It’s a pun you’ve probably heard before and perhaps have even used (or have had used against you). Directed at the chronic complainer, it goes like this: Would you like some cheese with that whine? (Rimshot cues laugh track, and the audience goes wild.)
As the joke indicates, meats and cheeses are among the foods we most commonly imagine paired with a glass of red or white wine. Those combinations, however, exclude people with certain dietary restrictions, including vegetarians and vegans. On Sunday, Oct. 8, Metro Wines, in partnership with Rezaz and local cookbook authors Matt Frazier and Stepfanie Romine, plan to highlight alternative, nontraditional pairing options at the No-Meat Wine Pairing Dinner.
The evening’s recipes are inspired by Frazier and Romine’s 2017 No Meat Athlete Cookbook. Highlights from the five-course menu include cashew risotto with French horn chanterelles, tahini-carrot “bacon” and cranberry vincotto; Lebanese stuffed eggplant with quinoa and wild rice polow, grilled zucchini, butternut squash and tomato “demiglace”; and a Greek baklava with coconut ginger sorbet.
“I’ve never done anything like this before,” says Brian Smith, chef and co-owner of Rezaz. Smith notes the unique challenge that came with creating a menu based on seasonal options, two months in advance. Another obstacle, he adds, was selecting plates that would entice vegans and nonvegans alike. “It’s always a challenge to offer value when there’s no definite, center-of-the plate item,” he says. “No filet mignon, no red snapper … you really have to work hard on making sure all parts of the plate are spectacular.”
Once the dishes were developed, the right pairings had to be selected. A big zinfandel, for example, “would overpower even the heaviest vegetable dish,” says John Kerr of the Asheville School of Wine at Metro Wines. There are also technical aspects to consider. “Meat and cheese soften tannins [a textural element that makes wine taste dry], which you do not find in vegetables,” Kerr explains. With vegan plates, “You need wines with softer tannins so you don’t have bitterness.”
Frazier, who will attend the event and sign copies of his cookbook with co-author Romine, says he hopes folks walk away satisfied from the hearty meal. Too often, he notes, people assume vegan diets leave individuals wanting more. The reality is that “you can eat a plant-based diet and be really healthy [and] get good substantial food suitable for active people.”
Along with promoting a better understanding of the vegan lifestyle, Frazier is also excited about the evening’s pairings. “I’m really excited about the wine connection,” he says. “That is not one I often see done with vegan [options].”
The No-Meat Wine Pairing Dinner begins at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 8, at Rezaz, 28 Hendersonville Road. Tickets are $55 per person and include wine, dinner, tax and gratuity. Cookbooks will be for sale at the event. To reserve a spot, call Rezaz at 828-277-1501.
Fermentation Show and Tell
Living Web Farms and the French Broad Food Co-op will host Fermentation Show and Tell on Thursday, Oct. 5. The free event is an open forum featuring some of Asheville’s fermentation experts and enthusiasts, including Sarah Archer of Serotonin Ferments, Meg Chamberlain of Fermenti Foods and author Meredith Leigh. The event will feature demonstrations and samples. All skill levels are encouraged to attend and bring homemade ferments, ask questions and share stories and recipes.
Fermentation Show and Tell runs 6-7:30 p.m. Thursday, Oct. 5, at French Broad Food Co-op, 90 Biltmore Ave. The event is free, but donations are accepted. To RSVP, visit avl.mx/45b.
Thomas Wolfe Apple Crisp Ice Cream
On Saturday, Oct. 7, the Thomas Wolfe Memorial State Historic Site will celebrate the 117th birthday of writer Thomas Wolfe with a party that features free cake with Thomas Wolfe Apple Crisp Ice Cream made by The Hop Ice Cream Café. The ice cream flavor honors the writer’s penchant for the fruit. “Wolfe makes many poetic references to apples in his writing,” says Tom Muir, site manager at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial. “From his boyhood, he often remembered autumn in Asheville, his father’s apple trees bent with thick green clusters, the orchard-apple smells and the smell of stored apples in the cellar. … Perhaps this year a little Thomas Wolfe Apple Crisp Ice Cream will inspire a future writer.” Along with dessert, the celebration will include children’s craft activities and, for North Carolina residents, free tours of the historic Old Kentucky Home.
The Thomas Wolfe birthday celebration runs 1:30-4:30 p.m. Saturday, Oct. 7, at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial, 52 N. Market St. Admission is free. For details, visit wolfememorial.com.
Sunday brunch and a new location for White Duck Taco
White Duck Taco is now serving Sunday brunch. Taco options include fried chicken and waffle with sausage gravy, crab cake with Old Bay remoulade, fried green tomato with house pimento cheese, and scrambled egg with potato (with optional sausage). Prices range from $3.49-$6.49. Brunch drink choices will include coffee, blushing mimosas and bloody marys, with cocktails priced in the $7-$10 range. In addition to brunch, White Duck has plans to expand to a property in the River Arts District, at 444 Riverside Drive. Owner Ben Mixson says it will be “a casual restaurant with a beer bus and riverfront seating.” Xpress will provide additional information as it becomes available.
Sunday Brunch at White Duck Taco runs 10:30 a.m.-3 p.m. For store locations, visit whiteducktacoshop.com.
Editor’s note: Thomas Calder leads occasional weekend tours at the Thomas Wolfe Memorial.