Sometimes you have such an out of this world meal, you gotta write about it. My lunch at Curate Tapas Bar was that kind of experience.
I travelled to the mountain town of Asheville, North Carolina to spend the weekend in a stunning cabin for my sister’s bachelorette party. I’ll spare you the details of that portion of the festivities. Let’s talk about the food in this tourist town! The bride has been trying to dine at the popular Spanish tapas restaurant, Curate Tapas Bar every time she visits this charming city.
Finally upon her third or fourth attempt, we scored seats at the bar where I got to watch our tapas being crafted right in front of us. My favorite part played out before we even swallowed a bite. Stunning Jamon Iberico shaved right in front of me. It instantly took me back to my time as a study abroad student in Pamplona, Spain.
We dove right in to the extensive and authentic menu… and admittedly over ordered out of pure enthusiasm and deep hunger. I crave the kind of freshly cured olives that you get at a classic tapas bar. So I was very pleased when they tasted just as I hoped, beautifully marinated in lemon, rosemary and thyme.
Next came the melt in your mouth Jamon Serrano Fermin. Sliced thin, the salty, smokey goodness took me away to the land of bull fights and flamenco. Such a nostalgic treat for a me! The bars in the neighborhood where I lived in the Navarre region had legs of this stuff hanging from the ceiling by the dozens.
Since it was a warm summer afternoon, we couldn’t resist ordering a bowl of refreshing, creamy gazpacho. I was pleasantly surprised at how delicate the garlic flavor was in this cold tomato and cucumber based soup. Oftentimes restaurants make the garlic element of this iconic dish far too overpowering for my taste. Not Curate. For me, they nailed it.
Two other dishes we sampled were new to me and worth trying! The lamb skewers were cooked to tender perfection and accompanied by cunchy pickled cucumbers. And the grilled red peppers stuffed with goat cheese and drizzled with parsley purée were decadent. I’m sure these are more modern liberties the chef was taking with tapas, but I didn’t mind.
It wouldn’t be a Spanish feast without croquetas either. These creamy fritters were filled with shredded chicken and cheese. Just rich and crispy enough.
We finished the meal with their most popular menu item, sautéed shrimp with sliced garlic in a sherry broth. And with what can only be described as the classic Spanish tapa, the tortilla espanola. The egg, potato and onion dish is something I like to recreate on occasion. It didn’t disappoint!
When it comes to authentic Spanish cuisine and a tapas bar atmosphere, I have pretty high standards given my history. Curate sets the (tapas) bar!