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Breaking Bread at the Asheville Bread Festival

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Photo by Kimberly Thompson
Photo by Kimberley Thompson

By Jennifer Lapidus

Last week in Asheville, we came together in celebration of bread. At 10 a.m. on a beautiful spring Saturday morning, the doors of the Magnolia Building on the Asheville-Buncombe Tech campus swung opened to hoards of bread enthusiasts ready to taste, buy, and learn from professional bakers.

April 12-13 marked the 10th Annual Asheville Artisan Bread Festival. Each year has outranked the last, and this year was no exception. At the bread fair, an incredible array of breads from bakeries throughout the Carolinas were on display for tasting and for sale. Workshops this year were lead by two Frenchmen: Master Baker Lionel Vatinet (whose newly published A Passion For Bread: Lessons from a Master Baker delivers easy instruction to the home baker) and Dominique Homo, longtime friend of Vatinet and bakery technical expert for Lesaffre. German Master Baker Harry Peemoeller, senior instructor at Johnson & Wales University, presented on a variety of rye bread techniques, as well as the beloved Peter Reinhart, whose focus this year was sprouted flours.

In addition, Carolina Ground Flour Mill, a craft milling facility connecting farmers in the Southeast with bakers (and a mill that I founded), hosted father and son millwright team—Roger and Tas Jansen of Jansen Mills in a stone dressing demonstration.

Saturday was a full day that culminated in an extraordinary feast—a pig roast fundraising dinner for Carolina Ground, hosted by All Souls Pizza. The meal was executed by chef and co-owner of All Souls, Brendan Reusing and prominently featured said pig, who had had a fine life raised on wheat mids, the waste product from Carolina Ground, blended with spent grains from Troy and Sons Distillery. Riverbend Malt House, a floor-malting facility also located in Asheville, provided a keg of the newly released New Belgium Rye Hopper, made with their malt, grown in Eagle Springs, North Carolina.

For those willing to delve in another day, Sunday brought the most serious of bakers out for a six-hour master class lead by Peemoeller, assisted by Vatinet and Homo, with the focus of just what one would hope from a German—rye breads—made with various siftings of Carolina Ground’s Wren’s Abruzzi Rye.