It’s a perfectly pleasant Thursday evening without a cloud in the sky. My date and I are headed east on Interstate 40 with the sun just beginning to show up in my rearview mirror as we pull up to Foothills Farm and Butchery. We are here for a dinner hosted by Foothills’ Casey McKissick and the former Admiral legend, Chef Jeremy Hardcastle. Twice a month from July through October, the butcher shop cranks out a four-course ― and I use that term loosely ― meal for no more than 10 guests at a time, calling the dinner the Butcher’s Table.
Seated on the tiny patio of the butchery, we are greeted with a large butcher’s block holding enough charcuterie to feed a small army. Dry-cured salami, smoked beef sticks, kielbasa, spicy salami and rosemary-apple ham are all piled on in intimidating portions ― all made in-house by Hardcastle. Alongside the meats are some locally made baguettes and crackers as well as cheeses from local craftsmen Looking Glass Creamery and English Farmstead Cheese. Everything on the block is local, organic and pasture-raised. The first course alone is worth the dinner’s $60 ticket price.
Next comes an even larger platter loaded down with a chilled pork tenderloin and a rustic heirloom tomato tart with bacon and aioli. Large deviled ― yes, deviled ― Scotch eggs dot the perimeter of the oversized plate. The dinner is served family-style, and we all dig in. After each course, we leave about a quarter of our bacchanalian feast, as no mortal could possibly consume all of the gracious portions.
By the time the main course is served, I’m loosening my belt. Women shift awkwardly in their seats, tugging at their dresses to make a little space for the onslaught of meat that the menu predicts will follow. I have declined beer and opted to brown-bag a bottle of wine instead, having participated in enough massive tastings to know that beer only fills you up and often prevents you from reaching that final course.
And then there it is. Requiring two people to carry it out is a butcher’s block piled with every cut of meat imaginable. There are no words, nor is there justification, for the unbelievably decadent spread that is laid before us; a thousand years of penance and hail marys would not justify this unholy manifestation of absolute gluttony. But we all eagerly, willingly, even joyfully dig in; accomplices in a great crime.
Pork chops are piled high next to pork belly, pork skirt steak and a little bratwurst ― and that’s just the pig products. Next there’s tri-tip and ribeye alongside a healthy serving of filet mignon ― again, all local, all sustainably raised, and most importantly, all delicious.
But that’s not all we get for this main course. We are also given a giant dish of a mysterious “Fairy Tale Eggplant Panzanella” as well as a huge preparation of roasted beets, fried bologna and petite greens with a bologna vinaigrette. An equally unnecessary but welcomed dessert follows: fresh, local blueberries and cream sponge cake with a devilishly good bacon-peanut brittle that tastes exactly as good as it sounds.
Only seven Butcher’s Table dinners remain, and at $60 per ticket, it may be quite foolish to pass up on this extremely rare opportunity to experience what could easily be one of the best meals in Asheville. Not only is it hosted by Casey McKissick, one of the kings of local and sustainably raised meats, but the food is prepared by one of Asheville’s favorite rogue chefs, Jeremy Hardcastle, who will personally serve you some of his best work.
There is an old Hawaiian proverb that states, “We do not eat until we are full, we eat until we are tired.” I suggest applying this pearl of wisdom, enjoying some artisinal WNC goods, and returning to your couch to slowly, slowly sink into a most pleasant local-food coma.
The remaining Butcher’s Table dinners will be held at Foothills Farm and Butchery, 1196 Old U.S. Highway 70 in Black Mountain, on Aug. 7 and 21, Sept. 4 and 18, and Oct. 2, 16 and 30. For more information or to RSVP, email Casey@foothillslocalmeats.com or call 669-8200.