Monday, August 15, 2011

Asheville - 2011 Version

Happy Monday all! I have so much to share with you about my fabulous long weekend in Asheville, North Carolina. The main topic of this post? That would be FOOD. You've been warned.

You might remember from this post that we take a trip to Asheville, North Carolina almost every year. Instead of re-inventing the wheel, I am going to plagiarize myself and just copy my description from last years post:

This past weekend, Mr. Fo and I took a trip to Asheville, NC. Asheville is a wonderful town filled with the following: 1) The famous Biltmore Estate 2) 9 different Beer Breweries 3) Hippies. Tons of hippies. 4) Amazing natural and organic food. 5) Mountains. 6) Independent coffee houses (i.e. coffee houses that have signs in the window that say "Friends don't let friends drink Starbucks.")

Mr. Fo and his family have a special connection to Asheville as they lived there for several years while Mr. Fo was in elementary school. They still go back every summer to play golf at the GORGEOUS Biltmore Forest Country Club.

I tagged along this time, and I am so glad I did. 

Okay, enough plagiarizing myself, it's time for some new material:

While Mr. Fo and Mr. Fo Senior (my father in law, who might be upset I am referring to him as the "Senior") spent the daytime playing golf, I found several ways to occupy myself.

I spent a good chunk of time perusing the Screen Door, a funky antique furniture mall with so many cool knick nacks and decor items. I found a bunch of cool glass bottles I will be using for my picnic photo shoot this weekend. 

They had an entire wall of cool signs, like this lovely one:

I also spent some time at an excellent local Farmers Market, Asheville City Market.

I tasted fresh goat cheese, had a watermelon mojito popsicle and met the author of this book:

This cookbook is loaded with beautiful photos and simple recipes using fresh ingredients. The author, Sheri Castle, was so sweet and chatted with me for awhile. Sheri has been a recipe developer for years and has worked with many magazines and other publications - cool job, right?! Check her out here!

Asheville has some excellent shopping. I love how they support their local artists and vendors.

I was also delighted to find that one of my favorite bake shops, Bake It Pretty, had its storefront in Asheville! The store was just adorable, and I highly suggest visiting if you are in the area! If you can't make it to Asheville, check out their darling baking accessories online.

I broke up my day of exploring with a mid day snack at Curate, a delicious Spanish tapas place in downtown Asheville. I sat at the bar watching the open kitchen work their culinary magic.

I had a mini snack of freshly baked bread, tomato preserves and manchego cheese. I don't understand how something this simple, could be this flavorful, but it absolutely was. It's proof that good, fresh ingredients are essential. I wish I could have tasted more on the menu, but I'll be back!

I also spotted a celeb:

That would be Mr. Woody Harrelson, who is in NC shooting a movie. I could tell by his quick gait and his staring directly at the ground that he didn't want to be recognized. Good thing I always have my trusty celebrity identifying radar that allows me to spot celebs under any circumstances. Did anyone else ever find Woody Harrelson kind of cute? Just me? Please advise.

Let's fast forward to dinnertime (why not, right?). Mr. Fo and I enjoyed an amazing meal at Corner Kitchen, another restaurant where fresh, seasonal ingredients reign supreme. The restaurant is located in a charming old house, which just adds to the experience.

Each night they serve a different mini appetizer, or an "amuse-bouche," as they say in France. (Amuse-bouche is defined as: Similar to but not to be confused with hors d'oeuvre. This is a tidbit, often tiny, served as a free extra to keep you happy while you are waiting for your first course to come. It gives you an idea of the chef's approach to cooking and the restaurant's attention to your appetite.)

Our amuse-bouche (a phrase that I will now use as often as possible), was a plantain chip with fresh black bean curd and a ____ sauce. (I can't remember what kind of sauce.) Let's just say this little bite of heaven was so good that we kissed up to the waiter to get a few rounds....YUM!

I had basil pesto salmon with soft Parmesan polenta. Delectable.

I was smitten to find out that the restaurant had recently hosted some famous guests.

I wonder if the president and his lady enjoyed their amuse-bouche as much as I did. (Please note: Despite the tense state of our economic times, please keep all mean-spirited comments to yourself. This is a FUN blog with no room for political drivel. Thanks friends :) )

 The next evening we celebrated the close of the golf tournament. Biltmore Forest Country Club threw an amazing New York City themed reception and completely outdid themselves! The reception was chock full of interesting food was an event planners dream! I am pretty sure everyone thought I was crazy because I took about a million pictures - I claimed it was "research."

Check out the mini appetizers presentation with the lit displays:

There was a "Little Italy" station that was so authentic it had hanging cured meats!

Chinatown was represented with its own station complete with a Chinese dragon. You will never guess what the dragon was carved from...MARGARINE. The back of the dragon is cardboard, and the front with the designs is made from margarine. I can't make this up. Maybe margarine carving is a thing, but I was unaware of it!

NYC's famed skyline was also represented. This was hand cut using foam board. The windows were cut out individually and backed with tracing paper. Shine a light through the back of the skyline and boom - you've got city lights!

Have you ever seen so much shrimp? Mr. Fo and Mr. Fo Sr. about about half of this...

Let's talk desserts, shall we? In addition to mini cannolis (swoon), mini tiramisu, and mini mousse, there were mini ice cream cones with your choice of homemade hazelnut or vanilla ice cream. The ice cream was scooped with a melon ball scooper and was pretty much the cutest thing I've ever seen.

The flower centerpieces were all lit up which was very chic:

The mantel decoration was unique as well:

Hello Statue of Liberty ice sculpture!

And Helloooo liquor luge carved in the shape of the club's logo!

There was even a throwback vintage candy display inspired by Coca-Cola. The inspiration came from an old picture found from the club's early days:

After all that, are you tired? Hungry? I know I am. I hope enjoyed my obsessive photos and culinary tour through Asheville. I certainly did! If you haven't been to this divine city, I suggest you go asap! It has so much more to offer than just the Biltmore Estate (which is absolutely wonderful in its own right - a must see). 

I guess it's back to the real world for me! Have a great week!


  1. Wow, you got to do so much and eat so much while you were there, LOL! Looks like a blast. I want that husband & wife sign for my casa :) Can't wait for your picnic photoshoot!

  2. Looks like you had a blast! Between fantastic food...celebrity sightings...more celebrity shop sightings...and even more food...I’m totally jealous. And hungry. Thanks for the great recap and fabulous photos!

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