Foodies, get ready for a festival of flavor — and we really mean festival.
The WNC Magazine Asheville Wine and Food Festival Grand Tasting, to be held at the WNC Agricultural Center on August 14, is not your average food show. It looks, in fact, to be a bit of a party. Yes, the name's a mouthful, but with the big name comes a big-ticket show — and more than a helping of WNC flavor.
In my restaurant food-purchasing days, the words "food show" meant consuming samples in tiny paper cups reminiscent of what they serve pills in at the dentist. We’d show the food reps a little face time, fib about something we liked, then hurriedly retreat to the bar. The Grand Tasting here is an entirely different animal.
Imagine this scene (at least, this is what we’re imagining): A complementary shuttle stops at the Battery Park Book Exchange and Champagne Bar to whisk guests off to the WNC Agricultural Center in Arden. Upon arrival, ticket-holders step off of the shuttle to the sound of Asheville-based quirk-pop trio, Now You See Them, while chefs hand out slices of pizza, still hot from wood-fired brick ovens.
Newly acquired commemorative wine glass and tote bag in tow, already agog, guests head into a cool, air-conditioned building, redolent with smells like incense in a church of food. More than 75 wineries, local restaurants, food producers and other artisans preside over booths, laden with soft local goat cheeses, freshly baked breads, locally raised meats, fine wines and more, stationed on either side of wide, spacious aisles.
Everything is yours for the taking. As a matter of fact, says Bob Bowles, founder of the Asheville Wine and Food Festival as well as Slow Food Asheville, only prepackaged items like pastas, hot sauces, or wine by the bottle or case, will be for sale.
In the rear of the venue, two teams of chefs from well-known local restaurants scurry, sautee and battle it out, Iron Chef style, in front of a panel of likely snarky, well-fed judges.
Blue Ridge Food Ventures is there, too, with a pavilion of about 20 booths, showcasing products like Lusty Monk mustard and Uli Mana raw chocolates. "It's going to look like a huge bazaar of food," says Ayana Dusenberry, WNC Magazine marketing manager and festival co-organizer.
After eating, drinking, shopping and gawking to their heart's content, guests reluctantly board the awaiting shuttle and are whisked back to town.
That, ladies and gentlemen, is a food festival.
And the food and entertainment is all included in the $35 ticket price.
"There are massive amounts of wine and food for the money, actually," says Bowles. "I don't think we could fit any more vendors in. You'll be able to walk around for four hours eating if you want to," he says.
"All of these amazing food producers, restaurants and wineries in one room — you can't go wrong with those ingredients," adds Dusenberry.
"We're so excited about (the festival) being a celebration of the talent we have — not only the chefs, but the food producers and artisans — and the fact people really love to support (the food scene) here," says Dusenberry, adding that she has visions of our region becoming a culinary destination for people from around the world — and hopes that the Grand Tasting, as it grows, will become part of the culinary traditions of our area, as well.
Blue Ridge Food (ad)Ventures
Blue Ridge Food Ventures is Advantage West’s production facility, located in Enka-Candler. The facility,equipped with top-of-the-line packaging and cooking tools, has enabled a surprising amount of local food entrepreneurs to make their culinary dreams into reality. This year, BRFV has a large pavilion at the Asheville Wine and Food Festival Grand Tasting, where innovative local products like bamboo pickles from the Bamboo Ladies and Delicious French-style macaroons from Joli Macaron will be offered — the Biltmore Estate will be represented at the BRFV Pavillion as well, pairing their wines with the samples offered.
For more information, or to purchase tickets, visit wncmagazine.com/wineandfood/about
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