Small Bites

Au Chocolat!

In tough times, the people need chocolate. A lot of chocolate. And the Chocolate Fetish, the Asheville chocolatier that opened in 1986, aims to accommodate that need. The store, located at 36 Haywood St. in downtown Asheville, recently opened an expanded front room and added to its sweet inventory to keep up with demand. A newly renovated addition provides for a wider array of products — as well as more gawking room for the chocolate-loving public. Longtime visitors to the Asheville confectioner will recall that, especially around candy-heavy holidays like Valentine's Day, lines of customers often would spill out onto the sidewalk. "We've had people standing on the street waiting to get in," Says Bill Foley, who owns the shop with his wife, Sue. On this past Memorial Day weekend, however, the crowds fit into the expanded store quite comfortably, Foley says.

The pies have it: Pies in Disguise proprietors, Eliza Sydney and Ben Herring Photos by Jonathan Welch

To furnish the new addition, Foley found tall, mahogany open cases, embellished with hand-carved detail, that were built around 1895. "They've been in Asheville ever since," he says, adding that the cabinets have lived in a jewelry store, a department store and, most recently, the now-closed Kostas Menswear. "They were taken apart when I found them in a warehouse — they were about to be sent to Atlanta to auction," he says.

The shelved cases, which line the walls of the shop, hold the newly expanded inventory, and serve to give the Chocolate Fetish a rather vintage candy-shop feel. That was intentional, Foley says.

"I made the room around the cases," he says, adding that he's delighted to have the extra capacity for storage. "This is the first time that we've ever had the space to display all of the products. We're constantly developing new things, but we've never been able to have all of them on display. Now all of our loyal customers can come in and get things year-round, not just at special times."

Some of those products include nearly life-sized dark-chocolate high heels — which can't be worn, of course. Also on display are pretty little dark chocolate "cakes" — thin chocolate shells formed into the shape of tiered cakes. "You can't cut it, of course, so you're given a special hammer to smash it," says Foley. The store can furnish the "cakes" stuffed with mini-truffles, but also can fill them them with custom items as well. "We've done a Rolex watch, keys to a new truck, diamond earrings — think of it as an adult piñata. They're really great fun."

All of the remodel, says Foley, was done as eco-friendly as possible. The shopkeepers used recycled car tires to make up some of the non-slip flooring, recycled ceiling tiles, low-VOC paints and finishes and energy-efficient lighting.

Though Foley says that he plans to showcase local art, as well as local music from time to time, the changes end there. "We're not turning into a coffee shop," he assured Xpress. "We are a specialty, high-end chocolate and custom-made item shop."

A grand opening celebration is planned for the weekend of June 11-13, with a formal ribbon-cutting ceremony to take place on Thursday, June 10. For more information on the Chocolate Fetish, call 258-2353, or visit chocolatefetish.com.

Sky-high pies

Eliza Sydney and Ben Herring of Pies in Disguise have been bringing pies to the people for about a year now. Now, they've made it even easier to taste the fruits of their labors with the creation of their new "pie babies," cupcake-sized treats that can be eaten on the go.

"We decided to offer the pie babies because a whole pie is much more of a commitment, but someone at a farmers market can grab a pie baby and have a nice little snack," says Herring. "Then hopefully the next time they want whole pies for their wedding … or 4th of July barbecue, they will think of us."

All of the company's pies are made from as many locally produced items as the partners can source — including the eggs, laid by north Asheville-dwelling chickens. "If a pie ingredient is grown or produced locally, we use it," says Herring. "The whole basis of our business is supporting local farmers." The pie-makers also use organic Lindley Mills flour, made with "as much North Carolina-grown wheat as possible."

And what of the filling? Right now, strawberry-rhubarb pies abound. As for the summer, pie fans can expect local and regional fruits like peaches, blueberries, blackberries, raspberries, wine berries, figs and cherries. Looking ahead to fall, expect apple, pumpkin, pear and sweet potato pies. Year-round, Pies in Disguise bakes pecan pies, made from South Carolina nuts. "You won't see us using out-of-season fruit to make a pie in the winter, unless we preserved local fruit," he says.

Pies in Disguise is "offering the pie babies anywhere that we can sell them," says Herring. "We are hoping to expand our wholesale business to many other stores, coffee shops and restaurants in the area." For now, the pie babies — as well as the full-sized originals — can be found at the West Asheville Tailgate Market across from Burgermeister's on Haywood Road every Tuesday from 3:30 p.m. until 6:30 p.m. Pies can also be found around Asheville at the West Village Market and Deli (711 Haywood Road), Double D.'s coffee bus (41 Biltmore Ave.) and the Hi-Fi Coffee Bar (45 S. French Broad Ave., in the Downtown Market). Visit piesindisguise.com or call 230-2156 for more information.

We scream for ice cream

The Ultimate Ice Cream Company is opening a north Asheville location at 197 Charlotte St. Visitors to the North Asheville ice cream shop will find the same, scratch-made ice cream recipes they have always found at the East Asheville location of Ultimate (1070 Tunnel Road), which will remain open. For more information, call 296-1234.

The Hop, located at 640 Merrimon Avenue in north Asheville, has been busy these days. The shop has been debuting a new, creative flavor, seemingly every day. Those who follow The Hop on Twitter (@hopicecream) receive regular updates on the creations, which include innovative flavors like chipotle, Thai curry and salted caramel. For more information, visit thehopicecreamcafe.com

The Well-Bred Bakery & Café is now offering ice cream. Appropriate enough, considering that the bakery is located in an historic building that once served as a drugstore and soda fountain. "People who grew up here or who visited here in their youth still come in and ask if we have ice cream," says manager Terri Siever. "So we decided to bring it back, but with a Well-Bred twist." The café and bakery will offer soft-serve ice cream with a variety of toppings like ginger-brittle, toasted coconut and fresh granola. Floats and sundaes will also be served. Well-Bred is located at 26 N. Main St. in Weaverville. For more information, visit well-bredbakery.com.

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