Small Bites

Cupcakes for a cause: These coffee-stout cupcake, from the French Broad Chocolate Lounge, were stars at last year’s Cupcakes for Cures. Photo courtesy of Eric R. Howell

Cupcakes for cures

Eat cupcakes for a good cause? Yes, please! Cupcakes for Cures returns to the Grove Park Inn on Saturday, March 26. It's a cupcake lover's dream — a frosting-scented ballroom stuffed to the gills with the tiny creations of professional bakers competing for prizes and recognition. Amateurs and kids can get into the action as well, often to surprisingly good results. I know — last year as a judge I tried them all, and I will return as judge again this year.

The categories for this contest are just as fun as you would expect for a cupcake competition — there’s the best cocktail- or beer-inspired cupcake, best retro cupcake and best local-foods cupcake, to name a few.

All of the money raised by Cupcakes for Cures goes to support the American Cancer Society’s efforts to find cures for cancer.

Laurey Masterton, a cancer survivor and the owner of Laurey’s Catering and Gourmet To-Go, also returns this year as a judge for the event. “Cupcakes for Cures is a fun way of tackling a serious subject," says Masterton. "I am a survivor and am happy to celebrate that fact. And, as an ovarian-cancer survivor, I strongly advocate for more research money going to discovering an early warning test for this often undiagnosed cancer. My best hope would be that we could make cupcakes just to eat them, but while cancer is still a challenge, making and eating them to support cancer prevention and survivorship is a fine thing.”

Event tickets can be reserved for a $25 suggested donation at cupcakesforcures.com, or by calling 337-5136.

Eat your words!

On Friday, April l, Asheville BookWorks invites you to eat your words. The Edible Book Festival is an annual world-wide event held in celebration of books and food. Participants in the event make edible books; past local entries include "The Book of Kale" and "Alice in Wonderbread.” Categories include Most Pun-derful, Young Edible Book Artist, Most Gorgeous and Best in Show.

Interested? Here's how it works: create and bring a piece of edible art (related to books) to the festival. It can be a pun on a title, refer to a scene or character, look like a book (or paper, scroll, etc.), or just have something to do with books. Whatever the inspiration, it must be edible. If you are interpreting a particular book, bring a copy of it to display alongside your masterpiece.

Appropriately enough, the edible book event takes place on the birthday of French gastronome Jean-Anthelme Brillat-Savarin (1755-1826), the author of Physiologie du Goût (Physiology of Taste).

To get involved, register before March 30 by e-mailing gallery@ashevillebookworks.com. The Festival takes place at 5:30 until 8:30 p.m. at Asheville BookWorks at 28 1/2 Haywood Road. For more information, call 282-255-8444. Please note, warn the organizers, that all books will be eaten at 7 p.m. Admission is free for those bringing entries and $5 for those without entries.

Sweet as Tupelo Honey

Tupelo Honey Café, with the help of Elizabeth Sims, recently released its first cookbook: Tupelo Honey Café: Spirited Recipes From Asheville’s New South Kitchen. The book is available at both locations of the restaurant: 12 College St. and 1829 Hendersonville Road. Pre-sale orders totaled more than 800 copies.

The book includes 125 recipes from the restaurant’s executive chef, Brian Sonoskus, as well as photographs of Asheville, past and present. Written by Elizabeth Sims, a longtime Asheville resident and past president of the Southern Foodways Alliance, the cookbook benefits MANNA FoodBank as well as Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project when sold locally.

“The book is something of a love letter to Asheville,” says Sims, “as well as a snapshot of Tupelo Honey and its staff. The restaurant in many ways is a microcosm of the city, synonymous with creativity, free-spiritedness and whimsy.”

Book signings — and tastings — will be held at Malaprop’s Friday, April 8 at 7 p.m. and at Accent on Books at 6 p.m. on Sunday, April 10. The book will also be sold at the Asheville Convention and Visitors Bureau, where Sonoskus and his staff will be serving samples of Tupelo Honey fare each Friday and Saturday from through October. For more information, visit tupelohoneycafe.com.

Quick Bites

Bouchon Street Food has changed its name to Crêperie Bouchon. It does make sense, considering that the crêperie is not on the street. Now that Cats and Dawgs has closed, we have to recommend the chien chaud as the best hot dog deal currently in town — a house-made dog in a baguette with Bouchon frîtes for $5. Also, the tiny shop turns out a smoked ham and cheese crêpe for only $5.

On Wednesday, March 23, Crêperie Bouchon is featuring a four-course Mediterranean wine dinner utilizing some of the great offerings from our local fishmonger, Blue Water Seafood. Four courses and four wines costs $45 per person, gratuity not included. Dinner begins at 7 p.m.

Crêperie Bouchon is located in the Lexington Avenue Courtyard next to Bouchon (access through the alley). Reservations are being taken at 350-3741. For more information, visit creperiebouchon.com.

Speaking of hot dogs, Hardcastle Handmade Hot Dogs, primarily only available late weekend nights at the Admiral in West Asheville (and more recently the Arcade bar, too) has applied for a downtown street vending permit. If all goes well, Hardcastle’s hot dogs could be available on the sidewalk near the Grove Arcade as early as mid-March.

A self-serve yogurt shop called YoLo Frozen Yogurt Lounge is opening on Merrimon Avenue in the space that The Hop used to occupy. Who gets excited about yogurt? Well, if you’ve ever spent any time messing around with self-serve ice cream bars at places like Ryan's Family Steakhouse as a kid, you know the joy.

YoLo is a similar concept, but slightly grown up. All of the yogurt is self-serve, with flavors like raspberry-pomegranate and lavender. There’s also a full toppings bar, with add-ons like berries, kiwi, nuts and granola. Don't want to grow up? Have no fear, there will be sprinkles.

And finally, not only did the new Spanish tapas bar, Cúrate, open to a great reception (the restaurant had to stop taking reservations on its first night open to the public), it opened with the help of world-renowned chef José Andrés, who had quite a bit of fun visiting with the locals, it appeared.

Andrés is widely credited with bringing the concept of tapas to the U.S., and it was more than a pleasure to watch the chef hand-carve slices of luscious jamón ibérico de bellota, an acorn-fed ham imported from Spain. He also spent part of the invite-only soft opening trying to convince the gathered patrons to accept a swig from a porrón, a traditional Catalonian pitcher that looks like a cross between a wine decanter and a watering can.

Menu items included gambas al ajillo, an assortment of Spanish cheese, imported olives, patatas bravas, pan con tomate and other classic tapas. The flavors are straightforward yet subtle, the atmosphere is fun and lively and the wine list is great. Also, don’t skip the cava sangria — it’s light, fruity and refreshing without being too sweet.

As an aside, Andrés visited 12 Bones for lunch while he was here. He told Xpress that he’ll be back to Asheville soon. For more information about Cúrate, visit curatetapasbar.com.

— Mackensy Lunsford can be reached at food@mountainx.com or 251-1333, ext. 107.

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