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WNC Food

WNC Food
June 2010
Eat, drink, and be merry at these appetizing festivals and classes

Asheville Wine + Food Festival

Festival: August 13-15, times vary
Chefs Challenges: June 1-August 3, Tuesdays, 6:30 p.m.

Tempt your taste buds with three days of gustatory delight at our sister publication WNC magazine’s second Asheville Wine + Food Festival. The Grand Tasting on Saturday hosts more than 60 wineries and food purveyors, plus demos by regional chefs, and is accompanied by wine dinners, champagne brunches, and educational seminars. Too hungry to wait until August? Head to town early to play food critic for one of the WNC Chefs Challenges that take place every Tuesday evening at the Flying Frog Café from June 1 until the final cook-off during the festival. Each week, two toques will go head-to-head armed with secret ingredients to feature in three dishes each. The best part? The crowd chooses the winner based on taste, use of the secret ingredient, presentation, and aroma. Among those vying for your praise: Stephen Sauer of the Grove Park Inn, Nick Figel of Cyprus, Rick Boyer of the Inn on Biltmore Estate, and John Stehling of the Early Girl Eatery. So hit the mountain trail and get to Western North Carolina for a weekend (or weeknight!) of gastronomical gratification. —Rachel Oja
$35 Festival Grand Tasting; $39 Chefs Challenge.


Waldensian Festival
August 13 & 14

You are what you eat. Just ask any Waldensian in Valdese. Every August, this tiny town in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains celebrates the preservation of its French-Italian culture. It’s a typical street fair in every way but one—the history. In honor of their persecuted ancestors’ return from exile in the Alps and unlikely migration to North Carolina, the Waldensians showcase the best of their traditional food and wine. At Waldensian Heritage Winery, you can see 1,000-
gallon, open wooden vats fermenting concord and Niagara grapes. “Everybody else uses them for juice,” says winery co-owner Freddy Leger, “but we do it like great-grandpa did.” And in true family style, the Waldensian Presbyterian Church serves pasta with an original recipe of sautissa: sausages of coarsely ground pork shoulder, garlic, and peppers. Don’t miss this opportunity to get a taste of the past.  —Brian Gallagher
Free admission.


September 11, 10 a.m.-6 p.m.

Organic has come a long way, baby. Just check out the sea of happy, healthy people at Organicfest. At this 10th annual celebration of National Organic Harvest Month, vendors dish up organic food and refreshments, including beer from Pisgah Brewing Company, while environmental organizations share info on green living and gardening and kids take part in the Garden Parade.

Cheers to Beer Fests

High Country Beer Fest
September 4

Sample craft and club beers from around the region, and the world, at this third annual brewhaha. Attendees can learn brewing basics and enjoy live music by the Whiskey Smugglers and the Henhouse Thieves. Must be 21 or older. Designated drivers get in free.
$30; $25 advance.

Brewgrass Festival
September 18

More than 3,500 beer- and bluegrass-lovers pour into Martin Luther King Jr. Park to taste the suds of nearly 50 breweries at WNC’s biggest bash dedicated to brews and bluegrass music. (Pisgah’s pale ale and Highland’s oatmeal porter are just two worth standing in line for.) Buy your ticket in advance, as last year’s festival sold out three weeks before the first draft.

On the Farm Training

Seasonal School of Culinary Arts
July 11-17 & July 18-24

Head to this summer cooking school at Warren Wilson College for full immersion into the farm-to-table experience. During the first session, harvest roots, fruits, leaves, and aromatics and turn them into epicurean delights. The second focuses on “Cooking for Vibrant Health.” Sign up for a week, pick a day or two by theme, or just tour the Biltmore Vineyards and lunch at the Winery Bistro on July 17.


Blue Ridge Barbecue & Music Festival
June 11 & 12

Bring the whole family for two days of finger lickin’, rib stickin’, and pig pickin’ in the teeny town of Tryon—population 1,700—located on the North Carolina border. More than 90 teams from across the country will cook up mouth-watering beef, pork, and chicken that will put Dad’s barbecue to shame.
$7; children under 12 are free.

Carolina Mountain Ribfest
July 9-11
{Asheville: WNC Agricultural Center}

Feast on slow-cooked ribs, brisket, and chicken alongside a variety of scrumptious desserts and comfort foods.There’s also arts and crafts and bike and car shows, as well as a full carnival and the Tomato Comedy Challenge.
$6; children under 12 are free.

North Carolina Apple Festival
September 3-6

This harvest festival—that’s as American as, yes, apple pie—celebrates Henderson County as the state’s largest producer of the fruit. You can fill bags with your favorite variety, whether it’s crispy galas, the sweet golden delicious, or a coveted heirloom. If you start to get an apple overload, duck into a downtown shop or peruse a craft booth. On Labor Day, be sure to check out Main Street’s King Apple Parade, then stick around to take part in the festival’s finale tradition of dancing in the streets.
Free admission.