Small bites: Mead and cupcakes at TreeRock Social Cider House

TAKING FLIGHT: TreeRock Social Cider House joins forces with Ivory Road Café & Kitchen to present paired mead and cupcake flights on Saturday, June 30. The flights will offer a taste of the range of flavors that can be found in the honey-based fermented beverage. Photo by Morgan Ford
TAKING FLIGHT: TreeRock Social Cider House joins forces with Ivory Road Café & Kitchen to present paired mead and cupcake flights on Saturday, June 30. The flights will offer a taste of the range of flavors that can be found in the honey-based fermented beverage. Photo by Morgan Ford

Craft beer and cocktails may be the ruling parties of Asheville’s bar scene, but TreeRock Social Cider House owner Kristy Stinnett thinks mead is on the rise. And national trends appear to support her claim.

According to the American Mead Makers Association, every three days a new meadery opens in the United States. The nonprofit further notes on its website that the sector has grown from 30 commercial meaderies in 2003 to nearly 300 in 2016.

Yet the honey-based alcoholic beverage still remains unfamiliar to many. “I can’t tell you how many people walk in and say, ‘What is mead?’” Stinnett says.

Among the previously uninitiated was Jill Wasilewski, owner of Ivory Road Cafe & Kitchen. But after a chance meeting earlier this year, she and Stinnett teamed up to plan a pairing event spotlighting mead and cupcakes. The gathering will take place Saturday, June 30, at TreeRock Social Cider House and will feature a flight of four 2-ounce pours of mead for $12 and four mini-cupcakes for $6.

Before working with Stinnett, Wasilewski says she associated mead with a strong honey taste. “I didn’t know the flavors could be so varied,” the baker explains. But after sampling a wide selection at TreeRock, Wasilewski says her eyes were opened to the range of possibilities.

Stinnett hopes those who attend the pairing will have a similar experience. Along with mead-infused cupcakes, the event will feature a variety of meads from around the world, including the spicy Bird’s Eye Honey Sun Iquilika produced by Makana Meadery of South Africa and tupelo honey-based Tupelo Ambrosia by St. Ambrose Cellars in Michigan.

For Wasilewski, the event offers a departure from the typical wine-and-cheese or beer-and-dinner parings. “Mead is something that is definitely unexplored,” she says. “This event will be educational and informational about the different kinds of meads.”

Stinnett agrees. She says the family- and dog-friendly gathering should help open people’s minds and palates to the beverage’s diverse range of flavors. “It’s not something you want to drink a lot of,” she notes. “It’s pretty high in alcohol content. But it’s a nice after-dinner option — something that you can sip on with dessert.”

The Mead and Cupcake Flight Pairing runs 4-6 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at TreeRock Social Cider House, 760 Biltmore Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/51t.

Shrimp at the Farm

The Shrimp at the Farm fundraiser returns to The Barn at Hickory Nut Gap Farm for its second year on Saturday, June 30. The menu, catered by Blind Pig Supper Club, will include North Carolina cauldron-boiled shrimp, coleslaw, charred red-potato salad, grilled corn on the cob and seasonal berry crisp with Ultimate Ice Cream. Beer will be donated by Wicked Weed Brewing and wine by The Country Vintner. Live music will be provided by Westsound, and there will be a silent and live auction. Proceeds benefit the Rotary Club of Asheville Breakfast Foundation Inc., which provides services to the local community as well as support for broader international projects.

Shrimp at the Farm runs 8-11 p.m. Saturday, June 30, at Hickory Nut Gap Farm, 57 Sugar Hollow Road, Fairview. Tickets are $75 per person. For more information, visit avl.mx/51v.

Hops for Hunger returns

Last year’s inaugural Hops for Hunger week saw over 27,000 meals’ worth of food collected by local breweries for MANNA FoodBank. The effort was aimed at mitigating child hunger in Western North Carolina, where one in six people and one in four children are affected by food insecurity. In its second year, the event includes more than 20 WNC breweries and will run for all of July, with proceeds from select beer sales, food donations, benefit dinners and pint nights among the opportunities for contributing to the cause.

For a list of participating breweries and events details, visit MANNAFoodbank.org.

The Fresh Market adds more locally sourced products

The Fresh Market recently announced the expansion of its Local Program at its two Asheville locations and its Hendersonville store. The stores now offer products from Roots Hummus, Lusty Monk Mustard, Asheville Pretzel Co., Boone Barr, Postre Caramels, Dolce di Maria, Dr. King’s Carolina Bison and Münki Snacks.

For The Fresh Market location nearest you, visit avl.mx/51w.

Cúrate recognized for wine offerings

Wine Enthusiast Magazine included Cúrate on its list of America’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2018. Chef and co-founder, Katie Button calls the recognition an honor. Since its opening in 2011, she says, Cúrate has remained committed to its wide selection of Spanish wines. Button notes that her husband and business partner, Felix Meana,“works really hard at making sure the [wine] list is well-balanced and covers all the different regions and varietals and price points of Spanish wines.” Recently, Button adds, the restaurant has also expanded its sherry and vermouth selections.

Cúrate is at 13 Biltmore Ave. For the complete list of American’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants of 2018, visit avl.mx/51u.

Dobra Tea closes in Black Mountain

Dobra Tea’s Black Mountain location will close on July 1. The store’s building will be replaced by the three-story Trestle Building, which will feature six retails spaces, 12 condos and a rooftop restaurant (see “Zoning board approves controversial Black Mountain development,” Nov. 18, 2017, Xpress). Construction will begin later in the month. A Facebook post by Dobra Tea Black Mountain says, “We do not have a new location to move into. We have been trying and working long hours to attempt to make something work, and things don’t seem to be lining up for us. Buildings in town are far beyond our budget, and many of them need lots of money in renovations. As we can see, our humble little mountain is growing very quickly. We hope the small businesses do not continue to be pushed out.”

Dobra Tea is at 120 Broadway St., Black Mountain. The shop also has locations downtown and in West Asheville. For more information, visit dobrateanc.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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