The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Contintental Divide

Five Finds on Friday: Mita Tembe

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Mita Tembe, Bakery Manager of MarieBette Cafe and Bakery. At MarieBette, Tembe’s favorites are the sticky bun, the chocolate chunk cookie, and the Monroe tartine, with scrambled eggs, caramelized onions, bacon, and herbs atop MarieBette sourdough. Tembe’s other favorites around town:

1) Spanish Olive Oil and Rosemary Cake at Orzo. “My friend and I meant to share but we got two instead. Best accident ever.”

2) Santa Fe Enchiladas and a House Margarita .at Continental Divide. “I love the pumpkin muffin on the side, and you can never go wrong with a CD margarita.”

3) Belgian fries and aioli at Public Fish & Oyster. “Hands down the best fries in Charlottesville: hot, salty, crispy. Also, the fried brussels sprouts, with that same aioli, are incredible.”

4) Torta Brava at La Michoacana. “Super super spicy and absolutely delicious.”

5) Grilled Banana Bread at Bizou. “I have attempted to recreate this at home to no avail. Bizou does it best.”

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Five Finds on Friday: Sarah Sargent

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Sarah Sargent of The Catering Outfit, which is joining this week’s Restaurant Week with its own pop-up restaurant, Foodbar, where Sargent will be maitre ‘d. Foodbar is a seven-seat, copper bar overlooking Chef Walter’s open kitchen, with additional seats at tables for a few more guests. The menu is no joke. (North American Sake Brewery sake-poached monkfish, horseradish parsnip puree, fermented beech mushrooms, grilled scallions, beet and plum.) Full menu and details here. Plus, after Restaurant Week ends, on Sunday, January 27 industry folks are invited to Foodbar to unwind with a special $20 menu just for them. Sargent’s picks:

1) Nutter Butters from Found. Market. “When I discovered Found. Market on the other side of our parking lot, I was beyond thrilled. And I started shopping for larger pants. If you haven’t been before, you must check it out for lunch. The quiche of the day or the turkey & muenster on house focaccia with pickled onions are my favorites, followed of course with that darn, dream worthy Nutter Butter. I’ve known the owners of Found. Market for quite a while, as chef Walter has bought lamb from their family farm (Retreat Farms) for years. The entire family (I think!) owns and operates this thoughtful market  and bakery. Son Elliot makes the most amazing treats, like apple crumb coffee cake and chocolate cake with chocolate merlot ganache icing . . . Are you still reading this, or driving there now?!”

2) HAY! Straws at Continental Divide. “First and foremost, I’m a California girl. A couple years ago, San Diego county passed a law making people pay ten cents for a plastic bag at local retailers, encouraging the community to use reusable bags and kick that nasty plastic to the curb. This past year they passed a measure outlawing straws in restaurants. We’ve all had that uncomfortable, soggy, wet, paper straw in our mouths at some point and I think we can all agree – it’s no fun. So when I wrapped my lips around the HAY! Straw poking out of my house margarita at Continental Divide the other night – I was thrilled. Plus Continental Divide has my other California staple: good Mexican food. It took a minute, but I’ve officially embraced Tex- Mex instead if wishing it was Baja Med. The spinach and mushroom enchiladas with smoked gouda are always on point, and you can’t lose when ordering the carnitas. Throw in a house margarita with that wonderful sea-turtle-lovin’ HAY! Straw, and you got yourself a fiesta.”

3) Witchcraft at Tavola’s Cicchetti Bar. “Steve Yang has made such a lovely cocktail menu at the cicchetti bar. It is one of my favorite places to just take a breath after work on a weekday, especially a Monday. Many of us in the industry take Mondays off, but not all of us. After I survive a Monday like a boss, I like to slip around the corner for a slow drink and bite. I’m not always a gin fan, but the liquore strega, sesame falernum, house tonic, and pretty lime garnish makes for a very revivifying mouthful. I love the cicchetti bar’s food specials too. The other night I enjoyed polenta fries with a spicy marinara. It is definitely my spot to experience la dolce far niente.”

4) Flaming Boodie Sauce from Hip Hop Hill. “If you like hot sauce, this is your lover. I like me some hot wings now and then, but this honey hopenero hot sauce is one of my favs because it also doubles as a marinade. Last summer I spent many nights grilling under the stars, and this sauce made it onto a lot of my local chicken and steak. I also spent a good part of my summer trying new ways to use hops in the kitchen, like popping a few fresh nuggets into my homemade dill pickles. Hip Hop Hill is a hop farm out in Free Union (hence the honey “hop”enero) that is out to prove that hops aren’t just for beer. The Hill also happens to be the home of a fully licensed commercial kitchen and bottling warehouse. Owner Alessandro Valmarama has teamed up with Mad Hatter Foods, offering them a permanent home bottling facility, and I can’t wait to see what else these guys have in the works. You used to have to ‘know a guy’ to try this stuff, but luckily you can now pick up a bottle at Beer Run, JM Stock Provisions, or The Shebeen.”

5) Margherita D.O.C. at Lampo. “I know, it’s not that exciting. And there have been several late night, wine fueled arguments over the D.O.C. vs ‘regular’ margherita pizza–can you even taste the difference? My vote is, totes. And if there were ever a find to get excited about, it’s Lampo pizza. I don’t always have that much time to eat out, yet it’s one of my favorite things to do. Every time I get a night out with my girlfriends I want to go to Lampo. Something about sitting at a tiny table right off the sidewalk on a boisterous patio, sipping delicious Italian wine, picking at marinated olives, and giving ourselves the ‘go ahead’ to eat an entire loaf of bread before eating an entire pizza all to ourselves (it only comes in one size). Reminds me of vacations in Roma, where nights are long and the wine is endless. It’s just a perfect night out in my book.” 

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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.”