Small bites: Thursday Night Throwdown

GET YOUR ESPRESSO STEAMERS READY: On Thursday, baristas from across the southeast will compete at Vortex Doughnuts Thursday Night Throwdown. Complimentary doughnuts will be available, as will music by DJ Zach Cooper. Photo by Sam Moody

In 2008, Atlanta’s Octane Coffee introduced the Thursday Night Throwdown (often referred to as TNT). The latte art competition pits barista against barista in a series of elimination rounds where judges evaluate the clarity, milk texture, level of difficulty and contrast of each beverage made until a champion is crowned.

On Thursday, July 28, Vortex Doughtnuts will host its own rendition of  TNT.  “Around 20 leading coffee professionals from all over the Southeast region will gather at Vortex … in a contest demonstrating excellence in their craft,” says Vortex owner Benjamin Myers. The event’s judges will include Angie Rainey of Coffee Crate, local food critic Stu Helm and Sarajane Case of Persona Creative.

Myers notes the event isn’t meant to be intimidating for those competing, but is, instead, an opportunity for baristas to celebrate and share their talents. It’s also a chance for audience members to learn more about the craft. “The competition is a fun and accessible way for both coffee insiders and outsiders to build community around a shared interest,” says Myers. “We want to bridge that gap and share the exciting world of speciality coffee.”

Thursday Night Throwdown goes down at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at Vortex Doughnuts, 32 Banks Ave. Admission to watch the event is free. Those interested in competing can sign up at the door for $5. There is no preregistration. For details, contact Vortex at

South Asheville Earth Fare’s grand reopening

South Asheville’s Earth Fare store will celebrate recent renovations and changes with a grand reopening event on Friday, July 29. The ribbon will be cut at 6:45 a.m., and the first 100 people to enter the store when it opens at 7 a.m. will have a chance to win up to $500 worth of free groceries. Also during the event, local vendors including Smiling Hara Tempeh, Madison County Pot Pie, Warhorse, Dolci Di Maria, Green Man Brewery and Wicked Weed Brewing will offer samples. Live demos will be going on, as well. In addition to a refreshed floor plan, the store’s Heirloom Cafe has transitioned to an all-organic menu and the location is now the only Earth Fare in the country to offer local beer and wine on tap for shoppers.

The South Asheville Earth Fare is at 1856 Hendersonville Road. The ribbon will be cut for the grand reopening at 6:45 a.m. Friday, July 29. Doors open at 7 a.m. For details, visit

Season’s at Highland Lake’s Summer Chef’s Tasting

Multiple small-plate courses and wine pairings will be offered at Season’s at Highland Lake’s annual Summer Chef’s Tasting on Thursday, July 28. In past renditions, the chef created the menu and wines were then paired, but for this year’s event, the wine selections helped determined the menu’s courses. During the dinner, Tom Leiner of Grapevine Distributors will offer a talk on the wine selections. Menu items include ocean-brined scallops with kimchi, ponzu and cilantro espuma; summer beets garnished with goat cheese crouton, benne seed brittle, blueberry purée and fresh sorrel; and king salmon roulade.

The tasting begins at 6:30 p.m. Thursday, July 28, at Season’s at Highland Lake, 86 Lily Pad Lane, Flat Rock. The cost is $85 per person. Reservations are required and can be made by calling Season’s at 696-9094. For details, visit

Flavors of India Cooking Class

Ofri’s Home Cooking is offering two classes on Indian cuisine. During the workshops, chef Ofri Gilan will present fundamental Indian cooking techniques, and students will get hands-on experience making a variety of dishes. The menu for the sessions includes chicken tikka masala, keema rice, baingan barth, daal and roti. Students will leave the event with their own Indian spice box starter kit.

Flavors of India Cooking Class will be offered 6-9 p.m. Thursday, July 28, and 3-6 p.m. Sunday, July 31. Tickets are $65 per person. The events take place in Gilan’s home kitchen. The address will be provided when tickets are purchased. For tickets, visit or call 917-566-5238. 

West Asheville Chicken Crawl

The West Asheville Chicken Crawl challenges beer lovers to dress up as poultry and quaff a few brews at Haywood Road establishments on Saturday, July 30. Participating bars and restaurants will donate a percentage of each beer purchased by registered crawlers to the Asheville Poverty Initiative and its 12 Baskets Cafe program. Venues include Pour Taproom, Westville Pub, Universal Joint, Brew Pump and Buffalo Nickel. “Dress like a chicken, wear yellow or just come out and join us,” says Heather Gillespie of Pour Taproom.

Registration is free and begins at 2 p.m. Saturday, July 30, at Pour Taproom, 800 Haywood Road. For more information, visit Pour Taproom’s Facebook page for the event or

Asheville Biscuitry closes

Asheville Biscuitry closed for good on Sunday, July 10. The shop, which was in the former Dough space at 372 Merrimon Ave., offered doughnuts, biscuits, sandwiches and coffee. A post on its Facebook page reads: “To our valued customers: Thank you for your enthusiastic patronage. However due to the recent loss of key personnel, we are unable to provide the quality service that our customers expect and we demand.” Asheville Biscuitry opened in January.


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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