In July of 2015, I ate some lasagna in Venice, Italy that was so good, I cried.

That is a 100% true story. Dawn and I went to Europe last Summer, and visited Italy among other lovely spots. In Venice, as you can well imagine, they know how to make some fuckin’ pasta. And some sauce. And they know how to put it together into something absolutely unbelievably delicate, yet filling, pleasing in texture, deep in flavor, and awesome all-around. It had been a looooong time since’t I had ate Italian food that was as good as that dang lasagna. Ten long years to be exact. After one bite, I was reminded of what I had been missing for the entire decade that I’ve lived in The Southern United States of America, and yes, I cried a little bit.

Just three tears:

• One for sheer joy: Good food makes me really happy.

• The second tear was born of a nostalgia for the past: I miss Boston sometimes, and Chicago, both great cities with great Italian food.

• The third and saddest tear was because I felt as though I might never eat Italian food as good as that piece of lasagna ever again in my entire life, certainly not back in Asheville, Appalachia, WNC, USA.

Welllll… that last tear was perhaps wasted, because this week’s Eat of the Week is a fucking gorgeous little dish of insanely good pasta that I recently ate at Asheville’s very own Cucina 24 on Wall street that was the best pasta I’ve had since that emotional lasagna in Venice. I didn’t cry this time, but I turned to Dawn and said, “Now this is pasta.”

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The pasta itself was a very thin, delicate, yet firm, house made linguini (might’ve been tagliatelle, I’m not sure and I forgot to take a picture of the menu, and I suck at knowing stuff, sorry), that was exactly the right texture, and temperature, and was served in a small shallow bowl, tossed with just the right amount of subtly seasoned, mellow but flavorful, Bolognese sauce, and grated Parmesan.

Dawn and I were seated at the open kitchen bar, kept cozy by the glow of wood fired oven, casually watching the kitchen staff go about their business while we chatted and ate. I observed them making pasta back there, and yeah, man. They make it THIN, and AWESOME, with care, love, and expertise. I could see it with my own eyes, as well as feel and taste the quality when I ate it.

My eyeballs may not have squeezed out any tears, but they definitely closed, in an involuntary “good gawd that’s good food” moment, when I was instantly carried back to Venice, experiencing some of the best food of my life, except this time we were a-settin’ right here in good ol’ Asheville! Where we really do have some of the all-time best food ever.

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At the same meal we had sauteed mushrooms, charred broccoli, and this wonderful octopus salad.

Thank you, Cucina 24, for a great meal all-around, and a bowl of pasta that was a beautiful reminder that, when it comes to world-class food, there’s no place like home. Yeeeeeee-haw! That’s why your pasta with Bolognese is my EAT OF THE WEEK!

Cucina 24
Address: 24 Wall St, Asheville, NC 28801
Hours:
Friday 11AM–2:30PM, 5–10PM
Saturday 11AM–2:30PM, 5–10PM
Sunday 5:30–9:30PM
Monday 5:30–9:30PM
Tuesday 11AM–2:30PM, 5:30–9:30PM
Wednesday 11AM–2:30PM, 5:30–9:30PM
Thursday 11AM–2:30PM, 5:30–9:30PM
Phone: (828) 254-6170

—END—

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

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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ON THE RADIO: wpvmfm.org

ARCHIVE: ashvegas.com

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