The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Caromont Farm

Five Finds on Friday: Natalie Siler

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Natalie Siler, the woman behind Charlottesville’s favorite chocolate peanut butter balls. After a decade in the Pittsburgh restaurant industry, the Charlottesville native returned home in 2012 in search of a job with a more traditional schedule, when fate and Charlottesville generosity intervened. A “friend of a friend” asked if Siler would like to carry on the peanut butter ball recipe she had been making for Feast!. Siler accepted, and when she took her first batch to Feast!, she recalls, “the woman at the counter popped one in her mouth, and said: ‘Great! We will need 300 more.” Six years later, the peanut butter balls remain a sensation, as she now makes 600 per week to meet holiday demand. Available only at Feast!. Siler’s picks:

1) Black Bean Nachos at Continental Divide. “On paper, they might not sound like anything out of the ordinary, but when you add the squeeze bottle of Wait a Minute sauce and one of Matt’s margaritas, it is unpretentious and wonderful. If I have room, one of the daily specials from Seven Hills never lets me down. I like to sit at the curve of the bar and come early.”

2) Italian Sub at Anna’s Pizza #5.  “I grew up in Charlottesville and many of my favorite dishes and spaces exist only in memory now, but 34 years later, the Italian Sub at Anna’s Pizza #5 has stayed happily identical to how I remember it tasting after a swim meet on a Wednesday night. A satisfying crunch, the tangy house dressing and one of the best beer pitcher deals in town. Don’t change, Anna.”

3) Honey Ginger Martini at Bang!. “This drink makes me think of my sister. Her name is Ginger and she lives in Austin, which is where I was first introduced to Tito’s Vodka. (My dad claims to have played cornhole with Tito himself). And, this drink is perfect for a kick in the pants to get you going for a show downtown. House pickles and sweet potato gnocchi always follow.”

4) Cheese from Caromont Farm and Our Lady of the Angels. “I’m a sucker for a cheese plate. I’m not sure I can pick a favorite one, but Pippin Hill and The Local come to mind. I’m always excited to see Caromont Farm on the menu. After my snuggle session with the goats last year, I always like to think I played some tiny part in making it taste so good. But I’m always looking for that bright red wax wheel that covers the gouda from of Our Lady of the Angels Monastery. It’s made in the mountains near Crozet and if anyone is not sure what I might want as a gift, the two pound wheel will do just fine.”

5) Tuna Avocado Carpaccio at Now & Zen. “The first time I ordered this and the almost-table length salad was placed in front of me, I giggled like a small child. It hit all the marks for me. Protein. Spice. Greens. Texture. I always over order here, but I can never not get this salad.”

Five Finds on Friday: William Darsie

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from William Darsie, GM of MarieBette Cafe & Bakery, which is about to launch a new hybrid pastry that could rival its world-famous “bronut.” Stay tuned. Meanwhile, February is Hot Chocolate Month at MarieBette, with a different riff everyday. Darsie’s picks:

1) Porchetta Panuozzo at Lampo. “Sandwich is my favorite food, and this, undoubtedly, is the best one. There is a reason this place is considered by many to be the best restaurant in town. I could eat this sammy every meal, everyday, for the rest of my life and die a happy camper.”

2) Vegetables at Oakhart Social. “Oakhart is my happy place. Owners Ben and Tristan clearly know what they’re doing. The concept, the execution, the food and the vibes are all I want from a restaurant. I never thought I’d only eat vegetables for dinner and be thoroughly satisfied at the end: Brussels sprouts, shaved salad, and the charred carrots (please bring them back) to highlight a few. And who could forget the Barman, Albee Pedone. He gets the classics right and the cocktail and beer list are evidence of his experience, knowledge and insanity. But, to be honest, the dude just makes a bomb slushy.”

3) Goat Cheese from Caromont Farm. “Caromont Farm is more than just scenic countryside and goat cuddles. Gail, Daniel and Izzy are also making some bangin’ cheeses. My personal favorite is their hometown homage, Esmontonian. Put it in a salad, grate it on some pasta, or just eat it by the wheel.”

4) Pulled Pork Platter from The BBQ Exchange. “Coming from the West Coast I was never exposed to any ‘real’ barbeque, and I am thankful those dark days are over. The pulled pork melts in your mouth, the sauces are on point, and I love all their sides the same. The South can debate BBQ all they want, but the conversation stops here. Always worth the trip to Gordonsville.”

5) Ham Biscuits at JM Stock Provisions. “Did I mention sandwich is my favorite food? Sliced-to-order Tasso ham and some honey hot sauce stuff on a fresh biscuit is all you need to start your day off right. One is good, but do yourself a favor and shove two of these in your face. These things filthy, thank you gentlemen.”

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Fromage Fort by Caromont Farm

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Series: Great Dishes of 2016

Before she became a cheesemaker, Gail Hobbes-Page was one of the area’s top chefs, presiding over the kitchens of Hamiltons’ and The Mark Addy Inn, among others. At Caromont Farm, which she launched in 2007, Hobbes-Page’s cheeses reflect both her culinary background and her moral backbone – a principled commitment to sustainability, minimizing waste, and other ethical practices.

No product better captures this than Fromage Fort, briefly available in July, which minimizes waste by using cheese scraps and blending them into spreadable form. As to her culinary background, it is crazy delicious. With a trained chef’s touch, Hobbs-Page adds shallots, scallions, and Thibaut-Janisson champagne. The result was perhaps the most addictive thing I tasted all year.