Small Bites

French Broad Food Co-Op: The French Broad Food Co-op (pictured) is testing locavores' cred with a national co-op program designed to stimulate interest in local food. "Eat Local, America!" is challenging eaters to create five meals a week from local products. Practiced locavores are being asked to localize four out of every five meals, or a full 80 percent of their diet. While there's no prize for completing the self-monitored contest, which runs through mid-August, co-op spokeswoman Kelly Fain reminds shoppers that local eating is "good for the economy, respectful of the environment and simply tastes better."

Photo by Jonathan Welch

The French Broad Food Co-op is supporting goal setters by clearly labeling locally sourced food and providing recipes. To sign up, visit the Co-op, 90 Biltmore Ave., or register online at www.eatlocalamerica.coop.

The Blackbird: A Southern-slanting gastropub is readying to open next month in the space previously occupied by the Highland Grill and Oyster Bar in Black Mountain.

"Our focus is very much on food," explains owner Roz Taubman, a pastry chef who most recently worked as a restaurant consultant in Napa Valley and moved to Western North Carolina to be closer to her children.

"We came to this region and we just realized Black Mountain could use a restaurant that had good wine, good beer and really, really good food," Taubman says. "We're bringing something fun and interesting."

Executive chef Bobby Buggia has crafted a regional menu with such Carolina-indebted dishes as sorghum-roasted piedmont chicken with charred corn succotash. Dessert will include fresh berry pies and cobblers.

"We feel it could be a destination," Taubman says of the restaurant, which she describes as a "new American tavern."

The Blackbird, 10 E. Market St., is slated to open for lunch and dinner everyday but Monday, with brunch served on Sunday. For more information, call 669-5556.

Stir Fry Café: South Asheville's Stir Fry Café shut down earlier this month, becoming the second original restaurant tenant to vacate the Meridian Place shopping complex since its opening last year. Like O'Naturals, which preceded it in closure, Stir Fry Café was the first North Carolina outlet of a small franchise. According to its corporate Web site, Stir Fry's four Tennessee locations remain open.

Slow Food Asheville: While Asheville's first-ever food and wine festival is still a year away, Asheville's Slow Food convivium, RiverLink, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and WNC Magazine have partnered to host a party next week supporting the planning. The event, billed as "An Evening by the River," will take place at the Asheville Outdoor Center along the French Broad River and include North Carolina wine tastings, local-food exhibits, music and a seminar on "How to Be Cool While Selecting Wines." Tickets to the Saturday, Aug. 8, get-together are $10, and can be purchased at www.slowfoodasheville.org.

A-B Tech Culinary Team: Members of the A-B Tech Culinary Team beat out a Pittsburgh contingent at the American Culinary Federation's national student team championships in Orlando earlier this month, but were bested by teams from Honolulu and Livonia, Mich. The A-B Tech'ers earned a silver medal for their four-course signature meal, finishing just 1.35 points off first place.

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