Saturday, April 30, 2011

English Wine Used to Fuel Royal Wedding Car

We knew beer was off the menu but surprisingly English wine made the cut, well sort of.  The new Duchess of Cambridge gave her hubby a lift in Prince Charles' Aston Martin.  The car, only 1 of 38 like it in the world, was converted to use a type of ethanol that is produced from excess British wine!  The story, reported by Fox News states that the couple used the car to take a spin around the Buckingham Palace grounds on the day of the wedding.

WNC Chefs Challenge 2011 Quarterfinals Begin with Bistro at Biltmore VS. Pomodoros Greek & Italian Café

Round Two - The Quarterfinals !

The winners of Round One of the WNC Chef's Challenge held at Cucina24 will square off against each other now in Round Two.  The winners to date are Bistro at Biltmore, Pomodoros Greek & Italian Café, Lexington Ave. Brewery, Chef's Table, Posana Café, Sunburst Trout Company, Knife & Fork and The Orchard at Broadmoor.  The Chefs from each of these local culinary haunts have made it through the first round challenge and are heating up the kitchen again to see which of them make it through the next challenge round.

On Monday, May 2, the first to head into the quarterfinals are Chef Michael Gonzalez of Bistro at Biltmore and Chef Greg King of Pomodoros Greek and Italian Café.  Each will bring his team back to face off again in front of a live audience who will eventually judge them and select the winner.  The competitions each Monday are held at Cucina24 on Wall Street in downtown Asheville, click here for directions.

At each heat, two teams are given a secret ingredient to be featured in their culinary creations. Diners enjoy six dishes – three from each team – but are not told who has made each course. The diners then score the dishes using the same guidelines as a professional food critic to determine who advances to the next round. The top two competitors will face off during the finale at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting in August. The WNC Chefs Challenge offers a unique way to participate in the pressure-filled environment of a world-class culinary competition.

Time: 6:30 PM
Price: $49. (excludes tax, beverages, and a 20% auto-gratuity that will be added to each final bill)
Tickets:  Click here.

Prince William and Catherine's Royal Wedding Cake

The Royal Wedding Cake

Detail on the Royal Cake

Intricate Royal Cake

The Royal Cake and Its Designer Fiona Cairns

The Detail on this Cake is Amazing

Beautiful floral inlays on the Royal Wedding Cake

One of the Sweet Roses!

Thursday, April 28, 2011

Prince William and Catherine Middleton Royal Wedding Menu

Darren McGrady
Almost every detail of the wedding is now complete and Royal chefs have hinted at what guests will be tucking into on William and Kate's big day.

The team of caterers has prepared 15,000 canapes for when guests arrive at the Palace at 12:40 pm including quail's eggs with celery salt, mini Yorkshire puddings with roast beef and mini sausage rolls.

At the evening dinner and dancing reception, a smaller group of family, close friends and visiting heads of state will be treated to a more substantial buffet.  Darren McGrady, Princess Diana's Chef, predicts. "They like to showcase British food, so there might be Gaelic steaks with braised rice. But I wouldn't be surprised if cottage pie is somewhere on the menu."

That dish, made of ground beef in a brown sauce and topped with creamy mashed potatoes and melted cheese, "was William's all-time favorite," he says.

A select 300 people will then sit down to a three-course evening meal using the best of British ingredients.

Read more about Darren McGrady's predictions.

Wednesday, April 27, 2011

Prince William and Kate Middleton's Royal Wedding Banquet Preparations

NTD Television Reports:

The kitchens at Buckingham Palace are a hive of activity. Chefs painstakingly create one canapé after another, in preparation for the wedding of Britain's Prince William to Kate Middleton.

It's only a test run, but royal chef Mark Flanagan says the staff are feeling the pressure.

[Mark Flanagan, Royal Chef]:
"It will be about double-checking, triple-checking and checking it again and making sure that we've got everything in the right places and just really, nothing's been forgotten or left to chance."

Twenty-one chefs look after the five palaces occupied by the royal family, preparing more than 500 meals every day.

And then there's the royal functions which cater to tens of thousands of people, according to Edward Griffiths, the deputy master of the Royal Household.

[Edward Griffiths, Deputy Master of the Royal Household]:
"Here at Buckingham Palace, including garden parties, we'll cover about 50,000 people a year. Thirty-three and a half thousand of those are in garden parties, and certainly the sort of 15,000 balance is through a mixture of receptions, dinners, lunches and events that may be for two or four people to perhaps a buffet for a diplomatic reception perhaps for a thousand people."

Aside from all the food and fine wine, guests at the royal wedding will also be surrounded by fine art.

Assistant curator Jennifer Scott:

[Jennifer Scott, Assistant Curator of Paintings]:
"Queen Victoria was the first monarch who lived in Buckingham Place, and she used it regularly for parties, for balls. And so if you were to come to one of those balls in the 19th Century, you'd be enjoying a great social occasion, but also you'd be in this setting. And so really, it's perfect for that, when you get an idea of the special quality of this place, it's magical, it really oozes history."

A historical venue for a historical moment when the future King of England marries his bride on April 29th.

Tuesday, April 26, 2011

Prince William and Catherine Middleton Not Likely to Visit Beer City USA for a Pint

Prince William and Kate Middleton
The best man won't be best pleased - it has emerged that Prince William and Kate Middleton have banned beer from their Wedding reception as the final seating arrangements and guest list are announced.

It is thought that guests knocking back pints of ale was considered rather unseemly for such a regal affair attended by royals and heads of state from around the world.

Rather Prince Harry, who is often spotted enjoying rugby matches or nights on the town with a pint, will have to make do with the champagne and canapes being offered to the other 600 guests.

A source told the Daily Mirror: 'Let's face it, it isn't really an appropriate drink to be serving in the Queen's presence at such an occasion.

'And while the younger royals enjoy a pint from time to time, neither Kate nor William is a big beer drinker so they decided to leave it off the menu.

Prince Harry looks a little bleary-eyed at the World Darts Championship in Alexandra Palace earlier this year
'It was always their intention to give their guests a sophisticated experience and they have chosen the food and drink with this in mind.'

Neither bride nor groom will be drinking on their wedding day as they want to make the most of it.

It is well-known that Miss Middleton has never particularly enjoyed drinking - preferring to sip one small glass of wine.

However her soon to be brother-in-law Harry is known for his partying.

Just a few weeks ago he was spotted stumbling out of controversial London burlesque club The Box looking a little worse for wear.

Read more:

Monday, April 25, 2011

Prince William and Catherine Middleton Royal Wedding Cake Designer

Prince William and Miss Catherine Middleton have chosen Leicestershire-based cake designer Fiona Cairns to create their wedding cake.

The wedding cake will be a multi-tiered traditional fruit cake. The cake, which will be decorated with cream and white icing, will have a strong British floral theme using elements of the Joseph Lambeth technique. Fiona was chosen for her creative style and beautifully crafted handmade cakes using traditional British ingredients. Her business, started 25 years ago on her kitchen table, is now based in a state of the art bakery in Leicestershire, the heart of the English countryside.

In addition, the couple have also asked McVitie's Cake Company to create a chocolate biscuit cake for the reception at Buckingham Palace. The chocolate biscuit cake will be made from a Royal Family recipe and was specially requested by Prince William.

Further information

Fiona Cairns Ltd began on Fiona's kitchen table 25 years ago, when Kishore Patel – Fiona's husband and now managing director of the company – spotted the potential of his wife's beautifully crafted handmade cakes. In 2001, Kishore joined the company full time and the business moved out of their garden and into a state of the art bakery in Leicestershire, the heart of the English countryside.

For more information visit

McVitie's Cake Company now part of the United Biscuits Group have made many of the wedding and christening cakes for members of the Royal family since the marriage of His Majesty King George V to HM Queen Mary. They also made the official cake for The Queen and Duke of Edinburgh's diamond wedding anniversary in 2007.

For more information visit

Joseph Lambeth technique

The Lambeth Method is derived from a style of decorating that was popular in England where chefs and decorators would use a lot of intricate piping to create 3-D scrollwork, leaves, flowers, and other decoration on a cake. The Lambeth Method is still popular today and is frequently used by wedding cake designers and decorators to create ornate wedding cakes. A cake decorated in the Lambeth Method and accented with fresh fruit or flowers is the wedding cake of choice for anyone who wants a traditional looking, elegant wedding cake.

Friday, April 22, 2011

WNC Chefs Challenge 2011: The Orchard at Broadmoor vs Red Stag Grill

Two local Chefs go head to head in the next first round competition of the WNC Chef's Challenge held at Cucina24 on Monday, April 25.  Chef Steve Sauer of The Orchard at Broadmoor competes against Chef Adam Hayes of the Red Stag Grill.  Both Chefs participated in the inaugural competition last year so have an idea of what lies ahead of them.

This is week eight in the competition with the first seven weeks winners being Bistro at Biltmore, Pomodoros Greek & Italian Café, Lexington Ave. Brewery, Chef's Table, Posana Café, Sunburst Trout Company and Knife & Fork. The competitions each Monday are held at Cucina24 on Wall Street in downtown Asheville, click here for directions.

At each heat, two teams are given a secret ingredient to be featured in their culinary creations. Diners enjoy six dishes – three from each team – but are not told who has made each course. The diners then score the dishes using the same guidelines as a professional food critic to determine who advances to the next round. The top two competitors will face off during the finale at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting in August. The WNC Chefs Challenge offers a unique way to participate in the pressure-filled environment of a world-class culinary competition.

Time: 6:00 PM
Price: $49. (excludes tax, beverages, and a 20% auto-gratuity that will be added to each final bill)
Tickets: Click here

Wednesday, April 20, 2011

Chicken Pot Pie from the Blue Ridge Dining Room

Chicken Pot Pie
On Sunday, May 1, the Blue Ridge Dining Room at The Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa will roll out a new ala carte dinner menu. The menu is a continuation of the same theme for this restaurant - Southern Appalachian Comfort Cuisine. The use of local products continues to be a guiding force with the selections that are on the menu. The Chef also had more than local food in mind when orchestrating this menu; he had the locals in mind as well. The prices on the menu are very affordable with Starters beginning at $4.00 and entrées beginning at $13.00.

Jack Melson is the new Chef de Cuisine who was hired to fulfill the goal of the Blue Ridge to be a leader of local products and Southern cuisine for Western North Carolina. Chef Jack Melson, 28, was born and raised in Asheville, North Carolina and has spent virtually his entire career traveling the Southeast until arriving in Los Angeles in late 2004. When Melson was a young child, his grandmother, who he still considers one of the best cooks he knows, was tired of him drumming overturned pots with a wooden spoon. Thus asking him to stir a pot instead, and put his hyperactivity to better use. Grandma soon had a very skillful “sous chef” assisting with her regional specialties.

Melson attended Johnson & Wales University’s Charleston, South Carolina campus, receiving an Associate Degree in Culinary Arts (1999), Associate Degree in Baking & Pastry Arts (2000), and a Bachelor’s Degree in Food Services (2001). As part of his training at Johnson & Wales he served a pastry externship at the grand Charleston Place Hotel and an internship at Disney World in Orlando, Florida. Working his way through school, he worked at the Historic Mills House Hotel as a teaching assistant for Johnson & Wales University, eventually ascending to the position of Sous Chef.

After graduation, he left for Atlanta to work as Sous Chef at the acclaimed Horseradish Grill, specializing in an upscale, contemporary southern cuisine, followed by a two-year stint at the Crown Plaza Hotel in Atlanta’s Buckhead district, where he worked as Executive Sous Chef at Milan, the hotel’s Mediterranean bistro.

Thanks to Melson’s Southern heritage and extensive expertise in Southern cuisine, he was promoted to the head chef position at The Lincoln in Santa Monica, California. There he was encouraged to spice up the steakhouse’s menu with a variety of intriguing Americana-inspired dishes (i.e. lacquered Kurobuta pork chops with maple mashed sweet potatoes; Carolina Barbecued Salmon; Southern Red Rice Pirlau) which greatly complimented the Prime Steak selections at the core of the menu. Melson also enjoys applying occasional Asian, European and Latin touches to his dishes, as long as it’s consistent with his fundamental philosophy, “Just make it taste good…make it simple yet elegant…and don’t be seduced into going overboard.”

After two years at The Lincoln, Melson realized that he wanted more out of the cuisine he offered, and soon began some soul searching and decided to take a step down. Melson had a new goal in life to learn as much as he could about the cuisine of the world, the true roots of modern American cuisine, he wanted to go to Europe. It wasn’t long after this epiphany that Melson was introduced to Chef Sean Dent. Dent an Australian native took Melson under his wing. Melson joined his staff at the renowned Beverly Hilton, as the Chef de Cuisine of Circa 55.

After two years at the Beverly Hilton, Melson could not resist the call of home and the Appalachian Mountains. Upon returning to Asheville, Melson accepted the position of Chef de Cuisine for the Blue Ridge Dining Room at the legendary Grove Park Inn Resort & Spa. There he creates genuine southern comfort dishes, inspired by the wealth of locally grown produce and his southern mountain roots.

Chef Jack Melson
The Chicken Pot Pie is one of Jack’s signature menu selections on the upcoming ala carte dinner menu. The pie combines succulent oven roasted, farm raised chicken with local fresh seasonal vegetables in a savory herb cream sauce with house made pastry crust.

Chicken Pot Pie Recipe

Béchamel (Herb Cream Sauce)
Butter ¼ lb.
Onion, diced small ¼ lb.
Flour ¼ lb.
Clove ¼ tsp
Nutmeg 1 pinch
Milk, whole 1 Quart
Cream 1 Quart

Chicken, whole organic roasted 1 each

English Peas, fresh 1 lb.
Carrot batons 1 lb.
White Asparagus ½ lb.
Parsley, chopped 2 TBS
Rosemary, chopped 1 TBS
Thyme, chopped 1 TBS
Salt 1 TBS

Pastry Crust
Pie Dough, round cooked 4 each
Pie Dough, round 4 each
Egg 1 each

To make Béchamel (the herb cream sauce)
Place butter in a large saucepan, over medium heat let melt and begin to froth. Add onion and cook until translucent. Add flour and stir for 2 minutes. Whisk in milk and cream and cook until mixture boils. Add spices and reduce heat to simmer, cook for 4 minutes and reserve.

Prepare the chicken
Rub the whole chicken with salt and pepper and place in oven in a roasting pan and bake at 375 for 45 minutes or until brown and internal temperature reads 165. Let cool and pull meat from the chicken and reserve.

Prepare the pastry crust
Roll out pastry dough and cut two rounds for each vessel. Cut one round to fit just inside the bottom of the dish, and one larger round to cover the top of the dish with a slight overlap. Place the cut rounds on a lined baking sheet and brush with egg wash, sprinkle with salt and bake at 350 for about 12 minutes until golden brown. Place the smaller cooked pie round in bottom of serving dish.

Create the chicken pot pie
In a sauce pan put béchamel add roast chicken and warm through add the cut vegetables and bring to simmer, let simmer for 4-5 minutes. Place in serving dish and top with the larger pie dough round, garnish with fresh herbs, and serve.

To check out the new menu due out Sunday, May 1, click here.

Contact information
290 Macon Avenue
Asheville, North Carolina  28804

Blue Ridge Dining Room-Grove Park Inn on Urbanspoon

Tuesday, April 19, 2011

22nd Annual Asheville Herb Festival Coming April 29 - May 1, 2011

The WNC Chapter of the NC Herb Association represents the incredibly wide variety of herbalists and herb businesses in North Carolina: herb growers and vendors, natural gardening and landscaping specialists, and makers of herbal ointments, balms, soaps, teas, medicines, and other products. We hope you’ll join us and more than 25,000 other herb lovers when we celebrate our 22nd annual Asheville Herb Festival April 29th April 30th, and May 1st 2011, at the WNC Farmers Market.

Whether you’re looking for herbal medicine, holistic treatment, herbal soaps and shampoos, gourmet cooking herbs, cookbooks, or organic gardening information, you’ll find the products and experts you need. The annual festival has become an important annual gathering for herb enthusiasts and professionals from throughout the southeast. “Many visitors return each year to visit with friends, shop for their favorite plants and products, and have a good time surrounded by herbs,” says festival founder Rick Morgan.

Each year, herb lovers from across the Southeast take advantage of the Festival to enjoy some of the best herbs, plants, products, literature, and herb talk in the southeast. Often visitors are excited to learn that many popular herbs, having developed around the Mediterranean, are drought-tolerant. Master Gardeners, experts from the Buncombe Count Extension Service, will be on hand during the festival to answer gardening questions.

Monday, April 18, 2011

Western North Carolina City and Tailgate Market Opening Dates 2011

Asheville City Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: April 16
When: Saturdays, 8 am-1 pm
Where: Parking lot of the Public Works Building at 161 S. Charlotte St.

Asheville City Market - South, Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: May 4
When: Wednesdays, 2-6 pm
Where: Town Square Blvd. in the center of Biltmore Park Town Square, I-26 Long Shoals Rd. exit in South Asheville.

Big Ivy Tailgate Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: May 7
When: Saturdays, 9 am-noon
Where: Parking lot of the old Barnardsville fire station, across from the post office on Hwy. 197.

Black Mountain Tailgate Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: May 14
When: Saturdays, 9 am-noon
Where: Behind the First Baptist Church in Black Mountain at 130 Montreat Rd.

Columbus Tailgate Market
Polk Co.
Opening Day: April 9
When: Saturdays, 8 -11:30 am
Where: Courthouse St. in front of the historic Polk County Courthouse.

Flat Rock Tailgate Market
Henderson Co.
Opening Day: May 5
When: Thursdays, 3-6 pm
Where: Parking area behind the Hand in Hand Gallery in Flat Rock on Greenville Hwy. (225 S.).

Green Creek Tailgate Market
Polk Co.
Opening Day: May 3
When: Tuesdays, 5-7 pm
Where: Rte. 9 in Green Creek at the Green Creek Fire Station.

Greenlife Sunday Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: TBD
When: Sundays, 11 am-3 pm
Where: Grassy area near the Greenlife Grocery parking lot.

Henderson County Tailgate Market
Opening Day: Early spring
When: Saturdays, 7am-12pm
Where: King Street (between 1st & 2nd) Hendersonville, NC.

Hendersonville Curb Market
Opening Day: Open year-round
When:  8:00AM-2:00PM Tuesday, Thursday and Saturday from April-December, and 8:00AM-1:00PM Saturday January-March
Where: Corner of 2nd Avenue and Church Street

Lake Lure Market
Rutherford Co.
Opening Day: April 15
When: Fridays and Saturdays, 10 am-5 pm
Where: Parking lot between the Lake Lure beach and the ABC store.

Madison County Farmers and Artisans Market
Opening Day: April 2
When: Saturdays, 9 am-1 pm
Where: Across from the tennis courts on the Mars Hill College Campus.

Mills River Farmers Market
Henderson Co.
Opening Day: May 7
When: Saturdays, 9 am-noon
Where: Directly off of NC 280 in the G&B Energy Plaza, Mills River.

Mission Hospital Tailgate Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: May 5
When: Thursdays, 10 am-2 pm
Where: At the back entrance to the Mission Hospital Heart Center on the Memorial Campus.

North Asheville Tailgate Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: April 16
When: Saturdays, 8 am-noon
Where: UNC Asheville (UNCA) Campus Commuter Lot #C. Take Weaver Blvd. and follow signs.

Riceville Tailgate Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: May 20
When: Fridays, 4-7 pm
Where: Groce United Methodist Church's parking lot at the corner of Beverly Rd. and Tunnel Rd.

Sundays on the Island
Madison Co.
Opening Day: May
When: Sundays, 12-4 pm
Where: Cross the river at the Courthouse on Main St. in downtown Marshall and take an immediate right onto the island.

Weaverville Tailgate Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: April 13
When: Wednesdays, 2:30-6:30 pm
Where: On the hill overlooking Lake Louise behind the yellow Community Center on Weaverville Hwy.

Wednesday Co-op Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: May 4
When: Wednesdays, 2-6:30 pm
Where: 76 Biltmore Ave., in the parking lot next to the French Broad Food Co-op.

West Asheville Tailgate Market
Buncombe Co.
Opening Day: April 12
When: Tuesdays, 3:30-6:30 pm
Where: 718 Haywood Rd., in the parking area between the Grace Baptist Church and Sun Trust Bank.

Yancey County Farmers Market
Yancey Co.
Opening Day: April 23
When: Saturdays, 8:30 am-12:30 pm
Where: S. Main St. at US 19E in Burnsville, at the Burnsville Town Center.

If you don't see you're area, check the full list here.

Friday, April 15, 2011

East Village Grille and THE BEST Tiger Wings Ever!

I'm ready to disclose a family secret with everyone. For years we have been heading to a Monday night get away to treat ourselves. While I've mentioned this to family and friends from time to time, I've not posted a blog or mentioned this secret to anyone publicly. I'm ready to let everyone in on our secret.

You may or may not have heard of East Village Grille on Tunnel Road across from the Veteran's Hospital. That's not the secret though or at least not all of it. They have wings; more specifically they have Tiger Wings! If you’ve never experienced it, this is a giant wing, battered, deep fried and tossed in tiger sauce which is a spicy sauce with a sweet tangy side to it. I love traditional Buffalo Wings, but Tiger Wings have stolen a bit of my heart!

East Village Grille Tiger Wings
Now for the rest of the story…
Monday nights are discount wing night! Wings are $0.50 each!!!!
I know, fifty cents each! WOW !!!

They are jumbo giant massive size wings, the kind that look like they came from a flying brontosaurus. The crisp exterior keeps the meat moist and delicious. Are you getting the idea? Do you understand what I’m saying!? These are the real deal. These are the wings that you’ll write about to your cousin twice removed with the mole on his lip. These wings are delicious!

Yes, EVG has traditional Buffalo style as well as Garlic Tiger style. No, I’ve never tried either of these. It’s hard for me not to order the one and only Tiger Wing!

By the way, East Village has a full menu too with Greek and American foods including ribs, chicken, fresh seafood, sandwiches, burgers, gyros, etc. I may not have had anything else on it, but I’ve heard tell that the rest of the menu is spanking too. My wife usually orders a sandwich on wing night so her and her dad can split the sandwich and 10 Tiger Wings. They sit over there yum yumming like the sandwich can out perform the wings, but for me – I stick to the Tiger Wings. They love to try a different sandwich each time and revisit favorites from time to time. I suppose one day I’ll try something else on the menu besides the Tiger Wings but I’m not sure when that day will be.

Cheeseburger Sliders
A friend of mine told me that I’ve got to try the EVG pizza because “it’s fantastic”. I said I would. That was well over a year ago. I lied. I want to try it because I love pizza. I love me some Tiger Wings even more though.

East Village is a great unassuming locale that most tourists wouldn’t blink at as they are driving past heading to Black Mountain or the Blue Ridge Parkway. That’s good news for us locals though, right!? The German beer stein collection has always been a little bit of a mystery to me, but they do look cool. There are televisions everywhere so those on the Sports Bar side can always keep up with their favorite game. Parking can be at a premium, especially on Monday night wing night. It’s worth the trolling to get in there for the Tiger Wings.

Fried Mushrooms
Nick, the Greek owner, is a great guy. He is a foodie at heart with a love for wine, especially Champagne. I like his style! Any foodie with an affinity for wine is a friend of mine after all. Nick has created the locals’ bar in Asheville. Good booze, good beer, good food, good friends, good atmosphere. What more do you need?

I leave it up to you to keep my family secret. The only thing I ask is that you please, please, please don’t make me wait too long for a table when I’m there!

Contact information
1177 Tunnel Road
Asheville, NC 28805-2032

East Village Grille on Urbanspoon

Thursday, April 14, 2011

North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project

The Mill
The following is a dedicated group of people that desire North Carolina to have local organic bread.  From the grain to the mill to the baker . . . all here in North Carolina.  I love this vision and have pledged to assist.  Read more but also go to the end of this blog to pledge what you can as well.

The People

Carolina Ground, L3C, dedicated to grains grown and ground on Carolina ground is real and tangible. From seed to loaf, we are working to rebuild sustainability in our communities.

An L3C is a sort of hybrid between an LLC and a 501 C-3, in other words, it is a mission-driven for-profit business; it's also know as a "low-profit" company. Carolina Ground, L3C will be structured as a bakers' owned co-op mill, but incorporated as an L3C. Because what we hope to accomplish with this mill is to enable the farmer to get the best possible price for his/her grain at an affordable cost to the baker-- to exist outside the commodities market-- it is our stakeholders -- the farmer and the baker-- that we want to see thrive, not necessarily the mill; although we need the mill to do well, exist in the black, provide jobs, ect... The L3C felt like the perfect fit for us and I think it is going to conjure a lot of dialogue (hopefully) about the way we do business-- a triple bottom line approach (with economic, social, and ecological value) whose ecological and social value are the direct benefits of keeping it local.

The Story

With only three days to go I think more of the story is in order. More details as to how these funds are to be spent would probably help. So, let us begin with the MILL. Where did it come from? And how did we end up with it? (because the brunt of the money we are raising is going toward paying for this mill!!)

Our mill was built by a small family-owned business in Austria, a company known as Osttiroler Getreidemühlen. From their website, It was exactly 70 years ago, when family Green - now a line of mill builders - started to produce Good Mills - Green's flour mills with craftsmanship passed on by every generation.

Although our mill was built in Austria, it came to us via Australia through a line of bakers-- well two bakers in particular-- a mentor and mentee. I learned the craft of wood-fired brick oven baking and flemish naturally leavened breads from Alan Scott, oven builder and designer and baker of desem brot (the term used to describe this flemish naturally leavened bread). This was back in the early '90s. Back then, rediscovering the old methods of baking-- methods that predate commercial baking yeast-- was the carrot I was after. I was drawn to these methods because of the resulting flavor, texture, and nutrients that, in my opinion, trumps any straight dough method of baking. There was the oven too, whose radiating heat produced a carmelized crust, difficult to achieve with most any other oven. And there was the mill, because fresh flour was essential. I learned from Alan, and then I began my own bakery, Natural Bridge Bakery, using natural leavenings, a wood-fired oven, and a small stone burr gristmill.

Alan continued to inspire bakers but as the popularity of wood-fired oven baking took off, he shifted his time and attention to his ovens, as he was asked to build ovens for bakeries and home baker enthusiasts all over this country and beyond our borders. Eventually this work began to wear him out-- well, not his spirit, Alan was alway spritely, it was just his heart that started to wear. He began taking extended vacations back to his homeland in Tasmania, Australia, and eventually he moved permanently back to Tasmania, with the stated intention of slowing down.

But slowing down for Alan, only meant pausing long enough to find something else worthy of his attention. This something else was the final piece to complete the picture for the baker -- close the link between the farmer, miller, and baker.

My little craft bakery where I hand-kneaded my mountains of dough, hauled my wood from the culls bin of the local furniture factory, and tended to my cultures, still heavily relied on fossil fuels to deliver my grain grown a thousand miles away. So many of us bakers buy our grain or flour from distant warehouses...

As Alan had already built ovens for a handful of bakeries in Tasmania, the next step-- his plan-- was to bring in a mill, and connect the farmers with the bakers. He told me about this in one of our many email exchanges: I am getting involved and have an advisor on all this, a retired industry top man on milling so I went ahead and ordered a giant mill from Austria like Dave's with 48" stones and a capacity of a couple of tons a day, It is hand made by an old couple and just beautiful. It was originally going into a bakery that some of us are putting together but it is just too big. So I hope to buy a small lot of industrial zoned land a couple of hundred yards from me from the council and erect a prefab building for the milling operation.

This was his plan. That email was from April of 2008, just about the time when wheat prices started to skyrocket. I had just stepped out of baking, or was trying to, when wheat-- the baker's most essential ingredient-- went astray in quality, availability, and price, and it became blatantly obvious how disconnected us bakers were to our key ingredient. And around that same time, I received a sample of the bread wheat grown in NC from the USDA-ARS'a Uniform Bread Wheat trials, the first modern bread wheats to be bred for the heat and humidity of the southeastern United States. The resulting bake test was good. It was hopeful. As Alan continued to fill me in on his plan, literally, on the other side of the world, things here in North Carolina began to slowly take shape. Inspired by Alan, I asked for a meeting with Myron Fountain from the USDA-ARS to discuss these bread wheats. And then more meetings, this time with bakers. Eight of us bakeries pulled our chairs into a circle and began the conversation-- how different would it be if we could establish a relationship with our growers. How different would it be in quality, price, and sustainablity?

The result of our many meetings was the North Carolina Organic Bread Flour Project that received grant funding from the NC Tobacco Trust Commission (tobacco law suit settlement money) to lay the ground work for a viable grains economy in the Carolinas.

And then Alan passed away of congestive heart failure.

His daughter, Lila, called me and told me her dad's mill was sitting at the port in Hobart. It had traveled from Austria to Australia, although it took a circuitous route. It was suppose to go to Tasmania, but was sent to Tanzania by mistake. By the time it finally made it to Hobart, Alan was in the hospital with an ailing heart.

Lila said our project should use her dad's mill. He had inspired me to organize the bakers in NC around the idea of linking the farmer with the baker. We were doing what he had envisioned. Lila said we could pay the Scott estate when we were able to raise the money. And so this is where you come in. Thank you all for your pledges. We could not do this without you. Please continue to spread the word, as the clock seems to be speeding up with each passing hour.

from the ground up,
Jennifer Lapidus
Natural Bridge Bakery
Director - Carolina Ground

To learn more about this project and to help pledge, click here.

Tuesday, April 12, 2011

The Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival is Ready for You - April 13 -17, 2011

The Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival continues to draw foodies from near and far. The event, held in Blowing Rock, is held April 13 – 17. So you are just in time to take advantage of the talent of many chefs from the area as well as imbibe in wine ranging from local to international.

You can pop into the festival at the opening event, “Uncork the Festival”, hosted at Chetola Resort on April 13. The weekend continues with bartender’s facing off, culinary classes, wine seminars and tastings, Wine Maker dinners, gallery strolls, music, comedy, shopping, meet & greet with Festival VIPs, games and culinary competitions. This is a weekend that offers something for every foodie out there.

One of my favorites in the Festival is the Fire on the Rock Chef Challenge finale. The Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival concludes the Chef Challenge and offers the opportunity to see the best of the best in action. The final four in the Challenge are Barbato of Chetola, Foreman of Bistro Roca, Palazzo of Sorrento’s and Welch of Green Park Inn.

Tickets for events are available, click here.

Additional information is available by going to the Blue Ridge Wine & Food Festival website or Facebook page.

And for those of you unsure how to get there, for directions ... click here.

Festival Schedule of Events

Wednesday, April 13, 2011
• Uncork the Festival - Australian food & wine!
• Bartenders Brawl

Thursday, April 14, 2011
• Downtown activities and shopping
• Cooking Classes
• Wine Seminars
• Wine Maker Dinners
• Bartenders Brawl

Friday, April 15, 2011
• Downtown activities and shopping
• Wine Seminars
• Cooking Classes
• Wine Maker Dinners
• Meet & Greet with festival VIPs
• Gallery Stroll Downtown
• Chuckleball at the Hayes Center
• Bartenders Brawl
• Late Night music and entertainment around town

Saturday, April 16, 2011
• Downtown activities and shopping
• Grand Wine Tasting in Downtown Blowing Rock
• Fire on the Rock Chefs Challenge
• Dig Into Local Food Show
• Late Night music and entertainment around town
• Murderous Vineyard- Interactive Mystery Theater

Sunday, April 17, 2011
• Fire on the Rock Finale
• Champagne Brunches

Saturday, April 9, 2011

WNC Chefs Challenge 2011: Sunburst Trout Company vs Never Blue Tapas Bar and Grille

Next on the chopping block in the first round competition of the WNC Chefs Challenge are Sunburst Trout Company and Never Blue Tapas Bar and Grille. This is week six in the competition with the first five weeks winners being Bistro at Biltmore, Pomodoros Greek & Italian Café, Lexington Ave. Brewery, Chef's Table and Posana Café. The competitions each Monday are held at Cucina24 on Wall Street in downtown Asheville, click here for directions.

At each heat, two teams are given a secret ingredient to be featured in their culinary creations. Diners enjoy six dishes – three from each team – but are not told who has made each course. The diners then score the dishes using the same guidelines as a professional food critic to determine who advances to the next round. The top two competitors will face off during the finale at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting in August. The WNC Chefs Challenge offers a unique way to participate in the pressure-filled environment of a world-class culinary competition.

Time: 6:00 PM
Price: $49. (excludes tax, beverages, and a 20% auto-gratuity that will be added to each final bill)
Tickets: Click here

Friday, April 8, 2011

Mela Indian Restaurant - A Locals' Favorite in Asheville

Mela Indian Restaurant has become a standard in downtown Asheville since opening its doors in 2005. Offering North and South Indian cuisine while incorporating local ingredients, imported spices and authentic recipes from the owner Anoop Krishnan.

From the plains of Punjab to the Malabar coast, the techniques, spices, seasonings and natural ingredients of Indian cooking have been refined over thousands of years, resulting in a cuisine unlike any other. Mela Indian Restaurant offers authentic North and South Indian dishes as diverse and vibrant as the peoples and regions of India.
-Anoop Krishnan, Owner

Mela is open every day of the week for lunch and dinner. The buffet offered at lunch is well known and offers a couple breads, chutney, two types of rice, a few salads, a couple entrées and dessert for $8.95. It definitely offers plenty to eat. While lunch is good and has a decent value; it just does not compete with the choices and freshness that you get ordering ala carte at dinner.

There is plenty to choose from on the dinner menu in a variety of styles and spice levels. A few of my favorite starters are:

CHOWPATTI RAGADA • Potato patties topped with curried chickpeas, tamarind, yogurt and mint chutney. Garnished with cilantro. A Bombay beach treat

CHICKEN PAKORAS • Strips of boneless chicken marinated with ginger, garlic, chili paste and spices and deep fried. Served with mint chutney

CALAMARI PORICHACHU • Fresh calamari dusted with curry flavored chickpea and rice flour batter. Served with mint and tamarind chutneys

PANEER PAKORAS • Strips of fresh paneer cheese dipped in a mildly spiced chickpea batter and then deep fried.

There are soups and salads to choose from and I have heard good reports on these, but have not tried any myself. Considering the quality the rest of the Mela menu offers – my guess is that you will be happy with your order.

Naan is a leavened oven baked flat bread. It has a light texture and Mela bakes their naan in a tandoori oven. If you do order on the spicy side of the menu naan is a nice way of calming the spice in your mouth a little. Besides that it’s delicious. There are several varieties offered so merely choose your favorite ingredient. Here are the choices:

GARLIC NAAN • A multi-layered bread flavored with garlic and cilantro

PESHWARI NAAN • Naan filled with nuts, dried fruit and raisins

PUDINA NAAN • Naan flavored with fresh mint

ONION KULCHA • Naan stuffed with onions

PARATHA • Whole wheat multi-layered bread baked in the tandoor oven

POORI • Whole wheat, deep fried puffed bread

Other side orders to consider are the rice, one of the chutneys or the raita. I believe one of each is essential, but of course I like to take left overs home to enjoy the next day. The mango chutney is my favorite, but again go with what you enjoy. The raita is also a good stand by when ordering spicy as a calming measure for your palatte.

RICE • Basmati rice flavored with spices


RAITA • Made with yogurt and cucumbers, mildly spiced

When it comes to your entrée there are some great choices. The main categories are tandoori oven specialties, chicken, lamb, seafood and vegetarian. Order what interests you most but pay attention to the spice level. If you can’t handle much spice you could end up drinking water and eating raita soaked naan the rest of the evening. Barring that you should find a pleasant authentic Indian dish that will tempt you in to a future visit to Mela. The following are my favorites. I like them for various reasons that range from spice to flavor profile to just plain freshness.

CHICKEN VINDALOO • Boneless chicken cooked with potato in a very spicy and tangy curry sauce (Hot!)

LAMB CHETTINAD • Boneless lamb cooked in a sauce made with tomatoes, onions, garlic, black pepper powder, cumin, cloves, cinnamon and cardamom

MADRAS JIHNGA MASALA • Prawns, shelled and deveined, cooked in a sauce made with onions, ginger, garlic, cumin, turmeric, tamarind, mustard seeds, coconut and spices

VEGETABLE KORMA • An assortment of fresh vegetables in a yogurt and turmeric sauce

The menu isn’t the only reason you may be drawn to this locals’ favorite. Large windows along the street allow customers to watch the Asheville street life during dinner when seated closer to them. But, if not, the atmosphere overall is charming. It features a beautiful traditional bar in a front corner of the restaurant where a cocktail can be ordered if you are waiting for your table. A full bar along with a concise but decent wine list is available. While service can be a tad slow at times, I find that the staff is usually attentive and very pleasant.

Whatever the reason, take the time to visit Mela for lunch or dinner when downtown. You will be happy that you did and realize why the locals love their cuisine.

Contact information
70 North Lexington Avenue
Asheville, North Carolina 28801

Mela Indian Restaurant on Urbanspoon

Monday, April 4, 2011

West Asheville Tailgate Market Opening for the Season

WNC Chefs Challenge 2011: The Lobster Trap vs Posana Café

The Lobster Trap and Posana Café go knife to knife in this first round competition of the WNC Chefs Challenge.  This is week five in the competition with the first four weeks winners being Bistro at Biltmore, Pomodoros Greek & Italian Café, Lexington Ave. Brewery and Chef's Table.  The competitions each Monday are held at Cucina 24 on Wall Street in downtown Asheville, click here for directions.

At each heat, two teams are given a secret ingredient to be featured in their culinary creations. Diners enjoy six dishes – three from each team – but are not told who has made each course. The diners then score the dishes using the same guidelines as a professional food critic to determine who advances to the next round. The top two competitors will face off during the finale at the Asheville Wine & Food Festival Grand Tasting in August. The WNC Chefs Challenge offers a unique way to participate in the pressure-filled environment of a world-class culinary competition.

Time:  6:00 PM
Price: $49. (excludes tax, beverages, and a 20% auto-gratuity that will be added to each final bill)
Tickets:  Click here

Friday, April 1, 2011

Small Plate Crawl in Hendersonville and Flat Rock on April 5 - 6, 2011

Small Plate Crawl is back!

Restaurants create special Small Plate Menus, priced from $2 to $8, featuring their cuisine and Chef’s talent. Crawl from restaurant to restaurant from 11:30AM to 9:00PM – lunch and dinner hours – sampling the best of the Hendersonville and Flat Rock culinary scene.

Restaurants participate both days during the same block of time: 11:30AM to 9:00PM, 11:30AM to 3:00PM or 5:00PM to 9:00PM. See details on the Passport.

The Passport is not required, but is needed to enter the prize drawing. Present the Passport when purchasing Small Plates for validation. Buy a Small Plate at 5 or more restaurants to qualify for a prize drawing. If anyone in your group purchases a Small Plate, all Crawlers in your party can have their Passports validated! Print your Passport here.

Include a restaurant more than one block off Main Street in the “5 or more” to double your prize winning chances (Passport entered into drawing twice)! Drop the completed Passport off at any participating restaurant. Winners will be contacted by email.

Groups and sharing are okay, so you don’t get too full before trying all your favorite restaurants AND the ones you’ve always wanted to try. This is a rain-or-shine event. Small plates taste just as great no matter what the weather!

Take the Trolley...
TUESDAY, April 5th ONLY - 5:00pm to 9:45pm

The Trolley will leave from the Asheville Visitors Center/Asheville Chamber of Commerce parking lot, 36 Montford Ave, at 5:00pm and travel to Hendersonville. Once in Hendersonville, the Trolley will shuttle between Daddy D's Suber Soulfood (Locust St and 7th Ave E), Umi Japanese Fine Dining (633 North Main Street), the Main St Gazebo (between 4th and 5th Avenues), the Hendersonville Visitors Center (201 S Main St), Kanuga Cottage District (Davis St and Kanuga Rd) and Season's at Highland Lake Inn (86 Lily Pad Ln, Flat Rock). The Trolley will leave Hendersonville at 9:00pm from the Visitors Center, arriving back at the Asheville Visitors Center at 9:45pm.

2nd TROLLEY ADDED!!! Time between trolleys at shuttle stops should be 30 minutes or less!

Bring a Passport with you if you'd like to enter the Prize Drawing, or pick one up on the Trolley when boarding in Asheville.

Ticket from Asheville to Hendersonville, Shuttle Service During the Crawl & Back to Asheville: $20 per person

Ticket for Shuttle Service in Hendersonville and Flat Rock 5:30pm to 9:00pm, on-off privileges: $5 per person

For tickets, call The Trolley Company at 828-606-8606 or email them at