SECRET INGREDIENT: The 100 percent black Angus burgers at The Social are "cooked with love," says co-owner Clarissa Marshall, right. She is pictured with her husband, co-owner and chef Ryan Marshall. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Burger warriors: The Social takes on WNC Battle of the Burger challengers

Burgers are serious business in WNC — for both chefs and diners — and this weekend’s inaugural Battle of the Burger promises some stiff competition for the title of Best Burger in WNC. Among a diverse field of challengers ranging from the Farm to Fender food truck to downtown cocktail lounge The Vault, a little East Asheville bar and grill, The Social, is planning to bring their A-game to the event on Sunday, Aug. 10.

CAMPING OUT: Festival-goers line up at brewers' tents in advance of the 1 p.m. start time for sampling. Photo by Thom O'Hearn

Disney World for beer lovers: Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America event

Sierra Nevada is famous for its high quality and consistency. Over decades the company has established a legendary reputation by thinking ahead and troubleshooting any potential problem in advance. The brewers are masters of controlling every variable. So perhaps it’s no surprise that when the company put on one of the largest beer festivals ever […]

COOKING WITH CONFIDENCE: Making sure employees are ServSafe-certified "makes me more confident in my crew, myself as a chef and the food we serve," says Amy Lawson, chef at Nine Mile West. Photo by Alicia Funderburk

Safety first: Local restaurants team up with Goodwill for food-safety training

With 109 food-poisoning cases in Buncombe County in 2013 — and probably more that went unreported — Goodwill Industries of Northwest North Carolina has teamed up with the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association to train local workers and certify them through the national ServSafe program. “Making people sick is bad business, and you can definitely take measures […]

SMALL WORLD: Urban Café co-owner and chef Brooke Souhail, right. incorporates influences from Morocco, Europe and India into her menu. Also pictured are co-owners Simo Berzem, left, and Sam Souhail, center. Not pictured is Amanda Berzem. Photo by Alicia Funderburk

Urban Café: Tiny space, big flavors

An imaginative and affordable breakfast and lunch spot opened downtown early this month on the ground floor of the BB&T building on Pack Square. Situated in the tiny venue previously occupied by The Sandwich Company, Urban Café packs a globe-spanning range of bold flavor combinations into a compact kitchen and dining area — and offers them at what are almost fast-food prices.

Keeping swimming: Aquaponics is creating quite the stir — literally! The systems keep water flowing between symbiotic environments of plant and fish habitats, creating a year-round farm. Photo by Hayley Benton.

Technology and nature blend in soil-less farming

It’s a cycle known as aquaponics, which uses dual-tanked plant-and-fish habitats to create a symbiotic environment and a sustainable system that mimics the natural world. One tank holds the fish; the other, the plants. A pump flows water between the two, aerating the water in the process. Along with hydroponics — a similar idea that focuses solely on raising vegetation — it’s a creating an alternative to traditional in-soil farming.

Early Girl Eatery owners Julie and John Stehling are pictured with Southern Living food critic Morgan Murphy, center, during Murphy's recent visit to their Wall Street restaurant. Photo courtesy of Early girl Eatery

Southern Living food critic visits Early Girl Eatery

Southern Living food critic, author and television personality Morgan Murphy visited Asheville on Sunday, July 13, with the mission of sampling two specific menu items at Wall Street’s Early Girl Eatery: the Early Girl benny and the local sausage and sweet-potato scramble. “I am constantly searching the South for the most inventive and creative fare — and hot […]

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 […]