Cúrate: Because Asheville’s closer than Spain!

Joey Creswell loves rosé wine. By the end of this meal, we all did!

We didn’t have time to go to Spain last weekend, so we went to Asheville. Specifically, to Cúrate, an authentic Spanish restaurant serving tapas and other Spanish dishes — and exclusively Spanish wines — in the heart of downtown. Folks, it’s worth the trip.

There were seven of us. And, as soon as we settled in, we started ordering dishes for the table. We tore through those and ordered more. And more. And then we ordered dessert.

We marveled at what chef Katie Button‘s people could do with an eggplant! It literally melted in your mouth and tasted like no other eggplant we’d ever experienced.

The pork eaters raved about the flavor of the slices of acorn-fed 100 percent Iberico-breed pigs. The beef eaters had to order a second round of the pepito de ternera — a classic Spanish sandwich of braised apple brandy beef, josper roasted green peppers with blue cheese and all i oli, a garlic spread. (Josper roasting is a method of cooking at a very high temperature resulting in grilled and roasted meat that is not baked.)

Everyone agreed that the fried eggplant drizzled with local honey and garnished with rosemary was the “best bite” of the meal!

We had squid-ink pasta and roasted clams and sauteed shrimp with sliced garlic, sherry and chili pepper. We had a pitcher of sangria and three bottles of rosé that only is available in the spring. Some ordered a delicious Spanish red wine. And then there were the desserts. “This place should be illegal!” exclaimed Joey Creswell, one of our dining companions.

To make matters even better, Cúrate’s menu is dedicated to sustainable and local ingredients, influenced by the preservation practices and seasonality of Appalachia. Cúrate was listed as one of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants by Wine Enthusiast Magazine in 2018. Chef Button is a nominee for James Beard’s Best Chef Southeast this year.

Joey had a good idea. “The Spanish tourism board should set up a booth right outside the front door! They’d sell a lot of trips!”

Actually, Chef Button and her husband, Felix Meana, take guests to Spain and Portugal. They have six trips planned in 2020. Click here for info on those. Meanwhile, do what we did — head to Asheville!

Possibly the second-best dish: Spicy chorizo wrapped in potato chips. Or, as Joey described them, “Spanish pigs in a blanket!”

Roasted clams with peas, pine nuts and jamón bellota (said to be the finest ham in the world).

Here’s that Iberico pork with fresh rosemary and thyme.

Happy boys! Mitchell Moseley, left, and Alan Carmichael.

Sauteed shrimp with sliced garlic, sherry and chili pepper.

A Spanish potato and onion omelet.

Dino Cartwright documenting the situation.

A close-up of thin squid ink noodles, squid and shellfish stock garnished with all i oli and salsa verde. Delish. (Photo by Dino Cartwright.)

Here’s that fantastic beef sandwich.

Janet Testerman taking a pause.

Sauteed mushrooms with a splash of sherry.

Toasted crispy bread with fresh tomato, garlic and olive oil. (Photo by Erin Donovan.)

Here’s the fantastic rosé that’s only available in spring. We went straight to a wine store when we left the eatery, but we couldn’t find it. Boo.

All the desserts were great, but this one was the standout. Airy lemon and fennel donut holes with warm chocolate espresso dipping sauce. “It’s like coffee and donuts combined,” Joey noted. “Definitely not a Munchkin,” he said, referring to the popular Dunkin’ Donut treat.

This is called a tarta liquida. It is a baked-to-order Marcona almond tart with a liquid center and cherry sorbet on the side.

Erin Donovan throwing herself into the experience.

Rosemary custard with brûléed honey sugar, fresh berries and crème fraîche.

Burnt Basque cheesecake with a roasted strawberry tempranillo compote and sheep’s milk cheese whipped cream.

Our server took this picture for us. Dino photo-shopped in the Cúrate logo. From left, Mitchell Moseley, Alan Carmichael, me, Janet Testerman, Erin Donovan, Joey Creswell and Dino Cartwright.

Alan bought me this cute pig toothpick holder for a souvenir.

And this photo pretty much sums up our experience!

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