Living la Vida Comida

So, yeah… I eat out a lot. I always have. Once, twice, three times a day. Plus coffee, snacks…  more coffee…  I live la Vida Comida and it’s only gotten more loca since I started writing about it. Below, please find a random gathering of pictures from my iPhone that I shot during the course of just a few days in my crazy “Food Life…”

Above: A very good lamb burger at Storm on the South Slope. My first experience with a lamb burger and it was excellent! Great fries too, and a really good pickle! I ate every single scrap and crumb off of this plate.

On my way home from Storm, I decided that I wanted ice cream. Before walking all the way downtown, I decided to see if my friends at Ben’s Penny Mart had what I needed. They did! In fact, it was fucking perfect. The Hop‘s Salted Caramel Vanilla ice cream is the bomb-titty-ass bomb, and one of my fave things ever. Thanks, Ben’s! Thanks, Jason! (pictured)

I’ve been doing a little work for Buffalo Nickel on Haywood Road in West Asheville, and I have some credit there. This week I spent some of my cred on these in-fucking-credible peanut chicken… fingers? Strips? Tenders? I forgot to write down the description, but these things were awesome. I could have eaten a bucket of them. No shit. You can see, if you look closely at the picture, that there’s some kimchi in the mix too, which went perfectly with the flavors and textures.

Still spending my cred at Buff Nick’s, I got this insane piece of bone-in meat, with gravy and micro greens on risotto. Again, I forgot to write down the description, but this thing had a real specific name, and it’s a regular part of the Fall Menu. I totally recommend it. Chef Ryan Kline at Buffalo Nickel is one of my favorite “up-n-comers” in the local food scene. He’s very good, and he seems to be getting better all the time, so I’m looking forward to the continued expansion of his skills and creativity. I’ve had several items from his new Fall menu, and everything has been excellent!

This is me looking super-happy — aaand slightly crazy — as I’m about to walk in to Buxton Hall BBQ on the South Slope for lunch! I had tried twice before to go to Buxton since they opened, but I was hog-blocked both times. Below you’ll see some of the most beautifully delicious looking dishes ever, and you’ll know why I look so crazed with anticipation in the photo above. (PS – I love your graphics, Buxton!)

Clockwise from the top: Parsnip soup with super-crispy parsnip slivers on top; delicious, ice cold water; smoked sausage and cheese dip with saltines and white rolls; and “under the hog” Brussels, sprouts.

A close-up of awesome. Super-rich and thick and creamy and buttery and crispy and caramelized and… awesome .

Are you effing kidding me with these under the hog Brussels sprouts?!? They were insane in the membrane. So fucking GOOOD.

I love parsnips, and this parsnip soup was very rich and comforting. It really hit the spot. I heart soup.

My friend Mikey works at Buxton and he brought me some hush-puppies to go with my meal. He said he loves ’em, but of all the food in this picture the hush-puppy plate was my least fave. I’m not a huge fan of waffle fries, and these were a little under-cooked, plus I’m from up North, so I don’t quite get the whole hush-puppy-love that y’all have down here in the South, but whatever. Mikey is a local boy, from right here in Asheville, North Cackalacky, and he says the Buxton puppies are the bomb. Who ya gonna believe? Mikey? Or some carpet bagging Yankee scum like me?

I ate at Strada Italian restaurant on Broadway Avenue downtown twice in a four day period last week, but I only managed to get one halfway decent picture (above), because the ambiance at Strada is very dark, which I like, but it’s tough to get a good picture. I think dark restaurants should have a teeny-tiny little desk lamp on each table just for me, so I can get a good picture. Is that too much to ask?!? On my first visit to Strada I had an extremely satisfying lasagna with meat sauce, and on my second visit I had these giant-sized, grilled, ricotta-pesto filled ravioli in a creamy-tomato sauce with fresh arugula and a balsamic reduction. I consumed every single edible molecule in the picture.

I got invited to a media dinner at Edison in the Grove Park Inn by Guinness Beer yesterday. Here’s Domhnall, he’s a Guinness rep, who told us the whole story of Guinness, including that they brewed only ales for, like, the first 200 years, before they started brewing the stouts we all know, and now they’re moving into the realm of IPAs with a traditional British style IPA called Nitro. Domhnall is from Ireland and had an awesome accent.

I told the Guinness folks that I don’t drink, and asked if I could bring someone who would be able to try the Nitro IPA. They said yes, so I brought my sister, Jen. She rules. When the Guinness folks asked her what she thought of the new IPA, she said “It’s good. I would drink it if it was there, but when I go out for a beer I almost always go local.” They looked like they had heard that before, and told us that here in Asheville, the retailers are all about Guinness, but the consumer is usually into buying local. I’m not sure how that works out for Guinness in the long-run, but they were super-nice to me and my sister, and I liked them as people very much. I should have taken a picture of all of them, because, not for nuthin’, they were a good-looking crowd, and one of them, Lee, was a pro-hockey player at one time!  Say what? HOCKEY!!!

This is Lindsey, she was sitting next to me, and said, “You’re that beer guy!” I smiled, and said, “No, that’s Tony Kiss, he’s sitting right over there. I’m…” and she said,“the food guy!” Lindsey was a fun table mate and I was glad that I was seated next to her and her husband Dave. Good table mates at media dinners can make all the dif between a fun time and a super-awk nightmare.

Here’s a shot of my sister’s appetizer salad from Edison. She said it was good, and finished it all. I had the cream of broccoli soup as an appetizer (which I didn’t get a picture of) and that was really good! Super thick and creamy with a lot of savory flavor. My sister and I each had a double cheeseburger too, and they were really good!  Again, sorry, no pics of those, but they looked like double cheeseburgers, so use your imaginations.

You can tell from all of these pics that the lighting in Edison was dark, which is great for my gloomy nature, but sucks for picture taking. Above is one fo the desserts they served us, a “beeramisu”parfait. I didn’t have any, but those who did used words like “good,” and “beery.” Edison is hosting a series of Beer Brunches this Fall that you might want to check out on their web site. It’s a really nice spot up there at the GPI. If you haven’t been , you should check it out, for beer brunch or otherwise.

I woke up this morning still full from the Guinness media dinner from the night before (true story), but before I knew it, I was at 67 Biltmore Ave, Downtown being treated to a media breakfast by Emily (pictured), Adam, and Lori. It was great!

There were three of us at the 67 Biltmore Media breakfast.  They gave us smaller-than-usual portions so that we could try more variety. Here’s their house-made yogurt and granola, with fresh fruit. It was really really good! Yum!!!

My table mates at the 67 Biltmore media breakfast were Tiffany Welsh, the editor of Food Life Magazine, and Chef Joe Scully, from Chestnut, Corner Kitchen, and of course, my co-host on AVL Food Fans!

Above: This was one of my fave dishes from the 67 Biltmore media breakfast. Quinoa, sauteed veg, and Yellow Bridge Farms cheese curds. It was delicious and maybe the healthiest thing I’ve eaten before 11 am in months. I usually eat cake or ice cream for breakfast. Or nothing. Except coffee.

The 67 Biltmore biscuits with sausage and herb gravy were fan-fucking-tastic! Really good. Really really good. Fucking good.

Finally here’s a half-order of the 67 Biltmore French toast, and a plate of hash with eggs and fruit. The French Toast was really good, something that I would definitely order again. The hash was good too, but by the time I got to it, I was getting getting full, and I couldn’t quite enjoy it as much as I would have if it was the only thing I was eating for breakfast that day. Thanks 67, for filling us up and being great hosts first thing int he AM!

And there ya go. Those are just few of the things that I’ve eaten recently in my crazy Vida Comida. And I left out a lot of stuff!  I got take-out from The Food Co-Op hot bar, I had about a million cups of coffee, Tibetan food from Kathmandu, muffins and cakes and any number of sweets and snacks. I even tried Kava at the Noble Kava Bar for the first time.

Bitter. Weird. Made me mellow out a little bit. Just a li’l bit.

-Stu Helm


IMG_0273Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook. 


External links:

AVL FOOD FANS w/ Stu Helm and Chef Joe Scully

STU HELM: FOOD FAN [FaceBook Page]

STU HELM on Instagram

STU HELM on Twitter

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