Sunny Slow Food
Sunny Point Cafe and Slow Food go hand in hand. This is, by no means, a dig at the speed of the cooks in the kitchen. If unfamiliar with the concept, here it is in a nutshell, according to Slow Food International: "Slow Food [aims to] counteract fast food and fast life, the disappearance of local food traditions and people’s dwindling interest in the food they eat, where it comes from, how it tastes and how food choices affect the rest of the world… Slow Food brings together pleasure and responsibility, and makes them inseparable."
Sunny Point has made a business of adhering to Slow Food sensibilities. Restaurant staffers grow some of the food utilized on the local-centric menu to supplement eggs, meat and dairy sourced from area farms.
On Tuesday, Aug. 24, Sunny Point will host a dinner in partnership with local beer and wine retailer, Appalachian Vintner, featuring a Slow Food menu that will draw extensively from Sunny Point's garden. Wares from local suppliers and farmers — Sunburst Trout Farms, Ultimate Ice Cream and Hickory Nut Gap, to name a few — will pepper the menu.
Olde Hickory Brewery from Hickory North Carolina will be featured prominently. Olde Hickory is a small-batch craft brewery that's starting to garner national attention. At the Los Angeles International Beer competition, for example, three of the brewery's beers were awarded gold medals. Olde Hickory's brewmaster will be on hand at the dinner to present his craft beer, along with wine expert Charles Alexander from Appalachian Vintner.
Two seatings are available for the dinner that evening — one at 6:30 p.m., the second at 8:30 p.m. — and $40 per person includes five beers and a four-course meal. For reservations, call 252-0055, or visit the Appalachian Vintner at 2-B Huntsman Place, just off Biltmore Avenue. For more information about Sunny Point, visit sunnypointcafe.com.
A new wine store opened recently in south Asheville. Table Wine, Josh Spurling's brainchild, is stocked with wines from small, family-owned estates around the world. Spurling is a wine-business veteran, having worked in both sales and retail for over 12 years, including a stint managing a wine store in Aspen. "It was all high-end, California-centric," he says. "I took that job basically because I got a free ski pass out of it."
After responding to a want ad for a wholesale wine sales position published in the back pages of Wine Spectator, Spurling landed in Asheville. Missing the direct interaction with customers that retail provides, however, eventually led Spurling to quit working in sales. Shortly thereafter, he opened his first wine store.
Many of the selections that Spurling stocks at Table Wine are organic, he says, even if they aren't certified as such. "We support producers who work their vineyards by hand and who make their wines using traditional, non-interventionist methods," he says.
The bottles are arranged by region, and displayed on blonde maple racks handcrafted by local woodworker Gabe Aucott. The store's inventory covers wine regions from around the world, including a large selection from France. That area, says Spurling, is "a hotbed of natural wine activity. I have something for everyone, though," he adds.
"I have the widest variety and the most focused selection of organic small-vineyard estate wines in Asheville," he says. "There's a lot of other great wine shops in town, but I don't think anyone else has really jumped on this ship full-throttle with all of their heart."
Spurling adds that he takes pleasure in sourcing from family-run operations focusing on sustainable methods of farming. "A lot of the wines that I have complement both the slow foods and the farm-to-table movements, because I am working with small farmers and producers," he says. "If North Carolina was like the Loire Valley in France, I would only carry wines that came within an 80- to 100-mile radius," he says. "Unfortunately, in Asheville, I'm not prepared to open up a store just focusing on North Carolina wines."
The shop holds only wine that Spurling has tasted and approved himself. "Not all this year," he laughs. "Over the 12 years I've been doing this." That's why he personally hosts a wine tasting every Saturday. Starting in September, he'll present a number of other educational opportunities, wine classes and larger group tastings. "The store is about education — but fun at the same time," he says. "It's got to be with wines like this. Most people aren't going to come in and necessarily recognize and pick the wines off the shelf — that's why I'm here."
Table Wine is located at 1550 Hendersonville Road, suite 102 in the Fugazy Center. The store is open from Monday through Saturday, 10 a.m. until 6 p.m. For more information, visit tablewineasheville.com, or call 505-8588.
On the safety of kava
Recently, Consumer Reports published an article about the “Dirty Dozen” herbal supplements. Among them was the herb kava, said to instill feelings of calm.
Andrew Procyk, co-owner of Vanuatu Kava Bar in Asheville and founder of the North American Kava Merchant Advocacy League, was understandably riled by the report.
The article, says Procyk, cited a 2002 statement by the FDA that issued a warning about kava. Procyk says that, since that initial report was released, research has “demonstrated the safety and effectiveness of kava.”
“As far as the safety of non-extract based natural kava tea, one need look no further than the entire population of the kava-consuming South Pacific, where women are not allowed near kava, and men drink it often and in excess,” says Procyk. “Were there to be any serious liver toxicity issues from kava tea, one would expect to see at least a small but statistically significant difference in hepatotoxicity rates between the male and female population of the islands, yet such a difference does not exist.”
Interested in learning more? Procyk put together a full essay on the subject for Xpress, which can be viewed at mountainx.com/dining.
— Send your food news to Mackensy Lunsford at firstname.lastname@example.org