Dear Asheville, NC, Chamber of Commerce,

I am writing to you today because I believe you have your priorities mixed up. I recently spent time in your fair town, and while I have plenty of fine things to say about your hippie sensibilities, the rugged beauty of your mountains, and your love for locally-sourced food and beer, I feel I must remind you that you are a proud city of the South, and not a facsimile of Burlington, Vermont.

Why do I bring this up? How could I question the unmissable southern-pride of any North Carolinian? Here, though, it’s not unmissable, on the contrary it’s quite missable. You do pronounce “Appalachian” with a long third a, not a short one. I’ll give you that.

I’ll cut to the chase. A major mainstay of Southern culture, the barbecue pit, takes many forms. In tiny, backwater towns, the best barbeque comes from nondescript shacks, gas stations, backyards. In large centers of commerce, like Asheville, the pit with the best ‘que is a meeting place, a point where Hospitality is exercised, a cultural agora in any Southern city.

And you hide 12 Bones Smokehouse all the way out in the the”River Arts District”, amid vacant buildings and hipster enclaves.
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Dear Morgan,

While your suggestion of the vegan soul food restaurant in DC was inspired, I’m afraid we didn’t make it. I mean, I really wanted to check out how a vegan mac and cheese could turn heads, but we went to the bar first and it was a losing battle from there on.

Our tour of your little corner of the district was pretty wonderful, really. For the few hours of daylight we had, we walked around Adams Morgan and decided the hype was justified. When night fell and the night scene rose we spotted Marvin on a map and hoofed it. Nice place, all in all, but on a Saturday night they pack ’em in like sardines. Read the rest of this entry »

Dear Chilly,

You’re a dear friend and your roast clam specials are exactly that. There’s no place I’d rather eat more, on the road or otherwise.

With love from Guilford, Connecticut,
Joe

P.S.
The Place
901 Boston Post Road
203-453-9276

$10 says it's vaughn. that's the price of two lobsters, mind you.

Dear Derek,

I hardly need to tell you this, Seniore Lappano, but in Italy, restaurants are typically divided into three categories. There are osteria, wine bars where the populous gathers to drink many small glasses of vino bianco o rosso and nibble on a variety of small snacks that, in Venice, are called cinchetti. Ristoranti represent the another extreme, with many attentive bow-tied waiters and white tablecloths.

The trattoria lies somewhere in between, banking on a culture of delicious rustic cuisine. Nowadays these lines are blurred by those trying to bank on tourists’ false connotations. There are some who come to Venice – and there are many who come to Venice – and expect Read the rest of this entry »