The Charlottesville 29

If there were just 29 restaurants in Charlottesville, what would be the ideal 29?

Five Finds on Friday: Christian Johnston

chris

On Fridays, we feature five food finds from local chefs and personalities. Today’s picks come from Christian Johnston, the Micah LeMon protegé who is now managing the bar at Tavola’s brand new cicchetti bar.  Check back here Monday for a full preview of the bar, which will serve small plates, cocktails, and more.  Meanwhile, Johnston’s picks:

1)  Carrots at The Alley Light.  “Never before in Charlottesville have I seen a vegetable as a standout dish on a menu. Chef Jose de Brito’s ability to bring bright flavors to a dish without overwhelming the main component is truly impressive. Pair that with a cocktail from Micah LeMon and it’s no wonder why these guys got a James Beard nod.”

2)  Cocktails at Parallel 38. “Definitely worth the hike from the downtown mall, this place has some great talent which can be seen in their cocktail program. Often putting spins on classics, Justin Ross and Jesse Fellows use ingredients and techniques you aren’t likely to find in any other establishment.”

3)  Gyoza at Now & Zen.  “Chef Toshi knows his craft and the Nagasaki variant of this dish is great. The sauce that is paired with this is savory as it is flavorful and really ties the whole thing together.”

4)  Infused Margarita at Yearbook Taco.  “You know things are going good in Charlottesville when the local taco joint is stepping up their cocktail game. With infusions made fresh every week, it showcases how a quality product can elevate a simple drink. Tegan Peterson and Acacia Schepps work nights there, so if you see them behind the bar, you know you’re in good hands.”

5)  Greg Brady at Jack Brown’s.  “Getting out of work late usually means there is a struggle to find good late night food. This ridiculous creation (a burger topped with bbq potato chips and mac and cheese) always satisfies and with former Beer Run beer guru Steve Yang behind their drink selection, you’ll never go home thirsty.”

Introducing Spice Sea Gourmet

shrimp

One of the many conveniences of food trucks is that they allow owners to relocate food business with ease – whether down the street, across town, or to event venues.  How about across the country?  Spice Sea Gourmet, a popular and award-winning food truck, has just moved to Charlottesville all the way from San Antonio, Texas.  Advantage: Charlottesville.

Chef Whitney Matthews is a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America and it shows.  In February, readers of San Antonio Magazine said that her truck serves the Best Seafood in all of San Antonio.  The seafood-dominated menu veers towards the South, with items like Virginia crabcake salad, a catfish po boy, and, Matthews’ personal favorite, the shrimp po’ boy.   A hoagie roll spread with spicy mayo cushions fried shrimp, lettuce, tomatoes, and cabbage slaw.  It is stellar — and would go great with a cold beer.  (Paging Hunter.)

Sure is a good thing Matthews decided to return to her native Virginia.  Follow her truck’s Facebook page for locations and times.

Five Finds on Friday: Laura Galgano

Laura

On Fridays, we feature five food finds from local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Laura Galgano, Diner Lady at Blue Moon Diner, which next weekend will be competing in the Cured Bacon Festival at nTelos Wireless Pavilion, where top area restaurants will present inventive bacon-themed dishes including bacon from the beloved The Rock Barn.  Galgano’s picks focus on the “Magic of Midtown,” as she put it.  “I rarely get out of Midtown Charlottesville,” she said, “and honestly, there are so many delicious things within a block or two of Blue Moon, that I don’t need to go far to satisfy any craving.”  Galgano’s picks:

1)  Lamb Bacon from JM Stock Provisions.  “Fantastic.  It reminds me of an earthy pancetta, and is so good seared with fresh peas and pasta.”

2)  Sautéed Green Beans with Toasted Almonds at Maya.  “These are always crisp, fresh, and delicious! Remind me of summers with my grandmother, snapping beans for supper.”

3)  Happy Hour Oysters at Public Fish & Oyster.  “Happy Hour has special pricing on their great selection of raw oysters, and I could eat a dozen every day.”

4)  Brussels Sprouts at Oakhart Social.  “Smokey and firm.  I sometimes have dreams about them.”

5)  Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve at Feast!.  “While I adore and support the growing local cheese culture, when I get nostalgic for our time in Wisconsin, I gorge myself on Feast’s Uplands Pleasant Ridge Reserve cheese, which might be one of the best all-around cheeses I’ve ever experienced.”

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