The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Cakes by Rachel

Five Finds on Friday: Brittany Miller

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Brittany Miller of Cakes by Rachel and Shenandoah Imagery. There are lots of great cake bakers in the area, but only one who was once head chef of Clifton Inn, Rachel Willis. Miller runs the office for Cakes by Rachel and also has her own food photography business, Shenandoah Imagery. As a classically trained chef, Willis still loves a challenge, like our request for a Manhattan-inspired cake to help us celebrate this weekend. White cake baked with a splash of whiskey and bitters, brushed with a whiskey cherry syrup, filled with homemade brandied cherries and triple whipped cream, and iced with a “Manhattan” buttercream: vanilla Swiss meringue buttercream accented with whiskey, vermouth, bitters and Fiori di Sicilia. Miller’s picks:

1) Vegan “Crab” Cake Sandwich at Firefly. “You can’t tell it’s not real crab. And this is coming from someone who orders crab cakes whenever I see them on a menu. I would recommend Firefly to any vegetarian or vegan looking for delicious eats.”

2) Southern Fried Chicken at South Street Brewery. “A huge piece of perfectly seasoned chicken is complemented by pillows of mashed potatoes and gravy. It’s comfort food at its finest. Better than Grandma’s.”

3) Chocolate Sour Cream Cake from Cakes by Rachel. “Everyone who’s had Rachel’s baked goods can attest to them being the best in the area, but Rachel’s chocolate cake reigns supreme, and I’m not historically a huge fan of chocolate cake. Pro tip: order yours with the chocolate buttercream. Absolute heaven. Everyone wishes they were her official cake taster, but that’s actually part of my job. I’m very lucky to work there.”

4) Sigara Börek at Sultan Kebab. “Hot phyllo rolls filled with Turkish white cheese and parsley should tell you all you need to know. They’re like mozzarella sticks, but better. Having shot their whole menu, I can certify that the owners are really great people who are passionate about their food and you can tell. Every bite amazes.”

5) Chicken Paffle from Iron Paffles. “What exactly is a paffle? I’m not really sure. I just know those paffle sandwiches taste really freaking good. I recommend the chicken with the macaroni and cheese and sriracha. The chicken is tender and the paffles are perfectly flaky. Mac and cheese just rounds it out to make it a perfect sandwich. I can’t wait to go back.”


Five Finds on Friday: Rachel Willis


On Fridays, we feature five food finds selected by local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Rachel Willis, a New England Culinary Institute alum whose resume reads like a greatest hits of Charlottesville restaurants over the last few decades: Metropolitain, Continental Divide, L’Avventura, and Executive Chef of Clifton Inn.  Willis now runs Black Twig Farm with her husband, and also the much-acclaimed Cakes by Rachel.  Willis’ picks:

1)  Drunken Noodles with Beef at Pad Thai.  “The first time I went to Pad Thai was shortly after they opened.  I was eight months pregnant and with three other very pregnant friends. We devoured half the menu and were in ecstasy.  Within an hour of my son being born, I was begging my mother to go get me this dish.  Nothing ever tasted better.”

2)  Lobster Roll from Foods of All Nations.  “When in town doing the mad errand dash, I more often than not find myself stopping for this quick lunch. Theirs is the best to-go sushi in town. And the lobster roll is my favorite!”

3)  Orange Martini at Fardowners.  “Order only one . . . trust me.”

4)  Bratwurst and Fall Sown Spinach from Double H Farm.  “Richard was a close friend and I will miss him dearly.  What a blessing Ara and Gayane are here to carry on what he started.  The brats are perfect and if you are lucky enough to get some of the spinach they have right now, saute lightly and they are perfect together. Their soil grows great greens.”

5)  Princess Cake from Albemarle Baking Company.  “I haven’t had a slice in a long time, but I still hear it call to me all the way out here in Crozet.  There are some combinations that are just perfect.”

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