What’s new in food: Fermenti launches brick-and-mortar in North Asheville

READY, SET, FERMENT! Fermenti CEO Meg Chamberlain, left, prepares to open her first brick-and-mortar location. She will celebrate its grand opening on Saturday, Feb. 4. Photo courtesy Fermenti

After years spent dolling out probiotic-rich fermented foods across Western North Carolina markets, stores and festivals, Meg Chamberlain is ready for something more permanent.

“Fermenti has dropped anchor in Asheville,” she says.

The business’s first brick-and-mortar at 175 Weaverville Highway, Unit G, will celebrate its grand opening Saturday, Feb. 4, 4-7 p.m.

“This new location is perfect for several reasons,” Chamberlain says. “We are neighbors to some incredible local bakeries like Butterbug’s, Morsel Cookie Co. and Dogwood Cottage Bakery. Plus, we are next door to Tacqueria Fast, which has excellent tacos. So, the foodie in me feels at home.”

As part of the celebration, Fermenti will offer free samples of its award-winning vegan fermentations, including kimchi, sauerkraut and Sichuan carrots. Salsas, hot sauces and special small-batch ferments will also be available to sample.

These products, along with fermentation kits and proprietary probiotic-rich pickle dust, jalapeño salt and kimchi spices, will be available for purchase inside the store. Chamberlain is also eager to unveil a new line of drinkable ginger and turmeric brines available in 12-ounce bottles.

Additionally, the new brick-and-mortar will serve as the meeting place for Fermenti’s Fermenting Club, which offers community and discourse with fellow fermenters. “I want to showcase other local fermenters, ferments, tools, artisans and food makers who utilize ferments in their products,” says Chamberlain.

But what excites Chamberlain more than anything is the store’s ability to offer a miniature, year-round version of her annual WNC Fermenting Festival. “It’s my baby, and we have gotten bigger, better and have raised more money for the Beacon of Hope food bank every year,” she says. “Having a safe space to anchor fermentation in Asheville is incredible and allows us to really showcase collaborations with other local food makers and artisans.”

For more information, visit avl.mx/cce.

Pintxo party

NIGHT OF BITES: La Bodega by Cúrate chef de cuisine Matt Brown prepares a plate of pintxo — individual bites best enjoyed while socializing. Photo courtesy of Katie Button Restaurants

Matt Brown, chef de cuisine at La Bodega by Cúrate, is teaming with chef Ryan Bartlow of Ernesto’s in New York City, to bring the tastes of northern Spain to Asheville on Wednesday, Feb. 1, 6-9 p.m., for a special Pintxo Party. Brown and Bartlow have hand-selected a number of classic pintxo dishes originating from Spain’s Basque Country to enjoy during an experiential wine dinner.

What exactly is pintxo, you might be asking?

“A pintxo is an individual bite, just for one,” answers Félix Meana, co-owner of Cúrate and La Bodega. “It can come on a skewer with a toothpick on top or on a small toast point.”

Guests, Meana hopes, will come to appreciate not just the tastes of pintxo cuisine but the essence of the pintxo experience as well.

“Pintxo culture is a rare phenomenon,” he elaborates. “To enjoy pintxos, one must be standing and socializing, mingling around the space as they would at a party. The menu is developed with care but designed to be enjoyed progressively through the evening — an element that adds to the experience.”

Selections de la Vina wines, poured by La Bodega’s friends at Sour Grapes, are on deck to complement the evening’s bites.

La Bodega by Cúrate is at 32 S. Lexington Ave. Tickets are $115 per person. Visit avl.mx/ccf for more information. 

Beans and jeans

Retro Coffee is gathering clothing through Friday, Feb. 3, for its Sunday, Feb. 5, Community Clothing Swap, 8 a.m.-3 p.m. Those who contribute adult clothing in good condition (no shoes, hats, accessories or children’s clothing) will receive $1 off a coffee, tea or pastry of choice.

“The motivation for the event is to bring the community together with an event that will help everyone clean out and refresh their closets in an environmentally conscious way,” says owner Clare LeCroy. Those participating can leave with up to 10 items and are recommended to bring a reusable shopping bag. Any unclaimed clothing will be donated to the Asheville Humane Thrift Store.

“One hundred percent of proceeds go back to animals in need at the Asheville Humane Thrift Store,” says LeCroy. “I also adopted my dog from a Humane Society, so it’s an organization close to my heart. I hope people take away a sense of community and some new clothing to refresh their closet for the new year.”

Retro Coffee is at 2619 Sweeten Creek Road, Suite 50-60. Visit avl.mx/ccg for additional information.

Bao Down

Bun Intended, Root Down and the Salvage Station plan to let the good times roll during a celebratory Mardi Gras-inspired pop-up dinner Tuesday, Feb. 7, at 6 p.m.

Chefs Erica Glaubitz (Bun Intended) and Dano Holcomb (Root Down) have collaborated to create a five-course menu featuring special dishes that deftly fuse the experience and expertise of each chef with the tastes and flavors traditionally associated with the Mardi Gras celebration. Each course will feature a dish created by each chef for a total of 10 unique dishes.

Expect the likes of smoked alligator satay, Thai boudin balls and tiger cry salad from Bun Intended; meanwhile Root Down will offer such dishes as rabbit liver pate, shrimp remoulade and catfish and grits. Guests are encouraged to come hungry and to save room for king cake.

Salvage Station is at 468 Riverside Drive. Tickets are $60 per person. Visit avl.mx/cci for additional information.

Fungus among us

Asheville Truffle Experience 2023 kicks off Friday, Feb. 10, beginning an entire weekend of fungal fun and cordyceps-centered curiosity.

Through Sunday, Feb. 12, guests will explore the mystery and reverence of truffles, a prized ingredient in cuisines around the world, with various educational sessions and experiences stimulating all senses.

The festivities commence at 5 p.m. Friday in the upstairs lounge of Bouchon with truffled appetizers and sparkling beverages. New tastes and conversations will be followed by an 8 p.m. screening of The Truffle Hunters at the nearby Warner Studios.

Culinary demonstrations, educational sessions, a wine-paired dinner by chef Michel Baudouin (Bouchon, RendezVous) and even a truffle hunting trip led by actual truffle-sniffing dogs round out the weekend’s events as part of this experience.

Visit avl.mx/prty for schedules, menus and additional info, and avl.mx/b51 for event registration.

Old friend, new beginning

After 32 years serving as one of craft beer’s most enduring stalwarts, New Belgium Brewing Co.’s flagship beer, Fat Tire, has been reborn as a crisper, lighter and reimagined version of itself.

“Fat Tire has spent three decades at the center of the craft beer movement,” says New Belgium CEO Steve Fechheimer in a news release. “Now, it’s time to widen the circle and inspire the next generation, too.”

In the same release, Fechheimer states, “It’s our sincere hope that beer fans — whether they love the planet, simply love great beer, or both —– will embrace the chance to change along with us.”

New Belgium’s Asheville brewery is at 21 Craven St. Visit avl.mx/cch for additional information.

Asiana Grand Buffet closes

For nearly two decades, Asiana Grand Buffet was synonymous with all-you-can-eat-style Asian cuisine and free birthday buffets in Asheville. Last month, the owners took to social media to announce the restaurant’s closure.

“We want to sincerely thank all our patrons, vendors and team members who had contributed to 18 amazing years of great memories and success,” reads the online post. “Thank you for the many years of business, support, but most of all, your cherished friendships. We truly enjoyed serving you!”

No announcements have been made regarding the future of Asiana Grand Buffet’s former location at 1968 Hendersonville Road. Stay tuned for updates.


EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems has announced new sources of funding to help increase business opportunities for food and farm businesses across southwestern North Carolina. These supplemental sources aim to help bring together producers, schools and regional partners to support the expansion of the local food supply chain, primarily across the Jackson, Macon, Haywood, Swain, Cherokee, Clay and Graham counties, and the Qualla Boundary.

An additional $205,350 from the Dogwood Health Trust will allow EMFS to continue providing health education and cooking classes along with each box of food delivered in the Harvest Health produce prescription program. EMFS partner Community Food Strategies has also been awarded a USDA grant to support food council work.

To receive project updates, sign up for the EMFS newsletter at avl.mx/ccj.

Editor’s note: This article was updated on Feb. 3. 


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