What’s new in food: Handmade bagels pop-up in Weaverville

BAGEL BAKERS: Emily Baron and Matt Lee, owners of microbakery Nosh Bagels, prepare for customers at a Newstock Pantry pop-up. Photo courtesy of Emily Baron

Nosh, a microbakery specializing in bagels and bialys, will have a pop-up at the Weaverville Tailgate Market on Wednesday, March 6, and Wednesday, March 20.

Co-owners Emily Baron and Matt Lee, a married couple, pride themselves on using locally milled flours from Lindley Mills and Carolina Ground and use natural sourdough leaven that Baron has maintained for over eight years. Each bagel is shaped by hand over three days before being boiled in barley malt syrup and baked.

The couple recently moved their home bakery operation to a shared-use commercial kitchen space, which allowed them to host pop-ups with the Newstock Pantry team in the River Arts District every Sunday in February.

Owning her own food business has been a decadelong dream for Baron. “One of the many reasons we moved to Asheville in the first place was because it just seemed like the kind of city where that was possible,” she says.

In 2019, she left her nonprofit job and began traveling around the country interning with chefs, honing her cooking and baking skills while looking for a place to live. The couple felt that a great bagel shop was just what Asheville needed. “It felt like there was room for us to add something of our own,” Baron says.

Their bagel background runs deep. Baron grew up going to bagel shops in Cincinnati, and they both missed the bagel shops of New York City, where they lived for many years.

“New York bagels are the gold standard for good reason, but they also vary quite a bit from shop to shop,” Baron says. “Which is great, since everyone has a different idea of what a perfect bagel is. For us, a really good bagel is one that has a crispy, shiny exterior and a really flavorful, chewy, but not overly dense interior. It should be satiating without feeling too heavy.”

Nosh will be popping up at Newstock again on Sunday, March 24, 11 a.m.-2 p.m. “The schmear flavors vary from one pop-up to the next,” says Baron. “We’ve been lucky to collaborate with the talented chefs at Newstock Pantry, who make all of the schmears for our pop-ups entirely from scratch. Some recent flavors include roasted veggie, preserved lemon herb, fermented chili and caramelized apple. We always have a plant-based option available as well.”

The Weaverville Tailgate Market is at 60 Lakeshore Drive, Weaverville. For more information on Nosh and upcoming pop-ups, visit avl.mx/dep.

Chow Chow bows out

Chow Chow, the popular food and culture festival, has disbanded.

The nonprofit, founded in 2019 by Asheville restaurateurs Katie Button, Meherwan Irani and John Fleer, was designed to celebrate the Southern Appalachian food region and Asheville’s gastronomic footprint. It brought together chefs, food historians and up-and-coming culinary figures to share stories behind rural Southern food culture. The festival also focused on social justice, hosting discussions about climate change and food insecurity.

Chow Chow took a year off during the pandemic, then resumed in 2021 and 2022 as The Summer of Chow Chow, which featured a tasting bazaar and a series of open-air tents housing regional vendors and events. The final festival, which took place over three days in September 2023, offered a condensed calendar of dinners and ticketed speaking events.

“We thank each and every one of you for your immeasurable talents, creativity, passion and drive to lift up this unique community that we all love and care to see thrive,” Chow Chow wrote in a farewell message posted on its website. “May it always continue to evolve and bring so much pride to our beloved mountain home, especially through your continued support of it. May the seed we all planted grow into so much more in the years to come. Thank you for being a part of what made Chow Chow so special.”

On Feb. 15, following the announcement, Blue Ridge Public Radio reported that 45 local vendors were notified on Feb. 8 that they would not be receiving payment for their participation in the festival. The festival’s outstanding debt totaled over $20,000.

“We are in no way financially capable of cutting checks to finalize your payment,” Chow Chow’s email said, according to BPR. “Our immediate action will be reaching out to you directly to provide you with an official Tax Donation Letter in the amount still owed as ‘in-kind services and goods’ — this way you have some opportunity to recoup what you can as a tax write-off for the 2023 tax season. It is not ideal, but we have exhausted every option we have.”

Tax records reveal the festival was operating at a loss, despite receiving hundreds of thousands of dollars in the form of Buncombe County Tourism Development Authority investments.

To read the full statement from Chow Chow, go to avl.mx/cyl.

Chai Pani confirms move

Chai Pani, Asheville’s James Beard Award-winning Indian street food restaurant, is moving to the South Slope.

Chai Pani Restaurant Group has grown a lot since it opened its first location 15 years ago. It has expanded to include a second Chai Pani location in Atlanta, as well as Botiwalla locations in Charlotte, Atlanta and West Asheville, which serve Indian street food and spices by its spice brand, Spicewalla. The Asheville Chai Pani restaurant plans to relocate from its original location on Battery Park Avenue to the space vacated by Buxton Hall Barbecue late last year. In its place, the company will open another Botiwalla. The move will triple the size of the restaurant, which has become hugely popular since winning a 2022 James Beard Award.

Chai Pani’s downtown location has struggled to keep up with mounting popularity, and the team hopes this new space will make dining at the restaurant easy once again. “In this new era, think Chai Pani but more deluxe!” says Chai Pani representative Kelsey Burrow. “All the Chai Pani hits that are currently on the menu will stay, but we are excited to up the ante on our cooking techniques with more space and more equipment than we’ve ever had. Our team has been working in a tiny kitchen all these years, so we are looking forward to giving them the proper space they need to produce more delicious food than ever.”

The mezzanine of the Banks Avenue Chai Pani will be called MG Mini, in honor of the dive bar MG Road, formerly located in Chai Pani’s lower level. That space will itself be transformed into a provisions store. “Think mini Indian grocery,” Burrow says. The new location plans to open in March or April, after which construction will begin on the Battery Park Botiwalla.

Chai Pani is at 22 Battery Park Ave. and is open daily, 11:30-3:30 p.m. and 5-9 p.m. For information visit avl.mx/bu8.

USA Today ranks Neng Jr.’s

Neng Jr.’s, the popular Filipinx restaurant in West Asheville, has been named one of the 47 best restaurants in the country by USA Today.

National recognition is nothing new for Neng Jr.’s, despite having only 18 seats and a back-alley location. It was a 2023 James Beard Award finalist, and that same year, chef Silver Iocovozzi was named in Time magazine’s 100 Next list of emerging business leaders. Iocovozzi (who uses they/them pronouns) grew up in eastern North Carolina and associates their love of cooking with their mother Neneng, after whom the business is named.

Iocovozzi’s menu fuses Southern and Filipino cuisine. A signature Neng Jr.’s dish is the adobo oyster, incorporating cured quail egg yolk and lato, which are small briny seaweed balls.

Neng Jr.’s is at the back of 701 Haywood Road and is open Wednesday-Saturday, 5:30-10 p.m. Learn more at avl.mx/den.

Roll Up rolls up

Roll Up Herbal Bar, a mobile mocktail bar in Haywood County, just opened its first permanent location inside Frog Level Brewing Co. in Waynesville.

Roll Up creates its mocktails from fresh local ingredients and offers a series of adaptogen options. Sam Kearney, Roll Up’s owner, got her start in the mocktail world two years ago while working at Sunny Point Café, using fresh garden ingredients and learning about cocktail flavor profiles. She was sober during that period and found herself longing for a mixed drink that was more interesting than a club soda with lime. Once the mocktail recipes started taking shape, she began looking for a location, but real estate was expensive. That’s when she turned to the mobile model.

“We outfitted a 1971 VW bus with Sunshine Conversions to be a mobile mocktail bar that ran all equipment off rechargeable batteries (so no stinky, loud gas generator),” Kearney says. “Folks love the nostalgia factor while also appreciating one of the happiest vehicles on the road.” Even though Roll Up now has a physical location, the VW bus can still be found parked out front.

The new physical location allows Roll Up Herbal Bar the room to plan what’s next, including the possibility of expanding to include cannabis products. “I think after opening this space, we’ll be happy to have a bit of consistency,” Kearney says. “Serving folks in our community, catering for events (I love making signature recipes for couples for their wedding day), exploring CBD, new recipes, and maybe even bottling our mixes for people to enjoy at home.”

Roll Up Herbal Bar is at 40 Commerce St., Waynesville, and is open noon-8 p.m. daily. For information visit avl.mx/d21.


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