Small Bites

Buddha Bagels: Aaron Hunt, owner of the newly opened Buddha Bagels, admits that some customers have wondered why he’d name a restaurant specializing in quintessential on-the-go urban food after an icon of serenity and enlightenment. “There’s been some controversy,” Hunt says. “But we’re in Asheville;  we’re an alternative community. We can change it up like that, right?”

Hunt, who also runs Mystic Journeys, the New Age-y shop next door, took over the bagel shop at 333 Merrimon Ave. from New York Bagel about three months ago. “We needed to shift the energy a little bit,” explains Hunt, who immediately embarked on a redecorating campaign. “It’s not battleship gray anymore: We have some great yummy colors. It’s very Asheville.” But the spiritual cleansing hasn’t extended to the menu, which Hunt has retained and expanded: The restaurant still serves homemade bagels and Boar’s Head meats (“that’s super-important,” Hunt says with an emphasis surely appreciated by homesick Northeasterners), and has added elaborate sandwiches.

Buddha Bagels is open Monday-Saturday, 7 a.m.-7 p.m. and Sunday 7 a.m.-6 p.m. Take-out orders may be placed via fax or online, and Blue Ridge to Go is handling delivery. For more information, call 254-2345.

Swannanoa 4-H Educational Center: Asheville’s Slow Food convivium recently met with representatives of the Swannanoa 4-H Educational Center to discuss plans for the construction of a teaching kitchen. The state legislature has allocated funds for the kitchen, which is being designed to serve campers and the greater community. To learn more about the project, contact Neil Thomas at rdi@resourcedata.net.

Get Buzzed At Local Coffehouses: “Now you can get hyper and drunk,” says Izzy’s Coffee Den staffer Bridget Miller, explaining the appeal of the downtown café‘s new beer-and-coffee concoctions. Izzy’s recently added a slate of beers to its menu, including Old Rasputin Imperial Stout and Bell’s Two-Hearted Ales. Although Miller reports most patrons have been taking their beers straight, blended beverages are available: “If you put a little Rasputin in the coffee, it tastes really good,” Miller says. “It just adds that Guinness-y thing.” Customers are also invited to flip the ratio by requesting a shot of espresso in any beer: “We haven’t had too many people brave it yet,” Miller reports.

And Izzy’s isn’t the only local coffeehouse experimenting with stronger stuff: Clingman Café, in the River Arts District, now offers bottled beer and wine with its lunch service. While a staffer says few customers are ordering bottles of wine to accompany their turkey sandwiches, “beer’s been pretty steady.” 

All Together Now: The Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project and Asheville Convention and Visitors’ Bureau are collaborating on GET LOCAL, which, astoundingly, isn’t an acronym, but stands for the region’s thoughtful embrace of farm-to-table eating. According to a release put out by ASAP, the goals of the project include supporting family farms, sustaining local restaurants during the current economic downturn and fulfilling the promise of the CVB’s culinary tourism campaign. The program will highlight one locally grown ingredient each month, with the featured product showing up on menus and in cooking demonstrations at tailgate markets. August is the month of the tomato; the apple’s got dibs on September. To learn more, contact any of the participating organizations.

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