Holy shit sticks, the Asheville Wine & Food Festival’s Grande Tasting at The Civic Center was awesome, and brutal, and delicious, and chaotic and crazy.

I’ve written two pieces about it  —  for Food Life Magazine and  —  and both are awaiting approval from the respective editors and publishers.

In the meantime, you can see an ASSLOAD of tagged and captioned pictures from the event, as well as from the Sweet and Elixir events prior to the Grande Tasting on my Facebook page.

There were a few things that I didn’t have time or space to write about at all three events that I’ll address here, now:


I had SO MUCH fun at this event!  That may surprise some people since it was all about the booze, and I don’t drink, but there was food and non-alcoholic bevs too, so I was all good in the “stuffing my face”department, even sans cocktails.

In fact, I had way more fun than I would have if I was still drinking.  Booze made me stupider.  Aaand, I’ve got some bad news for you guys…  yeah… it makes you stupider too.  Everyone is slightly stupider after their third drink and they generally get exponentially dumb and dumber with each drink after that.

Nobody at Elixer got shitty, or made a complete ass of themselves, but by the end of the night, faces were drooping, speech was slurring, and the rate of perseveration had increased by at least 66%.  Plus:  Close talking.  Too close, Motherfuckers.  Step back.


This was awesome.  You guys know I love sweets and Sweet was aaalll about sweets.  The atmosphere was lovely  —  Grove Arcade building, you rule!  — and the people were all in a great mood!  It was a limited ticket event, so the crowds weren’t too awful.

I wrote about the vendors and food for Jason, and you should be able to read that over at soon (if not already) so I’ll use this space to write about one of my favorite moments at Sweet.

I had stepped to the side to post some pics on FB and get out of the stream of human sugar fiends for a minute, when one of the custodians came near me to sweep up a little bit of trash.  I smiled at him and asked, “Are you getting to sample any of the good stuff?”

“No,” he replied, “I’m just lookin’.”

“You don’t get to try the stuff?!?” I said, ready to be indignant at the unfair labor structure of run-away capitalism and the plight of the working classes, when he said:

“Well, I don’t drink, so…”

“Oh, I don’t drink either, but what about all these sweets?”

“Well, I don’t eat sugar, so I’m just enjoying what I see.”

“Ahhh…”  We smiled at each other, and I suddenly knew what he meant by “just lookin'” and “what I see.”

The Women.

“There’s certainly plenty to see.” I said, our smiles increasing, “Have a great night, my friend.”

“You too!”

He was a nice guy, I’m a nice guy, we both love women.  It was a good moment, Man.


Okay, I’ve written about this extensively on Facebook, and for Ashvegas and Foodlife, so I’m not gonna repeat all that here.  You’ll have to cobble together all my ramblings from the various sources if you want the world’s most comprehensive Stu Helm viewpoint on the Grande Tasting.  In the meantime, I’ll just relate another great moment for me that happened on the big floor in the middle of all the choas.

Dawn and I had stopped to talk to Chef Steven Goff and his lovely wife, Sam.  It turns out we have a lot in common with them, and we enjoy each other’s company very much.  That’s great in and of itself, but here’s a tidbit of conversation that I will never forget as long as I live:

Steven:  Are you going to the big thing tomorrow?

Me: Tomorrow?  Sunday?  There’s a big thing?

Steven: Oh…

Me:  Ha ha!  Did you just tell me about a “big thing” that I’m not invited to, Steven?  Thanks, Jerk!”

Steven:  Ha!  Well, no, it’s like, a cook-out with (he named some chefs and some animal parts) for, like, industry people.

Me: Oh, yeah, well, I’m not sure I’d be welcome there!  I’m not exactly part of the industry!

Steven:  Aren’t you?  Yeah, you are.

Well, fuck yeah, Man! If Steven Goff says I’m part of the industry, that’s all the credentials I need!

I didn’t attend the cook-out  —  I was waaay too burned out from the 3 days of food and festivities  —  but it was REALLY nice to be invited and SUPER AWESOME to be invited as part of the industry!

So, yeah, there you go.   A little something extra about AW&FF for ya over here on my exciting BLOG!

Please love my blog.

2 thoughts on “THE GRANDE TASTING ETC.

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