Small Bites

Having her cake…

Jodi Rhoden of Short Street Cakes is planning to hit the road soon. Don't worry — Short Street Cakes isn't going anywhere. Rhoden is leaving the shop in able hands while she embarks on her summer-long exploratory tour of the South to find the sweetest ladies the U.S. has to offer.

On point: Sunny Point's heuvos rancheros are grabbing headlines on a national level. Photos by Halima Flint

Rhoden, after a long period of deliberation, has decided to travel the country, interviewing bakers of traditional cakes for her Southern Cake Ladies book. She just recently signed a book contract with Lark Books to help facilitate the process of making her dream into reality. From Rhoden's blog, "My Life in Cake":

"I'm very grateful, very honored, and very excited to take on this project, and I vow to put my heart into it, to do my very best to represent the beauty and depth and breadth of what it means to love people in this one particular way."

To that end, Rhoden will be searching for women in both the "backwaters and big cities" of the South who pour their hearts and souls into their cake craft — much like Rhoden herself.

Want to get involved? Does grandma make the best coconut cake in Mississippi? Does Aunt Rita make a red velvet that brings people to their knees? Here's a chance to have your favorite cake lady immortalized, as well as her favorite recipe — if she's willing to part with it.

On her blog, Rhoden is sending out a call for the cake ladies of the country who are the holders of heirloom recipes, women who posses a mental Rolodex of the best traditional icings and their every ingredient. Rhoden has put together a small questionnaire for the interested to fill out and return to her in order to aid in her quest.

Visit www.shortstreetcakes.blogspot.com to find and fill out the form, as well as to learn more about Rhoden and her upcoming trip. Short Street Cakes is located at 225 Haywood Road in West Asheville. Visit www.shortstreetcakes.com for more information.

Sunny Side up

Since West Asheville's Sunny Point opened on Haywood Road, people from all over have flocked to the restaurant to sample fluffy angel biscuits, shrimp and grits and other great breakfast dishes.

ABC's Good Morning America recently visited Sunny Point, camera crews in tow, in search of "America's Best Breakfast." The popular morning show is featuring a contest which asks food-lovers to name the signature breakfast dish that best represents the flavor of the town in which it is created.

Southern girls: Short Street Cakes owner Jodi Rhoden is hitting the road this summer in search of the cake ladies of the south.

Selected for the competition was Sunny Point's fabulous huevos rancheros dish, a concoction of black bean cakes served with Snow Creek chorizo sausage, feta cheese, roasted tomatillo salsa and herb-tossed red skin spuds topped with two free range eggs, cilantro crema and crispy tortilla strips.

Sunny Point has made it to the final four of the competition, which is good news for Asheville's food scene as it is. What WNC foodies need to know, however, is that Sunny Point hasn't won yet — and it's partially up to us to make it happen. Popular vote counts for half of the scoring in the contest, so it's time for us to put our money where our collective mouths are.

Watch Good Morning America, weekend edition, on Saturday, May 15, and find out how to vote. A live tasting of the final dishes will air that morning, with the judges' decisions counting for the other half of the vote. The winner will be announced live the following morning.

Sunny Point is located at 626 Haywood Rd. For more information, visit www.sunnypointcafe.com.

Beating the recession…one plate at a time

Recession specials abound these days, which is good for those of us on a budget. Here are some of our favorites around town:

Chai Pani is becoming well-known for its funky take on Indian street fare. The restaurant offers bites like tandoori chicken sandwiches and spicy salmon burgers, as well as full thali plates for vegetarians and carnivores alike — the butter chicken thali plate is absolutely to die for. While Chai Pani is always inexpensive, on Wednesdays children eat free. What will kids find to eat on the menu? This isn't your average Indian restaurant; tandoori pizzas, corn-on-the-cob and mild masala-spiced fries are among the many offerings on which the minis can chow.

Chai Pani is located at 22 Battery Park Ave. For more information, visit www.chaipani.net.

The Rankin Vault Cocktail Lounge always has $2 tacos, which may be the best deal in town for the hungry with empty pockets who still want to be out and about. The tacos are simple, but mighty good for the price. Customers choose between pork or chicken, stuffed in soft flour tortillas and topped with pico de gallo. What's more, the Vault runs a buy-one-get-one special for all food items before 7 p.m. Hard to beat that.

The Vault is located at 7 Rankin Ave. in downtown Asheville. For more information, visit www.rankinvault.com.

Tallgary's Pub is run by a man who is, in his own words, a "blues-playing retired airline captain who moved from Budapest to open a place in Asheville." The pub runs a rather spectacular nightly deal: two steak dinners with a bottle of wine for only $28. The dinners consist of two rib-eyes, baked potatoes and salads along with a bottle of Trinity Oaks wine. The food reportedly goes fast, so reservations are suggested — they can be made by calling 232-0809.

Tallgary's is located at 4 College St. in downtown Asheville. For more information, visit www.tallgarys.com.

Vincenzo's Ristorante and Bistro has 1/2-priced appetizers from 5 until 6:30 p.m. Indeed, it's a small window of time, but it's hard to argue with $5 trout cakes or calamari fritti.

Vincenzo's is located at 10 N. Market St. in downtown Asheville. For more information, visit www.vincenzos.com.

The Flying Frog Bar has some mighty fine porch-sitting real estate, especially on weekend evenings. What better place for half-priced appetizers on Fridays, then? After 4 p.m., dishes like the samosas with two chutneys and the middle eastern platter, with its trio of house-made hummus, go for rock-bottom prices.

The Flying Frog is located at 1 Battery Park Ave. in downtown Asheville. For more information, visit www.flyingfrogcafe.com.

Do you have food news? A restaurant with recession-busting specials? Contact Xpress food and features coordinator Mackensy Lunsford at food@mountainx.com.

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