Small bites: HardLox Jewish festival schmears on the heritage

PICKING AND CHOOSING: In addition to sourcing a feast of various Jewish dishes from across the nation, the 13th annual HardLox Jewish Food and Heritage Festival curates its music and vendors carefully, including only entities that convey culture. “We try and create an environment of Jewish celebration within Pack Square,” organizer Marty Gillen says, “and the festival really has that energy during the day.” Photo of Lotte Meyerson by Laurie Johnson

“The Jews never get together without food,” says Marty Gillen, organizer of the forthcoming HardLox Jewish Food and Heritage Festival. “That’s just the way we are.”

“We bring [dishes] in from all over,” he says of the festival fare, citing 26 meal options like knishes from Coney Island in New York City; corned beef and pastrami from the greater Boston area; plus locally made items — matzo ball soup, rugelach, kosher hot dogs, bagels with lox and cream cheese and hot-from-the-oven rye bread (from City Bakery), for instance.

Gillen is a member of Congregation Beth HaTephila, which started the free event 12 years ago. He says the smorgasbord represents familiar, comfort food for Jewish Americans who grew up in cities like New York and Miami. And, for those less accustomed to the staples, a printed guide with definitions of menu items is available at the door.

Beyond just food, Gillen says the festival represents an opportunity for the local Jewish community to “share our music … and our heritage with the city of Asheville.” He says that although many local Jews are not affiliated with any particular congregation, there is a sizable, cohesive and supportive population of Jewish people in Western North Carolina.

The festival is open to all backgrounds, though. Between munching, attendees can peruse the booths of vendors selling Judaica (trinkets and such inspired by Jewish heritage) and enjoy live music by the Goldstein Family Band, The Beth HaTephila Kol Simcha Choir, The Beth HaTephila Children’s Choir, The Bandana Klezmer Band, Gam Yachad! and Tennessee Schmaltz.

“We see [Asheville’s nicknames like] Beer City and Bee City, and on that Sunday at HardLox, we’re gonna schmear cream cheese on hundreds and hundreds of bagels,” Gillen says with a laugh. “We figured that we could declare that day as Schmear City, USA [day] here in Asheville.”

HardLox Jewish Food and Heritage Festival is at Pack Square Park Sunday, Oct. 18, 11 a.m.-4 p.m. Visit for more information.

RAD Farmers Market Harvest Dinner

An annual fundraiser for the RAD Farmers Market, Harvest Dinner offers a multicourse meal sourced exclusively from the organization’s market vendors and prepared by chefs Brendan Reusing and David Bauer of All Souls Pizza. The planned menu includes sweet potato and ginger soup with fermented-chili yogurt; radicchio salad with roasted winter squash and balsamic vinaigrette; pizzoccheri with greens, potatoes, cabbage and goat cheese; and, to end on a sweet note, fennel and mint sorbet with shortbread. Gypsy jazz group Hot Point Trio and comedian Minori Hinds provide entertainment in addition to the raffle and silent auction.

All Souls Pizza hosts the Harvest Dinner benefit event Monday, Oct. 19, 6-9 p.m. For information or tickets ($30/$40), visit

Top of the Monk’s second anniversary and Halloween celebrations

Top of the Monk has four days of festivities planned to celebrate its own second anniversary and Halloween. The bar will offer a new Halloween menu by bar manager Kala Brooks, with cocktails like the Headless Horseman (a version of an autumnal boilermaker with bourbon, pumpkin ale, orange, two types of bitters, house-made spiced grenadine and a dusting of pumpkin pie spices) and a Potion de Los Muertos (a savory concoction of tequila, orange, lemon, ancho chili saturated agave syrup, two kinds of bitters and beet pomegranate molasses). Industry swag and other freebies are also up for grabs, particularly on kickoff night (Wednesday), when multi-brand ambassador Larken Eggleston (Bombay Gin, Jack Daniels, Woodford Reserve, etc.) stops in at 6 p.m. to meet and purchase drinks for patrons.

Celebrations are at Top of the Monk, 92 Patton Ave., beginning Wednesday, Oct. 14, at 4 p.m., and running through Sunday, Oct. 17. Visit for more information.

Tree Crops for the Appalachian Home Orchard

Buy one tree, get one free class on growing a whole orchard. That’s the offer from Nutty Buddy Nursery owners Justin Holt and Tom Celona, who are hosting a workshop on fruit trees. Not only will the two cover the basics of growing, but they’ll suggest some of their favorite tree types for the region just in time for fall planting season.

Holt and Celona present their class at Villagers, 278 Haywood Road, Tuesday, Oct. 20, 6-8 p.m. Tickets are $10 per person or free with the purchase of an apple or pear tree from Nutty Buddy. For details, visit


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About Kat McReynolds
Kat studied entrepreneurship and music business at the University of Miami and earned her MBA at Appalachian State University. Follow me @katmAVL

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2 thoughts on “Small bites: HardLox Jewish festival schmears on the heritage

  1. Yared Sharot

    Just as long as it doesn’t have floridated water, because, as we all know, Jews don’t drink fluoridated water, right? Right?

    • Eric

      Really??? What type of a comment. They serve bottled water at Hardlox festival. Is there such a thing as a person keeping Kosher and at the same time being a Vegan???

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