Random musings about the Asheville food scene

It’s a great time to be a foodie in Asheville.

Not only did the new Spanish tapas bar, Cúrate, open to a great reception (the restaurant had to stop taking reservations on the first night), it opened with the help of world-renowned chef José Andrés. Andrés is widely credited as bringing the concept of tapas to the US, and it was more than a pleasure to watch the chef hand-carve slices of luscious jamón ibérico de bellota, an acorn-fed ham imported from Spain. It’s amazing.

As an aside, Andrés visited 12 Bones for lunch while he was here. He told Xpress that he’ll be back to Asheville soon.

Other menu items include gambas al ajillo, a wonderful assortment of Spanish cheese, olives, patatas bravas, pan con tomate and other classic tapas. The flavors are straightforward yet subtle, the atmosphere is fun and lively and the wine list is great. Also, don’t skip the cava sangria — it’s light, fruity and refreshing without being too sweet.

Cúrate is an exciting addition to the Asheville food scene, and one to watch.

Also, the third annual National Truffle Festival took place at the Grand Bohemian. World-class chefs from all over the country flew in to take part in the festivities, which included truffle forums and marketplaces.

The event was capped of with a Chef and Vintner’s Gala and silent auction to benefit the Frankie Lemmon Foundation.

It was an amazing event primarily for the insanely good food. Of course, it’s hard to go wrong when a slew of talented chefs are allowed to run wild with primo local ingredients and a pile of black truffles.

Some of the highlights?
– Veal hanger steak over potato scallion cake, white truffle chimichurri and black truffles. (By Asheville’s own chef Adam Hayes of the Red Stag)
– Rabbit loin with honey and black truffle aioli.
– Black truffle pizza, caramelized onion, cantal chz, local ham, truffled creme.
– Foie gras and chicken presse with local veggies and truffle vinaigrette.
– Truffle pot de cremes with pistachio, chocolate “dirt” and violets.

The gala is pricey at $150 a ticket, but if you plan to save up for a charitable event, this is a good one to consider.

Also, I’m completely thrilled with the quality of the food coming out of some area restaurants that have shown remarkable improvement over the years. One of my rediscovered favorites is Zambra. I’ve been spending a lot of time in there eating lately, working on a weird foods series that debuts this Wednesday. Chef Adam Bannasch has fed me countless dishes from lamb testicles to fish sperm — and a few not-so-weird treats. I worked with Bannasch years ago and was impressed by his talent, but some of the stuff that he’s putting out of that kitchen right now is amazing. Granted, some of it’s qurky — foie gras and salted chocolate, for one — but it bears saying: if you haven’t been to Zambra in a while, you should try it out again.

And finally, a yogurt place called YoLo is opening on Merrimon Avenue in the space that the Hop used to occupy. I know, I know, who gets excited about yogurt? Certainly not me, until I checked out the Facebook page of another location in California.

So what’s so cool about it? It’s all self-serve, with flavors like raspberry-pomegranate and lavender. There’s also a bar full of a variety of toppings, like berries and other fruits as well as nuts and other healthy things. Yes, there are sprinkles and cookies and things, if that’s what you’re in to.



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