Small Bites

Not all foraged: Plenty of food will be available all weekend at the Firefly gathering. Photo courtesy of the Natalie Bogwalker

A pig secret

What do mystery supper clubs, feral pigs, musicians and world-class chefs have to do with one another? Michael Moore, the North Carolina native who founded Blind Pig Asheville, an “underground supper club,” is about to reveal the commonality of these elements.

Moore moved here from San Francisco in 2003, and has since organized a network of chefs and other talented friends around his vision of underground but upscale renegade dinners. “Lots of people are supporting the coordination of this. Everyone from chefs to musicians to DJs,” he says. “The Blind Pig entity is a lot of us, not just one of us.”

Moore and friends have created a series of bimonthly dinners involving a rotating cast of Asheville chefs. The debut dinner on July 31 will star The Admiral’s Drew Maykuth and Elliott Moss. Each dinner will be hosted at a different venue, announced to ticket holders the day of the event. The venue could be anywhere: a farm, a basement, an art museum or a barn. “That sort of adds to the mystique and the mystery,” Moore says. “It’s part of the show.”

And part of the show, at least for the debut dinner, is Lucky the Trapper. Lucky has been charged with the capture of the snapping turtles, nutria and feral N.C. pigs that The Admiral chefs will whip up for the 60-odd diners at the first undisclosed location.

The first dinner, says Moore, will be for adventurous carnivores only. “There’s not many supper clubs out there that have their own hunter/trapper/fisher that can forage things for these meals,” he says. In the future, however, there will be opportunities for vegetarians.

No matter what, says Moore, “We’re going to make our guests absolutely happy. Our whole premise is big on sustainability, big on food that’s wild and foraged and so forth, which should absorb into the food culture here perfectly,” he says.

Xpress will be present for the debut Blind Pig supper. We’ll bring you a full report. Reserve your seats for this and future events at blindpigofasheville.com.

Wild gathering

Want to camp, can wild fruits, gather mushrooms, make sauerkraut and maybe learn some archery, blacksmithing techniques and basic car repair, too? The Firefly Gathering, returning to the Asheville area this July, offers these activities in the arboreal setting of Camp Pinnacle. More than 100 classes focused on self-sufficiency and wilderness skills will be taught by about 50 experts in a wide array of fields. 

Natalie Bogwalker, one of the event’s many organizers, makes clothing out of hides; she prides herself on her extensive survival skills. The 32-year-old is one of the instructors at the gathering as well, joining wild foods expert and mushroom specialist Alan Muskat and forest cuisine advocate Zev Friedman. 

Roughly half of the classes are food-related, says Bogwalker. Primitive food preparation demonstrations, lessons in forest permaculture, seed preservation and fruit tree grafting presentations will all offer a perspective that extends well beyond the bulk bin.

"You could go to the Firefly Gathering and just take food classes the whole time, she says. "There are classes on canning and classes about making jerky." There will also be classes on how to cook with a Dutch oven, as well as over a campfire. Want to learn how to bow-hunt, then properly butcher and cook a deer? How about kill and dress your own chicken? This is your place.

The Firefly Gathering will offer classes on bow-hunting techniques and primitive trapping skills — and more benign-sounding skills like foraging — for those who really want to go back to the roots of food gathering. "It's really about going back to fundamental ways that enable people to live in harmony. One part of that is how we get our sustenance, and a big part of that has historically been meat." 

But with all of the hunting and hide-tanning going on, can the event seem a little intimidating to your average Jane or Joe? "I've heard of that," admits Bogwalker, "and I think it's really sad. There are people from all walks of life that come there. The age range is from zero to 85 years old." And participants, she says, range from the schoolmarmish to die-hard primitivists. "And politically, too, it's a full spectrum," she says. "It just appeals to people who are on the far left, the far right, and everywhere in between. It's a very welcoming scene."

Should you be afraid you'll be asked to don a loincloth and sleep in a teepee, don't worry, says Bogwalker. Camp Pinnacle offers cozy cabins with bathing facilities. Day passes are also available for people that don't want to spend the night.

The Firefly Gathering takes place from July 14 through 17, with post-camp intensives from July 19 through 22. For more information, visit fireflygathering.org or call 626-2618.

Finger lickin’

Table is introducing fried chicken suppers on Sundays in addition to their regular seasonal menu. The dinners are $20 a person and offer a little something different for both the customers and the staff.

"We'll start with traditional fried chicken with Southern sides," says Table chef/owner Jacob Sessoms. "Probably greens and biscuits and mac and cheese. Then every week, we'll change it, with a different chicken recipe with different pairings. It's going to start traditional Southern, and it will be a jumping board from there. Just like our food, it will change every Sunday, but it's always going to be fried chicken dressed somehow with two or three sides. We'll just keep it fun."

The first dinner will kick of with Sessoms’ honey-and-chili glazed chicken; the following week will feature co-chef Matt Dawes' fried chicken with Country Captain gravy, a Southern curry gravy. "And we'll match the sides to that, probably dirty rice and field peas."

The chickens will be from local farms, and special deals on wine pairings with the Sunday dinners will also be offered.

Table is located at 48 College St. in downtown Asheville. For more information, visit tableasheville.com.

— Send your food news to food@mountainx.com

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