Small bites: BaconFest celebrates five years

A SANDWICH OF LOVE: Attendees at last year's BaconFest honor and celebrate the BLT.  This year's event happens Saturday, Aug. 26, at Highland Brewing Co.
A SANDWICH OF LOVE: Attendees at last year's BaconFest honor and celebrate the BLT. This year's event happens Saturday, Aug. 26, at Highland Brewing Co. Photo by Ken Ulmer

“There are things happening in Western North Carolina with bacon that my simple mind could never possibly imagine,” says Ken Ulmer, promotions team member of 105.9 the Mountain. “And then you see it come to life at BaconFest — it is transformative.”

Entering its fifth year, 105.9 the Mountain’s BaconFest Asheville commences at 1 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, at Highland Brewing Co. The event features both sweet and savory dishes prepared by a long and diverse list of businesses ranging from Surf N Brew Oyster House to Baked Pie Co. to Firewalker Hot Sauce. Also, presenting sponsor Ingles will cook up 110 pounds of Laura Lynn bacon for the crowd.

As in years past, three prizes will be awarded by day’s end: Best Bacon, Best Sweet and People’s Choice. All participating restaurants and chefs will be eligible for the People’s Choice Award, which will be decided upon by those in attendance. Ulmer says 550 Tavern and Grille — last year’s People’s Choice winner — is “very serious about keeping that award.” Its 2017 offering will be a bourbon maple bacon cheesecake.

Another highly anticipated dish, says Ulmer, is UpCountry Brewing Eatery’s smoked bacon gazpacho. In addition to offering a cooler option during the afternoon event, Ulmer says, “It’s also a way to sneak a few vegetables into a gluttonous day of bacon.”

Meanwhile, Post 25 will bring its Carolina Cricket, a bacon-wrapped jalapeño pepper stuffed with smoked gouda and dipped in maple syrup. “I have sampled it,” says Ulmer. “And if an appetizer were to be perfection, it would have to be the Carolina Cricket.”

Along with the bites, Highland Brewery will have plenty of beer on tap. “American Idol” winner and Asheville native Caleb Johnson will provide musical entertainment.

Ulmer is confident that attendees will leave the festival with their bellies full. “There is always a fun crowd, because who can’t smile when they’re enjoying bacon in The Meadow at Highland Brewing?” he says.

BaconFest Asheville runs 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 26, at Highland Brewing Co., 12 Old Charlotte Highway. General admission is $20. VIP tickets are $50 and include early entry at noon, on-site parking and admission to a VIP-only tasting area with additional dishes. Admission is free for kids ages 9 and younger. For tickets and details, visit the828.com/Bacon.

Vegan Awareness Week and VegFest

Vegan Awareness Week, a series of events leading up to the 2017 VegFest, kicks off at 6 p.m. Monday, Aug. 28, at The BLOCK Off Biltmore. The opening event features a screening of Vegucated, a 2011 documentary that examines the obstacles faced by those converting to a vegan diet. On Tuesday, Aug. 29, 6-8 p.m., Whole Foods Tap Haus will host a three-course beer dinner ($14 food only, $23 with beer pairings), and on Wednesday, Aug. 30, there will be a vegan pizza party (location to be decided). The following two nights will return to The BLOCK for a happy hour Thursday and a talk at 6 p.m. Friday by UNC Asheville professor Amy Lanou. Anytime Fitness on Patton Avenue will host a weightlifting/bodybuilding seminar by Derek Tresize on Saturday, Sept. 2, from 10-11:30 a.m. Later that day, The BLOCK will host a VegFest pre-party from 5-9:30 p.m. The week concludes Sunday, Sept. 3, with VegFest at Pack Square Park. The free festival runs 10 a.m.-6 p.m. with performances from Drew Cleary, Annette Conlon, Vickie Burick and Somewhat Petty, A Tom Petty Tribute Band. The event will also feature a wide variety of vegan fare, cooking demonstrations, children’s activities, local beer and speakers.

The BLOCK Off Biltmore is at 39 S. Market St. Whole Foods Tap Haus is at 4 S. Tunnel Road, Anytime Fitness is at 803 Patton Ave. Pack Square Park is at 80 Court Plaza. For details on Vegan Awareness Week and updates on VegFest activities, visit ashevillevegfest.com

Chiapas coffee celebration

Vortex Doughnuts and 1000 Faces Coffee will celebrate the release of 1000 Faces’ new Cafeologo Series with a free discussion and tasting on Thursday, Aug. 24. The series includes four coffees grown by farmers in one small area of Chiapas, Mexico — the highlands of San Pedro Aldama. The farmers work with Mexican roaster and importer Cafeologo, which is leading the Mexican coffee industry’s burgeoning seed-to-cup movement. The event will include a slideshow of 1000 Faces’ sourcing trip along with a talk about the challenges faced by the Mexican coffee industry. There will be tastings of all four coffees followed by tamales and beer.

The Cafeologo event happens at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 24, at Vortex Doughnuts, 32 Banks Ave. Admission is free.

Tomato Tasting: A Slow Food Celebration

Slow Food Asheville is a local chapter of the international Slow Food Movement that seeks to promote and preserve the food culture of Western North Carolina. On Sunday, Aug. 27, the group will host an event spotlighting the Cherokee purple tomato. The gathering will feature free samples of heirloom tomatoes and dishes prepared with them. Along with food, gardeners will be present to answer questions, and there will be seed-saving demonstrations for those interested in carrying on the heritage of heirlooms.

Tomato Tasting: A Slow Food Celebration runs 5-7 p.m. Sunday, Aug. 27, at The Wedge at Foundation, 5 Foundry St. The event is family-friendly and admission is free. For details, visit avl.mx/40m.

Market Supper: French Country feast with Salt & Smoke

The West Asheville Tailgate Market’s first 2017 supper will feature a meal by Salt & Smoke. The dinner will include several courses of classic French country cuisine, with ingredients sourced from the market’s vendors. According to the event’s Facebook page, “The market supper is a unique way to support the local food movement, meet the farmers that grow your food and commune with neighbors over a fresh, local, thoughtfully prepared meal.”

The supper begins at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 29, at 718 Haywood Road. Tickets are $50 per person. All proceeds will support the market’s growth. Tickets are available at the market’s information booth on Tuesdays 3:30-6:30 p.m. For details, visit avl.mx/40n.

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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. He has worked with several publications, including Gulf Coast and the Collagist. For his weekly #tuesdayhistory tidbits on Asheville, follow him on Instagram @tcalder.

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