Small Bites: Essence

ESSENTIAL THINGS: Asheville Wine and Food Festival's Essence on Friday, June 26, will allow guests to decide which local mixologists and chefs will participate in this year's Elixir and Grand Tasting final competitions. Photo from the 2014 Grand Tasting by Julie McMillan of Silver Birch Studio Photography

Essence

As the Asheville Wine and Food Festival celebrates its seventh year, it is transforming in both size and format. Essence, on Friday, June 26, is the second of two preliminary cocktail and small-plate tastings added to the roster this year — the first, Amuse, took place on May 1.

The new events — which join last year’s Elixir, Sweet and Grand Tasting — provide two central venues for the community to decide which local chefs and mixologists will compete in the final rounds at August’s Elixir cocktail competition and Grand Tasting chef showdown, says event organizer Melissa Mathews.

Previously, contenders in the final faceoffs were decided through a series of ticketed dinners leading up to the challenges. “This [new] way really involves the community more because you can go and experience all these different chefs and mixologists who are competing all on one event date,” Mathews explains.

She also notes that the mixology competition “got a lot more serious this year,” so some preliminary events were needed to whittle down the field of competitors.

Restaurants competing at Essence will include Farm Burger, Buffalo Nickel, Ambrozia, the Omni Grove Park Inn and the Grand Bohemian Hotel’s Red Stag Grill. Bars represented at the event will include Nightbell, Omni Grove Park Inn’s Edison, MG Road, Red Stag Grill, Buffalo Nickel, Top of the Monk, Ambrozia and the Double Tree Inn Biltmore.

Essence takes place 6-8 p.m. Friday, June 26, at the Morris Hellenic Cultural Event Center, 227 Cumberland Ave. Tickets are $49 plus sales tax. Elixir, Sweet and the Grand Tasting happen Thursday through Saturday, Aug. 20-22. For details and tickets, visit ashevillewineandfood.com.

Food Truck Fridays

June’s ‎Food Truck Friday at Reynolds Village takes place 5:30-8:30 p.m. Friday, June 26. Food trucks will include The Real Food Truck, Amazing Pizza Co., Captain Dave’s Pirate Dawgs and Appalachian Chic, plus The Hop will be on-site selling ice cream. HotPoint Trio will provide live music 6-8 p.m., and there will be face painting, balloon art, games and hula-hooping for the kids. Local artists and crafters will have booths at the event, and the Asheville Humane Society will have adoptable pets to meet.

Reynolds Village is one mile north of Beaver Lake on North Merrimon Avenue. To book a food vendor spot, call 552-5204 or send an email to info@ampedupkids.com. Artists can call 575-0905 or send an email to rococoballroom@gmail.com. Musicians are already booked for the 2015 season.

Craft beer documentary

Metro Wines and Brewing Up a Storm will host a screening of the documentary film Beer Wars: Brewed in America followed by a panel discussion with industry experts at 6 p.m. Friday, June 26. Beer Wars explores the world of beer marketing and distribution from the perspective of craft brewers. Tickets are $10 plus sales tax. Admission includes the movie, discussion and one drink. Parking is free.

Metro Wines, 169 Charlotte St. For more information, contact Anita Riley at anita@metrowinesasheville.com.

Footpath beer collaboration

Highland Brewing Co. and New Belgium Brewing Co. have partnered to brew Footpath, a Belgian session ale, as the inaugural beer collaboration of the Brewing for Greenways initiative. Footpath will be released at 4 p.m. Friday, June 26, at Highland. Two dollars from the sale of each pint will benefit Friends of Connect Buncombe to support the East Asheville greenway. Brewing for Greenways was developed by Highland and New Belgium as a way for brewers to support greenway development across Buncombe County. Also, on the afternoon of Sunday, June 28, Asheville on Bikes Summer Cycle will ride the route between New Belgium and Highland to raise awareness of future greenway plans.

Highland Brewing Co., 12 Old Charlotte Highway. For details, visit highlandbrewing.com and ashevilleonbikes.com.

New tour Creative Mountain

Black Mountain’s Creative Mountain Food Tours is celebrating its first anniversary this month by adding a new Round the World tour to its offerings. Starting Saturday, June 27, the walking tour will stop at internationally inspired businesses in Black Mountain, including Berliner Kindl, Dobra Tea, Fresh Wood Fired Pizza, La Guinguette and Europa gift shop. The tours include tastings, meet-and-greet sessions with chefs and details on local history and architecture.

For more information or to book tickets, visit creativemountainfoodtours.com.

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About Gina Smith
Gina Smith is the Mountain Xpress Food section editor and writer. She can be reached at gsmith@mountainx.com.

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