The Taste of Asheville

Who’s hungry for the best food Asheville has to offer? The Taste of Asheville returns next week with a packed lineup of wine dinners, tastings and other culinary events. This annual happening, sponsored by the Asheville Independent Restaurant Association, highlights not just the food produced by local chefs, but the restaurants they’ve so lovingly created.

This year’s four-day schedule provides ample opportunities for area gourmands to experience independent eateries at their best. And for those still nostalgic for the old-school food-court model, which was retired in 2005, the Chef’s Showcase on Thursday, Sept. 27, features offerings from 45 restaurants under one Haywood Park Hotel roof. Tickets are $45 each, or $80 for two, and are available at www.airasheville.org or by calling 628-3070. For tickets to restaurant-hosted events, listed below, contact the restaurant. Bon appétit!

Wednesday, Sept. 26

The Wonderful World of Oysters
11:30 a.m.; $50; The Lobster Trap (35 Patton Ave., 350-0505).
Chef Tres Hundertmark hosts this Bivalves 101 session, featuring West Coast, East Coast and Gulf Coast oysters served with matching wines and beers.

Chocolate Plastic Basket
1 p.m.; $15 demo; (277-0684 for info).
Stovetrotter’s Culinary Arts Center, which just opened on Sweeten Creek Road, will offer a sweet cooking class on how to create a chocolate “plastic” basket. $15 demo. 277-0684.

Ophelia’s Fresh-From-the-Farm Outdoor Kitchen
2 to 4 p.m.; free; downtown tailgate market (90 Biltmore Ave., 255-8154).
Ophelia’s already smackingly fresh food moves three blocks closer to its source as Chef Jamie Allread moves his kitchen to Wednesday’s farmer’s market. Allred will be offering free samples of dishes created from vendors’ produce, goat cheese and free-range meats.

Seven Course Tuscan Feast
6:30 p.m.; $65/person, $115/couple; Fiore’s (122 College St., 281-0710).
Fiore’s prides itself on keeping its meals simple and unhurried, in the Italian tradition. This feast is bound to succeed on both counts, with seven unpretentious courses paired with seven wines.

Jazz on the Square
7 p.m.; $50; Café on the Square (1 Biltmore Ave., 251-5565).
Café on the Square is sponsoring this evening out in three-four time; the restaurant is providing the food, wine and surprise gift; the Curt Heiny Trio is bringing the guitar, bass and drums, and there will be three complete courses to enjoy.

Italian Wine Dinner
7 p.m.; $75; Vincenzo’s Ristorante and Bistro (10 N. Market St., 254-4698).
The wine and food menu for this five-course dinner will highlight the northern Italian provinces of Piedmont, Lombardy and Venzia/Trentino/Collio for a night the restaurant touts as being “as genuine an Italian dining experience as you can produce outside of Italy itself.”

A Taste of Fall Harvest
Ongoing 5 to 10 p.m., winemaker visits 6 to 8 p.m.; $60; Frankie Bones Restaurant and Lounge (2 Gerber Road, 274-7111).
This four-course prix-fixe menu, available all evening, is flush with local ingredients and paired with Biltmore Estate wines.

Wine Makers Dinner
7 p.m.; $65; Fig (18 Brook St., 277-0889).
Most cooks limit themselves to borrowing sugar or flour from a neighbor: Chef Bill Klein has grander plans, using beef, produce and wine from the nearby Biltmore Estate to build the menu for Fig’s guests of honor, winemakers Bernard Delille and Sharon Fenchak of Biltmore Wines.

Taste of Asheville Beer Dinner
7 p.m.; $50; The Corner Kitchen (3 Boston Way, Biltmore Village, 274-2439).
Chef de Cuisine Josh Weeks of the Corner Kitchen teams up with local brewers and farmers to create a unique evening.

Highland Brewing Irish Dinner
7 p.m.; $30; Hannah Flanagan’s (27 Biltmore Ave., 254-3107).
No Irish meal would be complete without a witty raconteur, so Oscar Wong of Highland Brewing will be the special guest at this five-course beer dinner. Wong will share stories of his brewery’s new East Asheville location.

Thursday, Sept. 27

The Wonderful World of Oysters
11:30 a.m.; $50; The Lobster Trap (35 Patton Ave., 350-0505).
If you missed Wednesday’s class—or just can’t get enough oysters—the Lobster Trap is back at it.

Chef’s Showcase VIP Preview Party
6 p.m.; $65/person, $120/couple; Haywood Park Hotel (1 Battery Park Ave., 628-3070 for info).
Attendees at this exclusive pre-party will get first the first peek at AIR’s silent auction to benefit culinary students while enjoying appetizers prepared by students of Asheville High’s Culinary Class and select wines and champagne.

Chef’s Showcase
7 p.m.; $45/person, $80/couple; Haywood Park Hotel (1 Battery Park Ave., 628-3070 for info).
This is the centerpiece of Taste, with 45 chefs offering samples of their best dishes. Along with myriad wines and local brews, the Asheville Lyric Opera will make an appearance (guests should keep their wristbands, which can be redeemed for a free ticket at Asheville Lyric Opera).

Friday, Sept. 28

Chocolate Plastic Basket
1 p.m.; $15 demo; (277-0684 for info).
Stovetrotter’s Culinary Arts Center, which just opened on Sweeten Creek Road, will offer a sweet cooking class on how to create a chocolate “plastic” basket. $15 demo. 277-0684.

Cocktail Party
5 to 7 p.m.; cost of cocktails; Z Lounge (41 N. Lexington Ave., 252-0001).
If you enjoyed the Chefs’ Showcase as AIR hopes you will, you may need a couch and a cocktail come Friday. Z Lounge will open its nightclub early for this private party.

Worldly Wine and Cheese
5:30 p.m.; $40; Santé Wine Bar (1 Page Ave., 254-8188).
Taste and experience Europe through a five-course pairing of “old world” wines and cheeses.

Saturday, Sept. 29

Shop with the Chef
8 a.m.; free; north Asheville farmers’ tailgate market (meet at top of stairs of UNCA’s Lot C).
Just what can be done with local squash and honey? Find out from Chef Mark Rosenstein of The Market Place Restaurant as he guides this walk through the Farmer’s Market. Rosenstein will introduce the farmers and offer cooking tips.

Cook with the Chef
Follows morning shopping trip; $25; The Market Place Restaurant (20 Wall St., 252-4162).
Twelve people will follow Rosenstein back to his restaurant for a cooking class using the fresh ingredients he collected on the morning’s marketing trip.

Celebration of Fall Outdoor Party
3 p.m.; $10; Harvest Restaurant/Drinkin’ Beanz Coffee House (Eastwood Village, Reynolds, 298-4741).
Eastwood Village will bid farewell to summer with one last cookout, featuring a live band, cash bar and coffee drinks.

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