Small bites: The Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest returns

SAY CHEESE: Volunteer Robin Wells offers free samples at last year's Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest.
SAY CHEESE: Volunteer Robin Wells offers free samples at last year's Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest. Photo by Cindy Kunst

Cheese enthusiasts will find all shades, textures and types at the fourth annual Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest. From demonstrations to workshops, from cooking competitions to pairings, the gathering promotes greater awareness about the local industry. Yet its main fundraising objective, says the event’s director, Katie Moore, is often overlooked.

“I’ve had so many people say they’ve gone to the Cheese Fest, but then when I say something about the WNC Cheese Trail, they have no idea what I’m talking about,” she says.

At this year’s event, which takes place Sunday, April 29, at Highland Brewing Co., Moore hopes to shine a brighter light on the fundraising aspect of the gathering. All proceeds from ticket sales benefit the WNC Cheese Trail, a nonprofit that promotes the production and sale of WNC artisan cheeses, facilitates consumer education and encourages tourism to the region as a way to benefit the group’s member producers. In addition to organizing the festival, Moore is the nonprofit’s executive director.

“The message has gotten lost,” she continues. “It’s understandable. If someone is just interested in going to a cheese fest, they don’t necessarily care about all the other stuff. Yet for us, its part of why we’re doing it.”

The message will be integrated throughout the gathering’s scheduled activities. For example, the How Sweet It Is chef competition will feature WNC Cheese Trail cheesemakers working with some of some of Asheville’s top chefs, who are also Cheese Trail members.

The nonprofit, Moore explains, “is trying to think of ways where we’re not just promoting the cheesemaker. It’s also about promoting this amazing culture that we have here in Asheville with all the food makers. We’re trying to build upon that and continue to support our fellow small-business owners.”

Among other highlights of this year’s festival is Add a Little Culture to Your Bread & Butter, a workshop presented by Evan Timmons, executive chef at White Labs Kitchen & Tap. There will also be a Highland beer and WNC cheese pairing as well as a special guest presentation by dairy foods consultant and artisan cheesemaker Peter Dixon.

For participant Sean Stanley, retail manager at Looking Glass Creamery, the festival is a great opportunity to celebrate cheesemakers, chefs and agricultural producers across the region. “It’s inspiring to taste the incredible food being made in this area and to have meaningful conversations with people that support and sustain our way of life,” he says.

The Carolina Mountain Cheese Fest runs 1-5 p.m. Sunday, April 29, at Highland Brewing Co., 12 Old Charlotte Highway. Early entry tickets are $25 and include noon admission. General admission is $14 in advance. Day-of tickets are $20. Admission is free for children ages 12 and younger. Pets are prohibited. For details and tickets, visit mountaincheesefest.com.

Grey Eagle beer pairing brunch

The Grey Eagle Taqueria and SweetWater Brewery will come together for a beer pairing brunch on Saturday, April 14. Chef Daniel Simpson designed the four-course meal, which will include a chorizo tostada with black bean spread, mojo and fried green tomato eggs Benedict, and strawberry and banana pancakes. Featured SweetWater beers are Grass Monkey, IPA, 420 and Blue.

The brunch starts at noon Saturday, April 14, at The Grey Eagle, 185 Clingman Ave. Tickets are $25 per person. For details, visit avl.mx/4to.

Brunch series at Montford Rooftop Bar

The Montford Rooftop Bar will host a Local Partner Brunch series through October. Each Sunday, the restaurant will partner with a farm, food artisan or brewery to create a unique, one-time-only menu. On Sunday, April 15, The Montford will be joined by Three Graces Dairy. Menu highlights include lavender scones, a spring omelet, and bread and spread — a Three Graces cheese tasting with jams, butter and OWL Bakery brioche. Executive chef Philip Bollhoefer says the weekly event is a great way for The Montford “to support and promote our partners, large and small.”

The Local Partner Brunch series will run 10 a.m.-2 p.m. every Sunday through October at The Montford Rooftop Bar, 199 Haywood St. For more information, visit avl.mx/4tq.

White Moon Cafe opens in Sylva

White Moon Cafe recently opened in Sylva serving Stumptown Coffee Roasters products, house-made chai tea, smoothies, beer and wine. “We also carry a large array of herbs, supplements and teas for all seasons and ailments,” says co-owner Cecelia White. The cafe’s food menu features breakfast, lunch and snack options such as house-made granola, garden toast, caprese and herb and garlic feta dip. “We want it to feel like we’ve welcomed guests into our own home,” says co-owner Don Panicko. “We want everyone to feel comfortable and relaxed.”

White Moon is at 545 Mill St., Sylva. Hours are 7 a.m.-8 p.m. weekdays (closed Tuesday), 9 a.m.-8 p.m. Saturday and 9 a.m.-5 p.m. Sunday. For more, follow White Moon on Instagram at @whitemoonsylva.

10th Muse Coffee opens on London Road

Christian Watts, owner of 10th Muse Coffee, cites Greek mythology as the inspiration behind his new cafe’s name. The Nine Muses were believed to be the catalyst for all artistic endeavors. “Our coffee and business is the 10th muse,” Watts explains. The specialty coffee shop opened on London Road near Biltmore Village in late March. Menu highlights include the Dark Side Nutella latte, the King Louie (a dirty chai latte with a shot of banana flavor) and The Muse (a white chocolate and hazelnut mix). Watts stocks a selection of board games, playing cards and a chalkboard table with the hope of encouraging connectivity among patrons. He’s also intent on collaborating and partnering with local businesses, such as current suppliers Looking Glass Creamery and Penny Cup Coffee.

10th Muse Coffee is at 8 London Road. It’s open 6 a.m.-6 p.m. daily. For more information, visit avl.mx/4tn.

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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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