This town is long on charm, but short on souvenirs. But if you’re looking for a taste of Asheville that you can take home with you, we're practically up to our eyeballs in locally made mustard, jams, hot sauce and chocolates. Here are just a few of our favorite things. Many of these foods are available at Green Life, Earth Fare, West Village Market and Deli. Look for information on these markets in the “Grocery” section the Eats and Drinks listings. When marked with an asterisk, products through Blue Ridge Food Ventures, our local go-to natural foods processing facility (www.advantagewest.com).
The folks at Crooked Condiments make amazing mustards with local beer — award-winning mustards, at that. But it's the apple butter that's to die for: local apples with no stems, seeds or any other scraps in the mix. crookedcondiments.com
Looking for local with a kick? Smokin J's Fiery Foods turns out an assortment of local, preservative-free hot sauces, bbq sauces, salsas and more. Many of the fruits and vegetables that go into the sauces and salsas are grown on the company's 10-acre farm — and it's all certifiably delicious. smokingjsfieryfoods.com
Want to really eat like a local? Then develop an unhealthy addiction to Lusty Monk Mustard, a locally made mustard that is so authentic, it will bring tears to your eyes. Any restaurant that slathers the stuff onto their sandwiches wins instant local street cred around these parts. lustymonk.com
While cheese might not be something that you might want to take on on a plane, Looking Glass Creamery cheeses are good enough to try while you’re here. What's better is that you don't have to indulge in cheese-smuggling of any sort; Williams-Sonoma highlights a collection of the dairy's artisanal products in their 2011 catalogue. ashevillecheese.com
Imladris Farm Jams grace the tables of many of the locally focused Asheville breakfast restaurants. Sure, you get a warm and fuzzy feeling when local fruit jams sit next to your plate of local eggs, but Imladris Farm's products are truly delicious. The apple butter is good, but it's the bramble-berry jams that really stand out. The tart, juicy raspberry is a particular favorite. imladrisfarm.com
GalloLea Organic Pizza kits are a boon to those who want scratch-made food at home — but fast. The kits come with whole wheat dough mix and sauce in a bag. Just add cheese, water and heat! Gluten-free versions are available as well. gallolea.com
Jack's Nut Butters have created a bit of a buzz around Asheville since they emerged from Blue Ridge Food Ventures. With flavors like cardamom, cacao cayenne and coriander spiking the butter, it's easy to be interested. Made with soaked-and-sprouted almonds and walnuts, and blended with local honey, sea salt and ghee, it's even easier to be addicted. Available through BRFV (advantagewest.com) and Jack's Nut Butters’ Facebook page.
UliMana Chocolate specializes in raw chocolate, and that translates to healthier chocolate, says owner Teresa Green — which may mean even more of the mood-lifting medicine that chocolate usually provides. UliMana mixes fat-rich cacao powder from Bali with Peruvian cacao that has a deep chocolate flavor for a product that's both delicious and good for you. Who wouldn't want that? ulimana.com