What’s new in food: AVL Honey Fest buzzes into Salvage Station

PLENTY OF BUZZ: Bee and honey enthusiasts will unite at the inaugural AVL Honey Fest. Taking place at Salvage Station, the event will feature over 40 vendors, as well as a honey bar with flavors from local and international hives. Photo courtesy of the Center for Honeybee Research

Asheville may have been named the first Bee City USA in 2012, but only now have local bee enthusiasts come together for the city’s inaugural AVL Honey Fest. Taking place Sunday, June 5, at Salvage Station, the event is presented by the Center for Honeybee Research and Shanti Elixirs.

For 11 years, the CHR held an annual honey tasting contest in various Asheville venues, among them the Renaissance Asheville Hotel, which has two working hives on its roof. The Honey Fest greatly expands the contest and opens it to the public with the purpose of raising funds for the organization.

“It’s what we call a black jar contest because the jars are covered so the color doesn’t influence the tasting,” says Rebecca Robertson, a beekeeper who serves on the center’s board. “There will be multiple categories, including international, local and sourwood, which we are famous for in this region.”

A honey bar, included in the admission price, will also be set up so attendees can taste the different types and flavors of domestic and international treats. “People are always amazed experiencing the really radically different flavors honey can have,” says Robertson. “When you get honey off the shelf in the supermarket it’s been heated, pasteurized, blended, and so it all kind of tastes the same. But when you get honey from beekeepers, especially from around the world, the experience is quite different.”

Four types of Melipona bee honey will also be available to taste for an additional $20 donation, which will go to the Mayan Melipona Bee Sanctuary Project, founded in 2020 by Robertson in Vallodolid on the Yucatan Peninsula of Mexico. Melipona honeybee tending tradition dates to about 300 B.C.; the stingless honeybee produces very small amounts of rare medicinal honey, quite dissimilar to honey used for sweetening teas and other food items. Vallodolid, an Asheville sister city, is considered the honey capital of Mexico.

The contest and the honey bar will be inside the Salvage Station building for obvious reasons. “When you have open honey jars, you attract bees,” Robertson points out.

Along with these featured events, over 40 vendors will be selling jewelry, pottery, clothing, honey, honey-related items, art and pet treats. Additionally, food and beverages will be available for purchase, and the gathering will feature live performances from Chikomo Marimba and Queen Bee and the Honeylovers.

The inaugural AVL Honey Fest runs noon-5 p.m. Sunday, June 5, at Salvage Station, 468 Riverside Drive. Tickets for the family-friendly event are $12 per person. More information can be found at avl.mx/blr.

Veggie tales

Nine months after revving up their Smokin’ Onion food truck, owners Keems and Parker Schultz introduced a fully vegan menu on May 20. “Going all vegan was kind of always the plan for us,” says Parker, who served as head chef at Laughing Seed for five years. “This is a little sooner than we initially anticipated, but we had a lot of positive feedback with the vegan items we had, so we’re fully ready to commit to that now.”

Along with the new menu, Keems will be joining Parker on the truck full time. “We have been out two or three days a week, but by mid-June, when I’m fully available, we intend to increase that.”

Beginning Sunday, June 5, they will be taking over Vegan Sunday at Ginger’s Revenge.

Parker says many of the existing vegan dishes on the menu will remain. He also hopes the introduction of the new avocado BLT featuring house potato bacon and a Reuben calzone with house sweet potato pastrami and house cashew Swiss will help assuage people’s dismay over the removal of the Cuban grilled cheese. “By popular demand, our fried Brussels sprouts will be a regular item on the new menu,” he adds.

Find Smokin’ Onion’s new menu and follow its expanding food truck schedule at avl.mx/blu.

Pig out

People not from these parts are probably unfamiliar with livermush — a regional pork product peculiar to WNC made from pig liver, parts of pig head, cornmeal and spices, formed into a loaf, sliced, fried and served as a breakfast meat or as a lunch sandwich.

In 2007, the town of Marion debuted the Livermush Festival to mark the 50th anniversary of one of the town’s oldest businesses, Hunter’s Livermush. Though there is debate among participants on whether the item is one or two words, Marion Business Association event outreach coordinator Megan Stevens says organizers followed Hunter’s lead in naming the fest.

After a two-year Covid suspension, the latest Livermush Festival returns to Main Street on Saturday, June 4, 5-9 p.m. with vendors, activities, live bluegrass music from Ages Past and the inaugural food truck rodeo. The Mountain Gateway Museum will have a display tracing the history of livermush.

“We’re excited to be back,” says Stevens, courting controversy with the admission she puts Duke’s mayonnaise on her livermush sandwiches (tradition calls for yellow mustard only). “We’ll still have the hog-calling and pig-squealing contests but not the livermush eating contest. Instead, each of the four food trucks in the rodeo will offer a livermush dish, and one of them will be named Livermush Master.”

For more information on the Livermush Festival, visit avl.mx/bls.

Turning tables

On Monday June 6, Benne on Eagle chef de cuisine Cleophus Hethington and Citizen Vinyl will drop the needle on the first spin of the Turntable Supper series.  Hethington, a James Beard Foundation finalist for Emerging Chef, will curate a prix fixe four-course dinner honoring the legacy and history of African foodways across continents. His signature African diaspora dishes will be accompanied by Afrobeat, Cuban jazz, reggae and soca music.

Tickets are $125 per person with a portion of proceeds going to Therapist Like Me, a nonprofit that connects minority-identifying clients with minority-identifying therapists. The evening includes four seatings of 20 people each; wine and beer will be available for purchase.

Citizen Vinyl’s Cass Herrington says local chefs are invited to submit proposals for future suppers.

Citizen Vinyl is at 14 O. Henry Ave. For tickets, menu and more information, visit avl.mx/blw.

Game on

Bring your lockdown-honed Monopoly, Clue, Life, Risk and Candyland skills and strategies to the grand reopening weekend of Well Played Board Game Café in its new and expanded location in the historic Chrysler Building in South Slope.

Not only can guests access one of the largest board game libraries in North Carolina — 700 plus — but they can fuel up and stay hydrated with a full-service menu of small plates, salads and sandwiches from the café, coffee and espresso drinks, 20 beers on tap and a new cocktail program.

The first 100 customers to arrive on Friday, June 3, beginning at 6 p.m. will receive a free one-year game pass, valued at over $300.

Well Played Board Game Café is at 162 Coxe Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/bm7.

Hot stuff

Asheville-based Devil’s Foot Beverage Co.’s craft sodas are the alternative nonalcoholic drink of choice in many local bars, restaurants and entertainment venues. Now they can be purchased by the six-pack to take home from Fresh Market stores in Asheville and Hendersonville. Launched in 2017, Devil’s Foot now offers 11 flavors; eight will be carried in Fresh Markets.  The newest is Ginger Beer Ghost, a collaboration with Ghost Dog Hot Sauce, which adds some sizzle to the snap and provides the Jeopardy question: What’s cold and hot at the same time?

Hazy days of summer

On Friday, June 3, Highland Brewing Co. celebrates the release of its latest year-round IPA, Hazy Heights, with a late-night dance party from 8 p.m.-midnight at its downtown taproom at the S&W Market; the gathering also marks the venue’s one-year anniversary. S&W food vendors will remain open for the party.

S&W Market is at 56 Patton Ave. Tickets are $15. For more information, visit avl.mx/blx.



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About Kay West
Kay West was a freelance journalist in Nashville for more than 30 years, contributing writer for the Nashville Scene, StyleBlueprint Nashville, Nashville correspondent for People magazine, author of five books and mother of two happily launched grown-up kids. To kick off 2019 she put Tennessee in her rear view mirror, drove into the mountains of WNC, settled in West Asheville and appreciates that writing offers the opportunity to explore and learn her new home. She looks forward to hiking trails, biking greenways, canoeing rivers, sampling local beer and cheering the Asheville Tourists.

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