The Charlottesville 29

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

Charlottesville to be Hardywood’s Petri Dish

Hardywood | Charlottesville

Photo by Kate Magee.

There’s a lot to like about the Charlottesville outpost of Hardywood Park Craft Brewery, one of Virginia’s most highly regarded breweries. A gleaming space full of natural light. A central location on West Main. Affable servers. And, it appears, local savvy, too, as they’ve recruited JM Stock Provisions to cook burgers and sausages for the grand opening.

But, best of all has to be what Hardywood plans to do at their new location: experiment. The focus of the 3.5 Barell Premier Stainless brewhouse will be what they call their “pillot-batch” beers. These are trial runs and experiments that the new facility allows them to make in smaller quantities before deciding whether to increase volume. Along the way, they may tweak a beer from one batch to the next, based on the brewers’ own assessment plus feedback from customers, trusting Charlottesville’s palate to shape brewing.

For beer geeks, this is exciting stuff. It means direct access to fresh, rare, specialty beers that might not have sufficiently broad appeal to release to the masses.  And as for the masses, the Charlottesville location will still offer its full line of flagship beers, too.

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The petri dish. Photo by Kate Magee.

Leading the brewing is Kevin Storm, formerly of Asheville Brewing Company and Sailfish Brewing Company. Storm led the development of Hardywood’s popular VIPA – Virgindia Pale Ale. In addition, brewers from Hardywood’s main location in Richmond will use the Charlottesville outpost for their own experiments.

Tropication is a beautiful example of one of Storm’s pilot-batch beers. Loaded with Mosaic and Nelson Sauvin hops, it bursts with gooseberry and tropical fruit – passion fruit, mango, and lychee. It’s like an American IPA meets a Marlborough Sauvignon Blanc. The one I sampled, co-founder Eric McKay tells me, was the third batch, which was different from the second, which was different from the first. I can’t speak for the first two, but they sure seem to have nailed the third.

Hardywood’s grand opening is tomorrow, February 18, at noon. JM Stock starts cooking at 4 pm, and the UVa v. UNC game comes on at 8:15 pm. (But, pssst, they are open today too.)  Welcome to Charlottesville, Hardywood.

Hardywood | Charlottesville

Photo by Kate Magee.

 

Five Finds on Friday: Laura Fonner

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come Laura Fonner, the mother of four who recently resumed her former role as head chef at Duner’s, after several years catering. Famous for its lines, Duner’s now takes reservations(!) but only via Open Table, not by phone. Walk-ins always welcome, too. Fonner’s picks:

1)  Funghi Pizza at Lampo. “This dish is amazing because of its simplicity and perfection. What a great showcase for such amazing mushrooms. Paired with a bottle, yes I said bottle, of their Gossip Pinot Grigio, it’s a match made in heaven.”

2) Green Smoothie from Smojo. “Beth Harley has been running a smoothie truck for years but just recently moved into the Piedmont Place in Crozet. Her green smoothie is amazing. All of them are. I have four kids so anything quick and and easy is always my go-to. Her ingredients are organic and her combinations are unique and delicious.”

3) Brisket & Cheese Sandwich at Smoked Kitchen & Tap. “I live in Crozet and work in Ivy, so naturally I tend to stay in the area! Smoked finally opened up a brick and mortar location in Piedmont Place. Their meats are amazing. My inner fat kid is in love with their brisket and cheese sandwich with charred onions and Duke’s mayo on Texas toast. It is sloppy and full of flavor.”

4) Fried Oysters at The Whiskey Jar. “I am a sucker for fried oysters and these are wonderful. Perfectly flash fried so they are super juicy In the middle.”

5) BLT w/ Avocado on Everything at Bodo’s. “Like I said before, I have four kids, so I tend to eat places that don’t mind me bringing in a backpack of toys and sometimes screaming children. I have lived here my entire life and can’t imagine a better go-to than Bodo’s. Their bagels are consistently good! Their BLT is just great, add avocado and it’s even better. I’m also a sucker for their tabouli.”

Testaroli by Cote-Rotie

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Food mashups are not just social media constructs or modern food crazes. Some are time-honored parts of culinary history. Take testaroli, which is essentially crepe pasta — made by boiling cut-up pieces of crepes. 2017 Best Food Truck Cote-Rotie uncovered this delicacy for me today, and I am sure glad they did. The traditional preparation method requires live wood fire and huge cast iron vessels. That’s how it’s been done for years in Tuscany. But, in today’s global food world, Cote-Rotie owners Peter and Merrill Robertson encountered the dish not in Italy but at a restaurant in Kansas City, on a stop during a recent drive across the country. When they got back, they figured out a way to make it on their truck, perfected it, and then added their own touch. Voila!

Served with pesto, Schuyler Greens spinach, and crab poached  in beurre blanc, it is delicious. Available right now – February 16 – at Champion Brewing Company, which works out well because it just so happens to pair beautifully with another mashup: “Fruit Melee” – Fruit Basket Double IPA blended with Melee Session IPA.