Small Bites: School of hard lox?

Rugelach and rye: The bakery booth at the HardLox Fest will offer a variety of goods straight out of the oven. Photos courtesy of HardLox Festival

Ready for your schmear? The HardLox Festival, Asheville’s Jewish food-and-heritage celebration, takes place at Pack Square on Sunday, Oct. 16, from 11 a.m. until 4 p.m.

The event, in its ninth year, features Israeli dancing, crafts, a kids' zone — and lots of traditional Jewish food.

Lox will make an appearance, as the festival's name suggests. But there’s much more to the food offerings than cured salmon, says HardLox organizer Marty Gillen. 

"Basically, we set up a 200-foot-long Jewish delicatessen in Pack Square,” says Gillen. “Each booth represents a different kind of food that Jewish people have eaten over time." 

To that end, says Gillen, a sandwich booth will turn out authentic pastrami or corned beef on Jewish rye. “We also have a booth that will serve noodle kugel, which is a traditional Eastern European dish, and that booth also sells cheese blintzes,” he says.

An entire booth dedicated to potatoes will offer knishes and latkes, says Gillen. A bakery will have fresh, hot loaves of rye and challah available, as well as rugelach, mandelbrot, black and white cookies — “all of the traditional Jewish baked goods,” says Gillen. “And, of course, we’ll have Kosher hot dogs and Kosher pickles — quite an assortment of foods, plus some things that are more Middle Eastern, like hummus and falafel.” Hungry yet?

Gillen says that the HardLox Festival is the largest of its kind in WNC, where an estimated 5,000 Jewish people reside — 4,000 of them in the Asheville area, according to Gillen. “People say this is the only day of the year that you can get real Jewish food in Asheville. Everybody comes down to get the food that they used to get in New York and Miami, because there’s just no Jewish restaurants here in Asheville, and we try to replicate that.”

And with “real Jewish deli” placing fourth in our 2011 Best of WNC readers’ poll for “restaurant still needed in Asheville,” we know at least a few of you who will be headed downtown to get your HardLox fix.

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