Monday, October 24, 2011

On the Road Eats: North Carolina

Thanks to Chowhound, my dining companions and I discovered a little place called Cúrate in Asheville. It was relatively new, having opened in March of this year. And we scored the last available reservation for that evening on OpenTable. Despite the late time of 9:45, we still had a short wait when we arrived, perhaps attesting to the popularity of this elegant tapas bar. The hostesses were quite congenial though and while we waited, we were able to observe the fast-paced action in the open kitchen, including the preparation of some of the dishes we ended up ordering.

Once seated, we settled on a broad cross-section of the menu.

Pan con tomate with Manchego cheese was a nice portion size and the large chunks of bread were good to have with some of the other dishes we ordered too.

From the list of cured meats, we chose one of the more expensive and, according to the menu, more flavorful options, the jamon Ibérico de Bellota Fermín. It's a cured ham from the black-footed pigs of Spain but ones that feed only on acorns. The result was a smooth piece of meat with a slightly nutty taste. 

Tortilla Española is the dish by which I judge a tapas restaurant; this was an incredible iteration that really spoke to our overall experience. This was no ordinary tortilla — once you sliced through the small round, the inside had a uniquely liquidy center, like an over easy egg. It was heavenly. The small mound of salt mixed in made for a perfectly flavored tortilla.

The patatas bravas were spicy and crispy, just the way they should be. And again, another good-sized portion.

We had seen the ensalada de otoño, a lovely, colorful beet salad, being assembled in the kitchen. Each element on the plate was carefully arranged and the dish was meticulously prepared, resulting in a beautiful presentation. The beets were sweet and the the pickled oranges were a funky complement.

The berejenas la taberna were the surprise hit of the evening. The delicately fried eggplant drizzled with Wild Mountain Apiaries honey and garnished with rosemary was simple, yet a nontraditional, delicious preparation.

The lamb skewer marinated in moorish spices was full of flavor from the seasoning, but the meat itself was mild. It was tender and tasty.

For dessert, we chose the espuma de chocolate, an aerated chocolate mousse served with green apple sorbet, green apple cubes and hazlenut praline sauce. This is the closer any chocolate lover should order. The slight carbonation gave it a bit of a kick that tickled the back of your throat. And the apple sorbet stood up strongly against the chocolate.

My dining companions and I were delighted to have found such a sophisticated, fun restaurant preparing high-quality food in Asheville. Some have criticized it for being pricey. Coming from New York there's not much sticker shock, but I can see how the people of the area might be unaccustomed to it. But there's definitely quality to back it up; this would fit right in to any major city with an acclaimed dining scene.

1 comment:

  1. Anonymous1:14 PM

    the eggplant was out of this world.