The Charlottesville 29

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

The Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions Inspire Even More Generosity


Photo by Ian Atkins.

See that check?  It’s not accurate.

Kindness is contagious, you see. In The 2019 Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions, our area’s top restaurants and artisans offered once-in-a-lifetime experiences for whoever pledged the largest donation to the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Though the auctions came to an end last night at Prime 109, our community’s generosity did not. The symbolic check represents the auction’s total benefit to the food bank at end of last night’s bidding. But, even after it was written, that benefit keeps growing.

First, Sussex Farm offered to duplicate its offering for the runner-up in the auction for its Kimchi Forever experience, yielding an additional $1,100 for the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank.

Then, UVa Men’s Basketball Coach Tony Bennett doubled up, too. Bennett was the feature in Bodo’s Bagels’ Lunch of Champions auction experience, a lunch in the office of the coach of the 2019 NCAA Men’s Basketball National Champions. This was the final item in last night’s live auction at Prime 109, and, in a thrilling finale, bidders drove the bid all the way above $50,000. This morning, Bennett was so moved to learn of bidders’ generosity that he offered a second experience — one for each of the two leading bidders. In turn, the two bidders will each make a $54,000 donation directly to the food bank.

With these additions, the total benefit to the food bank from The 2019 Charlottesville 29 Restaurant Auctions now exceeds $250,000. Thanks to the efficiency of the food bank, each dollar can create four meals, meaning that, through the auctions, our food community will have provided more than one million meals to our area’s hungry.

Stay tuned for a full report on the amazing effort over the last two months.

Thank you, Charlottesville.


Introducing Little Star Taco Brunch


Listening to chef-owner Ryan Collins talk about his plans for Little Star brunch, it’s hard not to get excited.

For one, there is the concept. “Come on in. We’ll take care of you.” Choose a protein for your tacos, and Little Star has got it from there – a limitless family-style feast of tacos, sides, and house-made salsas. Order some pitchers of sangria or margaritas, and settle in. This is your Sunday now.

Then there’s the food itself, with all of the attention to detail you’d expect from a longtime employee of Jose Andres. No restaurant in town makes corn tortillas from corn itself. Those that make tortillas typically use masa harina — pre-made, dehydrated corn dough. But, Little Star will make tortillas from scratch.


Dried corn from Masienda

The first step is a mysterious process called nixtamalization, which transforms dried corn into something that can be used for tortillas. On Saturday, to prepare for brunch the next day, Collins and his staff cook dried corn from Masienda at a near boil and then leave it to soak overnight in a calcium hydroxide solution called cal, or pickling lime, which breaks down and transforms the corn into nixtamal.

The next day (Sunday!), they drain and rinse the nixtamal, removing the outer shell. They then grind it into ground masa with a stone mill called a molino, imported from Oaxaca. Finally, they form the masa into balls and, with a hand tortilla press, make one tortilla at a time, ready for the griddle.


Molino from Oaxaca.

All that is just for the tortillas!

Why all the effort? Anyone who has had a tasted a tortilla made from scratch knows the answer. To accompany the tortillas, the opening menu offers four protein options, served family-style:

Chicharone en salsa ranchera – guacamole, white onion
Huevos con machaca – scrambled eggs, Mexican dried beef, sofrito
Bistec a la parilla – avocado, lime, tajin
Lamb barbacoa – onion, lime

Parties of two choose one protein, parties of four choose two, parties of six choose three, and parties of eight get all four. And, no mater your party size, you get all of the sides and salsas. On the opening menu, the three sides are Frijoles Refritos – refried beans with crema and onions; Arroz Negro – rice with huitlacoche, poblano, crema, and pickled onions; and Fideos – noodles with passilla Oaxaca chiles, mushrooms, and cactus. The three salsas, meanwhile, are Salsa Verde Cruda, Salsa Chipotle, and Salsa Habanero, made with plenty of sweet citrus and a touch of pineapple vinegar to tame the heat. 

All of this food comes for $35 per head.

Still hungry? Just ask for more of anything. They won’t let you leave wanting more, Collins says.

To wash it down, order pitchers of sangria, house-made agua fresca, or, better yet, agua fresca margaritas.

If the full Little Star Taco Brunch is not your thing, Collins plans a la carte options as well, like his already famous pan tomate, an Eggs Benedict riff on a Spanish tortilla, bread pudding French toast with a Corn Flake crumble and hickory syrup, or “Green Eggs and Ham” — Autumn Olive Farms pork pounded thin and breaded, served with a thick salsa verde of chiles fermented overnight in salt and sugar.

Brunch hours are 10:30 am – 2 pm.  Starts this Sunday, August 18. See you there.

JM Stock Provisions Auction: Biscuits and Butchers


Here is your chance to experience JM Stock Provisions like you never have before, while helping to feed the area’s hungry: The Charlottesville 29 Artisan Auctions. As one of the artisans of Prime 109’s August 20 Celebration of Charlottesville Restaurants, JM Stock has created a once-in-a-lifetime experience for whoever pledges the highest donation to The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. Thanks to the generosity of JM Stock, the entire winning bid goes directly to the food bank. And, thanks to the efficiency of the food bank, each dollar donated creates four meals for the area’s hungry.

The JM Stock signature experience for The Charlottesville 29 Artisan Auctions:

Biscuits and Butchers

JM Stock may be best known for two things: biscuits and butchers, and the auction winner will receive both.

Many consider JM Stock’s ham biscuits the best ever version of Charlottesville’s signature Cville Ham Biscuits. The auction winner will enjoy an entire year of JM Stock’s ham biscuits anytime they want, up to twelve per month. Just walk into JM Stock twelve times each month, and pick up the ham biscuit of your dreams. Or, pick up your month’s dozen all at once, whichever you prefer.

Plus, the winner and nine friends will receive a private modern butchery class from JM Stock’s expert artisan butchers on the craft of sustainable pork production. Many of us never stop to think about how pork products wind up as neatly packaged cuts in market displays. Where do they come from? In a hands-on class about the basics of pig butchery, the auction winner’s group will learn about the various cuts and preparations, as well as what it takes to produce JM Stock’s Autumn Olive Farms pork from start to finish. Throughout the evening, the group will also enjoy plenty of adult beverages and snacks, including JM Stock’s award-winning charcuterie, sausage, and some of the butcher’s favorite specialty cuts.

It’s the ultimate JM Stock experience: Biscuits and Butchers.

Note: Biscuits are not transferable. The auction winner must pick up the biscuits in person. For the class, the auction winner will schedule the experience on a mutually convenient evening with JM Stock, from 7:30 – 9:30 pm.


Place your bids now by email at Bidding ends August 20 at Prime 109’s Celebration of Charlottesville Restaurants. Regular updates of the leading bid will be posted below.

Current Bid: $1,500