Tuesday, September 20, 2011

Eating my way through Asheville, NC.

Asheville, North Carolina: where all the cool kids go. We recently (okay, maybe it was recently when I started this post, but I've had some serious writer's block) spent 5 days (4 nights) in Asheville, NC. It was my first real gluten free vacation. I'm happy to say that Asheville is a lovely place to travel gluten free. God bless all the gluten free and vegan hippies of Asheville, because everywhere we went either had a GF menu or was willing to accommodate (I'm not vegan, but I've noticed that once people are used to feeding vegans they easily transition to feeding celiacs). Granted, I did some research before hand, but the number of restaurants we had to choose from was impressive. Also, we were on a fairly tight budget. We wanted to do a lot of stuff, so we tried to be as frugal as possible on food. We stopped at the grocery and packed picnic lunches for a of our days out. The grocery there, Ingles, had a good salad bar and a decent selection of GF snacks.

Kathmandu Cafe (Himalayan Cusine) was so good we ate there twice. The first night we had dinner there and were pleasantly surprised to find that nearly everything on the menu was gluten free. We had a potato cake appetizer and two different lamb dishes. They grind the spices (imported from Nepal, Tibet, and India) fresh for each dish. On our way out, we found that they had an all you can eat lunch buffet for less than $9. We knew that we'd have to come back for that. The buffet was mostly chicken and vegetarian dishes, which were all excellent, but not the show stoppers that the dinner items were.

Homegrown was so good we would have eaten there at least twice if we'd had more time. It is definitely on my list for when we get back to Asheville... oh, and we'll be back. The menu is written up on a chalk board and everything is... you guessed it... home grown. I had grilled trout with a tomato basil aioli and cheesy grits. I love cheesy grits. The entrees here were under $10 and reasonable portioned. The atmosphere is casual and cozy, and I really fell in love with the place.

Luella's BBQ was our last meal in Asheville. It was so good that I wanted to bring back a 5 gallon bucket full of brisket, pulled pork, and ribs. Ben got the ribs, and it was the first time I'd seen ribs actually fall off the bone. The place was packed with locals, and we had to wait quite a while for a table... but it was well worth the wait. They had a number of GF sides to choose from but I had to go with the classics, slaw and beans. The prices here were unbelievably good for the portion sizes. I would say this is another must-stop for anyone going to Asheville.

Our most spendy dinner was at the Biltmore. We spend a day and a half at the Biltmore and loved every minute of it. It was far better than either of us even expected. I highly recommend a trip to the Biltmore... just make sure you give yourself plenty of time! I'm not sure what I was expecting, but we got an historic/museumlike experience, an outdoor hike through some magnificent gardens (including a 15 acre azalea garden), a farm visit, and a wine tasting. After all that, we were ready to eat! We ate at the Bistro, which was located near the winery. We had a lovely shrimp and scallop ceviche to start, and then, the best bison burgers we've ever had. The bison were locally raised, and I seriously can't imagine a better tasting burger. Mine was sans bun, but really, I think a bun would have just distracted from the awesomeness that was the burger.

One of the biggest shockers about our food experience on this trip was how few sweets we ate. We didn't have dessert most nights. I had some fresh fruit at the hotel, and that was all my usually incurable sweet tooth needed. On the night we did splurge for some sweets, we stopped into this chocolate store downtown called the Chocolate Fetish. They had a GF menu and tons of selections. I was very pleased with my selection of a pistachio dark chocolate frog and ancient pleasures truffle. In looking up their web site to link to for this post, I see that they  ship... though I think I'd rather use the excuse to go back to Asheville!

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