to embed links.

Two of the best things about Asheville are, of course, food and drink. We started with dinner at a tapas place called Zambra (, which we remembered from previously. To find it, go to Malaprops Bookstore and look down the alley to the right.

They had a lovely wine special, a 2014 single-varietal godello from Valdeorras, Spain. It was crisp, fruity, and went well with everything we tried including the pomegranate-braised pork spring rolls with mango dipping sauce and avocado.

Other favorites included the Duck-leg confit with mango chutney, House-made gnocchi with Three Graces Chèvre, and the Braised pork cheek with sweet-potato hash. I wanted to try all the pork things but restrained myself.

We went to Baltimore this morning and skipped the house, which we'd seen twice, and toured the gardens, which were in full spring bloom. Hubby is still sneezing. After we walked off our lovely B&B breakfast, we ate beet and tempeh salads at The Corner Kitchen (

You can't go to Asheville without having beer, so we stopped by the French Broad Brewing Company (, where Hubby got the Abbey Style Flanders Ale, and I enjoyed the Wee Heavy-est Belgian-Scotch Ale.

I will do my best to keep up with our adventures, but I have to say, we're off to a great start.