Small Bites

More tapas!

A traditional Spanish tapas bar "with modern touches" is coming to Asheville. The new restaurant, Cúrate, will be located at 11 Biltmore Ave. — where the Asheville Area Arts Council’s Front Gallery used to be, before the organization sold the building. It’s set to open sometime in the early fall.

Belly up to the bar: The FBFC’s new 100 percent organic spread adds yet another option for a quick, healthy lunch in downtown Asheville. Photo by Jonathan Welch

Cúrate is the brainchild of Heirloom Hospitality, a family group that includes Katie Button.

In the midst of working for a PhD in neuroscience, after graduating from Cornell University with a degree in chemical and bio-molecular engineering, Button took up a job at Minibar in D.C., falling in love with food, as well as her future husband, Felix Meana.

Button and Meana both worked at El Bulli, a well-known Michelin three-star restaurant in Spain, as well as the Bazaar by Jose Andres, located in Los Angeles. Button works her magic in the kitchen, while Meana works his in the dining room.

Rounding out the group are Katie's parents, Liz and Tom Button. Liz has extensive restaurant and catering experience, while Tom is a former pilot.

Xpress intends to keep an eye on the progress of Curaté. For now, what we know is that the tapas bar will have an atmosphere that "will be casual, warm, inviting and energetic, with an outstanding level of food and service."

For more information, visit heirloomhg.com.

Fungus among us: Alan Muskat will lead a wild mushroom foraging class next month, which will culminate in a mushroom feast at The Market Place. Photo courtesy of Alan Muskat

French Broad Food Co-op serves up a fresh new salad bar

The French Broad Food Co-op now features the "only salad bar in town with 100 percent organic produce," according to a sign posted in the market — although at $7.99 a pound, it may not the cheapest. Xpress recently stopped by to check out the spread to find out if it was worth a visit.

The FBFC salad bar includes a rather nice array — especially considering its size — of strictly vegetarian goods. Nearly wedged into a corner, it would be easy to miss. It would be a shame to skip it, though.

A well-rounded meal — mesclun mix with sprouts, topped with Annie's sesame-shiitake dressing, plus a scoop of hummus, some quinoa salad, a bit of seaweed salad and some fresh crudite for dipping — came out to $7.17 with tax. The verdict? Fresh and worth the money.

Other items on the bar include lemon-pepper baked tofu, edamame salad, beet salad, local hard-boiled eggs and an assortment of seeds and nuts. A selection of Divina Mediterranean fare is also offered — think dolmas, marinated white beans and olives.

Next to the salad station sit two churning machines, nearly identical to the gas station variety that turn out wild, unnaturally colored slushies. These, however, dispense decidedly more earthy frozen drinks — think organic yerba mate and raspberry-lemonade. A couple of nearby press-pots hold organic coffee as well, and a small selection of pastries is available.

The French Broad Food Co-op is located at 90 Biltmore Avenue in downtown Asheville. For more information, visit frenchbroadfood.coop.

In the Market for mushrooms

"Nature's finest fungi are back," says William Dissen, chef and owner of The Market Place restaurant on Wall Street in downtown Asheville. Dissen, in collaboration with Alan Muskat, aka the "Mushroom Man," will host a wild mushroom dinner on Wednesday, August 4, to showcase the amazing fungal assortment indigenous to this area.

In the morning, Muskat will lead a walk through the woods, during which participants will learn to how to identify — and gather — local edible mushrooms. In the evening, the mushroom hunters will have the chance to enjoy a four-course dinner showcasing some of the best fungus that our area has to offer — including the catches of the day. "Alan is such a vivacious guy," says Dissen. "This should be a really fun event."

"We want to teach people more about the micro-climate we have in Asheville … It's supposed to be a pretty solid year for fungus," says Dissen. "And Alan's the man when it comes to mushrooms."

The courses served at the post-walk dinner will include a lobster mushroom bisque with a grilled lobster mushroom and chevre crouton, as well as a grilled venison sirloin with painted bolete mushrooms. An interesting dessert course will feature a coffee crème brulée spiked with the chaga mushroom.

"Chaga is almost like a truffle — it grows underground," explains Dissen. "It's a hard mushroom; you can grind it and make coffee out of it, and it's known for calming the symptoms of cancer."

The entire event seems a bargain at $75, including the guided mushroom hunt as well as the dinner. Additional — and optional — wine pairings will cost $25.

A longer workshop is offered the following weekend for those who wish to further explore the subject of mushroom foraging.

For more information, visit marketplace-restaurant.com, or alanmuskat.com. To make reservations, call The Market Place directly at 252-4162, or use the restaurant's online reservation system.

Sandwiches!

The Jackson Underground Cafe, located in the Jackson Building at 22 South Pack Square, now delivers to most of the downtown Asheville area during lunch time hours — 11:30 a.m. until 2:30 p.m. — on weekdays. The service is entirely free, and the minimum for delivery is only $6. All of the items on the menu, except for the breakfast sandwiches, are available for delivery.

Xpress suggests the "Move Over Reuben," with corned beef, Vidalia onion relish and Muenster on rye for $6.49.

For more information, visit jacksonundergroundcafe.com, or call 255-8585.

Blackbird flies on Sundays

The Blackbird Cafe, a modern but comfortable southern-American restaurant in Black Mountain, is now open for its “Sunday Suppers” series. The restaurant now serves "down-home comfort food," from the hours of 5 p.m. until 7 p.m., every Sunday night.

The menu is peppered with old-time Southern staples like buttermilk-fried chicken, macaroni and smoked cheese, fresh local farm vegetables, cobbler and more.

The Blackbird Cafe is located at 10 East Market Street in the Cheshire Village area of Black Mountain. For more information, visit theblackbirdrestaurant.com.

Send your food news to Mackensy Lunsford at food@mountainx.com.

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