Small Bites

Indoor Tailgate Market: Recognizing that the best incentive to buy local food—at least in February—is a warm, dry place to shop, Appalachian Vintner has introduced a weekly indoor “tailgate” market. The new South Asheville beer-and-wine shop partnered with the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project to launch the indoor market, featuring honey, trout, cheese and other Western North Carolina-made products. “Giving these farms an additional platform to showcase their products is a true blessing, especially during the winter,” store co-owner Geoff Alexander wrote in an e-mail announcing the project. The tailgate market is held on Saturdays from 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and is always followed by a free wine tasting. For more information, call 505-7500.

Charleston Oyster Fest: The Lobster Trap’s executive chef was slightly off his previous shucking pace in this year’s edition of the Charleston Oyster Festival Shucking Contest, but he still managed to outshuck 40 other contestants to claim a repeat victory. Tres Hundertmark last year opened 69 oysters in three minutes; this year, he tallied 44. “The Lavaca Bay oysters this year were a tad brittle, and had much tighter hinges than the oysters we had last year,” he explained in a release. Three other Lobster Trap staffers finished in the top 10, with Hundertmark’s teenaged son Kat finishing fifth.

Ikebana International: The Asheville chapter of Ikebana International, a cultural organization dedicated to the Japanese art of flower arranging, is sponsoring a Japanese tea ceremony at the Folk Art Center this week. The ceremony, which revolves around the preparation of green tea by a kimono-clad host, is scheduled for Tuesday, Feb. 24, at 10 a.m. To learn more, call 669-6946.

O’Naturals: Asheville seemed like the ideal fit for O’Naturals, an all-natural fast-casual franchise dreamed up by Gary Hirshberg, founder of organic-yogurt giant Stonyfield Farm. But the Asheville outlet folded last month, following the lead of failed O’Naturals in Portsmouth and Orlando. “My comment is, ‘It’s closed,’” senior communications manager Carmelle Druchniak said when reached by phone. She referred all questions to franchise owner Clary McCall, who did not return a call from Xpress.

Hoopers Creek Cafe: Farther south, another eatery announced its closure this month: Hoopers Creek Café in Fletcher will serve its last meals on Feb. 28. Café owner Priscilla Brackett writes: “My landlord has given me such short notice that I won’t be able to tell all my customers in person that I will be closing soon.” Hoopers Creek opened three years ago with the motto “good homemade food.” Brackett says she plans to continue serving her biscuits and gravy at a once-a-month breakfast at the Hoopers Creek Community Building, beginning March 7. For more information, call 650-0285.

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