Friday, February 6, 2009

Dinner out on the Town

Downtown Asheville was very lively tonight.  We enjoyed walking and window shopping.  We also enjoyed stopping for drinks and snacks a couple of times.  The first place we stopped was the New French Bar.  We had seats at the window bar and indulged in some people watching while sipping our drinks.

This was a crispy creamy CaramelAppleTini.  It was really good.  I managed to limit myself to just one.  Tony had a beer and we had a delicious cheese and fruit plate to munch on.  I couldn't get the picture to come out, but the brie on the plate had been grilled over wood of some kind.  It was smokey and melty and gooey . . . mmmmmmm.

We had dinner at a subterranean place called Zambra.  The local literature said the food was Spanish type tapas with interesting wine and beer lists.  We followed the advice of a couple of reviews and made a reservation for one of the pillow filled booths.  Oh yeah!  Lots of pillows and a cozy private booth.  Our waiter was very helpful with ordering and he was cute to boot!

This is actually a 1/2 bottle of wine.  It was a nice pinot noir from the Willamette Valley area.  It was a good choice for all the different foods to come.

We started with a delightful salad of grated crisp apple, spinach, walnuts and a local goat cheese that they called "cana de cabre".  It was a great start.

Then we had this savory plate of grilled scallops w/butternut kimchi, clementine-honey sauce and crispy rice noodles.  The scallops were sweet and succulent and the butternut kimchi had some explosive sour heat to set it off.  Luckily, the clementine-honey sauce brought it all around to a nice balance.

We also had a dish of Poppyseed gnocchi w/fresh crab, preserved lemon butternut sauce.    The gnocchi were melt-in-your mouth tender and the crab pieces were large and sweet.  This dish was flavorful, but not especially attractive.
Our last savory dish was one that Tony was really unsure of.  Luckily,  he trusts me and is always willing to give new things a try.   So, the dish was described as East Fork Farms rabbit and smoked pork jowl gumbo.  Can you see the look on Tony's face when I told him this was the next dish?  Can you also guess that it turned out to be his favorite?  It was smoky and thick with rice underneath a generous ladleful of Cajun goodness.  Alas, it was not at all photogenic, but this was - 

This is not just regular cheesecake.  Oh, no . . . it is made with that lovely goat cheese, "cana de cabre"  It almost had a blue cheese thing going and was really dense.  To balance, the topping was sugared pepitas.  And the raspberry puree made it all sing.

One of the coolest things about this restaurant is that they change the menu every day.  Reread that sentence and think about it.  The menu tonight had 16 tapas choices.  I will look forward to coming here again.  Wanna join us?

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