What’s new in food: Local book releases, markets and garden dining take wing in spring

HEAVEN SCENT: Chef, forager and author of the new cookbook Cooking with Truffles: A Chef's Guide, Susi Gott Seguret breathes deep the pungent and earthy scent of a large truffle. Photo by Luc Seguret

With so many live entertainment outlets, travel opportunities and social interactions shut down by pandemic restrictions, daily meal planning, cooking and eating became individual and collective obsessions during the past year. Even as the post-vaccine world begins to open up, our appetite for all things food remains insatiable. Two locally produced cookbooks and an annual guide are here to feed the beast.

Susi Gott Seguret has long lured curious gastronomes and naturalists into the woods on her 200-plus-acre Madison County farm to forage for wild seasonal treasures then feast on the pickings. Though suspended by COVID-19 last year, the chef, author and director of the Seasonal School of Culinary Arts resumed the monthly outings in March. Since 2015, she’s also managed the Asheville Truffle Experience, producing the event every February until taking a pandemic sabbatical this year.

Asheville Truffle Experience will return Feb. 11-13, 2022. But until then, Seguret invites both truffle aficionados and the truffle-curious to dig into the history, science and geography of this magical, mysterious — and to some, malodorous — subterranean fungus (not to be confused with the sweet treat of the same name) with the release of her new book, Cooking With Truffles: A Chef’s Guide.

“Most American diners have yet to discover what a truffle really tastes like,” says Seguret. “I hope to bridge the gap between grower and chef, truffle and diner.” Her book includes over 150 recipes, from truffled cheese soufflé to truffled pancakes. The book is available online and locally at Malaprop’s.  avl.mx/9ac

Traveling with Jericho is a cookbook memoir by Jericho Michel that chronicles through stories and recipes his peripatetic journey as a chef through restaurant kitchens around the country. Beginning in Asheville in 1998, the book makes pit stops in Atlanta, Chicago, Key West, Chattanooga and Philadelphia, before circling back to Asheville again. The final chapter is devoted to family recipes and his own family’s restaurant, Michel’s in Maple Shade, N.J. avl.mx/9ad

It’s not technically a book, but for regional and fresh food devotees, the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project’s annual Local Food Guide is the ultimate farm almanac covering Western North Carolina and surrounding counties in Tennessee, Virginia, South Carolina and Georgia. The just-published 2021 edition includes over 200 Appalachian Grown farms with charts to help locate U-pick options, lodging, visitor activities and community supported agriculture programs. It also features more than 80 farmers tailgate markets with information on holiday and winter markets plus details on partner businesses such as restaurants, groceries and artisan producers. Additionally, the new guide dives into the stories of a few individual growers, including The AppaLatin Farmstead, Colfax Creek Farm, Headwaters Market Garden, Kituwah Farm, New Roots Market Garden and TK Family Farm.

The printed guide can be found at farmers markets, visitors centers, libraries, community centers, groceries, restaurants and in the lobby of ASAP’s office at 306 W. Haywood St. Look for the online version at avl.mx/81y

All aboard

Last spring, COVID-19 derailed the city of Hendersonville’s planned May 9, 2020, launch of the inaugural Hendersonville Farmers Market at the Historic Train Depot. “It was kind of ‘yikes!’,” says market manager and downtown events coordinator Meredith Friedheim, who had to apply the brakes to that planned opening. “But it worked out better than I could have imagined.”

The market’s opening day was delayed until June 6, but during its first year, it welcomed an average of 30 vendors and 900 customers every Saturday. The 2021 season kicks off Saturday, May 8, 8 a.m.-1 p.m., with 45 local vendors, including Raspberry Fields, Bright Blooms, Garden of Griffin and Bright Branch Farm. Myron Hyman and Fiddlin’ Ryn & Friends will perform, and Olive Catering Co. and Feta Flav food trucks will be parked on-site. A kids corner and chef demonstrations join this year’s programming as well.

The market is a SNAP/EBT retailer and participates in the Double Dollars Program funded by ASAP. For a list of vendors, safety protocols and parking information visit avl.mx/6z4.

Green acres

It’s meadow season at Highland Brewing Co. Birds are birding, bees are buzzing, beers are brewing, and Meadow Market Sundays resume May 2 and continue every Sunday, noon-5 p.m., with local bakers, makers, artisans and live music 3-5 p.m.

Highland Brewing, 12 Old Charlotte Highway.

Garden party

Why settle for a vase of flowers for mom on Mother’s Day? Give her an entire garden and brunch to boot at the N.C. Arboretum, which has reopened its Bent Creek Bistro for 2021. Though the indoor dining room remains closed for now, the locally sourced and seasonal menu is available al fresco on the Education Center courtyard and plaza or can be taken for a picnic on the 434-acre campus. Bent Creek Bistro is open Tuesday-Sunday, 10 a.m.-4 p.m. Orders can be made at the service window or online at avl.mx/4v8.

N.C. Arboretum, 100 Frederick Law Olmsted Way


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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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