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: Carolyn Stromberg Leasure

carolyn with cheddar

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Carolyn Stromberg Leasure of Righteous Cheese, which was once a cheese and wine bar in Washington D.C. and now hosts cheese events here in Charlottesville. On Valentine’s Day is Righteous Cheese’s most popular class ever: Chocolate, Cheese & Baller Bubbly. Leasure and award-winning cheesemonger Sara Adduci will lead guests through four rare grower champagnes, cheeses, and a spread of local chocolates. 6:30 – 7:30 pm in Oakhart Social’s private dining room. Details and tickets. Leasure’s picks:

1) Cold Brew Latte (made with cashew milk & cold brew coffee) from The Juice Laundry. “I really appreciate good coffee, and I get to feel like I’m being healthy when I drink this. Unlike a lot of juice places, The Juice Laundry is 100% organic, which I appreciate. Their Cold Brew Latte is creamy and nutty with a hint of cinnamon and a great start to the day.”

2) Fried Chicken and Onion Rings at Mel’s Cafe. “We cook at home almost every night, but when we are too tired and want something fast, it’s often Mel’s fried chicken. Even with takeout, it stays crispy, the onion rings are the apex of the genre, and even the breast meat is juicy. Though, of course, the best way to eat it is at Mel’s, with chicken straight out of the fryer, while chatting with the folks behind the counter.”

3) Hot and Numbing Shredded Tofu Skins at Peter Chang’s. “I love to order tofu when dining out, since making it at home never turns out quite as good. The Hot and Numbing Shredded Tofu Skin almost has the texture of al dente pasta: thinly shredded, toothsome pieces of tofu skin seasoned with chili pepper, chili oil, sesame oil, fresh cilantro and a host of other spices and seasonings. While not the spiciest dish at Peter Chang’s (which means you can eat more!), it leaves a pleasant, buzzy tingling on your lips. Yum.”

4) Eggs and Pancake Special at Tip Top Restaurant. “With a two-year old toddler/tyrant living in our house, my chef-husband and I don’t get out often for dinner, but we take breakfast seriously. I am a bit particular (read: annoying) about my eggs, and prefer them over-medium, apparently the hardest way to cook them. The number of times my eggs are cooked properly – with firm whites and a soft yolk – at most restaurants is few, but the kitchen at Tip Top has never disappointed. Eggs are always perfect, and there’s nothing wrong with the pancakes and bacon (ordered extra-extra-crispy for me). The relaxed dining room is bustling but it doesn’t take too long for a table, they have crayons for my kid, and the staff is the perfect mix of gregarious, surly, and at the top of their game.”

5) Budino at Lampo. “I love absolutely everything at Lampo, and my standard order is the kale salad, a cheese and charcuterie board, and the Margherita DOC pizza. The perfect dish for me, though, is the chocolate budino. Chocolate and olive oil are one of my all-time favorite flavor combinations. The budino is silky and rich with a savory drizzle of olive oil, a salty, crunchy, caramel-y top, and nutty crushed hazelnuts, all of which come together for an ideal balance of flavors and textures.”

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Hot and Numbing Shredded Tofu Skins

Five Finds on Friday: Hannah Deal

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Hannah Deal of Hannah’s Homemade, which makes nut and granola butters from sustainably sourced, 100% organic ingredients that are free of most common allergens. Deal hopes her business will draw attention to chronic illnesses, and she donates a portion of proceeds to the American Autoimmune Related Diseases Association (AARDA). You can meet Deal and sample her products tomorrow, January 26, at Feast! from 12-2 pm. Details here. Deal’s picks:

1) Roasted PEI Mussels at Orzo Kitchen and Wine Bar. “I have eaten just about every dish at Orzo and while they are all incredible, their mussels appetizer is one of the best they’ve got. While I can no longer consume dairy as of 2017, I still dream about this dish and used to order it nearly every time I went. As a side note, I studied for a semester in Belgium (a place known for mussels) and couldn’t find any as good as Orzo’s. If that isn’t a testament to how good they are, I don’t know what is.”

2) Crab Soup at The Local. “Crab is a favorite food of mine, and since my family frequents the beach for vacations, I have had more than my fair share of crab soup over the years. I still remember where I sat when I took my first bite of The Local’s crab soup. It manages to be rich and creamy while not taking attention away from the most important ingredient; crab. As a bonus, you don’t feel like you’ve gained ten pounds after eating it. Similarly to the last dish, I can’t eat this one anymore, but I will still recommend it to anyone.”

3) Green Curry at Thai 99. “You can’t really go wrong when ordering green curry, but you can end up with a mediocre curry that you’ll forget about the next day. Thai 99’s is anything but mediocre and contains a blast of flavor and spice in each spoonful. As a bonus, this one works for all of the gluten-free and dairy-free folks out there! I could eat this every day during the winter, and then some.”

4) The Mayweather at Roots. “Roots is my go-to lunch place if I’m out working all day. I have eaten their Mayweather bowl so many times that the total is probably embarrassing, but their food is delicious and leaves me satisfied each time I go. I do make a few substitutions to create a dairy-free and gluten-free dish, but this is easy to do, and the staff are always so friendly. If you’re reading this and work at Roots, thanks for feeding me!”

5) Adam’s Apple at Revolutionary Soup. “This is the best sandwich I have ever had, period. Rev Soup takes some of the best, classic ingredients such as bacon, goat cheese, and apple, and puts them in between two slices of locally made bread slathered with homemade garlic aioli and local apple butter. You really can’t get better that! And while this sandwich is not allergen-friendly, most of their options are, which makes it a great place for just about anyone.”

Five Finds on Friday: Stephanie DeVaux

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Photo by Tiffany Sun.

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from The Alley Light cook Stephanie DeVaux, who is also a private chef behind Holmes Dinner Club, which she calls an intimate, themed meal gathering “friends and strangers for an evening of food and drink – including a full hour of cocktails and hors d’oeuvres, followed by a coursed dinner with beverage pairing.” Interested in becoming a member? Visit here. And for her private chef and catering services, visit here. DeVaux’s picks:

1) Tamarind Margarita at Milan. “Though I’m generally attracted to a more bitter profile when ordering cocktails, the Tamarind Margarita at Milan remains my most marvelous exception. It’s a wonderful balance of sweet and sour and provides an ultra-refreshing respite to some of the heat from my favorite Indian dishes there.”

2) La Chicana Burger at The Bebedero. “I have a thing for burgers, and after a personal, multi-year-long journey of citywide consumption, I really do have to settle on the La Chicana Burger at The Bebedero as the top of my list. It just gives me everything I want in a burger: locally sourced beef from Timbercreek, just enough spiciness without being overwhelming, lots of fat (in the form of guacamole and a super creamy mayo), acidic pickled veg to balance it out, and a generous dose of cheese.”

3) Mr. Rech at The Alley Light. “I may be biased since I’ve also worked in Chef Robin’s kitchen, but the Mr. Rech objectively remains the best dessert I’ve ever eaten in Charlottesville. Two dacquoise cookies surround a hazelnut semifreddo and the entire thing is drenched in hot chocolate sauce. It is the most elevated ice cream sandwich in town, and hands down the most delicious.”

4) Reserve Wine Pairing at Fleurie. “Most people already know that Fleurie is French fare at its best, but what I find even more standout than their food alone is its added nuances alongside the perfectly paired beverage. The reserve wine pairing option with their tasting menu is nothing less than a transformative experience, which I think most wine pairing programs try to be, but few actually succeed. In this case, the wine is excellent and the food is excellent, but together they change so much in their depth and intensity in the most stunning ways.”

5) Two Poached Eggs with Home Fries and Toast at Tip Top Restaurant. “There are a seemingly unlimited number of amazing breakfasts in Charlottesville, but I never crave anything like I crave a classic diner-style breakfast, so Tip Top is a frequent stop on my weekly breakfast rotation. It’s exactly what you expect it to be, so it’s partly the casual consistency I love most, but it’s also the buzzing, no-nonsense atmosphere there on weekend mornings. I will unabashedly push my breakfast partner into getting the biscuits and sausage gravy (so I can steal a bite), but my tried-and-true is the classic: two poached eggs with home fries and toast with butter.”