We had an incredible meal at Cúrate (pronounced COO-rah-tay), which is located in the tiny town of Ashville, NC. Opened in 2011 and specializing in traditional Spanish tapas, this classy, yet casual restaurant is run by couple Katie Button and Félix Meana, both of whom worked at the famous elBulli (among other top restaurants) in Spain. Katie is the executive chef and Felix manages the hospitality and beverage side of the business. While this is relatively high volume establishment (they probably seat 90-100 people), it's impeccably done and offers truly authentic Spanish Tapas that knock it out of the park with regards to flavor and character. In addition to Cúrate, the couple owns a classy, nightclub-styled restaurant/bar located right around the corner from Cúrate, called NightBell. It too is done with the same level of detail and care that makes Cúrate so special.

For this meal, we sat at the bar, which is a massive 30-40 foot long slab of granite, and watched all of tapas being prepared. We did a random selection through the menu, with the standouts being a ceviche-like dish of Mussels, Scallops and Clams served in a canned tuna dish; Goat cheese stuffed Piquillo Peppers; Grilled iberico Pork Skirt Steak (served with sherry sautéed mushrooms); and fried eggplants covered in rosemary honey. Every course was beautifully prepared and superb in its own right.

As to the wines, the list is Spanish only, yet offers a solid selection across the board, with a great mix of values and top bottles. We started off with a crisp, mineral-tinged 2011 Sameiras White, which comes from the Galicia region in Spain, and is brought up all in stainless steel. It went perfectly with the first few starters. It showed that hint of richness from a year in bottle, yet had beautifully fresh white grapefruit, flowers and buttered citrus in its medium-bodied, classy profile.

For the reds, the 2010 Benjamin Romeo La Vina de Andres was brilliant, with full-bodied richness and depth to go with ripe black raspberry, cassis, toast and plenty of spice. This is a chewy, hedonistic effort, and while it has some big tannin, they're sweet and rounded. Ideally, it would be given another 4-5 years, but it opened up nicely over the evening and dished out plenty of pleasure. More focused and elegant, the 2010 La Cueva del Contador showed a more medium to full-bodied, finesse driven style in its licorice-tinged blueberry, blackberry, vanilla and spice-driven profile. The tannins here are more polished, and it too opened up beautifully over the evening. It's another great wine that has the ability to dish out pleasure today, but that will evolve gracefully for 15 years or more.

To cap the evening, we walked across the street to the couple's nightclub/afterhours bar, NightBell, where we had some small bites, killer desserts and serious wines by the glass. I was done taking notes at this point, but Felix uses the Coravin for the top wines and the selection here isn't restricted just to Spain.

Both of these restaurants are highly recommended, and if you're anywhere close to Ashville, it's more than worth the drive.

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