Random Recreation

#TheRandomNumber

For the last 6 months I’ve been doing a weekly random number project on my Flickr page using a randomly decided number and then filtering my archives for the top five photos. It’s a project to entertain myself and dig out old photos that I haven’t seen in awhile.  Sometimes I find some nice surprises I’ve forgotten about that inspire to bring them out and look at them in a whole new way.

After randomly deciding to take the month of January off to rethink the project I decided to bring it a little closer to home than a Flickr group that is occupied solely by me. It made no sense to be a group without members.  Hopefully this will give me a better opportunity to practice writing small pieces about each photo, try to establish an overall theme to the weekly randomness (if there is one to be found), and keep all my little projects in one yard, so to speak.

I still plan on doing audience participation for random numbers! If you have a suggestion of any number up to 4 digits please feel welcome to send it along in a comment or email.  Otherwise I plan to keep the number picking truly random and will use this cool number generator I found through Random.org. (Of course!)

Photos will be presented from oldest to newest.

So here she goes folks! Let’s spin the wheel!!!

#8485

[Click on an image to enlarge.]

1. A Turkish Belly Dancer at the Goombay African-American Heritage Street Festival 2010, Asheville, N.C. on Eagle and Market Street. This festival is sponsored by the YMI Cultural Center goes on for 3 days every summer and showcases Asheville’s African-American community with music and arts performances.

 

2.  The wheel spins strangely sometimes. In a funny quirk here’s a shot with the same frame number, from the same festival, in about the same place on the same street, one year later. This little boy had just gotten a bubble gun from one of the street vendors at the Goombay Festival 2011.  He was very eager to show it off and he made it look so fun my youngest wanted one. I think it may still be laying in a yard toy box somewhere.

 

3.  My beautiful friend Anneliesse McKee modeling a dress made by Brooke Priddy of Ship to Shore in her studio in 2013. This was part of a photo shoot I did for Ashvegas, there’s a gallery attached to the article that I had not looked at in 3 years.  I remember I had a bit of a tricky time hiding in the shot from all of those mirrors!

 

4. A backlit rice wrap looks like the full moon at Blind Pig’s Chiến Thắng dinner at the Hub in East-West Asheville in July 2014. The dinner was a Vietnamese theme with two incredible Asheville chefs, Chef Brian Cannipelli of Cucina 24 and Chef Jacob Sessoms of Table.

 

5. The Mountain State Fair, September 2014, as seen from the sky lift. I just love seeing all of those dangling feet in the air in this shot! I’ve been volunteering with the Mountain State Fair for the past three years now. I help with the art intake before the fair opens and hang the art for judging. It’s fun to be backstage at the fair, but by far the best perk of the job is riding the sky lift.  That and the ferris wheel are my two favorite rides! Why? Because they change your perspective and offer you a bird’s eye view!

Blind Pig: Beggar’s Banquet

Beggar’s Banquet, Sam Etheridge’s Homage to the Rolling Stones

It was an A-List evening that was all about the music Sunday for Blind Pig‘s Beggar’s Banquet in support of  the Asheville Music School.   Sam Etheridge, Owner/Chef of Ambrozia in North Asheville,  created 8 courses of Rolling Stones inspired dishes, truly a rock-n-roll feast, for his homage to the band.

Around 80 guests queued up before 6 pm on the side walk in front of the Asheville Music Hall, waiting for doors to open for the show, while inside kids from the Rock Band Ensemble of AMS ran through their sound check and warm ups.  Then it was show time! Doors opened, folks flowed in to find their seats and plugged in, amped up and rockin’ out, the kids from the Rock Band Ensemble filled the stage and delivered an excellent performance with an impressive and challenging set list including, Get Off of My Cloud, Paint It Black, Jumpin’ Jack Flash & Sympathy for the Devil, as well as several other classic rock favorites. Meanwhile Sam and his entire staff from Ambrozia worked seamlessly backstage to prep and plate their side of the show.  By the time the kids had gotten their standing ovation it was time to eat.

Here’s the menu for the evening:

Start Me Up. . . You’ll Never Stop – Foie Gras Flan, Duck & Fig Spring Roll,Duck Chicharones

Goat’s Head Soup – Slow Braised Cobrito, Coconut Curry, Goat Cheese Roti

Jumpin’ Jack Flash – Amberjack Crudo, Radish, Jerk Spiced Mango, Radish Sprouts, Habanero-Moonshine Gastrique

Paint It Black – Black Grouper, Seaweed, Forbidden Black Rice, Black Truffle, Squid Ink, Kewpie Aioli, Tobiko

Sticky Fingers – Pistachio & Blue Cheese Baklava, Honey Comb, Green Apple – Jalepeno Cotton Candy

Beast of Burden – Braised Oxtail, Plantain& Benton’s Bacon Fufu, Hazelnut Gremolata

Satisfaction. . . I Can’t Get No – Mick’s Cherry Limeade, Miracle Berry

As a long time performance and concert photographer I can attest to how similar it is to watch a show or an underground dinner come together since I occupy this odd middle ground between the front and back of the house.  I know I’m not alone in this opinion, Steven Goff made reference to it in his guest column this week on Jonathon Ammon’s food blog The Dirty Spoon:

“Really, cooking was just what funny looking guys with criminal records do for a living.  That or construction… but as a degenerate, very frequently vagrant punk rocker, cooking had it all!  The fast paced “rock n roll” ness of the kitchen, free beer and late nights.”

Load in starts early in the afternoon, hours before dinner is supposed to begin, while prep and practice have been going on for days in advance of the actual show to make sure everything sounds/tastes right.  There’s warm ups, and like sound check, last minute menu changes and menu details to run through and server instructions so guests’ questions can be answered intelligently. Once guests start arriving the show is ON and it’s a ‘Wheels Up, Don’t Crash’ form of controlled madness that I’m certain would look familiar to any roadie or venue tech.  It’s often in the dark, on the edges, with no net and balls to the wall action in the wings to make it look smooth out front with a rolling procession of plates, prep, server pick up, plates come back, get scraped down and stacked for wash, repeat.  Like music in the air, beautiful plates are created again and again, enjoying their whole existence as a realized concept for maybe 5 or 6 minutes tops, including travel time to the table, before they are a consumed memory. And then, after the last plate has been pushed away it’s another mad rush to break it all down and pack it up on the truck because there is another show booked for the late night crowd with doors at 10.  Yeah baby! That’s Rock-n-Roll!

 

2.17.14 – Blind Pig : Zodiac

A starry night in Candler for  Blind Pig’s Zodiac Supper

Blind Pig ZodiacAfter 2 out of the last 3 weekends on the road to Raleigh with Blind Pig it was so sweet to come home to Western North Carolina for  this weekend’s Zodiac dinner supporting The Mission Foundation. We had a wonderful crew headed by Brad Mess of Ben’s Tune-Up, Joe Marple of the Southern and Adrian Nohe Weir-Villatoro at Zambra with lots of other  friendly hands on deck and backstage to help prep, prepare, plate, serve, clear and clean 1200 plates, for this one night only dinner. That’s right, months of planning for 12 courses for 100 guests in about 4 hours.  Brilliant!

The evening opened with the arrival of the 360 Party Bus delivering 3 rounds of guests to our secret location in Candler for the evening’s events. As folks began arriving The Krektones revved up the mood with some seriously great dance music.  Guests mingled, played skee ball, relaxed on the rocking chair porch and had their fortunes read by Raziel, an intuitive tarot reader from Asheville.  Then it was time for everyone to get seated as Mike introduced the chefs and Mission Foundation’s mission.

Since the theme of the dinner was the Zodiac each sign received it’s own tribute, here’s the break down and no, they were not served in cosmological order.

Scorpio – Watch House Oyser, Blood Orane, Scorpoion Mezcal, Honey, Fennel Ginger, Microslaw, Scorpion Salt

Paired with Pisces – Ginger Cured Trout & Avocado Roulade, Celery Broth, Chili Oil, Cilantro

Sagitarius – Blackened Beef Heart, Arrow Root Naan, Horse Radish-Creme Fraiche, Garam Masala, Crispy Shallots, Shaved Radish, Lime Zest

Aquarius – Clam Ao Dashi, Little Necks, Crab Roe, Tobiko, Kombu Foam, Watercress

Gemini – Duck Liver Scrapple, White Bean Puree, Seared Duck Breast, Smoked Peach Gremolata, Maccerated Cherries, Tobacco Shallots

Cancer – Lump Crab, Mint, Fennel, Greek Yogurt, Duck Cracklin’ Granola, Grapefruit Gelee

Paired with Libra – Monte Enebro, Saki Lees Fermented Golden Beets, Pickled Red Cabbage, Miso Rice Cracker

Capricorn – “Mannish Stew” Beulah Farms Braised Goat, Island Roots, Plantains, Pigeon Peas, Fried Calamari, Jicama Chow-Chow

Taurus – Compost Baked Bulls Blood Beets, Beet Puree, Carrot Puree, “Earth Crumble”, Bulls Blood Blood, Micro Greens

Aries – Lamb Crepinette, San Marzano Stewed Wheat Berries, Gaujillo Puree, Crispy Pistachio, Curried Yogurt

Leo – Lion’s Tail Eclair, Bourbon Poached Pear, All Spice Creme, Lime-Chocolate

Paired with Virgo – Theros Olive Oil Gelato, Myer Lemon Zest, Sea Salt

Overall an excellent night of music and food, and a sure way to beat those mean old February Blues.

 

2.9.14: Bind Pig – Seven Degrees of Separation

Blind Pig: Seven Degrees of Separation Dinner

The second Raleigh Blind Pig in two weeks, this time a little bit more up town at the new renovated and gorgeous historic Merrimon-Wynne house in support of the Helene Foundation.  The theme of the evening Seven Degrees of Separation featured the culinary talents of Chef Brian Canipelli of Cucina 24, Chef Matthew Kelly of Mateo Tapas and Chef Danielle Centeno of Escazu Artisan Chocolates and the singing talents of members of the Raleigh Opera.

What a gorgeous venue to photograph in! The house, originally built in 1876 a few blocks away, was moved to current location 2008 and has spent the last year undergoing a complete restoration. Their grand opening celebration as a premier Raleigh wedding venue was just last week! 130 seated guests filled every room of the first floor while hors d’oeuvres were passed and invited to take a self tour of the house before dinner.  When the crowd was gathered and seated Mike Moore introduced the chefs and two fantastic singers from the  Raleigh Opera who each performed magnificent arias.The Mezze Boards were a feat unto themselves to see being delivered to tables. Each of them 6 ft. long and loaded with colorful spices and dollops of black eye hummus and babaganoush they had to navigate a lot of tight corners without a spill.  Brilliant and flawless job by the servers that kept the parade of amazing plates coming all night long.  See the full album on Blind Pig’s facebook page.

Here’s a fast look:

 

 

 

The Admiral Crew Reunion

Riding the Blind Pig to Raleigh: Two, Six, Heave – The Admiral Crew Reunion

 

Admiral Crew ReunionIt was the first Blind Pig road trip to Raleigh, (we’ll be doing another in early February), which brings it’s own set of logistical challenges, making sure everything gets packed and brought along. This dinner was special and worth the extra effort though, a charity fundraiser for Inter-Faith Food Shuttle Raleigh, NC and the reunion of 5 chefs who all cooked together as the crew of the Admiral restaurant in Asheville 4 or 5 years ago; Chef Drew Maykuth of Stanbury, Chef Elliott Moss of Punk Wok, Chef Ivan Candido of The Admiral, Chef Mike Moore of Seven Sows Bourbon & Larder, and Alex Bryanton. As chef Mike Moore of Seven Sows in Asheville put it, ‘In a chef’s career there are a few restaurants, and the people you work with in them, that stick with you and help shape who you become.’

The venue for the evening was completely charming and unexpected, the historic Gesthemane 7th Day Adventist Church. Built by it’s congregation in 1923, it stands in the shadow of Raleigh’s downtown skyline and was saved from the wrecking ball by a group of concerned neighbors and an “angel investor” just this past year. Still in the process of being renovated and restored, it had no indoor power or heat, much less a kitchen and the only source of water flowed from one small bathroom sink.  In two days, the crew transformed this lovely but unlikely place into a warm, pleasant and inviting space to eat and be entertained, meanwhile all the cooking and dishes were done in the dark in the side yard of the church.  How strange we must have looked to the folks in the neighborhood who have watched the changes this building has gone through in the last few years. Many stopped in as they were walking by to find out what we were doing.

Each chef featured a dish that they felt defined their time at The Admiral.

First course, Vietnamese Beef Tartare, Shrimp Cracker, Fermented Vegetables, Fish Sauce, Sriracha Pot de Creme. Chef Elliott Moss.

Second course, Banchan, Braised Pork Belly, Pickled Vegetables, Bulgogi Kimchee, Spicy Foam- Chef Ivan Candido.

Third course Mountain Beets, Golden Beet Puree, Mushroom-Pecan Farro, Johnston County Mangalitsa, Smoked Ham Powder, Beet-Maple Vinaigrette- Chef Mike Moore.

Fourth Course Cauliflower Puree, Jamaican Oxtail Hash, Seared Scallop, Peppadew Pepper, Plantain Chip- Chef Drew Maykuth.

Dessert Lime Sorbet, Tres Leches Cake, Milk Sphere, Strawberry Noodle, Caramel Crumbs, Citrus -Chef Ivan Candido.

This is a real part of the reason I follow these guys around. Creating a unique and delicious event moment like Blind Pig does every month isn’t something that’s done easily or without risk, but watching it all work out at the end of the night with happy satisfied guests is extremely rewarding.

DJ Eddie in the Pulpit

It’s been a whirlwind 48 hours & 400 miles. I’m tired, I have a headache and I need to make editing happen. Photos from Raleigh’s Blind Pig dinner last night will be out soon.  Here’s how the evening started, with DJ Eddie Taylor installed in our make shift pulpit. He quite literally played all of my favorite songs which is a long, twisty and eclectic mix. He nailed it.

Eddie-in-the-Pulpit

And . . . the end of the night. ALL hail Eddie the DJ!

1.19.14 – Blind Pig: Habitat

Blind Pig - Habitat

Blind Pig’s Habitat Dinner

Last night was the first dinner of 2014 for Blind Pig at the newly opened King James Public House on Charlotte Street. It was a mind blower! Even though the doors have only been opened since Thursday the King James Public House already appears to be a huge local hit as there was a steady stream of people throughout the night who were bummed to find our private event had taken over their new favorite local bar.  Owner-Chef Steven Goff set the bar high for the rest of this year’s Blind Pig dinners with his Habitat dinner, which was entirely locally sourced, where each plate is re-created as the “habitat” of each of the featured proteins. The featured charity of the evening was Big Brothers Big Sisters of Western North Carolina, the local branch of the national mentoring program.

If you were there last night you might have had to sit close to your neighbor but it was nothing compared to how close it was in the kitchen. Amazing meals can come from tiny kitchens and it was truly incredible to watch plating for 50+ in addition to prep, cooking, servers, dishwasher (*that’s a person AND a machine) and occasionally me, squeezing in to catch the action, in a room big enough for four and a half people to work comfortably together and all the equipment required to create said meal. But that is the joy and the mystique and the continuing challenge of a Blind Pig Dinner, incredible food in unexpected places.

You can see a complete album of the evening at Blind Pig’s facebook page.

New Year’s Day on the Farm

A New Year’s Day Tradition in the Making at Foothills Farm.

We felt so special to be invited out for a New Year’s Day Party on the farm for the staff of Foothills Farm & Butcher Shop, Seven Sows & Blind Pig. The freshest, grass fed, heritage breed pork straight from the farm as well as oysters, and lobsters and lots of other sides Mike, and his fantastic staff from Seven Sows, brought along.  It was such a happy congregation of dogs, kids, families, chefs, farmers and everyone in between. All of us trading stories, unloading round after round for the “target practice”, roasting ourselves around the fire, eating, drinking and sharing the camaraderie that comes from working together all year long. My girls loved exploring the farm, playing with the piglets and climbing up on the hay bales.  This is a New Year’s Day tradition I could look forward to every year. To Mike, Casey and everyone who helped make the evening possible, thanks so much for having us!

 

Blind Pig: Preserve

Where did November go?  It seemed to be looming on the horizon just a second ago and now we’re knocking on the door of Thanksgiving.  Well if it’s time to count blessings I know one thing I was truly thankful to be a part of, Blind Pig’s Preserve dinner held in the beautiful new event barn Yesterday’s Spaces in Leicester.

Sculpture by Master Piece Ice

This dinner was a spectacular affair from beginning to end and Blind Pig pulled out every stop.  The venue fit the theme perfectly too, an homage to heritage farming and the stories of the families who make these farms possible. Our charity of the month, Appalachian Food Storybank, a part of Slow Food Asheville, whose mission is “to acknowledge, honor, and archive Appalachian heritage foods and foodways in order to promote the preservation of diverse local knowledges, natural resources, and food biodiversity.” 

The featured chef, John Fleer of Canyon Kitchen in Sapphire, NC, has worked to spotlight several of these regional farms for the extraordinary products they make including Benton’s Country Ham and Cruze Dairy.  Not only does John turn the products of these traditional family businesses into amazing food, he is also creating interest and demand for their products beyond the local level. 

The evening was also the debut of Blind Pig’s first documentary, a series of short films created in collaboration with Aaron Morell of Grae Skye Studios who worked personally with Mike Moore for 6 months finding and telling these precious stories of family farm life. These films will be available through the AFS as well as online.  Here’s a link to one of the shorts: Tennessee Cure

I was the featured artist for the night with 12 single print photos on display custom framed by my own sweet husband with reclaimed tobacco stakes.  I’m so grateful to my Blind Pig family for giving me the opportunity to show my work on such a prestigious night.  But all that glory did not keep me from doing my usual role, documenting these amazing one night only masterpiece dinners.  Photos from the entire event are up on Blind Pig’s Facebook Page here: Preserve

Here are several of my favorites from the evening.

Chefs Trading “War” Stories.

Growing by CLicKs and Bounds!

Woo! The day after election day is finally here!  My phone will stop ringing with robo calls and pollsters.  Everybody can stop holding their breath and get back to business.  It may be coming up on winter but CLicKs is just getting warmed up!  There are so many great opportunities on the horizon between now the end of the year.  Here’s a quick glimpse of what’s coming up.
Art Show

First of all, I am very proud and pleased to be the featured artist for this month’s Blind PigPreserve, the dinner Mike Moore has called his magnum opus, which will feature the legendary talents of John Fleer along with the amazing products created by our region’s local and heritage farmers.  Highlighting the evening will be a series of short films produced by Blind Pig and created by Aaron Morell of Grae Skye Studio,  spotlighting many of these generational farmers that captures their family’s stories in their own words.  It’s a one night only show, somewhere in Asheville, and I have created 12 single print images that will be on display throughout the evening.  In keeping with the theme my sweet husband Cass built custom frames out of reclaimed tobacco stakes. The frames came out gorgeous!! Can’t wait to show off the whole package at dinner on Sunday.

My friend Thomas Taggart, who creates furniture from reclaimed wood, helped us find these perfectly aged tobacco stakes to use for the framing. (Thomas makes beautiful custom tables BTW.)  

 

Around Town

CLicKs will also be there for the Women’s Business Weekend  coming up this weekend, November 10th and 11th. I am so excited to photograph this event as it promises to be an empowering opportunity and a fun weekend full of reconnecting with local friends and associates as well as meeting lots of new wonderful women in the community! There are still tickets available for this event, come join us!

New Asheville Go Localdiscount cards will be coming out just in time for the holidays and CLicKs is so proud to be a part of this fantastic local outreach!!  There are currently over 360 local businesses that will be participating in the Go Local program and the best part is that a majority of the proceeds from the sale of these cards go to Asheville City Schools.  It’s a win-win all the way around.  ’Tis the season to shop local and independent!

Coming Soon. . .
Last but not least, CLicKs will be getting a brand new web site!  My dear friend Beth Bates and her dynamite team at Web Strategies have been cooking up a brand new site which will finally consolidate all of the different  facets of CLicKs and give the old girl a much needed make over.  It will have my portfolios, the Asheville CLicKs blog, private on-line proofing galleries, as well as a direct order shopping cart for digital downloads, prints and art. I just saw the bones of it this morning and it’s going to be just what the Dr. ordered; clean, professional, and easy to maintain.
**Update: Phase One of the website overhaul is complete and I have a brand new Zenfolio site for direct product ordering, private proofing galleries and on demand printing for my art prints.  CLicKs Zenfolio Site
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