One minute we were standing on a sidewalk in downtown Asheville, and in a flash my bride and I were transported to a tapas bar in Madrid. Our magical journey really wasn't as dramatic as that. We had simply stepped across the threshold of Cúrate Bar de Tapas. As their web site states, "If you have ever visited Spain, Cúrate’s menu will transport you back to the country of flamenco, olives, almonds, and sherry."
We were transported past the tapas bar to a cozy dining room towards the back of this once bus depot. Erin, our server for this gastronomic adventure inquired of our desire for an adult beverage. Having spied a pitcher of sangria on another table, we decided that would be an appropriate beverage.
While Erin prepared our red wine sangria at the table, she suggested that we might want to just order two or three tapas each to share. This was good advice so that we didn't order more than our bellies could hold. I should mention that there were more desirable tapas on the menu than we could possibly manage, so we stayed with just six.
The Lardo Ibérico Ahumado was placed on the menu especially for me, I am sure. This smoked lardo from acorn fed ibérico pigs was something I had heard about and had to have ... rich, creamy, and sinfully delicious. This fatty delight has a monounsaturated acid that has been shown to lower LDL cholesterol and raise HDL cholesterol. This dish carried me to astronomical gustatory heights.
My bride, the Belle of Ballast Point, simply raved over the Crema de Calabaza a creamy soup made with butternut squash and sprinkled with smoked Spanish paprika, toasted hazelnut oil, and adorned with candied pumpkin seeds.
There are few things from the briny deep that I enjoy more than octopus, so the Pulpo a la Gallega was another tapa I could not live without. This Galician style octopus was unbelievably tender, served with sea salt, olive oil, Spanish paprika, and a Yukon gold potato puree. Even my bride, who is not a real aficionado of seafood, was impressed with the taste and texture of this dish.
Another Spanish treasure I could not go another day without was the Jamon Ibérico Fermín. The medieval village of La Alberca, perched at the top of a
mountain, is the home of Jamones y Embutidos Fermín. This family company
cures their Ibérico hams in the cool, dry mountain air for
over two years, transforming them into a masterpieces of flavor. Fermín
was the first company to be approved for export to the U.S. You don't know ham until you taste this cured ham from the famous black-footed pigs of Spain.
My bride also order a tapa of Tortilla Epanola, a flavorful blend of potatoes and onions that complimented each other very well in this Spanish omelet. I was so enraptured with the jamon that I didn't get a taste or a photo except for the upper right corner of the picture above.
We were encouraged by friends back in Tampa to not leave Cúrate without trying the Berenjenas la Taberna, fried eggplant drizzled in wild mountain honey, and garnished with rosemary. This was a unique and flavorful presentation of this garden egg that is more commonly used in a moussaka or ratatouille. This dish was not dessert sweet but provided a very pleasant finish to a perfect meal.
For all of that superb food and wine, our total for the evening was just $88.81. Erin was very deserving of the 20% gratuity and then some.
Cúrate, which means to heal, certainly healed our empty tummies and gave us a dining experience we will long remember.