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Think of a culinary event you’ve attended that was not held in a restaurant, was not a major non-profit event, was not even held in an event facility. I really mean, off the chart – only a few people may know about it, it is not widely publicized, and it is not conventional fare. It may have been organized to raise revenue, to showcase talent, to feature local foods, but most of all, it was done to “raise the bar” – far above the status quo.

So, where are these underground food happenings? Look for them right here in our back yards. Some of you may know about the Blind Pig Dinners (http://blindpigofasheville.com). A great venue for showcasing culinary talent, local and unusual foods, entertainment, and the criteria that I mentioned above. Do you know about their “Pit Cooked” event happening this spring (I have my ticket) – fantastic!!!! What about other happenings?

Did you hear about “Outstanding in the Field” (http://outstandinginthefield.com)? It happened on October 1 (totally sold out!) in Leicester at Gaining Ground Farm (www.gaininggroundfarm.com). They have been to Asheville the last three years – outstanding chefs, local farms, great wines!! On November 11, did you go to “A Dinner with Firefly Farm” (www.fireflyfarmnc.com) sponsored by Laurey’s (www.laureysyum.com)? Do you know about “Coq au Vin Nuit – Get your French On!” December 10, offered by Slow Food Charlotte (www.slowfoodcharlotte.org)? Have you heard the rumors about local celebrity chefs from Iceland and Asheville getting together for an “Icelandic Culinary Adventure” this spring? A lot is happening.

Keep your ear to the ground. Ask your neighbors and good friends. Sometimes it’s a home baker who produces unique desserts at reasonable prices, wood-fired bread makers who agree to include you on their baking schedule, or talented chefs who have left the “chef field” but still enjoy the challenge of creating a culinary happening! Look for events posted online, look for “happenings” at farmer and tailgate markets, subscribe to local newsletters (www.slowevents.com), join the local alternative non-profits, but most of all, know your neighbors and become part of the larger community.

I enjoy attending these out-of-the-ordinary food scenes. One of my favorites features a breakfast. There, I can get eggs from local hens with a creamy hollandaise sauce, spiced lamb sausage patties from local certified farms, newly-dug and fried potatoes from local farmers, and freshly-brewed coffee from a home-based roaster. Recently, they had a “sharing of abundance.” I’ve included some photos. I’m not able to tell you where it is located, as it is literally underground! Ask around: what is interesting, what is local, what is different, what is a must-attend?

Let us commit to what is happening in our own back yard, what our neighbors are attending, and what supports our community! I hope to see you at the next “underground food scene!”

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