Small Bites

Where's the Buchi?

Certain kombucha addicts may have noticed the absence of both Synergy kombucha and the local brand Buchi kombucha at Greenlife/Whole Foods on Merrimon Avenue. Apparently there's been some brouhaha on the national level about elevated alcohol levels in some kombucha, which is generally known to carry trace amounts of alcohol due to the fermentation process.

Street smart: Bouchon Street Food will turn out crepes, frites and quiche at affordable prices on North Lexington Avenue. Photo by Halima Flynt

UNFI, a major health food distributor — and a large supplier of kombucha to Whole Foods — has determined that unpasteurized kombucha products "may not meet federal regulations governing the sale and labeling of products containing alcohol." Any alcohol level present in food or drink over .5 percent must be sufficiently labeled with a government warning. Currently, the drink is being evaluated to ensure it is "safe."

Whole Foods released this statement to Xpress: "Key national kombucha suppliers have voluntarily withdrawn products until further notice, due to concern around potential labeling issues related to slightly elevated alcohol levels in some products.

"After conversations with several kombucha suppliers, we share the concern and have removed all kombucha products at this time because of the potential labeling issue. We are passionate about this product category, and about offering our shoppers the very best quality (of) local and artisanal products.

"We have even extended loans through our Local Producer Loan Program to several small kombucha makers who supply us with their products. We are working hand in hand with these producers as they review these potential labeling issues to find a solution to rectify this situation."

Sarah Schomber, one of the owners of Buchi Kombucha, says that the pulling of kombucha from the shelves of Greenlife has not impacted Buchi's sales in a negative fashion — as a matter of fact, she says, sales have increased.

"(UNFI has) agreed not to sell any kombucha to any other health-food store for as long as Whole Foods has this hold," Schomber explains. "Now all of the other health food stores can't get kombucha, simply because the distributor won't give it to them," says Schomber.

To that end, she says, since Buchi is a small, local company that self-distributes, they've been able to proceed with sales in other places besides Greenlife — the company's sales to the French Broad Food Co-op, for example, have increased greatly. She also adds that Buchi is complying with third-party testing to ensure that their product falls within federal guidelines for alcohol content and labeling. "I think it's a good thing," she says.

Calls to Earth Fare supermarket headquarters revealed that the store will continue to carry Buchi products for as long as they are able. The Synergy brand kombucha is conspicuously absent on the shelves, but the supermarket is carrying Buchi on tap. In Asheville, Buchi is also still available at Tod's Tasties on Montford Avenue, Rosetta's on Lexington Avenue, the Laughing Seed on Wall Street and several more locations. Visit drinkbuchi.com for more information.

Fishing around: The Market Place Chef/owner William Dissen makes short work of a rather large fish. Photo by Michael Muller

Taking it to the street

Last week, Xpress reported briefly that Bouchon is opening a street-food kiosk, named, appropriately enough, Bouchon Street Food. The seven-by-seven-foot kiosk is tucked into the alley adjacent to the restaurant on North Lexington Avenue, well-shaded offering room for about ten seated diners. Xpress recently stopped by to talk to owner Michel Baudouin, who reported that the eatery would open some time this week.

Baudouin recommends keeping an eye on Bouchon's website (ashevillebouchon.com) for developing, accurate information on the official opening date. At press time, health department requests to install protective screening around the outdoor food preparation area had caused minor delays.

Baudouin says that the menu will be small and easy. "It's going to be a very limited menu, obviously. It's not a very big place."

Fare served will be quick and street-style: house-made sausages in a thin City Bakery-made baguettes, crepes (about 8-10 varieties, half sweet and half savory) and individual "muffin quiches."

"We call them that because they are going to be a crustless quiche that we're cooking in a large muffin form," says Baudouin, who adds that all items served will be competitively priced. "We think this street is perfect for it, and we think that Asheville is perfect for it — I think it fits well in the community and with what's going on in town."

Also on the menu will be Bouchon's famous herbes de Provence-tossed fries, served with various house-made mayos.

Baudouin reports that the restaurant will also serve a limited non-alcoholic drink selection. "We're going to see what the customer response is, and tweak it accordingly," he says.

"We want it to be fun — and of course we want it to be good, that goes without saying."

Bouchon Street Food will initially be open from 11 a.m. until 3 p.m., Tuesday through Sunday, though the hours will be adjusted according to customer response.

Summer Fare

The Market Place restaurant continues its trend of local, seasonal fare, recently revealing the restaurant's summer menu. Items include:
• Buttermilk-fried Farside Farms chicken breast with Lusty Monk red bliss potato salad, grilled watermelon, natural jus
• Pan-roasted and miso-marinated butterfish, braised Asian greens, sweet potato fondue, balsamic-soy gastrique, Jake's farm microgreens salad
• Benton's bacon-wrapped pork tenderloin, caramelized onion potato mash, grilled oyster mushrooms, sauteed spinach, blackberry and peach chutney
• Sunburst Farms trout, butter bean and grilled corn succotash, red pepper "foam," crispy shoestring zucchini.

On Wednesday, July 14, for Bastille Day, The Market Place will combine efforts with Philippe Bourgeois to celebrate France's independence with a five-course wine dinner featuring — of course — French wine. Market Place chef/owner William Disson provided Xpress with the entire menu:
• Marseille bouillabaisse with shrimp, scallops, mussels, grilled crostini, rouille, saffron and heirloom tomato broth
• Torchon of foie gras, Fleur de Sel de Guérande, mâché salad, blueberry and cognac gastrique
• Trio of sauscisson: Wood-grilled merguez, salade de haricot jaune and roasted red peppers; pan-roasted andouille, purée de pommes de terre bleu; duck confit en crépinette, flageolets, roasted garlic, thyme
• Camembert en pâte phyllo, blackberry and walnut compote, frisée, vinaigrette de vin rouge
• Tarte Tatin aux pêches, crème glacée au beurre noisette

The cost of this event will be $75 a person. Call 252-4162 for reservations. Visit marketplace-restaurant.com for more information.

Tingles time

At press time, Jack and Lesley Groetsch, owners of Tingles Cafe, reported that the restaurant was set to open on Tuesday, June 29. Xpress stopped by to take a peek during the soft opening, and found a simple but upscale diner atmosphere with a lovely little soda counter-style bar. Here's a look at some of the items on the menu:
• Oyster and artichoke soup topped with a fried oyster and mignonette
• Pork belly with fried okra and slaw
• Buttermilk-fried chicken
• Bacon-wrapped meatloaf
• Braised short ribs
• Bittersweet chocolate pecan pie

Tingles Cafe is located at 29 Broadway in downtown Asheville. For more information, call 255-4000 or visit tinglescafe.com.

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