Friday, June 14, 2013

Asheville Part 2: Food & Drink


There’s no way around Asheville’s title of Beer City, USA. As is commonly quoted, Asheville boasts more breweries per capita than any other city in America. Joe and I were excited to drink some really good craft beer.

After exploring the Blue Ridge Parkway, we visited Highland Brewing Company for their afternoon tour. We got a glass of a few of their tasting room-only beers. I’m not really into Highland beers, though I don’t dislike them, but I was impressed by the tour and tasting room. Our tour guide was hilarious, engaging, and knowledgeable. As one of the larger craft breweries in the South, they put out a lot of product. Somehow I did not take any pictures there. I would recommend Highland for a thorough, free tour and some special offerings only available at the tasting room.


Our next post-hiking stop was Pisgah Brewing Company in Black Mountain. It’s a little out of the way if you’re only staying in Asheville, but I’d recommend the trip out to Black Mountain. This was one of our favorite breweries. The atmosphere was very relaxed, so relaxed that they only take cash. We split a handful of tasting glasses and chatted with the locals.


The day we visited the Biltmore, we overdid it a little, starting with French Broad Brewing Company (after drinking wine at the Biltmore), moving on to Wedge Brewing, and finishing with dinner at Wicked Weed. Of the three, Wicked Weed was our favorite, though we liked the Ryehopper at French Broad and the atmosphere at Wedge. If it hadn’t been raining, it would’ve been very cool to hang out at Wedge a little longer. But Wicked Weed not only had amazing beers but very, very good food. It was a struggle for us to pick out our sampler since the beer list was so extensive. Fortunately, they offered short pours as well, so we got to taste a few more beers after finishing our sampler.


Last but definitely not least, when we asked at the different breweries where we could find the best beer in town, Green Man was always at the front of the list. We were not misled in that regard. Seriously solid beers. Of course, our flights usually gave us away as newbies/tourists, but other patrons were more than happy to offer their recommendations and preferences. Similar to Nashville, Asheville is made up of a lot of people who have moved their from other places. Since everyone was new at one point or another, there is a very friendly, welcoming spirit.

We visited LAB for a mid-afternoon snack and brew, but I wouldn’t return simply on account of their beer, which was resoundingly mediocre. The nachos, however, were outstanding.

Several people recommended a stop at Bruisin Ales bottle shop, where we definitely did some damage. While making some purchases, we talked beer with the guy ringing us up, and he offered us a free pint glass, which was nice. Very knowledgeable and helpful staff as well as a GREAT selection of craft beer.


Taking food pictures proved difficult due to less-than-ideal lighting conditions in most places, but I nabbed a few.

Chai Pani:


Chai Pani was a must for us due to a passion for Indian food. Pictured above is kale pakora. Kale! Pakora! Delicious. The okra fries were scarfed down before grabbing a picture. I wish we had skipped the entrees and continued to order more appetizers/small plates. Not that the entrees weren’t good, but the energy and creativity was more evident in the smaller plates.


Wicked Weed makes a re-appearance just by virtue of the food. I’m a sucker for a giant skillet cookie. Add in some candied ginger and butter pecan ice cream, and I’m a goner. I think I got the fried chicken sandwich with kim chi and miso mayonnaise for my entrĂ©e. Either way, if you need something to soak up all the beer you’ve been drinking and your taste buds aren’t shot, hit up Wicked Weed.


The hot reservation in town at the moment is chef Katie Button’s Curate for tapas. Like most Asheville establishments, the menu is carefully marked with designations for gluten-free, vegan, lactose-free, and nut-free. The bacalao and jamon iberico were outstanding, though we skipped the section of fried goodies. The ajo blanco soup was incredibly refreshing and different. Pictured above is the (again) dessert: rosemary ice cream with almond sponge cake, marcona almonds, and candied orange rind. Yeah.

All of that, and it felt like we didn’t even scratch the surface, especially since we weren’t there over the weekend for brunch. We will definitely be back for more!