24 November 2009

Hot Bacon Dressing

Another Pastabilities Special -- Listen closely as the waitress describes the "Hot Bacon Dressing".

20 November 2009


I saw this drawing on a bathroom mirror at one of the colleges at which I teach.

19 November 2009

The Pastabilities are Endless

Friend Joey and I visited Pastabilities, a suspiciously and conspicuously empty restaurant near my house in Asheville (Haywood Rd, West Asheville, near Taqueria Gonzalez). We went, to be sure, as something of a joke (note my tee shirt that I designed for the occasion), on a "mandate". Beth and the ladies went to one of my favorite restaurants in town, a Spanish tapas bar called "Zambra". As we walked to the restaurant, psyching ourselves up for the event, we admitted to eachother that we were both a bit jealous of the meal they were about to enjoy.

I must say, however, that I was, for the most part, pleasantly surprised by the place. The pasta and the chicken pargmigiana were exactly what I expected (pretty boring, very American), though even I was surprised and excited by certain things. Who, for instance, would have guessed that one could choose what kind of sauce they wanted on a dish like a chicken parmigiana? I could have chosen meat sauce (bizarre) or a butter garlic sauce (gross) instead of the normal tomato sauce. I was also a bit surprised by the fact that the chicken in the parmigiana was pre-cut (do they think me unable to cut my own food?). The pre-made and chilled salad, however, was pretty much what I had thought it would be, and left me thinking of hospitals and other clinical establishments.

The three cheese white pizza, however, with sausage and tomato added, was pretty good. It was garlicky and thin-crusted and cut into tiny little pieces. The service was great (except for at the end, when the waitress disappeared and I had to go find her to get a check) and the bottle of chianti (in a wicker basket) that we ordered went down pretty, pretty, pretty smooth....

Overall, I had a fine experience at Pastabilities, and while the pasta was pretty limp and the chicken was pretty mediocre, I certainly don't agree with the review offered by "Sneeze12" on the TripAdvisor website, who wrote:

"this is a horrible restaurant. i went there and it took the waitress 10 minutes before i even got a menu. i even saw a bug crwl across the floor! when i got my food it was still frozen in the middle. My husband said it looked like the cooks threw our dinner on the floor and put it back on the plate. DONT EAT AT PASTABILITIES!!!"

And, to be sure, when dining at Pastabilities, one is paying homage to an older way of life in West Asheville, and recognizing the efforts of earlier entrepeneurs, before the fancier places starting opening up on our side of town. So I, for one, will return to Pastabilities for sure, to enjoy some more pizza, a cold beer, a maybe even some of the live music that they feature every Thursday. According to our waitress, the music isn't "just country". The live musician also plays some other "southern rock" tunes such as Lynrd Skynrd. I wouldn't want to miss it.

18 November 2009

16 November 2009

Marbled Cups

Beth enjoying a cappuccino in one of the beautiful mugs she made for the Clingman Cafe. Contact Pancho if interested in buying one similar.

Pies in Disguise

An explanation of the rather random picture from a few posts ago of a man holding a cup:

About a month ago, yearning for inspiration and needing to carve a design of some sort into a recently made clay cup (my main method of decorating pottery is a method called "sgraffito", in which one scrapes away at a layer of clay, ink, glaze, etc. to reveal a differently colored clay beneath), I opened a copy of the Mountain Xpress. The Mountain Xpress, you may remember from earlier posts, is the premier arts and entertainment newspaper in Western North Carolina (I think that's their tag line). My band has featured in the paper recently as a winner of a number of the 2009 "Best of WNC" awards....I digress.....

In said paper, I stumbled upon a picture of a couple holding pies. They were the new proprietors of a company called "Pies in Disguise". Ben, the male member of the couple (he's with Eliza, the pie maker) had a great smile and a huge beard, and I immediately began to carve his likeness into my cup. Lo and behold, the image came out amazingly -- Ben looked like Ben! I could hardly believe it....

Ben in the Mountain Xpress, photo by Jonathan Welch

So, time passed, and I would occasionally look at the cup and chuckle, thinking that maybe some serendipitious occurence would lead to Ben stumbling upon his cup, saying "Damn! That's me!" I could imagine the scene, and it made me laugh every time I did so...

More time passed, and I opened a different local publication to once again find Ben and Eliza smiling at me. I decided to take matters into my own hands, and I wrote an email to the couple, explaining that I had made a cup with Ben's face on it, that I would love for them to see it, that I wasn't a total freak. I mentioned my wife a few times in the email so that Ben wouldn't think that I was some sort of weird stalker or something of the sort.

Ben with the Cup

More time passed...a few days and no reply from Ben. I then saw a girl who it turns out knows Ben, who told me two important details. First, Ben wanted the cup! Second, he didn't think that I was a freak. I then got an email from Ben himself, that said something like "I want the cup. Don't sell my face!"

And then, finally, on Saturday, I met Ben and Eliza, and I presented Ben with his cup, which he loved...I charged them in pies instead of cash and they went on their way, enjoying....

The moment of meeting them and watching cup and man meet was very inspiring and very funny, so please stay tuned, as I think that I may be extending this idea further in the near future....

Check out their pies at www.piesindisguise.com

The Pies in Disguise Logo

15 November 2009

Such delicious Indian food...such stern faces...

14 November 2009

The Pie Guy

Ben, of the Asheville based company, Pies In Disguise, holding the mug I made with his face on it.

I'll explain more later.

10 November 2009

Peein' on the Fire

An old gentleman I work with (sort of -- we work at the same institution, but I've only seen him for the first time today, in a communal office) just got up from him desk, put on his hat, and walked toward the door. On his way to the door, he mumbled something unintelligible (I heard only "mumble, mumble, go home....").

I stopped what I was doing and asked, "What's that now?" (Living down South, it's sometimes nice to throw the word "now" on the end of a sentence.)

"Let's pee on the fire and head on home," he said.

"Sounds like a good idea," I said.

"Only thing to do now," he replied, and walked out the door to face the rain and the coming darkness.

03 November 2009

Skeletons in Sicily

I've been sketching and etching a whole lot of skeletons lately, and I've been thinking back to some bizarre things that I've seen in my travels. In particular, I've been thinking about Italy, which is strange, since most of my inspiration for skulls and skeletons and the like comes from Mexico.

That said, some of the most macabre stuff I've seen has been in Italy, namely in Capuchin crypts. Capuchin monks are the monks that inspired the name of the delightful beverage "cappuccino" (either from the color of their robes or the looks of their strangely shaved heads). Capuchin monks are a type of Franciscan (from St. Francis). They are, to be sure, quite obsessed with death, or at least healthily interested in death, and they show this interest in varied and interesting ways.

The first show of this deathly interest that I saw was at Palermo, Sicily. I visted the Capuchin Convent there, where one can visit the downstairs crypts, which are replete with skeletons (some still with body hair) in full view, and in varying states of preservation. In most cases, the viewer is separated only by a thin sheet of chicken wire. One of the most shocking parts of the crypts, however, is a 2-year old girl that is nearly perfectly preserved. The method used for this preservation was a mystery until recently. You can see pictures of this place at this National Geographic site.

I have also visted the Capuchin crypts in Rome, which I have written about here before. You can see that post right here.

Look below to see some of my skull decorations...(By the way, 5 or 6 of them have sold, though I don't have a record of which, so if anyone would like to purchase one, contact me and we'll figure out if I have what you need. Thanks!)