Essence, the second installment in the Asheville Wine & Food Festival, delved a bit deeper into the circus theme and offered up eight different competitors in the cocktails category and five more in the hors d’oevres arena. We got a chance to see a lot of new faces and taste their incredible ideas, all of which needed to incorporate a circus-theme.
I have to admit to being a previous fan of Scott Ostrander, of the Grand Bohemian’s Red Stag grill, and was delighted to see him ake an appearance. His wild boar roulade laid atop some butter beans and field peas and a perfectly prepared slice of smooth cornbread wowed me (and most of the surrounding crowd). The warmth of his dish melted right into memories of summer. His dish was my favorite, but only by a hair.
The cool and acidic notes of a creamy ceviche provided stiff competition for Ostrander’s delightful trip back in time. And Farm Burger’s own roulade – a little more caramelized and smokier, but also a treat for the tastebuds – also shouldered in at a crowded second place in my mind.
I sampled most of the beverages, and while most were reasonably good, I’m not a big fan of whisky, and so I save my alcohol for the beverages I expect to enjoy a great deal. The one I enjoyed far more than the others was actually from this Moonshine table and included blackberries and jalapenos — practically an engraved invitation to happytown for this native Texan. I also enjoyed the peach cocktail offered by Top of the Monk.
I’m a bit confused on the operations of this event, and the explanations do not really clarify matters for me, but nonetheless I cast my ballot for Ostrander and hope to see him in the next round in August.
See you all at the next Asheville Wine and Food Festival event in late August.