Jan 8 • 55M

Good Morning, Friends...

Ice Cream, Pizza, Birria Ramen, Fried Catfish, F&B Workers & a Gingerbread House

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This podcast is mostly about food
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Today’s Podcast was originally broadcast by WPVM 103.7fm on December 16 & 17, 2022, and features conversations with my friends Greg Garrison from The Hop Ice Cream and Jen Hampton with important updates from Asheville Food & Beverage United! I also reviewed some burgers, said goodbye to 2022, and hello to 2023!

Today’s newsletter (below) features three old favorites, Buxton Hall Barbecue, Twisted Laurel Asheville, and Manicomio Pizza & Food, as well as two new favorites, Andale Way Mexican Grille, and Mother Bakery, as well as something I made myself! If you have time to look, read, and listen I hope you will enjoy!


I got in one last visit to Buxton Hall Barbecue in 2022. I’m very into their catfish sandwich lately. It’s great! I recommended the chicken cheesesteak to my nephew and he loved it. They also have awesome waffle fries. And we got salted honey pie for dessert, which was very tasty, and verrry sweet! 😂

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I love Buxton, and I went there 14 times in 2022. More than any other restaurant, except Twisted Laurel Downtown Asheville, which I also went to 14 times. I think it might be safe to say that they are my two favorite restaurants in Asheville.


Folks, meet my friend and one of the best cooks I know, Chef Tom LaFauci, from Twisted Laurel Downtown Asheville. I gave him an award once for “Best Hunks of Meat” in Asheville, and here he is with some delicious samples, but the hunks of meat are just the tip of the iceberg with Chef Tom and his kitchen. Try the house made pastas next time you're downtown for dinner. They are awesome! Try any of his entrées, get yourself a smash burger for lunch, or the amazing “JC” burger for dinner. I’m a huge fan of this man and his cooking, and I want you to be too!

Above: Tom “Are You Taking My Picture Right Now” LaFaucci usually sits with me once or twice a week and we chat about food, family, the restaurant biz, and the world in general, and he always brings me nice things to eat that he would like for me to try. The sample-sized chicken and beef set-up pictured above was sooooo daaaaaang tasty! He never lets me leave his house without feeding me. Thanks, Mom! I mean… Tom… oops… embarrassing. 😉


Y’all… I know I say this a lot, but… GAH!!! My friend Lucho took me on another Asheville Multicultural tasting, this time to Andale Way Mexican Grill located right at the base of the South Slope, where Iconic Kitchen was, and Tako Sushi before that. Can a restaurant survive in that location? Oh. Hell. Yes. That’s my neighborhood and the folks who live here love this new(ish) Mexican place already, and so will you! The food is awesome and the people are really nice. I’d been there before, but Lucho wanted me to try their Birria ramen (you heard right) so he set up a tasting with Chef Salvador Alvarado, who served us several of his awesome dishes! In these pictures you will first see the Birria ramen, which was super rich, and dank, with loads of braised beef and noodles. This is a superstar dish, Y’all. You’re gonna wanna try it. Next came the seafood ramen, with shrimp, fish, and scallops, which was equally delicious to its Birria counterpart, and an excellent option for pescatarians.

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There were also a variety of traditional tacos: Birria, pastor, carnitas & chorizo, each tastier than the other! My favorite might have been the chorizo, but seriously, they were all great! Finally came a giant Birria burrito and a large salad! Again, both were excellent, with the burrito being filled with braised beef, rice, beans, cheese, etc. It was exactly what you’d expect from a burrito, and more! The beef was soooo tender and gooood! The salad was a delightful addition to all the heavy meaty entrees, and was tossed lightly with a very nice dressing and had an array of flavors.

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Thank you, Chef Salvador and the whole Andale Way crew! Asheville, get on down if you ain’t already, because, like I said, I know you’re gonna love it! And thanks as always to my friend Lucho, for introducing me to the best food & people, and interpreting for me when needed. 🙏❤️ 🇲🇽



I love bread. Dawn & I popped into Mother Bakery in the RAD to pick up some bread to go with our traditional Xmas eve dinner of spaghetti and meatballs, lasagna & Caesar salad, and wow! The Castelvetrano olive focaccia was just incredible. We wrapped it in foil and warmed it up in the oven until it was slightly crispy on the outside, soft on the inside & oily AF, in the best way possible. It tasted great with Dawn’s family pasta sauce recipe, and was the perfect addition to our holiday meal! Thanks, Mother Bakery.

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PS - I just about had a full blown Food FOMO attack while waiting in a big line for this bread and watching people buy multiple loaves. Pro tip: If you wanna avoid Food FOMO yourself, get there before they open. Not even kidding.


FYI - The Sicilian pie at Manicomio is just frickin’ great! Spicy sauce, doughy crust, with beautifully crispy edges & bottom. I crave it!

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Thanks, Jon (above) and the amazing crew at Manicomio’s for making kick-ass pies, and nailing it every time, no matter what the style!

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In 2021, we started a new family tradition of building a gingerbread house. We bought one of those kits that includes the cookies and decorations, which are essentially like pieces of cardboard and tubes of chemicals. Inedible in my opinion. So, this year, I bought a set of cookie cutters in the shapes needed to construct a gingerbread house and we made one from scratch that we could eat!

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Dawn downloaded an online recipe and made the dough, which I rolled out and cut into shapes. She baked shapes, and I constructed them into the house, which I decorated, added people, and put lights inside. Not bad for my first time! (last year doesn’t count) Bonus: When the lights are on, it smells good! Yes, it’s technically edible, and although it turned as hard & dry as one might expect, it was more crispy than hard like a rock, and it was quite tasty! Mission accomplished.

What are your fun family food traditions?

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