Five Finds on Friday: Deirdre Armstrong

by Charlottesville29

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Deirdre Armstrong of Harvest Thyme Herbs, the  vegetable and herb farm, beloved by area chefs, that she founded with her husband Phil. Deirdre recently lost Phil to an unexpected illness, and he is now remembered as an unsung hero of the food community, whose passion and hard work made thousands of meals more delicious. Deirdre’s picks:

1) Whippoorwill Crowder Peas in Ham Broth at The Shack. “These heirloom crowder peas were a gift to Chef Ian Boden from Dr. David Shields, English professor, author and seed saving pioneer at University of South Carolina. Ian passed them along to us, and once I tasted this dish, I could see why he was so eager for us to grow them. Served with pickled Fresno chiles and schmaltz cornbread, to mop up the insanely good ham broth, these rich, savory peas are a revelation.”

2) Doe Hill Pepper Bisque at the Ivy Inn. “Phil was known for his hot peppers, but Angelo makes this impossibly creamy soup from a golden yellow sweet pepper that is a pre- 1900 family heirloom from the Doe Hill area in Highland County, Virginia. Summer sunshine in a bowl.”

3) Wild Mushroom Risotto at Maya. “Risotto is always a wise choice at Maya, but this umami- rich variation hits just the right note with woodsy Sharondale wild mushrooms and Greg’s special magic.”

4) Shrimp Tacos at Chicano Boy Taco. “Chilled shrimp makes this taco so refreshing to me. Topped with roasted corn, grilled onion, cabbage, cojita cheese and tangy chipotle mayonnaise, all wrapped in a perfect handmade corn tortilla, it is a healthy summer standout on a menu that’s chock full of tempting choices.”

5) Fig Chocolates from Santiago Chocolates. “Jim Dutton is a self- taught chocolatier, and his mastery of the art is evident in his unique flavors, gorgeous stenciling, and insistence on only the finest ingredients. Opening a box of his chocolates takes my breath away each time. If forced to choose a favorite flavor, I would have to pick the decadent fig filling, with port wine and anise. Best savored with a glass of port, of course!”