Small bites: N.C. Department of Cultural Resources hosts barbecue exhibit

TASTE OF HISTORY: Jeff Futch, regional supervisor of the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Western Office, invites all to attend the organization's latest exhibit, The Story of Barbecue in North Carolina. Photo by Thomas Calder

Did you know that hush puppies first became a common barbecue side dish in the early 20th century? Did you know during this same period, red-leaf sumac berry juice was commonly served rather than lemonade at cookouts in Western North Carolina? And lastly, did you know that western-style barbecue sauce is way better than eastern- and Lexington-style sauces? (OK, maybe that last bit is still up for rabid debate, but the rest is certainly true.)

All this and more are part of The Story of Barbecue in North Carolina, an exhibit that runs through Saturday, March 23, at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Western Office. The final Saturday of the exhibit will feature free food samples courtesy of Luella’s Bar-B-Que. Dishes, while supplies last, will include a sausage and cheese platter, wings and pulled pork with a selection of sauces.

Jeff Futch, the regional supervisor of the Western Office, says he hopes those who attend will gain a broader perspective on and a greater appreciation for the long-standing culinary tradition. “I hope visitors find connections to their own past,” he says.

The exhibit is open 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Monday-Saturday through Saturday, March 23, at the N.C. Department of Cultural Resources Western Office, 176 Riceville Road. Admission is free. For more information, visit or call 828-296-7230.

Pi Day at plēb urban winery

No matter your math skills, all are invited to celebrate Pi Day at plēb urban winery in the River Arts District on March 14. The event, presented in collaboration with Baked Pie Co., will feature a pie and wine flight pairing. The menu includes apple crumb with riesling, plēb cabernet berry pie with a red wine blend and chocolate chess pie with chambourcin. Each flight is $14.

Flights will be served from 4-10 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at plēb urban winery, 289 Lyman St. For more information, visit

Japanese language and culture meetup

WakuWaku Eatery will launch a free weekly Japanese language and culture meetup session Thursday, March 14. Japanese food will be available for purchase. The sessions are suitable for all who have an interest in Japanese language and culture, regardless of knowledge or skill level.

The meetup runs 7-8:30 p.m. Thursday, March 14, at WakuWaku Eatery, 674 Merrimon Ave., Suite 105. For more, visit

Stephens-Lee Community Cookout

On Saturday, March 16, the East End/Valley Street Neighborhood Association will host a free community cookout. The lunch, prepared by Green Opportunities’ Southside Kitchen Catering, will include pulled pork barbecue, vegan jackfruit barbecue, Southside coleslaw, peach cobbler and more. Music will be provided by DJ Twan.

The cookout runs 1-4 p.m. Saturday, March 16, at Stephens-Lee Recreation Center, 30 George Washington Carver Ave. For more information, visit

St. Patrick’s Day events

Come Sunday, March 17, everybody is Irish. Here’s a look at some events happening around WNC: In Hendersonville, Brooks Tavern will serve traditional Irish and Irish-themed dishes, including shepherd’s pie and Reuben egg rolls, along with St. Patrick’s Day drinks and live music ( Over in Sylva, The Cut Cocktail Lounge will have corned beef and cabbage along with green beer ( In Asheville, Catawba Brewing Co. and Blind Pig will host an Appalachian Irish breakfast at the brewery’s South Slope location; tickets are $17 ( On Tunnel Road, The Social will offer festive foods and all-day drink specials (

MacMomma Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese Cook Off

The MacMomma Vegan Mac ‘n’ Cheese Cook Off returns to The BLOCK Off Biltmore on Sunday, March 17. Amateurs and professionals alike are invited to compete. All entries must be vegan and must be ready to serve at 5 p.m. Prizes will be awarded to the top three winners. There are no fees for competitors who preregister; otherwise, entry costs $5 at the door. Tickets to sample and judge the dishes are $10. A portion of proceeds will benefit the Asheville Vegan Society.

The cook-off runs 5-7 p.m. Sunday, March 17, at The BLOCK Off Biltmore, 39 S. Market St. For more information, visit

Mac ‘n’ Cheese Challenge

Asheville Food Fan Stu Helm will continue the cheesy fun with 10 local restaurants going head to head in the Mac ‘n’ Cheese Challenge at Asheville Masonic Temple. Tickets are $20 and include samples of all 10 competing dishes. Funds will go toward the restoration and preservation of Asheville Masonic Temple’s historical hand-painted theater backdrops.

The challenge runs 1:30-3:30 p.m. Wednesday, March 20, at the Asheville Masonic Temple, 80 Broadway. For more, visit

Four-course pairing at Tupelo Honey

Tupelo Honey’s South Asheville location will host a four-course wine, beer and cocktail pairing dinner on Wednesday, March 20. The menu will include vegetarian gumbo with Da Luca Sparkling Rose, caesar salad with Hillman Kolsch, beer-braised stuffed cabbage with Hillman Roggenbier and king cake-style beignets paired with Copper and Kings Brandy Sidecar.

The dinner runs 6-8 p.m. Wednesday, March 20 at Tupelo Honey, 1829 Hendersonville Road. Tickets are $45. To purchase, visit

James Beard Foundation Award semifinalists

Three Asheville chefs were recently named as 2019 James Beard Foundation Award semifinalists. Buxton Hall Barbecue’s Ashley Capps was nominated for Outstanding Pastry Chef, and both Cùrate’s Katie Button and Chai Pani’s Meherwan Irani were included as semifinalists for Best Chef: Southeast. Finalists will be announced Wednesday, March 27.

For more, visit

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken

Rise Southern Biscuits & Righteous Chicken, a Durham-based restaurant that launched in 2012, recently announced plans to expand to Asheville. The new restaurant aims to open at The Peaks Shopping Center on Tunnel Road this spring. As its name suggests, Rise serves biscuits and chicken, along with sweet treats and coffee.

For more information, 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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