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Blind Pig: Appalachia Avant-Garde

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Bob Bowles

Did you miss it again? The tickets went really fast. But there are more to come, so rejoice.

I've been to three of the Blind Pig events and I have my tickets for two additional ones coming up. Each time, I see a different group of people there so I’m beginning to think that if you're not quick, you’re probably not going to get a ticket.

I’ve written a few blogs about the Blind Pig and so check out the links and see what some of the other events have been like. The Blind Pig is a national phenomenon, with events held in cities throughout the United States. We are fortunate to have Chef Michael Moore as the organizer for these events. He does a great job! Each of the events supports a local not-for-profit. In the past, they’ve donated to the Appalachian Sustainable Agriculture Project (ASAP) and for this event, they donated a portion of the proceeds to the Fine Arts League of the Carolinas. The dinners are extremely well organized and everyone has a lot of fun; it’s almost like a big family get-together except they’re not your relatives! ; )

It is Sunday, December 4th and we're at the Phil Mechanic Studios in the River District. If you’ve been to the downstairs art gallery room, you’ll ask yourself “how on earth they are going to seat 75 people, and still have room for all their staff?” They did an amazing job! Take a look at the photos for this blog and you’ll see how beautifully they captured the spirit of the night. Talking about photographs, the display of the black and white photos from Tim Barnwell, who spends his life capturing artistic images of disappearing rural ways, is familiarly haunting for those of us who have lived their lives here and really showcased the event.

But that was just the foundation for the evening. Michael had invited Connie Regan-Blake, a nationally loved storyteller, and she had us awed with her wit-isms and cultural truths about the culture we embrace tonight. Connie lives here in Asheville and if you ever get the opportunity, do yourself a favor and see her. We were also treated to the wonderful musical trio “Underhill Rose.” This harmony-driven folk trio features Molly Rose Reed, Eleanor Underhill, and Salley Williamson (you may have seen Molly and Eleanor in the popular Asheville-based band, the Barrel House Mamas) kept the mountain spirit alive and captured everyone’s attention.

The event titled “Appalachian Avant-Garde: The Cuisine of Old Salt Appalachia” was right on-spot for Chef William Dissen and his culinary team from the Market Place Restaurant. William grew up in West Virginia, earned his keep at the Greenbrier Inn in West Virginia among others, and he thrives on taking native foods and turning them into culinary trends.

A superb five-course dinner, from Scrapple (Headcheese) to Apple Stack Cake and Sassafras White Lightnin! All was authentic, perfectly plated, and many plates “licked clean.” The blind Pig events are BYOB (or bring your own wine-BYOW), and the ten people sitting at our table were wine people, and gracious in their sharing. We shared wines from Vinsite, Vino Vino, Maggie B’s, and yes, even two different “Shines” from these mountains!

Several items really brought themselves to my forefront as culinary delights. The Ramp Aioli was made with pickled ramps that Chef Dissen had canned in the spring, in anticipation of future opportunities. This sauce is a must in my toolbox! The Cream of Chicken Soup (not like mother made!) was of smoked chicken, root vegetables, and Truffle Dumplings! Just give me a big bowl of the dumplings! Just Imagine! For weeks, I have been hankering to make Apple Stack Cake, an authentic traditional Appalachian Mountain dessert. What has been keeping me from making it was locating sun-dried apples, to make the sauce between the multiple layers of pan-fried cakes. Chef Dissen created multiple layers of very thin cake (almost like crepes) and placed a delightful Apple Butter in between. Now, it took some doings on my part to accept the Strawberry Pop Rocks in the Strawberry Mousse topping the cake, but once you stopped popping and crackling, and concentrated on the flavor of the cake, you’d want to create this cake for yourself.

Now, are you sad that you missed this event? Don’t miss the others coming up. I’m not kidding; you need to be getting your ticket as soon as they are posted. Hope to see you there, sit at your table, talk about what a fine place we live in, and ask what your culinary adventure has been lately. See you soon!

 

Aioli www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Aioli

Blind Pig www.en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speakeasy

Stack Cake Recipe  www.community.berea.edu/appalachianheritage/issues/fall2004/memoir.html

Blind Pig events  www.blindpigofasheville.com/next-event/

Phil Mechanic Studios  www.philmechanicstudios.com/

River District  www.riverartsdistrict.com/

Fine Arts League of the Carolinas  www.fineartsleague.org/

Connie Regan-Blake – Storyteller  www.storywindow.com/

ASAP  www.asapconnections.org

Underhill Rose www.underhillrose.com/

Tim Barnwell   www.barnwellphoto.com

Green Briar Inn http://www.greenbrier.com/

More Blogs  www.wncmagazine.com/blog/taste_of_wnc

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