Stu Helm, Food Critic, on Green River Picklers, Bread Camp and Heiwa in Asheville


By Stu Helm

Hello Asheville!

First of all, thank you for all the great hot dog comments and suggestions last week! You guys are awesome.

I am so sick of hot dogs.

Here’s something I’m not sick of…

GREEN RIVER PICKLERS – River Arts District Farmers Market Now, normally I associate the name “Green River” with either the serial killer or the 80’s proto-grunge band, but from now on, I’m thinkin’ pickles!

One of the best things to happen to my neighborhood, the South French Broad / River Arts District lately is the Farmers Market! Formerly known as the Montford Farmers Market (sorry Montford) and now known as the RAD Farmers Market, it happens every Wednesday from 2pm – 6pm in that nice big grassy lot next to All Souls Pizza on Clingman Ave. Come on by, grab a pie, and check it out! There’s plenty of parking for all of you car people, and lots of cool shit from the fresh produce you’d expect, to soap, jewelry, cheeses, vegan meats, a coffee bike (so COOL!) and some of the best dang pickles I’ve ever had!

There was a nice young man from Green River Farms there at the market, and he allowed me to take pictures of the pickles (see my Facebook page) and try a sample or two. I tried the cucumber dill, and it was really good, although warmish from being outside. He said they were better cold, and told me that, of all the things he had with him (pickled okra, pickled tuzedo beans, bread ‘n’ butter cucumber pickles, etc) the sweet ‘n’ spicy cucumber pickles might be his fave, so those are the ones I bought.

Then I bought coffee from The Coffee Peddlar, it was really fucking AWESOME! Ermagerd. This guy gives a shit about coffee, and his rig is incredible. He said it weighs about 300 lbs with him on it! Are you shitting me?!? I would effing die if I tried to ride that thing around the All Souls parking lot, let alone up and down the hills of A-town. He’s parked at The Pritch in the middle of downtown most days, and says he does a good biz with the tourists, but would love more local clientele. Go see him!

After my coffee, I very carefully strapped my glass mason jar of precious pickles on to Bikey’s rat-trap rack, and rode homeward, up Clingman to Hilliard. What a hump! I thought of the 300 pound coffee rig, for about one split second until it was too exhausting… huff puff… home… pickles in the fridge.

About an hour or so later: Fuckin’ aye, awesome, cold, sweet ‘n’ spicy cucumber pickles! These might be the best fucking pickles I’ve ever had and that includes the pickles I used to buy out of giant wooden barrels at the Jewish deli in Coolidge Corner, Brookline Mass. Those deli pickles were no joke, and neither are these Green River guys. VERY crisp, and fresh, and super flavorful. They weren’t too spicy, or too sweet. I felt just like Baby motherfuckin’ Bear, because them shits were juuust riiight.

What more can I say? I’m going to buy Green River pickles from now on. They are my instant pickle of choice. I don’t even necessarily like okra, but I’m gonna try their okra pickles, because I have faith that they will be awesome.

Much like hot dog week, I’d love to read your suggestions on what to do with leftover pickle juice. That dang Green River juice is too good to waste! I gotta get some usage out of it first.

I’m planning to brine some chicken in it overnight before cooking the chicken and tossing the juice.

Speaking of chicken…

CHICKEN – Wherever

I read a comment somewhere recently that was like, “Why would anyone order chicken at a restaurant?”

My. Mind. Was. Blown.

Why would anyone NOT order chicken at a restaurant?!?

When I posed the question to my friends, I was surprised to find that a number of them “could see why” someone wouldn’t order chicken in a restaurant, because “you can just cook it at home.”

Mind. Further. Blown.

I will let the ghost of Colonel Sanders explain to you in a dream some night why people might enjoy not deep frying chicken at home, but let’s set aside that greasy mess for now, and just talk about chicken in general.

It’s gross. Until you cook it, chicken is one of the most disgusting meats to handle. Raw chicken is just fucking nasty, that’s all there is to it. When I was a vegetarian, I had a sick cat. We had to feed that dang cat raw food or it would vomit up it’s entire meal. We fed it raw chicken, which we had to soak in grape seed oil, to kill the germs, because, oh yeah, raw chicken is also fucking deadly.

I had to use kitchen scissors to cut this raw chicken up into gobble-down-in-two-seconds-sized pieces. That cat loooved his raw chicken, let me tell you what. Keep in mind that I myself, did not eat meat at the time. I didn’t eat chicken for TEN YEARS! But every day, I cut some up for that dang cat. May he rest in peace. I hated it.

Anyhoodles, now that I eat meat again, I eat tons of chicken, and yes I do cook it at home, but I still don’t like to handle it raw. I don’t wanna touch raw chicken as often I wanna stuff cooked chicken into my mouth and stomach, so, duh, I eat chicken at restaurants.

That’s right, I said, “duh,” because, y’know what? DUH, that’s what! Here’s a list of other things I “could cook at home,” that are actually a lot easier to cook at home than chicken, but I still eat out:

• Hot dogs – I boil them. Not difficult.

• Steak – It is so fucking easy to cook a steak at home, I could do it high. In fact I do. I cook steak when I’m high all the time and it comes out fucking awesome.

• Breakfast – Eggs, toast, sausage, what have you. Easy as can beezy.

• Tons of other stuff. I could cook every fucking thing from hamburgers to escargot at home if I wanted to. I don’t want to.

As long as I’m ranting… You know what’s not easy to cook at home? Salad.

Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop.

Take a break to get high.

Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop. Chop.

Holy fuck. An hour later, you have a bowl of salad. Two minutes after that, it’s gone. A lot of work, not a lot of pay-off in my opinion.

I’m just saying, I’m glad that other people are out there in the world willing to handle raw chicken, cook live snails, and chop up salads for me. Thank you restaurant industry! I love you.

I guess I’m just not the type of person who usually thinks, “I could cook this at home.”


HEIWA – N. Lexington Ave, Downtown Asheville

Okay, I’m about to tear Heiwa a new one, because, whatever, they’re doing fine, and I’m just some asshole who doesn’t even really like sushi all that much, and kinda hates society with a red hot passion sometimes, so I’m just going to bullet point some shit, and be done with it…

• I got chicken teriyaki and it was boring as fuck. When I reheated the leftovers the next day, I had to add celery salt and hot sauce to make it taste like anything at all. If I’d had any teriyaki sauce at home I would have added that too… But I was kinda counting on Heiwa to do that for me.

• It came with steamed broccoli which was literally that: Steamed broccoli. Period, end of story, absolutely nothing done to this broccoli except to make it slightly hotter than it was previously. It was practically raw, in fact. Raw broccoli? Yeah. THAT I can do at home. Seriously for realz.

• Dawn and our always-well-coifed friend Miranda got sushi, which was “loose.” I don’t know nuthin’ ’bout nuthin’ when it comes to eating raw fish wrapped in seaweed, but I guess no one wants loose soosh. Tight rolls are preferred. The ladies said it tasted Okay, but was nothing special, and when I posted pics on FB, you guys made fun of it. Ha ha!

• Heiwa, take it from a short guy, you gotta just admit that you’re tiny, and you’ll be so much happier. So will your customers. You can not fit that many tables and chairs that large into a space that small and expect people to be comfortable. You have to give human beings more space to eat in. Holy fucking shit.

• There were at least two, possibly up to four children packed into the tiny space with us. It was so chaotic, and they did not sit down for more than two seconds in a row, so we couldn’t agree later on how many children there were. Who the fuck brings children to Heiwa? Are you fucking kidding me?!? Steam some broccoli at home, and leave the rest of us to eat in peace. Your Heiwa days are over. You have children now. Bring them to Chucky Cheese.

• We moved outside, where we were treated to a stray dog. Well, it wasn’t like, a rabid dingo or anything, it was just someone’s big ol’, drool-faced dog that wandered in and out and around the patio tables, sniffin’ this and slobbering on that, with absolutely no one in charge of or claiming responsibility for it. It was touching on customers with it’s nose and lips. Holy shit. No. You can not allow a strange animal to pester your clientele unchecked while they eat.

I know I know: I am a mean person, but I’m simply not a fan of dogs around my food. This one detected that I might possibly be Satan, and stayed away from me, but I witnessed it lick a lady’s bare leg. Gah! I would have left immediately.

So, whatever, Heiwa. Dawn said the sushi ain’t all that, and if I want raw broccoli, bland chicken, and a dog show while I’m eating, I’ll… just… well… I don’t want those things. Ever. Booo.

What? Why’s everyone staring at me?

(Pssst! Say something positive, Jerk.)

Oh! Yeah. The wait staff was very nice, the live bamboo and party lights around the patio area were festive, and I did enjoy the grilled Tofu appetizer. It was very good in fact.

BREAD CAMP!!! – Campbell Folk Art School, Brasstown, NC

My mom and two of her besties sent themselves to camp for a week this summer, and I totally recommend that everyone encourage the old people in their lives to do the same!

My mom concentrated on baking, especially bread, and now she bakes tons of bread. She asked me what I wanted for my birthday last month, and I said “bread.” She baked me a TON of bread. Plus pie! Two pies. Thanks, Mom!

She even baked some wee cheese breads in little flower pots, then poked a hole in the tops, where she inserted a fresh pussley flower! Awww! My mom knows how much I love to eat pussley. She reads my column. Hi, Mom!

Mom’s baked things are fuckin’ aye good, and she says the secret to her success — which she learned at camp — is “extra gluten!” Ha ha! I don’t have that Celiac thing, so I don’t give a shit about gluten, and I love my mom’s punk rock attitude.

“Fuck you, and fuck you, we’re eating gluten.”

So yes, Mummy, and Cappy and Jinxie had a wonderful time at camp this Summer, and now we all benefit from high-gluten goodies!

Yay, old people! They rule.

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.


Sushi pro August 5, 2014 - 1:54 pm

Dawn is ignorant and wouldn’t know a good roll from a bad one. They are also the nicest people in town and have the most authentic sushi. How does it feel to be ignorant about food as you try to close restaurants in a mean spirited way? We are in a time when trashing people in public is a mean spirited sport, congrats for being part of the problem. It’s time to make a list of Stu’s friends and try to ruin them online. Game on!

David August 2, 2014 - 9:10 pm

I eat at heiwa frequently and I am a Japanese food junkie, let me say the sushi at heiwa is just as good as anywhere in town, sadly thats just good not excellent but hey this is a mountain town. Now on to the teriyaki, Stu you ordered the most boring dish in the Japanese world. Its made for boring non-adventurous eaters. Dont order a kids meal and complain, next time get some poki or the trout. At least get the chicken spicy garlic.

smytty August 3, 2014 - 8:33 am

Zen Sushi is my call for best sushi in town

Orbit DVD August 3, 2014 - 9:29 am

Umi in Hendersonville.

jtroop August 3, 2014 - 10:02 am

Soba in Weaverville

Adam August 4, 2014 - 3:25 pm

HA! You must be joking.

ashevillain August 5, 2014 - 11:22 am

I eat at Umi on a regular basis…it’s not terrible but it’s also not anywhere close to Zen Sushi.

Mr. Yuck August 10, 2014 - 10:42 am


David August 4, 2014 - 9:26 am

I’ve had them all, umi is pretty good on presentation. Zen sort of, green tea isn’t that bad. Still compared to just average sushi on the west coast or some of the better places in Atlanta, Asheville is just meh. If you get the chance goto sushi hayakawa in Atlanta.

smytty August 4, 2014 - 10:14 am

I was spoiled on sushi living in Seattle for five years. When I returned to Asheville, everyone said Zen was the best, but it looked so shoddy we passed it up for other classier looking spots.

Turns out, Zen is tops. Not exactly a kick out the jams atmosphere, but much nicer than it was before the renovation 5 or 6 years ago.

David August 4, 2014 - 12:09 pm

Its been over 5 years since I had Zen Sushi, I will give it another go. Thanks.

smytty August 4, 2014 - 2:23 pm

To be clear, it’s the same food, just got rid of the diner booths and drop ceiling. If you didn’t like it before, no reason to think you would now. But I’ve always been a fan.

smytty August 2, 2014 - 11:52 am

I’ve never been particularly impressed with Heiwa, but if you go to a sushi place and order teriyaki, don’t be surprised if you aren’t pleased.

Ian Casselberry August 1, 2014 - 8:09 pm

In further defense of ordering chicken at a restaurant, I had the chicken saffron kebab at Mela last week and would consider it as a Death Row meal. One of the best chicken dishes I’ve ever had.

voirdire August 1, 2014 - 3:07 pm

I’ve been reading Stu’s rants since the first one…. total sucker for pain here… lol. Often funny, always childish. Anyhoo, I don’t quite get it… Stu and bikey… and the free kid’s newspaper!!!! And then there’s the Stu who starts leaking in his undies as soon as he sees a kid in a restaurant. Am I missing something here? I mean, no doubt Stu is a major poser -and why is so very appreciated here in Ashevegas- but still, it’s really kind of schizo, the whole freaking out whenever he comes within 10 feet of a kid thing from Stu, oui?

Big Al August 1, 2014 - 12:10 pm

I am kinda with you on chicken. With a few exceptions, keep it at home.

Unfortunately, I tend to visit the Chinese buffet about every ten days to satisfy my egg roll habit, and I have noticed that ALL of the pork options (on-a-stick, various saucy options, EVERYTHING) has been replaced by chicken. At BOTH of my fave buffets. Has the price of pork skyrocketed? It does not seem to have affected local BBQ stands.

Oh, F&%#ing Food Guru, please enlighten me with your insight. (And the rest of you f&*^wads can chime in here too.)

Doc August 1, 2014 - 4:16 pm

Trust me…it’s affecting local BBQ stands. Some are not passing the cost on to the consumer.

boatrocker August 1, 2014 - 9:29 pm

Troll much?

Adam August 5, 2014 - 2:06 pm

Don’t worry… no one can come close to your Troll-fu.

LEW August 1, 2014 - 11:32 am

I get you on Heiwa; I will never order broccoli there again! I do love their lunch boxes which I have with the salmon. I love all the things that come in the compartments of the box – yum! I only ever seem to eat there when it’s practically empty with no kids or stray dogs wandering around.

plastic paddy August 1, 2014 - 9:54 am

You are right about making a damn salad, chop chop MF’er. Nobody’s got time for that.

Was at Nightbell last night, somebody brought their precious little children, what the hell people? Try leaving those little lifesucks at home once in awhile. thanks.

Irene August 1, 2014 - 1:00 pm

“Try leaving those little lifesucks at home once in awhile. thanks.”

I know right?? If you choose to procreate, you should also choose to not go to grown-up eating and drinking establishments for the next, oh, dozen years or so. What is it with bringing children to decent restaurants and for crissake breweries??

boatrocker August 1, 2014 - 9:36 pm

I agree, but the interwebs are soooo fickle. Anyone care to review Stu’s review of the Lucky Otter for the same posters (called haters, etc.) for pointing out crappy parenting skills? Didn’t think so. Attention spans and all.

breeder August 2, 2014 - 8:17 pm

Alright- enough procreater haters. Do not lump all parents of Asheville into one category of shitty parenting. Some parents work hard at discipline and teaching children how to properly behave in a restaurant. Sure, it seems to be a trend that a lot of parents in Asheville have difficulty with this- but if a kid can sit at a table quietly then it is acceptable for them to be out. Even if it is at, dare I say, a Brewery.

mrzeau July 31, 2014 - 7:59 pm

Try Green River’s okra pickles. Years ago back in the Triangle I had a friend whose pickled okra used to win ribbons at the state fair. Green River’s okra puts hers to shame. Seriously awesome – it gets the approval of furniture royalty (sofa king good).

Also, Green River takes the Go Local card and gives a discount if you bring back your used pickle jar, so it’s easy to bring the price down a bit.

Stu Helm August 1, 2014 - 7:41 am

Great info, Mr, Zeau! Thank you!!!

smiley July 31, 2014 - 6:18 pm

Glad to see you have paid homage to the cucumber’s highest culinary reincarnation, the pickle. Give the brine some love, it is what makes a cucumber a pickle. It’s the nectar from the gods. Oh, it’s just salt water you say? Salt is bad for you, like gluten is, tsk, tsk.

Ah, children dining in restaurants. You aptly addressed the elephant in the room, thank you.

“Your Heiwa days are over.” Read: NO SUSHI FOR YOU!
“You have children now. Bring them to Chucky Cheese.” Read: NEXT!

Your mom knows how much you appreciate pussley too? How cool is that!

Gosh, what to do when pussley is out of season? There is no substitute but it just makes you appreciate it that much more when you can get it.

robyn July 31, 2014 - 6:10 pm

Good review as always and I’m glad you like your GR pickles.
I prefer fermented pickles without vinegar and sugar, tho it’s personal choice.

Stu Helm August 1, 2014 - 8:10 am

Thanks, Robyn!I think GR had some pickles of the fermented variety too. I’ll have to look and see! Yum!

Vince July 31, 2014 - 5:18 pm

“We had to feed that dang cat raw food or it would vomit up it’s entire meal.”

“It was touching on customers with it’s nose and lips. Holy shit.”

-Grammar Officer Vince

Nate July 31, 2014 - 5:03 pm

I get my pickles under the table from a little old lady at one of the tailgate markets, and she charges me $5 for a quart jar of the most delicious bread and butter pickles I’ve ever eaten. Green River’s got a bunch of delicious products, but their prices are pretty intimidating if you’re on any kind of a budget. . . $7+ for a pint jar. Now that they’re hitting the big time, maybe volume will allow them to bring the costs down a bit?

Stu Helm August 1, 2014 - 8:12 am

Under the table pickles!!! I love it. I hear ya about the price of GR pickles. Mr. Zeau had some tips on how to bring the price down above. I’m going to return my mason jar!

JT August 1, 2014 - 11:31 am

$5 for an under-the-table pickle tickle is a good deal. But is it cruelty free?

Big Al August 1, 2014 - 4:26 pm


When you “pickle” something, you drown it in vinegar. How would YOU like to be drowned in vinegar? And THEN EATEN!?

Oh, the horror.

Stacey July 31, 2014 - 4:44 pm

Green River Pickles are the BEST!

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