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Let Asheville Sweep You Off Your Feet: Asheville NC Part 1. First Date.

When I don't travel, I get restless. I need something exciting and fun and new to look forward to.
That's just how I am.

Last October I booked a flight and room at a fancy Hotel Indigo and headed to Asheville, North Carolina. I knew little about the city, but was able to build an itinerary of eating out, checking out the local art scene and just walking around. I loved the quaint downtown, the friendly people, incredibly fresh food and the art of Jonas Gerard. I knew I'd want to be back.

Then earlier this month I received an email from Del of the Explore Asheville inviting me to join three other bloggers on a fun weekend trip to Asheville. I could not believe my luck, and happily said yes. Now for the disclaimer: the trip was completely paid for by the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau including my flights, stay at The Grove Park Inn and all the eating out and sightseeing adventures. I was under no obligation to write about any of it, but how could I not? I had an amazing weekend of very little sleep but experiences that stretched my sense of adventure, let me revisit a few of my favorite places in Asheville, have Jonas Gerard paint my body (!!!), and meet people who are passionate about what they do and want to share it with their community.

I took over 600 photos, but don't want to overwhelm you with them all. As I was trying to fall asleep a few nights ago, I came up with an idea for how to summarize my trip: I'll write about it as a progression of a romantic relationship. The first date, the thrill, infatuation and romance, and finally the deep love and companionship.

Ready? Let's go!

It's important to set the right tone/mood on the first date. You want to be relaxed, yet slightly nervous and full of anticipation. Coffee dates are boring, so why not meet up for a drink and some snacks?
Battery Park Book Exchange & Champagne Bar is the perfect place for that. You can walk around and browse stacks of books, discuss your favorite authors and genres, pet a friendly dog next to a couple sipping champagne and then sit on incredibly comfortable couches and order some bubbly!

This place has over 60,000 books and 80 wines: rest assured you will not be bored or thirsty!

I don't know about you, but I need snacks when there is alcohol involved. If you are having a good time with your date and his/her hands are clean, order a few dishes to share!

The cheese plate featured at least four varieties of cheese, marinated olives and jam. It was served with a bowl of various crackers and I swooned over the pretty board with metal accents. We also ordered a smoked trout dip: I had to stop myself from licking the bowl.

If after sharing the cheese board and finishing up the champagne you are still interested in spending some time with your date, head over to Curate! I had brunch at Curate on my first visit to Asheville, and was looking forward to checking out their dinner menu.

While you get comfortable and start scanning the menu, make sure to look around and notice how calm everyone is in the open kitchen. No one is yelling, running around or panicking. Also, check out the beautiful light fixtures, a big planter on the wall and the exposed ceiling. It's definitely the type of place where romance can bloom.

You can order charcuterie & cheese, something from the fryer, soups & salads, sautes, and finish off with desserts and coffee. The menu, as well as the knowledgeable servers, will guide you.

We sampled at least fifteen dishes, but I will highlight my favorites.

Alcachofas fritas: Jerusalem artichoke chips with sherry reduction and savory yogurt dip.

White sangria

pan con tomate: toasted bread with fresh tomato & olive oil and manchego cheese. We were warned not to fill up on this, but how could I not?

tabla de embutidos: traditional Spanish charcuterie with lomo and cabecero iberico de bellota, fuet and chorizo palacios

brandada de bacalao: traditional cod & potato puree served hot with crisp bread

Of course we also had dessert! My favorite was espuma de chocolate: chocolate mousse, raspberry sorbet and hazelnut praline.

It was a sweet way to end the night.

If this was a date, I'd say it was a major success! Stay tuned for part two of my Asheville experience: thrill, infatuation and romance.


Amber DeGrace said...

Love it, Olga!

MJ said...

If this was a date, we'd totally be going back to my place! Seriously though, the bookstore/champagne idea is genius! That is my kind of place. Your "if your date's hands are clean" line made me giggle, too!

Ann Mah said...

Ohhh, you had me at book exchange and Champagne bar :)

Athena Russell said...

Oh how I love Asheville! Great post!

DeliciousDish said...

Everything looks so good! What a fabulous opportunity!

Belinda @zomppa said...

I LOVE Asheville! What great finds!

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

Oh you just wait :)

Typing On My Phone. Blaming All Mistakes On That :)
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Subject: [mangotomato] Re: Mango & Tomato: Let Asheville Sweep You Off Your Feet: Asheville NC Part 1. First Date.

Carissa @ Fit To Indulge said...

Oh my goodness Olga... we were on our honeymoon in Ashville the same time you were there. How bizarre. Not to mention, we ALSO did the food tour starting at the book exchange, ziplined, and visited the Biltmore. It's amazing we didn't bump into one another. What a great city. Delicious food scene, and a little piece of Seattle culture right in the mountains of NC. I'm only jeleous that your trip was paid for. ;)

Olga @ MangoTomato said...

That's one awesome coincidence!!! Glad you loved it. And yes, I know how lucky I am ;)