Top of the Monk bartender Nikki Anhalt, third from left, competed on Friday, July 18, in the national sidecar competition in New Orleans. In the end, the win went to Aaron Butler, second from left, of Jakewalk in Brooklyn, N.Y. Photo by Jonathan Ammons

Reports from Tales of the Cocktail: Asheville edged out by Brooklyn, N.Y. in national cocktail competition

On a rainy Friday afternoon in New Orleans, Louisiana, Asheville’s own Nicole Anhalt came in from the downpour to stake her claim in this year’s Sidecar by Merlet Cocktail Competition. Hosted annually at the country’s largest cocktail conference, Tales of the Cocktail, seven bartenders from across the country competed for a trip to the Merlet […]

Top of the Monk bartender Nicole Anhalt is competing in Merlet's sidecar cocktail competition at Tales of the Cocktail in New Orleans. Photo courtesy of Top of the Monk

Reports from Tales of the Cocktail: Asheville bartender competes in national sidecar competition

  Once a year, in the muggy heat of July, thousands of bartenders flock to New Orleans for the largest cocktail conference of the year, Tales of the Cocktail. It is estimated that this year 22,000 of the world’s finest craft cocktail nerds — including a healthy contingent from Asheville’s bar scene — have either […]

OUTSTANDING IN THEIR FIELD: Sunil Patel, left, and William Dissen, right, at Patchwork Farms' Pearson plot in Montford. The farmer and chef are both working to improve the local farm-to-table system. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Is farm-to-table working?

Farm-to-table agriculture has gone mainstream, but does it work as a sustainable model? Some local farmers and restaurateurs aren’t sure, even as they persist in trying. “Any good farming system has all the components of an actual ecosystem,” says Sunil Patel, who runs Urban Patchwork Farms, a progressive farming venture that seeks to develop inner-city […]

CUTTING TO THE CHASE: Joe Ervin of Neanderhogs Up in Smoke BBQ of Greer, S.C., prepares for battle in the 2014 Blue Ridge BBQ Festival competition. Photo by Cindy Kunst

No holds barred: Blue Ridge BBQ Festival sees both fierce and friendly competition

By the time we come down from the clouds that cling to the mountains, and pull into Tryon, the rain is hot on our heels on a Friday afternoon. Not good news for the 73 competition barbecue cookers that have come from as far away as Texas and Missouri to try their hand at yet another trophy, this time at the recent Blue Ridge BBQ & Music Festival.

Image courtesy of Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder

Seven Sows rolls out Saturday late-night menu

Beginning Saturday, June 21, Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder will host a weekly late-night eats, drinks and dance party. DJ Ghostface Kahlua will be spinning disco, funk and old-school hip hop, and the always-creative restaurant’s late-night menu will feature some rather adventurous options. Highlights  include cheddar funnel cake with foie gras gravy and crispy frog legs […]

12 Bones Smokehouse  Photo by Cindy Kunst

Smoky, smoky mountains: The changing face of North Carolina barbecue

“Write about the succulent glories of Tar Heel barbecue at one’s own peril,” advised Rosemary Roberts of the Greensboro News & Record, adding, “It’s much safer to take on the National Rifle Association.” Barbecue is North Carolina’s love, lust and food of choice. Heck, it might as well be our state religion. And if love, religion and food are the three most common causes of rifts, rivalries and wars, barbecue is also a battleground.

FROM THE GROUND UP: Sunil Patel, left, with Charlie Hodge, right, at a Patchwork Urban Farms plot and farm stand on Choctaw Road. Hodge plans to source ingredients for his new downtown cocktail bar from Patchwork. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Sovereign Remedies

Charlie Hodge is no stranger to the cocktail scene. After helping to open Chestnut and developing their beverage program, he went on to head the bar at Bull & Beggar, developing the popular Monday “Recession-Proof Mixology” nights that target service industry workers. And that doesn’t include his incredible track record having helped open the legendary Clyde Common in Oregon and helping to organize the Portland Bartenders Guild. His newest venture is a farm-to-bar cocktail joint called Sovereign Remedies, which began demolition last week on it’s tiny 800-square-foot space at the corner of Walnut and Market streets.

FOODtable_wine

Pushing the envelope

Running a wine shop isn’t easy. Margins are often surprisingly tight, something’s always breaking, vintages vary in quality, people’s tastes change constantly, and it can often seem impossible to compete with the prices in the big grocery chains that keep popping up all over town. A number of local wine shops have closed in the last few years, but Table Wine in South Asheville seems to be thriving.

FLYING BLIND: Sommelier Andy Hale of Metro Wines' Blind Tasting League says participating in blind tastings frees wine aficionados to experience different varieties without the burden of preconceived notions. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Out of sight

Blind Tasting League brings wine appreciation down to earth Currants, bramble and boysenberry are among many of the somewhat inaccessible descriptive terms I’ve heard tossed around at lofty wine tasting events over the years. The world of wine can be a bit pretentious, a trait that often leads would-be connoisseurs to settle for “critter wines” […]