At the end of the year, journalists seem to enjoy compiling these look-back lists — a lot. I suppose I’m no exception. But it’s been an interesting year for food, in my opinion. Here’s a look back at some notable food happenings of 2010 — in no particular order.
1. Iron Chef Asheville!
Asheville got its first Iron Chef-style competition this summer with the WNC Chefs Challenge Competitions, which will continue this spring. In the event, two teams of chefs go head-to-head in battle over a secret ingredient. Favorite secret ingredient? Bacon, hands-down. Team Admiral absolutely slaughtered battle bacon. Watch the video by Jake Frankel here.
2. Pizza, pizza!
Ritrovo Pizzeria opened in West Asheville this year — Photo by Jonathan Welch
3. Finally Pho:
Pho Fusion opened in the Downtown Market, offering Asheville its first taste of authentic Vietnamese food within city limits. Some tips if you go: be sure to try the cucumber water if they have it. The beef eye-round pho is very good — the perfect nourishing dish for winter. Make certain to pile in plenty of fresh Thai basil and cilantro from the condiment bar. Finish your meal off with some strong and sweet Vietnamese coffee.
4. Tastes like crêpe!
The Twisted Crêpe opened on Haywood Street in downtown Asheville, offering one of the best breakfast deals in town. I almost have to physically restrain myself from going and grabbing a Shorty every morning on my walk to the office. A Shorty, by the way, is a big-as-your head crêpe stuffed with three veggies, eggs, your choice of sauce (I recommend getting the hot sauce) and mozzarella. Also, Bouchon Street Food opened this year, showcasing a different style of crêpe. BSF tends to lean toward more Frenchy fillings, like chevre and duck confit. As far as crêperies go, these two are like comparing apples and oranges.
5. Go fish:
Blue Water Seafood Company opened a location on Charlotte Street earlier this year. It’s wonderful to have a place devoted entirely to seafood — and it’s always fresh. Also, the po’ boys are phenomenal. Xpress was there on opening day, and staffer Michael Muller captured a lovely spread of photos.
6. Southern style:
The Southern Kitchen and Bar opened on Lexington earlier this year in a gem of a spot on the corner of Walnut and Lexington. Chef Teri Roberts really does some remarkable work. Though the menu reads fairly simply — pimento cheese crostini, mac and cheese, club sandwiches — the flavors are complex. Try the “pigs in a blanket,” a twist on a bahn mi sandwich. Holy Jesus, it’s good.
7. We all scream:
The Hop Ice Cream Café made a splash this year, opening a second location in West Asheville. — Photo by Jonathan Welch
8. All a-Tingle:
Tingles Cafe opened earlier this year, featuring southern diner food with an upscale twist. Chef Zeb McDermott is yet another young and talented rising star in the restaurant arena. Try the house-made sodas and save room for pie.
9. The big cheese:
Some of the Looking Glass Creamery’s offerings — Photo courtesy of ASAP
Do you take our local cheese selection for granted? Probably. We’re lucky to have a number of fantastic WNC creameries, including Spinning Spider, Yellow Branch and OakMoon, just to name a few. Recently, Looking Glass Creamery was selected as one of six American artisanal cheese-makers to be highlighted nationally by Williams-Sonoma. The WNC dairy’s offerings are currently featured in the Williams-Sonoma holiday catalog — which brings our local food scene even further into the spotlight.
10. Chefs in motion:
The Chefs Move to Schools program – an opportunity for chefs around the country to adopt a local school to help solve the childhood obesity epidemic within a generation — was announced by the White House this year. As part of the initiative, our very own Laurey Masterton was invited to the White House, and returned to WNC full of ideas. Currently, a number of our local chefs are involved with local schools, teaching kids about good, wholesome food. The program is still expanding. Watch Jake Frankel’s video of Masterton talking about the project here.
11. Cúrate is coming:
The team behind the venture — Photo by Jonathan Welch
The announcement that Asheville is getting a new Spanish tapas bar, Cúrate, is cool enough. However, add to that fact that two of Cúrate’s owners worked for culinary pioneers and big wigs Ferran Adrià (El Bulli) and José Andrés (Minibar), and you have a buzz-worthy food moment. Look for Cúrate to open in the spring of 2011.
12. Asheville street food on the table:
This marked the year that people started talking seriously about street food. Whether it’s falafel, hot dogs or burritos, some are clamoring for it — while some are skeptical. It’s a topic still on the table, and another developing story that Xpress intends to follow.
13. One door opens…
Several other restaurants opened this year, including Green Light Café in downtown Asheville, HomeGrown on Merrimon, Cinnamon Kitchen in south Asheville and Piazza in Fairview. Also, Greenlife was bought by Whole Foods, and The Usual Suspects was purchased and turned into Avenue M.
This list does not claim to be a complete one. What were your favorite food moments of 2010? Let us know by commenting below.