Chef’s Table Dinner Party
at Polanco Restaurant

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

Last Tuesday evening I hosted a Chef’s Table Dinner Party with Owner and Executive Chef Ricardo Carrasco of Polanco Restaurant in Downtown Asheville and it was just so amazing, I don’t even know where to begin.

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

At the end of October, Jeff and I attended Asheville Date Night’s Do Good Date Night where we had the opportunity to meet Chef Ricardo and try his delicious mole tacos.   After I posted a photo of my tacos to my Instagram story, Polanco’s co-owner Tori reached out to me and asked if I’d be interested in trying a Chef’s Table dinner.  She explained that the dinner features most of Polanco’s menu in small batches and that it’s better to do with a group so that attendees can experience all of Chef Ricardo’s specialties in a fun setting. I thought it sounded like so much fun and asked if I could open the invite up to my Instagram followers. Tori agreed and a little over a month later, 15 of us gathered in Polanco’s gorgeous second-floor dining room to eat, drink and learn all about Chef Ricardo’s passion for cooking and serving delicious, traditional yet creative Mexican fare.

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

One of the things I love most about living in Asheville is that most of the restaurants have no problem catering to specific dietary restrictions and Polanco is no exception. Chef Ricardo goes above and beyond to offer a variety of creative vegetarian and vegan options on his menu. At our dinner, we had a good mix of vegans, vegetarians, and meat-eaters and not one person went home hungry; in fact, we were all absolutely stuffed.

As guests trickled in, we snacked on housemade chips, salsa, and vegan chicharrones — a dish traditionally comprised of fried pork, but in this case, made with wheat flour and just one example of how Chef Ricardo creatively caters to vegetarian and vegans. These things were addicting. I wish I had some right now!

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

Chef Ricardo’s culinary journey began in Mexico when he was studying law and decided to open a bar with a friend. He loved it so much that he decided to drop law and attend culinary school instead. He’s since opened five other restaurants, four in Mexico and one in Charlotte.

Food is about more than just eating. It is about culture, storytelling and the recipes that are passed down from generation to generation. With each course he presented that night, the passion and love Chef Ricardo poured into each dish became more and more evident. His excitement was contagious and not one guest left that evening without telling me how much they enjoyed and appreciated the experience.

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

Chef Ricardo focuses on using fresh, local ingredients in all of his scratch-made menu items. He visits farmers’ markets each week and Polanco’s menu changes frequently to match the seasons.

Our first course was vegan beer-battered cauliflower and it was one of my favorite dishes of the night!

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

I wanted to eat the whole plate but I knew we had more food coming so I restrained myself.  The cauliflower can be dressed with either chipotle aioli or chipotle veganaise.  This dish was served family-style for the whole table.

Vegetarian empanadas were up next and oh man, these were so good! From Polanco’s menu: Stuffed masa pastries, fried, filled with queso, side of huitlacoche, capellini mushroom, and garlic, flor de calabaza, tomato and squash.  We each had one empanada and then Chef Ricardo brought out more! It’s also important to note that my vegan friend enjoyed her own vegan-cheese-filled empanada.

After this course, I thought, I could make an entire meal out of the last two courses, how on earth are we going to eat more!? But we did!

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

As Chef Ricardo told us about the next dish, I could feel the excitement in his voice. Mole, he explained, is a traditional Mexican recipe that he’s perfected over many years and takes him six hours to prepare. His version is comprised of over 32 ingredients, including chile peppers and cacao.  That evening we were treated to two different types of mole served atop cheese-filled empanadas: a traditional one and one made with pumpkin seeds (the latter, pictured above, was my favorite).

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

At one point during the evening, Chef Ricardo came around with a plate of fried crickets for the more courageous guests at the table to try.

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

I wasn’t brave enough but I did snap this fun pic of my friends cheers-ing their crickets before trying them. My friend Amanda remarked that it was the “perfect amount of crunch.”  Maybe someday I’ll have the courage to try one myself.

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

The vegetarian fajitas were by far my favorite dish of the evening. I could go to Polanco every night, eat this every time and never get tired of it. Fajitas are my go-to at most Mexican restaurants and these were among the best I’ve ever had. I think what really took them over the edge was that they were topped with quinia-chia seed hashbrown patties. They were so flavorful and delicious.  I need to stop writing about them right now though because doing so is making me SO hungry!

And just when we thought we couldn’t possibly eat one more bite, our sixth course arrived and it was on fire. Literally.

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

From Polanco’s menu: Ribs, falling off the bone, homemade honey glaze of piloncillo, morita chili peppers, garlic and ginger flamed in mezcal. Now, obviously, I didn’t eat these because I’m a vegetarian but Chef Ricardo did flambé some equally-delicious No Evil Foods plant meat for the vegetarians and vegans at the table. I only had a bite because I was so stuffed but it was great!

And, then, THEN, there was CAKE. Chef Ricardo told us that he makes a different dessert each night.  That night he prepared a yellow cake with some type of cinnamoney-sweet icing that everyone absolutely loved. A few people said they’d come back just for that! (He brought out plantains and coconut milk ice cream for the vegan at the table). I don’t know how, but I ate my slice of cake so fast I didn’t have time to snap a proper photo. I swear I have a second stomach for dessert. Anyone else?

Chef's Table Dinner Party at Polanco Restaurant-www.roseyrebecca.com

My experience at Polanco’s Chef’s Table Dinner was absolutely incredible and I know all of my guests felt the same. Chef Ricardo was so great and all of the food he prepared was delicious! If you live in Asheville or are visiting the area, I definitely recommend giving Polanco a try.  I can’t wait to go back!

Polanco is located at 10 North Market Street in Downtown Asheville, NC. The cost for a private Chef’s Table Dinner is $35 per person and beverages, tax, and gratuity are not included in that price.

Disclosure: Per FTC guidelines I am required to disclose that Polanco invited me to attend a complimentary chef’s table in exchange for my honest review. My guests also received a discounted rate of $30 per person, not including beverages or tax. As always, all opinions expressed on Rosey Rebecca are my own and I will never endorse a brand or product that I don’t stand behind 100 percent. 

As always, THANK YOU for reading!

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Some Things I Really Loved This Week (#10)

Ah! Ah! Ah! We’ve made it to the 10th post in this series! With the exception of Thanksgiving week, I’ve kept up with writing these posts for 10 weeks! Perhaps even more exciting is that I’ve been back to blogging for over three months!

If you’re new to my blog or to me, in general, you might not understand why this is a feat to be celebrated.  Since I started writing this blog in 2009 it’s had a lot of starts and stops.  I really enjoy writing about my life and putting it out there for all to see but often times, self-doubt creeps in and stops me from continuing to post.  Even as I celebrate this blogging streak, part of me feels like I might be jinxing myself. My therapist would dismiss that as an OCD thought though so I will too.

SO, welcome to the 10th edition of Some Things I Really Loved This Week, a post where I highlight things that I experienced in the past week that made me happy, inspired me or made me laugh with the hope that maybe they’ll make you happy, inspire you or make you laugh, too!  Feel free to tell me about some things that YOU really loved this week in the comments!

Experiences That Made Me Happy

Some Things I Really Loved This Week (#10)-www.roseyrebecca.com

Jeff and I attended the Opening Party of the Show & Tell Holiday Pop Up Shop on Saturday night.  At the end of October, I posted a wish list of my favorite things from the Show & Tell Pop Up Shop in the River Arts District. Well, the holiday pop up shop is even BIGGER and features even MORE local artists and makers. It’s the perfect place to buy all of your holiday gifts.  It’s open from 10 a.m. to 8 p.m. at the Asheville Masonic Temple and runs until December 19.  If you’re local, you should definitely go! If you’re not local, head to the Pop Up’s website and check out the list of awesome vendors. Many of them sell online! (Photo credit: Show & Tell Pop Up Instagram)

Some Things I Really Loved This Week (#10)-www.roseyrebecca.com

On Tuesday evening I hosted a Chef’s Table Dinner Party at Polanco in downtown Asheville. I’ll have a full post up about the experience on Monday but I wanted to briefly mention it here because it was SO MUCH FUN and SO DELICIOUS!

Some Things I Really Loved This Week (#10)-www.roseyrebecca.com

I got my hair cut at Ananda West on Thursday and it was such a great experience. About a month ago I asked for salon recommendations on Instagram and a ton of people told me to go see Moira at Ananda. So, I did and I’ll definitely be back!  I’m not good with hair. I like to wash it, let it air dry and call it a day. Moira listened to what I wanted and suggested the best haircut for my needs.  The salon is beautiful and they even offered me a complimentary cup of coffee or glass of wine when I got there.  It’s located right next to District Wine Bar in the River Arts District so naturally, I met my friend Amanda there after my appointment to show off my new do! It was a fun and relaxing afternoon and I can’t recommend it enough.

Inspiring Things I Saw or Read

OK, so I’m cheating a bit because this video is not from the past week BUT I did think of it a few days ago and wanted to share.  Back in February, I attended a Creative Mornings talk about anxiety and the creative process. I related to it so much and felt so inspired at the time but then forgot about it for a while. It popped into my head the other day when I was writing my post about self-doubt and I was so happy to see that it was available to watch and share on the Creative Mornings website. I hope you find it as helpful and inspiring as I do. The camera was set up right behind where I was sitting so you can actually see the back of me in a lot of the video- I’m wearing a grey and white sweater. Plus the intro features a shot of my friend Holly putting on her name tag. Very cool! I hope to make it to another Creative Mornings talk soon!

My friend Katie left an inspiring comment on my Instagram post about self-doubt yesterday. She said, “It’s easy for me to have all these feelings too especially when I have to present my art to clients. It’s totally scary but the alternative is not creating anything.” Her words really stuck with me and reminded me of this quote I saw on Laura Wilson’s Facebook Page a few weeks ago. It’s a great reminder that you can’t let fear of criticism or rejection keep you from pursuing your passion.

Things That Made Me Laugh

 

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This made me laugh so hard. I’m not sure if other smartphones do this, but on an iPhone whenever you need to create a password, it automatically suggests a crazy long series of numbers and letters separated by dashes. If you’re like me and forget your password every time you have to enter it, you know that these suggested passwords are impossible to remember but also super secure so I always end up using them anyway.

 

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Yep. Always!

As always, thanks for reading!

Blog Posts From This Week You Might Have Missed: 

BLAHG Post: My Struggles With Self-Doubt

As You Read This (My Election Day Mammogram)…

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Email: rebecca@roseyrebecca.com

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