Small Bites: BaconFest is back

MORE SIZZLE: This year's BaconFest Asheville will double in size from last year, with 24 local restaurants participating in its bacon-themed culinary competition. Photo by Kathi Petersen

BaconFest is back

Pork devotees can celebrate International Bacon Day (and Labor Day weekend) on Saturday, Aug. 30, by pigging out at the second annual BaconFest Asheville. More than 20 local restaurants came out for last year’s sold-out event to share an array of pork-focused goodies that ranged from straight-up, no-frills bacon to more experimental pork-flavored items including caramel corn, sushi and doughnuts. This year, there is space for a total of 24 competitors in the culinary competition, with slots still available for interested restaurants. Guests can vote for winners in the categories of Best Traditional Barbecue, Best Bacon, Best Sweet Item and Most Outrageous Dish. The younger set can get in on a variety of pig-themed kids activities, including a climbing wall and obstacle course, packaged food items will be for sale and the Artemis Pyle Band will provide the background music. At last year’s event, Michelle Gurbal, chef at the Chop House, took first runner-up in all four categories, with entries including pork-stuffed, bacon-wrapped jalapenos and dark-chocolate ganache-dipped, chocolate-chunk cookies with bacon sprinkles. “I’m going to win it this year!” says Gurbal, who adds that she now plans to downsize to two categories. In 2013, her booth featured an attention-grabbing bouquet of bacon “roses,” but she says, “I think I’m going to do something a little more outrageous this year.” The Mountain 105.9 is hosting the event as a fundraiser for Blue Ridge Food Ventures. Organizer Nichole Mitchell says plans are to double the size of this year’s festival, which will be held, as last year, in Highland Brewing Co.’s meadow. Beer lovers can check out a bacon-infused brew Highland is making just for the occasion. General admission tickets go on sale Monday, July 28. Attendance is limited, and last year’s event sold out within two weeks, so time is of the essence. Some VIP tickets will be available that will include a goody bag, preferred parking and early VIP-only access. Early-bird tickets are $10 through Aug. 3 and $15 starting Aug. 4. VIP tickets are $30. Children ages 9 and younger are free. BaconFest Asheville, 1-4 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 30, Highland Brewing Co., 12 Old Charlotte Highway. VIP ticket holders can enter at noon. Restaurants wishing to participate should contact Nichole Mitchell at 210-8546. Details and tickets:

Asheville Wine and Food Festival

For many foodies and tipplers, summertime means time for the Asheville Food and Wine Festival. Now in its sixth year, the festival includes four components: the Asheville Scene Chefs Challenge, Elixir, Sweet and the Grand Tasting. The Chefs Challenge is a seven-week series of competitions, already underway, that pit local and regional chefs against each other in audience-judged tastings. Events continue at 6 p.m. Tuesdays through Aug. 12 in the Century Room at Pack’s Tavern, with the overall champion to be announced at the Grand Tasting on Aug. 23. Elixir, to be held 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 1, at a secret location, will feature local bartenders in a mixology competition using liquors from North Carolina distilleries. Sweet takes place 7:30-9 p.m. Friday, Aug. 22, featuring chocolates, cakes, tarts, pastries and more by local artisans in the Grove Arcade. The festival culminates with the Grand Tasting 2-5 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 23, at the U.S. Cellular Center, and will feature samplings from more than 125 local and international wineries, local breweries, regional distillers, restaurateurs and chefs, farmers and artisan food producers. Cooking demonstrations will take place throughout the day, as well as the Amateur Winemaker Competition. Tickets to Asheville Scene Chefs Challege competitions are $49 each, excluding tax and gratuity. Tickets are $45 for Elixir and Sweet. Grand Tasting tickets are $55 general admission; $70 VIP.

New restaurant updates

Asheville has long been clamoring for doughnuts and Ethiopian food, and those two items are about to be on the local food-scene menu. Work continues on Addissae, an Ethiopian restaurant soon to be opened in the old Firestorm space at 48 Commerce St. Co-owner Neeraj Kebede says that although he had hoped for a June launch, city inspections are in progress now, and he is hoping to open near the end of August. Hole, the Haywood Road artisan doughnut project of former Tin Can Pizzeria owners Carolina Whatley and Kim Dryden, has experienced some construction holdups and is now looking at a late-September/early-October opening, according to Dryden. Meanwhile, Vortex Doughnuts co-owner Ron Patton says his South Slope shop is “finally coming together,” and he is hoping for a soft opening in late August followed by a full-blown kickoff in September. In the meantime, The Hop is selling Vortex cinnamon-sugar doughnut ice cream with Squeal Sauce this summer, and attendees at Blue Ridge Food Ventures’ July 24 Stir Crazy event can look for Vortex PBR fritters (yep, as in Pabst Blue Ribbon beer). Look for updates at, and


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