Looking Glass Creamery: With North Carolina’s reputation as a wine-maker region already well-established, Jennifer Perkins is hoping to add cheese to the state’s collective menu. “I would love to see Asheville become the Napa Valley of cheese, with lots of thriving cheese makers specializing in different types of cheeses and dairy products,” enthuses Perkins, who recently launched Looking Glass Creamery in Fairview.
“We have a lot of great chevre cheeses, but it does seem like there’s a gap in that semi-soft cheese category,” says Perkins, assessing Western North Carolina’s existing cheese scene. “One thing I’m passionate about are the washed-rind and blooming-rind cheeses. I think they’ll be a really nice addition to local cheese plates.”
Perkins entered the cheese world about eight years ago, when she apprenticed on a goat dairy farm. She then took a job at the Biltmore Estate, which she hoped might add a creamery to its grounds. But, she says, “that didn’t come to fruition,” so she accepted the position of “sheep technician” at the ultra-ritzy Blackberry Farm in east Tennessee.
“I’d work all day and then go home at night and make cheese in my basement,” Perkins says. “It was a great opportunity. I really got an education in the artisanal side of cheese making. At that point, I decided I had to get out on my own.”
Each month, Looking Glass is currently producing about 50 pounds of chevre and feta, all made with North Carolina milk, with plans to significantly expand its offerings in the coming months.
Looking Glass cheese is available at Troyers Amish Market, Trout Lily Market, Newbridge Fruit Market East, Hickory Nut Gap Farm and Frisbees Grocery in Old Fort. Perkins is also planning to set up shop at tailgate markets in Black Mountain and Hendersonville this summer. For more information, call 458-0088.
Artisan Bread Festival: This weekend marks the return of Asheville’s Artisan Bread Bakers Festival, a full day of bread tasting and making, now in its fifth year. “Asheville and its surrounding area, with a very small population, supports more artisan bakeries than most states,” baker Peter Reinhardt writes in a press release. Reinhardt will be among the many highly acclaimed bread experts presenting at the festival: The lineup also includes Jeffery Yankellow, winner of the so-called “International Olympics of Baking”, Jennifer Lapidus, director of the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project and Emily Buehler, author of Bread Science: The Chemistry and Craft of Making Bread (Two Blue Books, 2006) Admission to the festival is free, but workshop attendance is limited to those bread lovers who purchase a loaf at the tasting hosted by Greenlife Grocery from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. To learn more, call 683-2902, or visit http://www.asapconnections.org/bread2009.html.
Scratch Becomes Nova: Well, scratch that: Eric Backer’s much-anticipated sequel to 28806 is getting a new name. The downtown restaurant, which opened late last year, will no longer be known as “Scratch,” thanks to a litigious South Carolinian. As Backer wrote in a recent e-newsletter, “We received a letter from an attorney in South Carolina informing me that their client has a trademark on the name ‘Scratch.’… We searched the internet and the NC Registry of businesses to clear Scratch, but did not check with the trademark office since we are just a humble little restaurant in Asheville!” That humble little restaurant will henceforth be known as nova (no caps, according to the release), a reference not to the cold-smoked salmon served on Sundays, but to new stars. “I find it fitting and fantastic!” Backer writes of the new moniker.