Apr 4 • 45M

Good Morning, Friends...

Lunch Junkets and More...

Stu Helm
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This podcast is mostly about food
Episode details
  1. On the Podcast - Stu Helm: Food Describer

  2. GMF

  3. Lunch Junkets

  4. Twisted Tasting

  5. Snack & Saunter

  6. This Just In: Ukiah Brunch


I hope you’re having a good week so far! The weather has been awesome! Warm and sunny, but not TOO warm or TOO sunny! Weather App says it’s gonna get up to 67 degrees today. I think that’s a temperature we can all agree is pleasant, and doable. Can we take a vote, and just stay right here at 67 degrees for a while. (Snows the very next day, and is 90 a week a later) Anyhoo, I hope you’ve been getting out, having fun, and eating things! I know I have…


Paddy and I went on another Asheville Food Tours lunch junket recently, this time to Little Chango’s on Coxe Avenue on the South Slope. It’s pretty much directly across the street from Bear’s Smokehouse BBQ and The Funkatorium, if that’s ringing a bell. Where High Test Deli was for half a second. It’s a tiny, bright yellow, stand-alone building that shares a parking lot with Twin Leaf Brewery. They specialize in what they call “Mounted Arepas,” meaning they are not stuffed, but instead are topped with the good stuff.

ABOVE (L-R): Pernil arepa with pork shoulder, Ropa Vieja arepa with shredded flank steak

I got the pork one, and Paddy got the beef, plus a local sparkling cherry limeade, and we were both, like, “Gahhhhhh! These are frickin’ great!

I had already eaten their food once before, and loved it, so I was glad to try a new arepa and love it just as much. Paddy was super impressed, and by his own admission, he’s “food-tour-guide-jaded” after all these years!

Along with the adobo seasoned Pork Shoulder. my arepa was topped with pickled cabbage & onions, chile de arbol sauce, and “fancy pink sauce.”

Eff yes. Fancy pink sauce is now my favorite three words in a row.

So, get on into Little Chango and grab some grub, I guarantee you won’t be disappointed, no matter how jaded you are.

BELOW: My mom and I went to one of her all time favorites, and mine too, Abeja’s House Cafe. I got my #1 favorite dish on their menu: The NOLA Style Shrimp & Chicken with rice, beans, & green stuff. It’s fantastically delicious. Perfectly cooked shrimp, high quality chicken, smothered in a wonderful roasted red pepper cream sauce. It’s warm, comforting, unique in Asheville, and very filling. Best.

My mom ordered a quesadilla and she loved it. She tends to bounce around the menu and try different things, and while I’m more or less obsessed with this NOLA dish, I have tried several of their dishes myself, and have always been thoroughly satisfying.

BELOW: I was recently invited into Nani's Piri Piri Chicken to try their monthly special Spicewalla spice-and-herb-rubbed chicken. April’s flavor was lemon pepper, and daaaaang it was really really good! I can say without hesitation that it was the best version of lemon pepper chicken I’ve ever had, and I’ve had a LOT of lemon pepper chicken in my life!

This monthly special is already gone, but the Spicewalla Lemon Pepper mix is available to purchase for home cookin’. I’m not sure what the spice of the month for April will be, but check in for yourselves, and I suggest the savory corn pudding and confit potato salad as your sides, although they’re all good! 🔥🔥🔥

BELOW: I don’t always eat when I lead a food tour for Asheville Food Tours, and the other day, I grabbed a little lunch at Well-Bred Bakery and Cafe in the Grove Arcade, where I had 1/2 a chicken salad sandwich & a “petite” eclair, which is like a “small” version of their insanely huge mountain eclair. I put small in quotes, because it was more than enough eclair for this guy, and I wished I had someone to share it with! Both the sandwich and eclair were excellent, and this has been one of my favorite lunch combos is downtown for a long time. 👍🔥


I was invited to a tasting of the new menu at Twisted Laurel Downtown Asheville, and it was just fan-frickin’-tastic. As you can see in the picture above, they rolled out 6 dishes for me to try. I give a comprehensive dish-by-dish review in the podcast at the top of this newsletter, so please listen to that, but starting form the top we have the “caveman wings” which are not wings, but drumsticks, and were EXCELLENT! Crispy on the outside, meaty on the inside, and coming right off the bone. Under that is a bowl shrimp ‘n’ creamy polenta with a rich, flavorful roux based sauce. This was my fave of all the dishes. Next to that is a steak in wine sauce, with a onion ring tower. Frickin’ old school and awesome. Then fettuccini with smoked salmon and cream sauce, yum! Then bucatini, which is long hollow pasta, with roasted tomatoes and sweet Italian sausage. I loved it, and when I fed all these dishes to my friend dave the next day, he said this was his favorite. Finally, there’s a plate of very very tasty house made tortellini, stuffed with leaks and bacon, and drizzled with oil and balsamic reduction. Every bite of every dish was great, and as usual, I can not recommend Twisted Laurel Downtown highly enough for lunch and dinner. It’s one of my fave places in Asheville for stick-to-your ribs, awesome, down to earth, expertly prepared and perfectly cooked food!


Again, I give a comprehensive dish-by-dish review of this food in my podcast above. Dawn and I like to do what we calla “Snack & Saunter” every once in a while, which entails driving downtown, parking the car (yes, it can be done!) and then walking to three different venues for one drink and a little bit of food at each stop. We fist popped into Sovereign Remedies, where Chef David Van Tassel (The Junction / Chestnut / Corner Kitchen) is currently working his magic. We got this amazing plate fried green tomatoes, with onion jam and whipped house made pimento cheese. Gah.

We also got this super-delicious bowl of shrimp and gumbo, with a ring of hot sauce around the edge. It was awesome!

Next we went to Holeman and Finch, where we ordered four raw oysters with house made saltines, and steamed clams in broth. All of it was incredibly tasty! Five stars for this new gem in downtown!

ABOVE: A selection of three types of oysters (the two big ones are the same type) from the raw bar at Holeman & Finch. Loved ‘em.

BELOW: The steamed clams from Holeman & Finch came with a very hardy and delicious piece of buttered bread, mild pepper wheels, bacon, and a broth so tasty, we finished every drop.

BELOW: We capped off our Snack ‘n’ Saunter with an INSANELY delicious piece of Basque cheesecake from Zambra Tapas & Wine Bar, that came with some spiced apple slices and sweet, crunchy, crumble on top. It was perfect. We were approaching full, so we shared this, and it was just right. We always love Zambra, it’s been one of our favorite places for about 15 years or more, they never disappoint, and this cheesecake was no exception! Recommend.


From our good friends at Ukiah Japanese Smokehouse

WHO: UKIAH Japanese Smokehouse
WHAT: Weekend Brunch Service
WHERE: 121 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville
WHEN: Saturday + Sunday, 11am-3pm beginning April 9th

INFO: UKIAH Japanese Smokehouse is excited to announce the launch of weekend brunch service beginning Saturday, April
9th. Much like dinner at UKIAH, the menu will feature Chef Michael Lewis’ interpretation of familiar brunch offerings
merged with Japanese street food and Southern traditions. There will also be a special selection of new brunch cocktails.

Alongside the full UKIAH menu, weekend brunch will feature dishes such as Karaage Chicken & Waffles with salted butter and matcha, putting a sweet spin on the favorite Japanese street food, Breakfast Ramen with tonkotsu-egg broth, maple shichimi bacon, and a sunny side egg, and Lewis’ personal favorite, Shishito Pepper-Cheddar Biscuit with Japanese Sausage Gravy and Eggs.

“This dish is just the perfect combo of Asian flavors with Southern goodness – it’s addictive,” says Lewis.

To help wash down these new menu items, the UKIAH bar team came up with a creative slew of new cocktails, including the Serial Crusher, a rum-based drink with cinnamon toast crunch washed milk, cold brew coffee and vanilla bitters. The Breakfast Oldie is an old-fashioned twist featuring sesame bacon washed bourbon, miso demerara, house orange bitters, and a bacon garnish.

The full UKIAH menu will be offered along with the new brunch features.

Brunch will be served Saturday and Sunday, 11am-3pm.

Highchairs are available.

Reservations for UKIAH are available online via Open Table or by calling 828-470-748


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