Small bites: In the North Carolina Spirit

URBAN LEGEND: Jeremy Hood (aka "The Urban Gastronome") joins forces with The Foundry Hotel and a slew of local beverage businesses to raise funds, food and gifts for local families in need. Image courtesy of Hood; photo by Darrell Cassell of Rowella Creative

‘Tis the season to be jolly — and generous. And if you’re going to be both, why not dress to the nines while you’re at it? At least that is the concept for the upcoming In the North Carolina Spirit, a gala co-hosted by Jeremy Hood (aka “The Urban Gastronome”) and The Foundry Hotel, with a live performance by the Russ Wilson Orchestra.

The gathering takes place Saturday, Dec. 7, and benefits Food Connection, a local organization that works to relieve hunger by connecting surplus freshly prepared meals to those experiencing food insecurity.

Benne on Eagle will prepare the evening’s menu, while beer, wine and exclusive cocktails will be available from businesses including Cultivated Cocktails, New Belgium Brewing Co., The Chemist, Hillman Beer, Wicked Weed Brewing, Devil’s Foot Beverage Co., TOPO Organic Spirits, plēb urban winery and Oak City Amaretto. All items will be available for purchase, with a percentage of the proceeds benefiting Food Connection. Menu items were not available at press time.

Guests are required to bring a gift for admittance. Requested items include gift cards, scarves, toboggans, gloves, coats, sweaters, hoodies, blankets, socks and shoes. Along with receiving monetary and culinary contributions from the gala, Food Connection will gather and distribute these donations to local community members and families in need.

“I want people to walk away with that feeling that they contributed something to a greater cause,” says Hood. “That they were able to help somebody.”

In the North Carolina Spirit runs 6-9 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the Workshop Lounge at The Foundry Hotel, 51 S. Market St. For more details on gift donation guidelines, visit

Holiday tea and pastry pairing

Asheville Tea Co. and The Rhu will partner to host a holiday tea and pastry pairing on Thursday, Dec. 5. Featured beverages include Winter Wonderland, Snow Day, Nutcracker and Chocolate Habanero Chai tea blends. The event will include a discussion about flavors and local sources. Substitutions will be available for those with nut allergies or aversions to hot pepper spice. Tickets are $15.

The pairing runs 6-8 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at The Rhu, 10 S. Lexington Ave. For tickets, visit

Art unveiling at The Blackbird

On Thursday, Dec. 5, The Blackbird will unveil artist Lisa Diakova’s new installment, a 9-foot triptych that depicts a murder of crows indulging in a curated feast. The Blackbird will celebrate with a complimentary wine tasting and light snacks.

The event runs 4-7 p.m. Thursday, Dec. 5, at The Blackbird, 47 Biltmore Ave. To learn more, visit

Community chili cook-off

Lookout Brewing Co. will host its annual community chili cook-off on Saturday, Dec. 7, during Black Mountain’s Christmas parade. Contestants are encouraged to enter their dishes before the 4 p.m. holiday procession in order to enjoy a bowl during the event. Winners will be determined by popular vote for most creative and best all-around.

The cook-off runs 3-6 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Lookout Brewing Co., 103 S. Ridgeway Ave., Black Mountain. For more information, visit

Four Sisters Bakery at the Circle of Lights

Once you finish your bowl of chili at Lookout Brewing Co. and the final parade float passes by, consider making your way to Lake Tomahawk for the annual Circle of Lights for dessert. Four Sisters Bakery will partner with Black Mountain Recreation and Parks to provide free sweets and other refreshments for this year’s celebration, which takes place immediately after the Black Mountain Christmas parade. The all-ages event is free to attend.

Circle of Lights runs 5-7 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Lake Tomahawk, 401 Laurel Circle Drive. To learn more, visit

Breakfast with Santa

Asheville Parks and Recreation will host Breakfast with Santa at the Stephens-Lee Center on Saturday, Dec. 7. The event is ideal for children ages 2-9. The gathering is limited to 50 people per seating, with breakfast served at 9 a.m. and again at 10:30 a.m. Menu items include pancakes, sausage, yogurt, bananas, orange juice and coffee. Reservations are required. Breakfast is $8 per person.

Breakfast is served at 9 a.m. and 10:30 a.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, 30 George Washington Carver Ave. To purchase tickets, visit

Meal planning basics

UPDATE DEC 6: THIS CLASS HAS BEEN POSTPONED. IT WILL RUN FEBRUARY 1, 2020; COST IS $25 PER PERSON. Culinary nutritionist Nancy Campbell will lead a meal planning workshop at the French Broad Food Co-op on Saturday, Dec. 7. The class will cover strategies for prepping in advance for easy weekday meals, building a pantry that serves you, using overlapping ingredients and other culinary tips. Cost is $15 per person; co-op members receive a $10 discount.

The class runs 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, Dec. 7, at the French Broad Food Co-op, 90 Biltmore Ave. To learn more, visit

Tequila dinner

Mamacita’s Taco Temple will host a five-course tequila pairing dinner on Sunday, Dec. 8. Featured tequilas include Altos Tequila, Tequila Avión and Del Maguey Mezcal. Fried plantain, fried calamari, mezcal rotisserie chicken on banana leaf and Mexican chocolate cake are among the menu highlights. Tickets are $65 per person, not including tax and gratuity. Reservations are required.

The dinner runs 7-9 p.m. Sunday, Dec. 8, at Mamacita’s Taco Temple, 132 Charlotte St. To learn more, visit For reservations, call 828-255-8098.

Sushi class

Birmingham Sushi Class will offer a two-hour workshop on Wednesday, Dec. 11. The class will cover how to make sushi rice and sauces and how to safely serve raw fish. Students will each get to sample two sushi rolls and will leave with a cheat sheet filled with tips, tricks and recipes. Tickets are $40 per person.

The class runs 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, Dec. 11, at Ginger’s Revenge Craft Brewery & Tasting Room, 829 Riverside Drive, Suite 100. To learn more, visit


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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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