Well, la-dee-fuckin’ dah! Look at me, I’m Sandra Dee, just as fancy as can be!
Dawn and I got invited as “media guests,” to a swank, 5-course wine and food pairing hosted by Table, on the patio at Tod’s Tasties, and it was frickin’ awesome.
I’m going to write about that in a minute, but first I want to address this:
Last week’s Glass Onion review was pretty harsh, and it got a lot of response, both positive and negative. I expect a certain amount of negativity from the trolls, and even the gen-pop when I post a super bad review, so that’s all good, but what I didn’t expect was the following comment from someone claiming to be Blue Mountain Pizza:
“Hey Stu, Everybody is welcomed to there own opinion and we do not want yours. Glass Onion is our neighbor and we are proud to have them in the neighborhood and what they stand for. We are very proud of what we do, what we serve and who we support. We are not here for your entertainment and do not care to here your opinion. Thank you”
I contacted Blue Mountain via Facebook with the following note:
“Hi, I saw that (the above) was posted as a comment on Ashvegas this week, and I just wanted to confirm — before I cut and paste it into my column next week — that it is indeed an official communique from Blue Mountain Pizza. If you could let me know, that would be great! Thanks… -Stu Helm”
Matt from Blue Mountain responded quickly with:
“No not familiar with that statement and not sure where it came from but it did not come from us. Can you give me more information about it?”
And then he followed up before I got a chance to get back to him with:
“I found it on (Ashvegas.com). Sorry someone is using our name for their own rantings. Thanks for letting me know so I could post a response or if possible you can remove the whole nonsense. Thanks again for the heads up”
This unfortunate incident is a great example of why I despise the anonymous trolls so much. The troll who posted that comment posing as Blue Mountain PIzza is obviously a colossal jackass, and our regular trolls who hide behind screen names while they attack me, Jason, and the other readers are just a fucking drag, period. Booo.
People often advise me to ignore the trolls, but I have to admit that I do like to take them on from time to time, correcting their ignorant statements, or just plain telling them to “fuck off.” I find them to be just the worst kind of people, and it gives me great satisfaction to swear at them and call them names.
Speaking of names, mine is right at the top of this column every week, and my picture is at the bottom. I’m not anonymous. I make my — sometimes very objectionable — opinions known in a way that leaves me vulnerable to criticism, or even a punch in the nose, because… I don’t care! As in: I do not give a shit. “Fuck the world!” (I just paused from typing this to say that out loud, raise my two middle fingers in the air, and spin around in my office chair.) I’ve got an opinion, and a forum, and I am not afraid to stand up for, and stand behind what I write. I might be an asshole, but at least I’m up front about it, and actually, I’m not an asshole, I’m a pretty nice guy… but that’s not my point… um…
I just wanted to make sure that everyone realizes that Blue Mountain Pizza did not post that comment.
Now, wasn’t I gonna write something about food, or wine, or some shit?
TABLE at TOD’S – Montford Ave, Asheville
I recently learned three things I didn’t know:
1 – Chef Jacob Sessoms works in the kitchen at Table at night, and runs Tod’s Tasties during the day. Wow, that’s impressive. I sleep at night and nap during the day, so I gotta respect this guy’s energy!
2 – Chef Sessoms is a regular reader of my column! WOW AGAIN! That makes me wanna say squee, really loud and girly. I’m not a star-struck type of person (being a muhfickin’ superstar my muhfuckin’ self) but it’s pretty awesome whenever I hear that a chef I admire is a fan of my food writing.
3 – Wine from the Beaujolais region of France can not be given a “vintage” if there has been any irrigation, or other artificial intervention by the hand of a human, to make the grapes grow better. That is because a vintage is a year, and for a grape, any year is different from the year before, or the year after, or any other year based mostly on weather, ie: rainfall & sunshine. So, weather is the signature or thumbprint of a vintage in a way. Because of the laws in Beaujolais, a wine from that region with the year “1987” printed on the label tastes like 1987, and one that says “1993” tastes like 1993. That makes sense, even to an idiot like me.
The only reason I learned these three things, and more, is because of the 5 course wine and food pairing that Chef J invited us to! Thomas Morgan from Kermit Lynch wine importers was there, and he schooled us all on wine while we ate and drank. Actually, I don’t drink — which Chef Sessoms knew… because he reads my column!!! — so Dawn sampled the wines, while I just ate… and ate and ate and ate and ate. Five courses is a lot of courses. I attended fewer courses to get my BFA from art school! Zing! Wakka wakka! Bah-dum-pah! Not true.
So, here’s what we had, in the order we had it:
• Wine and Whisky Cocktail – It looked great! Those who tasted them said they were great, and I noticed that there wasn’t a drop left in anyone’s glass, so, draw your own conclusions. Dawn did kinda blame this one cocktail for the hangover she felt the next day, and since Mom always says “never mix the grapes and the grain,” I can see why a slight headache might result from this otherwise fine and dandy concoction. Especially when you put four or five other classes of wine on top of it. Wooooooo!
• Coffee – The coffee was courtesy of Tod’s and it was great. They have very good coffee at Tod’s, and my thanks go to Tod’s staff for keeping it coming my way all night. I’m sure it was annoying as fuck to have exactly ONE person drinking coffee.
From this point on, there’s gonna be some French words. France was the theme, along with the fact that all of the food was prepared, at least in part, on a GIANT wood-fired smoker / griller type dealio that Chef Jacob was workin’ like a mofo the whole time. I will attempt to translate some of the French words for you, as I describe the five courses we were served and the wines that were paired with them.
1) Hors D’oeuvre – Petite farcis, salade Lyonnaise, and cervelle de canut.
Translation: Some awesome fuckin’ grilled-up chunks of onions, zucchini, and summer squash, with like, grains or some such all stuffed inside, plus some really tasty little puff-pastry type jobbies with, like, spin-dip on ’em, and my fave: these cool little endive leaf canoes with sprouts and croutons and wee little hard boiled quail eggs in ’em. It was alllll really effing good. Nom nom!
2) Crab, Peach, Cucumber, and Fines Herbes in Cucumber Buttermilk – Now, mind you, it’s been a hella long time since I took my junior high French, but I’m gonna guess that “fines herbes” means “fine herbs,” aaaand… boom! I just Wikied that shit, and I was right!
This was a warm, creamy, but light soup, that was really subtle and nice and had succulent pieces of crab in it. It was refreshing, and awesome. The traditional French herbes mix was outstanding. This was Dawn’s fave dish, and it came with a “Thivin Beaujolais-Villages Rosé” that the winos… erp… I mean WINE LOVERS loved.
3) Quail, Wine Berries, Berry Leaf, & Charred Eggplant – Quails are cute. And yummy. This one was wrapped in a large berry leaf and then cooked on the smoker thingy that Chef J was working. It had it’s wee little legs akimbo, and looked like it was all cozy in it’s berry leaf blanket, ready to read a tiny book or something. I gnawed on it like a giant cave man. I feel larger when I eat quail. I also want to mention that the charred eggplant was fantastic. I’m finding that eggplant puree has become popular in good restaurants lately, and I love it! It’s very homey and comforting for some reason.
This dish was served with… here it comes… “Guy Breton ‘cuvée Marylou,’ Beaujolais-Villages” wine. Mon dieu! That’s a mouthful. Dawn and the other wine people took several mouthfuls and seemed to really enjoy it.
4) Boudin Noir, Scallop, Flageolet Beans, Sage, Lavender, and Black Plum – Boudin noir means “black sausage,” or what we all know as “blood sausage.” Gross, right? Wrong! It was frickin’ awesome and subtle and it went very well with the scallop and black plum sauce. The scallop was really nice, and sweet, and salty, and was cooked just right. Extra points for making the plum sauce mimic a puddle of blood underneath the blood sausage. A ghoulishly humorous touch. This dish was playful, and thoughtful, and very tasty, and it was my fave of the night. It came with “Domaine Chignard Julienas” wine.
What more can I say about all these various wines? People fucking loved it. It was really good wine according to everyone there.
I know I’ll take some flack because I don’t drink and some people will think that I shouldn’t even go to wine pairings, let alone review them, but I was invited to this one, and I ain’t gonna say no to that, believe me you. Besides, even if I did still drink, I wouldn’t know jack shit about wine. I drank beer. Lots and lots and lots of beer. I hated wine. If I was still a drinker and I went to a wine pairing and I drank the wine, my review would go like this: “Gah! This stuff sucks! How do people do it?!? Gim beer. Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh. Drunk now.”
Moving on to the final course…
5) Pounded Pork Steak, Tomato, Crayfish, Quail Egg, Bitter Grapefruit, Pine Vierge – I gotta love any dish with the words “pounded pork” in the name. I also love crayfish! They look and taste just like a teeny tiny little lobster to me. I love miniature stuff, and I love lobster, so crayfish really do it for me, and they were treated well in this dish, which was fucking excellent. The pork was just right. Very tender, very tasty. The tomatoes were small, colorful, heirloom guys, and they were excellent. I’m not a huge tomato eater, but heirloom me, and I’ll love it. This dish was the star of the evening, and everyone enjoyed it very very much
It was paired with “Domaine Chignard Fleurie” wine. People loved it. Glug glug glug. All gone! Aaand that was the end of the show.
Now, don’t be jells of me and the D-Unit, B. Anyone, including you and yours can get in on the swankydoodledandiness next time around, or the time after. The price tag for this one was not cheap, but not at all unreasonable, and it included the wine. I think in terms of bang for the buck, it was a bargain.
This was Table’s 5th dinner on the Tod’s patio, and they plan on doing about six per year, with each dinner having a different theme, or reason for happening. The dinner might be in support of one of the Farmer’s markets, or co-hosted with East Fork Pottery to sell ceramics, for example, or just a “Welcome, Spring!” type of thing.
Readers who are interested can call Table to be added to their listserve and receive email invites from them.
PASTA WITH JAM SAUCE – Food Critic HQ
I’m game. I’ll do stuff. You can ask me to something, and unless it involves sunshine, cigarettes, or babysitting, I’m usually pretty game.
A new reader, named Rex contacted me recently, and asked me if I would review a dish that he would make, and bring to my house. He explained…
• It’s for a scavenger hunt he’s doing.
• To raise money for a charity.
• The dish is called “pasta with jam sauce.”
• A “legit food critic” (me???) needs to taste it and give it a review.
• And Rex could tick “Item 38” off of his scavenger list.
Done and done. Thanks, Rex, it was nice meeting you, even though the experience left a very bad taste in my mouth.
Just in case you guys missed it, my review was, “Oh, Man, that is entirely awful.” I did add, however, that it was “not completely hopeless.”
Rex said it tasted better before he added the orange juice. Blah. I still need a tic-tac.
BATTLE OF THE BURGER – Downtown Asheville
ERMERFERKINGERD!!! BERGER BERTTLLLE!!!
Well, it finally went down. The burgers were slung, the ballots were cast, and the winner was announced, all on one glorious Sunday afternoon in glorious Downtown Asheville. I ferkin’ lerved it!
The winning burger was served up by The Vault (sometimes known as the Rankin Vault) and I personally think it was a well deserved victory! Whoop whoop!
The secret to their success, in my opinion as well as that of many other’s, was their buns.
Their BURGER buns, you dirty perverts!
Although it did not hurt one bit that the front man was, like, really handsome and charming, it was his buns… their buns… the buns on these burgers… that we all raved about. They were buttered and then grilled (Fuddrucker style!), plus they were small and soft, just the way I like ’em, and oh so tasty as fuck.
Now days, none of us wants to “fill up on carbs” so, if we’re going to be stuffing bread into our meat holes, it better be fuckin’ good, nomesayin’? This bun was good. Really good. Really fucking good. Really really totally fucking tasty and very good.
I heard the handsome man say, “good buns are just as important as good meat,” and I couldn’t agree mor.. what? Okay… now get your filthy minds out of the gutter right now and try to follow along. We’re almost done, and then you can go look at internet porn or whatever…
The vault burger is made from Hickory Nut Gap farms meat, Heritage Farms bacon, cheddar cheese, arugula, onion, house-made vinaigrette, and spicy mayo.
It’s a good burger, Yo, ain’t no doubt about it.
The other top 4 burgers of the day, going by the general vibe of the crowd were:
• Farm to Fender, who had a giant line in front of their truck all afternoon.
• King James Pub, who’s sear burger is a decadent hit with anyone who tries it.
• Buffalo Nickel’s house-made cheeze whiz burger was soops pops with the peeps.
• Ambrozia delivered an awesome burger that was aaalmost Dawn’s favorite, but she felt that the inclusion of onions rings, or “anything deep fried” was “cheating.” She’s got weird rules.
The rest were really good too, but there was only one category on the ballot, and that was “Best Burger,” so there was only one winner, and that was The Vault. Congrats, Vault!
Another highlight of that day for me was meeting reader Lauren who showed me a jar of Green River Pickles in her purse and told me, “If Stu says something is good, I eat it!” NIce!
HUGE thanks go out to Kelly Densen and her crew for doing this. It was an ass-ton-o-fun, and I think that all of Asheville should be proud of Kelly, our awesome burger makers, and all the good eaters in this town. We’re totally gonna crush the nationals!
Go Asheville! Go Asheville! Go! Go! Go! Go! Go Asheville! Go Asheville! Go! Go! Go! Go!
BEST OF WNC – The Mountain Xpress
Holy shitsticks! I won a “Best of” award from the readers of the Mountain Xpress!
I placed third in the category of “Best Social Media Personality,” and I honestly couldn’t have been more surprised when they told me.
Thank you to anyone who voted for me, that was really nice of you! Wow. You guys totally rule.
Thanks as well to Jasvegas! I’d still be posting my idiotic reviews strictly for my friends on Facebook if he hadn’t taken a chance (and some grief) by posting my expletive-laced rants and raves. Especially my early one were, like, WTF???” Congrats as well to Jason for placing 1st in this same category.
Finally, thanks to the the Mountain Xpress. You and me have never really gotten along, Mountain X, and our latest attempt at working together was not good, but… there you are… and here I am… so thank you, sincerely, for giving us all the opportunity to vote for the Best of WNC in every single imaginable category every year, and for my share of wins since I moved here in 2005.
Remember when I got voted “The Thing That the Mountain Xpress Most Needs to Add,” or whatever that weird category was that one year?
At the time, we talked about adding a “Kids’ Section,” with games and puzzles and such to the X, but you didn’t bite, so now I publish my own dang paper called Asheville Flyer for Kids. So, thanks for that too!
Stu Helm is an artist and writer 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 restaurant reviews strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook in 2013.