Asheville Review

We saw.  We explored.  We ate.  We ate a lot.  We drank.  We laughed.

We arrived on Thursday evening around 6:30 pm to our cute little cabin in the woods.  We’ve learned that when this duo travels, we enjoy renting a house versus a hotel.  A two bedroom, two bathroom house does the trick.  It’s nice to have shared space (living room and kitchen).  On Thursday night, instead of venturing into town, we decided to make a simple, cozy dinner of cheese, olives, fruit, nuts, and charcuterie.

Friday morning we were up early – we had a full day planned.

We headed straight for Biscuit Head.  And holy deliciousness.  The biscuits were literally the size of your head.

I went big – the Mimosa Fried Chicken Biscuit.  {biscuit with mimosa fried chicken, sweet potato butter, sriracha slaw and a poached egg}

We did not leave hungry.

After breakfast, we headed downtown to do a little walking – totally necessary.  The weather was unseasonably warm but I can’t lie – it was nice not having to wear a winter coat all weekend.

We explored and popped into a few shops before stopping at LAB (Lexington Avenue Brewery) for a drink.

After a little more walking around, we headed to lunch.  Isa’s Bistro is located downtown but once you stepped inside you felt you were worlds away from Asheville.  While lunch was light and tasty, I wouldn’t rank Isa’s on the top of my “favorite” bites.

Friday afternoon was dedicated to the Biltmore.  

The Biltmore is absolutely breathtaking but we were a little disappointed that there is only one real tree in the house – the massive one in the dining room.  I could have sworn the last time I was at the Biltmore all the trees were real.

We spent several hours walking around the house and grounds.  After an afternoon of walking, we headed back downtown for a cocktail before dinner.

We grabbed a drink at Posana’s.  The bartenders were fantastic and I would highly recommend this restaurant – it was on my list of places to eat but we just didn’t have enough meals to visit every where.

We had been anticipating our Friday night dinner for weeks.   Cúrate has been on my list for years and it did not disappoint.  We split about 12 small plates and enjoyed every.single.bite.

A few of my favorite dishes:

aceitunas cúrate – our curated blend of olives with lemon, rosemary and thyme

chistorra & chips josé’s way – spicy chorizo wrapped in potato chips… the perfect snack

pimientos de piquillo y queso de cabra – piquillo peppers stuffed w/ spanish goat cheese

migas – sautéed brussel sprouts, raisins, cauliflower, and a celery root yogurt mousse

Post-dinner, we headed back to the cabin and lounged by the fire.

We took our time Saturday morning before heading out.  First stop:  Sierra Nevada Brewery.  The tap room is beautiful and we arrived just in time to snag a seat at the bar.

I am not a huge beer fan but I decided to try out a few of the beers by ordering a flight.

The Kellerweis was by far my favorite.

A hazy wheat ale—untamed, unfiltered and unafraid. With a full, fruity aroma and notes of spicy clove and banana bread, Kellerweis is truly a unique brew.

I totally could taste the banana bread notes and it was lower on the IBU (bitterness) range – bitter beer is not my thing at all.

Since we had a light breakfast at the cabin, we ordered a few bar bites to share.

duck fat fries  thrice-cooked fries, duck confit, aged cheddar, hot sauce aioli, raspberry mustard

pretzels & pimento beer cheese  Hop Hunter, sharp cheddar, pimentos, Bavarian pretzels

Both were absolutely incredibly and quite possibly the best bar food ever.  The duck fat fries are out of control!

We decided that we would eat a progressive lunch and headed straight to White Duck Taco.   There are two locations but I highly recommend the one in the River Arts District.

We ordered a variety of different tacos for optimal tasting.

Spicy Buffalo Chicken

Bangkok Shrimp (most popular)

Thai Peanut Chicken

Pork Belly (my favorite!)

Fish Taco

Looking Glass Creamery was on the way back to our cabin and I am so glad we stumbled across this unique cheese shop.  We could not resist ordering a bottle of bubbles and a cheese plate to enjoy outside.  Not only is the cheese shop super cute but the cheese is incredible.  The coconut goat cheese was one of my favorites along with the Chocolate Lab.   We snagged a few to bring home along with Lusty Monk mustard – THE BEST MUSTARD EVER.

This little spot is a hidden gem and it’s one of the favorite places we visited all weekend.

We honestly made the most of our short visit because we made a quick stop back at the cabin to change and then it was back downtown for drinks and dinner.  We were quite shocked at the traffic in downtown Asheville – so if you’re not staying downtown, give yourself plenty of time to find a parking spot.

It was recommended that we stop by Sovereign Remedies for a cocktail and we were pleasantly surprised to find that it wasn’t incredibly busy.  After a round of drinks, we arrived at Rhubarb for our final dinner in Asheville.

Incredible food.  A must-visit if you’re ever in Asheville.

We shared a few appetizers:

LOBSTER CORN DOGS – Comeback Sauce

RABBITT LEEK RILLETTE – Apple-Currant Mostarda, House Made Sel-Tines

THE HOUSE CURE – Country Pate, Bresaola, Crispy Pig Head, Coppa, Pickled Quail Egg, House-Made Sel-tines
and Mustards

GOAT CHEESE BURRATA – Beets, Virginia Beauty Apples,  Crispy Sage, Wild Ginger Vinegar, Apple Chutney, Crostini

The goat cheese burrata was one of the best bites I had all weekend and the lobster corn dogs were a fun appetizer to share.

Our dinners were also rather impressive but Ryan had my favorite entree –

LOOKING GLASS GOAT CHEESE GNUDI – Roasted Shallots, Local Mushrooms, Grana Padano, Spinach, Butter Beans,  Toasted Pumpkin Seeds

We weren’t hungry at all when we left but I could not not take Sarah to French Broad Chocolates.  We waited in line for a little while (thankfully it wasn’t cold out) before ordering a few desserts to take back to share.

Our last and final bites in Asheville were on Sunday morning at Corner Kitchen.   I ordered the bagel and lox along with a side salad – the rest of the weekend had been lacking in vegetables.

The weekend flew by but it was absolutely perfect.  From the cabin to the company (#thewaticks) to ALL the food we ate – I wouldn’t change a thing.

Don’t worry Asheville, I’ll be back.  But until then I’ll be dreaming of cheese and moving into the Biltmore.

Friday Favorites

Can someone press the “pause” button?  I feel like the most wonderful time of the year is going to be over before I’m able to start enjoying it.  Thankfully the next few weekends (and week) are full of Christmas festivities so I’m sure I’ll being feeling the jolly spirit in no time (even though it will be 70 degrees outside this weekend).

Here are my favorites of the week (sorry, I’m not sorry they are all food-related):

Favorite Flaky:  French Onion Pastry Puffs.  It’s the best of both mine and Big Guy’s word:  he adores French onion soup, I adore “appy” hour.

 

Favorite From Scratch:  Needle Point Pasta in Light Blue Cheese Sauce.  Big Guy asks if we can make homemade pasta about once a month.  I never know if he is kidding or not.

 

Favorite Addictive:  Cinnamon Sugar Wonton Crisps.  Sweet.  Salty. Crunchy. and Fried.  I wouldn’t trust myself near a bowl of these.

 

Favorite DIY:  Chocolate Coffee Stirring Spoons.   So festive and fun.  These would make perfect gifts.

 

Favorite Slurp:  Creamy Parsnip Soup with Cornbread Croutons, Crispy Bacon and Pomegranate Arils.   I want to have a soup party.  Seriously.  Those toppings are where it’s at.

 

Favorite Flavor and Texture:  Thin and Chewy Spiced Oatmeal Cookies.  I’m still trying to find a day to do all my holiday baking…Monday afternoon might be my day.

 

Favorite Date-Night-In:  Brown Butter Scallops with Parmesan Risotto.   Fancy.

 

Favorite Obsessed:  Peppermint White Chocolate Chip Cookie Trifle.  I have a “thing” for trifles.  And I have no idea where it came from.  But this.  THIS is the trifle of my dreams.

 

Favorite Weeknight Dinner:  Sicilian Rice Ball Casserole.  In between the cocktails and cookies, there’s a thing called balance.

 

Favorite Festive:  Christmas Sangria. My favorite thing about this sangria:  ginger beer! Oh, and the cinnamon-sugar rim.

Merry, merry!

Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip

I had big plans for pizza this past Sunday.  But a sushi-filled lunch didn’t leave much room for a big, cheesy pizza.  Instead of pizza we opted for another one of my favorite things in life:  dip!  Specifically a cheese dip.  But this one is a little fancy.  And by fancy I mean it uses brie instead of your usual cream cheese.

In addition to brie, the dip is full of fennel which sweetens when it caramelizes.  Leeks perfume the dip with a light onion flavor that I adore and garlic makes it well, garlicky and wonderful.

Lemon zest brightens the entire appetizer and is one of my favorite flavors.  A little heat comes from the addition of red pepper flakes – I would double the amount next time.

Parmesan adds a salty, delightful cheesiness and mozzarella on top makes it everything you want in a dip – ooey and gooey.

It’s creamy, sweet and savory.  And perfect served with toasted baguette.

I sliced up a loaf of wheat baguette, brushed each slice with a little melted butter and baked until crisp but not too crunchy.

Who can argue with cheese dip and bubbles for dinner?

{virtual} coffee chat

It’s a rainy and chilly Monday morning so grab yourself a cup of coffee and let’s chat.

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If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that there are a little over two weeks before Christmas and I’ve barely scratched the surface on my “to do” list.  On the top of the list:  Christmas shopping and baking!

If we were having coffee this morning…We’d chat about Christmas traditions.  One of my favorites is swapping ornaments with Big Guy.  This year he gifted me with a Yoga Santa (though he wants to pretend it’s a PiYo or Barre Santa).

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you all about our date night on Friday at SoCo. It was the first night of the December menu and I had been dreaming about the scallops knowing they were going to be an entree.  They were amazing. Also amazing – the peppermint-chocolate dessert.  It reminded me of the green mint chocolate chip ice cream that I adored growing up.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that Saturday we headed to Asheboro for a wedding reception for one of Big Guy’s childhood buddies that had a destination wedding last month.  It was fun to get dressed up and mingle with the ladies.  We danced the evening away and enjoyed lots of laughter.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you about our lunch yesterday on the way back home at Mura.  I was in sushi heaven.  We’ve gotten to know some of the staff and the chef and they let us taste a few of the new items that will be debuting on the menu later this week.  It’s hands-down my favorite sushi restaurant ever and I seriously think I could eat sushi every day.  I had to try the December feature – the Christmas Roll.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d let you on to a little secret…Big Guy loves Hallmark movies – especially this time of the year. Last night we watched a new movie – The Christmas Detour.  I seriously wish I was cuddled on the couch this morning watching holiday movies.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you that it’s a short work-week for me because we have a fun weekend ahead.  Thursday afternoon can’t get here soon enough.

If we were having coffee this morning…I’d tell you to enjoy every moment of the next three weeks.  Don’t get so caught up in worldly things that you don’t enjoy the magic of this season.

If we were having coffee this morning…Before we parted ways, I would wish you a week full of:

Friday Favorites

 

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I officially give you permission to talk about Christmas now that Thanksgiving is behind us.

I hope you all had a wonderful and relaxing Thanksgiving with family and friends.  Oh, and that ate everything you wanted without guilt, drank more than you should, and laughed until you couldn’t catch your breath.  If you’re out participating in Black Friday shopping – God bless you.

Here are my favorites from the week:

Favorite Craving:  Burgers with Roasted Brussels Sprouts and Crispy Shallots.  I’ve been craving a burger and fries since last Saturday.  And this one sounds insanely delicious.

 

Favorite Weeknight Dinner:  Slow Cooker Chicken Curry.   After a long day at work, this is exactly what I want to come home to.

 

Favorite Tradition:  Double Happiness Ornament.  Big Guy and I have a tradition of gifting one another a new ornament each year.  I’m fairly certain Big Guy has forgotten and I won’t be getting one on Monday…therefore, he can buy me this one.

 

Favorite Electrifyin’:  Grease Live!  Oh.em.gee.  I’ve already marked my calendar.

 

Favorite Crunchy:  Japanese Fried Chicken.   I need these little nuggets (literally) in my life.

 

Favorite Side:  Coconut Maple Glazed Carrots.    I could probably eat that entire bowl in one sitting.

 

Favorite Exclusive:  Super-Tiny Restaurants.  There are few things I love more than anticipating a dinner for weeks and weeks before the reservations.

 

Favorite Flavors:  Salted Chocolate Pecan Pie Bars.    I don’t even know how I’m thinking about sweets after yesterday.  But I am.

 

Favorite Sweat:  Planksgiving Workout.  Don’t let the holidays be an excuse for not working out.

 

Favorite Cocktail:  Sparkling Pomegranate Punch.  I may or may not have made this yesterday.

Cheers!

Friday Favorites.

Happy Friday!  I apologize for the lack of recipe sharing this week but it’s been quiet around our house.  Big Guy was out of town all week so it was lots of snack plates and eating whatever we had around the house.  But I promise I’ll be back next week with a recipe or  two four.  This weekend should be a fun one!  We have Supper Club and a sushi-date planned.  Other than that, we’ll be soaking up some “nothingness” before the season of craziness begins.  Before we wrap up the work week, here are my favorites of the week:

Favorite Round-Up:  50 Thanksgiving Recipes.  Thanksgiving is less than a week away.  If you’re still trying to finalize your menu, this might give you some ideas.

 

Favorite Crispy:  French Onion Soup Arancini.   I’ve been wanting to experiment with homemade arancini for a while now.  Crunchy on the outside, luscious on the inside.

 

Favorite Meatless Monday:  Hearty Vegetarian Pumpkin Chili.  Totally adding this to my dinner menu ASAP.

 

Favorite List:  21 Things Life Is Too Short Not To Do.  My favorites:  #1, #7 (but make it a mimosa), #8, #12, #13, #15, #20.

 

Favorite Slurp:  Roasted Cauliflower and Garlic Soup with Caramelized Onions.    How beautiful would this be for a holiday dinner party?

 

Favorite Flavors:  Warm Caramelized Fennel and Leek Cheese Dip.  I heart fennel and leeks.

 

Favorite Freshly Baked:  Chocolate Cinnamon Swirl Pumpkin Brioche Bread.   Breakfast or dessert?  Who really cares!

 

Favorite Fall:  Roasted Grape Sage Pizza.  We skipped “pizza Sunday” last week…

 

Favorite Brunch:  Apple Cider Fritters.    But I think eating these would require sitting by a fire.

 

Favorite Cocktail:  Spiced Pear Sangria.  Might as well go ahead and make a double batch.

 

Cheers!

 

{virtual} coffee chat

If we were having coffee this morning…I’m sure we would agree that the weekends go by WAY too fast.

If we were having coffee this morning….I would tell you all about my weekend with my parents.  They arrived on Friday afternoon and we enjoyed a weekend full of good eats.  We said our “goodbyes” early on Sunday morning because Dad had to be back in time for the Panthers kick-off at 1 pm.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that I channeled my inner Italian and made lasagna with bechamel and bolognese on Friday night along with a salad fresh from the garden.  The lasagna recipe came from i am a food blog‘s cookbook and it was a good one.  This lasagna is a little different in that the only veggies are onion and celery (I left out the carrot because of Momma’s allergy) and tomato paste.  It also only includes mozzarella and Parmesan – no ricotta.  It’s super meaty (beef and pork) and was super comforting.  The leftovers were even better last night.

If we were having coffee this morning….We’d talk about food that is better as leftovers – lasagna is always better the next day.  I would ask you which foods you like best after they’ve had time to hang out in the fridge.

If we were having coffee this morning….I would tell you that I’m really enjoying our latest wine club shipment from Portalupi.  I opened two of their bottles this weekend and I was impressed.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about our field trip/adventure on Saturday.  Big Guy and I took my parents to Durham for a little shopping and lunch.  We first stopped at Parker and Otis because I knew my Mother would just adore the store.  And she did.  I seriously could get lost in their for HOURS.  After Parker and Otis, we headed down the street to Rose’s Meat Market and Sweet Shop to pick up chicken for dinner.  We couldn’t help but drool over the sweets.  I’m kicking myself for not bringing home a chocolate tart.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about lunch at Dos Perros.  Lunch was good but it probably isn’t a place I would return – too many other places I want to try.  We started with a round of drinks (Paloma for me!) and some guacamole.  The guacamole was really yummy.  For lunch I decided to order two small plates – Platanos Rellanos (jalapeno and cheese stuffed plantain fritters with cream and pineapple salsa) and Ensalada (bibb lettuce, radishes, goat cheese, and bacon with serrano pepper-hibiscus dressing).  I was impressed with the freshness of the salad but I was underwhelmed by the flavor.  When serrano is in the description of the dish, I expect a little heat.  Same goes for the fritters – though the pineapple salsa was amazing.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that the rest of our Saturday afternoon was filled with football and cooking!

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you that the highlight of Saturday evening’s dinner was dessert.  Oh.em.gee.  Heaven in a bowl.  Homemade banana fosters banana bread with homemade coconut ice cream.  Both were incredible and putting these two recipes together for dessert is probably one of my best ideas in all my 32 years on earth.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would tell you about our fire pit conversations from last night.  We both poured ourselves a drink (red, red wine for me) and chatted by the fire until the sun faded away.  It was a nice way to end the weekend.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would update you on my Fall Reading List.  I finished Eight Hundred Grapes a couple of weeks ago and it’s one of my favorite books ever.  Having been in Sonoma earlier in the year, this book really resonated with me.  I’m trying to convince Big Guy to read it next.

If we were having coffee this morning…I would remind you of this: