Small Bites

Slow food fundraiser

In its history as an international movement, Slow Food has focused on the pleasure, as much as the politics, of food. Slow Food, founded in Italy by Carlo Petrini, is about preserving traditional ways of eating, preparing and cultivating what ends up on the table.

The movement has since spread across the world, and has gained more ground in the U.S. over the past decade as consumers become more conscious about their food choices.

The Slow Food Terre Madre gathering in Turin, Italy, is one way that the various chapters of the movement can return to the movement's foundation, meet, discuss and become inspired. Think of Terre Madre as a foodie TED event.

Asheville's own Slow Food movement hopes to send delegates to Turin this year. To help raise money for the trip, the chapter is holding a fundraiser at Sunswept Farm Conservancy in Spring Creek, Madison County, on Saturday, Sept. 18.

Sunswept Farm is a perfect example of the Slow Food movement at its heart — it’s mostly powered by energy provided by water and sun, and is surrounded by pristine forest land.

The event dinner, “Mountain Fire,” features a menu created by Mark Rosenstein, the chef, writer and blogger that many credit with bringing the farm-to-table concept to Asheville with his former restaurant, The Market Place. The menu will center around scratch-made foods created with locally grown produce. Extremely local: most everything served will come from the farm itself. For the full menu, please see sidebar.

A silent auction will start on the date of the event at 3 p.m., and dinner will be served at 5:30 p.m.

The cost for this event is $45. Visit SlowFoodAsheville.org further information. For tickets, visit brownpapertickets.com/event/125156. To donate for the auction or to volunteer event help, please e-mail mountainfire@charter.net.

Neighborhood bread

Jennifer Thomas runs a bakery. What's unique about that? The Montford Walk-in Bakery is located in a 1,000 square-foot Montford Hills 1920s-era bungalow, surrounded by a yard filled with trees and herb gardens. Most of the bakery’s customers walk from the surrounding neighborhood to pick up their orders, which they place online days in advance. It's the perfect mix of technology with a charming, almost anachronistic notion of the neighborhood bakery.

Thomas and her husband just completed a renovation after two decades of living there. "We moved our kitchen into our dining room that we weren't using, which kind of opened up the space,” says Thomas. “I put in a nice kitchen with a working dishwasher and food-safe surfaces. I still bake out of a regular old kitchen oven, though. It's a pain in the butt."

Thomas hopes to build a wood-fired oven out on her patio next year. "That would at least get some of the heat out of the kitchen," she says.

Though she's fortunate enough to have central air in such an old house, Thomas says it's no match for the oven belching heat six or seven hours a day. “But, it's a pleasant place to be,” she says. “I like working out of the house."

Thomas notes that the Montford Walk-in Bakery is a certified home bakery, inspected by the Department of Agriculture. "I cannot sell anything raw or refrigerated. Everything is shelf-stable and, in my neighborhood, I cannot do retail, so everything is pre-ordered via the e-mail list."

Thomas likes that her bakery is in a walking-friendly environment like Montford, "making it easier for neighbors to pre-order their baked goods and walk in to pick up their items."

The menu varies weekly, and includes standard wild-yeast sourdough breads, fruit and nut breads, focaccia, flatbreads, cookies, pies and cakes. Thomas’ baked-goods ingredients include wheat, rye, semolina and corn as well as fruits, nuts, spices and garden-grown herbs. Her sourdough, she says, is made from a culture that she started with flour and water six years ago. "I feed it every week, put some back in the refrigerator, then I take it out the next week, add the grains — it's a lot of time and warm temperatures,” she says. “You have to nurture it — it's a good substitute for when the kids go away."

Thomas notes that she tries to source whatever she can from the local farmers markets before she hits the stores.

Thomas credits the culinary program at A-B Tech for her development as a baker. "It definitely taught me how to strategize and work out of a small space. The baking and pastry arts program was an enormous boost to me and developing my skills."

She also hopes to teach small — very small — baking classes at her location, 305 Westover Drive. The bakery, it should be noted, does not have a store front. For more information, or to place an order, visit montfordwibakery.com.

From the blogosphere

Carolina Epicurean, formerly Hendersonville Epicurean, reports that a new Indian restaurant is coming to South Asheville’s Gerber Village. That development already has Frankie Bones Italian/American, Thirsty Month South and 5 Guys, and now it’ll be home to Cinnamon Kitchen Indian Restaurant.

“This is good news for the folks of South Asheville who wished for a neighborhood Indian restaurant,” writes Laura on the blog. Find out when the restaurant is slated to open at carolinaepicurean.com.

In other ethnic-restaurant news, it appears that both Thai Basil and India Garden have undergone recent makeovers. Thai Basil has added a nifty brick wall with sculptures, giving the place a slightly fancier feel. And Twitter user @ChantalSaunders reports that “India Garden is totally different inside … More private, modern.”

— Send your food news and story ideas to food@mountainx.com.

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