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.

APPROACHABLE ART: This vegan, gluten-free sweet potato and mushroom manicotti is among the elegant-but-not-intimidating items on Chef James Lumley's menu at Vue 1913.  Photo by Cindy Kunst

Post-tablecloth dining at Vue 1913

It is a crystal-clear day when I take my seat in the dining room at Grove Park Inn’s new Vue 1913, a more casual take on farm-to-table dining than the venue’s previous installment, Horizons. I’ve come here for a chef’s tasting, and the fact that the inn even has a chef’s tasting is a good sign that, despite having a burger on the menu, there might be a little more fine dining going on here than meets the eye.

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 brings his cocktail wizardry down to earth with a farm-to-bar venture

Charlie Hodge is no stranger to the cocktail scene. After helping to open Chestnut and developing its beverage program, he went on to head the bar at Bull & Beggar. His newest venture is a farm-to-bar cocktail joint called Sovereign Remedies, which began demolition last week on its tiny 800-square-foot space at the corner of Walnut and Market streets.

COD-FREE: The focus of King James Public House, say Chef Steven Goff, left, and owner Peter Slamp, right, is to provide a meeting place that serves locally sourced fare. Guests, they say, will not find cod on the menu. Photo by Jayson Im

Packed to the (trout) gills

The highly anticipated King James Public House opened this winter on Charlotte Street to a jam-packed house, and the crowd didn’t die down for several weeks. The tiny, 45-seat restaurant and bar from Zambra owner Peter Slamp has seen lines out the door for considerably longer than the usual honeymoon period of a new restaurant.

THE ANTI-YELP: Jamie Fedele has designed his new online restaurant guide to be everything he says Urbanspoon and Yelp are not. Photo courtesy of Lucky Fork

What the fork?

Jamie Fedele hates Yelp. Not because of any bad reviews he’s suffered, just the overall concept. Fedele moved to Asheville in December, and his new Web project, Lucky Fork, aims to make sites like Urbanspoon and Yelp a thing of the past.