Jun 30 • 55M

Episode 114: WNC Staycation!

PLUS: Tastee Tasting, Being Sober in F&B, Tubby Update & Spillin' the Tea

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Appears in this episode

Stu Helm
This podcast is mostly about food
Episode details

TODAY’S PODCAST was originally broadcast by WPVM 103.7fm on 5/28/23

  1. 00:00 - 05:40 Intro - Bring Tubby to Asheville

  2. 05:50 - 12:10 New Dinner Menu & Hours at Tastee Diner w/ Chef Steven Goff

  3. 12:20 - 31:40 Spillin’ the Tea w/ Brad Smith from Infruition

  4. 31:50 - 40:30 Being Sober in F&B w/ Lucho from Asheville Multicultural

  5. 40:40 - 00:00 Black Mountain Staycation

  6. - Goodbye

INFRUITION CARBONATED TEA: I run into Brad Smith from Infruition tea every now and again, and he always asks if I’d like a couple of his sparkling, caffeinated teas, and I always say yes, because they are great! Very refreshing, delicious, and sweet-but-not-too-sweet.

Brad is a passionate local entrepreneur with an excellent product. Please look for it, I recommend it highly! And please listen to the interview I did with him on the podcast.

TASTEE TASTING: You may have heard that Tastee Diner is now open for breakfast, lunch, and… dinner!!! Chef Steven Goff invited a bunch of writers & bloggers to come try the new dinner menu, and it was fantastic, crazy, complex, delicious, abundant, creative, and everything you might expect from this chef. The current dinner menu at Tastee is right in keeping with what Steven was doing at his other restaurants, but shows the continued evolution of his skills and imagination. At this tasting he served us a super old school and delicious caviar service, complete with blinis, chopped eggs, shallots, & chive, as well as some crispy fingerling potatoes w/ kale peanut pesto & dill cream dip, super tangy, and colorful pickled eggs, bread from City Bakery, deviled eggs w/ smoked bluefish & trout roe, an assortment of warm olives, some very plump & juicy KC steamed mussels in an exquisite butter garlic broth, tiny sweet raw oysters w/ mignonette, lime & house made celery hot sauce, and of course, for those who drink, there was table side King Cobra service. 🙂 I could have eaten a bucket of the fingerlings, and a bottomless pit of the mussels. I may have embarrassed myself by eating three to five times as many mussels and taters as anyone else! 😂😂😂

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Next the kitchen sent out the super dank & delicious roasted rainbow carrots w/ curry, vegan brie, & “crunchy bizness!” 😂 Then the very rich, complex & tasty roasted bone marrow w/ okonomiyaki (pancake), seaweed aioli, & crispy garlic. Next, the roasted NC sweet potato w/ tahini, pomegranate, herbs & crunchy stuff was a surprise delight. It was savory, creamy, deep, and satisfying with sprigs of fresh herbs providing the perfect bit of green stuff. There was also some very interesting and snack-o-licious human kibble called “scroggin” that consisted of fried herbs, candied pecans, croutons & crispy bacon. Nom! The peel & eat shrimp were perfect in every way, and once again, I may have embarrassed myself by shoveling them into my face like George Costanza at a board meeting. What can I say? If the ocean calls, tell them to find more shrimp! Another surprise favorite of mine was the local cucumbers w/ french onion dip, chili crunch & herbs. It was just really fresh and creamy and summery and great! Next came meats and cheeses and various sundries in the form of three boards that contained spotted trotter bresaola, smoked pork pate, curried turkey neck rillette, spotted trotter sorghum salami, pimento cheese, statesboro bleu, manchego, cana de cobra, cod liver, chorizo spiced mussels, cultured butter, maldon, pickles, OWL Bakery bread, lusty mustard, lavash, & jam. In my opinion all of this food was excellent, top-notch, very local, though internationally inspired, cheffy-type awesomeness that perfectly straddles the lines between gourmet and gourmand, fancy, and down to earth, fun, and seriously fucking delicious! Also there’s a very interesting selection of wine. 🍾

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The final dishes to hit the table were the mains or entrees, and even though I was pretty dang full by the time they arrived, I powered through and tried them all! First, there was whole fried fish that looked wild, and tasted great! Super crispy on the outside, moist & tender on the inside. It came with a Tastee take on banchan, which are small side dishes typically served in Korean cuisine. There was also house made naan, so you could make, like, a crispy Korean fish taco type of thing. Fun. There was also some really great Sunburst Family Farm trout w/ celery cream, fingerlings & celery salad. After 18 years of living in Asheville, I am a huge fan of trout, and this was a very nice treatment. The “Haus” pappardelle w/ cream, parm, pickled maters, crispy garlic & herbs was very rich and layered with flavors. I was maxing out on intake, but then out came the fried chicken thighs w/ whipped taters, sausage gravy & fried herbs. Gah. It was not very photogenic, but it was insanely good. Very deep, savory, dank & satisfying. I ate too much of it. Likewise, the Shipley Farms braised eye of round w/ cauli mash, jus, popped beef tendon & fresh herbs was also super duper dank-erifically delish. It was perhaps my fave dish of the whole night. Super high recommends. I also ate too much of it.

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The final dish was dessert, which was Reese’s peanut butter cup brown butter custard with sweet, crunchy toasted meringue, candied pecans & popped sorghum. To be honest, by then I was so full, I could only take one… or three… to five… or maybe more bites of dessert! 😂😂😂 This food was, as always from Chef Goff, the perfect representation of what the Asheville food scene is to me. Thoughtful, fancy, different & exciting while also being familiar, approachable, filling, and above all, just plain yummy! If you haven’t been into the latest iteration of Tastee Diner for dinner yet, get on in and treat yourself to some special grub. Ain’t nothing else like it on this planet. ⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️

PURE & PROPER: Dawn & I went on a 3-day staycation staycation to Black Mountain, and on our first night we had dinner at The Pure and Proper and it was fantastic! The food was super high quality, high end, fancy, but familiar & comforting. We started with an arugula Caesar salad It was one of the best and more interesting Caesar salads I’ve ever had. Next we got shrimp aguachile, which was marinated shrimp, avocado crema, cucumber salad, cotija, & tortilla chips. It was insanely good. Next we got the griddled asparagus with miso glaze. This seemingly humble dish was a bit of a superstar. The flavors were complex and the presentation was lovely. Pure and Proper was batting 1,000 so far, and it just got better from there! Our main course was the braised pork cheeks with charred leek grits, pickled pear, and spicy cabbage slaw. Pork cheek is one of my fave hunks of meat, and this cheek was freakin’ perfect. Perfectly cooked, perfectly prepared, perfectly paired with the other ingredients on the plate, and beautifully presented. If the asparagus was a superstar, the cheek was a mega-super-duper-star. Eyes were rolled in ecstasy, utterances of pleasure were made, and stomachs were held in fullness and total satisfaction after eating it. Then the kitchen sent out some gnudi. Dawn & I looked at each other and there may have been mention of a to-go box. Nope. Didn’t need it. Crushed these gnudi, and loved every single bite. They came prepared with crab salad, celery root, meyer lemon, shiitake mushrooms, and pumpkin seeds. They were soft, tender, creamy, inviting, and super fucking delicious. Gah. Get the gnudi. Get it all. Everything was high stylin’ super-tasty goodness, including Dawn’s Manhattan, which she enjoyed very much. Service was excellent as well, and we were happy all around! So, if you’re planning a trip to Black Mountain be 100% sure get into Pure and Proper!

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MILTON’S: I had heard that I could not miss out on Milton’s inside The Monte Vista Hotel, and boy howdy, this meal was outstanding in every way! The folks at Milton's knew were we coming, and sent out a very hardy and delicious ploughman’s board w/ bread, meat, cheese, pickles, and more. It was great! Next was some fried cauliflower florets w/ buttermilk, peppered local honey, sweet grass dairy blue cheese, pumpkin seeds, & scallions. Next, we tried the smoked Alabama goat cheese & mushrooms, w/ charred lemon, tarragon & flax seed crackers, and timur pepper. It was dreamy and truly unique. They had 2 salads, one was roasted beets & strawberries with spring greens, honeydew, pistachios, lime-greek yogurt dressing, and essence of kari leaf. The other was local kale & and stewed tomatoes, with roasted tomato arrabbiata, fried polenta croutons (still warm), grilled eggplant & zucchini, parmesan reggiano, and oregano flower buds. I ordered the 8 oz black angus beef tenderloin for myself, which came w/ twice baked potato with crème fraîche, truffle essence & parmesan, grilled asparagus, tallow-balsamic-bonito vinaigrette. It. Was. Pure. Butter. Oh my effing gawd, Y’all. I haven’t had a steak that smooth, tender, and perfectly prepared in a loooong-ass time. Like eating velvet. Dawn ordered the “Flavors of Spring,” which was mesquite roasted baby carrots, caramelized sweet onions, puree or peas & mint, gently poached asparagus, and lemon oil.

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Of course, we shared everything with each other, and the roasted vegetables went great w/ the steak. For dessert we had the 4-layer carrot cake, and the assorted small bites platter which had chocolate truffles, carrot cake pops, pate de fruit. tiny tarts, and cocoa nib dragee. The entire experience, from the outdoor seating next to the fireplace, the service, the wonderful weather, meeting the chef, and of course the awesome food, was just top notch from start to finish. So, yeah, make a plan to have a great meal at Milton’s! You’re gonna have a wonderful meal!

GROCERY: On our third & final day we stopped into The Grocery - Market and Bar, a really unique store, w/ dry, canned & frozen goods, meat, fish & house made sausage, w/ a bar & restaurant attached. The indoor seating is cozy, tho limited. The patio is spacious & lovely. Large trees provide shade from the sun. The Chef & Owners greeted us warmly, and were psyched to hear that we were coming. They brought out “small” portions of most of their menu & it was was truly some of the most delicious food I’ve ever had! I know I say that a lot, but it just keeps happening. We started with servings of their “OMG Shrimp Salad” w/ crackers, that was super old-school, creamy deliciousness with buttery toll house or “club” crackers. There was also some zesty, tangy & fresh spicy corn salad & authentic Comeaux's brand smoked boudin sausage from Louisiana. (The only sausage that not made in house, according to the co-owner of the market & self-professed “Sausage King of Black Mountain!) Next we had a super amazing little mushroom cap that was stuffed with dirty rice, presented atop a crostini, smothered in demi-glace, then topped with crispy onions. It was just incredible. We also had some delicious crawfish ettoufee & yummy gumbo, both of them were excellent! One of the most interesting, tasty & filling dishes was the “Eggplant Bon Ton Roulet”served over cheddar and green onion grit cakes.

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My favorite dish of them all, was the Creole goulash w/ braised pork shoulder, house made green onion spätzle, stewed vegetables & a really thick, deep, dank-ass gravy that I could drink a bucket of. It was one of the best things I’ve ever eaten in my life & I’m not even kidding. So this whole experience was fantastic, the food, the atmosphere, the people, were all just the absolute best. I’m grateful that they had time for us. The owners are very nice, the chef is incredibly talented and enthusiastic about his food, and I cannot encourage you enough to get on over to The Grocery to try the food! The menu does change frequently, so be sure to set your expectations accordingly. I should also mention that they do pizza night on Fridays

BRING TUBBY TO ASHEVILLE: Folks, we're almost at 500 signatures on our petition to bring the Duke's Mayonnaise mascot Tubby to AVL! Please sign and share if you haven't already.

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