Small bites: Celebrating fats

FAT CHANCE: “I certainly grew up in a world where fat was the enemy," says Meredith Leigh. But in the her latest workshop, the author and chef aims to challenge this misconception. Photo courtesy of Leigh

Over the last 50 years, says Asheville-based author and chef Meredith Leigh, fats have been demonized by various food- and health-related industries. The result, she notes, has been unsettling: “I’m aghast at how we’ve substituted chemicals for natural fats in our cooking.”

On Tuesday, July 17, Leigh aims to challenge this misconception of the macronutrient through her workshop, Essentials of Cooking: Fat. The event is the third in a four-part series presented by the nonprofit Living Web Farms. The impetus for the overall program, says Leigh, is to bring people back to the basic applications and fundamentals of cooking.

During the class, participants will make pastry doughs and some type of emulsion in addition to sampling a variety of fats, from ghee to sesame oil. Throughout the session, Leigh will highlight the advantages that fats bring to recipes, including texture, flavor and preservation.

Along with culinary insights, Leigh plans to share some historical background regarding the long-standing campaign against the macronutrient. “Corporate influence certainly played a role in demonizing fat, and then the health world got on board,” she says. “I certainly grew up in a world where fat was the enemy.”

Part of the workshop’s goal, she continues, is to demystify the ingredient and celebrate its many contributions to a person’s overall health. “Your body needs fat for insulation, for energy, for lining organs, and cell walls and nerves,” Leigh explains.

But ultimately, Leigh says, her intention in leading the workshop all circles back to taste. “I hope participants will learn to manipulate and understand different fats to diversify their cooking and also make their experience with food more delicious.”

Essentials of Cooking: Fat runs 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, at Living Web Farms, 176 Kimzey Road, Mills River. Suggested donation, $10. To RSVP, visit avl.mx/532.

Bites & Brews Food Truck Festival

Sunshine Sammies, Purple People Feeder, My Sausage Buddy and Hit the Pit BBQ are among the more than 20 vendors scheduled to participate in the Bites & Brews Food Truck Festival on Saturday, July 14, at the Asheville Outlets. Along with bites, the rain-or-shine, family-friendly gathering will include live music and beer from Hi-Wire Brewing, New Belgium Brewing Co., Oskar Blues Brewery and Highland Brewing Co. A portion of the event’s proceeds will benefit Eblen Charities, a nonprofit that helps families in Western North Carolina with medical and emergency assistance.

Bites & Brews Food Truck Festival runs 11 a.m.-5 p.m. Saturday, July 14, at the Asheville Outlets, 800 Brevard Road. General admission is $10. VIP tickets are $25. For details and tickets, visit avl.mx/534.

Asheville Tea Co. and Asheville Goods pop-in shop

Asheville Tea Co. and Asheville Goods will open a pop-in shop in West Asheville, with a grand-opening celebration planned for Saturday, July 14. Asheville Goods will offer samples of its local food products, and Asheville Tea Co. will provide free tastings of its seasonal brews, including hibiscus mojito, lavender limoncello, mint julep and Southern sweet tea, 4-7 p.m. during the event.

The shop is at 7 Brevard Road. The grand opening starts at 11 a.m. Saturday, July 14. Store hours to be determined. For more information, visit ashevilleteacompany.com or ashevillegoods.com.  

Fermenting from the Garden/Homestead/Farm

Meg Chamberlain, co-owner of Fermenti, will lead a free workshop at Sow True Seed on Tuesday, July 17, as part of Sow True Seed’s Tea, Biscuits and Gardening series. Participants will learn techniques for planning and using their garden’s bounty for fermented foods. “When you mention fermentation, people are either immediately intimidated or they think of sauerkraut,” says Chris Smith, Sow True Seed’s communications and marketing manager. “This class will open your mind to all the wonderful and varied forms that fermentation can take.”

Fermenting from the Garden/Homestead/Farm runs 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 17, at Sow True Seed, 243 Haywood St. The event is free to attend. To register, visit avl.mx/533.

A Midsummer Wine Dinner

The Princess Anne Hotel and Metro Wines will team up for A Midsummer Wine Dinner on Wednesday, July 18. The menu, prepared by chef Todd Ritter, will include roasted and stuffed peach, basil-marinated jumbo sea scallop and Caribbean jerk oxtail. The evening’s wine selection will feature NV Cune Cava, 2017 Lubanzi Chenin Blanc, 2017 Amity White Pinot Noir, 2017 Commanderie de la Bargemon Rose and 2014 Capcane Mas Collet.

A Midsummer Wine Dinner begins at 6:45 p.m. Wednesday, July 18, at The Princess Anne Hotel, 301 E. Chestnut St. Tickets are $80 per person. Seating is limited. Reservations close Sunday, July 15, at 5 p.m. For more, visit avl.mx/535.

The Chemist opens

The Chemist recently opened on Coxe Avenue. “We’re a craft distillery that pays homage to Prohibition-era chemists who turned contraband bars into happy hour science labs,” says James Donaldson, creative director. According to Donaldson, the distillery’s founder, Debbie Word, began as a hobbyist before traveling the world to learn the craft firsthand from a number of makers. Donaldson notes The Chemist’s first product, American Gin Tradition, focuses on American citrus as opposed to juniper. The distillery’s most recent release, in collaboration with Urban Orchard, is Eau De Vie, an unaged apple brandy.

The Chemist is at 151 Coxe Ave. Hours are 2-9 p.m., Monday-Friday and noon-9 p.m. Saturday. For more, visit chemistspirits.com.

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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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