The Charlottesville 29

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

Someone Brought Me Cheese


Someone brought me cheese, and it got me thinking. This was a good thing, and not just because it took my mind off negronis. It was good because it lured me beyond my usual reflecting on the Charlottesville food community this time actually to write about it. Every day I see reminders of how blessed we are to live in a food community as special as ours. If I had more time, I would record them all. Each moment. Alas, other priorities prevent it – a beautiful wife, kids I want to spend every minute with, and, oh yeah, my real job.

I was at Lampo. With me were folks from a national food magazine, visiting for a project about Charlottesville. My role was to help connect the magazine with people and places that showcase the best of Charlottesville. This seemed made for me. Celebrating Charlottesville’s food and drink, after all, is why I started writing about it in the first place.  We are the little food city that could.

Lampo knew we were coming. And so, after we ordered and settled into geeky food talk, one of the co-owners visited with a gift. But, instead of a dish made by Lampo’s talented chefs, the gift was simply a board of cheese: two from Twenty Paces – Noah’s Arcade and Commander Chicory (aka Ewe’r My Boy Blue), and one from Caromont Farm – Esmontonian. “While you’re in town,” he explained, “we thought you might want to taste some of our area’s great products.”

I was struck.

Here was Lampo’s chance to pound their chest and show off – a captive audience from a magazine capable of reaching thousands. My guests surely would have been wowed by any of their dishes to make Five Finds on Friday, The Charlottesville 29 2016 or 2015 Dish of the Year, or the annual list of chefs’ Best Thing I Ate All Year. But, Lampo sent out none of those. What Lampo chose to show off was Charlottesville.

In other cities, similar circumstances might trigger a restaurant to pull out all the stops to wow their visitors, like a child repeating to her parent: “Watch this! Watch this!”  Instead, Lampo said: “Look what our friends can do.”

That’s Charlottesville.

Never for money, always for love.

We are blessed.

Five Finds on Friday: Tres Pittard


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Tres Pittard, the former chef of Charley’s Waterfront Kitchen in Farmville who is now sous chef of Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar. This Monday, Commonwealth relaunches with a new menu of Modern Virginian Cuisine, in collaboraton with restaurateur Will Richey and chef Harrison Keevil. A preview of the new-and-improved Commonwealth. Pittard’s picks:

1) Orecchiette, House Sausage, Broccoli Rabe from Vivace. “First of all, I really like the outdoor seating here. The pasta and the atmosphere definitely tie in together, and all in all it is a very comforting experience.” 

2) Ham Biscuit from JM Stock Provisions. “How did I not know about these sooner? I enjoy everything about these and always contemplate if I’ve gotten enough of them on the walk to the car.”

3) Mexican Street Corn from Junction. “This was ridiculously good and I actually had to order another round to come out with the meal.”

4) Spinach, Goat cheese, Egg and Honey Pie from The Pie Chest. “Another thing I was recently introduced to but can’t seem to stop thinking about. And, the thought of these being available Saturday mornings at Draft for soccer is starting to blow my mind a little. Just that good.” 

5) Chicken Francaise from Bella’s. “Athough Bella’s serves family style, I could definitely have this one to myself. The entirety of the dish was on point, and I can see why this one usually sells out.”

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