Sometimes I get real lucky and someone else can’t go to a big fancy dinner or super-awesome event that they already paid for, so I get their ticket. Yay! Such was the case with the most recent Blind Pig dinner, which was held on Monday, October 17th, 2016, out in Candler, NC.
Just in case you don’t know, Blind Pig dinners happen several times throughout the year, in different venues, and they always feature a team of chefs and hospitality people, busting out a themed, coursed, fixed menu that is usually 5 to 7 courses. Darlene Moore and Chef Mike Moore (7 Sows, Old Etowah Smoke House) are the organizing force behind the dinners, and there is always a charitable entity which benefits from the proceeds.
Blind Pig dinners are fun, unique, creative, bold and daring at times, and quite a social event for those who attend regularly. I’m not super duper social, so I haven’t attended as many Blind Pig dinners as I should, and I was psyched to get the last-minute holla from Chef Mike, to come on down and join them for Monday Night RAW!!! I scared-up a date in the form of my buddy Stephan Pruitt from Dig Local. Stephan is always game for activities. Especially 5 to 7 course activities.
As you might have guessed from the name of the dinner, it had a pro-wrestling theme, and some of the food was raw. Like tartare and stuff. Every dish was named after a different, classic, professional wrestler, and each course was preceded by the CLANG of a loud bell, like the start of a new round. The venue itself was a giant-sized, über fancy, car garage on someone’s property out in the middle of Candler somewhere. It was a huge, brand new, spotless room, with banquet-style seating at two really long tables. There were Slim Jims at every place setting, and Stephan and I were not shy about snapping into ours right away. I was hungry as fuck before we even got there.
In my opinion, the first round started things off strong with an offering called “The Blue Demon” by Chef Ian Candido from The Admiral.
I apologize in advance for the dark, grainy, generally crappy nature of the pictures I took that night of the food. You can click HERE to see ALL of the crappy pictures I took that night and read full descriptions of each dish on my FaceBook page.
Stephan and I agreed that it was a bit on the mild side, but I might blame that on the MSG punch in the teeth delivered by the Slim Jims, perhaps destroying our palates a little bit right before dinner. I found that this dish from Chef Candito was an “if-you-build-it” bite, that I enjoyed most once I had piled a little bit of everything on the plate atop one of those handmade Doritos. It was complex in construction, and clearly a case of the coming together of two cultures: Japanese and Stoner. As a Stoner-American myself, I appreciated the attention and authenticity that the Chef brought to the traditional food of my people. Seriously. The house made Doritos tasted EXACTLY like real Doritos, only way fuckin’ better. I ate every scrap and molecule of food on this plate.
The next two dishes were served: Dusty Rhodes ‘The American Dream” by Chef Cody Boyer and ‘The Nature Boy” Ric Flair by Chef AJ Pitner (Buxton Hall Barbecue). The former consisted of Charred Beef Tartare, Turnip Green Goddess Dressing, Turnip Root, Pickled Apple, & Cured Egg Yolk, while the latter (pictured below) was comprised of Chicken Liver Pate, Cheerwine Gelee, Pickled Cauliflower, Raw Golden Delicious Apple & Peanuts.
Both were excellent, and the charred beef tartare was especially enjoyable to me. Silky and flavorful, made bright and punchy by the pickled apple, and very earthy by the Green Goddess dressing and turnip root. I enjoyed this dish very much, and again, I ate every speck. I even resented the ridges of the bamboo plate a little bit for withholding precious rivulettes of the dressing from me. GIM! Chef Boyer nailed it with this dish.
I have to be honest and admit that while I do enjoy chicken livers, I have a hard time with the texture of pate in general, so — while I really liked the flavor of Chef Pitner’s dish — I was grateful for, and relying very heavily on the crunch that he provided in the form of the peanuts, apples, and crackers to help me get that pate down. The touch of pickled stuff that I got was awesome, and really assisted. I wanted more of that! I’m getting really into pickled stuff living here in Asheville. Anyhoo, no mater the texture, I ate every livery bit, and again resented the grain of the bamboo for keeping any from me. Fuck you, Grain! Give it up!
Next on the menu was a crazy little dish called The Three Faces of Mic Foley by Chef Dean Orr (Old Etowah Smokehouse) that was described as Louro NYC Kimchi, Nopales Salad, Pork Blood Caramel, and Tempura Egg. I sometimes think that these Blind Pig chefs enjoy trying to freak out the eaters a little bit with things like “pork blood caramel,” and I have no idea how pork blood figures into the actual caramel — and I don’t know if I wanna know — but it tasted like caramel and was fucking delish. The woman seated next to Stephan was all about it too, so I got the feeling she was a veteran of these dinners. How many times in your life are you gonna hear a person say “Mmm… pork blood caramel!” I heard her say that. That made my night right there. The tempura egg was perhaps the most impressive single item of the evening to me. It was something I had never seen, or even heard of, and it was awesome. Now I want them all the time. It was slightly cooler than optimal for me temperature-wise, but that’s kind of the nature of eating in a giant, quasi-outdoor setting in the middle of October in the mountains of Western North Carolina. Oh boohoo. My insanely gourmet food got a wee bit cold. I wasn’t cryin’ any tears over it, believe me.
Next round, next dish: The Junkyard Dog, by Chef Mike Moore himself! This plate was my fave dish of the entire night and consisted of Wood Grilled Marrow Bones with Smoke Dried Porcini, Parsley, Caper & Pine Nut Pistou, Raw Arugula & Parmesan, Grilled Farm & Sparrow Toasts with Lemon & Rosemary. Holy moly. I can actually go either way on bone marrow. It’s sometimes kinda gross, and sometimes there’s not a whole lot of there there, and digging out that sliver of weird animal matter can feel like more work than it’s worth, but these bones! Holy fuck these bones. They were full of awesome, savory, super-umami-y, thick, greasy beef marrow that I would have eaten a bucket of… had buckets been available. The stuff on top was likewise flavorful and deftly prepared. These were some high-end, professional grade, world class dog bones, Yo. I wanted to bark at my table mates and steal their bones to drag into a corner, snarling, gnawing, and hording them all to myself. The toast was fabulous of course, and the sides were pure perfection. I thought that the title of the dish and the actual dish itself were also the most clever of the night too, so Chef Mike wins the belt for that.
The next dish was the last of the savories, and was prepared by one of my favorite Chefs in Asheville, Chef Alyssa Mikus, who honored us and the Macho Man’ Randy Savage with her Crispy Mojo Pork, Pickled Black Beans, Raw Citrus & Plantain Salad. It was awesome. In my opinion, nobody is cooking Latin / Cuban style food in Asheville like this Chef is cooking it. Her dish was my next fave offering of the night, even though it suffered the most from the temperature drop in the garage. I’m actually not sure where Chef Mikus is currently working, but I mostly know her food from various pop-ups at MG Road and such, where she crushes it. Keep an eye on her, she’s going places.
The final bell rang. I was full as fuck by then, but that didn’t stop me from stuffing myself further with the dessert course, which was called Miss Elizabeth’s Day Off In Bed and featured Kenzie’s Espresso Frozen Custard over a Vortex Doughnuts Salted Caramel Bacon Doughnut. I don’t really think I need to give you any more of a description than that, do it? It was fucking awesome of course, and it unexpectedly whisked me back to my childhood, when my Dad would occasionally make bacon-laced waffles with ice cream for dinner! Whaaaaat?!? True story. My family will eat almost anything at almost anytime night or day. Which is probably why I’m so game to tear into stuff like pig’s blood caramel, beef tartare, and bone marrow at a 7 course dinner in a moment’s notice on a Monday night.
Thanks for the extra tickets, Person Who Couldn’t Make It! I hope all is well with you and yours. Stephan and I certainly had a great time on your dime, and we appreciate you, and Darlene and Mike, plus all the chefs and servers, the DJ and everyone else who helped make this Blind Pig a fun time, and a great meal! You started my week off right, with Monday Night RAWWWWWWW!!!
SATURDAY, DECEMBER 17th, 2016
[from their press release]
Seven courses from a galaxy far, far away..
The Blind Pig Supper Club welcomes an ensemble of creative talent from across our galaxy; Boston, Houston, New York City, Raleigh, and Durham to convene in Asheville for seven out of this world courses set to the galaxies of the Star Wars saga.
Seven courses of Cuisine of the Star Wars Galaxies to include dishes from: Hoth, Dagobah, Tatooine, Bespin, Jakku, Endor, and The Death Star.
Proceeds will benefit “Force For Change” a charitable group effort of Lucasfilm Ltd., Disney, and UNICEF.
Very limited VIP seating includes: meet and greet with the chefs, a VIP cocktail hour, as well as a special edition T shirt and signed poster from the event!
David Santos, New York City, NY
Jamie Bissonette, Boston, MA
Ryan LaChaine, Houston, TX
Steve Goff, Raleigh, NC
Mike Moore, Asheville, NC
Matt Kelley, Durham,NC
Sam Etheridge, Asheville, NC
WHERE: A Galaxy Far, Far, Away; Asheville NC
PRICE: Early Bird Seats are only $65! Get yours before they sell out!
General Admission: $75
VIP Admission: $100
Gratuity NOT Included (Please bring cash for your servers)
We welcome you to come experience The Blind Pig, make new friends and support your local community in more than one way. We continue to thank you for your support as we fuse the local arts in creative dinner experiences and offer chefs and cooks, farmers and artisans a chance to give back to our local community. It is because of your continued support and excitement that we grow, bloom and flower into a network truly great and special.
Remember most charity events are BYO unless otherwise specified.
The location and menu of all dinner events are undisclosed until 48 hours prior.
We do our absolute best to accommodate all food allergies and restrictions.
We look forward to seeing you underground!
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Stu Helm is an artist, writer, and podcaster living in Asheville, NC, and a frequent diner at local restaurants, cafes, food trucks, and the like. His tastes run from hot dogs and mac ‘n’ cheese, to haute cuisine, and his opinions are based on a lifetime of eating out. He began writing about food strictly to amuse his friends on Facebook.
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“Think occasionally of the suffering of which you spare yourself the sight.”