What’s new in food: Asheville Drag Brunch takes flight

ON THE CRAWL: Asheville Drag Brunch has launched a new aviation-themed bar crawl experience. Photo courtesy Asheville Drag Brunch

Asheville Drag Brunch recently launched Beer Flight, the city’s only drag queen bar crawl.

“Asheville is a drag wonderland, and we love that,” says Divinity Holeburn, aka Divine. “While most of our events are seated, this one is mobile and far from a passive experience. ‘Beer Flight’ is intimate, high engagement and improvisational. Everyone is treated like a queen, with lots of attention from the entertainer.”

Each two-hour Beer Flight tour takes its thirsty passengers on a tour of several local breweries, including DSSOLVR, Wicked Weed’s Funkatorium, Green Man Brewery, Highland Brewing Co. and One World Brewing, among others. A typical flight includes samples of eight-10 beers, seltzers, ciders and wine. The tours feature multiple dates through October, including several that end with VIP seats at a two-hour special drag event.

“While this event is open to locals, we are mostly expecting visitors and tourists,” Divine says. “People will experience a warm welcome to Asheville and an unforgettably fun night with photos and stories to take back home.”

A portion of all Beer Flight proceeds will go toward supporting local nonprofit organizations, such as Asheville Poverty Initiative, Our VOICE, Arms Around ASD, Tranzmission, Healing Solutions Counseling, Blue Ridge Pride, WNCAP, Loving Food Resources and BeLoved Asheville.

The launch of Beer Flight on Friday, April 21, came just days after Republicans in the N.C. House introduced House Bill 673, which would ban drag performances in public places or in the presence of a minor. Any drag performance done in a public space or at a venue with minors present would result in a misdemeanor on first offense and a felony for subsequent offenses.

“With the current political climate, we want people to meet a real drag entertainer to see that they’re just normal people having fun. Not dangerous, not groomers, not criminals, not lewd strippers,” Divine says.

Round-trip Beer Flights tickets cost $50 per person, with discounts for locals and groups available. Visit avl.mx/cmp for tickets and additional information.

Sip, savor, support

Bottle Riot welcomes Blair Guthrie of Guthrie Family Wines for a wine tasting and cookout event benefit Thursday, May 4, 5-8 p.m. The beneficiary of this event, Helpmate, is a local nonprofit dedicated to eliminating abuse and fear by providing safety, shelter and support for victims and survivors of intimate partner domestic violence.

“Helpmate has been a pillar of support in our community for years, providing crucial services and assistance to those affected by domestic violence,” says Bottle Riot co-owner Lauri Nichols. “This event presents an opportunity to raise awareness and funds for this important cause while bringing the community together for a memorable experience of wine, food and camaraderie.”

Five exclusive and highly coveted selections from Guthrie Family Wines will be included in the tasting, including the newly released Faux Picpoul Blanc, Neon Vermentino and Pufferfish red wine.

“Just like Bottle Riot, Guthrie Family Wines is a husband-and-wife team that shares the same values of community and helping others, making their wines a perfect match for our vision,” Nichols adds.

Chef Sam Ethridge will prepare a classic cookout spread complete with burgers and hot dogs for the evening’s food component, giving the event “a festive and fun atmosphere with an Asheville twist,” Nichols says.

Bottle Riot is at 37 Paynes Way #009. Visit avl.mx/cmj for tickets and additional information.

The return of OaxaPunk

Chef Luis Martinez, founder of Tequio Foods, combines his love for authentic Mexican food and hardcore punk music with his latest OaxaPunk event held Friday, May 5, beginning at 6 p.m., at Citizen Vinyl.

Four traditional Oaxacan dishes, including tacos, tamales, tostadas and “punkzole” (a play on pozole, a traditional Mexican soup or stew) and two classic Mexican desserts from Camille Cogswell will be available for purchase. Meanwhile, DJs will spin classic Latin American punk records from the ’80s and ’90s — a period that Martinez considers “the golden age of hardcore music in Latin America.

“When I was a teenager, back in Oaxaxa, punk was part of our expression and how we identified ourselves,” Martinez continues. “It felt like its own tribe, not only as Indigenous people but also as young people trying to express themselves through music.”

In addition to the eats, treats and punk beats, representatives from local nonprofits will also be on-site sharing information on improving health care and other causes for the Latino population of WNC.

“This event is all about poking fun at Cinco de Mayo,” explains Martinez. “The ‘holiday’ has become a caricature of Mexican culture, so I’m calling this event ‘Gringo de Gallo’ because it’s white people that more or less celebrate this kind of thing. I want to turn the problematic and insensitive behavior associated with Cinco de Mayo into an event with great punk music from Latin America and create a welcome space for BIPOC, immigrants, trans kids, etc.”

Citizen Vinyl is at 14 O. Henry Ave. Follow Martinez on Instagram at avl.mx/b7a for additional information. 

Build community with BeLoved Asheville

BeLoved Asheville hosts its second annual Raise Another Home Auction on Saturday, May 6, at the A-B Tech Mission Health Event Center. The goals of this event are twofold: to celebrate the success of the organization’s pilot BeLoved Village (a village of 12 microhomes built to address local housing insecurity) and to re-create the success of the pilot by kick-starting replication efforts.

“The event proceeds will support our BeLoved Villages project and support efforts to build deeply affordable homes that are community-oriented, sustainable and produce equity for Village residents,” says BeLoved Asheville Co-Director Amy Cantrell.

With a fundraising goal of $100,000, BeLoved Asheville has organized both a silent and live auction featuring a number of high-profile prizes — from trips to a boutique hotel in Raleigh to rare East Fork Pottery hand-thrown vases.

VIP guests ($100 tickets per person) will get a sneak preview of auction items beginning at 5 p.m., along with live music, hors d’oeuvres from Sage and Spice Catering and Food Experience as well as complimentary craft beers from Sierra Nevada Brewing Co. and wines by Maggie B’s. General admission ($50 tickets per person) opens at 6 p.m. All guests will enjoy a dinner featuring dishes from Chestnut, Corner Kitchen and an artful dessert experience from Urban Graze Co.

The A-B Tech Mission Health Event Center is at 16 Fernihurst Drive. Visit avl.mx/cmi for tickets and additional information.

Ramp up the flavor

American Legion Post 47 holds its annual Ramp Festival on Sunday, May 7, noon-6 p.m., at American Legion Field in Waynesville.

Ramps are a species of wild onion native to North Carolina that are harvested every spring from the mountainsides. Known for their pungent aroma and bold flavor, ramps are considered a culinary delicacy in much of Southern Appalachia and are rich in vitamins A and C, selenium and chromium.

This free event celebrating the local member of the allium family (which also includes garlic and onions) will include a special ramp dinner, a ramp eating contest, live music and clogging performances. Hamburgers and hot dogs will also be provided for those looking for more conventional cuisine.

American Legion Field is at 171 Legion Drive, Waynesville. Visit avl.mx/cmo for additional information.

Sawhorse bids adieu

After four years, Sawhorse has closed. Its last pancake was served on April 16.

Opened in 2019 by Chef Dan Silo, the New Leicester Highway restaurant gained swift admiration from locals and visitors alike for its Northeast American- and French Canadian-influenced cuisine. Sawhorse’s kitchen delivered a steady supply of dishes you might consider a hearty lumberjack to be fond of: pancakes the size of hubcaps, towering tourtières (meat pies), piping-hot poutine, maple beans, eclairs and boots of beer.

“I decided to close Sawhorse primarily because I am absolutely exhausted,” Silo says. “I never had any interest in becoming a weekend brunch restaurant. Once you’re pegged as a brunch restaurant in Asheville, you’re kind of stuck creatively. I am proud of what we served, but none of it represents my true passion or the most special of our offerings here.”

As the restaurant’s profile rose, so, too, did issues with the Sawhorse building’s electricity and plumbing. Maintenance concerns made it so Silo could rarely step away from the restaurant, leading him to feel increasingly burned out as time went on.

“That being said, the community that we created here was the most special aspect of this business. Everyone ate here,” says Silo. “I’ve never seen a dining crowd more diverse anywhere that I’ve eaten or worked at in this town over the past decade. I think we were a safe space.”

In terms of his next steps, Silo plans on “Relaxing. Stopping. Breathing. I’m not done cooking. I’m just done owning and running a small business by myself.”


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