This is a post about food. I just want to prepare you. Yes, it was my birthday on Tuesday. Yes, I had a wonderful day spending time with Frank, Elsie, and Mom. Yes, I received beautiful, thoughtful gifts, which for which I am most appreciative.
But the highlight was most certainly dinner at a fairly new restaurant to Asheville. It’s called Curate, pronounced coo-rah-tay, and its an “Authentic Spanish Tapas” bar/restaurant. The idea of tapas is that you share several small plates of food, ordering as you eat, enjoying many different dishes throughout the meal. We ate at several tapas places when we were in Barcelona, and our Rehearsal Dinner was at a tapas place, so we were excited to relive those experiences here.
Mom stayed home to babysit, and Frank and I snuck out for a rare date-night. Curate is located right in the heart of downtown Asheville, near the Vance Memorial. The place was already bustling when we arrived at 5:30 (we wanted to see a movie at 7). A long bar dominates most of the restaurant, and the open kitchen is behind that bar. We love to cook and to watch others cook, so we asked to be seated at the bar where we had a front row seat to the orchestrations of this popular place (it was voted best new restaurant in Asheville and is up for a James Beard award).
We stared off with a cocktail (Rebujito for me) and a selection of ham. Spain is known for it’s ham. They enjoy ham in the same ways some enjoy wine, comparing subtle flavors, noticing the color and texture, etc. The most notable ham on our plate was from free-range pigs who eat only acorns. The flavor was nutty and earthy (it’s the one on the far right below).
That blurry piece in the front was a piece of fresh bread, slathered with a tomatoes and olive oil. Simple, yet divine! Then we enjoyed white asparagus in lemon tarragon vinaigrette with “light as air” mayonnaise. Wow. I hate that I forgot to get a photo of that masterpiece.
Next we ordered their famous Sauteed Shrimp and Sliced Garlic. This dish is rated the number one tapas dish in Asheville, and now I know why! Again, simple, yet brilliant.
Behind the shrimp is a sandwich: tuna with roasted red peppers, onions, black olive spread, and a hard-boiled egg. Yum.
As we were eating and drinking and talking, we watched the cooks rush around.
The station right in front of us was the saute station, and that guy looked hot. Like temperature hot.
Next up, spinach with apples, raisins, and toasted pine nuts (thank goodness Curate posts their full menu online…I would never be able to remember all of this!)
And lamb skewers in Moorish spices.
Our last savory dish was an array of mushrooms sauteed in EVOO (as Rachael Ray would say) and sherry.
As we enjoyed our mushrooms, a cook came to a spot right in front of us and started sifting something onto a cookie sheet. I wondered what he might be making, and I thought I’d take a photo in case it got interesting. He stuck the sheet in the oven and walked away.
We ordered dessert, which was rosemary ice cream with almond sponge cake and candied oranges. Can you tell we like unusual flavor combos? We could see the cook making our dish. First he smeared some yummy sauce on the slate plate (he was making two of the same dishes at one time).
Then he placed the sponge cake and candied oranges.
Finally, the rosemary ice cream.
Apparently the sponge cake batter is dispersed into the baking dish with the same device they make foam or whipped cream with, so it was so very light and airy. The rosemary ice cream was so unique, and went well with the orange and almond flavors.
We realized the movie would be starting soon, and asked for our check. Our waiter told us to be sure to wait a few moments, as a special birthday treat was coming out. (We had told them when we’d made the reservation.) It turns out, that mixture that was sifted onto the cookie sheet was for me! He had sifted powdered chocolate onto a paper thin sheet of potato starch. It was then baked, and the cook had 30 seconds from the time the sheet came out of the oven to create a chocolate “napkin.” He quickly but carefully peeled the chocolate up,
He held it just so for a few more seconds,
What a way to end the meal! I snapped a few shots of the restaurant right before we left, which was jam packed by now.
That diamond pattern on the bar is composed of little hex tiles. I love the look.
And check out this textured wall paper in the ladies room.
So, we walked across the street to the Fine Arts theater to see the Descendants.
Have you guys seen it? It’s definitely my kind of movie. Same writer/director as Sideways and Election, other favorites of mine. We saw a preview for My Week with Marilyn, and I SO want to see it, along with a handful of other movies…The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, The Artist, War Horse, Young Adult.
What a memorable meal! Have you guys eaten tapas? Seen any good movies lately?