7/12/2011 - Asheville restaurant menus brimming with local foods
by Bruce C. Steele/Mat Payne - Asheville Citizen Times
Neighborhoods make things happen in Asheville - even FOOD!!
ASHEVILLE -- If Toubab Krewe bass player Dave Pransky had a craigslist ad for his lunch, it might read: "Local musician seeks local food."
The Asheville world-music rocker was at Café Ello downtown Tuesday, having lunch and contemplating the food chain.
"If there's two restaurants and one uses local food and one doesn't, I'll go to the one that does," he said, interrupting his enjoyment of a BLT.
"I think it's really important for the community to support each other," he said.
That's basically the idea behind the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project's Get Local campaign. "People here are supportive of local foods, so Get Local is just a way to let them know what's in season," said ASAP's Maggie Cramer. "It also gets restaurants and farmers involved, bringing everyone together, full circle."
Get Local's July focus is on beans -- the harbingers of a continuing summer bounty, she said. "Beans let you know that tomatoes are coming and sweet corn is around the corner."
Bean dishes abound
At Early Girl Eatery, local green beans are blended with kidneys and limas in a classic three-bean salad.
John Leach, 67, of Raleigh, and his wife Phyllis have been going to Early Girl for 10 years and stopped by again Tuesday.
"We grow our own vegetables, and we can tell the difference when restaurants use locally grown produce," he said, enjoying a seafood entrée.
At West End Bakery in West Asheville, local green beans are highlighted in almost everything, thanks to a steady supply from the Pisgah View Community Peace Garden. Some dishes feature Fortex beans, a stringless variety.
"We'll do a sesame green bean and quinoa salad, and soups will be things like summer vegetable with yellow squash, zucchini, tomato and green beans," said co-owner Cathy Cleary.
At Jack of the Wood downtown -- which serves regionally raised meats and fresh vegetables from Laughing Seed Farm, in Barnardsville -- Shannon Yenchik, 30, said one of her attractions to local foods was its health benefits.
"I bring my kid out, and I want her to have the best meat and produce without hormones or antibiotics," said the Athens, Ohio, nanny, enjoying a plate of fish and black beans.
At nearby Tupelo Honey, 18-year-old Ashley Davis, a student from Birmingham, Ala., summed up the case for local food on restaurant menus.
"I think it's especially important in smaller cities like this that local businesses try to support each other," she said, "because if you don't support yourself, who's going to?"