SMALL BITES

CREAM OF THE CROP: Plant chef Jason Sellers’ nondairy frozen desserts are now available in stores across the U.S. under the Amy’s Kitchen brand. Photo by Nathan Metcalf

The nondairy, frozen-dessert virtuosity of Plant Chef Jason Sellers is no longer accessible only to those who are lucky enough to be able to swing by his Merrimon Avenue restaurant for a pint. National organic convenience food brand Amy's Kitchen recently introduced a new line of vegan-certified ice creams based on Sellers' locally popular recipes.

The story is that one day last year the niece of Amy's Kitchen co-founder Rachel Berliner stopped in for a meal at Plant on her honeymoon and was so blown away by Sellers' coconut milk-based ice cream that she convinced Amy's to market the dessert. After working extensively with Sellers on developing his recipes for mass production, Amy's has rolled out four flavors nationwide — chocolate, vanilla, mint chocolate chip and mocha chocolate chip.

“We are playing to the classics at this point,” says Sellers of the company's choice of introductory flavors. “ We are not going out on a limb yet; we're starting simple.”  But Sellers, who is known for dishing out adventurous varieties at Plant, says other flavors will certainly follow. He says the next move could be a fruit flavor, like strawberry or perhaps an “over-the-top chocolate” or salted caramel.

At around $6.99 per pint, the Amy's brand version is at the high end of the frozen-dessert price range, but Sellers says you get what you pay for. The ice cream, he says, is made with strictly premium, fresh ingredients and doesn't incorporate ice crystals or air in the mix like cheaper brands, thus allowing for an extremely silky, rich consistency.

“We really didn't set out to make a mediocre ice cream,” says Sellers. “We wanted to make an amazing ice cream.”

The Plant-inspired Amy's Kitchen-brand ice creams can be found locally at Earth Fare and Greenlife.

Valentine's Day dinner at The Venue

Marta Bodenhorst, owner and event planner at The Venue, has put together the downtown event space's first Valentine's Day dinner. The event will feature a cocktail hour with appetizers, a four-course meal prepared by Chef Steve Boeger and musical entertainment by members of the Asheville Symphony Orchestra. Those who want to spring for a little extra fun can add an invitation package for $15 that includes a wine-bottle vase with three red roses and a personalized invitation. For another $25, The Venue staff will deliver it.

The event starts at 6 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14 at The Venue, 21 N. Market St. Tickets are $150 per couple. Cocktail attire is recommended; black tie is optional. For reservations call 252-1101, ext. 305, or email corporate@ashevillevenue.com.

More wok

Chef Elliott Moss' Asian-themed Monday evening pop-up effort, Punk Wok, is now taking over Tuesdays as well. The once-a-week event at Wall Street late-night spot MG Road was so wildly popular that, according to owner Meherwan Irani, food was running out too early, so it made sense to add another night. MG Road will continue to open in its original incarnation Wednesday-Saturday and will be closed on Sundays.

Punk Wok hosted a culinary throw-down last month between Moss and Chef Angus Brown of Atlanta's Octopus Bar. Irani says similar events can be expected in the future, including a meet-up with Atlanta celebrity chef Allen Suh sometime in March. A date has yet to be decided.

New wine shop offers classes, parties

Joni's Artisanal Wine & Beer, the new wine shop in Biltmore Park, has added beer and wine classes on Tuesday evenings, as well as private wine-tasting parties. Classes are priced according to what type of wine or beer owner Jodi Mahaffey-Rauschenbach is featuring, and spaces must be reserved in advance. For Valentine's Day, Joni's is partnering with neighboring shop Blossoms at Biltmore Park to offer flower and wine gift baskets. Jodi's is open 11 a.m.-7 p.m. Tuesday-Thursday. 11 a.m.-8 p.m. Friday and Saturday and noon-5 p.m. Sundays. It is closed on Monday.

8 Towne Plaza, Biltmore Park, Suite 100; 749-9698; www.carolinawineexpert.com

Birthday events at Dough

Merrimon Avenue bakery and market Dough is celebrating its first year in business this week with five days of food promotions and cooking events. The week kicks off Wednesday, Feb. 12 with free coffee and $1 doughnuts all day. Chef Brian Ross will do a free lunchtime cooking demonstration on how to make pasta from scratch at noon on Thursday, Feb. 13 followed by free cookies and Farm to Home milk for kids 2-5 p.m. Friday, Feb. 14, will feature a Valentine's Day chocolate truffle tasting and demonstration. Saturday, Feb. 15, will bring all-day samples of wine, cheese bread and house-smoked meats, and Sunday, Feb. 16, will feature a French-toast Birthday Brunch. Throughout the week, Dough will feature pizza creations from the winners of its recent Top Our Pizza Contest.

Hours are 8 a.m.-7 p.m. Monday-Friday, 8 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. 575-9444 or Www.doughasheville.com

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About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at gsmith@mountainx.com.

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