You guys may or may not know that I don’t get paid to write about food, but that I would very much like to! I spend a lot of my time eating, and I love to write, so it’s been super-fun being a food writer, but it would be even better — of course! — to get paid for it.
Okay, technically, I did get paid to write a piece for Food Life Magazine, and that was great, but due to a scheduling push-back, the piece became out of date, and was never published, so it doesn’t really count.
You can read that piece HERE if you’d like.
Anyhoodles… Here’s the thing that happened, that I like the direction of etc: I recently got a note from Belle, the PR and Public Outreach person at The West Village Market & Deli, who specifically asked me if I would write a piece about them. She offered me a free lunch, and a $25 gift certificate to WVMD, which I gladly accepted! I will most definitely work for food. What the fuck else am I spending my money on these days?
|I took a lot of pictures. I love grocery store lighting for iPhone pics. WVMD is cute, clean, & bright inside.|
The first thing I told Belle when we sat down to talk was that I would be informing you, the readers — my fellow food fans — that I am being “paid” by WVMD to write this piece about WVMD. I assured her that you guys would take my word for it when I say that I had already shopped at the Market, and I already like it, but that the readers deserve and would appreciate full disclosure. She agreed, so we proceeded!
Belle is very nice, smart, humble, straight-forward, and seems to be very dedicated to her job and the good food biz in general. I liked her immediately! I asked her a bunch of Q’s, then the owner Rosanne joined us, so I asked her some Q’s, then they left me to myself, so I ate some soup & two 1/2 sandwiches, asked the deli folks a few Q’s, spent my $25 gift certificate, and then finally, I flew to Michigan for a completely unrelated Red Wings game.
|Joe Louis Arena in Detroit, Michigan! Red Wings beat the Rangers 3 – 2 in a very thrilling game!|
Now I’m back in Ashetown, back in front of my computer, and ready to write what I’ve been dying to write for, like, nearly a week:
HOLY FUCK THAT SOUP WAS GOOOD!
|Here’s the humble hot bar at West Village Market. Very good things come out of these various pots.|
If I’m lyin’ I’m dyin’, that shit was fuckin’ aye good, Yo. I’m not even the soupiest person in the world, meaning that although I enjoy a good soup, I don’t go ape shit over soup like some people do. I eat it every so often, and I probably would have skipped it this time had not three out of three people I spoke to advised that I try it. I took a wee bit. Just enough for a sip or two.
I went back for more. Much more.
Holy shit. So good. It was a spinach and ground sausage-based soup that was so savory and cooked so perfectly, that if I hadn’t just ordered 2 half-sandwiches, I would have made my entire meal all about it. I’m craving it right now. There is no “Soup of The Year” category of the Stoobies, but if there was, this soup would win.
The 2 half-sandwiches were also excellent!
|I had one of my sandwiches pressed, and the other straight-up. I have a feeling that both would be excellent either way.|
• “The Hipster” is their basic turkey sandwich: Turkey, bacon, American cheese, lettuce, tomato, mayo on whole wheat. I love me a basic turkey sammich, and this one definitely hit the spot. Extra points for being brave enough to use American cheese. It was perfect. The folks behind the deli counter told me it was their most popular sandwich, and I could see it being a standard go-to sandwich for me if I lived or worked in the neighborhood.
• “Tempeh’s So Asheville” is their most popular vegetarian sandwich, and having tried it, I can see why. I like tempeh, and this was a very good grilled tempeh sandwich, with dill havarti cheese, avocado, roasted red peppers, red onion, banana peppers, lettuce, and pesto on rosemary focaccia. Honestly, I’m a little surprised that I ordered this beast, because it has, like, at least four things in it that I generally avoid, but what can I say? I wanted to get outside my comfort zone, and I’m glad I did. This freaky thing was awesome! Whether you’re a veggie or not, I would totally recommend the “So Asheville” sandwich to anyone… who isn’t scheduled for make-outs with anyone else in the following 24 hour period. I think I asked them to hold the red onion on that one. Just in case.
So lunch was fucking great! I can honestly tell you that it was better than I expected. I even tried the aloo korma at the tiny hot bar, and it was super delish.
I asked Hayette, the deli manager where they get the hot bar stuff from (The Food Co-op on Biltmore Downtown gets their hot bar food from a different restaurant every day) and she smiled when she said, “We make it all here!” I asked who made the sausage and spinach soup, and she said, “I dunno… Thomas… maybe?” Whoever gets to the store first in the morning gets to make the soup, she explained, adding that, while they do have recipes, they are also pretty much free to come up with anything they think will be good. She said that’s a big part of what she likes about working there. It turns out Thomas did make that wonderful soup. I hope you kept the recipe, Mang!
|Visit Thomas and Hayette (not pictured) at the deli counter, located in the back corner of the store.|
Rosanne, the owner seems very cool! She came out to say hi right away, and appeared to be genuinely happy to meet li’l ol’ me. When she sat down with us a little later, she told me a bit about the history and philosophy of her shop.
• It’s been around for 12 and a half years. Um. That’s a long time.
• It was in the Grove Arcade building for 7 years, where it was known as the “Grove Corner Market!” Hey! I totally remember that place! It was great! It was one of two places to buy fresh fruit, and decent groceries downtown for while. When it moved out, a few other places tried to fill the niche, but they were a pale comparison. Personally I was glad to hear that Rosanne & Co. had moved, as opposed to going under.
• They have been in their current location, on Haywood in WAVL for going on 5 years, where they have been enjoying success, and a loyal, growing following in the hood. Rosanne spoke warmly of her customers and neighbors.
Belle and Rosanne both stressed their personal and small-business point of view that selling good, healthy food, produced locally, organically, and sustainably whenever possible is essential to healthy bodies, as well as healthy communities. That coincides exactly with my own thoughts. I like that.
Belle brought up GMO awareness and labeling and Rosanne confirmed that they are all about it. They even host an annual event called “GMO Day” in which they promote labeling of GMO products and education about GMO Foods. These thoughts also dovetail with my own.
I like shopping at places that give a fuck, so again, if this was my neighborhood, I feel very confident that WVMD would be one of my regular jams. They even have hot coffee and tables to sit at, tucked in a bright, but cozy little corner. The chairs were somewhat wobbly… as fuck… but the atmosphere was chill, and on the hippy-side of things. I have always liked that vibe. It’s part of what attracted me to Asheville in the first place.
Oh, there’s a juice bar inside the shop too, called “Farmacy.” Thinking back on it now, I shoulda got a fucking juice! Dumb! Dumb dumb dumb… I could have used the vitamin infusion before my trip to Michigan, where I super-indulged in hamburgers, and coney dogs, and donuts out the whazoo!
Okay, so after I stuffed my face with soup and sandwiches, I went shopping in the grocery store part of the Market. They had Tom’s of Maine patchouli scented deodorant. Yeah, Man! I got some. I also got 2 bags of potato chips, an awesome loaf of bread from City Bakes, a big bunch of bananas, and two packages of Joyce Farms all natural frozen chicken. I had three bucks left on my gift certificate, and I’m all good with the pricing at WVMD. It’s right in line with what I’m used to paying, and expect to pay when I shop at a small “convenience” style neighborhood grocery store that sells healthy, interesting food, and offers something special called: Giving a fuck about you and me and the world in general. That has value to me.
If I lived in West Asheville… gosh, I find myself saying that more and more lately… I would be a frequent stopper and shopper at the West Village Market. Since I don’t live in WAVL, I’m just going to make sure that when I do travel over the bridge for lunch with a friend, I remember to pop in WVMD to see what’s cooking in that dang soup pot! Drool. Hungry. Want.
So there you go! Yes, I got paid… in food and deodorant… to write this piece, but trust me, my employers did not tell me what to write. They gave me zero instructions on that front. Obviously they hoped I would write something super positive, and I did! But I already knew I liked the place, so that part was easy. Then they surprised me with their super delicious deli counter offerings, and impressed me with their food & social philosophies, so I was enthused to spread the word.
Rosanne and her crew are super nice people doing what I think is a super cool thing for that neighborhood. I told her that I wished there was a store just like hers in the River Arts District, and she smiled at me. Wha?!? Dare I get excited? Too late.
I earn my living as an Artist and Graphic Designer. All kinds of businesses, events, organizations, and individuals hire me to help promote their products with my illustration and graphic design skills, including restaurants. One of my favorite clients is Mamacitas.
I’ve added these notes, because I am new to the Food Writing biz, and I’ve been careful — I think — in navigating the moral and ethical issues that I’ve encountered along the way. I know that the readers want the most honest reporting possible, and I endeavor to do that. When I get hired to write by a venue, I will let you know, every single time.
While I would love to make my living — at least partly — through my food writing, and I will accept paid assignments from specific locations that I already endorse, don’t worry, I won’t be sitting down on a pile of money to write a glowing, corporate sponsored endorsement of Chi-Fil-A… or Jack ‘n’ the Box… or Taco Bell… whom I despise… with my entire soul.
I welcome your feedback on this subject