The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Champion Brewing

Five Finds on Friday: Steve Monson

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On Fridays, we feature five finds from local chefs and personalities.  This week’s picks come from Steve Monson, winemaker at Early Mountain Vineyards.  On Father’s Day, June 16, is the Early Mountain Vineyards BBQ Festival, with wine, barbecue, and even a cornhole tournament.  Monson’s picks:

1)  Black Smoke Kolsch at Champion Brewing Company, in collaboration with Glass Haus Kitchen.  “Anyone can hide bad brewing with a bunch of hops (I do it all the time) but this beer shows off a mastering of malts which give this medium bodied beer layers of complex flavors from caramel to toasted sesame seeds.”

2)  Pulpo on Parrilla at Mas Tapas.  “I like to pick this dish apart so I can enjoy the perfectly cooked octopus on its own, leaving a pile of pork to face on my own terms.”

3)  Everything Bagel with Lox Spread at Bodo’s.  “They serve other things? Maybe next year.”

4)  Margarita at Continental Divide.  “The simple, fresh ingredients really complement blanco tequila for a clean cocktail.  But, I might go for aged tequila if I’m feeling swarthy.”

5)  Fried Oysters and a Potter’s Craft Cider at The Whiskey Jar.  “The cider really cuts through the fried batter.  It’s like every oyster is the first.”

Five Finds on Friday: Jenny Peterson

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Happy Birthday!  Today’s picks in Five Finds on Friday come from Jenny Peterson of Paradox Pastry, the outstanding baker of birthday cakes and much more, whose creations have made several appearances in Two for Tuesday.  Peterson’s picks:

1)  Olde Salt Oyster Stout at Champion Brewing Company.  “All of the beers here are wonderful, but a weekend afternoon spent sliding oysters along with this beer is indelibly etched on my palate.  Perfection.”

2)  Carne Asada at MAS. “I feel so unadventurous and borderline boring by ordering this dish every time I go to Mas.  I just can’t not order it.”

3)  Fried Mussels and Truffled Fries at Skybar.  “We work long days on Fridays at Paradox and afterward, my Sugarista Sue and I head to the Skybar for a refreshing beverage.  The fries are a staple and the mussels have replaced my former favorite, the fried oysters!”

4)  Our Famous Veggie Pizza at Blue Mountain Brewery.  “After delivering wedding cakes to one of the many wineries in the area, I treat myself to this pizza and always offer to share with the folks sitting with me at the bar.”

5)  Blueberry Handpie at Paradox Pastry.  “It’s . . just . . . perfect.  Love you hold in your hand!”

Two for Tuesday: Virginia Wineworks and Champion Brewing

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1)  Bag in the Box 2009 Cabernet Franc from Virginia Wineworks.  Is boxed wine the new screw cap?  After meeting some resistance from wine traditionalists, the screw cap has now turned the corner and appears destined for broad acceptance.  Could boxed wine be next?  Don’t get us wrong.  We enjoy the ceremony of opening a proper bottle of wine.  There are sensory experiences to wine beyond mere taste: the feel of the glass bottle, the pop of the cork, the wine splashing into the glass.  But, if the price is right, some consumers may be willing to forego the pomp and circumstance.

Virginia Wineworks is betting they will, with last year’s release of the value-oriented series of Bag in the Box wines, made with grapes grown throughout Virginia.  Our favorite is the 2009 Cabernet Franc.  While it may not earn record-breaking scores from Robert Parker, it has already won well-deserved praise and succeeds at being just what it claims to be: a soft, approachable red for everyday meals and occasions.  Best of all is the price: $35 per box, which contains four bottles of wine.  With a shelf life of many weeks after opening, this hits a price point that can be difficult for Virginia wines to reach: the $8-$10 per-bottle range targeted by many household budgets for everyday wines.  The recyclable packaging is also eco-friendly, and the transportation of the boxes is much less costly than that of trucking bottles.  Well-priced and eco-friendly?  That seems like something that could catch on in Charlottesville.  Perhaps other area vineyards will follow.  Available now at Beer Run.

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2)  Missile IPA at Champion Brewing Company.  Hunter Smith’s new brewery, recently opened on 6th St SE at the foot of the Belmont Bridge, is off to a promising start.  Of the Champion beers we’ve tried, our favorite is the Missile IPA (7% ABV, 65 IBUs), but that may be because it is tailor-made for hopheads like us.  While some IPAs seek to balance the style’s signature heavy dose of hops with a solid malt backbone, Champion’s well-named Misile IPA is all about hops, which come right at you.  And, we like it that way.  Unapologetically bitter, the dry-hopped West-Coast style IPA’s blend of Simcoe, Cascade, and Summit hops dominates the malt.  The fact that there is no food served on site means customers can bring their own or, better yet, order delivery.  We’ll be back to see how Champion progresses.