Everybody say “Ho-oh!” As in hoe cakes.
Also as in “ho ho ho,” for the Holidays, or in this case: HO-leeee shiiiiit, that’s good food! Last Tuesday, I ate a “Holiday Confit Ho Ho Hoe Cake” from the Root Down Food Truck that was so insanely tasty, I ate it again on Thursday. I ferkin’ lerved it both times and I’m making it my EAT OF THE WEEK!
Just in case you don’t know, a “hoe cake” is like a pancake, only, well, here’s the definition from Dictionary.com:
noun, South Midland and Southern U.S.
1. an unleavened cake made with flour or corn meal: originally baked on a hoe but now usually cooked on a griddle.
Ha ha! I actually didn’t know that these thing were originally literally cooked on a fucking HOE. For real? That’s hi-larious, and awesome. Like most great food, it has its origins in poverty and necessity. Well, this hoe cake came out of a truck, so I’m thinking it was cooked on a griddle, not a fucking hoe, but it was equally hoe-licious, none-the-less. Here’s a description from the menu board:
Here’s why I ate it twice: On Tuesday night I attended an Asheville Grit / Ashvegas holiday party at Habitat Tavern. There were some light snacks available gratis, but I was super-excited by the presence of one of my all-time fave food trucks, Root Down, who were parked in back of the party. I checked out the menu, and promptly ordered the Ho Ho Holiday Confit Hoe Cake. My GF Dawn got the gumbo. The gumbo was really good… I happen to know… because I ate most of it… because Dawn totally stole my Holiday Hoe Cake, and ate it herself! Ha ha! I didn’t mind. I was already formulating plans in my head to eat it again as soon as possible. Here’s a picture…
The hoe cake itself was light & fluffy, yet substantial & hardy at the same time. I think it had some scallions cooked into it, and the flavor was exquisite, for real. Like, the best hoe cake ever. The confit bird meat on the first night was turkey — when I ate it again a few days later in was chicken — both times, both birds were amazingly tender, yet stringy (in a good way!) and moist, with a tiny bit of crispiness on the edges. The gravy was thick, rich, savory and comforting as fuck. When the sweet / sour tang of the cranberry relish mixed in with all of the deep, complex, mellow flavors of that gravy, plus the hoe cake and turkey / chicken, it was like eating a plate the world’s greatest holiday leftovers. I would seriously consider eating this meal every day, for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, for the entire month of December. Since I didn’t get enough of it the first time — Dawn ._. — I sought-out Root Down at a different location a few days later, and caught-up with them at the New Belgium Brewery, which is now hosting some of the best food trucks in the area. Here’s a picture of my second helping of holiday hoe cake, which was slightly different but equal in deliciousness to the first helping…
The major difference between the two dishes was the meat. Not to be too simple about it, but the turkey tasted like turkey and the chicken tasted like chicken. Of course, they had an almost identical texture and consistency to them due to the duck fat confit braising process, and I liked one just as much as the other.
Dano Holcomb is the Chef/Owner of Root Down Food Truck, and I’m here to tell you — once again — that he is a master. His cooking is as good or better than any food coming out of any kitchen in any brick and mortar restaurant in Asheville. His flavors are unique, but always pay homage to his influences. His hand is heavy, but not too heavy, on all of the factors that make food great: Butter, sugar, fat, herbs, salt, umami, spice… fire, and smoke… love, heart, and soul. I am a HUGE fan of this man and his food, which is consistently excellent, always impressive, and this week, his Holiday Confit Ho Ho Hoe Cake was so nice, I ate it twice, and it is more than deserving of the title of…
EAT OF THE WEEK!
Go get it while you can, but if it’s not on the menu, try anything from Dano’s truck, and it’ll be great. I guarantee it.
Root Down Food Truck
“Creole, Southern and Soul inspired Street Food … made with local and regional ingredients.”
Phone: (704) 881-3819
Follow on Twitter for locations and daily specials: twitter.com/EatRootDown
Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.
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