Five Finds on Friday: Ryan Collins

by Charlottesville29

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Ryan Collins, Executive Chef of Early Mountain Vineyards. This weekend, on both Saturday and Sunday, is Early Mountain Vineyards’ popular Spring Oyster Festival, with live music, Rappahannock oysters, and an a la carte menu by Collins including fried chicken, clam chowder, and corn chowder. Info and tickets here. Collins’ picks:

1) Marañón Paletas from La Flor Michoacana Ice Cream Shop. “With my kids, I normally get a fruit-based one like Guanábana (soursop) or Piña Colada. When I don’t have to share with my kids, I get the Marañón flavor (cashew). All of them are great but that is my favorite.”

2) Pickled Shrimp at Oakhart Social. “This dish hits on all points for me. It’s salty, sweet, spicy, acidic, oily and herbaceous with lots of textures. I can eat it with my hands, a fork or just make little lettuce tacos with it. I love this dish.”

3) Spam from JM Stock Provisions. “So it’s spam, but not like what you think. It’s made from beautiful Virginia pork, and the care that is taken to make this spam is not like what you get in a can (although I’m not knocking the canned stuff either). It’s made by hand with attention to detail and attention to flavor that comes from meat instead of mounds of salt. Now that you’re okay with spam, I like to get it with a jar of Gordy’s pickles and some bread from Marie Bette and bring it home to make a sandwich. I slice thick slices and use plenty of mustard. If you are feeling fancy then feel free to crumple some potato chips on top of the sandwich.”

4) Crispy Tacos at Barbie’s Burrito Barn. “I go here not necessarily craving the traditional Mexican tacos on hand-pressed corn tortillas but the crispy tacos.  Her pork, chicken and beef fillings are all great – but with the crispy tacos I always go with the beef filling.  It’s like the best version of the ground beef taco filling you grew up with. I get the tacos with everything on them – I want all the sliced radish, cilantro and lettuce you can give me. I put some crema and Tapatió on top and crush everything with my fork and eat it like a taco salad. I crave the taco salad nostalgia. With Barbie’s fried daily tortillas and awesome meat and salsas, I really can’t get a better version of this any other place in Cville.”

5) Martinez at Tavern & Grocery. “I don’t know if this is printed on their cocktail menu, but they have the best cocktail program in town so I order whatever I want. That doesn’t mean I go crazy, but I like to order a classic three-ingredient drink called a Martinez (gin, sweet vermouth & maraschino liquor) and they make it perfect. I might have three or four of these and an order of the caviar service with extra house-made chips. It’s a great start or end to my night in Cville.”