Asheville Part I

Last weekend was quite the whirlwind. My birthday was this week and my wonderful husband organized and surprised me with a girls’ weekend for my birthday.  He originally told me last Wednesday that he was taking me out of town for the weekend without our daughter and NOT to ask any questions because he was taking care of everything.  Now that was soooo hard for me, not asking any questions and NOT having any control at all. Yikes! So, I was running around, doing laundry and packing.  He called me Friday morning and suggested that we meet my mom for lunch and let her take Madeleine afterwards. When we arrived at our favorite sushi restaurant, Simplee Sushi, I was greeted with a very unexpected sight. In addition to seeing my mom and youngest brother at the table were two of my closest girlfriends. To say that I was surprised is an understatement. And it was a great surprise. We had a fabulous lunch of gyoza, shrimp tempura and sushi. Well, most of us had sushi. Kelly and Mike, my husband, had hibachi chicken. A birthday isn’t a birthday without cake and sure enough, Grace came out with a tray of delicious lemon coconut cupcakes that my mom made.
After lunch, Madeleine went to spend the afternoon with Grandma and Uncle Alex. The rest of us headed back to the house. When we got there, I was informed that Jody and Kelly were kidnapping me. I am now completely discombobulated. When we arrived in Asheville, the car’s GPS gave us the wrong directions to the hotel (we were told later that this happens to a lot of people).  We finally pull into the Grand Bohemian Hotel. All I can say is, “WOW!” It’s an amazing hotel with tons of ambiance. At this point, I can’t imagine my day getting any better…but it does.  As I walk into the lobby of the hotel, standing there holding a tray with four glasses of champagne is my other dear friend, Becky. I was speechless.  We all headed up to our rooms with a glass of bubbly each. That is a fabulous way to be greeted after a two-hour drive.
One of the things I hate about being allergic to dairy is not being to eat at regular restaurants when traveling . Usually, I stick with Asian restaurants or a place that serves ribs (they are usually safe) and fries. Don’t get me wrong, I love Asian food and I love ribs, but you get kind of tired of the same thing every time you eat out.  For those of you who don’t know (and I was one of them), Asheville is a sophisticated town where dining is concerned. There were several places that were able to not only accommodate my allergy, but provide me with a fabulous culinary experience. 
After enjoying a bottle of prosecco in the “party room”, Becky and I headed back to our room to freshen up. Our first dining experience was at Rezaz’s which featured Mediterranean and Middle-Eastern cuisine.  All I can say is, “Oh my!”. We started with  Reza Mezze, an appetizer of hummus, muhamara, babaganouj, pita bread and feta cheese (which they served on the side for my girlfriends).  Our waiter suggested replacing the babaganouj with an extra serving of muhamara and I am glad he did. I had never had it before and it was delicious. It’s a dip of roasted red peppers, walnuts, pomegranate molasses, lemon, and cumin.  The hummus was probably the best I have had to date. For our main course, I had several options. I love duck when it’s done right. I hadn’t had duck in years, so I was thrilled when I was able to order their smoked duck breast.  They served it over green beans and cooked greens. It was divine! I wish I had brought my camera with me, but my mind was still in a whirlwind and I forgot it in the room.  Jody and Becky had the mahi mahi special with risotto and avocado mousse. Kelly had the ribeye special with mashed potatoes and veggies.  I can’t begin to tell you how much I wish that this restaurant were located in Charlotte. I would be there every week.