Stu Helm: Food Fan
Stu Helm: Food Fan
Episode 135: Co-Host Tryouts Part 2

Episode 135: Co-Host Tryouts Part 2

Plus: Flaming Fruits, Deadly Jarts & A Dirty Establishment

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The podcast above features my second “Co-Host Try-Out” with my good friend Chef Tom LaFauci sitting in the seat once occupied by Chef Joe Scully back in the day.

Podcast Contents

00:00 - 03:17 INTRO: Remembering Chef Joe
03:27 - 17:15 INTERVIEW: Co-Host Tryouts Part 2 w/ Chef Tom LaFauci
17:15 - 24:16 FOOD TRADITIONS: What Snapdragon and Jarts Have in Common
24:19 - 30:42 WHY HUNKS OF MEAT? And other Stoobie Awards Q’s
30:43 - 45:46 MESSAGES FROM THE EATERS: A Dirty Establishment
45:56 - 57:34 CHRISTMAS IN DOWNTOWN ASHEVILLE: Trees, Spicewalla, Cúrate, Old Europe, Mary’s Mountain Cookies, Sweets & Seats

Folks, I hope you’re all doing well and staying warm and well fed during this chilly weather we’ve been having here in Asheville, and elsewhere. I’m still behind on publishing the newsletter, so here’s another one! The podcast was recorded before the new year, so yes, we talk a lot about Christmas! But it’s never too late to discuss lighting figs on fire or throwing Jarts at the house, right? I hope you enjoy.

DEEEEESSERT! Someone recently asked me where to get great desserts, and without hesitating, I said "La Bodega by Cúrate!" They have a small, but excellent dessert menu, and each item is fantastically delicious! I went the other day with Dawn and our friend Heather, who is visiting us from Michigan, and we ate all three desserts on the menu. The Pudin is a warm croissant bread pudding, that comes with an incredible vanilla cream sauce, and warm butter scotch. It's one of the most delicious things in all of downtown Asheville. Likewise, the Bollo de Crema, a pastry puff, with a sugary crust, filled with rich chocolate cream and drizzled in honey is to absolutely die for. Perhaps best of all though, is the Tarta de Queso, a basque style cheesecake, with whipped cream, and cherries. It was light and melt-in-your-mouth creamy, and deeply satisfying on all levels.

May be an image of rye bread, French toast, babka and souffle

So, yeah, If you're looking for some of the best ding-dang desserts you've ever had, check out La Bodega and get one or all of these world class treats from the Postres section of their dinner menu. For lunch or breakfast get the Xuixo (not pictured), which is a fried, cream-filled Catalan pastry with a sugar crust. Bring a friend to help with the Xiuxo, and all these desserts. They are exceedingly shareable.

FIRST BREAKFAST: I got one of my favorite breakfasts in Asheville this morning. The egg & cheese sandwich with taters & salad from Session Cafe at Citizen Vinyl. ❤️

May be an image of poached egg and shepherd's pie

DOWNTOWN STAYCATION: Dawn & I celebrated our 19 year anniversary with an over-night staycation right in the middle of downtown Asheville last week! We booked a room at the historic Haywood Park Hotel & Atrium and then went to Contrada and Cúrate for food & drinks, then picked up some snacks at Sparky's Bardega to bring back to the hotel room and the jacuzzi tub! We reserved the grand king suite, and it was the biggest hotel room I have ever stayed in in my whole life.

There was a large living room, a huge bedroom, a giant bathroom with the jacuzzi, a shower and sink, a separate little room with a toilet and a bidet, plus closets, a coffee nook (coffee by Dynamite Roasting Company), and this was the only hotel room I ever stayed in that was so big, it had a hallway. 😳 Everything was crisp and clean, high quality sheets, comfy pillows, all the mod cons, plus more complimentary coffee in the lobby in the AM. Dawn and I both highly recommend this hotel! We're already planning to stay there again next year. The food we had at Contrada was simple, but delicious, just a fresh cabbage salad, and a couple of drinks. I think Dawn got a Negroni, I definitely got a phony Negroni, which is one of my fave, non-alcoholic beverages. We absolutely love Contrada!

At Cúrate we ordered one of our favorite dishes, the pan con tomate, plus the salteado 'a la catalana' which is sautéed seasonal greens, pickled blueberries, pistachio praline, candied pistachios, and sweet onion. It was fantastic. We also ordered the almejas 'a la catalana', which are Clammer Dave's Sustainable Gourmet sc clams, cabbage, chorizo, white wine broth of tomato, nora pepper, and nuts with toasted baguette. Devine!

May be an image of tart and souffle

Just like La Bodega, they also offer incredible — but entirely different — desserts at Cúrate, and we had two. We ordered the goxua, which was a brandy-soaked ladyfinger sponge cake w/ brüléed pastry cream whipped cream, and butter brandy sauce. It was insanely delicious. They sent out the other desert for our anniversary, and it didn't appear to be on the menu, but it was a small, delicate, rich, creamy chocolate torte of some kind. It was really cute, and super delish! All in all, this staycation downtown was a very fun, easy, enjoyable thing to do, without having it be a big deal. We were back home within a few minutes after checking out of the hotel the next morning. Please let me know if you have a favorite local hotel, bed-and-breakfast, or inn that you like to stay at! Dawn and I are always looking for romantic things to do together! Thanks to all the people at the hotel and restaurants for making this a special anniversary for us!

LUNCH! I went to Abeja's House Cafe with my mom and her friend last week and revisited one of my all-time favorite meals, and my 2022 Entree of the Year winner, the NOLA Chicken & Shrimp. It's a large, hearty plate of grilled chicken breasts, grilled shrimp, rice, beans & salsa smothered in a rich, creamy, flavorful sauce that I could drink by the bucketful.

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I always plan on taking half home when I get this plate of food, but I can't resist finishing it all, and end up being stuffed. Every. Time. My mom got crepes and loved 'em, her friend got shrimp 'n' grits, and she also seemed to thoroughly enjoy her meal! Thanks, Abeja's! My fams is fans.

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Stu Helm: Food Fan
Stu Helm: Food Fan
This podcast is mostly about food