Our Asheville vacation just keeps getting better and better. Today, we had reservations for a downtown Asheville food tour. I'd heard that it was a fun thing to do, and a good way to learn about the food mecca that Asheville is becoming. Chris Ortwein was our tour guide/fearless leader, charged with herding thirteen of us around for two and a half hours.
The weather was cold and windy, with snow flurries, but we did not let that deter us. A brisk four block walk took us to Mela, where we sampled Indian cuisine from their lunch buffet.
It was soon time to continue on with our food adventure.
Our second stop was my personal favorite: The Black Bird. This sleek but warm restaurant has been open for only five months at this location, but you'd never know it.
From The Black Bird, we walked down the street to Olive & Kickin.' We needed a short break from a sit-down food tasting, and this did the trick! Olive & Kickin' sells very fine olive oils and balsamic vinegars. Co-owner, Karen Kortendick, introduced herself and told us a bit about the shop. We sampled several varieties of olive oil, before heading into another room to try various balsamic vinegars. This shop has a great selection of both, and Karen's knowledge of their products is very impressive.
Outside, the snow flurries intensified, but we didn't care!
Next stop: Vicenzo's Ristorante, a northern Italian restaurant that opened in Asheville in 1990. Here we sampled lobster risotto and enjoyed a glass of valpolicella wine while listening to live piano music.
We were ready to walk some more, so off we went to Chocolate Gems, for a sampling of raspberry chocolates and a cup of much appreciated hot chocolate.
The hot chocolate warmed us up for the walk to Chorizo, a Latin restaurant in the Grove Arcade. We had pineapple spritzers here, as well as a pupusa with shredded pork and salsa.
For our last stop, we headed to what was the old Woolworth's building. Woolworth Walk now houses Asheville's largest gallery of local artists. It also has a soda fountain built to resemble the original Woolworth's luncheonette. We finished our tour with miniature root beer floats!
The tour was a huge success with us. Not only was the food and drink fabulous, but we also met wonderful people from all over the country. As best I can remember, we represented Chicago, Atlanta, Boston, Charlotte, Knoxville, Brooklyn, northern Maine, Portland, and Dallas!
Thanks, Chris, for such a great time! We had a blast!