Small bites: Local Food Experience returns to New Belgium Brewing Co.

CONNECTING THE DOTS: Jessie Dean, left, of Asheville Tea Co. says ASAP has been “a fundamental part of our business getting off the ground by connecting [us] with local farms,” such as Rayburn Farm. Also pictured is Michael Rayburn of Rayburn Farm. Both will participate in this year's Local Food Experience. Photo by Chelsea Lane Photography

Chefs, farmers and artisan food producers will join forces at the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s third annual Local Food Experience, which returns to New Belgium Brewing Co. on Thursday, Sept. 13. ASAP’s events coordinator, Robin Lenner, describes the gathering as a casual, end-of-summer affair with plenty of local bites to sample and possible prizes to win.

The evening also offers attendees a deeper look at the connections among the local agriculture, restaurant and brewing industries. “We try to bring to this event Appalachian Grown partner restaurants and artisan producers who work regularly with farmers,” she explains. “It’s a way to showcase people who are really doing the work to cultivate ongoing relationships with farmers.”

Asheville Tea Co. owner Jessie Dean agrees. “Farmers and businesses are able to connect through the Local Food Experience because it is a wonderful networking platform and a way to experiment with local ingredients to get creative and see what could be possible,” she says.

Along with Asheville Tea Co., participating restaurants, organizations and farms at this year’s get-together include: Cecilia’s Kitchen, The Culinary Gardener, Dark Cove Farm, Eliada Farms, English Farmstead Cheese, Gan Shan Station, Guadalupe Cafe, Gypsy Queen Cuisine, Hickory Nut Gap Farm, Ingles Markets, The Montford Rooftop Bar, Rayburn Farm, Sovereign Remedies and Sunshine Sammies.

For the first time, attendees will have a chance to vote for favorite dishes in the following categories: People’s Choice, Most Creative and Best Use of Local Ingredients. A silent auction will also offer a number of food- and farm-related prizes. And chef Dan Silo, who is partnering with Eliada Farms, will provide samples of possible future menu items for his forthcoming New Leicester Highway restaurant, Sawhorse, which is set to open this fall (see, “Digging Deep: Some WNC Restaurants are Rooted in Family Heritage,” July 5, Xpress).

“Come with an appetite,” says Lenner. “And feel free to ask lots of questions. This is an opportunity to get to have conversations with local chefs and producers and to make new connections.” On top of that, she notes, it’s an excellent way to support ASAP’s ongoing mission to help local farms thrive and to build healthy communities through access to local food.

The 2018 Local Food Experience runs 6-8:30 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 13, at New Belgium Brewing Co., 21 Craven St. Tickets are $30. To purchase, visit avl.mx/594.

New collaborative pies at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.

September marks the start of a new food collaboration series at Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co. Each month, the pizzeria’s North Asheville location will partner with another local restaurant to create a specialty pizza. For the inaugural dish, Asheville Pizza chef Nick Izzo has partnered with chef Brian Crow of Chestnut. The Chestnut Pie, available throughout September, is an olive oil-based pizza topped with local heirloom tomatoes, hickory-smoked bacon from Benton’s Country Ham and Looking Glass Creamery’s fromage blanc. The pizza is finished with roasted garlic-and-basil aioli and fresh watercress. The coming months will feature collaborations with Bouchon, Strada Italiano and AUX Bar. In a press release, Mike Rangel, Asheville Pizza president, says, “We’re so honored to have some of these local culinary superstars work with us. We’ve gotten a great response, and we plan to continue the fun with new restaurants in 2019.”

Asheville Pizza & Brewing Co.’s North Asheville location is at 675 Merrimon Ave. For more, visit ashevillebrewing.com.

Oak and Grist Distilling Co. celebrates release

Oak and Grist Distilling Co. will celebrate the release of its first bottling of whiskey at its Black Mountain distillery on Thursday, Sept. 6. According to a statement from the company, this will be the first in a series of products to be released over the next two years. “Each whiskey in this series was brewed, fermented, distilled and aged at the distillery using 100 percent malted barley from Riverbend Malt House in Asheville,” the announcement says. The limited release will not exceed 2,500 bottles.

Oak and Grist Distilling Co.’s inaugural release celebration runs 1-9 p.m. Thursday, Sept. 6, at 1556 Grovestone Road, Black Mountain. For more information, visit Oakandgrist.com.

Asheville Community Garden Network annual dinner

For a second consecutive year, Bountiful Cities will host a benefit dinner for its Community Garden Network, a free member network that offers support and resources to over three dozen local community gardens. The menu will be prepared by chef Gene Ettison, founder of Build a Better Salad food truck and partner in the revival of the Ujamaa Freedom Market initiative. Ingredients will be sourced from area community gardens. Along with dinner, the event will feature live music by Miles Boone, spoken word by Siyah, children’s activities, door prizes and a 50/50 raffle.

The Community Garden Network dinner runs 5-7:30 p.m. Saturday, Sept. 8, at the Pearson Community Garden, 408 Pearson Drive. Tickets are $25 in advance or $30 at the door. Tickets for children ages 4-16 are $10. Children age 3 and younger eat free. Sliding scale and scholarship tickets are also available. To purchase tickets, visit avl.mx/593.

Fermenting for Home, Health & Happiness

On Sunday, Sept. 9, Fermenti will host an introductory fermentation class, Fermenting for the Home, Health & Happiness. In addition to fermenting basics, the class will cover ways to eliminate food waste, reduce food costs and discover the health benefits of fermented goods.

Fermenting for the Home, Health & Happiness runs 2-4 p.m. Sunday, Sept. 9, at the Hendersonville Food Co-Op, 60 S. Charleston Lane, Hendersonville. Tickets are $33. To purchase, visit avl.mx/595.

Weaverville Tailgate Market provides app

The Weaverville Tailgate Market now offers the FarmFreshWeb Consumer app for Apple and Android phones. The app allows vendors to update patrons on special deals, new products and other news. Some vendors will also offer advance orders to customers who use the app. In a press release, market board member Brenda Dillingham notes, “We’ve got a great market here on Wednesdays, with the freshest local food, so we want to help more people know in advance what’s available and when.”

The Weaverville Tailgate Market runs 2:30-6 p.m. Wednesdays through Oct. 31 at 60 Lakeshore Drive. The app is available for Apple phones at avl.mx/591 and for Android users at avl.mx/592.

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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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