Wing War Profile: Chef Joseph Allen from City Billiards

20 Jul

Joseph Allen: Photography by Jackson Stahl


By Precious Barksdale

July 19, 2011

There’s a new chef in town and he’s with the latest chill spot in downtown Asheville, City Billiards. Joseph Allen is a man of innovative and creative cuisine. Although a native from Tallahassee Florida, the 22-year-old has lived in Asheville for 17 years. City Billiards opened its doors three weeks ago and just last week Joseph was invited to represent the restaurant in the Wing War competition promoted by Lush Life Today.

“I’m really excited about competing against people who have been in the restaurant business for years,” Joseph said. “I know we will go against some good competition.”

Competitors invited to the Wing War competition were East Village, Ed Boudreaux’s Bayou Bar-B-Que, Universal Joint, The Yacht Club and many other restaurants. Joseph entered his Smokey Mountain wings into the competition which he says creates a good mixture of spicy and sweet flavor.

When eating Joseph’s wings, they start with a candied yet savory kick in your mouth. For one moment you think his wings will leave you gasping for water, but all of a sudden the combined flavors balance out into a comfortable satisfaction.

“I think my wings will stand out just because of the fact that they’re so different,” Joseph said. “It’s like a sweet and spicy flavor explosion in your mouth and people’s first reaction to it is wow because it’s edge is its first initial reaction.”

The Wing War competition began last Saturday at 6PM and ended with musical acts until 11PM. Lush Life Today also brought free pizza and bread sticks from last years winners of the Pizza War competition. Free wings and beer came in addition to the $10-12 admission fee.

“I’m just happy to gain the experience of being in the Wing War competition,” Joseph said. “Even if I don’t win, I think this will bring City Billiards and myself exposure.” “What if some awesome guy tried my wings one day and says he wants to bottle my sauce?”

Joseph’s a young guy and only time will determine his progression and expansion in culinary arts. Although City Billiards did not win this years Wing War competition, Joseph seemed content with the end result.

“It would’ve been nice to win the competition, but like I said in the beginning, I’m just glad to be given a chance,” Joseph said. “I’ve been cooking for 8 years now and I want to be successful in the future.”

Kon-Tiki at The Wedge

28 May

By Precious Barksdale


Hank and Lora: Photography by Jackson Stahl

The beautiful full moon rests within a bed of plush white clouds over the sparkled midnight sky. A white stream of moonlight beams over the ocean as the calm breeze gently moves the waves back and forth.

In a Polynesian paradise, coconut trees lean over the sandy island with bamboo torches lit in every corner. Grass hula skirts and colorful lei necklaces cover the Hawaiian women with flowing hair. Each dancer moves in unison to the soothing sounds of Kon-tiki!

Although Kon-tiki is the Norwegian raft led by explorer, Thor Heyerdahl, it is also the name of Asheville’s local Hawaiian swing band.

The ladies of Kon-tiki, Lora (Lo-Lo) Pendleton and Lin (Ling-Ling) Llewellyn both wear delicate pink and white flowers in their golden blond hair. Lora plays the bass rhythm as her hips sway side to side. Lin plays a red electric ukulele as smooth as butter and with ease.

The men of Kon-tiki, Hank Bones and Russ Wilson give the band a unique Oceana feel. Hank often wears Hawaiian shirts and a Panama hat while playing his steel and acoustic guitars. Russ’s signature look is with his vintage cat eye sunglasses, also worn by Lin and Lora, plays the cymbals and bongos.

Russ and Lin: Photography by Jackson Stahl

The best aspect of this tropical getaway with Hula dancers, lovely couples and the beautiful scenery is the melodic voices of the Kon-tiki band. The sound of alto, soprano and baritone vocals surround the island atmosphere. Each member sings together in microphones similar to a doo wop band of the 50s.

This eventful night ends at the Tiki bar where Hank, Lin, Russ and Lora sit with their backs to the ocean and facing me at the bar. “Aloha,” I say to them. “Aloha,” they all respond. I deliver the band a round of Mai Tai drinks in coconut shells with a cherry, slice of pineapple and paper umbrella.

This beautiful fantastical night of Hawaiian swing music reminds me of a moment in time I never experienced, the 50s and 60s. Kon-tiki takes me back to a magical moment in time.

To see some of the pictures taken by our amazing LushLifeToday Photographer Jackson Stahl, visit our Facebook Page, become a fan, and tag yourself!

To see my website visit


Caravan of Thieves at Grey Eagle

23 May

Left to Right :Benjamin, Carrie, Fuzz and Brian

By Precious Barksdale

Imagine yourself on a rapid wooden bandwagon brushing through the winter branches and bushes into a forest. It’s 18th century America and the evening sky is foggy, blue and pale white. Behind you on the wagon is a gypsy jazz and acoustic band. You’re followed by an angry mob of ringmasters, jugglers, unicyclists and clowns running after you with fire torches. You sit in front of the wagon and somehow manage to lead the two horses in front of you. The band continues to play vigorously on the wagon with their stolen instruments as if nothing is happening. Perhaps they stole the instruments from the circus band? You don’t know and don’t ask.

As you look back, the angry circus mob gets closer. The music from the band intensifies, especially the violin player, Benjamin leans forward deeper into his violin so much that he almost falls off the wagon. The sound of the horses quick hoofs on the frozen ground match the sound of the mahogany upright bass played by Brian. Suddenly, two voices sing together in a soft melodramatic manner. Carrie and Fuzz also strum their blue and rosewood acoustic guitars while sitting on the floor of the wagon and strumming their fingers faster than ever before. Their music slows in tempo as the circus mob falls further behind. The wagon slows down with the music and stops. The musicians get off of the wagon and continue to play softly. A hungry pack of wolves emerge from the fog and surround the wagon. Everyone outside of the wagon jumps back in and you lead the horses quickly into the opposite direction.

Now the wolves run behind you and the band begins to play hastily. This time they ditch their instruments and grab metal pots, pans and wooden spoons and drum with each other. In the meantime you see a huge cliff in front of you. The horses decide to make a huge jump into the air as Carrie and Fuzz voices escalate higher and higher in pitch. The horses reach the other side of the dirt cliff and continuously move. You finally lose the wolf pack and slow down again. Once the night grows darker, you stop the wagon and build a fire under a tall oak tree. Ben, Brian, Carrie and Fuzz soon reunite with their instruments and slowly play you and themselves to sleep. You suddenly wake up and realize you’re at the Grey Eagle music venue. You look up and watch the same band you led to safety in the winter forest on stage. The Caravan of Thieves, is what they call themselves. The musicians play just as vigorously as you remember. They make snake sounds to the crowd, sing, clap and ask the audience to participate. The night was one you never dreamt before. You close your eyes and savor the moment. Remembering that we’re all a bunch of freaks.

To see some of the pictures taken by our amazing LushLifeToday Photographer Jackson Stahl, visit our Facebook Page, become a fan, and tag yourself!

A Saturday at Sunny Point Cafe

22 May

Sunny Point Cafe: Plain Jane French Toast

By Precious Barksdale


One of the best breakfast’s I’ve ever tasted resembles my afternoon at Sunny Point Cafe last Saturday. The food fit the description of KFC’s slogan, finger-licking good! KFC is definitely not up to par with this cafe’s standards and believe me, there is no comparison. Hands down, Sunny Point Cafe had some of the best food I’ve had in a long time.

One thing I will always remember about this cafe is their wonderful customer service by my waitress, Ivy Yenawine. Ivy was very helpful, patient and tentative to my table. I have to admit the cafe seemed very busy, but surprisingly it was a short wait. Once I sat down, I felt completely welcomed.

Although I wanted everything on the breakfast menu because it looked so delicious, I decided to go with the Plain Jane French Toast that came with fresh fruit and maple syrup. The toast didn’t originally come with a side, but I couldn’t pass up the maple black pepper bacon on the menu because its mere description sounded too tasty. When my french toast finally arrived it was on a warm white platter. Four thick french toast halves cut diagonally, slightly toasted, buttered and sprinkled in powdered sugar. Ummm!!! My mouth waters just thinking about it.

The french toast was far from a Plain Jane due to its beautiful characteristics. I definitely want to re-live the moment when I put that soft sweet french toast bite into my mouth for the first time. Wow! What a taste! My now favorite french toast was garnished in fresh-cut fruit. Oh the variety! Sweet pineapple, bananas, watermelon, grapefruit, black berries and strawberries. For a moment I felt as if I were at a tropical resort cafe.

Sunny Point Cafe: Maple Black Pepper Bacon

Alright folks! Get ready to experience the description of the best free-range bacon I’ve ever tasted. Sunny Point must have marinated their bacon in black pepper and maple syrup for hours because I’ve never seen bacon so sticky. Sticky goodness is what I would call this bacon on the menu. Although I’d like to have more than four slices of bacon, better yet an entire chunk, I was definitely satisfied.

Check out Sunny Point Cafe for a taste you won’t forget.

Downtown After Five

21 May

Asheville Horns: Photography by Jackson Stahl

By Precious Barksdale


On Friday, Downtown After Five took a deep dive into a fun family atmosphere. Familiar faces, ice cream cones and beer filled the humid air as young children danced with balloon swords to the cheerful music. Live sounds came from the funky jazz band, Asheville Horns and the Cajun style band, Bayou Diesel. The musicians swayed side to side with their horns, accordions and guitars. Drummers from both bands expressed their own creative drum combinations while the crowd yelled for more. Mothers danced with their children and couples with each other on Lexington and Broadway street until the night ended at 9PM.

Parents also bought balloon dogs and princess hats for their kids from the talented pink and green Balloon Fairy, Marcie McGrath. Not to mention the creative  face painting by the fantastic and Funtastic Face Painter, Lesley Barkett.

For the most part, adults enjoyed the delicious beer variety from Pisgah, Highland, Green Man and many other local breweries. The food ranged from Brixx Woodfire pizza, Rosetta’s Kitchen to the Jerusalem Garden Cafe. An endless variety I must say.

Overall, the night was a great event for family, friends and loved ones.

To see some of the pictures taken at Downtown After Five by our amazing LushLifeToday Photographer Jackson Stahl, visit our Facebook Page, become a fan, and tag yourself!

Women dancing in the street at Downtown After Five

Photography by Jackson Stahl

Veg-Heads: Fresh, Healthy & Yummy Fast Food.

18 May

By Contributing Writer,Vegangrrlie: A luscious vegan grrl, writer, and mama with a weakness for chocolate, Tex-mex and a good drink.

The Mountain Burger from Veg Heads

Every day I drove by the growing Veg Heads drive-thru, I drooled in anticipation of healthy veggie fast food – the stuff my dreams were made of. Let me recall for a moment countless dashes through the airport, trying to veganize my suroundings to little avail and the disapointment of my waistline, and numerous lengthy roadtrips with nothing but granola, nuts and any produce I could remember to pack. Its not easy traveling as a vegan, especially as an on-the-go mom with a budding food snob in the backseat and my ever-hungry 30-year old husband as a passenger. So Veg Heads, I have high hopes for your national expansion. The truth however, will be in the food, and I waited patiently for many months to find out if there was hope for such a market.

The Friday after their quiet opening, Blondesided and I took a trip through their drivethru. The menu was still being scribbled on bits of what looked like construction paper, but the service was friendly and fast, and the food was abundant. Their selection of vegan and vegetarian fair did not disapoint this hungry vegan girl. Deciding to fall back on the drive-thru classic, I opted for their mountain burger (lentil-based vegan burger), and allowed myself to be tempted by the interesting black bean brownie to end the meal.

I would not have guessed the Mountain Burger was made from lentils unless I had asked (OK, I would have guessed that, but not for another 2 hours. Oh the downsides of being a vegan). The patty was moist and flavorful, served on a plump whole wheat bun with sprouts, tomato and green leaf lettuce. Blondesided grabbed an avocado hummus wrap, which looked like veggie heaven wrapped in a thick pita-esque white wrap. Both meals were rounded out with sweet potato chips and a pickle.

We ate on the miniature patio, rushing against a looming thunderstorm, but taking our time to savor each bite of the unexpectedly delicious black bean brownie. The black beans added a smoother texture to the brownie, making it moist without begging the debate about whether or not the brownie was cooked enough. I didn’t taste the black beans against the chocolate of the brownie, but they did reduce the power of the chocolate taste, making it a mild, smooth flavor. Delicious and satisfying. I’m pretending they were vegan, even though I am not sure. I have an insane weakness for chocolate that is in constant battle with my vegan ethics.

It remains to be seen whether or not there will be a market for the healthy vegetarian fast food, but Veg-Heads is certainly off to a great start, and I would not be disappointed to see them stationed on the side of every highway and in every airport. Move over McDonalds, there’s a new fast food in town.

An Amazing Night at Mo Daddy’s

17 May

Paulie: Photo by Jackson Stahl

By Precious Barksdale

Spicy chicken-strips, waffles and Paulie created an interesting and fun combination tonight at Mo Daddy’s. Tonight was a night filled with cold beer, funky music and an amazing environment. Paulie who told me to call him “Dr. Know” is a regular at this joint and told me everything there is to know about the bar. He carried around realistic hazel eye balls and held one up on his beer. Paulie then said, “would you keep an eye on my beer?” Paulie kept me smiling and laughing the entire night with his jokes, pictures of his pink pet monkeys and his superman wallet made out of recycled plastic. One joke of his sounded a little something like this (although some of you may have heard it before).”Why did the Sour Patch decide to go to college?” The answer was because he wanted to become a Smartie. The joke may sound corny to you, but I found it pretty clever. “Laugh out Loud!” In the meantime, the dim lights stirred a melodic and soulful mood within the bar. Women danced with each other and some men in front of the neon blue, green and red stage. The reflection of the neon lights lit up the crowd’s faces like a Christmas tree.

Laylah: Photo by Jackson Stahl

Oh, and how could I forget to mention the awesome service by our very polite waitress and bartender, Kevin and Laylah. Kevin assisted everyone at the bar with beer and cocktails and walked back and forth through the kitchen the entire night. Laylah also served Jackson and I a delicious plate of waffles furnished with spicy chicken strips. The waffles also came with a side of honey syrup and a tall glass of beer. Umm, umm, umm!  Chicken and waffles are the new and perfect late night meal.  Order it without hesitation and the pleasure will be all yours!

To see some of the pictures taken by our amazing LushLifeToday Photographer Jackson Stahl, visit our Facebook Page, become a fan, and tag yourself!

Photos by Jackson Stahl  www.


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