|Arts and Crafts-Style Carolina B&B|
|We Stayed in the Cottage out Back|
|Garden Fronting the Cottage|
|Violets and Buttercups Outside the Cottage|
We found the cocktail table in the parlor set with mixed hors d'oeuvres and a bottle each of a Biltmore red and white wine. Ann and I opted for the red which wasn't at all bad, though it was varietally vague. Kudos to the Murrays for serving the "local" wine, but a little shame to Biltmore for using California grapes to make their wine. They don't try to hide it (see the "American" appellation on the label), but they sure hope people mistake it for North Carolina wine. I'm not in the winery business and I don't have their debt to service, so I shouldn't really criticize, but somehow this strikes me as a little dishonest. Biltmore is not alone. Plenty of Virginia wineries do it too and I'm not happy about that either.
|Each Night at 5:30, They Offer "Local" Wine|
|And Put on a Spread of Hors d'Oeuvres|
Given that the B&B is a short walk from downtown, we left on foot at 6:45pm for our 7:00pm reservation at Zambra, a tapas restaurant. Two blocks from the B&B, my flip flops blew out and though I didn't step on a pop top on the way back to change shoes, walking barefoot on the sharp gravel of the driveway back to the cottage was no fun at all.
I'm afraid at this point I was in a bad mood and we were going to be late for our reservation. We took the car into downtown to get there as quickly as possible and made several tours around the blocks near the restaurant in a hopeless quest to find parking before I gave up and dropped Ann off at the restaurant. Several more passes through downtown yielded nothing so I once again gave up and drove back towards the B&B, finally finding parking on a side street about halfway back on the far side of I-240.
On my 10-minute walk to the restaurant, I finally saw why there was no parking, as I threaded my way through a packed eclectic crowd in front of the US Cellular Center. The Alabama Shakes were playing that evening and the concert crowd had nabbed all available parking.
I was fit to be tied at this point, hungry, tired, and exasperated with the parking situation, when I joined Ann in the restaurant, a funky, half underground space on a side street. The restaurant is pretty dark, so I had a bit of a time finding Ann, who had already chosen a nice bottle of great bottle of Hacienda Monasterio Ribera Del Duero, a modern Bordeaux blend. The Spanish section of the wine list is pretty nice and I wish I had more time to explore it. Ann started with the house take on a Moscow Mule that she really enjoyed. I do wish that we had better stemware from which to drink our wine.
|A Modern Bordeaux Blend from Ribera del Duero|
Among the other dishes we ate were pomegranate-braised pork spring rolls, calamari and arugula, scallops on grits, beef heart taco, patatas bravas. None of these dishes was really memorable. The calamari and arugula wasn't all that successful and the patatas bravas, a staple of tapas restaurants worldwide, were downright boring with no spicy sauce.
|Calamari and Arugula|
|Scallops and Grits|