10/19/11

Eating out in Asheville, NC: French Broad Chocolate Lounge & The Gourmet Chip Company (Sweet & Salty)

Happy Wednesday! I'm pretty sure this is the last full Asheville post you will find on my blog (unless I take another trip to the lovely city). Are you glad? I'll be back to recipe posting very, very soon: I promise.

Here's a question for you: what do you like as snacks? Are you a savory girl/boy and tend to pick up potato chips, pistachios, or maybe Cheetos? Or do you crave chocolate, ice cream and cake?

While in Asheville, I satisfied both my sweet and savory sides at two establishments: French Broad Chocolate Lounge and Gourmet Chip Company.

Let's start in a chronological order. I woke up, putzed around a bit {that's my friend Jenny's word!!} and then had a great brunch at Curate. What followed was some walking around, shopping, photo taking, and then I needed a snack.

Ever since I told Robyn that I'll be going to Asheville, she told me that I MUST go to French Broad Chocolate Lounge: and that's exactly what I did.

The name comes from the French Broad river that passes through Asheville: it's a great reflection of the communal feel of the lounge. The menu is written on a large chalk board, there are the most comfortable leather chairs, leather couches and one big communal table. The place was filled with couples, moms and their kids, families, and a few singles like me.


This is a family run place. The owners, Jael and Dan are self taught: "Self-guided, never-ending chocolate education – from textbooks, cookbooks, chef friends, online classes, cacao farms of Costa Rica, culinary tours throughout United States and Central America, and of course, in the kitchen. (nope, they didn’t attend culinary school)."


I've had a chance to try a few of the truffles from French Broad Chocolate Lounge at my hotel, and although the flavors were definitely creative, they just weren't my cup of tea. I prefer dark chocolate with maybe an addition of nuts or fruit. So for my dessert I chose a chocolate raspberry cheesecake with a nut crust and a glass of hibiscus iced tea.


I sat on a couch, caught up with my reading and indulged in the smooth texture of the cheesecake and the refreshing ice tea. This was a perfect mid afternoon snack.


I left the French Broad Lounge and headed back to the hotel. On the way back, however, I ran into a family that looked familiar. Turns out they were in the same airport as I was waiting for the flight to Asheville. For some reason, I decided to say hi. That's not my typical behavior: my mom is the one who typically chats up anyone and everyone. Turns out, that family was from Washington DC and was visiting their relatives in Asheville. When they found out that I was into food and food photography, they said I HAD TO visit their sister-in-law's The Gourmet Chip Company. Who was I to say no?


This place sells GOURMET chips made from regular potatoes, purple sweet potatoes, plantains and taro roots. The chips are topped with everything from chocolate, to blue cheese and red wine. I was intrigued.




Alas, Gourmet Chip Company doesn't have a sampler. I ended up ordering The Cajun: Sweet Potato Crisps with smokey, sweet & spicy topping. The chips were made directly in front of me, topped with the secret mix of seasoning and some lime juice. They had quite a kick to them and were surprisingly not greasy. Since I was still pretty full from the cheesecake, I saved half of the chips for the next day, and they still were crispy!


The picture above on the right is of The Parisian: a woman sitting next to me asked if I'd like to try it, and I happily obliged, offering her a few of my chips. The Parisian had rosemary, thyme, goat cheese, white truffle spritz and sea salt. It was divine. These chips would be great for big parties...even something as fancy as a wedding!


Where do YOU snack when you are on vacation? Do you take advice of almost-strangers on where to eat? Please chime in!

6 comments:

Casey from Eat Write Retreat said...

Hi Olga,

You hit many of the highlights of Asheville (there are so MANY from which to choose). Not only will we take Eat Write Retreat attendees to places that you mentioned like Early Girl Eatery, Curate and French Broad Chocolate Lounge, but the swag bag will have treats from other local specialties, such as the Gourmet Chip Company. Wish you could join us in November, but it looks like you did a fine job exploring on your own!

Best,
Casey
Co-Founder
Eat Write Retreat
http://eatwriteretreat.com/destination-learning-asheville

Megan said...

I love the idea of a gourmet chip shop... and that chocolate raspberry cheesecake looks sooo good. I haven't had enough chocolate today.

Heavenly Housewife said...

That cheesecake looked so rich and delicious, and that chip shop looked like such fun!
No, I don't take advice from strangers LOL, I know exactly what I want and won't let anything get in my way LOL.
*kisses* HH

Jeanette said...

Cheesecake is so yummy, I usually prefer the traditional cheesecakes with some kind of fruit topping, but the one you chose looks really good. I try to stay away from those rich desserts because of the calories, I really don't need, and rich foods are becoming troublesome to my digestive system.
My snack of choice is usually some kind of chip. I would have had a tough time picking just one from the Gourmet Chip Company. Oh my, they look so good!!
I have been to Ashville, it is a wonderful place to visit. Did you get a chance to go over to the Biltmore Estate? If you didn't you should, it is Beautiful!!

The Duo Dishes-Chrystal said...

People don't think about Asheville as having great food, but they do! It's been a few years since my last trip, and we ate awesome food at friends' houses. Lucky you! The key to good eating and taking up a local's suggestions. You will find magical spots!

Junglefrog said...

O how did I miss all those great posts Olga.. I must have been looking elsewhere.. Love this post too and those all look like great snacks. I'm a sweet and savory kind of girl. Can never make up my mind really on what I like most!