Small bites: Celebrating the season with Farm-to-Table Dinner

SEASONAL GREETINGS: At the Organic Growers School's upcoming Farm-to-Table Dinner, chef John Fleer will prepare a menu that highlights local winter food options as a way to promote food sustainability. Photo courtesy of Organic Growers School

Smashed and seared beets, a winter sharing salad and pork confit on Argentinian sweet-potato guiso are among the menu items included at the upcoming Farm-to-Table Dinner with chef John Fleer of Rhubarb and The Rhu restaurants. The four-course meal, which is a fundraiser for the nonprofit gardening education organization Organic Growers School, will provide a literal link between farm and table with its locale in the Yesterday Spaces event barn at Gaining Ground Farm in Leicester.

Tickets are available on a sliding scale of $75-$125 per person. All proceeds will help the Organic Growers School keep costs down for future classes and conferences. “I see this as a community event,” says Sarah Seldin, the dinner’s coordinator. “It’s an opportunity to build connections … and to introduce more people to Organic Growers School and local food.”

Before dinner, guests will be able to tour the working farm, then Meredith Leigh, author of The Ethical Meat Handbook, will present a talk on sustainability as it relates to the evening’s meal. The brief discussion will offer insight into the roles of good farming, mindful harvesting and culinary ingenuity in the farm-to-table movement.

“We wanted to keep the menu seasonal,” says Seldin, emphasizing the event’s focus on sustainability. “We wanted to highlight what is actually available in February.”

Cailen Campbell and the Pond Brothers will provide musical entertainment during the meal.

Seldin hopes that folks leave the event with a full belly as well as a better understanding of local foods and the seasonality of the food system. “Our core mission is to provide education on organic growing for home growers and farmers and gardeners,” she says. “This event allows us, as a fundraiser, to do more of that. … We want to keep this kind of education accessible to everyone along the economic spectrum.”

Farm-to-Table Dinner with chef John Fleer begins at 3:30 p.m. Sunday, Feb. 12, at Yesterday Spaces, 305 Sluder Branch Road, Leicester. For details and tickets, visit

Charcuterie workshop

In addition to speaking at the Farm-to-Table Dinner, Meredith Leigh will host a two-day charcuterie workshop through the Organic Growers School at Gaining Ground Farm. Those who attend will work with a half hog. According to the class description, participants will turn “every scrap of it into charcuterie, from fresh sausages to smoked hams, from pate to hard salami.” Other topics will include discussions on sustainable farming, mindful slaughter, good cooking and artisan butchering. Samples will be available throughout both days of the session. Participants will also leave with take-home items.

The workshop runs Friday-Saturday, Feb. 10-11, at Gaining Ground Farm, 298 Sluder Branch Road, Leicester. Tickets are $250 per person and include a copy of Leigh’s book, The Ethical Meat Handbook. For more information and to register, visit

Bingo Brunch Buffet at Ole Shakey’s

On Sunday, Feb. 12, Ole Shakey’s will host a mix of late brunch and bingo with the Bingo Brunch Buffet. The bottomless buffet is $10 and includes eggs, bacon, sausage, potatoes and toast. Guests get their first bingo card with the purchase of their meal, and subsequent cards are $2 each or three for $5. Prizes will be awarded.

The Bingo Brunch Buffet starts at noon Sunday, Feb. 12, at Ole Shakey’s, 790 Riverside Drive. For more information, visit

Yacht into Porto Cervo

Nate Allen, chef and owner of Spruce Pine’s Knife & Fork, continues his annual globally focused winter pop-up series with a weekend highlighting the cuisine of the Mediterranean island of Sardinia. A team effort with Cucina24 owner and executive chef Brian Canipelli, Yacht into Porto Cervo features an a la carte menu of fresh, extruded pastas and herb-heavy pork and grilled sardine dishes. A chef’s tasting option is also available, which is a five-course meal for $55 per person.

Yacht into Porto Cervo runs 5-9 p.m. Thursday-Saturday, Feb. 16-18, at Knife & Fork, 61 Locust St., Spruce Pines. Reservations are encouraged and are available by calling 828-765-1511. Follow Knife & Fork’s Facebook page for updates on the event’s menu:

Casablanca Cigar Bar

A new cigar bar opened recently in Biltmore Village. Casablanca Cigar Bar operates as a private club, offering daily ($2) and yearly ($5) memberships. A variety of cigars is available for guests to sample and smoke in-house, and the climate-controlled humidor and retail space offers pipe tobacco and smoking accessories. There is also a fully stocked bar serving liquor, beer, wine and coffee.

Casablanca Cigar Bar is at 18 Lodge St. Hours are 9 a.m.-2 a.m. For more information, 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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