Pastry chef Karen Donatelli served miniature bites of many of her namesake bakery's tempting items, including apple and chocolate mousse tartelettes. (Carrie Eidson/ Mountain Xpress)
Last night, The Venue in downtown Asheville was packed with foodies for Asheville Independent Restaurant Association's (AIR) 10th annual Taste of Asheville small-plate extravaganza. The crowds were gathered to participate in a strolling dinner party that encompassed all three floors of the vintage brick building.
With 40 local food and drink purveyors on hand, guests were able to sample everything from the exotically meaty (wild boar or frog legs, anyone?), to the colorfully vegetarian (portobello mushrooms in adobo sauce, warm Brussels sprouts slaw with Lusty Monk mustard), along with several different riffs on the slider and Southern shrimp-and-grits.
Enough wine and local beer was flowing – not to mention a gingery Dubonnet punch from MG Road – to give the evening a nice glow. And for those who managed to save room, the dessert selection was nearly overwhelming, with choices ranging from butternut squash-cashew ice cream to doll-sized key-lime tartelettes.
Oh, and chocolate. Don't forget the chocolate. One offering that created a buzz was Sante´Wine Bar's deconstructed rocky road: chocolate ganache and a dollop of house-made toasted marshmallow fluff topped with a walnut twill cookie. Incredible!
According to one guest, Patti Glazer, an architect who says she has helped build 15 Asheville-area restaurants, Taste of Asheville is a fun way to show support for the owners of independent, local restaurants. “You get to see a lot of people you know while supporting a good cause,” says Glazer.
Deborah Mountcastle, a former restauranteur, says she attends Taste of Asheville every year. “We eat out a lot anyway,” Mountcastle says. “This gives us an avenue for seeing what's going on [in the Asheville food scene] besides just the newbies.”
As in previous years, part of the ticket proceeds benefit AIR's community outreach initiatives: the Chefs of Tomorrow Scholarship Fund for students of AB-Tech's Culinary Arts Program, and the GO Kitchen-Ready employment training program.
Flip through the slideshow for a taste of Taste of Asheville.
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