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Meet Asheville CurEater East Fork Pottery

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When we choose our CurEaters, we not only look for great chefs and bartenders, we also look for creatives and artisan craft-makers in a community. Founded by Alex Matisse and Connie Matisse in 2010, East Fork Pottery was one of our first artisan CurEaters. This month they celebrated the one-year anniversary of their brick-and-mortar, so we thought it was hight time we introduce you. *Huge thanks to Connie Matisse for taking the time to give us so much detail!*

What inspired you to create East Fork Pottery?

I moved to Madison County in 2008, after the financial crisis and my first real, big girl breakup sent me packing my bags and heading out of New York City with no plans.  I took a job doing seasonal work on a goat farm and met Alex while I was selling cheese at the Mars Hill Holiday Market in the basement of an antique store.  He’d just bought the little house and property at the end of Ras Grooms Road and had big plans to start a pottery.  I had no idea what “starting a pottery” meant, but I was in love and I didn’t care.

east fork pottery, asheville, visit asheville, north carolina pottery, pottery, matisseHow long has Alex been honing his craft/art?

Alex has been working with clay since he was six – he’s never bothered messing with any other mediums. East Fork Pottery was something that’d been developing within him for a long, long time, inspired both by his affinity for clay and for his desire to put some distance between himself and the big, tough-to-get-out-from-under shadows cast by Henri Matisse and his legacy.  Now, with Alex, John and I each bringing our own skillsets, personal histories, and interests to the mix, East Fork Pottery has become a dynamic, complicated, ever-morphing organism with a mission of bringing beautiful, lasting dinnerware to the table.

east fork pottery, asheville, visit asheville, north carolina pottery, pottery, matisseWho was your biggest influence?

Definitely can’t narrow this down to one! Alex and John set on this path largely because of the potter’s they trained under: Matt Jones, Mark Hewitt, and Daniel Johnston.  Now, though, we draw influence from everywhere.  Alex has his hand on the pulse of modern luxury e-commerce brands, John’s got his nose deep in finance books, and a lot of my influence comes from the fashion world, growing up in Los Angeles – a big, diverse, global city – and the fact that my own family placed high value on hospitality social justice, and community engagement.

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How does it feel knowing people are eating off East Fork pottery plates at restaurants in Asheville?

It feels amazing! Especially amazing since the restaurants that use our dinnerware are all places that we love, run by people we love.  People come into the store after eating at Cúrate or Gan Shan or Table and say, “We found you because we just couldn’t help but turn over our plates to see who made them.” I just love that.

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Speaking of restaurants, when Steve approached you about CurEat, what were your initial thoughts about CurEat?

I thought CurEat was a genius idea.  I’d actually just had a terrible experience with Yelp, trying to get them to change the East Fork Pottery listing from “Paint Your Own Pottery” to “Home Decor”, so when Steve told me about CurEat, I was grateful for a reason to never have to go on Yelp again. Social Media is such a weird, complicated space, and CurEat makes it so that you can take dining advice from people who’ve already earned your trust.

Out of all your CurEat lists, which list would you say is your favorite?

I most often point people to my “7am to 1am in Asheville” list.  We have so many great places to eat in Asheville, but most of my favorites get very little press coverage.  I love to invite people visiting Asheville to eat where the chefs eat.

How would you describe your palate?

With any meal, I’m always seeking balance: I like rich, fatty red meat cut with bright, light, high-acid red wine and a bitter green salad. Spicy foods tempered with sweetness, like in Thai and Korean cuisines (sweet meats!). And I love really well-executed, classic French and Italian country cooking. 

east fork pottery, asheville, visit asheville, north carolina pottery, pottery, matisse, cúrate asheville, katie button

Coffee or cocktail?

No offense meant to all my craft cocktail friends out there, but the only cocktails I really mess with are Negronis, Margaritas, and Martinis – classics get classic for a reason! But I’ll drink wine 9.5 out of 10 times.  I start my day with a big mug of Hu-Kwa with milk and honey, a black tea smoked over pine from imported by the Mark T Wendell Company (we sell it at eastforkpottery.com – wink, wink)

As an artist, who do you admire in the food community in Asheville or in general?

I really admire my friend Jacob Sessoms, who opened Table in 2005 and has stuck hard to his commitment to local produce and a seasonal menu before it became trendy. I just had the pleasure of meeting Jana Gravner, a winemaker in Friuli making some of the most interesting experimental wines, all aged in clay amphora.  I think everyone thinking of opening a restaurant – or any business – should eat at Gramercy Tavern and listen to everything Danny Meyer has to say about treating your customers with dignity and graciousness.  And Pete Wells, restaurant critic at the NY Times, is a genius.

east fork pottery, asheville, visit asheville, north carolina pottery, pottery, matisse, cúrate asheville, katie button

If someone had to choose one restaurant from your Asheville list, which one would you recommend?

Cucina 24.  The chef-owner, Brian Canipelli, is terrible at self-promotion (sorry, Brian. You know it’s true), but his food is just so mature and beautiful.  He’s so good at vegetales. All the pasta is made in house and is always perfectly toothsome, sauced with a considerate hand. The bulk of the produce he uses is grown by our friend and farmer, Evan Chender, who grows the most exquisite food – all sorts of lesser known herbs, almost extinct varieties of radicchio and treviso, etc.  And everything is served on East Fork.

What was your favorite meal growing up?

Most people who know me know that my mom, Terrie Coady, is never not throwing a party.  She’s an incredible cook and can make anything.  But every year on my birthday I asked for the same thing: stuffed manicotti with red sauce and a whole lotta cheese.

 

 

CurEat 101: How to Share Lists with Friends

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We’ve all received and sent a text to our friends asking, “Yo, what’s your favorite places to eat in {insert city}? I’ll be there next week!” Are we right, or are we right? If we had to guess, we’ve spent at least a year of our lives typing out our favorite bars and restaurants. Don’t get us wrong, we are flattered to be the go-to foodies of our friends; however, when you have favorite eateries in 20 different cities, it’s hard to manage the memory. So, this is one of many reasons why CurEat exists – to help you organize and share your recs.

Sharing with CurEat is so easy that we sometimes find it less complicated than making scrambled eggs (there really is an art to it, though)! The first thing you do is download CurEat, which is available for iOS and Android. Once you’ve downloaded you have the option to make a profile or skip to search. Well, we highly suggest you make a profile. Take ownership. Put up a cool pic of yourself. Then start listing.

If you already have a profile and a few lists, then sharing with that friend who is traveling to, let’s say Malibu, is a cake walk. Find your Malibu list (or a Malibu list that you have bookmarked), and move your finger to the box and arrow at the top right of the screen. Click it. Once you’ve taken .00002 seconds to click, the sharing options box will float up from the bottom of your phone screen. Choose the text option, type your friend’s name into the contact field, and press send. Boom. Your friend will have to download the CurEat, but it’s totally worth it because they can return the favor when you travel and are in need of a good restaurant that’s not a chain.

Stop loafing around, it’s National Sandwich Month

National Sandwich Month

Forgive the bad pun, but we had to do something to get your attention.  If you’re like us down here in the South, August really isn’t your favorite month.  It’s hot, like really hot, and not to mention humid.  And, well, August usually means back to school and summer’s end.  But, we now have our silver lining — it’s National Sandwich Month!

Now before you go out and order your favorite sando, first a little history lesson.  According to the experts (yes, there are sandwich experts) the official written use of the English word “sandwich” dates back to 18th Century England and was named after eighteenth-century aristocrat John Montagu, the 4th Earl of Sandwich. The word first appeared in a journal owned by Edward Gibbon referring to a “sandwich” as “bits of cold meat”.

Sandwiches officially debuted in American cookbooks in the early 19th Century with avant garde fillings like fruit, shellfish, nuts and mushrooms. By the end of the 19th century, sandwiches were everywhere with many of them earning their own names like the “club sandwich”, the “BLT” and  the“Reuben”.  Things really took off in the late 1920’s with John May's definitive Durham Sando listGustav Papendick’s invention that made  it possible to slice and package bread.  Sandwich lovers were finally free to concoct their sandwiches as they pleased.

Today sandwiches are everywhere, in almost every country.  There’s the Philly Cheesesteak, the Cubano, the Croque Monsieur, the Falafel and the Shawarma.  Then there’s the South’s almighty tomato sandwich. (The Bitter Southerner shows us the proper way to make the Southern staple.) We could list sandwiches all day, but we want you to go out and welcome National Sandwich Month at your favorite sando shop. Need help finding one? CurEaters like Piedmont Durham’s John May have made lists of the best sandwich shops in their community.

Are you an authority of sandwiches shops? Download CurEat, make a profile and create a list of favorite sammy shops.

Hot Diggety Dog it’s National Hot Dog Month

July is National Hot Dog Month

July is National Hot Dog Month, which means we have an excuse to eat hot dogs for breakfast, lunch and dinner.  Ok I know what you are thinking, hot dogs, really?  And to that we say yes, really.  Who doesn’t love a hot dog?!

Now, it’s time for a few, fun facts. Did you know that the National Hot Dog and Sausage Council estimates that over seven billion hot dogs will be eaten by Americans between Memorial Day and Labor Day. That is with a “B” for billion. During the July 4th weekend alone (the biggest hot-dog holiday of the year), an estimated 155 million are downed each year. That’s an aggressive amount of franks.

Best hogs in the CarolinasFor those curious, the term “hot dog” has been linked to the sports cartoonist Tad Dorgan. According to the history books in 1901, vendors began selling hot dachshund sausages in rolls at a baseball game the Polo Grounds in New York.  Dorgan was in the press box and could hear the vendors yelling, “Get your dachshund sausages while they’re red hot!” From that he sketched a cartoon depicting the scene but wasn’t sure how to spell “dachshund” so instead he called them, “hot dogs.”

So, now you must be asking where can I get the best hot dogs.  That’s where have you covered.

CurEater Robert Donovan has 3 CurEat lists to inspire your hot dog journey this month with over 60 of his favorite spots. If you’re in North Carolina, you’ll want to reference his “Carolina Hot Dogs” and “Old School NC Hot Dogs” lists. Traveling to the Windy City? Robert has a “Chicago Dogs” list that will be your best friend. Hot dogs aren’t limited to N.C. and Chicago, and we know there are hidden gems around the U.S. We challenge you to make and share lists of the best hot dog joints in your city and state. Now, go forth and eat as many hot dogs as you can.

Where will you be eating on July 4th, give us a shout and let us know…

The holiday weekend is upon us and we at CurEat know that planning your culinary excursions can be tough especially at the last minute. That’s where we can help out.  We take on the heavy lifting with plenty of lists and locations to choose from.

Planning a NC beach escape over the holiday.  Find and follow Chana Lynn of Raleigh What’s Up Blog.  Her Wilmington list is spot on.

How about SC beaches?  Check out Justin’s Amick’s Edisto list:

Heading north instead, follow Terry Fox and check out his Providence and Beyond list:

Is the West Coast calling your name….track down Felicia Trujillo for her Santa Monica / Brentwood, CA list.

Or Ashley Christensen for her San Francisco, California list.

Whatever you are in the mood for or whatever city you are in, we have you covered.  And to top it all off, we will even map it out for you.  Don’t forget to give us a shout on Twitter and Instagram and let us know your holiday plans!

Big shout out to one of our faves

NC Food and Beverage Podcast

At CurEat it’s clear we love all things that are independent, local and have to do with food.  So it is no surprise we are huge fans of Max Trujillo, Matthew Weiss and their NC Food & Beverage Podcast.  We listen on our walks, our runs, our drives to and from the office, any chance we get (Quick disclaimer here: we are sponsors of the app).  And if you have downloaded it you know why.  If you have not had the chance yet, download it now…seriously don’t wait, click here to download and listen.

Max Trujillo and Matthew Weiss are both veterans of the hospitality industry and they use that along with their personalities to create an unbelievable auditory experience that will make you immediately hungry. Each new episode is release on Thursday and runs about hour.  So far they are up to episode 39 and with the holiday weekend coming up you have plenty of time to catch up.

It’s a great mix of the food and beverage world.  Their past guests have included Henk Schuitemaker (Angus Barn’s wine director), G. Patel owner of Echelon Experience and the founder of Larry’s Coffee, Larry Larsen.  Not to mention CureEaters Mattie Beason, who owns Black Twig Cider House and Mattie B’s Public House, Craig Rudewicz the founder of Crude Bitters, Piedmont restaurant’s Chef John May and Chef Cheetie Kumar of Garland.

While we give you the opportunity to find independently owned and operated restaurants, bars and bakeries, the NC Food & Beverage Podcast gives you the opportunity to learn more about North Carolina chefs, bartenders and bakers.  We are excited to see what they have in store as they bring on more guests from beyond the Triangle to share the North Carolina’s food story.