Land-ho! Crossing the roiling oceans of Bele Chere festivalgoers is enough to give any otherwise smooth sailor a cmajor ase of seasickness. You can keep your mind off the nausea with games like count-the-mulleted-shirtless-guys or find-the-baby-stroller-holding-the-beer-stash. Failing that, head straight for the Taste of Asheville, a landlubber's oasis in a vast expanse of crazytown.
A locals-only island, The Taste of Asheville is a place where unrecognizable meat-on-a-stick and giant barbecued legs of what could easily be pterodactyl are relegated to the borders. Here be the place to cool down with Rita's Ice and Ultimate Ice Cream Company who will provide frozen treats alongside Nick's Lemonade. Speaking of frozen treats, The Green Sage will serve a selection of fruit-filled ice-pops, including flavors like ginger-piña colada, mango-chili-lime and strawberry-basil.
Not enough to shiver your timbers? Mela will serve the exotic flavors of India's far-off climes, as will Chai Pani, whose streetwise concept translates perfectly to festival food. Chai Pani owner Meherwan Irani, for his part, promises to serve tandoori Ashley Farms chicken on a stick (should your festival experience be nothing without rations speared on a skewer). He'll also dish out two sandwiches: the sloppy Jai, the vegetarian cousin to the sloppy Joe, and the pav bhaji. "It's the ultimate veggie burger," says Irani, "with squash, zucchini, corn, potatoes, sweet potatoes and tomatoes cooked down on a hot griddle with ghee (clarified butter).” Both sandwiches will be served on toasted sweet buns.
And you can bet your sweet buns that Barley's Taproom and Pizzeria will offer a great place to cool the jets with a pint of grog just a wee bit off the beaten Bele Chere path. We also bet that it will be more crowded than the first “massage parlor” on shore after a month at sea. Stop by the Barley's festival booth for a slice, without having to wait for the beer wench to serve it to you. Not a fan of pizza? Barley's will also offer lemonade and black bean hummus, presumably for the vegans among ye.
Speaking of vegans, Rosetta's Kitchen will send their own meat-eschewing punk pirates to dish out plenty of flesh-free fare. These vegetarians look tough enough to make you walk the plank.
Avast ye, those that don't nibble on carrots like rabbits! There's plenty of meat for you at the Taste of Asheville. Luckily for you, this isn't the Lord of the Flies. ED Boudreaux's Bayou Bar-B-Que will serve piggy that's pre-wrassled, hogtied and smoked, requiring only the effort it takes to lift bun to mouth. Frankie Bones will also offer barbecued pork, served up with homemade baked beans and cornbread.
For food that reminds us of dinners served by the beautiful ladies of Cozumel serve (mixed with a fair share of what those California freaks seem to favor), stop by the booths of Boca, Mamacita's or Neo Burrito. Yar, why don't they change the name of this food court to burrito-ville?
The Corner Kitchen, Home Grown and Vincenzo's will also be on hand, serving their own unique tastes of Asheville (Home Grown for one will have duck tacos). But no matter which vendor you visit on this journey of flavors, we can say one thing is for sure: whatever you come across, you can bet your booty it's going to be leagues better than hardtack.
The Taste of Asheville is located near the Vance Monument and will be in operation throughout Bele Chere.
Taste of Asheville vendors:
Barley's Taproom & Pizzeria
Chai Pani (Indian)
ED Boudreaux's Bayou Bar-B-Que
Frankie Bones of Asheville (Italian-American)
Home Grown (local/seasonal)
Mela Indian Restaurant
Nick's (sandwiches, burgers)
Rita's Ice (Italian ice)
Rosetta's Kitchen (vegetarian)
The Corner Kitchen (Southern)
The Green Sage (frozen fruit pops)
Ultimate Ice Cream Company