Stu Helm: Food Fan
Stu Helm: Food Fan
Episode 105: Crime, Squalor, & Tinned Fish in The Mountains of Western North Carolina
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Episode 105: Crime, Squalor, & Tinned Fish in The Mountains of Western North Carolina

A downtown chef compares the Asheville of today to how it was in its worst days, plus I review some fish in a can

RUNNING A RESTAURANT IN LAWLESS TOWN

TODAY’S PODCAST was originally broadcast by WPVM 103.7fm on Friday, March 10, 2023, and features a conversation with Chef Jay Medford, owner of Storm Rhum Bar & Bistro about his own perspective on what’s happening in Downtown Asheville these days, as someone who grew up in Asheville, and has seen it be its’ worst self in the not-so-distant past.

I also report on the 2023 Taste of Asheville, and I recorded some stuff in the field with at The S&W Asheville, and Little Louie’s. At the end I reviewed some peanuts that I got in the mail and some tinned fish that I bought at Botanist & Barrel.


THE TASTE OF ASHEVILLE: I recently attended The Taste of Asheville 2023, and it was packed! The Taste is produced by Asheville Independent Restaurant Association and it has been my favorite food event of the year, every year it happens, since the first one I attended! This year was the triumphant return of The Taste, after a three year hiatus, and boy howdy were we ready for it!

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It seems like every single person in the entire food scene was there, either serving food from behind the banquet tables, or grabbing up some samples to eat from the other side. I ate some amazing little treats, saw a lot of my favorite people, met some new ones, and it was just a fantastic event all around. I’m already looking forward to next year!


S&W - MIKASA CREOLE: Paddy & I went on an Asheville Food Tours lunch junket the other day to try to new flavors of empanada at Mikasa Criolla Avl, as well as the lucuma ice cream sundae collaboration that Chef Santiago is doing with The Hop Ice Cream.

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The beef empanada was outstanding, the mushroom empanada was fantastic and it’s going to make a lot of vegetarians happy, and the sundae was to die for! If you haven’t been into the SWAsheville get on in! We love it in there!

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MEET, LOAF: Good lord, Y’all. There is simply nothing in this world as insanely delicious, deeply satisfying, and entirely decadent at Chef Jay Medford’s meatloaf sandwich.

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I have given it multiple awards over the years, and it is currently on the menu at Storm Rhum Bar and Bistro. Run, don’t walk, to get it, because his menu changes often, and the meatloaf might go away one day! Fangers crost it won’t, but you’d better git on it, just in case it does! 🔥


LITTLE LOUIE’S: I went to Chef Elliott Moss’ Little Louie’s with my friend David Brown from Doc Brown's BBQ and took some really bad pictures of some really good food. We got a pork and rabe hoagie, an eggplant, Parmesan hoagie, and some pierogies. The pork and rabe hoagie was particularly awesome! It was very tender and moist and tasty and it came with a very savory dippin’ jus.

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Little Louie’s is located way out on Patton Avenue, in the building where the Malvern used to be. sorry about the poor quality of the pictures, it’s very dark in there, like a bar.


TINNED FISH: I got some fancy tuna in olive oil from Botanist & Barrel Tasting Bar + Bottle Shop Asheville for Xmas and finally got around to trying it. It was mild, meaty, and very good! I put it on some seeded bagel slices, with Duke's Mayonnaise and salt & pepper, as well as with wasabi & soy sauce, and Worcestershire sauce, and hot sauce. Every iteration was excellent and I unintentionally ate the entire tin while standing at my kitchen table! Recommended for fans of tinned fish. Thanks for another winner, Botanist & Barrel!

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TINNED NOT-FISH: Vegan crab meat?!? Yes, and it was frickin’ delicious. I picked up this can of “Snow Crab” enoki mushrooms made by Seed to Surf from the tinned fish section of Botanist & Barrel Tasting Bar + Bottle Shop Asheville, and I was totally surprised by how super-tasty and snow-crab-like it is!

More pictures available on Facebook…

It’s slightly sweet & stringy, just like crab meat, and it’s in a very nice oil, suitable for dipping bread into. I ate it straight-up on a fork, and on some high quality bread bread from The West End bakery, and now I’m scheming on how to eat it/what to add it to next time! Thanks, Botanist and Barrel for having the best selection of tinned fish in Asheville, including this excellent vegan facsimile! ❤️❤️❤️


HUBS NUTS: I got a bunch of delicious peanuts and peanut-based snacks in the mail from Hubs Virginia Peanuts! I love peanuts, and these are great peanuts, peanut brittle & party mix, that come in really nice tins that keep them super fresh and crunchy! The basic salted peanuts are perfect, the brittle is sweet & nutty (as expected!), and party mix is literally the best party mix I’ve ever had.

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I don’t usually get jazzed about party mix, because it can be kind of weird, and not that great, but this party mix is unique, and has a lot of stuff going on, including Cheez-Its, and pretzels and sesame sticks and salted peanuts and honey kissed peanuts, and some other stuff too! Some of it has sort of a honey mustard flavor, some of it’s just straight up salty, but yeah, definitely the best party mix I’ve ever had. Hub’s is a mother-daughter owned business, that has been around since the 1950s, and I think these make a great snack, and because of the nice tins they come in, I think they would make a nice gift as well for your nut-loving friends and family


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Stu Helm: Food Fan
Stu Helm: Food Fan
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