What’s new in food: DJ’s Pickles opens shop at WNC Farmers Market

IN A PICKLE: Chef Donald Paleno prepares local beets for pickling at his shop at the WNC Farmers Market. Photo by Andy Hall

Ever since Donald Paleno launched DJ’s Pickles’ first retail space inside the WNC Farmers Market on National Pickle Day, the shop owner has been considering legally changing his name.

Throughout the business’s initial two months, “People walk in here and ask for DJ,” he says with a laugh. “It’d be easier to just go by that.”

But with his shop’s new 2023 menu, Paleno is hoping patrons will come in asking for one of his latest hot dogs, sandwiches, homemade pickle lemonade or peanut butter and pickle cookies instead.

No stranger to the local food scene, Paleno first introduced his pickle business in February 2021 at booths and tables at various WNC markets with former business partner Justin Dewalder (the “J” in “DJ’s”). Over time, the pair branched out to co-organize a number of pickle-themed events before Dewalder divested from the company in August.

As in the past, community collaboration continues to inspire Paleno the most. “The folks across the way at Coates Produce give me fruits and vegetables that won’t sell because they have imperfections,” he says. “I use these to make pickles such as the cinnamon apple ones I sold over Christmas. It’s all about community.”

And that extends beyond the market. Recently, DJ’s Pickles has partnered with The Mule — Devil’s Foot Beverage Co.’s new taproom and event space at 131 Sweeten Creek Road — for the monthly series Bloodies with Our Buddies. On the third Sunday of each month from 2-4 p.m., The Mule will serve housemade bloody Marys embellished with garnishes from DJ’s Pickles.

Another ongoing community project is Paleno’s annual Picklepalooza, which he and Blue Ghost Brewing Co. introduced in 2021. This year’s event — to be held in either late summer or early fall — will celebrate all things pickled with live music, face painting and, of course, pickles.

Paleno’s hope is to continue to build community relationships, including with the sandwiches he is serving at the deli. “I am hoping to localize the menu more by using local meat and maybe even getting a local bakery to make us some buns,” he says. “The partnership possibilities with pickles are endless. Say that fast a few times.”

DJ’s Pickles is located inside Market Shop A at the WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road. Hours are Tuesday through Sunday, 9 a.m.-4 p.m. The Mule is at 131 Sweeten Creek Road in Arden. For more information, visit avl.mx/cbm.

All that glitters

You almost think you’ve made a wrong turn when you hit the dirt road that eventually leads to House of Brandstracts. But once you figure out which set of glass doors to walk through, the vibe goes from Fletcher warehouse to colorful CBD emporium, featuring products such as edible mineral-based glitter. Infused with water-soluble cannabinoids, the vegan delta-8 glitter can be used to decorate food or skin.

Along with edibles, Brandstracts produces a mushroom-based coffee, a CBD seltzer and 20-milligram Happy Snappy spiced cookies. “The possibilities are limitless,” says production manager Taylor Hartshorn. “You can put it in anything. The focus is to get creative.”

Currently, the manufacturers are working with Hendersonville-based Up All Night Gourmet Goods on a CBD-infused hot sauce.

“Eating or drinking is an easy delivery method for the medicine that is CBD,” says Alexander Axie” Blundon. “There’s no reason to smoke or vape if you don’t want to.”

Besides the warehouse shop, House of Brandstracts sells its products at local markets, including the Weaverville Tailgate Market, which takes place every Wednesday at 3 p.m. at the Weaverville Community Center. You can also take a tour of the facilities, including the lab, by emailing hello@brandstracts.com.

House of Brandstracts is at 34 Redmond Drive, Fletcher. The shop is open 9 a.m.-5 p.m., Monday through Friday. The Weaverville Tailgate Market is at 60 Lakeshore Drive in Weaverville. For more information, visit avl.mx/cbj

Bubbly and bivalves

Montford restaurant All Day Darling’s annual Winter Oysters & Champagne Party will return after a yearlong hiatus on Sunday, Jan. 29, 4-9 p.m. The open-house-style event will feature Champagne and wine from Advintage Wine, as well as a la carte menu with items such as raw oysters, lobster rolls, hot dogs and dessert. There will also be fire pits set up outdoors, and a local band will play New Orleans jazz.

All Day Darling is at 102 Montford Ave. For more information, visit avl.mx/cbk.

Ice, ice baby

The Maggie Valley Ice Festival will take place at the Maggie Valley Festival Grounds on Saturday, Jan. 28, 3-8 p.m. The free family festival, which is in its inaugural year, will include a variety of ice-themed activities. Highlights include an ice slide, professional ice carving demonstrations and ice sculptures. Food trucks and art vendors will have items available for purchase. There will also be a warming tent as well as a s’mores stand to help ward off any chills.

The town of Maggie Valley hopes this will become an annual event. “Winter events are a needed asset during the offseason,” says Town Manager Vickie Best. “We want to draw visitors to improve businesses in the commercial district and to get people to stay in Maggie Valley.”

The Maggie Valley Festival Grounds is at 3374 Soco Road in Maggie Valley. For more information, visit avl.mx/cc0.

For your convenience 

Wall Street Market, a new convenience store in downtown Asheville, recently opened at 58 Wall St. Along with basic snacks and over-the-counter drugs, the shop is preparing to offer grab-and-go lunch choices in the near future. “We want to give people who work downtown a place where they can come get affordable choices,” says manager Beth Pedrotti.

Wall Street Market is open from 8 a.m.-midnight daily. For more information, visit avl.mx/cbs.

Getting seconds

Asheville-based Taco Billy has officially opened its second location in Black Mountain. Located downtown, the restaurant, which uses mostly local ingredients and products, will offer the same menu as the West Asheville location. Online ordering is also available.

Taco Billy is at 117 Cherry St. and is open Tuesday through Sunday 8 a.m.-3 p.m. For more information, visit avl.mx/cc1.

Calling all food vendors

Food vendors interested in participating in Asheville Downtown Association events such as Downtown After 5, the Independence Day Celebration and Asheville Oktoberfest are invited to fill out applications for the 2023 season. Applications are due by Friday, Feb. 10.

For rules, fees and the application link, visit avl.mx/cbn.


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About Andy Hall
Andy Hall graduated from The University of North Carolina School of Journalism and Mass Communication. After working at the United States Capitol for ten years, she has returned to her native state to enjoy the mountains — and finally become a writer.

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