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 […]

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 […]

The Beer Camp Across America 12-pack features some of the country's best brewers, from Bell's and Russian River to New Glarus and Ballast Point.

Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp 12-packs land in Asheville

Unless you’ve been living under a rock, chances are you already know all about Sierra Nevada’s Beer Camp Across America. In short, the brewery has invited every craft brewer in the nation to a massive road trip across the United States. They’re starting in Chico, Calif., the site of the original Sierra Nevada brewery, on Friday, July 18, and ending in Mills River where the new facility is slated to come online on Sunday, Aug. 3.