Sunday, October 12, 2014

Asheville Anniversary: Good Eats and Drinks

This is more of a “drink” blog post than a “food” blog post. Although we did have some good food.

The other weekend Andrew and I hit up Asheville for our TWO year anniversary. Time flies! We’d been five or six years before for a friend’s birthday, but neither of us could remember much about this beer-centric, mountain town.


To prepare for the trip, I read Beth Sachan’s “Eating and Drinking in Asheville N.C.” blog post, which was where we got the recommendation to hit up The Admiral, a must-try. (More on this below.) I also found a 36-Hours in Asheville from the NY Times and Lonely Planet did a similar 48 hours in Asheville story.

We also got recommendations from co-workers, including this great list of brewery stops, which Andrew got from his beer connoisseur co-worker, Jeff.

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We hit up The Admiral on Friday night. I wish I had a picture of the outside of the building. It’s a one-story cinder-block box. The inside is equally unimpressive. It basically looks like the dive bar it apparently once was.


Here’s what The Admiral says about their concept from website:


But the food – the food! – was the star. They change the menu pretty regularly. Here’s what we were up against on our visit.


We started with the mushroom dashi soup. Dashi is a broth made of fish and kelp that’s popular in Japanese cooking. In it was a soft-cooked egg yolk (no white!), some seaweed, delicate soba noodles, shitake mushrooms and a few green nasturtium leaves for color. The broth was amazingly light, and the super flavorful.


Next up were melt-in-your mouth short ribs with a sweet potato hash and radicchio slaw. I think this one was Andrew’s favorite.


My favorite was the NC Trout. It had a chiogga (candy-striped) beat puree, smoked balsamic reduction and apricot cous cous underneath the flavorful, crispy-skinned fish.


Our final dish was scallops with a lobster risotto and pea puree. This was the richest of the dishes. We ordered it after the lady at the table next to us implored us to get it – and it really was good. And so pretty.


The trout and short ribs were supposed to be small plates, but they were basically entrees on their own. So by the time we got to the scallops, we were filled to the brim! 

After we left The Admiral, we went downtown to explore the bar scene and have a night cap. We hit up the the basement of The Thirsty Monk, which specializes in Belgian beers. I love this style of beer – so floral and spicy.

We stayed at the OM Sanctuary, a retreat space about 1.5 miles from downtown Asheville. We weren’t sure what to expect but it was so lovely! No TVs, beautiful rooms, free yoga, healthy breakfasts and an amazing garden with a waterfall we could hear from our room. And the rates were great – $150 per night which was by far the most economic option we found (it can be EXPENSIVE). It’s two miles from town, so we did have to drive  a bit, but Asheville just got Uber ride sharing and I hear Lyft is on the way, so we were able to get around pretty easily between the breweries.

This was the garden right outside our window.


On Saturday morning, we started the day with a hike. We went up to Lookout Mountain, which offered stunning views and an easy, pretty, 0.57 mile hike. The elevation was pretty steep getting up there, but it was worth it. Here are details on how to find the trailhead.


Check out these views! It was the perfect distance to hike – we were ready for beer drinking right after.

Which is exactly what we did! Pisgah Brewing is in Black Mountain, a town neighboring town Asheville, which was also where the Mt. Lookout trailhead was. It was an easy stop on the way back.


The ambiance here was cool – the tap room was kind of hidden at the back of an industrial park. It was a perfectly crisp, sunny fall day, and the garage doors in the back were wide open letting in a nice breeze.


You could do small 4-ounce pours for $1 apiece! So we tried them all.


After Pisgah, we went downtown for lunch at Salsa’s, a Mexican-Caribbean place we’d heard good things about. The only picture I managed to get was of the salsas, which were really interesting. We tried three to start, Fire-roasted Chipotle Peanut, Tomatillo Pumpkinseed, and the Guacamole. They had satisfying texture and flavor in each bite.


We tried to hydrate here, too. A long afternoon of beer drinking awaited us!


Before we hit up the next brewery, we did a little sightseeing. Asheville entered its initial heyday in the 1920’s, and it’s evident in the architecture. Check out this pink, art-deco number downtown. It’s City Hall!


Next up was Burial Beer. This was probably my favorite-tasting beer. They’re doing a couple of saisons – farmhouse ales – including an amber one. Those are a little but fruity, but light and crisp at the same time.


Here’ the view from within the tiny taproom.


Next up was The Wedge. This one was in an old warehouse down by the train tracks.


We found a good spot outside at a picnic table and ate peanuts while we drank our beer. Andrew had an Iron Rail IPA, which was probably his favorite beer of the trip.


After Wedge, which was a mile or so outside of town, we walked back up the hill to town and stumbled upon Hi-Wire Brewing. One of the nice things about Asheville being a brewing town is that they’ll let you try small, 6- or 8-oz pours in addition to a regular glass so you can try more. Hi-Wire also had a sense of humor.


Our last stop of the night was Wicked Weed, which was one of the more established breweries in Asheville. In the basement they have a sour beer bar. Sour beer is a style of beer that’s become popular again. The beer has a sour, acidic, crisp taste to it. I really liked it.

The next day we wound our way down to an edible park, which means there are pecan, hazelnut and apple trees growing and you’re encouraged to sample the goods! We found out about this place through the NY Times 36-Hours piece.


Apples were the only fruit in season, so I helped myself.


We had to cross a neat covered pedestrian path to get there.


It was a delightful trip to Asheville. We’ll certainly try to get another trip on our radar soon.  I couldn’t help but hyperlapse the view in the mountains on the way home.

See you next time, Asheville!



3 Responses to “Asheville Anniversary: Good Eats and Drinks”

  1. 1

    Peg — October 13, 2014 @ 6:36 pm

    What a GREAT article and a GREAT way to spend your 2nd Anniversary!!!

  2. 2

    Annakate — October 14, 2014 @ 9:38 am

    Thanks, mama!

  3. 3

    Lesley Eats — October 15, 2014 @ 11:00 am

    I can’t wait to go. I think I will put it on the calendar for next (early) fall or late summer.

    Nice WEVL shirt, btw!!!

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