Small bites: Cultura opens on the South Slope

TWO OF A KIND: Jacob Sessoms, right, says he and business partner Walt Dickinson, left, share a passion for "a true artisanal, earth-driven, organic-driven approach to beer, wine and food." Photo by Thomas Calder

About a year ago, local chef and restauranteur Jacob Sessoms traveled abroad with his friend and recent business partner Walt Dickinson, founder of Wicked Weed Brewing. The two were headed to Rome with one mission in mind: to eat some pizza al taglio, a square-shaped, pan-baked pie.

At the time, Dickinson and Sessoms were designing a new menu for the Funkatorium, focused strictly on the Roman-style pizza. But what they ultimately came up with was a pair of concepts for two separate menus.

The first is now available at the Funkatorium and focuses on a broader range of Roman-styled street foods. Along with pizza al taglio, the menu also offers tranche and trapazino sandwiches, as well as suppli and arancini. The latter, Dickinson notes, “is a delicious fried ball of cheesy, ricey goodness.”

Meanwhile, Cultura, an evening restaurant connected to the Funkatorium, is slated to open Friday, May 3. Menu specifications are under lock and key until its grand opening, but according to Sessoms, “Everything is built off some form of culture or fermentation.”

The common thread between both Cultura and the Funkatorium, notes Dickinson, is a shared reverence for Old World ways and their emphasis on the artisanal. “That’s the core value,” Dickinson explains. “It’s to look back for inspiration in process, in technique, in fermentation [and] in how we do things, but then being very forward-thinking in flavor and execution.”

Cultura is at 147 Coxe Ave. The restaurant opens Friday, May 3, at 5 p.m. Hours are Tuesday-Sunday 5-10 p.m. For more, visit avl.mx/5y1.

May markets open

On Friday, May 3, the Saluda Tailgate Market enters its 10th year. The market, located on West Main Street in Saluda, runs 4:30-6:30 p.m. every Friday through October. The following day, Saturday, May 4, the Mills River Farm Market opens for its 11th season at Mills River Elementary School, 94 School House Road. The market runs 8 a.m.-noon every Saturday through October.

For more on the Saluda Tailgate Market, visit avl.mx/5xp. For more on the Mills River Farm Market, visit avl.mx/5xq.

Cinco de Mayo

Breweries and restaurants throughout Western North Carolina are celebrating Cinco de Mayo. Sanctuary Brewing Co., 147 First Ave. E., Hendersonville, will host its latest Plant Based Pantry pop-up noon-3 p.m. The menu will focus on Latin American-inspired cuisine (avl.mx/5xr). Also in Hendersonville, Dry Falls Brewing Co., 425 Kanuga Road, will honor the day with its Jalapeño & Mango IPA served on tap, along with lunch tacos prepared by Olive Catering (avl.mx/5xt). Meanwhile, in Sylva, Mesquite Grill, 410 E. Main St., will have special menu items and drink specials, as well as a live mariachi performance 5-8 p.m. (avl.mx/5xs).

Cinco de Mayo is May 5. For additional information, see provided links.

Sake tasting

The Cut Cocktail Lounge in Sylva will host a sake tasting and pairing event on Wednesday, May 8. Six types of sake will be presented by host Cara Freiji. The meal portion of the pairing will highlight The Cut Cocktail Lounge’s new Asian-inspired menu with dishes including egg rolls, pineapple fried-rice (with chicken or shrimp) and phó with house-made beef bone broth. Despite the lounge’s shift in focus, owner Jacque Laura assures regulars, “We are keeping our famous mac n’ cheese and charcuterie board.”

The sake pairing event happens 6-9 p.m. Wednesday, May 8, at The Cut Cocktail Lounge, 610 W. Main St. Tickets are $25 for the pairing, with a $10 sake option sans food. For more, visit avl.mx/5xu.

Curragh Chase pop-ups

Curragh Chase is hosting regular weekend pop-ups at Brouwerïj Cursus Kĕmē brewery on Thompson Street. Hours and menu options vary. Fridays run 4-7 p.m., with a focus on snacks and shareable plates, such as baby turnips with anchovy butter. Saturday pop-ups are 11:30 a.m.-8 p.m. and feature a mix of small dishes with vegetable-focused sides, such as grilled snapper with sorrel-cress aioli and barbecued skirt steak with cilantro-cornichon sauce. Sundays run 11 a.m.-4 p.m. with a focus on brunch sandwiches. “We are particularly excited about our mushroom French dip sandwich, which is roasted oyster mushrooms with lemon aioli and arugula,” says Curragh Chase chef Brittany Kroeyr.

The pop-ups take place every weekend at Brouwerïj Cursus Kĕmē, 155 Thompson St. For more, visit avl.mx/5xv.

Wize Guyz Pizza and other recent openings

Wize Guyz Pizza recently opened on Bleachery Boulevard in East Asheville. The restaurant offers house-made Italian-style pizza, pasta, subs and wings (avl.mx/5xw). Meanwhile, The Wine & Oyster celebrated its move to downtown Asheville early last month (avl.mx/5xx). On the South Slope, French Broad Chocolates opened its new Cookies & Creamery at the site of the company’s former and original Chocolate Factory (avl.mx/5xy). Lastly, Sunshine Sammies has expanded its operations with a new food truck at 2700 Hendersonville Road (avl.mx/5xz).

For hours and locations, see provided links.

Farewell Ambrozia, hello Early Girl Eatery

Ambrozia Bar and Bistro has closed. In an emailed statement, owner and chef Sam Etheridge writes, “It has been a wonderful six years here in North Asheville, but the time has come for me to move on to focus on family life, health and well-being.” Early Girl Eatery plans to open its third location in Ambrozia’s former space. Owner Jesson Gil says he hopes it will be up and running by the end of the month. The restaurant’s layout, notes Gil, will allow for Early Girl to host special events for up to 90 guests. The site will also offer a full bar.

Early Girl Eatery’s newest location will be at 1020 Merrimon Ave. For more, visit avl.mx/5v1.

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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.

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