In January I moved in with Marcus. The final and most “official” piece of my move-in wasn’t the bed, it was my coffee mug. Since our cohabitation began we’ve been sinking deeper into domesticity. We brought Annie The Dog home from our early-February travels. We’ve planted flowers, shrubs, and trees, built raised beds, and established, at least in theory, a household cleaning schedule. We’ve gotten the “family plan” for our cell phones, which feels to me like a really big deal because our data and payments are now hitched; this just feels like commitment (even more than moving in together).
With all we’ve done to mesh ourselves and our stuff in the 340 sq. ft. of this house, I think the thing I enjoy most is cooking together because making meals, nourishing our bodies, and collaborating over kale is frugal, healthy and fun. Needless to say, between my explorations of the finer points of rehydrating and cooking dried beans (I still haven’t gotten it down pat) we haven’t eaten out too much. So, it’s with delight that we explored not one, but two, new restaurants in Asheville in the past week.
Because we so often return to places we know and love, it’s a perk that both restaurants at which we ate were new to us as well as being new to the Asheville community.
Last Sunday, ravenous from thoroughly cleaning our tiny abode then visiting friends in their new home, Marcus and I popped over to ZIA Taquaria. I ordered two tacos, a shrimp and a carnitas. Marcus ate a barbacoa plate. We ordered at the counter and found a table on the patio (farthest from where someone was smoking). The chips and salsa hit the spot for knocking off my immediate hunger, and I really liked the flavor of the salsa.
In short order our meals arrived. I ate my shrimp taco first, and it was pretty good. It didn’t knock my socks off, but it had a pretty good flavor. The carnitas, on the other hand, was pretty gross. I ate a few bites of the greasy taco before I realized I could actually pour out all the oil that had settled into the bottom of my flour taco. When I talked to the waiter, who I believe may be a co-owner, about the grease in my carnitas he exclaimed that it’s meant to be that way. In my experience it’s not, especially because the fat didn’t seem like animal fat, it seemed like vegetable oil. It was odd and not particularly tasty.
I thought Marcus’s barbacoa was pretty good, mind you, I’ve never eaten barbacoa in my life. I rated his meat as a B. He graded it at a C based on his experience growing up in Texas and traveling to Mexico a lot. His accompanying beans and rice were off somehow, though neither of us could tell how. It tasted like the cook got his hands on some Goya Adobo seasoning and used that exclusively for the beans. I’m glad we went to see what all the hype was about. I may get back that way for a margarita, chips and salsa at a future date, but I’ll refrain from ordering anything more substantial.
While our meal at ZIA was disappointing, we had lots to celebrate after our meal at Magnolia Ray in Woodfin last night. We went to dine out for the Y yesterday since 10% of certain restaurants’ profits were being donated to the YMCA Healthier Communities Campaigns. The ambiance, attentive staff, and the food were all top notch. Marcus ordered a Magnolia Ray Burger that came with caramelized onion and bacon. The burger and bun were melt-in-your-mouth delicious, topped with spinach, goat cheese, and properly caramelized onion. Most importantly, it was cooked to order, served medium, just as he asked. I ate Zucchini “un-tagliatelle” with chicken. The generous portion was well-seasoned, fresh, and hearty pasta-alternative meal. I had intended to hold back from eating it all in one sitting, but I just couldn’t stop myself from enjoying it all hot from the kitchen. Several friends I saw there that evening had shrimp and grits and reported satisfaction with the deliciousness of their orders (maybe I'll get that next time).
So, I’m back to bit of blogging, restaurant-dining and home-making. I hope you’ve been well.