Tag Archive for: NC

The Asheville Dining Scene: Isa’s Bistro

I wear a lot of different hats in my life; mother, business manager, artist, chocolatier, and food lover to name a few.  I’m not a restaurant critic, but I love to explore Asheville’s unique and diverse culinary options and occasionally I’ll share my adventures with you.  Recently I’ve had my eye on our newest neighbor, Isa’s Bistro.  For many years their location at the corner of Battery Park and Haywood Street was held by The Flying Frog and since the Frog closed a few years ago the space has rotated from empty to unsuccessful restaurant.  I was excited when this spring the owner’s of the Haywood Park Hotel, Tony and Isa Fraga, opened their own restaurant concept here, Isa’s Bistro.


They have done a beautiful job remodeling the old choppy space with an elegant and spacious dining room featuring art from Fraga’s personal collection.  They have opened up a lot of the windows including a window through to the hotel lobby giving the whole place a much brighter more welcoming feel.  Most importantly the newly opened dining room gives even more vantage points from which to people watch as this is one of the best places in Asheville for people watching. Isa Fraga explained to me that a unique feature of the dining room is that there is natural light coming from almost 360 degrees and that every table has a view to the street… like I said, excellent people watching.  Isa also explained to me that they tried to preserve as much of the buildings original architecture as possible, they opted out of putting in a drop ceiling so that the original architecture is exposed.

I’ve only had the opportunity to visit for lunch a couple of times and the food is promising.  A recent meal there produced a wonderfully delicious seared salmon and I enjoyed a rather yummy and memorable side of bean salad at another lunch.  I really appreciate when a chef puts as much time and attention into creating a side as a main dish.  I look forward to seeing the different menus the chef creates as they promise a seasonally changing menu.  For obvious reasons, I haven’t tried dessert yet, but I do look forward to an opportunity to sample the dinner menu. Maybe I’ll remember to tone down my chocolate eating that day so I can try dessert; online reviews say that it is good.

One of the best services they have to offer, and a rare treat in downtown Asheville, is free valet parking.  Just pull up to the Haywood Park Hotel entrance and a friendly member of the hotel bell staff with take care of your car.  While your car is neatly tucked away in the garage I’m sure they wouldn’t mind if you made a quick visit to the neighboring Chocolate Fetish to take home a late night indulgence (just don’t tell them I recommended that J).

For more information about Isa’s Bistro and to check out their menu http://www.isasbistro.com/

Fall at The Chocolate Fetish

The cool mountain air of fall has once again settled upon Asheville.  Autumn’s cool days offer a much appreciated respite from the sometimes blistering heat that this summer brought us.  Our chocolate and those who like to leave the shop with a box or two of it are rejoicing as well.  Already the leaves are starting to turn and the mountainsides are soon to be ablaze with the gorgeous colors that make this area such a desired fall vacation spot.   Natures beauty in fall is a constant inspiration for us here at The Chocolate Fetish, evident in this years fall product offerings.

Drawing on fall's inspiration to create beautiful Chocolate High Heels

Back on the shelves are our Maple Walnut Caramel Cups, a personal favorite.  These delightful dark chocolate shells, shaped like maple leaves are filled with a gooey liquid caramel made with Vermont Grade B maple syrup and toasted walnuts.  I grew up spending summer’s in Vermont with my grandparents and one bite of these takes me back to our summer excursions to buy maple syrup direct from the farmer.  I remember him climbing up the rickety old ladder to the rafters of the barn and handing down old mason jars and tins thick with dust.  Inside was the thickest sweetest most delectable Grade B maple syrup you’ve ever tasted.  (To learn more about Maple Syrup grades and why I think Grade B is better check out this website http://www.vermontmaple.org/grades.php)  This year my thoughts turn often to Vermont as I hear towns I visited in my childhood ravaged by flood.  I am glad that in one small way we can help the people of Vermont through our continued purchasing of their maple syrup.

Also on our shelves are our brand new Pumpkin Pie Truffles.  Over  a year in the works we finally found the perfect marriage of chocolate and pumpkin.  To get the perfect balance we sought out a new chocolate (which brings us to more than 6 different milk chocolates that we blend to make our delectable flavors) a single origin Milk chocolate from Hawaii.  This milk chocolate is made entirely from beans grown on one estate in Hawaii giving a distinct fruity flavor.  This delicious chocolate is quickly becoming a personal favorite and is also available as a Single Origin bar in our shop.  The Pumpkin Pie Truffle marries fresh organic pumpkin with this delicious chocolate and a hint of spice.

Hand Painted Chocolate Pumpkins

Fall marks the beginning of what we at The Chocolate Fetish refer to as 3-D season.  Starting with three dimensional pumpkins, turkeys, and cats and continuing through the seasons with Santas and snowmen, then on to Easter with bunnies and eggs.  This year’s pumpkins are particularly beautiful.  Hand painted in oranges, yellows and reds and dusted with shimmering luster dust, they make a great addition to table centerpieces for Thanksgiving or fall entertaining. As usual we are offering a wide array of chocolate leaves including some hand painted maple leaves, another great way to add a little flair to fall table decorations.

The cool air means it’s hot cocoa season again and this year we have a new product that will knock your socks (it had our samplers eyes rolling back in their heads, and I am not exaggerating).  Gone is the plain old American style hot cocoa of the past instead we are now offering European Style Sipping Chocolate.  This decidedly decadent and indulgent beverage is made from our premium blend of freshly shaved dark chocolate mixed with half and half.   If you don’t live in Asheville be sure you make it up here this winter to try some… trust me you won’t want to miss it!  For those of you that live a little to far for a Sunday drive we’re working on a make at home version that we can ship to you, just another thing you’ll want to be on the look out for.

For us at The Chocolate Fetish fall is just the beginning. The busy holiday season is close on fall’s heels and the excitement of more new products keeps me jazzed about coming to work everyday.  We have more single origins, more seasonal flavors, and a whole new line of truffles coming soon!  As usual stay tuned to all our social media to be the first to hear about all the new flavors coming your way.