Taste of Asheville (long)
Thursday night was Taste of Asheville Chef Showcase at the Haywood park Hotel. For those of you who may be unaware, Taste of Asheville is an event sponsored by the Asheville Independent restaurant Association, consisting of a week-long series of special events at local independent restaurants; culminating in a gala at the hotel. First I would like to know why does AIR continues to book this facility? The ballroom cannot handle the number of people, and be able to keep cool. I swear it was 90 degrees in there. Same as last year. And the year before. One really cool addition this year was Asheville High Culinary students were passing appetizers that they had made. Great experience for those kids. Now on the the important part: the food. Surprising enough, those restaurants that I expected to do well, did not, and vice versa. I can't remember everyone, so I will just touch on those I do. Fig and Picholine shared a table (for obvious reasons). I could not have been more unimpressed. Picholine had a Olive Tapanade and crostini. The tapanade (resembling something one could find at Sam's club) was in a really ridiculously large bowl, which, if it were even possible, made it more unappealing. Fig set out crostini and Pate. The booth was unmanned most of the evening. (a majority of the other chefs, stayed at there booths, promoting there restaurant and dish) However, if I put out what they did, I would have hidden as well. The lady from Harvest practically stuffed a blueberry and cheesecake tart in my mouth, where it hung out like a piece of cement. I remember nothing else of that booth. I don't recall what I had from the Gabrielle's table, but I recall I really liked it, and was impressed with the humbleness and gracefulness of the GM and chef. Apparently Southside Cafe has a new concept...World Cuisine. They served sushi..Spicy Tuna rolls, Tuna sushimi, and salmon rolls. All laid out very beautifully with things decoratively carved out of wasabi. As well as salmon roe available. They also had yummy little crab cakes with wasabi mayo. I will be the first to admit, I am not a connoisseur of sushi. But I liked it, and it was fresh. Interesting to see what happens in the next few months at Southside. Corner Kitchen: fondu with toast points, smoked salmon on sesame points, and a soup. I forgot the type of soup but I lked it but was very unenthused by everything else, which surprised me, because it is one of my favorite restaurants. Bouchon:a soft,moussey, roll thing comprised of smoked trout and escargot. It was sliced to order and topped with a hot garlic cream( poured from a tea kettle.) One of the nights best bites. Sante had an excellent pate...much better than Fig's. Ed Boudreauxs, brought a whole roasted pig. It looked awesome. Just wish the sauces they had were better. Grove Park had an oyster and brie soup that was the ultimate highlight of the event, unfortunately, the same table was there 24$ meatloaf, which was under-seasoned and bland. At this point I started getting full. Other restaurants present were Cafe on Square, Savoy, Hannah Flannnagains, Flying Frog, Thai Basil, Amici Trattoria, Westville pub, and Pomodoros. Two of the dessert highlights were: StoveTrotters- wow! really good pastry chef; and Grovewood cafe, for really tasty southern style desserts, pound cake and Kentucky bourbon tart. I wish I cold remember more details about the food, but honestly, there were 3 wine tables, several beer booths and a bourbon table. whew.
Totally agree - too damn hot! Sante was excellent, especially when you consider that they are a wine bar without a full kitchen. StoveTrotters desserts were eye-poppingly beautiful and just the right for a bite sized taste. GPI Oyster & Brie soup was my 2nd favorite - Savoys Duck Confit number 1.