Small bites: Pepperpalooza features treats with heat

FIERY FUN: The West Asheville Tailgate Market will honor peppers of all shapes, colors and sizes during its inaugural Pepperpalooza, taking place Tuesday, July 23. Photo courtesy of the West Asheville Tailgate Market

On Tuesday, July 23, the West Asheville Tailgate Market will host its inaugural Pepperpalooza — an event that packs plenty of heat while raising funds for the market’s future programs and activities. Poblano, cayenne and serrano peppers are among the honorary guests. For $3, attendees can sample an assortment of local hot sauces by Smoking J’s Fiery Foods, Firewalker Hot Sauce Co., Open Ridge Farm, Serotonin Ferments and local chef Davis Taylor.

The day’s main event is a hot pepper eating contest with produce provided by local farmers. Free to enter, competitors will endure eight rounds of escalating heat without the assistance of milk and bread to alleviate the burn (unless the individual taps out or reaches the end). The winner will earn $50 in tokens for the West Asheville Tailgate Market, as well as a T-shirt.

Pepperpalooza will also feature a raffle, a bell pepper tasting for kids, pepper roasting and ristra-making demos (ristra are arrangements of dried pepper pods), kids crafts, live music and a talk on the history of peppers and their use in various cultures.

“The dream is really just to bring new people out to the market and to create a fun, family-friendly event that the whole community can get behind,” says Quinn Asteak, the market’s executive director. “The festival is also just a great way to help raise awareness about the local food movement.”

Pepperpalooza runs 3:30-6:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, in the parking lot of the Grace Baptist Church, 718 Haywood Road. To learn more, visit

Green Opportunities graduation and garden party

Green Opportunities will host a free summer cookout and garden party in celebration of its spring 2019 graduating class. Burgers, hot dogs and side dishes will be served followed by dessert from AVL Cake Lady.

The party runs 5:30-7:30 p.m. Thursday, July 18, at the Southside Community Garden, behind the Edington Center, 133 Livingston St. For more information, visit

Burgundy wine dinner

Ruth’s Chris Steak House is hosting its annual Burgundy wine dinner. The event will feature four pairings, selected by Steve Pignatiello, Asheville’s “Burgundy Wine Man,” as well as Ruth’s Chris Steak House’s in-house sommelier, Kennth Pace. Chef Pete Repak will prepare the evening’s meal. Menu highlights include gougère with smoked duck, petite lamb chops and duet of veal. Tickets are $125 per person.

The dinner runs 6:30-9:30 p.m. Friday, July 19 at Ruth’s Chris Steak House, 26 All Souls Crescent. To purchase tickets, call 828-398-6200. For more information, including the evening’s complete menu, visit

White Wine 101

On Saturday, July 20, Rustic Grape Wine Bar will host a wine and cheese tasting. Participants will sip and learn about the different types of white wines, including chardonnay, sauvignon blanc and vinho verde. The event will also feature cheeses from a number of Western North Carolina farms. Tickets are $28.

White Wine 101 runs 2-3:30 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at Rustic Grape Wine Bar, 14 Aston St. To purchase tickets, visit

Wild game potluck

Lookout Brewing Co. will host its annual wild game potluck on Saturday, July 20. Attendees are asked to bring their favorite wild game plate or side dish. According to the event’s Facebook page, guests can expect dishes including bear meatballs, roasted dove breast and alligator boudin.

The potluck runs 5-8 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at Lookout Brewing Co., 103 S. Ridgeway Ave., Black Mountain. For more information, visit

Block party at The Sweet Escape

The Sweet Escape, which serves frozen yogurt, sorbets and other sweet treats, will celebrate its three-year anniversary with a block party on Saturday, July 20. Music, cotton candy and face painting will be among the activities and treats available that day. In addition, all frozen yogurts will be 20% off all day.

The block party runs 4-9 p.m. Saturday, July 20, at The Sweet Escape, 27 Schenck Parkway, Suite 130. To learn more, visit

Barbecue and bluegrass

On Sunday, July 21, The Red Rocker Inn in Black Mountain will host an evening of bluegrass and barbecue. Rhiannon and the Relics will perform, and the Red Rocker Inn will offer a variety of food options, including pulled pork, chicken breast, macaroni and cheese, corn on the cob, banana pudding and peach cobbler. Guests are asked to bring their own lawn chairs. Tickets for dinner and the show are $20 for adults and $10 for children ages 10 and younger.

The event begins at 5:30 Sunday, July 21, at The Red Rocker Inn, 136 N. Dougherty St., Black Mountain. For more information, visit

Wild honey soda workshop

Sow True Seed will host a workshop on herbal honey and wild honey soda on Tuesday, July 23. Wild honey sodas are naturally carbonated drinks made using the yeasts present in honey. According to the event’s Facebook page, participants will learn the basics of herbal honey preparation as well as its uses in herbal teas, oxymels and wild honey sodas. The event is being led by Carolyn Dugas. Samples will be provided. Tickets are $5.

The class runs 6-7:30 p.m. Tuesday, July 23, at Sow True Seed, 243 Haywood St. To learn more and to purchase tickets, visit

Chow Chow volunteers wanted

Chow Chow: An Asheville Culinary Event runs Sept. 12-15. The organization is seeking over 200 people for its volunteer program. Positions range from greeters to chef assistants. Volunteers must be 21 or older and are required to attend a one-hour training session in August.

To learn more and to sign up, visit


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About Thomas Calder
Thomas Calder received his MFA in Fiction from the University of Houston's Creative Writing Program. His writing has appeared in Gulf Coast, the Miracle Monocle, Juked and elsewhere. His debut novel, The Wind Under the Door, is now available.

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