The Charlottesville 29

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

Category: Five Finds on Friday

Five Finds on Friday: Jeff White

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Blue Moon Diner has reopened, and today’s Five Finds on Friday come from a man who cooked there more than thirty years ago. Jeff White manned the grill of the Charlottesville icon from 1985-1987, married one of the waitresses, and, now, more than three decades later, is the top sports writer for the University of Virginia. For many UVa fans, his columns are daily must-reads. History class from White:

I started cooking for then-owner John Grier at the Blue Moon Diner late in my undergraduate days at UVa and continued working there (and down the street at the late, great Cotton Exchange, whose owners were Grier, John Hoy and Kirby Hutto) until moving to Richmond in 1987.

Back then, the Blue Moon’s grill was out front, a few feet from the counter, and the pressure of cooking in a packed diner ––– in full view of customers, with the jukebox blaring, while hungover on a weekend morning –– no doubt helped prepare me for the stress of writing newspaper stories on deadline.

Most important, the Blue Moon is where in 1986 I met Beth Pearce, whose brother Tom was a fellow cook. Beth later waitressed at the diner, and we were married in 1989.

It’s wonderful to see the Blue Moon open again, and it’s hard to go wrong with anything on its menu, which has expanded considerably since my time there. Here are five of my other favorites:

1) Hot Sicilian at Durty Nelly’s / Wayside Deli. “The GOAT when it comes to sandwiches. I’ve been placing the same order at Durty Nelly’s/Wayside Deli for 30-plus years and hope to continue doing so for another 30. It’s a heavenly combination of Genoa salami, turkey, provolone, onion, peppers and mayo on rye, all heated.”

2) Greg Brady at Jack Brown’s Beer and Burger Joint. “The burgers at Jack Brown’s are, to me, the perfect size –– not too big, not too small ­–– and complementing the beef on this delicacy are mac and cheese, Martin’s BBQ potato chips, and a blend of American and cheddar cheeses. The fries are great, too, as is the selection of beers from around the world.

3) Burrito Michoacana at La Michoacana. “This low-key restaurant on East High Street was once a hidden gem, but its excellence has been common knowledge around town for years now. Keep the option of a post-lunch nap open after eating one of these burritos. You may need it.”

4) Ragin’ Cajun at Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie. “I’m a sucker for andouille, and this pie also features Creole-spiced shrimp, green peppers, roasted red peppers and mozzarella. Dr. Ho’s, of course, has Blue Moon ties. Its founder, Jerry Danner, ran the diner after buying it from John Grier.”

5) Cookies and Cream Milkshake at Crozet Creamery. “A group of us in the athletic department has a tradition we hold dear. When one of the UVa teams we support (as writers, videographers, photographers, etc.) picks up a significant win –– almost any conquest of Virginia Tech qualifies as such – we celebrate by treating ourselves to milkshakes. My victory shake of choice is one of many fantastic offerings at my local ice cream parlor, whose other options include the (Jack) Salted Caramel.”

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Jeff White, Blue Moon Diner, 1985

Five Finds on Friday: Portia Boggs

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Portia Boggs of The Local Food Hub, which, in parternship with Junction and Monticello Wine Trail, is hosting an upcoming benefit called What Grows Together Goes Together. November 7 at Junction, the wines of five local wineries will be paired with appetizers by chef Melissa Close-Hart. to illustrate the natural pair-ability of food and wine from the same region. Tickets are $50 each and include a wine glass to take home. All proceeds benefit Local Food Hub. Tickets and details here. Boggs’ picks:

1) Thai Tofu Wrap at Revolutionary Soup. “Rev Soup has been a favorite spot since I first moved to Charlottesville in 2012, and this sandwich is my go-to. On chilly days, I like to pair it with the Spicy Senegalese Peanut Tofu soup for a meal that is equal parts hearty, spicy, and warming. It’s no coincidence that both dishes use locally-made Twin Oaks Tofu, the best tofu I’ve had in my 12+ years of vegetarianism.”

2) Mushroom, Leek, and Gruyere Pot Pie followed by Dark Chocolate Cream Pie at  The Pie Chest. “I could have gone with anything the Pie Chest offers – they make a range of sweet and savory pies, rotating with what is in season. I’ve never had a bad experience, and am typically first in line to try the new releases. Mushroom, Leek, and Gruyere and Dark Chocolate are available year-round, and are consistently phenomenal. They share a space with Lone Light Coffee, whose latte goes perfectly with a warm piece of fruit pie.”

3) Mexican-Style Street Corn at Junction. “The only thing better than freshly-picked, grilled and generously buttered corn is Mexican street-style corn, and Junction does it perfectly, with a spot-on balance of flavor. Their housemade queso and guacamole are another must whenever I go.”

4) Migas Tacos at Brazos Tacos. “These crunchy, cheesy, egg-y tacos are worth the early-ish wakeup time and wait in line they often require. The Migas is my favorite, but all their tacos are incredible. As an added bonus, you can get them with Ula Tortilla’s, a local tortilla company that knows their stuff!”

5) Lacinato Kale Salad at MarieBette. “This salad, paired with a cafe au lait, followed by one of their amazing pastries (pretzel croissant, anyone?) is a dream lunch. Their second location, Petite MarieBette, is right by the Local Food Hub offices, making it an ideal easy, fast, and delicious last-minute lunch.”

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Five Finds on Friday: Amy Worrell

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Amy Worrell of Cavalier Produce, who will be at Caromont Farm November 17 for the 2019 Fall Farmily Reunion. The goat farm’s fifth annual celebration of all things Virginia, it will again bring together local artisans, chefs, and goat lovers. Worrell will provide a holiday cheese board demonstration, while Sussex Farm’s Jen Naylor will cook her beloved Korean food. Others include Virginia Vinegar Works, Robert Harley for wine, and Grubby Girl for soaps and honey. To celebrate fall at Virginia’s favorite goat farm, info and tickets here. Worrell’s picks:

1) Charred Carrots at Oakhart Social. “I’m pretty sure that this has been mentioned before, but the charred carrots at Oakhart Social are simply amazing. Need I say more.”

2) Fish and Chips with Hydraulion Red at Three Notch’d Craft Kitchen and Brewery. “I usually order the fish and chips with the Hydraulion Red, an Irish-style ale brewed as a salute to UVa’s historic fire brigade, as well as to firefighters everywhere. Their newer space at the Ix Park has an airy feel, featuring an open kitchen where you can watch your food being prepared.”

3) 2016 Meritage at Montifalco Vineyard. “Some friends introduced me to this little hide-away in the hills just south of Ruckersville, recently opened by a winemaker transplanted from the California wine country. Sipping wine outside while sitting between the farmhouse and the vines feels like visiting a small family vineyard in the French countryside. Aged in Bordeaux oak, the 2016 Meritage is a well balanced full bodied red with soft, not overly assertive, tannins.”

4) Grilled Corn at Chicano Boy Taco. “For me, Chicano Boy Taco in Staunton is a must before or after hitting nearby Redbeard Brewing. The food, in the style of the San Francisco Mission District, is always vibrant and fresh. I usually get the grilled corn, chips with house-made guacamole, and an assortment of tacos, which you can mix and match to hit all your senses.”

5) Rose at Moss Vineyards. “Moss Vineyards is a hidden gem, a hilltop winery with excellent wines and panoramic views. If it’s available, you should try the Rose. It’s a perfect place to bring a picnic including your favorite cheeses and enjoy the mountain scenery.”

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Charred carrots.  Photo by Tom McGovern.