Small bites: Ciao Asheville

ALL THINGS ITALIAN: Gail Rampersaud, left, and Gina Trippi co-founded Ciao Asheville, an Italian cultural forum. “We want to bring the Italian cultural experience to Asheville," says Trippi. Photo by Thomas Calder

You don’t have to be Italian to join Ciao Asheville. The new cultural forum only asks interested members to bring their passion for the country’s cuisine, language, wine, film and literature with them to the monthly meetings at Metro Wines. “The mission of the group is to try to address all of those aspects,” says Gina Trippi, co-owner of Metro Wines and co-founder of the forum. “We want to bring the Italian cultural experience to Asheville.”

On Wednesday, Jan. 16, the group will host its inaugural meeting. Strada Italiano will supply pizza, and Mike Tiano of Haw River Wine Man will offer a brief presentation on Chianti wine. In addition, Gail Rampersaud, the group’s event coordinator, will discuss plans for the forum’s future and upcoming programs, which include presentations on the slow food movement and travel ideas when visiting Italy.

Along with monthly presentations, the group intends to host free Italian films at Metro Wines. Trippi and Rampersaud also hope to develop an Italian language speaking group to meet more frequently than the forum’s current monthly gathering.

“We really want to serve the needs of the people that are interested in this,” says Rampersaud. “The inaugural event is about bringing folks together, getting their feedback and figuring out the future direction of the group. We want our courses to be driven by our members. We want to provide what people want.”

Ciao Asheville: An Italian Cultural Forum will host its inaugural meeting 5:30-6:30 p.m. Wednesday, Jan. 16, at Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte St. The event is free to attend. To learn more, visit

A Taste of Italy

La Guinguette will host A Taste of Italy, a five-course wine pairing dinner, on Thursday, Jan. 10. The menu will include caponata bruschetta, stuffed spinach pasta with Bolognese sauce, pork chops and tiramisu. Wine highlights include Zardetto Burt Prosecco NV, Tasca d’Almarita Regaleali Bianco 2017 and Vitano Rosso 2015.

A Taste of Italy begins at 6 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at La Guinguette, 105 Richardson Blvd., Black Mountain. Tickets are $60 per person. To make reservations, call 828-424-7810 or visit,

Restaurants raise funds for local schools

On Thursday, Jan. 10, Farm Burger South Asheville will donate 10 percent of its proceeds to Avery’s Creek Elementary School. “As a restaurant, we have a unique platform to better the world around us, which is why we started Harvesting for the Community,” says James Dunlevy, Farm Burger regional manager. “We want to support schools, farmers’ organizations, women’s rights organizations — the causes that matter most to our guests and our community.” The following Tuesday, Jan. 15, Nine Mile West will donate a portion of its daily proceeds to ArtSpace Charter School.

Harvesting for the Community: Avery’s Creek Elementary School runs 4-9 p.m. Thursday, Jan. 10, at Farm Burger South Asheville, 1831 Hendersonville Road. For more information, visit Dine Out for ArtSpace runs 5-10 p.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at Nine Mile West, 751 Haywood Road. For more information, visit

Finding Home fundraiser

Wicked Weed Brewing and chef Jacob Sessoms are among those sponsoring the upcoming fundraiser Finding Home. The event, which will be held Friday, Jan. 11, and Saturday, Jan. 12, benefits Homeward Bound, a local nonprofit that works to end homelessness in Asheville and Buncombe County. Both evenings will include small plates from Sessoms’ latest venture, All Day Darling, alongside brews from Wicked Weed Funkatorium. Specialty chocolates from The Chocolate Fetish will also be served. The evening will conclude with a performance of Finding Home, a cabaret created and directed by Candice Dickinson.

Finding Home runs 7-9 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Jan. 11 and Jan. 12 at the Phil Mechanic Studios, 109 Roberts St. Tickets are $150. To purchase, visit

Modernist Cuisine: Where Cooking Meets Science

The BioNetwork at A-B Tech will host Modernist Cuisine: Where Cooking Meets Science, a three-session course that runs Tuesday-Thursday, Jan. 15-17. According to the event’s Facebook page, participants will explore “molecular gastronomy science, equipment and techniques for taste enhancement and cuisine presentation.” The hands-on course will also include tastings. Food, supplies and safety and sanitary gear will be provided. Participants must wear long pants and close-toed shoes.

Modernist Cuisine: Where Cooking Meets Science begins at 10 a.m. Tuesday, Jan. 15, at A-B Tech Enka, 1463 Sand Hill Road, Candler, Suite 200. The three-day course runs through Thursday, Jan. 17. Cost is $101.35. To register, visit

Free weekend meals at Ferguson Family YMCA

The YMCA of WNC Nutrition Department now serves a weekly free lunch for children and teens younger than 18 every Saturday at the Ferguson Family YMCA. The meals are open to the community; YMCA membership is not required to attend.

Free meals are served 11 a.m.-1 p.m. Saturdays at the Ferguson Family YMCA, 31 Westridge Market Place, Candler. 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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