Beyond The Biltmore

by | Jan 17, 2006

There is a great mountain town less than five hours to the north and west of here.


Here’s how USA TODAY described Asheville, North Carolina in 2003:

This once down-on-its-heels city of 70,000 nestled in the Appalachian Mountains is morphing into one of the South’s hippest hangouts. Coffee bars, trendy eateries, music clubs and galleries have taken up residence in the glorious art deco buildings that fill the downtown. And artists and musicians are arriving in droves.

Santa Fe of the East, some call it.

I see more similarities with Boulder, CO, but I digress.

On Saturday night we dined at Zambra Tapas, by far the best tapas bar we’ve ever entered. We opened with a truly wonderful wine–Periquita Terras Do Sado from Portugal. Created by Jose Maria da Fonseca in 1850, Periquita is made primarily from the Castelao Frances grape, an indigenous variety that thrives in southern Portugal. Some of the tapas we enjoyed:

~ artichoke, poblano and queso dip with housemade flatbread
~ pan fried trout with hazelnuts, orange, and brown butter
~ grilled hanger steak with cilanto chimichurri, cana de cabre

After dinner, we walked to Barley’s Tap Room for an organic beer, then headed across the street to The Orange Peel for Donna The Buffalo.

In the morning we made our way to Everyday Gourmet, an espresso shop opened by a Seattle transplant. In other words, it was the real deal. Before we left today, we had a terrific lunch at Thai Basil. I could go on and on…the place has galleries galore, unique shops, natural beauty, charming neighborhoods and interesting people. Asheville is a great place to visit, and I imagine the locals love living there.