Local Art at Early Girl

image1 (5) Western North Carolina has long nourished a tradition of making beautiful things by hand. After developing handcrafting skills by necessity, remote mountain        communities preserved these traditions until they evolved into the art and craft scene we know in Asheville today.

   Asheville has enjoyed this thriving scene for over a century, and western North Carolina now boasts, according to recent data, the fourth-largest concentration of artist and   craftspeople in the country! Those of us who have been a part of the downtown community for the past twenty years will not be surprised at this news.

At Early Girl, we are honored to bring a little of the local art scene into our dining room. Every few months we feature a new artist or maker on our (freshly painted!) walls.  As a result, our guests get to enjoy the incredible quality and variety of the artists and craftspeople in our area, and often those creators, many of whom are newer to hanging shows, find a warm reception among both our local and far-traveling diners. From the bright, other-worldly paintings of Julie Armbruster (https://www.juliearmbruster.net/) to the witty, folktale-inspired panoramas of letterpress printer Jessica White (https://jessicacwhite.com/), the work of many fine locals has brightened the staff’s days and our guests’ dining experiences.

On our walls now are the drawings of Kimber Fowler, who describes her work and her approach here:

“It is not necessarily the best drawn or most beautiful illustrations that hold your attention. I’m currently apprenticing at Heart of Gold Tattoo in Hendersonville, NC. Each of these original drawings represents a break in attempting to draw perfection and allowing human error to come into the foreground.”

      Come in and take a look at the amazing local work on our walls!image1 (3)

Asheville Beer with breakfast? It’s so medieval!

Ninja Porter & Fried Pork Loin

For hundreds of years, up until the early 1800s, the English drank beer for breakfast.

We’re keeping the traditional alive. Fast forward 200 years and cross the “pond” to Asheville. Feast on our pan fried pork loin smothered in smoky Benton’s gravy with an Asheville Brewing Ninja Porter. The pork loin special comes will all the fixings you need: eggs, grits and toast, or a biscuit.

Keeping with the Early Girl tradition, the ingredients are regionally sourced. The grits come from in Boonville, NC.  The eggs are fresh from Highlander Farm in Fairview, NC. The gravy is made using famous Benton bacon, a smoked in North Madisonville, Tennessee. Benton bacon is Hickory smoked, using an old-school wood stove. Asheville Pizza Company has been making the ninja porter for years and it’s a nice coffee -meets- chocolate combo.

Asheville has so many amazing brews, you gotta have a beer with every meal in Asheville or you will never try all of them! Early Girl Eatery serves breakfast until 9 pm Tuesday – Sunday, so you can get your beer and breakfast combo all day!

Coffee is a morning necessity, mimosas feel celebratory but beer with breakfast feels like Asheville. Come in and get your Asheville on at Early Girl!

Is cooking a trade or an art?

Is cooking a trade or an art? There is, of course, no right answer. I am not the cooking half of this enterprise and I often find myself on the art side of this debate. Like the millions of folks watching Food Network, buying foodie magazines, and filling their shelves with cookbooks I am in awe of every chefs creativity. With 10 years at Early Girl, (and many more years before EG in the food world) I know that kitchen labor takes up much more of a cook’s time than recipe creation.

Anyone can learn to chop an onion, but you can’t teach masterful mixing of flavors. Great cooks just know what ingredients make magic when used together. They think about what would work well together all of the time.

Recently, through the media, the restaurant world has been portrayed as quite glamorous. Restaurant work (cooking, serving, bussing, hosting & dish washing) is physically and mentally hard work. If you haven’t worked in a restaurant, you should give it a try. You will be a bigger tipper after one day, I promise you! It’s not for everyone. Neither is working with the public. There are tough days… but the positive, exuberant people that come in are lovely and typically show their appreciation through their tips & kind words.

Your day gets made and rewarded through affirmation from the comments we get like “This is the best sausage I have ever had in my life.” This type of feedback is rewarding and makes it all worth it.

A lot of hard work goes into the sausage. The kitchen cooks up the sausage, the farmer raises the pig and the wait staff delivers the sausage, with a smile, to your table. The customers CHOOSE to spend their hard earned money with us. They are all good folks and none of the art or the trade could be enjoyed without them.

So, to answer the question, is cooking an art or a trade? I say it’s a little bit of both, and you can’t have a good restaurant without both art, and hard work!Hickory Nut Gap PigHickory Nut Gap Farm

Wall Street is Appalachain Grown.

Beer City? Arts & Craft city? I think Local Food City is the next title for Asheville. Since opening the doors of Early Girl Eatery in 2001, we have been committed to using local food. Since 2001, the food scene in Asheville has grown to a nationally acclaimed hot spot. The farm to table food philosophy has drawn attention from outsiders and locals, alike. The Wall Street restaurant scene is no exception.

Wall Street boasts a number of amazing restaurants: the Laughing Seed, Market Place, Cucina 24, MG Road and Wall Street Coffee Shop. We count ourselves fortunate to be part of such an elite group. All of these businesses are locally owned and operated.

All of the Wall Street restaurants are an ASAP (Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project)
Appalachian Grown partners.

Appalachian Grown Logo, look for it around Asheville to support the local food movement.

Appalachian Grown is a ASAP program that certifies food and agricultural products grown or raised on farms in Western North Carolina and the southern Appalachian Mountains. Early Girl Eatery has been part of the Appalachian Grown program since its inception.

In 2002, only 12 Asheville restaurants were using locally grown food. Earlier this year, the number of restaurants using locally sourced food was up to 125 and growing.

By using certified Appalachian Grown food, each of the restaurants are getting a product that was grown or raised in our region by a local farmer. What does this mean? It means that the restaurants are buying a product that is fresher, better tasting, and more nutritious. It means the Wall Street restaurant scene is supporting a local food system that contributes to the local economy, that is better for the environment, preserves the farming heritage of Appalachia, and protects our mountain landscape.

Radishes growing on the farm at Green Toe Ground.

MG Road lounge is the latest addition completing our street as a great restaurant destination. http://mgroadlounge.com/.

They create artisan drinks and cocktails, and serve up small plate Indian themed appetizers. The space is nicely designed (mentions almost everyone on yelp!) MG Road is a welcome addition to Wall Street and the Asheville bar scene. Our staff loves to head over there after their shift and relax!

If you haven’t been up to Wall Street in a while. Check it out, we are on a roll over here.
photos courtesy of http://greentoegroundnc.com/ .
Read more about the Appalachian Grown program here http://www.asapconnections.org/appalachiangrown.html

Go Local Get Ramps

Early Girl Eatery is so excited to invite you to our Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) fundraising event In Celebration of Ramps. On April 22 at 6:30 pm we will be hosting a four course meal dedicated to the taste of Appalachian spring. All recipes will be created by two of North Carolina’s best chef’s, both winners of the James Beard award for Best Chef Southeast, Andrea Reusing of Lantern in Chapel Hill and Robert Stehling of Hominy Grill in Charleston.
Our staff will do the cooking so Andrea and Robert can do the talking. Both chefs are not only talented but also incredibly knowledgeable about the history of Southern food and the current successful resurgence of farm to table in North Carolina.
Good times and great food and drink all in honor of ASAP. ASAP is the organization closest to Early Girl’s heart. They are the biggest reason the entire country looks to our little corner of Western North Carolina to see how a local food system can thrive and thrill.
We hope you will join us.

Tickets available here: http://fromhere.org/event/in-celebration-of-ramps/

Local food tastes better in local pots

If you have ever eaten a leisurely breakfast at Early Girl and reached across the table for a dash of sugar to sweeten your coffee, or tipped a spoonful of raspberry jam onto your biscuit, then you are already familiar with work made by two of our favorite local artists. Patty Bilbro and Becca Floyd are two potters whose clay creations have long made dining at at Early Girl a homier and more beautiful experience.
Patty Bilbro, creator of our jam pots has been throwing for over ten years. She was a resident at Odyssey and is now a full time potter in her studio, Foxfire Pottery which you can find at www.pattybilbrofoxfirepottery.com You may have seen her work at any number of local shows including the Big Crafty, and fallen in love with the clean elegant lines of her pieces, their delicate colors and the sweetly evocative drawings that so simply express such a range of emotions. Look for dreaming llamas, lovesick robots and flowers drinking rain.
Becca Floyd has been crafting our one-of-a-kind sugar containers for years, and it has been a delight to watch her continually perfect this signature Early Girl piece. Her interest in Japanese glazes and design is evident in the rich blue-greens and milky-whites she chooses, and in the elegant animal forms that sometimes top her pieces. Also a former Odyssey resident artist, she continues to teach the craft there and is the proprietor of Floyd Pottery. you can find her at www.floydpottery.com
We are grateful to both women for complimenting the hard work and love our cooks put into your meal. We hope you enjoy both food and pottery. You can check out their wares for sale at our host stand on your way in or out of the restaurant.

The second most asked question at Early Girl

Early Girl is comfort food and there are plenty of menu options that sound just like what your grandma made. Once folks trust us with a cheeseburger or the pan-fired chicken they often look to step out of that comfort zone.

Every day our hosts and our servers get asked, “What is tempeh?” So here goes…tempeh is a cultured bean patty or a fermented soy product. It is a great source of both protein and vitamin B12 for vegetarians and meat eaters alike. As a fermented food it is easily digestible so that you finish eating feeling energized.

We are lucky to get our tempeh directly from Brian Moe at Viable Cultures. He has an excellent website full of information on fermented foods and their value to your diet and our environment. Brian also makes the sauerkraut that we use with his tempeh on the tempeh reuben. Honestly I will eat the kraut alone it is so good. We use his tempeh in our vegan chili and it’s available with your eggs, grit and toast instead of bacon or on top of your salad. We cook the tempeh on the flat top grill after adding bbq style seasoning so it’s especially great on the sweet almond ginger salad. I hope this inspires you to not just ask about it next time, but to order it and enjoy it as well.

By the way I’m open for guesses on the most asked question.

It Only Takes 10%

Buying local has been part of our mission since day one. As the years have passed we find this easier and easier to do. There are more sustainable small farms and local food producers than ever in Western North Carolina. We were recently approached by an amazing group that makes the commitment to buying local even more compelling. The 10% Campaign is sponsored by the Center for Environmental Farming Systems(CEFS) with support from Golden LEAF and North Carolina Cooperative Extension. Their aim is to get you and I, our neighbors and our neighboring businesses to pledge 10% of our food dollars locally. The logic behind it is 10% of the 35 billion a year spent on food would be 3.5 billion staying in your own community. It’s a no-brainer. Go to www.nc10percent.com and make your pledge. The campaign will keep up with you and track your progress. Your $1.05 per day effects change and as the pledges add up CEFS can make sure our voices in support of local agriculture are heard. I am certain if you are reading this post you are already spending 10% on local food. This is an easy way to multiply our impact.

Hello world!

Welcome to Early Girl Eatery’s website. While nothing replaces face to face interaction we are really excited to have a better way to communicate with our guests between visits. Early Girl turns 9 years old October 13, 2010. We want to thank each and every one of you that have helped us get this far. Your support feeds our souls and clothes our children. We hope the site answers many of your questions about us, our menu, our philosophy, and the community we are so proud to be part of. We welcome your feedback. What do you want to know?