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Food, wine and art at A Taste of Ashland

Visitors don’t have to be connoisseurs to discover Ashland’s best restaurants and regional wines during the 29th annual A Taste of Ashland — just follow a map to 17 art galleries participating in the ultimate food and wine experience.

“Each winery and restaurant is painstakingly matched and works together to create unique pairings inside 17 colorful galleries all within walking, or a trolley ride, distance from one another,” says event coordinator Jeff Jones in a press release. “This is a rare opportunity to sip some of the region’s best wines and brews, taste food from 20-plus restaurants, and enjoy artwork from wonderful galleries that represent hundreds of regional and international artists.”

The festivities are from noon to 4 p.m. Saturday and Sunday, April 28-29.

Tickets are $65 for both Saturday and Sunday; $55 for Saturday only; and $45 for Sunday only. Despite demand, tickets to Taste of Ashland remain limited to ensure the event is not overcrowded.

Tickets can be purchased in advance at atasteofashland.com or from noon to 2 p.m. Thursday, April 27, at the kiosk on the Ashland Plaza. The kiosk will open at 11 a.m. April 28-29.

Commemorative wine glasses also can be picked up at the kiosk.

AllAboard Trolley will offer free rides to the galleries.

A partial list of food and wine pairings at galleries includes Lillie Belle’s Bean-to-Bar chocolates with Belle Fiore wines at Shepherd’s Dream.

Smithfields Pub and Pies will serve pork-sausage rolls with house Worcestershire and beetroot pickled and deviled eggs with RoxyAnn wines at Art & Soul on Saturday.

On Sunday, Larks will serve chilled asparagus soup, saffron crème fraîche and hazelnuts paired with RoxyAnn wines at Art & Soul Gallery.

Standing Stone Brewing Company will pair food and wine on Saturday at Hanson Howard Gallery.

On Sunday at Hanson Howard, Martino’s will feature mushroom and rosemary stuffed shells with bacon and lemon Alfredo sauce paired with Pebblestone wines.

Agave Gourmet Tacos and Tamales will serve black bean and corn salsa, guacamole and chips along with Platt Anderson wines at the Ashland Art Center.

The pièce de résistance of food and wine pairings may be from Callahan’s Mountain Lodge. Look for house-smoked steelhead, lemon-dill cream cheese, capers and Tabasco on artisan crackers with Cuckoo’s Nest pinot gris at Gallerie Karon.

Ron and Donna Bergquist smoke hundreds of pounds of wild steelhead at their restaurant.

“We offer steelhead for breakfast, lunch and dinner,” says Donna Bergquist, “but the appetizer is the standout.

“It’s the combination of the lemon-dill cream cheese, the capers and a dash of Tabasco piled on a crisp artisan cracker. Then you’ve got layers of the crunch, the smoke, the savory dill, the salt of the caper and the spank of the Tabasco. It’s an amazing combination of sensory perceptions to the palate — paired with the fruity, round freshness of the pinot gris. It’s like tasting a cold beer on a hot summer day after eating barbecue.”

The Bergquists also will serve Belgian endive filled with Gorgonzola, toasted pecans and local Royal Riviera pears drizzled with blood-orange balsamic with Cuckoo’s Nest Chardonnay.

Callahan’s Mountain Lodge has earned the Taster’s Choice Award for best restaurant at A Taste of Ashland for the past five years.

Visitors can vote for their favorite restaurants, wineries and galleries at the event. Their names will be entered to win a drawing for two weekend passes to the 2019 A Taste of Ashland.

For a complete list of pairings go to atasteofashland.com

Chef Sky Elder of Brickroom Gathering House creates delicious bites at the 2017 A Taste of Ashland.