What’s new in food: Sunday Suppers, strawberries and SnoBalls spring into May

SUNDAY SERVICE: Chef Ashleigh Shanti is first up for the return of Avenue M's monthly Sunday Supper Series of collaborative, multicourse dinners planned by chef Andrew McLeod. Photo by Bax Miller

As chefs do, Andrew McLeod  bonded with Ashleigh Shanti over food. Specifically, the house-made (by McLeod) miso mustard on the griddled house-made (also by McLeod) bologna sandwich, which also included American cheese, pickles, red onion, Duke’s mayo and shredded lettuce on Geraldine’s Bakery white bread. Shanti ordered it from the twice-weekly, delivery-only Trashalachian sandwich pop-up McLeod — who is executive chef at Avenue M — hosted with his own venture, King Salumi Meats, through Chop Shop Butchery earlier this year. Shanti says she has been a fan of McLeod’s since his days in several of Sean Brock‘s Husk kitchens and was excited to see he had moved back to Asheville. Because of COVID closures, Trashalachian was her first local opportunity to have his food.

“She gave the mustard a shoutout on social media,” says McLeod. “I saw it and reached out to her to see how I could get her a jar of mustard. We started talking about the bologna and other food, and we became friends.”

That friendship goes public Sunday, May 23, when Avenue M revives its monthly Sunday Supper Series with a collaborative five-course dinner led by Shanti. Previously chef de cuisine at Benne on Eagle, Shanti departed her post late last fall and has been traveling, cooking and exploring future plans and options since. The SSS event is welcome news for all who have been following the intoxicating food photos on Shanti’s Instagram account @Foodordeath.

The Sunday Supper will be the first time since leaving Benne that Shanti will be cooking for Asheville diners. “Andrew and I both share a love for old school foodways and the newness it brings to fine dining and I think guests will enjoy experiencing that from  our two different lenses,” she says. “The menu for the evening is unmistakably Southern and will feature all the lovely produce Asheville is seeing right now and highlight some of our favorite farmers. ”

Tickets are $90 per person; beverage pairing by Avenue M owner/sommelier Ralph Lonow is also available. To purchase, email contact@avenuemavl.com.

Avenue M, 791 Merrimon Ave., avl.mx/91w

Buckets o’ berries

The time is ripe for local strawberries, and Beth Frith, marketing specialist for the WNC Farmers Market on Brevard Road, says the fresh, sweet orbs from North and South Carolina farmers are abundant and available throughout the sheds and inside the two enclosed buildings on the 36-acre site, open daily 8 a.m.-5 p.m. She reports they’re priced from $14-$22 a gallon, but you’d better get there before she does. “I’ve probably purchased 4 or 5 gallons since they started coming in,” she says.

Sarah Hart, communications coordinator for Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project, writes in her weekly ASAP newsletter that the seasonal berries have begun their 2021 limited engagement at many weekly tailgate markets, notably from Lee’s One Fortune Farm and Ivy Creek Family Farm. For dates, times and locations of neighborhood markets, visit avl.mx/5uh.

WNC Farmers Market, 570 Brevard Road, avl.mx/0vl

Snow day

Emily Freeman says it was love at first bite when she and her husband, Jacob Freeman, visited a Pelican’s SnoBalls store in Charlotte, where the Madison County couple were then living. “We had always wanted to open a store of some kind, and when an opportunity came up to open a Pelican’s franchise in Woodfin, we grabbed it,” she says.

They signed the lease on the 800-square-foot building in February, and after a test run with family and friends, opened officially May 6 to a line of eager customers on their patio.

Jacob is holding onto his day job, but customers will find Emily at the order window, happy to explain the difference between Pelican’s New Orleans-style shaved ice snoballs and the snow cones traditionally found at county fairs. “Snow cone is a bad word here,” she says with a laugh. “That ice is gritty, and most of the flavor goes to the bottom of the cup. Our ice is soft and fluffy like snow and absorbs all the flavors.”

There are over 100 to choose from — the most popular is Tiger Blood — and four sizes, from kiddie to the supersized Avalanche.

Pelican’s SnoBalls of Woodfin is open Monday-Saturday, noon-9 p.m., and Sunday, 1-9 p.m. 235 Weaverville Highway. avl.mx/prvw

Dinner for eight

What’s the difference between a squid and an octopus? The round-headed octopus has eight appendages, while a squid has 10 and a triangular head. Squid roam the open sea, while octopuses lurk about the ocean floor. And only the octopus gets star billing in the Cúrate Spanish Wine Club’s May virtual cooking demo and wine tasting. In My Octopus Dinner, chef Katie Button will demonstrate how to prepare and grill a whole octopus, with papas arugadas (salted potatoes) on the side. The round-headed cephalopod is available at La Bodega by Curate, which is also stocking fully cooked octopus tentacles for those who’d prefer to just eat and watch. Felix Meana will discuss the Canary Islands wines to be quaffed. The live demo is Thursday, May 20, at 8 p.m., but a link to the recorded class will be sent to ticket holders the day after for later viewing or replay. Half of the $20 ticket price will be donated to Southside Kitchen in support of its free community meals program. To purchase a ticket, visit avl.mx/9d7.

Meat and greet

After more than a year of taking online orders from behind closed doors and bringing packs of hand-cut chops, steaks and ribs to the curb, Chop Shop Butchery is again open to walk-in customers. On May 4, co-owners P.J. and Sharon Jackson and Matt Helms greeted customers from behind the counter and fully stocked cases of meat and fresh catch seafood at their corner shop on Charlotte Street. A smaller selection of online orders of local meats, cheese, eggs, deli condiments and prepared foods will remain available for delivery and curbside pickup.

Chop Shop Butchery, 100 Charlotte St.  avl.mx/9d0

Farm hands

“Willingness to get your hands dirty” is one of the qualifications High Meadows Mountain Farm and Creamery in Clay County is looking for in an apprentice to help expand its agritourism-based business specializing in artisan cheeses, educational tours and how-to workshops. Goat milking is also part of the unique hands-on learning experience.

High Meadows is one of the agricultural businesses in the paid food and farm work-and-study apprenticeship program offered through the Center for Environmental Farming Systems’ EmPOWERing Mountain Food Systems project. Other opportunities to get down and dirty-handed are offered by Wehrloom Honey, Shaka Alpaca Farm and KT Orchards. Eligible applicants should be students in qualifying secondary education institutions, including rising freshmen. To apply, visit avl.mx/9cx.

Regional food and farming businesses interested in hosting and mentoring paid internships can apply at avl.mx/9cy.


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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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