Fall is Here & Bread Pudding is on The Menu!
Bread pudding is one of life’s great pleasures, and if you’re like me you especially love it when the weather starts getting cooler, and dipping into Fall territory. I’ve been dying for bread pudding season to get into full swing, and I’ve already had my first foray into the field with a delicious offering at Chestnut on Biltmore Ave in Downtown Asheville.
Pastry Chef Heather Gressett at Chestnut makes a Creme caramel bread pudding that is incredible. She uses toasted sourdough bread, and serves it warm with orange liquor, fried almonds, and Mills River whipped cream. I ordered mine with a scoop of Chef Gressett’s house made sweet cream ice cream (pictured above) and the combination of flavors, textures, and temperatures were all in perfect synchronicity with each other, and made for a fantastic Fall treat!
We all know that Summer lasted exactly 366 days in Asheville this year, and it was literally 1 million degrees hot right up until the second week of October, but the temp has dropped (some might say plummeted) at long last, and it finally feels like Fall! Woohoo! I truly love cool weather, so I took a walk downtown after sunset, just to enjoy the evening mist, pick up a book at Malaprop’s, and grab a bite or two.
Above: That’s the prettiest bread pudding in town right there.
Book in hand, I first stopped at Posana where I devoured an amazing bowl of gnocchi, and then I made a beeline to Chestnut for dessert. I have been super-duper impressed with the dessert program there lately, which the talented, yet humble, Chef Heather Gressett took over about a year ago. I first sampled her food at the Taste of Asheville (which is coming up!) and have already raved about her banana cake, as well as her blackberry cake w/ sweet corn ice cream in two of my “10 Things…” lists, but now I want you to focus exclusively on her version of bread pudding, which I expected to be mind blowing, and holy crapperdoodles, it sure was.
Above: Same thing, just a little closer-up.
It was warm, soft, and delicate, though filling and substantial, especially when combined with the ice cream. The flavors were unique, though familiar and comforting, as the brown spices and orange liquor gave it a hint of Christmas. The textures were perfect, with the almond slivers (which were deep-fried then tossed in salt and Swedish pearl sugar) providing a crispy-crunch that went above and beyond other slivered almonds I’ve had in the past. Toasted is good. Deep fried is better. The whipped cream was sweet and silky, and the ice cream was thick, creamy, and delicious.
Sweet cream ice cream is one of my all-time favorite “flavors” of ice cream. It has no flavor added! It’s just pure cream and sugar, Baby. The scoop of Chef Heather’s take on sweet cream ice cream had a slight, subtle bit of farmy sourness to it that interacted very well with the sweet pudding and sauce.
Four stars for this dessert, and another hit in Chef Gressett’s repertoire! Get into Chestnut soon if you haven’t been yet or lately, and try her dessert line-up! She’s batting 1,000 with me so far.
“New American eatery for seasonal bites & homemade treats in restored 1920s digs with a full bar.”
Address: 48 Biltmore Avenue, Asheville, North Carolina 28801
Phone: (828) 575-2667
Sunday 10AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Monday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Tuesday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Wednesday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Thursday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–9:30PM
Friday 11:30AM–3PM, 5–10PM
Saturday 10AM–3PM, 5–10:30PM
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Stu 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.