fiddlehead definition

fid·dle·head [ fídd'l hèd ] (plural fid·dle·heads) noun
Definition: edible fern shoot: the coiled frond of a young fern, often cooked and eaten as a delicacy

Monday, April 16, 2012

Table Asheville

My first introduction to table Asheville was at a table of incredible charcuterie at the 2011 Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. I stopped by their station in the Whole Pig section of the tasting tent many times, not only for the vittles but for the conversation. Jeremy and Matt were the names I wrote down in my little nerdy notebook. I kept their business card and remembered all of their Asheville suggestions. We talked about the local food scene as I tried salami, pate, head cheese and fried pigs ears. I also ate 100 devils on horseback while we laughed and sipped Stella (they had a very convenient location to the Stella table). I talked about the devils on horseback for weeks. Jacob Sessoms house made bacon is an enduring ...I so want to say "taste sensation" here.... His house made bacon is luscious. Those Hickory Nut Gap Farm pigs graze happily on Western Carolina grass and clover and drink spring water. Better than sunshine.

This past week we drove to Asheville to eat and explore what the city has to offer. We had to go to table to give back the love we received at the Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. 
Devils on Horseback
We took a long walk through the streets of downtown Asheville before dinner, scouting out after dinner drinks. Sazarac caught my eye. We will soon be friends, I thought. As you enter table, you get a glimpse of what is going on when you walk by the open kitchen. We were greeted by the sweetest smile, a "cmon on" (I really liked this),  and led to our table.
Our server, Stuart, arrived to take our drink order and welcome us. I was so overwhelmed by the menu that I couldn't make a decision. How to narrow down choices when I want everything? So difficult to decide among so many foraged, local, and seasonal ingredients. It's not even a large menu. I described my cocktail likes and dislikes and he suggested the Carpetbagger. It contained bourbon and sounded perfect; it was.
Crusty bread, butter and the tiniest olives (I really like tiny things) arrived. Wish I had taken photos of the salt and pepper dishes and vases on the table. Gorgeous simple pottery pieces I can only assume were locally made adorned each table.
I finally chose the golden beets, local sorrel, honey yogurt and house bacon. The plate arrived with the beets artfully arranged in a vibrant display. Almost looked too artistic to eat...almost. Moments later the same dish was placed on the table next to me looking equally beautiful yet completely different. I loved this. The beets were incredibly tender, the red veined sorrel tart and crisp, and the bacon crunchy and salty. We also had a plate of devils on horseback and they were just as great as I remembered them.

My entree choice was a no-brainer. Magret duck breast, olive spoonbread, English peas, ramps, local morels and lavender. If only my photograph did it justice. The dish was perfection. It was beautiful and savory smelling before I even took a bite. The duck was cooked perfectly and so very tender (rare for when I order duck). The wine selection was perfect for the dish. Ryan Brazell has created a dynamic list.
My first taste of morels for the season was so worth the wait. These were so earthy, savory, creamy and mellow.
A parting shot of dessert before my date scarfed it down.
I had a glass of Eagle Rare bourbon.

Our check came in adorable fashion, inside a stoneware mug. Little details like this are charming and memorable. On our way out, we stopped a moment to chat with the chef and give our compliments on the meal. We talked a bit about the experience at last year's Atlanta Food and Wine Festival. Jacob told me that he will be there again this year. Sampling his bacon is reason enough to go.

I will return to table Asheville very soon and have already recommended it to friends. Unfettered, fresh, local, seasonal food with an open kitchen, knowledgeable and friendly staff, and uncluttered atmosphere. It works well.

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