Ruby red and golden tomatoes, crisp chocolate croissants and rustic whole grain boules, figs, apples, blackberries, Asian pears, trout, cheeses, jewelry, and, oh wow, yes, that's exactly what I smelled....a coffee cart! A recent visit to the Asheville City Market had all my senses racing on high. Each farmer has such a meticulous display of vegetables, greens and fruits, with chalkboards and signs, and a friendly greeting for new and old customers. I loved it. There was even a pair making cheery bluegrass music.
Tasting my way through the U-shaped market was such a great way to start my Saturday. We were in Asheville, for me to read and sign THE OUTER BANKS COOKBOOK at Malaprop's Bookstore, and to do some tasting research for my new project.
SHOP WITH A CHEF, sponsored by ASAP, Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project, featured Mark Rosenstein, creator and chef of The Market Place Restaurant and author of IN PRAISE OF APPLES. His cooking has long been an inspiration for me, and I always make reservations whenever we are in town. I also enjoy his new 10o Bar/Bistro on the terrace.
Mark led shoppers to several farmers to buy heirloom tomatoes, herbs, greens and some marvelous breads, explaining why he choose what he did and how this is ripe, smells good, etc.
Then he went back to a cooking station and talked as he showed how to blanch and then peel tomatoes, toasted bread, added herbs, etc. What a marvelous event, and indeed, we did learn as we watched and tasted with him.
I was so delighted to stop at table for SUNBURST TROUT. Their trout farm is set at the base of Cold Mountain, and they make a tremendous effort to feed the fish good, organic food, and provide their waste products to farmers to use as compost. Their trout fillets are excellent, and are sold at Earth Fare statewide as well as with other grocers. Owner Sally Eason was concerned with the drought, saying that they had a good week or two of water left, and that was it. When the water is low, the hot temperature really affects the fish. Also, she usually has a big stash, like a thousand pounds or more, of the trout caviar (roe) which has made them famous all over the country. She said she only had four pounds harvested. Wow. Let's hope this latest tropical storm in Fla will make its way to NC's mountains.
We packed some of Sally's latest new product, trout jerky, and some smoked trout into our ice chest, along with some chevre. We liked the Jumpin' Juniper with a bit of chili powder from Three Graces Dairy, and I couldn't resist another tub of Sunset Valley Herb Chevre from Spinning Spider Creamery, one that our daughter Bec introduced us to. Along with an Asian pear, baguettes from Bec's work - City Bakery - we had lovely picnic fare to eat on our hike to the Three Waterfalls at Dupont State Forest, and the next day streamside while Steve flyfished along the Davidson River.
BON APPETIT Y'ALL
BOUCHON is a lovely little bistro on Lexington Ave. that certainly delighted our tastebuds. We chatted with owner/chef Michel Baudouin while waiting for our table. He grew up outside of Lyon, on a farm in the southern Rhone Valley. How did he get to Asheville? Via Dallas/Ft Worth, where he established two successful restaurants. On a getaway several years ago, he and his wife fell in love with this area. They moved, and started Bouchon, which is a colloquial expression for "bistro." We loved their moules & frites, and there are several flavorings for the mussels. The Salade du Grand Pere took me to back to France, with its lardons and walnuts. The wine selection was good, and the prices were very reasonable.
But what I really loved was the Trout Almadine, a fillet covered with thinly sliced almonds, sauteed with butter and herbs. Yes, I know, that's a dish that's seen plenty of territory, but it was done just right, served with brussel sprouts and slivers of potatoes.
Bon appetit y'all, Bouchon's menu declares. I'll go back.
RECIPE - My version of TROUT WITH ALMONDS
This dish cooks quickly, so have all ingredients ready to go, as well as your side dishes that you'll be serving along with the trout.
Servings for four:
4 fillets rainbow trout - about 1 1/4 to 1 1/2 pounds
1/4 cup flour
1/4 cup cornmeal
1/2 teaspoon seasoning salt
2 to 3 Tablespoons butter & 2 to 3 Tablespoons olive oil
1/2 cup thinly sliced almonds
2 tablespoons minced fresh herbs - lemon thyme, regular thyme, parsley or chives
1. Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
2. Wash trout and pat dry. Mix flour, cornmeal and salt together on a plate. Lay fillets in dry mixture on each side, knocking away coating until just a thin haze of the flour/cornmeal is left.
3. In a large, ovenproof saute pan, (or use 2 pans), melt butter and add olive oil. When hot enough to make a sizzle with water droplets, add trout, skin side up, and saute for about 2 to 3 minutes. Turn fillets over, and press almond slices into the flesh while cooking for another 2 to 3 minutes. Sprinkle fresh herbs over the fillets, also.
4. Slide saute pans into oven to finish cooking, for about 3 minutes, or until fish flakes easily with a fork. Sprinkle with lemon juice and serve immediately.