Let’s Get this Funky Party Started

Warnings, Intros, and Lame Excuses

WARNING: The following blog post contains a lahhhhhhht of swears. For some reason (#fucktrump) I just feel the need to swear even more than usual these days. If you don’t like swears, I apologize, I really do. Like swears, that is. I really do like swears.

Hey everybody! It’s me, Stu Helm the Food Fan here! I know it’s been a long-ass muhfuckin’ time since’t I wrote anything for Ashvegas. I’m sorry about that, but I pretty much stopped writing for other blogs and websites in 2019 so that I could concentrate on writing for my own website, which you can see HERE

However, if you do go look at my website, you will notice that I also haven’t written for myself in a long-ass muhfuckin’ time either, and that’s because I’m working on a book, which you can take a peek at HERE

However… don’t get too excited about my book, because it isn’t even close to being finished and it ain’t about food, at all. It’s about dwarves and goblins and fairies and shit, so you’ll probably fuckin’ hate it, unless you’re into that kind of thing.

However, even though I didn’t write as many blog posts and reviews of food in the second half of 2019, that doesn’t mean I’ve been idle in the fooding department! 

I still go out to eat more than anyone I know, and I’ve been eating the shit out of everything I see for the past 12 months, trying as many of the new places I can, revisiting my old favorites of course, and doing all the eating and the drinking and the usual stuff you know me for, and now… drum roll please… I’m ready to fuckin’ drop my 2019 Stoobie Awards on y’all! Whoop whoop! 

However… this year they’re called the Asheville Food Fan Awards, which I explained in a blog post HERE.

Gahd, Stu, too many “howevers.” Just fuckin’ do it.

You know how this works: I will announce the nominees in several categories here on Ashvegas over the next three weeks, and then the winners will be announced and the awards will be handed out on January 27th at the LIVE ceremony! You can attend the live ceremony by purchasing tickets HERE! There will of course be an ASSLOAD of food and drinks at the ceremony. What? You think I’d throw a party and there wouldn’t be a ton of food? Yeah. No. You gonna eat.

Click HERE or on the “Buy Tickets Now” button below

Reminder: These are my own top picks, based on my own personal experiences and opinions. I did work with other eaters in an effort to expand my parameters, but they only suggested venues and bites to me. So, as in years past, these awards are from me, and nobody but me. Your experiences and opinions while dining in Asheville may vary. Also, I am just one person, and a small person at that. I go out to eat often, and I do eat a lot, but I literally can’t go everywhere and eat everything. If you own a venue, and I missed you in 2019, I’ll try to get to you in 2020. Don’t be afraid to bug me. Do what you gotta do. Doc Brown hand-delivered me a fuckin’ sando. It was really good too, which you’re about to find out.

Okay, now, for real, let’s get this funky party started with my favorite category…

I eat a lot of sandwiches, and love a lot of sandwiches. Of course, I still totally love all of the sandwiches that have been nominated and won in this category in previous years, but my “Of The Year” categories are designed to be more flexible than my “Best” categories, allowing me to pay attention — in this case — to sandwiches that are brand new, as well as sandwiches that might have been around already but that I have discovered for myself for the first time in the past 12 months, or a sandwich that I just went-to and ate the shit out of all year long. With all that in mind, here are my three nominees for 2019 Sandwich of the Year…

Sloppy Joe at Doc Brown’s BBQ
Doc Brown’s BBQ is located just a little bit outside my usual sphere of walkable restaurants, and it’s even a tough one for me to get a ride to, so it’s a good thing they reached out to me, specifically about this sandwich that they wanted me to try! They worked with me to get this sandwich delivered, not once but twice, straight to my front door! First in a hand-off to a friend, and then by Doc Brown himself! And boy howdy, I am psyched they made the effort, because this sandwich is a superb southern take on a Sloppy Joe that really hit the spot with me. On the sweet side, but also savory as fuck, and just simply jam-packed with flavor. BBQ ground beef, topped with a house-made cheese sauce, and black-pepper Duke’s mayo, all scooped into, and pouring out of a bread bowl carved from a large City Bakery bun. Fuck me, that’s good shit. No doubt.

Pimento Cheese Chicken BLT at Rocky’s Hot Chicken Shack
This was one of my go-to sandwiches all year long. I ordered it over and over again from Rocky’s (using Takeout Central), and it always satisfied. Even those times when I was kinda feelin’ like, “maybe I’m a little sick of this sandwich,” I would order it anyways out of habit, and then I would be really glad I did, because it’s awesomely delicious every single time! It consists of a fried boneless chicken breast, with mayo, pimento cheese, bacon, lettuce & tomato on a toasted roll. Basic but perfect, and at Rocky’s you can control how hot the chicken is, ranging from “mild” to “holy fuck why am I such an asshole to myself,” and served with your choice of one side. I suggest buying extra sides though, because no joke, Rocky’s has some of the best basic sides in Asheville. Taters and gravy being my fave.

Bubble Waffle Grilled Cheese w/ House-made Spam at Rosa Bee’s
I had no clue WTF a “bubble waffle” was until I ordered this beast at Rosa Bees, and found out that it’s a waffle that has a spherical pattern rather than the usual grid pattern we associate with waffles. It’s also sometimes called an “egg waffle,” because the batter is a little more eggy and light, and the pattern looks kind of like eggs. Bubble waffles are popular in parts of Asia and the Pacific, including Hawaii, where the owner of Rosa Bees found them. She brought them to Asheville, whipped-up some house made Spam, put some gruyere and such on there, and boom. It’s a super tasty combination of sweet and savory, that perfectly mixes the different and the familiar, and is also really fun. I give extra points for fun.

Y’all. Remember when I said I eat a lot of sandwiches? Yeah… good times. Well, guess what? I eat a lot of burgers. (the first person to say “a burger is a sandwich” gets demoted to dumb-ass) And just like the sando sitch above, I still love all my nominees and winners from years past, and recommend them very highly. Honestly, there are very few bad burgers in this town. Pick a burger any burger. There are one or two that I do eschew, but it is difficult to find a really shitty shit-burger in Asheville. Naming one of our many many many great burgers the “BEST” is a personal choice that each and every one of us has to make on our own, with only God and RBG as our judges. That’s why I don’t do a “Best” burger, and instead stick to my “Burger of the Year” award, for the one that surprised me the most, or was brand new to me and blew my socks off, or were simply the burgers that I thought of when I wanted a burger in 2019. All that in mind, here are my three nominees for 2019 Burger of the Year…

Marley Burger at The One Stop
Whoodah thought? I mean, I loved me some Mojo Kitchen and they have the past Stoobie Awards to prove it, so I was sad as fuck when they moved out of downtown (but just as happy as fuck when they opened Black Bear BBQ). When Mojo vacated the One Stop, the kitchen kept cranking out food, but I really wasn’t sure if I was going to be down with it, post-Mojo. I just didn’t know! Then one night, late at night, I (somehow) got the munchies, and I ordered a burger w/ tots from One Stop through KickbackAvl, and oh. Hell. Yes. It was great. I’ve ordered it again since then, and confirmed that, yeah, this is a really good  fuckin’ burger. Add the fact that it’s available late at night, and can be dee-fuckin’-livered straight to my front door, and yeah, I’m down. Big time. The tots were strangely memorable too. Really good tots. I don’t usually review tots. Like who cares, right? Tots is tots. But these tots, I dunno. More crispy. Tons of salt and black pepper. Great tots. Great burger.

Basic Burger at Tastee Diner
What can I say. I’m a fan of Tastee Diner, and 9 times out of 10 that I’m eating there, I’m eating a basic burger. Double patty or single patty depending on how fat my skinny jeans are making me look, with American cheese of course.  It’s just just plain and simple and kinda trashy and real fucking good. One of the ways I decide my “Burger of the Year” nominees when writing the Stoobies, is by pretending that I want a burger, and seeing what comes to mind. Let’s do that: Mmmmm… Burger… Tasteeeeee…. See! It works! Plus, my mom also loves Tastee diner, so I have positive feels about going there with her. Anyhoo, the burgers are great, the price is right, the people are friendly, and the atmosphere is perfect for what it is. And what it is is the Tastee Diner! Bring your mom, or someone else’s.

The Vault Burger at The Rankin Vault (Slider Size)
Y’know, for all its many accolades, I don’t think I’ve ever nominated the famous Vault burger for an award. I’ve been a judge at the Battle of the Burger and have therefore been part of the panel that has awarded them the title of “Asheville’s Best Burger” at that epic event, which they consistently win year after year. Although I was not a judge in 2019, I personally ate the shit out of a ton of Vault burgers all year long, It’s perhaps the burger that I ate most often in ‘19, in fact, but for some reason, I prefer the slider-sized version. It’s kind of easier for me to deal with the smaller size, maybe because I’m also a smaller size? I just love how cute it looks too. It’s wee, and perfect, and should have a kuwai face on it. In addition to eating these sliders with alarming frequency all year long, I probably personally recommend them to over 1,000 people a year, and that’s not an exaggeration. You already love this burger, Asheville, you know it’s great and you don’t need me to tell you that, but I am anyways! It’s fuckin’ great, and it’s my final nominee for 2019 Burger of the Year!

Honorable Mentions 

H&F – I know I know they JUST opened. In a space that is notorious for being where restaurants go out of business in. Since I’ve lived in Asheville, it’s been Modaddy’s, Baja Kitchen, 7 Sows Barbecue, Local Provisions, The Continental, and now H & F Burgers & Fries, Asheville. The “Asheville” is part of the name, because there’s also one in Atlanta, where the Chef won a dang James Beard Award. (Hey now! We been wantin’ one of those around here.) So of course, I went in shortly after they opened, and diggity dag, I’m telling you what, my guy Jimmy Beard knows some shit about food, because, yeah, real good fuckin’ burger, Yo. For one  thing, it came out PIPING HOT. I have never bitten into such a hot burger in my life. Burned myself. Didn’t care. The flavor was great, the condiments were fantastic, the fries are instantly some of the best in town. ½ a point off from me for using Kraft American cheese, which has a very specific flavor that I personally don’t prefer. Other folks obviously love it, so it’s your call on that one aspect. Keep an eye on this space. Maybe a restaurant will finally stay in business there.

Buxton Hall Barbecue – This monster is back on my list, partly because it’s back on their menu more often than ever. Not always, which is the way of Buxton Hall, but more than when it first debuted and was the Flying Dutchman of great local Burgers. Double patty, American and pimento cheese, house-made pickles, very nice bun. Comes with a knife stabbed into it. Fucking GREAT burger. I love it, and I eat it often.

NEW CATEGORY! Just in case you hadn’t noticed, THERE’S A LOT OF PICKLED STUFF IN THIS TOWN! Holy shit, Yo. These motherfuckers will pickle EN. EEE. THIIING! I sat still for too long in a certain restaurant downtown, and the chef tried to put my foot in a bucket of brine! That’s not true, but what is true is that there is a lot of picklin’, and fermenting goin’ on around here, and I’ve decided it’s past time to recognize some of these awesome and creative uses of both the pickling and fermenting process in the restaurants around town. Some pickles suck, let me just put it that way. Most are fine. Some stand out. A few a fucking awesome. Here are a three nominees that impressed the shit out of me in the category of Best Pickled / Fermented Thing, 2019…

Pickles on Everything at AUX Bar
Chef Steven Goff likes to pickle things. He also hates to waste food. So when he chops up veggies, anything that isn’t being used in an entree, or on a salad or whatever, gets pickled. In fact, it’s pretty safe to say that anything that can be pickled, will be pickled, and as a result, just about every dish coming out of the kitchen is going to have some kind of pickled something on the plate.

Pro tip for noobs at AUX: Everything you see is edible. Well, not the floors and tables, and certainly not that horrifying painting on the wall, but if there’s something on your plate, it’s safe to say that you can safely eat that something. Nothing is just for show. Garnishes are for the bourgeois, Betches. That pickled cranberry is for eatin’ not lookin’ at. And, don’t be afraid. I’ve literally had to say to people, “that celery  looks kind of weird and pale because it’s pickled, and it’s frickin’ good.” And then they eat it, and they agree, it’s pickled and it’s frickin’ good. I admire Chef Steven’s pickle prowess, as well as his low food waste. PICKLE POWER!

Pickled Eggs at Bhramari
I didn’t grow up eating pickled eggs. I always kind of associated them with sad old men sitting alone at the end of the bar, who only ate them so they could keep drinking, and did so until they slowly transmuted into some form of a pickled egg themselves. And while all that is absolutely true, pickled eggs are fucking awesome, and I have since learned love them! Well, not all of them. Not all picked eggs are created equal, and I’ve had more than one that left me with a perma-pucker on my leps. Jesus fuck, atsa sour egg! Not so with the amazing pickled eggs at Bhramari Brewing Company! They’re milder than most, and have a unique hint o’ curry flavor, which is kind of the thing at Bhramari: Bar food with a little flavor of India. IF I DRANK, I’m guessing that these pickled eggs would go really great with beer. They just seem very beer-friendly. They also come with house made marmalade and other awesomes on the plate. Everything about this food makes this sad, pickled egg of an old man very happy!

Pickle Plate at Cultura
Just in case you didn’t know, the whole dealio with Cultura is that the use a lot of cultures. I don’t pretend to understand even half of the sciency-type stuff that Chef Eric Morris tells me about the cultures… well, no, that’s a lie, because yes I do. I totally stand right in front of him and nod and smile an absolutely pretend that I know it all. I’m an idiot, of course, who knows nothing, so you’d better ask him to tell you the magic tricks that he uses, I’m just here to say, mmmmmmmmmmgood pickles! No shit, Yo. Dawn and I  went there for her Birthday, and we had a pickle plate, which is usually a lot of pickles for two people to tackle, but we crushed ‘em all, and she and I both agreed, mmmmmmmmmmgood pickles! What made ‘em great to us was that they tasted so different from other pickles, and from each other, even though most of the things on the plate were cucumbers! Plus cute little quail eggs! YUM! Anyhoo, we ate it all, it was unique as fuck, and my final nominee for Best Pickled Stuff of 2019!

Honorable Mentions

Fermenti – So many of the delicious fermented things we enjoy in this town are created by Meg Chamberlain at Fermenti! From what I understand, fermenting requires a license and is subject to other regulations that make it difficult for most restaurants to do it on the premises. Thanks to Fermenti, they don’t have to! Mad respect for Meg, who found a niche, and filled it with funky fermented things! 

Fermented Apple Doughp Doughnut at The Underground Cafe – Chef Jay Medford uses fermented apples from Fermenti to make this amazing doughnut. If you haven’t tried it, go do that right now. We’ll wait.

NEW CATEGORY! I don’t know if you know, but we got a lotta mushrooms around here. They grow like crazy. There’s probably some growing near you (hopefully not on you) right now. Of course, many of those mushrooms will kill you. Others will help you see your spirit animal… and then kill you. But some are edible and delicious, and those are the ones I like the most. They end up in a lot of dishes around here, and seem to be an important part of our food scene, contributing a unique “forage-to-table” aspect to it. Mushrooms are so prevalent that I decided to give them their own category this year! Yay shrooms! Below are my top three nominees for 2019’s Best Use of Fungus Award… 

My spirit animal is a porcupine covered in mini-marshmallows BTW.

Fried Mushrooms w/ Ponzu Sauce at Noble – The Greenhouse
I’ve been going into Noble The Greenhouse with food tours and, Maaaaaaan, people have been flippin’ they lids over how great the samples are. Gah! Yes, I am totally one of those people. If you haven’t been there, get there. It’s amazing. Lately they’ve been busting out some really great fried mushrooms with ponzu sauce for us that are delicate, delicious, and pretty to look at! The mushers are locally cultivated, and of a wide variety that can changed slightly from time to time, but usually contains some lion’s mane, king trumpets, and oyster mushrooms. The dredge (the crunchy stuff on the outside) is cornmeal with house herbs, and the ponzu sauce is both sweet and tangy, and despite being deep fried, this dish is light, and enjoyable as fuck.

Mushroom Casserole at Cultura
So one day Dawn and I were sitting in the bar area of Cultura, and it seemed like we kept seeing people we know, including all three of the Chefs who work there, who each stopped-by at various points to say hi. When Chef Ben came over, he was excited to bring us a mushroom casserole dish that was so good, it was un-fucking-real. I ate one bite. I died. I went to heaven. I was resurrected in a miracle event right there at the bar, and I dug into the rest of it. Rich, decadent, flavorful, hot, buttery, not giving a fuck about being loaded with fat, it was amazing. Since the menu is prone to changes at Cultura, I’m not sure this dish or any like it is still available, but I am sure that everything they do at Cultura is fucking great, and when Dawn tried these mushrooms, she was, like, “wow.” And I’m telling you what, a “wow” from Dawn is worth about, like, a hundred “fuckin’ awesomes!” from me. Truth.

Mushroom Toast at Imperial Life
Some people might advise a chef not to rely too heavily on fat for flavor. Those same people would probably tell Junior not rely too heavily on gasoline for speed. I mean, I know not everyone can eat fat, and not everyone should eat fat, and there is certainly such a thing as eating too much fat, and I have to be as aware of my fat intake as much every other eater in the world, but… yeah… it’s a cliche but it’s true, and it ain’t no joke: Fat equals flavor. I wrote all of that just as a lead-up to this motherfuckin’ mushroom toast, which was ridiculously fucking good and so, so, sososo rich, I swear I’m still three sit-ups away from working it off. Fuck it. Sit-ups are for masochists. This mushroom toast was one of the most memorable bites I had all year, it was deep, decadent, comforting, and filling as fuck, and it is my final nominee in the category of Best Use of Fungus 2019!

NEW CATEGORY! Growing up in my family, we didn’t eat a lot of offal. We just weren’t offal eaters. It basically didn’t even occur to me that you could or would eat something made out of the blood and guts and leftover bits of the animal after eating all the “prime cuts.” It wasn’t until I moved down South that I really started to tuck into some organ meats, especially here in Asheville, where the chefs try to use every little bit of the animal, and they try to pay homage to traditional Southern, Appalachian, and African American preparations and approaches to food, which generally involve offal in one form or another. At first I wasn’t into offal, then I got used to it, now I actually crave it. Chicken livers? Love ‘em! Duck paté on a Saltine? Yes, please, give me that. Pork brain mousse? Nahhht quite there yet, but listed below are my top three picks in the brand new Best of Blood Guts, 2019 category…

Blood Sausage at Cúrate
Dear Younger Self, You love blood sausage now. Dear Current Self, WTF?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!?!? Yeah, no, I never would have ever believed it, but the blood sausage at Cúrate is theeee most to-die-for dish made out of blood I’ve ever had! I think about it every single time I walk by Curate now. And I think about it when I’m not walking by Cúrate too, when I’m just sittin’ around doing nothing, I’m like, “Mmm… blood… sausage.” I desire it. (I also hate the sunshine, so figure it out) At Cúrate, they cut their house-made blood sausage into discs and grill it until crispy, then they serve it with a wonderful creamy sauce underneath, microgreens, and super caramelized onions. My advice is to be sure to get some of all of it on every forkful. Also be prepared to fight the urge to run your tongue across the plate. The sauce is that good.

Hog Hash at Buxton Hall
I was one of 25 lucky ticket buyers to Chef Elliott Moss’s hog hash bash, where he served a dozen different kinds of hog hash from various places in South Carolina, and one in North Carolina. That one place was Buxton Hall BBQ of course, where it is on the menu most days, if not every day of the week. Just in case you don’t know what hog hash is, well, actually… Go try it first and then ask someone what-all is in it. Better not to know. Just keep in mind that it’s up for an award in a category called “Best of Blood and Guts.” Of all the hash samples I tried at the special ticketed dinner, I liked Buxton’s the best. I’m the first to admit that as an actual Yankee, from Boston no less, I have never had hog hash until I had Chef Elliott’s and maybe it’s a case of my first one being my benchmark, but to me, his was just a little meatier, and straddled the sweetness / vinegar line more perfectly than any other. If you’ve never had it, go get some. If you grew up eating it, I hope you find his to be as tasty and as high quality as I do!

Liver Pudding at Benne on Eagle
I ate this waaaaay back in January of 2019 and it has stuck in my mind as pure deliciousness on a plate ever since. It was called pudding, but imagine a beautifully seared wedge of rich, warm paté, served with pickles and house-made crackers. There was some vegetable matter in the pudding that added great texture and flavor, giving it more than one consistency throughout.  I ate it all by myself and it was insanely good. I’m not sure if it’s still on the menu, but the last time I looked on line there was definitely some delicious sounding fried livers and such featured, so I know you can still get your blood and guts on when you go to Benne.

NEW CATEGORY! So, here we are in the middle of the pork belt, and we are not doing anything to buck the cliche that Southerners eat a shit load of pork. Pork pork pork pork pork. Some couple million pigs were killed in a hurricane last year, families ruined, farms wiped out, a statewide crisis, and the headlines were “Price of Bacon to Skyrocket.” I’m not even kidding, y’alllll. We’re awful awful people. And we want pork products. A lot. I’m not judgin’! I’m just as bad. Seriously, I probably ate my own weight in pig last year, which is a metaphor for something I’m sure. They say you are what you eat, so I guess that makes me dee-fuckin’-licious! Here are my three insanely tasty nominees for 2019’s Pork Product of the Year… 

Ogbono Pork Ribs at Benne on Eagle
As a bearded gentleman, I don’t often eat ribs in public, because, well, it can be messy, and then your fuckin’ mustache smells like sauce all dang day, and also, I don’t necessarily like to gnaw in polite company. All of those are reasons why I don’t generally eat a lot of ribs, and are exactly why I do eat and love the ogbono pork ribs at Benne on Eagle. They are short ribs for one thing, so there’s less chance of wearing a saucy smile than with big long beef ribs. And these ribs are cooked PERFECTLY. Good lord. Every bit of edible awesome comes right off the bone with the greatest of ease. Gno gnawing gneeded! The flavor is incredible, and they come with a really great house-made chowchow! You will need napkins, but not a shower, after eating these wonderful ribs.

Pork ‘n’ Porridge at AUX Bar
I’ve probably eaten somewhere in the range of, oh, I dunno, TWO OIL DRUMS FULL of this dish! Gah! So good! The people at AUX Bar can’t believe I still eat it, but I’m telling you what: Some things you never grow tired of. Some things you want to eat as much as you can before you die, or the world ends, or all the pigs fly away, and things like pork and porridge are no longer available, so that’s what I’m doing! Slow roasted pork, over regional golden grain rice from right down the road in South Carolina, and of course, pickles pickles pickles, plus fresh greens and something that they call their “crack nuts,”  which are chicken cracklin’s and peanuts, all chopped up together. I’m telling you what, that shit’s good. Real good. L.A.M.F. In the picture is the tour-sized sample. The full-size is much larger and comes with a soft egg and confit mushroom.

House Made Spam at Rosabee’s
Much like offal, we didn’t eat Spam in our house, not until my parents split up, then my dad would cook it for us at his place on weekends. When I was in college I ate Spam all the time, usually with eggs and taters, but then I was a vegetarian for ten years, and when I started eating meat again, I just didn’t eat Spam, because why bother? Then, a few years ago I did buy some, I cooked it up at home, and I was a little bit, like, “meh, I can probably live without much more of this in my diet.” House-made Spam, though? Oh. No. Stop the presses and give me some of that shit right now. I mean, if someone goes to all the fucking trouble to make something called “house-made Spam,” I wanna try it, right? I had my first chance to do so at Rosabee’s, where I had it straight-up, sittin’ on plate. My mom had ordered the bubble waffle grilled cheese sandwich, which comes with Spam, but she didn’t want it (what did I tell you) so I asked them to please put her Spam on a plate for me. Fuckin’ tasty as fuck, Yo. Loved it. Salty, porky, perfect. Tasted like Spam, only not as loose, fatty, corporate, and gross. It was excellent, and it’s my third and final contender in the category of 2019 Pork Product of the Year!

After all those savories and sours, I need a sweet. I like my sweets, and I eat fuckin’ lot of them. It’s impossible to pick just three, but doing the impossible is apparently what I’ve signed-up for here, so even though it kills me not to nominate hundreds of local sweets for accolades this year, I’m limiting myself to the three that rocked my socks off, and /or satisfied my every want and desire in a sweet treat more often in the past 12 months than any other treats! Here are my top three picks for Best Sweet Treat, 2019… 

Maple Eclair at Sawhorse
I’m a fan of Sawhorse, even though I don’t get out there much, because it’s a HELLA long walk, so I depend on the kindness of others to gimme a ride. I go with my mom sometimes, she likes Sawhorse because she’s Canadian-American and they have lots of traditional Canadian dishes on their menu. I like it for the same reasons, plus, there’s just some good old fashioned yankee grub up in there! The flavors coming from the kitchen at Sawhorse are the flavors of the North, where I’m originally from, and that makes me happy. I do love Southern food very much, it’s my current favorite cooking style, but I also grave those flavors of my youth, and I’m always stoked with the offerings at Sawhorse! And, they make this eclair that is to fucking die for. It’s a maple eclair, it’s huge, it’s filled with an intensely rich and creamy custard, and it has an almost “burnt” quality to it that puts it over the top as one of the best eclairs I ever ate. It was created by Chef Emily Cadmus, and after just one bite, instantly my very first nominee in 2019 for the Best Sweet Treat award!

Li’l Cakies at Sunshine Sammies
A Li’l Cakey is a like a cake and cookie had a baby and it was so cute, you ate it. And it was fucking amazing, so you ate all their babies. Chef Susie Pearson and her crew are my heroes. She makes some of my favorite sweets in town, bar none, and the Li’l Cakey is chief among them. I buy and eat them so often, that when I walk in the door, they automatically ask if I’m there for Li’l Cakies. True story. They are not quite as soft as cake, nor exactly cookie-normative either, they taste like yellow cake, or chocolate cake, and the cookie glaze tastes just like cake frosting. I’m tellin’ you what. Li’l Cakies. So fucking good!

Liquid Truffle Affogato at French Broad Chocolates
Go to FBC, pick an ice cream, any ice cream, and pour a hot, dark or milk chocolate liquid truffle over it, and ta-da! Chocolate Affogato. It’s truly one of the best fucking things on the planet, let alone in Asheville, NC. An affogato typically refers to a small scoop of ice cream with a shot of espresso over it, and that itself is amazing, but then sub-out the coffee for melted chocolate ganache, and… yeah… It’s heavenly as fuck. They make all their own ice cream in-house at FBC, and they have the usual hits, vanilla, chocolate, salted caramel etc, as well as other more exotic flavors, not one of which doesn’t pair extremely fucking well with a piping hot liquid motherfuckin’ chocolate truffle poured all the fuck over it. DAMN! They even have two vegan flavors of ice cream that are also delicious. They’re made with coconut milk, which is loaded with fat, which is the secret of their high deliciousness factor. Thin vegan ice creams make me sad. This chocolate affogato makes me happy. Very fucking happy.

Aaaand that’s the end of part one of the Asheville Food Fan Awards!

Sandwich of the Year • Burger of the Year • Best Pickled / Fermented Thing • Best Use of Fungus • Best of Blood & Guts • Pork Product of the Year • Best Sweet Treat

The nominees in the rest of the categories will be announced right here on Ashvegas over the next weeks, and then the winners and actual physical awards will be given out in a LIVE ceremony on January 27th at the Asheville Masonic Temple!



Tickets are available NOW!

Click HERE or on the “Buy Tickets Now” button below

JANUARY 27TH, 2020
• V.I.P. Admission – 5:00PM
• General Admission: 6:00PM
• Awards Ceremony 7:00PM – 8:00PM
• Evening Ends at 9:30PM
@ Asheville Beauty Academy

Asheville Masonic Temple
80 Broadway St, Asheville, NC 28801

To have fun, while paying tribute to the great people who make up the amazing Asheville Food Scene!

Produced by: Stu Helm Food FanShay Brown Events, &

From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O'SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM

From left: Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table; Chef William Dissen, The Market Place; Chef Steven Goff, Standard Foods; Chef Katie Button, Curate; Chef Joe Scully, Chestnut and Corner Kitchen; Stu Helm; Chef John Fleer, Rhubarb; Chef Karen Donatelli, Donatelli Bakery; Chef Peter Pollay, Posana Cafe; and Chef Matt Dawes, Bull & Beggar./ Photo by STEWART O’SHIELDS for ASHVEGAS.COM



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