Posts Tagged ‘Southern food’

Asheville’s Tupelo Honey Cafe puts out cookbook

May 25, 2011

Tupelo Honey Café is one of those landmark dining spots that actually deserves its popularity. Tourists and locals alike go to the Asheville restaurant for Southern comfort food with a modern twist. It’s a high-volume place (and a second location was added last year), so I don’t know what the local-sourcing ratio is, but for sure it’s there. You can read a little more about that below in the entry I wrote on them in my book.

Longtime fans and newcomers will enjoy their just-out cookbook, “Tupelo Honey Café: Spirited Recipes from Asheville’s New South Kitchen” (Andrews McMeel Publishing, $29.99), written by Asheville writer Elizabeth Sims with Tupelo chef Brian Sonoskus. (For you local readers, the pair will be doing signings and tastings at A Southern Season on June 5 from noon to 2, and The Regulator Bookshop on June 6 at 7 p.m. I can’t get to either, dangit.)

Asheville writer Elizabeth Sims with Tupelo chef Brian Sonoskus

The hardcover book is highly stylized, heavy on the design side and filled with fantastic photos of both mouth-watering dishes and Asheville scenes, past and present. Recipes (they all look fairly simple) include Green Tomato Salsa, Cheesy Mashed Cauliflower, Nutty Fried Chicken, Mondo Mushroom Ragout, and Goat Cheese Basil Grits. The beer pairings for each main dish are my favorite touch (don’t worry, there are wine pairings too), a nod to the city’s numerous breweries and brewpubs.

Here’s my Tupelo entry in “Farm Fresh North Carolina”:

Tupelo Honey Cafe in downtown Asheville (Photo by Andrew Collins, http://www.gaytravel.about.com)

Tupelo Honey Café opened in downtown Asheville in 2000 as a laid-back breakfast and lunch spot for southern comfort food with an emphasis on fresh, local ingredients. In its first decade, it grew into a tourist mainstay, adding dinner hours and a line of merchandise. In 2008 new owner Stephen Frabitore stepped things up even more, opening a second location and arranging a deal for a Tupelo Honey cookbook, to be published in 2011. Throughout this time, chef Brian Sonoskus has continued to draw customers with his creative, affordable dishes, many relying on area farmers. Much of the produce comes from Sonoskus’s own Sunshot Organics, a twelve-acre farm he started in 2007. He grows vegetables, herbs, edible flowers, loads of blueberries, and even raises some laying hens. As for the Tupelo honey found on every table? That’s from Florida, but we’ll let it slide.

12 College Street, 828-255-4863; 1829 Hendersonville Road, 828-505-7676; Asheville (Buncombe County), http://www.tupelohoneycafe.com.

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Five porker stars for Wilber’s Barbecue

June 2, 2009
Wilber's take out in full swing

It takes three Wilber's workers to keep up with Memorial Day takeout orders

Willllll-berrrrrs! Willll-berrrrs! That’s my cry whenever we drive to the beach from Durham, North Carolina, or anytime we get close to Goldsboro, home of Wilber’s Barbecue. (I try to sound like Mr. Ed talking to his pal Wilbur, but I do a poor imitation. At any rate, it annoys Wessel. Mission accomplished.)

When I moved back to eastern North Carolina after years in Florida and then Boston, I was happily reunited with barbecue made the right way — slow cooked over wood and seasoned with vinegar, not, I repeat not, with tomato-based sauce.

The cornucopia of Eastern North Carolina

This Wilber's waitress is a winner!

We all have our favorite BBQ joints, and Wilber’s is mine. I was thrilled to bring Wessel here. Somehow Wilber’s had stuck in my brain, although I moved from North Carolina at the tender age of 16, when I didn’t care what I ate as long as it had pasta and spaghetti sauce in it.

We most recently stopped at Wilber’s on Memorial Day, on our way back from the beach. It was just us and about 80,000 other customers doing the same thing. We got ‘cue to go, along with coleslaw, sweet tea, and hush puppies. Classic Wilber’s. The restaurant is totally old-fashioned, with as many locals as visitors. There’s always a brisk takeout business, but the table service here is great too — friendly and oh so country. Yanks might need a translator.

Dutch friends Tjits and Liekle demonstrate before and after effects of Wilers BBQ

A stop at Wilber's transformed the profiles of our Dutch friends Tjits and Liekle

Wilber’s also has great Brunswick stew, fried chicken, and other Southern specialities (pronounced spesh-ee-AL-i-ties).

We love sending our friends there, too, like the Dutchies, at left, visiting from the Netherlands last summer. They loved it, maybe even a little too much.

The word has been out on Wilber’s for a while now. As owner Wilber Shirley said in an interview with John Shelton Reed and Dale Volberg Reed of  the awesome book “Holy Smoke: The Big Book of North Carolina Barbecue,” “we’ve been written up in right many magazines over the years.” (That’s an understatement.) All deserved, too!

I do have to say that after spending this past weekend at Fickle Creek Farm in Efland, North Carolina, which raises its hogs sustainably and environmentally, I am feeling a tad guilty about hawking a place that I’m guessing doesn’t really think right much about that stuff.

But there you go. My blinders are firmly in place, and I’m here to say: Willllll-berrrrrs! Willll-berrrrs!