One of the best things about my new favorite city, Asheville, is that the residents and businesses embrace everything local. Being that I love food, I love to garden and creative menus, the combination comes together with the Spring and Summer and what is called Farm to Table. What is F2T? When the chef(s) of a restaurant go out to the local farmers and farmers markets and scope out the best looking fish, meats, produce and grains that are being harvested during any given week, why this is not my job I am not sure yet, but I have time.
Last week I had the pleasure of sampling the F2T menu at Frankie Bones in South AVL and I had a corn party in my mouth… well actually it was better than what I just made up about the corn party, which sounds starchy (this was not). Starting with my fresh greens salad topped with candied golden beets, hand pitted sour cherries (I don’t want that job), beet chips and dressed in a creamy fresh goat cheese vinaigrette. The sugar in the candied beets, the saltiness (now a word) of the beet chips and the sour of the cherries blended together with the creamy yet still light dressing – I could have just had that as my meal!
Moving on to the Fried Green Tomatoes, fresh heirloom green tomatoes with a stone ground cornmeal coating (none of that processed garbage) fried to a nice golden color and topped with pimento cheese and russian dressing. I must admit, being from the North, pimento cheese is not something I would have ever put on my list of top things to eat, but as with most things, it is all in who makes it, and this cheese was very good and paired well with the tomatoes.
For my entrée, similar flavors to the appetizer, I had the NC Coast Cornmeal Crusted Black Bass that the fisherman brings up to the market. This was my first taste of black bass, wow was it good. The breading was light, not too heavy, so that you could really taste the fish which was flaky and was mild in flavor. This was served on top of pimento grits, this was so good I will definitely try to replicate.
Even after sampling 2 “fried” dishes, which is something I really don’t do, I didn’t feel like I had cheated or that I had a rock in my stomach (you know that feeling you get when you eat certain fried foods). The way that the cornmeal was prepared and the fact that the dishes were not as heavy as one might believe I could not resist the dessert, a caramel crunch cornbread with vanilla ice cream, fresh strawberries and a homemade strawberry sauce! The cornbread had turned in to a cross between a cookie and toffee, the crunch and the sweet was like nothing I ever had dreamed cornbread could be. YUM!
I am looking forward to an entire Spring and Summer filled with farm to table at our local restaurants and even from my own garden! There is something so wonderful about knowing that your meal has such a wonderful history, I can picture the fields and the fisherman catching the fish and the stories they must tell on their drive up to the mountains.