My name is Stu Helm, and I am not a real food critic.
While I’m not exactly 100 percent sure what a “real” food critic is, I am sure that I am — as I have stated many times here on Ashvegas, as well as on FaceBook, my own blog, and even on television — just a guy who loves food and loves to write about it.
My moniker, “The Food Critic,” is intended to be both self-effacing and self-aggrandizing, for comedy purposes. It’s kind of like a nick name.
People who seek to entertain others, with their art, writing, and performances of all kinds, from music to acting to sports, often adopt or are given nicknames that are not intended to be taken literally.
Dr. Suess is not a real doctor. Dr Drew is not a real doctor. Dr. J is not a re… huh? What’s that you say? Dr. Drew IS a real doctor? No. Really?!? Doctor Drew. The celebrity death camp guy on TV. He’s a real doctor? White hair, glasses… Doctor DREW. Pinsky. That guy is a real doctor. Okay. If you say so.
Please don’t take my “Food Critic” title too seriously. Just sit back, relax, and enjoy the music… I mean drugs… I mean… here’s some stuff about food…
URBAN ORCHARD – Haywood Road, WAVL
Located on a street named after the great pioneer and politician, Haywood Jablomey…
I’m telling you: I can not get enough of that joke.
And now to the tune of La Cucaracha (http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/La_Cucaracha)
Okay, anyhoo, Urb Orch. It’s good. We like it. We’ve been there three or four times now, for both food and beverages and we have decided that, yeah, Man, it’s good… and we like it.
Here’s some bullet points:
• Pork Sliders – Yumnesses out the whazoo. Juicy, flavory, with lots of good fresh chopped vegetable matter… some kind of house slaw, I think. Yeah, Man, that’s it. house slaw. I lerv sler ern mer ferckin’ tercos. Lettuce is, like, whatever, but slaw is, Like, feck yeh. You get a nice amount of food on this plate, and it’s all good.
• Spreads ‘n’ Dips – They have some “True South” spreads, like cucumber benedictine, and artichoke that come with Roots and Branches crackers and City Bakery baguet. It’s a very good, light, refreshing snack.
• Caprese Salad – It’s bigger than they usually are, and that’s a good thing, because we loved it! Nom nom. It had some nice touches and unique qualities to it that I’ll let you discover on your own.
• Hard Cider – Since I am allergic to alcohol (it makes me feel and act as if I’m drunk) I have not tasted the hard cider, but Dawn loves hard cider these days, and she gives the hard cider at Urb Orch the thumbs up. She really likes a “champagne” one, I think.
I’ve got this new thing that I’m trying where I smell my friends’ drinks, to review them later. It is not only strange, but also useless. The cider smelled cidery. Like fermented apples, or something like that.
I did, once, hear ALL of these words used to describe one of the more hardcore ciders at Urban Orchard:
I think people who drink cider will know, however, that while those words may not be exactly inaccurate, they do not necessarily mean that the cider is not enjoyable.
• Coffee – They seem to actually give a shit about serving excellent coffee. Thank you.
• The Staff – They have always been friendly and personable with us, as well as professional and knowledgeable. The last time we were there the chef came over to our table. To me and Dawn, he looked like he was in his teens. He was so CUTE! He asked us how our food was, and we had a nice little conversation about it. He was very nice. A very nice young man. Yay! We like nice people.
• Wiener Wednesday! – Um, how could I not instantly fall in love with something called “Wiener Wednesday?” Unfortch, the one time we went to Wiener Wednesday, there were three of us, but there was only one wiener left!
Well, like good friends do, we cut it into three pieces, and each had a wee samplin’. Yay! Sharing means caring! I secretly hated my companions right then.
“MINE!!! I’m the fucking Food Critic! You guys are just POSSE, for fuck sake!”
Ahem… I kid I kid.
My wiener-samp tasted very good, but I’ll def have to go back, because the bun-to-wiener ratio seemed off. As in: too much bun, not enough wiener. That could have just been because my thirdy was more bun-heavy than the others. (Fuckin’ posse.)
We’ll be back, Wiener Wednesday! Just try to save us some fuckin’ wieners, Man!!!
BRÖÖ – Asheville, NC
What comes in a brown bottle, is made locally, from barley and hops, is available in grocery stores, and goes straight to your head? You guessed it: Shampoo!
I bought a bottle of Bröö shampoo at Earthfare, and I frickin’ love it. It was not cheap, but I’m every bit as much of a snob about bath products as I am about food. You spend the money, you get the good stuff. I’ve been known to spend up to $40 on a bottle of shampoo. That’s not what Bröö costs. Bröö costs about $9.00 a bottle.
Here’s some stuff that I like about it:
• It smells good – The scent is listed as “Twist of Citrus” and it’s subtle and pleasing. Heavy chemical smells can give me headaches that kill. This stuff is not like that at all.
• It’s not super-lathery – I learned from my hair stylist that most grocery store shampoos are too detergenty, and strip your hair of essential oils, which causes your scalp to produce too much oil because it’s freaking the fuck out, like, “Where’s all the oil at!?!” So that your hair gets trapped in a cycle of dry/oily/dry/oily. A very small amount of Bröö lathers up just enough to clean my hair without destroying it.
• It’s healthy – The label says that it contains all kinds of B vitamins and anti-oxidants and such, and I chose to believe the claims of the people who run this company that it has health benefits for my hair.
• It makes my hair good – When I look in the mirror, my hair looks good.
• Their “number one ingredient” is “handcrafted beer made in Asheville, North Carolina, USA” – You guys know that I don’t drink, so it’s nice to participate in the local brewconomy… again.
• It’s Vegan! – At first I was, like, “Why the fuck does it say ‘vegan’ on the label of this shampoo?” But then I was, like, “Oh! Duh: People who don’t want to eat animals probably don’t want to massage them into hair and scalp either. Me? I use soap made from pig fat (true story) but I like veganism too, so if my shampoo is vegan, then I think that’s awesome. I just now noticed that it is also “gluten fee.” Sure. Why not.
So there you go. Please support this local company, so that they stay in business, so that I can continue to buy their excellent product and have good, gluten free hair.
I’m sure that some people are furious with me right now because I just wrote a review of shampoo instead of a restaurant, but what can I say? I wanted to, so I did.
Hey, y’know what? Will you guys make sure that’s carved onto my gravestone when I’m gone?
“I wanted to, so I did.”
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.