With the warm weather comes leaves and grass, budding flowers, and in Asheville, N.C., tons of ways to celebrate food! Here are five food-driven fetes that truly embrace and support the agriculture of the West North Carolina mountains.
What better way to experience this indigenous wild leek than diving in mouth (and nose) first? In the Appalachian Mountains, ramps are celebrated every spring with dinners and festivals, including this one in Waynesville, N.C., just west of Asheville, in its 79th year. Bring your mints or embrace the pungent palate with all kinds of food featuring ramps. The afternoon also includes bluegrass music and clogging — two other mountain traditions.
May 5, 11 a.m. to 4 p.m., American Legion Field, Waynesville, N.C.
Asheville Beer Week
The people have spoken: Asheville has been dubbed "Beer City, USA" in an online poll celebrating American Craft Beer Week. Asheville has become a microbrewing mecca, as well as an East Coast hub for larger operations like New Belgium and Sierra Nevada. For the second year running, you can taste for yourself who’s got "hops," with a week of beer tastings, dinners, workshops, and overall sudsy revelry. The week culminates with the fourth annual Beer City Festival on June 1, featuring more than 20 local and regional breweries, plus a hefty helping of local music from The Broadcast and Swayback Sisters.
May 25 to June 1, Asheville, N.C.
Seasonal School of Culinary Arts
The Seasonal School of Culinary Arts (SSCA) brings together chefs and food enthusiasts to celebrate and appreciate one area’s culinary culture, held across the globe from Paris to Sonoma, Calif. This year’s Asheville session, themed "Appalachian Innovation," will focus on the riches of the region and how they inspire a world of flavors. "Chefs enjoy the experience as a chance to collaborate in a non-competitive environment," says SSCA director Susi Gott Séguret. "Students enjoy not only the chefs' expertise, but the camaraderie formed between them, and the passion for a common pleasure — that of the table."
July 14 to 20, Warren Wilson College, Swannanoa, N.C.
Asheville Wine & Food Festival
You aren’t going to see Paula Dean crafting starchy casseroles onstage at this festival. What you will get is a tasty panoramic snapshot of Asheville’s culinary scene. A highbrow farm-to-festival vibe permeates the town for three days, with the best local restaurants, breweries, farmers, and small-batch artisans on-hand to teach and feed you. Not to mention top wines from the region and throughout the country.
August 22 to 24, Downtown Asheville, N.C.
ASAP Farm Tour
If you connected with the couple in Portlandia’s "Ordering the Chicken" sketch, this farm-to-farm self-guided driving tour is for you. Coordinated by the Appalachian Sustainable Agricultural Project (ASAP), an expected 30-plus farms across five counties will open their gates and barns to the public for two days, giving locavores the chance to really see where (and who) their food comes from. Kids will get to pet the farm animals and you will be able to sample some fresh farm-to-mouth goodies. Get the most out of your weekend by following this handy guide from ASAP.
September 21 to 22, Western North Carolina.