Small bites: Asheville goes Greek

MOUNTAINS OF FOOD: Restaurateur Giorgios Bakatsias says he fell in love with the energy, people and foodcentric culture of Asheville before deciding to open Golden Fleece: Slow Earth Kitchen in the “fairy tale of a space” he’s secured at Grovewood Gallery. "The tagline 'slow cooking' is not something I’ve used before in a restaurant, but the topography kind of spoke to me," he explains. "I feel like I slow down [in Asheville]." Photo courtesy of Giorgios Group

Although difficult to translate, the Greek concept of filotimo refers to a person’s hospitable and giving nature, even toward new acquaintances. In practice, it often involves large quantities of baked goods perched in anticipation of potential house guests. Filotimo — along with regionally sourced meats and abundant produce — will be a key ingredient at Asheville’s forthcoming Greek-influenced restaurant, the Golden Fleece: Slow Earth Kitchen.

Owned and inspired by Triangle-based chef Giorgios Bakatsias, the eatery is set to open in December at the Grovewood Gallery. Golden Fleece’s rotating menu will feature slow-cooked, nourishing meals made with care — like those Bakatsias grew up eating in the small town of Karista, Greece.

“It sounds kind of mushy, but that’s the energy that goes into food,” says the James Beard Foundation nominee for Best Restaurateur. “It’s something that we try to figure out how to fit into our recipe.”

The culinary developer says Golden Fleece’s style of cooking will be relatively light and “not complicated with too many ingredients.” Instead, he’ll aim to showcase the abundant flavors of each season on a limited menu, in part by utilizing a large on-site growing space.

“Believe me, when we have a garden flowing with tomatoes, we’re going to have a million ways to eat tomatoes,” he says. “My favorite is when you make a horiatiki — a simple Greek village salad that has no lettuce. But it has all the beautiful flavors of the garden, especially the tomato water that merges with perfect olive oil and wild oregano. That’s perfection when you have a crusty bread, a fantastic sea salt and creamy feta cheese.”

Although patrons will have to consult an ever-changing blackboard for each day’s menu, Bakatsias expects to prepare lots of soups, salads (often decorated with toasted seeds or grains), meats (including lamb and whole-fish dishes), desserts and “anything that’s wonderful that comes from the ground.”

Bakatsias is prepared to showcase classic Greek cuisine, but he’s not a strict observer of the old ways. For vegetarians, he says he may cook a casserole of forbidden rice or use lemongrass to create “an interpretation of spanakopita, the traditionally triangular spinach pastry. Lamb dishes, on the other hand, may lend themselves to Moroccan influences, tahini or perhaps “a little more spices than the Greeks [use].”

“One thing unique that we’ll have is an offering tray with a lot of small delicacies,” he says. “It could be from lamb tongue to tripe to different cold vegetarian dishes.”

“It’s a very exciting time. A lot of the details are coming together,” Bakatsias adds. “We’re so excited about being in Asheville and creating a concept that becomes part of that culture in a community of great food.”

The Golden Fleece opens at Grovewood Gallery, 111 Grovewood Road, in early 2016. Visit giorgiosgroup.com for more information on Bakatsias and his other culinary ventures.

Rhubarb’s holiday dinner with Catawba Brewing Co. and French Broad Chocolate Lounge

Rhubarb’s chef John Fleer is teaming up with Catawba Brewing and French Broad Chocolate Lounge to offer what the restaurant calls “an epic, multicourse, holiday-themed dinner.”

The holiday dinner is at Catawba’s Rickhouse Room, 32 Banks Ave., on Tuesday, Dec. 1, at 7 p.m. Admission is $100 per person, with a portion of proceeds benefiting the Haywood Street Congregation. Tickets are available on the haywoodstreet.org donation page.

Weaverville awaits a Publix

Florida-bred supermarket Publix has signed a lease to occupy the Weaverville Plaza shopping center, where the employee-owned grocery chain will open a 49,000-square-foot store. Structural and cosmetic upgrades are set to begin in early 2016, with a projected store opening date in 2017. Leasing space for additional businesses will be available at the redeveloped commercial center.

Visit publix.com for more information about the grocer.

Edna’s of Asheville on Merrimon goes green

Edna’s of Asheville recently announced its conversion to using clean electricity through provider Arcadia Power, meaning the Merrimon Avenue café now meets the Environmental Protection Agency’s Green Power Partnership requirements. “It’s always been important that Edna’s has a positive impact on our community and world, and in partnering with Arcadia Power to eliminate our carbon footprint, we saw an opportunity to really make a difference and lead by example,” says owner Mike Zukoski. “We couldn’t be prouder to be a clean energy business.”

Edna’s of Asheville’s clean energy branch is at 870 Merrimon Ave. Visit ednasofasheville.com for more information.

SHARE
About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

Before you comment

The comments section is here to provide a platform for civil dialogue on the issues we face together as a local community. Xpress is committed to offering this platform for all voices, but when the tone of the discussion gets nasty or strays off topic, we believe many people choose not to participate. Xpress editors are determined to moderate comments to ensure a constructive interchange is maintained. All comments judged not to be in keeping with the spirit of civil discourse will be removed and repeat violators will be banned. See here for our terms of service. Thank you for being part of this effort to promote respectful discussion.

Leave a Reply

To leave a reply you may Login with your Mountain Xpress account, connect socially or enter your name and e-mail. Your e-mail address will not be published. All fields are required.