NEWBEE in Asheville/Hendersonville
Just moved from Fort Lauderdale to Mills River and I need fellow foodies to help me find:
Heritage pork/Korabuta pork
Great local smokehouse products
German homemade sausages
Best farmers market
USDA PRIME beef
Great European style pastry
I am willing to travel but please help me out.
I have read many of the posts with great interest and I look forward to contributing with my
reviews in the future
Thank you for your help
for pork, try warren wilson college. they raise hogs (don't know if they're heritage) sustainably, and sell 1/4, 1/2 or whole hogs.
we don't have any really great q/smoked products here. 12 bones is probably the best q, although their hours stink (11a-4p, m-f) and their ribs are a bit inconsistent. sunburst trout farm sells smoked trout (and supplies many local restaurants), but it's all farm-raised fish, so somewhat lacking in flavor.
haven't found any really good german sausages. fresh market, greenlife & earth fare all have the basics on at least an occasional basis. there's a german restaurant (the name escapes me right now) out merrimon near weaverville that gets good reviews on their sausage, but i don't know if they sell it retail.
can't help w/ lobster. it's one of those things i only eat when i go to it rather than it coming to me (after paying $3/lb in maine, i just can't stomach the price elsewhere).
the wnc farmer's market is by far the biggest, and it's pretty good. there are also quite a few tailgate markets in the asheville area. they set up on different days in different parts of town (each part of town has at least 1 once a week). the tailgate markets are, of course, smaller than the farmer's market, but the vendors are more local than farmer's market. each tailgate market has it's own flavour, and you'll find different things at each. check the mountain xpress for listings.
there are zero butchers in the area. rathbone's in clyde is good for pork if you don't care about the pork's provenance. that's who i call when i need a particular size of a certain cut (he's my supplier for big cuts to smoke).
delis aren't a big thing in this area. a boars head sign is about the best indicator of quality around here. negozio's in h-ville is my fave. i don't think we have a jewish/kosher deli here. absolutely avoid all grocery delis in the area.
greenlife, earth fare and fresh market generally have the best meats. there's also hickory nut gap farm/springhouse meats; they supply a lot of the local restaurants. more downscale grocers like ingles/bi-lo generally have poor meat quality & selection (their "steaks" are an absolute joke), although ingles occasionally (and it varies store to store) comes up w/ good stuff (for example, the one near me has awesome looking beef short ribs and ox tails, both of which are on the menu this week/weekend).
asheville is sort of a dessert desert. you'll find stuff that looks good, but rarely lives up in taste. there's no place i can recommend that is across the board good. if you have specifics that you're searching for, i might be of more help.
welcome to the area. hope you like it, and please share your findings & tips with us.
Enoteca in Biltmore Village sells Deric's cakes,pastries and possibly his bread. (he's Rezaz's pastry chef). His chocolate is amazing. Try him.
They also sell cured meats on their menu and possibly retail. If so, they could probably slice it for you?
Good to know about Rathbone's. Do they sell stock bones?
i think there's a Jewish deli in the Grove Arcade and possibly another deli in there too. Anyone else know?
There isn't a Whole Foods in Asheville.
You're screwed on a lot of your requests.
Local highlights are:
Tailgate markets (in season) at the French Broad Food Coop, Greenlife, others...check the free Local Food publication. Also some nice items at the little market in Grove Arcade.
I buy my beef either from Whole Foods (Coleman Dry Aged, uncommonly expensive) or mail order from Lobels.com (stratosphericly expenseive). We don't eat much beef. I also get my Deli meats from Whole Foods. It's a serious step up from Boar's Head. If you want something closer to NY quality charcuterie, you're going to have to drive over the Dean and Deluca in Charlotte.
Pastry - Flat Rock Village Bakery (just a few miles further south from H'ville) had ridiculously good bread and pastry. More Boulangerie than patisserie, however. City Bakery in Asheville and Well Bred in Weaverville also have some nice items.
Blue Water Seafood in H'ville has a lobster tank at $16/lb.
You know...I'm not sure. I always assumed it was, because if its quality and price, but I just went to the Coleman website and I don't see Prime specifically mentioned. I'm not sure if the folks at WF could tell you or not.
As Mark said, we look forward to your input. Maybe you'll find some treasures we've been overlooking.
Welcome to Mills River! My husband and I live there too. :-) I agree that on many of your requests, it's just not going to measure up to what you're used to, but there are some good places. most recs so far have been in the Asheville area, so I will suggest a few in Brevard and Hendersonville, which might be a little closer for you.
For meats, we go to Poppies quite a bit in Brevard (on 280 on the right not too far past the turnoff for the hospital). They are similar to Fresh Market (also a good choice), but Poppie's should be closer to you. They seem to lean more toward the organic side than Fresh Market. I have been very pleased with their meat department. They have happily taken care of special orders for me. They do a lot of samples on the weekends too, so it's a good time to explore! Since I have not found a good stand-alone butcher, we use Poppies. I don't know the details on the beef though - you'd have to go and ask. Don't know if it's the level of meats you're looking for.
I have purchased some German products from Haus Heidelburg in Hendersonville. It is a restaurant and a has a deli. The restaurant has decent food, but not much atmosphere - we prefer Black Forest in Arden for German dinners. The Haus Heidelburg deli is very small, but has several German items including a meat case with a variety of sausages. The ones I have tried have been good.
I agree with Mark on the lobster. When you've lived up there (we're from New England originally), I can't pay the prices they want down here. I would, however, recommend Blue Water Seafood on Kanuga in Hendersonville for seafood in general. Everything I have had from there has been very good - expensive though. There is also a seafood place on 280 in Brevard (Carolina Cay) that is pretty good (I've only tried their scallops). Not cheap either.
I am a dessert snob and haven't found anywhere yet that blows me away (I usually prefer my own homemade - boy, I really am a snob! ha!). There are a few places in A'ville that I think have been mentioned that have gotten good reviews. Flat Rock Bakery in Flat Rock IS really good (very small), but I'm not sure it's "european" per se. But, they have great baked goods (nothing fancy - scones, muffins, croissants, great breads, etc), sandwiches, and pizza (also try West 1st in H'ville for pizza too, they are great, but only open for dinner - same people as Flat Rock).
Negozio's in H'ville (on Spartanburg Hwy, near Upward Road) has a decent sized Italian deli - not sure if it's what you're looking for. I haven't been in quite awhile. Unfortunately, there aren't any real NY style delis around here. I long for the Italian North End of Boston!! (especially at Christmas time!)
I find BBQ likes/dislikes to be very subjective, so won't offer an opinion! Everyone likes different kinds.
As mentioned, Greenville has a lot of options too, so maybe someone who knows more about that area can help you. It would be about an hour's ride from Mills River. If you combine with other errands, it's definitely worth a drive.
Good luck and report back any good things you find!
Regarding smokehouse products, you're only 180 miles from Benton's in Madisonville, TN. They have become so popular that the wait on online orders is now 6-7 weeks. Closer to home, I can vouch for the prosciutto cured by Hickory Nut Gap.
On the pastry front, I continue to beat the drum for the croissants, brioche, and pain au chocolat at Paris Bakery in North Asheville. I had some just-out-the-oven stollen during the holidays that almost brought me to tears.
Mark did a great job covering the majority of my rec's. There is a restaurant in Black Mt., Berliner Kindl. They have a number of sausage varieties on display, pretty sure they sell them as a "grocery" item too. There is a little Russian (?) store in Asheville on Patton, in the plaza behind the Sonic. They have some very interesting sausages. According to my beer drinking friends, they rate in that area too. WNC is just not a big BBQ area like much of the rest of the state - the styles & quality vary to a huge degree. Look at the free literature racks at Earth Fare & Greenlife, etc. There are two different groups that put out "local" guides. Most of the listings are fruit/veg, but each year the listings grow & include more heritage items, including meat. I can't say enough about Hickory Nut Gap Farms - good product-good people- I love their pork breakfast sausage! There are also farm tours sponsored by the groups each year which are a terrific way to meet the producers. Much on your list just isn't in the area now - but give it a few years. I always tried to hit Dekalb Farmers Market in Atlanta whenever possible to fill in the local gaps.
Went to Negozio's today. Hadn't been in maybe a year. You're right that it's all Boar's Head meats and cheeses. I was hoping maybe they had a mix. I got an Italian sub and it was pretty good, but not what I'm used to from New England. :-/ So, probably not the italian deli you're looking for and not even like those great mom and pop sandwich shops in New England either.
Michael, have you been able to find any of the things on your list yet?
For meats, I second a reply below to try Springhouse Meats by Hickory Nut Gap Farm. Locally produced, pasture fed, organic. Beautiful meats...beef, lamb, pork, poultry. Simply gorgeous. Buy direct or through Greenlife Grocery on Merrimon Ave. They do process sausages as well, and they are quite lovely.
And I just found out about Red-Tail Ridge this morning. Local grass-fed beef and eco-pork. Apparently their sausages are to die for. I look forward to confirming this. The farm store apparently is not staffed...you walk in, make your selections, put your money in a box, and off you go. Gotta love it.
For German sausages, try Bavarian Restaurant in Woodfin. Excellent write-up in a recent issue of Mountain Express:
European style bakery: Paris Bakery on Merrimon Avenue, just south of the North Asheville Library, makes wicked good croissants and other items. They moved just last year --- they used to be closer to downtown on Merrimon Ave --- so be sure to go to the right location.
For bread specifically, I recommend two purveyors.
City Bakery --- locations downtown on Biltmore Ave and on Charlotte St --- produces consistently outstanding European-style breads, and their pastries aren't bad. You also can source their output through Greenlife and Earthfare groceries (either of which is a nice alternative to Whole Foods, IMO. Earthfare has a south location on Hendersonville Rd. that will be most convenient to you in Mills River).
On Mondays and Thursdays, Z-Oven, a one-man Parisian bakery, offers breads at the Grove Arcade grocery store. Production runs from a backyard wood-fired oven. He brings them to the store hot out of the oven. Be there at 4pm sharp --- the stuff doesn't last for long. The baker is named Francois and he actually is a professional baker from Paris.
Western North Carolina is farmer's market heaven. Pick one...there are dozens. The only one I do not recommend is the wholesale commercial market on Hwy 191; it calls itself a farmer's market, but deals very little in farm-direct goods. Look at the produce boxes --- "Peru," "Mexico," "Argentina."
I like the North Asheville tailgate market, currently gathering on the UNCA campus on Saturday mornings (they will start up again soon) --- large cross-section of local growers. A large market will start this spring at some location on Charlotte St./Hwy 25 in the vicinity of the baseball field. An excellent small market happens on Wednesday afternoons downtown Asheville on Biltmore Ave. on the parking lot between the food co-op and City Bakery --- just across the street from the Asheville Wine Market (go there too, you will enjoy).
The (free and ubiquitous) Mountain Xpress publishes a more or less comprehensive tailgate market reference each Wednesday.
There is no good BBQ in western NC. Cole slaw and vinegar on the meat?! C'mon.
My good friend Charlie, a recent immigrant from Kansas City, has the best BBQ in the area, but you gotta be on his invite list to get it. Sorry.
For more, check out the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project here:
They publish a yearly guide of local producers of just about anything that can be farmed or raised locally, where to get it, and when. Must-have information.