We were late leaving the Carolina Bed & Breakfast in Asheville, NC and it was already dark as we pulled into the parking lot of All Soul’s Pizza. Our destination was the field next door which had been set with long picnic tables and festooned with fairy lights. Because we were late arriving Elliot Moss, former chef of the Admiral was already standing by the stone fire-pit and addressing the crowd while cooks were rolling and cooking tortillas on the fire behind him. Apparently the ground was so saturated that the pit-roasted whole lamb had to be dug up and taken to the nearby restaurant kitchen to finish cooking. He had hope to fork-pull it like pork but was afraid it would not get cooked enough in the time left. It’s never a good sign when the Chef is apologizing for his food before it even comes out of the kitchen but the ambiance and attendees at the Autumn Market Feast were so great that we were willing to let it pass.
“How did you get on the list?” was the question on everyone’s lips. Frankly, we had no idea since we had no idea there even was a list. Having received our invitation in our email, I assumed it came from Full Sun Farm as the dinner was sponsored by the Montford Tailgate Market. Since no one from the farm was there this may not have been the case. However we got invited, we were excited to be there. Pop-up dinners and outdoor feasts have been a movement in Asheville which I have watched with envy. They usually are hosted by a group of Chef’s and the menu is up to them. For this feast the Chefs included David Bauer of Farm & Sparrow Bread and Brendan Reusing from All Soul’s as well as Elliot Moss.
To be brutally honest, the food was only so-so and not worth the fairly steep price of admission. As previously stated they were unable to cook the lamb properly so there wasn’t much of it to go around. The meal was served family style and we were in that awkward place between two groups so the platters always got to us last. After passed hors d’oeurves of fermented Patty Pan squash and roasted lamb’s liver and kidneys, we started with a salad of greens, fresh radishes, caramelized onions and a fresh rosemary vinaigrette. The tortillas (which were wonderful) then made their way to the table along with a trio of salsas and a lentil dish. Platters of lamb and roasted sweet potatoes finished the main course.
But what made the evening so wonderful was the people! Abby found herself seated next to a producer for the Food Channel and her mother, and I spent a long time talking to some sous-chefs who had worked at a number of restaurants in town. James found a kindred soul who had lived in Mumbai, India and they were busy trading stories. The conversation was lively and interesting and before we knew it they were bringing us bowls of cinnamon ice cream topped with warm caramel sauce (the way to my heart is caramel sauce!). The stars shone down from above, the glow of the fire lit the faces of the small blue grass band playing behind us while the wine flowed. Really, sometimes it’s not just about the food.
Would we go to another one? Absolutely. It was a great evening, full of laughter and fun in a beautiful setting. Maybe next time the ground will be dryer or the food cooked differently. I can’t wait to find out!