Five Finds on Friday: Brooke Ray

by Charlottesville29

Brooke Ray Photo_coffee addict

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Brooke Ray, manager of the New Roots program for the International Rescue Committee. Working with sixty refugee families, New Roots establishes urban farming locations which aid in refugees’ community transition through gardening, education, local food access initiatives, and small business farming. On May 30, one of its farms – New Roots Farm – suffered extensive damage from a severe flash flood, and the twenty families that grow food there were devastated by the loss of most of their crops.

“Our hearts are hurting for all the work and money the families have put into their gardens,” says Ray, “as well as the fact that such a special place that was brimming with life and beauty and joy was so damaged.” The families now hope to reclaim what they can of the season and they need your help. Funds are needed to repair the farm, replant and rebuild beds, and relocate market crops to a safer location for the season. To help the families’ recovery, you can donate here

As usual, the Charlottesville food community has rallied in a time of need. On July 30, the event company Hill & Holler is organizing a Donor Appreciation Party for anyone who donates $100 or more to the cause. There will be food from Ivy Inn, Orzo, and A Pimento Catering, a wine bar from Blenheim Vineyards, beer from Reason Beer, live music, and more. Details on how you can donate and attend this special event.

Ray’s picks:

1) Som Tum at Pad Thai. “I love Santi’s version of papaya salad. It’s fresh and bright and spicy. The papaya, peppers and peanuts pack so many textures and flavors into one refreshing little salad. I like it with a cold beer and a Tom Yum Noodle Bowl. Pad Thai is so under-rated and I kind of hate to blow it up, but it’s my secret go-to for a good selection of well-priced draughts and take-away beer. And Jay, Santi’s son, has great taste in music to boot.”

2) Super-Style Tacos at La Michoacana. “I usually order the vegetarian tacos super-style from Edgar, but if you are so inclined the meat tacos are all also stupid good. The super style come topped with chopped onions, cilantro, cheese, sour cream and lettuce. They are bursting with flavor without being soggy or overly-loaded. I always order the spicy pickled onions and carrots to load on top and add a splash of their avocado salsa.”

3) Tomato Bisque at Orzo. “I have to say, I have loved every meal I have ever eaten at Orzo and really appreciate that the team puts as much care into their salads as they do into their main dishes. If I had to mention one thing though, it would be the tomato bisque made with lamb broth. Eating it was a revelatory food experience for me. Tomato bisque is something we’ve all had and we expect it to taste a certain way. But this one (which I think is a seasonal offering) is so comforting and rich and unexpected. It’s an adult version of one of my favorite, childhood, rainy day meals.”

4) Mango Chili Popsicle at La Flor Michoacana. “Can you tell I like spicy food? Our farm crew often makes a detour for this spot on the hottest days. The popsicle selection is extensive- I recommend making your way through all of them. The Mango chili is sweet and fresh in the right way with a pleasant heat.”

5) The Bellissima at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “My favorite Sunday ritual is to go biking at Walnut Creek and then head over to Dr. Ho’s for their Bellissima pizza. The crust is flavorful and perfectly crunchy-chewy and it’s topped with so much good stuff- roasted tomatoes, shaved ham, aged parmesan. But most importantly they pile and entire arugula salad on top of it.  And it is REAL arugula – spicy and bold and often local – not the California clamshell stuff that has no flavor. I don’t know what they add to that vinaigrette in the salad but I can’t get enough of this pizza. It’s a good thing it’s 40 minutes from my house.”