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Hello Asheville!

It’s my favorite time of year here in WNC! Faaawwwlllll! Who doesn’t love Fall? Raise your hands if you love Fall. Now, raise your hands if you don’t love Fall. Those in group B, please leave the room. Idiots. What are you, Summer people? Go live on the Sun then. See what that gets you. I like cool foggy mornings, followed by cool crisp days, and cool dark nights that start early in the cool clear afternoon. Operative word: Cool. Eff the heat. Heat sucks. Booo, heat. Yay, Fall!

One of the best things about Fall in Asheville is that right now in all the best restaurants all over town, new Fall menus are being planned, executed, taste-tested, then perfected, plated and presented to the public! It’s super-exciting to be a Food Fan in a city that has so many chefs who love to cook seasonally, only using the freshest produce and products, as they become available and are at their peak, according to Mother Nature. Tomatoes are sadly gone for the season, but squash, root vegetables, and apples are ready for prime time. And yes, pumpkins, but, please no, for the love of God, not the cult of “everything pumpkin.”

Anyhoodles, I was super-lucky enough to be invited into the kitchen at West Asheville’s Buffalo Nickel by Co-Owner Lynn Foster and Head Chef Ryan Kline to preview their Fall menu and shoot some video of the Chef as he talks us through the thought process, and the prep that goes into formulating a big seasonal menu change.

In the six brief videos we shot, Chef Kline takes us on a tour of Buff Nick’s two kitchens, then he sits down with us in the upstairs bar to talk about the steps taken when making such a major menu change. It’s obviously a very important process and getting it right is crucial. Some elements from the previous menu are carried-over, with small changes, while other items are axed, and replaced by brand new things. Bye-bye tomato salad, hello beet salad.

My fave part of this gig of course, was tasting the food! In the last three videos we watch the Chef prep his new “beets in soil” salad, and then he and I eat it (it frickin’ rules), and Ryan tells us how he’s going to tweak it to make it even better before putting it on the new menu.  I’m telling you what, it was really really good as it was, so the changes should fucking rock it out.  After the beets in soil, Chef Kline trotted-out three desserts at once, and holy shit… The coconut mango panna cotta was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten, and the goat cheese cheesecake was fantastic. Even the flourless chocolate torte was great! I usually find flourless chocolate torte to as boring as it is ubiquitous, but Ryan’s was exciting look at and delicious to eat.

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Flourless chocolate torte seems to be on every menu in town, and is often as appealing as a block of brown clay, but Chef Ryan knocked it out of the park with his version. It was insanely good, and anything but boring.

The videos are embedded below, I hope you enjoy them. Thanks again to Lynn and Ryan for inviting me, as well as to cooks Dane and Meesh, who tolerated my presence while they prepped for dinner. I’ll be back to sample the rest of the new Fall menu for sure, not just at Buff Nick’s but at as many of the other seasonally-minded restaurants in town as I possibly can! Root veg me, Asheville! I love it!

Video 1 – Intro and tour of the downstairs kitchen.

Video 2 – Tour of the upstairs kitchen

Video 3 – Sitting in the top floor bar. planning the Fall menu.

Video 4 – Chef Ryan creates a smoked goat cheese and beet salad from seasonal ingredients.

Video 5 – We eat the beet salad! It’s so frickin’ good that I accidentally said a swear word. I had already warned Ryan that I might do that, and he said it was Okay.

Video 6 – In the final video the Chef presents three amazing desserts, then I accidentally turn off the camera while I was tasting them ._. but then we come back and wrap-it-up.

Hanging out with Chef Kline, learning about the new menu, and tasting the food was a really fun experience for me, and I hope that you guys have fun watching the videos! Dawn told me they are amusing and informative, but she’s my girlfriend, so… y’know… judge for yourselves.

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stu_helm_2013Stu 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 about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook. 

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