Eating My Way Through Asheville

The Corner Kitchen in Biltmore Village

Lobster Tacos in Sweet Potato Shells on Black Bean and Corn Salsa, Jicama Slaw and Chimichurri

As a college student, I have to eat on a budget. Well, I have to do pretty much everything on a budget. So, as I was trying to plan an epic Christmas present for my wonderful boyfriend, I realized that the college version of “epic” may just have to be a candy bar and socks. Luckily (or not so much), my boyfriend was in the same situation! After thinking about it for a while, we decided that rather than trying to spend too much money on items that the other may or may not even like, we would just go on a memorable date that we would both enjoy.

Well, I love food. I mean, I really love food. This is one of the many reasons I enjoy living in Asheville; I love trying new foods. Rather than just picking one restaurant out of the hundreds in the city, we decided to try five all in one night. As I said, I wanted to do something epic, and “epic” now meant that I would probably have to be rolled out of the last restaurant.

When planning the date, I wanted to hit some of Asheville’s best names, so naturally I turned to Ask Asheville and planned the adventure. Finally I narrowed my list down to the best diner, taco, sushi, tapas, and desert places in town.

My boyfriend, Jeremy, and I both run track for UNCA, and we headed out on our food excursion right after a workout, voraciously hungry. Our first stop was the Corner Kitchen, voted Diners’ Choice at Opentable.com, located in a quaint old house in the Biltmore Village. Since we didn’t know how much food we were going to eat throughout the whole evening, we decided to just go with one appetizer and, being the seafood fans we are, we went with the lobster tacos. And it was a great choice! The only problem I had with the dish was that I didn’t have 5 more plates of it. The lobster was buttery, melting in my mouth, and the savory slaw brought a little sweetness to the heat of the tacos’ sauce. That one plate assured me that I will have to go back to try the rest of the menu.

White Duck Taco in the River Arts District

Molé Roasted Duck with cranberries, apples, and lettuce

I’ve lived in Asheville for a few years now, and I thought I really knew my way around the city. Apparently, I was wrong. So, rather than driving straight to White Duck Taco – one of Asheville’s best taco eateries – I showed Jeremy all around the dark and quiet night version of the River Arts District. On purpose, obviously, we weren’t lost. But, we got there eventually. And the drive was worth it. I had never made my way to the little restaurant, but as soon as I saw the colorful chalkboard menu I knew I would be coming back multiple times. I love duck, and I love tacos, so the combination of the spicy duck combined with the sweetness of the fruit all wrapped in a tortilla was like a love song in my mouth. I was right about coming back to eat there, by the way. We came back a solid two days later.

Wasabi

Smoked Salmon Sashimi

My knowledge of downtown also is not quite as extensive as I thought, but after a couple wrong turns we made it to Wasabi, voted 2013 Best Sushi of WNC. As I said, I love trying new foods, and sushi is something that I have never really enjoyed before, so I wanted to try one more time. I love sashimi, so I got the smoked salmon so that I’d at least have something I would like.

Wasabi Downtown

Spicy salmon inside, peppered white tuna, avocado, crunchies, tobiko, scallions, and wasabi sauce

 Naturally, we got the most expensive roll on the menu, but it was well worth it. The salty, crunchy, meaty tastes swirling over my taste buds as I shoved the entire too-large piece of sushi into my mouth each time changed my view on the delicacy. Oh, and did I mention that I actually at the dish with chop sticks? This was probably my biggest accomplishment of the night. 

Social Lounge and Tapas Downtown

Hot popcorn tossed with shaved asiago and drizzled with white truffle oil

Social Lounge and Tapas is located, luckily, precisely two buildings down from Wasabi on the same street, so we made it there in great time, despite already being full. In need of some snacks, we went for the gourmet popcorn and gorged on the entire buttery plate while chatting and watching a football game.

Strada Downtown

Golden Crisp Calamari, Onions, Anahiem Peppers and Lemon served with Zesty Plum Tomato Sauce

Apparently, seafood was the theme of the evening, so we got fried calimari also, off of Strada’s menu at the bar. It is hard to go wrong with fried bits of sea creature dipped in a sweet marinara sauce, and this dish did not disappoint.

Old Europe Downtown

Creamy Coconut Cake

For our last stop of the night, we opted to go to our favorite dessert place over trying something new. Old Europe has been our spot since that awkward “friends” time before dating, and there are always at least ten desserts that I want to cram on my plate every time we go. One of my goals has been to eat every treat in the glass case, so I tried the creamy coconut cake as this is one of my favorite desserts and I haven’t tried Old Europe’s version yet. The moist cake layered with sweet and creamy coconut icing melted in my mouth so fast that I had to get another dessert.

Old Europe

Chocolate Bourbon Chestnut Cake

As full as I was, I took my Chocolate Bourbon Chestnut Cake home and thoroughly enjoyed it the night before classes started while I mourned the end of break.

An evening spent with my wonderful boyfriend eating Asheville’s finest food and touring the city is a date I will not soon forget. I do believe this will have to be a new Christmas tradition!

-Adrian

ASE Photography




Best Places in Asheville for Late Autumn Portraits

Fallen leaves, colorful streets, and beautiful views: Asheville in the late fall is a beautiful city for portraiture. From brilliantly-colored leafy woodlands to creatively-painted graffiti backgrounds, a photographer only has to step out her front door to find a good backdrop for a photo shoot. This year, as you dust off your camera for for solo photos, family portraits, Christmas cards, or just a fun afternoon with a camera, keep a few of the best locations around Asheville in mind.

UNC Asheville Botanical Gardens

Botanical Gardens

If you’re looking for a nature setting, look no further than UNCA’s campus in North Asheville. The university’s botanical gardens offer a beautiful natural backdrop complete with fall colors and soft lighting filtering through the tree branches. On a warm day (because weather in Asheville can fluctuate from 20 to 60 degree days in the same week) the creek is a wonderful place for reflections.

Botans

The saturated fall colors of the leaves and dying foliage make for a very colorful background. With a wide open space to run around, you can create lively portraits playing in the leaves or skipping through the field.

Botanical Gardens

The garden’s gazebo is one of my personal favorite places for portraits. Hidden in the corner entrance, the gazebo only gets the last soft rays of sunshine, so it is a perfect location for softly-lit close-ups.

Wall Street, Downtown

Wall Street

After a day of window shopping and gorging in any one (or more!) of Asheville’s famously fantastic restaurants, Downtown is a great location for artsy portraits. Architectural ranging from the 1800s to now, statues both fun and iconic, streets lined with lights and leaves, and art at every turn create a perfect atmosphere for city portraiture. Wall Street’s green light poles, yellow leaves, and colorful building fronts pair well with a great leather jacket and a pretty smile.

Wall Street

Chicken Alley, Downtown

Chicken Alley

Chicken Alley is famous for the enormous painted chicken, and this unconventionally decorated backstreet provides a beautiful brick backdrop for photos. Commandeer a nice renter’s back porch and you can make portraits fit for any coffee-drinking city-goer.

Graffiti by the Hatchery Studios, River Arts District

River Arts District

The River Arts District is a great place for more than just buying artists’ work. The giant graffiti-ed wall and silo create an edgier setting. Looking for a place for band photos or artist portraits? Posing in front of Asheville’s underground muralists’ work is the perfect location.

River Arts District

Looking for a professional photographer to take your portraits? Check out ASE Photography by Adrian Etheridge: ASEphotography.pixpasites.com OR ASEartistry10@gmail.com

Looking for a model to try out these locations? Contact Erin Dalton: inspiringdalton@gmail.com

 




Photographing Asheville

Lake Panorama final

Hello from a local photographer! I’m a photojournalism student from UNC Asheville and I couldn’t have picked a better place to study photography. Every so often I will post one of my photos from my work around Asheville. This particular piece – a set of 50 shots from Beaver Lake yesterday evening – is one of my current favorite nature shots. One of the great things about photographing scenic Asheville is the city’s beauty no matter the season. Although we haven’t had the most colorful fall, the beautiful sunsets and gorgeous days (and rainbow this morning, for those who were up early enough to see it) more than make up for it.

Beaver Lake Fall 2013 copy

Beaver Lake, October 2013

-Adrian Etheridge (of ASE Photography)