Small bites: Southern history at Buxton Hall Barbecue

THE EVOLUTION OF SOUTHERN COOKING: In his latest book, The Potlikker Papers, John T. Edge examines Southern cuisine, as well as the region's social and political history. He will join Buxton Hall Barbecue for a six-course dinner inspired by the work. Photo by Jason Thrasher

In his 2017 book, The Potlikker Papers: A Food History of the Modern South, award-winning writer John T. Edge guides readers through six decades, beginning in 1955 and concluding in 2015. As its title suggests, the work examines the food traditions and history of the region. But as a number of critics have noted, the book goes far beyond culinary customs, offering readers a look at the interconnection among the area’s food scene, politics and social movements.

On Sunday, Feb. 18, Buxton Hall Barbecue will host Celebrating the Culinary Journey of the South: A Dinner Conversation with John T. Edge. At the gathering, Chai Pani Restaurant Group chef Meherwan Irani, along with Buxton Hall pitmaster Elliott Moss and pastry chef Ashley Capps, will present a six-course meal inspired by Edge’s work.

Edge says the event is both an honor and a welcome change. “In a way, I’m tired of talking about my own book,” he admits. “I’m really happy to have someone else tell me what they read in my work, which is the ultimate compliment.”

Just as The Potlikker Papers takes readers through the region’s history decade by decade, so too will the evening’s dinner. Menu details were not available at press time, but concepts up for consideration include biryani stuffed pig and beef vindaloo tamales.

For Irani, the interpretation of Edge’s work has presented a unique opportunity. “Our culinary team is really excited about the themes in John T.’s book,” he says. “We’re looking forward to making this not just a dinner, but a conversation.”

Discussions between courses will include the participating chefs’ inspirations behind each dish, as well as anecdotes and insights offered by Edge. “I’ll talk about the dynamism of the Southern food culture,” the writer says. “The South has never been a binary of black and white. The South has always been a multicultural place.”

And this, Edge emphasizes, is what he hopes his book conveys and what people walk away with from the event. He points to Asheville as a prime example of the region’s ongoing change. Edge says the city’s rich and diverse food scene, as well as its proclivity for reinterpreting traditional dishes, highlights the evolution of Southern cuisine.

“I don’t write about a South that is preserved in amber,” Edge continues. “I’ve got no time for that.”

Celebrating the Culinary Journey of the South: A Dinner Conversation with John T. Edge begins at 6 p.m. Sunday, Feb 18, in the Remingtin Room at Buxton Hall Barbecue, 32 Banks Ave. Tickets are $75 per person and include a copy of The Potlikker Papers. For more details, visit avl.mx/4m4

Rezaz closes for renovations

Rezaz will close for renovations beginning Sunday, Feb. 18. According to a press release, owners and chefs Brian and Laura Smith plan to host a grand reopening on Thursday, March 8. “We’re going to knock out the wall between the wine bar and the dining room to open up the space and add more seating,” says Laura in the same release. The renovation will also include an expansion of the Benedetto Room, Rezaz’s private dining space. In addition, the release notes Brian’s plan to introduce “his own gastronomic identity for the restaurant, an all-encompassing taste of the region he calls Pan-Mediterranean.”

Rezaz is at 28 Hendersonville Road in Biltmore Village. For more information, visit rezaz.com.

Chicken love and other specials at Tupelo Honey

Chicken-fried love is in the air at Tupelo Honey. The restaurant will celebrate Valentine’s Day with a prix fixe menu. The $65 meal includes one shared appetizer, two fried chicken supper plates, a pair of mini-desserts and a bottle of Champagne. To honor Presidents Day, Tupelo Honey will offer $3 mimosas from 9 a.m.-3 p.m. Monday, Feb. 19. On Thursday, Feb. 22, the restaurant will celebrate National Margarita Day by offering a free taco with each signature Tupelo Honey margarita ordered. Taco selections include the slow-roasted pork taco with peanut pico or fried chicken BLT taco with saffron buttermilk ranch.

Asheville Tupelo Honey locations are at 1829 Hendersonville Road and at 12 College St. For details and other locations, visit avl.mx/4m6

Celebrating Year of the Dog at Alchemy

Alchemy Tearoom, Apothecary and Acupuncture welcomes the Chinese Year of the Dog with a celebration on Friday, Feb. 16. There will be traditional Chinese snacks, a discussion of the Year of the Dog and a setting of intentions for the new lunar year, according to the event’s Facebook page.

The gathering happens 6-8 p.m. Friday, Feb. 16, at Alchemy, 62 Clayton St. For more information, visit the Facebook event page at avl.mx/4m9. 

Local businesses win 2018 Good Food Awards

Four Western North Carolina food businesses were honored recently as winners of the 2018 Good Food Awards. Fairview-based Looking Glass Creamery won for its Bear Wallow cheese, The American Pig was recognized for its picante salami and lomo, Hendersonville’s Copper Pot and Wooden Spoon won for its honey-citrus marmalade, and Barnardsville’s Pick and Preserve was honored for its peach and North Carolina apple brandy butter. “The Good Food Awards honor the people who make food that is delicious, respectful of the environment and connected to communities and cultural traditions,” says the program’s website. This year, there were a total of 200 winners selected from a field of 2,000 entries from all over the U.S.

For the full list of winners, visit goodfoodawards.org.

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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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