Treat yourself: Asheville scares up sweet Halloween offerings — no costume required

SKULLDUGGERY: Chocolatier Jessica Lied of the Chocolate Fetish finishes off chocolate skulls with hand-decorated touches. The downtown shop is one of many local businesses offering themed treats for Halloween. Photo courtesy of the Chocolate Fetish

October in Asheville ushers in more than eager leaf peepers; around town, foodie hot spots get into the spirit with cauldrons full of seasonal flavors. Of course, with Halloween soon approaching, it would be a ghastly oversight to ignore these wicked offerings, although we only have space for a few. The best part is you don’t need to wait until Oct. 31 to go door to door for these special treats.

I scream, you scream

Even with cooler temperatures finally beginning to creep in, Frostbite Ice Cream sees no need to slow down. Owner Jason Istvan is making sure his chilly treats are Halloween-worthy with several new tastes this month.

Zombie Bite, a combination of green apple and peach-flavored syrups punctuated by a shot of sour spray, is one of five holiday-themed shaved ice flavors being served this month — the others are Witches’ Brew, Frog Legs, Mystery and Pumpkin D’Light.

If you lean more toward classic fall flavors, Frostbite also has pumpkin spice ice cream. And hot apple topping, made in-house with local organic apples, can be added to enhance any ice cream flavor. Mulled cider is currently available as a hot beverage but will cool down into an ice cream flavor a little later in the season.

Legendary local ice cream parlor The Hop is also scooping out some spooky flavors at its production facility at 167 Haywood Road during Flights for the Doomed on Friday, Oct. 26. At this event, guests can buy flavors by the flight (choose four varieties), scoop or pint. After this launch, the flavors will head to The Hop’s two retail locations, where they’ll be available through Halloween.

Owner Greg Garrison promises customer favorites like Broken Glass, which incorporates house-made hard candy mixed into one of The Hop’s familiar ice cream bases, as well as newer flavors like Black Death, made with organic coconut ash. Pepper lovers can challenge their taste buds with Fear the Reaper, a chocolate ice cream pumped up with heat from  Carolina Reaper peppers.

Potent potions

Top of the Monk mixologists might as well don white lab coats as costumes. The cozy cocktail bar pays homage to everyone’s favorite reanimated cadaver with two specialty drinks through month’s end. Try the Boris Karloff to electrify your taste buds with a zesty mix of Strait gin, St. Germain, citrus and other ingredients — served on ice, of course.

If that doesn’t do the trick, call on the classic Corpse Reviver II, prepared as directed in Harry Craddock’s The Savoy Cocktail Book circa 1930. For an added thematic punch, Top of the Monk uses Death’s Door gin, alongside Lillet Blanc, Cointreau, absinthe and fresh lemon.

Downstairs, Thirsty Monk is pouring its own Fall Harvest Ale, which beer buyer Joanna Postlethwaite describes as “a liquid tribute to autumn.” The seasonal brew is crafted with carnival squash and sweet potatoes sourced from New Sprout Organic Farm plus a smattering of fall spices such as cinnamon, nutmeg and clove. (For more seasonal beer and cider suggestions, refer to Edwin Arnaudin’s weekly “Beer Today, Gone Tomorrow” column at mountainx.com.)

On Wall Street, MG Road invites guests to enjoy a few creature comforts on Tuesdays throughout October as part of the bar’s Keep it Classic Tuesday series. For a drink with a cidery punch, pucker up for a Witch’s Kiss, made with Espolon Blanco tequila, Liquore Strega (Strega translates to “witch” in Italian), apple butter, cinnamon tincture and lemon. If witches aren’t your thing, the Zombie stays true to its Caribbean origin with a mix of three rum varieties and other spirits. Want something even darker? The Goth Negroni lists activated charcoal among its ingredients alongside Beefeater, Campari and Dolin Rouge.

Nearby on Eagle Street, cocktail bar and restaurant En La Calle celebrates the Mexican holiday Dia de los Muertos Thursday, Oct. 25-Sunday, Nov. 4, with café de olla, a tequila-spiked Mexican coffee brewed in a clay pot. The special holiday menu also features traditional Dia de los Muertos foods such as banana-leaf tamales and pan de muerto.

Sweet fangs

Nothing embodies the spirit of Halloween quite like pumpkins — which may be why they perform serious double duty this month as both a decorative element and lead ingredient. Try sinking your teeth into a pumpkin cake doughnut at South Slope’s Vortex Doughnuts. The doughnut’s glaze is made from chai concentrate sourced from Black Mountain-based AppalaChai.

Downtown on Haywood Street, the Chocolate Fetish is crafting edible chocolate jack-o’-lanterns for the season. “These are three-D items made with a thick shell of chocolate. The colors are made using hand-tempered, colored chocolates,” explains chocolatier Elizabeth Foley. The shop also pays homage to the iconic sugar skulls associated with Dia de los Muertos with a molded chocolate version that’s intricately decorated with piped chocolate accents.

Foley says two seasonal chocolate truffles are also available at the shop this month — a pumpkin pie flavor and an award-winning golden pecan made from “milk chocolate blended with brown butter and freshly roasted Georgia pecans.”

Around the corner on Battery Park Avenue, more eye candy abounds at Kilwin’s, where you can watch familiar favorites like Rice Krispie treats and Oreo cookies get “tricked” out with Halloween-themed icing toppers after they’ve been dipped in rich chocolate. Hand-decorated caramel apples are also in the spotlight this month. Kilwin’s owner, Marcy Gallagher, says the store’s pumpkin walnut fudge will be offered “through Thanksgiving and possibly longer if it is selling well.”

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