Wikipedia’s definition of the truffle as “the fruiting body of a subterranean Ascomycete fungus” sounds like an intriguingly horrific B-movie imagining. But the scientific description of this humble but extraordinarily delicious underground mushroom belies the high esteem with which it is regarded in the foodie world, as well as the lofty prices it can fetch on the international market — sometimes thousands of dollars per pound.
Although Europe claims the historic origins of the truffle’s culinary cult, certain varieties do grow in North America, including in Western North Carolina. In order to educate local palates, expand awareness of the possibilities for truffle production in WNC and give Asheville chefs an opportunity to work with this rare ingredient, chef Susi Gott Séguret, founder of the Seasonal School of Culinary Arts, has teamed up with Jane Morgan Smith, director of the North American Truffle Growers Association, to organize the Asheville Truffle Experience.
Séguret says the plan was “to create a weekend that is as affordable as possible with a la carte attendance options, while maintaining an international element.”
The festival, scheduled for Friday-Sunday, Feb. 20-22, will feature discussions by French truffle expert Pierre Sourzat and Jim Trappe, author of the Field Guide to North American Truffles. Other highlights include a tasting event at the Cellar at Isa’s Bistro with chef Duane Fernandes, culinary demonstrations, educational sessions, a market and haute couture fashion show, a multicourse dinner with chef William Dissen at the Market Place restaurant and a tour of a truffle orchard at the Mountain Research Station in Waynesville. The tour includes a staged truffle hunt with specially trained dogs from the Truffle Dog Co., which operates out of Washington, Oregon and California.
Full weekend passes are $474, but each of the six events is also priced separately. Individual event tickets range between $25 and $159 each. For ticket information and other details, call 301-2792 or visit www.ashevilletruffle.com.
Asheville French Quarter celebrates Mardi Gras
In celebration of Mardi Gras, chef Tres Hundertmark is offering the king crepe — his nod to the traditional New Orleans Mardi Gras king cake. Hundertmark, executive chef of what has come to be known as Asheville’s French Quarter (Bouchon, Creperie Bouchon and the soon-to-open Lafayette, all on Lexington Avenue) has riffed on the classic Twelfth Night cake using two cinnamon, cream cheese-filled crepes topped with sugar in the Carnival colors of purple, green and gold. A coffee bean replaces the trinket or toy baby normally baked into a king cake. King crepes are on sale through Fat Tuesday, Feb. 17, and cost $10. Strawberry, apple and banana varieties are available for $13.
ashevillebouchon.com or creperiebouchon.com
Oskar Blues beer brunch at King James Public House
Following its CANuary First Hangover Brunch held on New Year’s Day at its REEB Ranch in Brevard, Oskar Blues is heading to Asheville for another beer brunch experience. This one will take place at the King James Public House on Charlotte Street, and chef Steven Goff has worked up a hearty menu to accompany a selection of Oskar Blues brews. The five-course meal is meat-heavy but widely varied, with offerings ranging from Sunburst Farms trout lox on an everything bagel with trout roe and house-made cream cheese to a croque-madame on brioche with house-made ham and béchamel sauce ending with a dessert of chocolate beignets with candied bacon and dulce de leche. Courses will be paired with Mama-mosas (Mama’s Little Yella Pils with orange juice), Pinner Throwback IPA, G’Knight Double Red IPA, Old Chub Nitro Scotch Ale and the Ten Fidy Imperial Stout.
Noon, Sunday, Jan. 18, King James Public House, 94 Charlotte St. Brunch with beer pairings is $45 per person. Space is limited. Call 252-2412 for tickets. For details, visit the Oskar Blues Brevard Facebook page.
Fletcher Chili Cook-off
The Fletcher Parks and Recreation Department is seeking competitors to fight for the 2015 title of Best Chili in Fletcher in the town’s 14th Annual Chili Cook-Off on Saturday, Jan. 24. Awards will be given for: Best Overall Chili, Best Individual Chili, Best Business Chili, Best Table Décor and People’s Choice. All types of chili will be accepted including traditional, white and vegetarian varieties. Applications are due by Friday, Jan. 16, and are available at fletcherparks.org or at the Fletcher Town Hall. The event is free and open to the public, and guests will be able to sample all the entries. Donations will be accepted at the event for the Fletcher Park Development Fund, which helps improve Fletcher parks.
Noon-2 p.m. Saturday, Jan. 24, Veritas Christian Academy, 17 Cane Creek Road, Fletcher. 687-0751 or fletcherparks.org