The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Feast

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: Della Bennett

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Della Bennett of the personal chef service P L E N T Y, which offers weekly meal preparation, grazing boards, and intimate catering. Ask about her services at plentycville@gmail.com, sign up for her weekly menu at P L E N T Y’s website, and browse her culinary creations on Instagram at @plentycville. Bennett’s picks:

1) The Boss Wings with celery, Ranch, AND Blue Cheese at Wild Wing Cafe. “You can take the girl out of the wing joint, but you can’t take the wing joint out of the girl. To this day, The Boss wings are the only wings I’ll ever love, from the first job I ever had. At just shy of 5 feet tall, barely 18, ex-hostess turned only girl in the kitchen, I was slinging wings from the expo station. I think it was there that I learned to speak up and ask for what I wanted in life, which turns out, was equal parts boss wings on the fly AND respect from all the male cooks I looked up to. The Boss Wings are unlike any other wing you’ll find at WWC: marinated first, fried at least once, and then tossed in a top-secret spice blend while they’re still piping hot. That’s it. No sauce. A wing with no sauce? Trust me on this one. And I don’t know if it’s nostalgia or what, but I’ve always liked the ranch and blue cheese here.”

2) Cavoletti Di Bruxelles at Lampo“So, I guess I’m the girl who prefers the green over everyone’s favorite pizza. I’ve tried to recreate the Lampo salads for my clients but nothing quite compares to the real thing. The Brussels sprout salad is my pick: shaved Brussels and fennel, perfectly dressed, and then piled high with a lot of fluffy pecorino and the perfect amount of crunchy hazelnuts. Dreamy. And while I’m at it, I’ll also have the kale one that has all the crispity crunchity things on top (I know, they’re parsnips). Double INSALATE, hold the PIZZE, and a high five for every single person working there because they’re some of the coolest in town and make me feel all warm and fuzzy from the moment I walk in.”

3) Chocolate Covered Peanut Butter Balls at Feast!. “I don’t always get the chocolate covered peanut butter balls when I go to Feast!, but when I do, I get the 6-pack. Okay, and that first part was a lie. I always always always get them. Every single time. They’re made with love, with the perfect chocolate to peanut butter ratio, by my friend, Natalie. (aka @zoonybug) and they’re ONLY available at Feast!, unless you are lucky enough to run into her at a dinner party because she always brings them and no one is ever mad about it.”

4) Panang Curry at Tara Thai. “This is the only time that tofu is my protein of choice – maybe it’s because my girlfriend is vegetarian and I don’t have a choice, maybe because it’s fried, but most likely because it is the best, most absorbent vehicle for the SAUCE. The sauce in this dish literally makes me weak in the knees and I am not too good to turn the bowl up and slurp it. Beautiful as it is creamy, a coconut milk-based broth with fresh basil and tiny pieces of peanut and bell pepper. If I’m being honest, the tofu/veggies/rice are just for looks.”

5) Charred Carrots at Oakhart Social. “Maybe it’s the fourth Smokey Rose talking, but this dish is my #1, my ride or die. It’s as if ‘carrots + ranch’ came back to school after summer break, and now they’re all grown up, with a deep voice, and a rather sophisticated mustache. From the craggy bits of charred stem (newsflash, you need to be eating this part of the carrot if you aren’t already) down to the tender sweet carrot, perfectly charred and caramelized in the wood-burning oven. If you’re dining with me, I probably already helped myself to all of the candied pecans. My bad. Another set of high fives to the overall vibe here. They get it.”

Cville Ham Biscuits

Cville Ham Biscuits are all over Charlottesville: from humble dives to fine dining restaurants, and everywhere in between. We find them in country stores, gas stations, butchers, farms, church suppers, picnics, cookouts, weddings, funerals, coat pockets, and car seats. We eat them to celebrate, to mourn, and for no particular reason at all. Whether for breakfast, lunch, or dinner, the Cville Ham Biscuit knows no boundaries – not race, creed, nor color. And, among the many great ham biscuits around town, no two are the same. Here is where to find some of the best.

Batesville Market
Shaved Kite’s Country Ham with local Elysium honey
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Commonwealth Restaurant & Skybar
Edwards Surryano Ham with peanut sauce and thick cut apple pickle
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Exchange Café
Cheddar chive biscuit with applewood smoked ham and house made bacon fig jam
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Feast!
Jane’s Sweet Potato Biscuit w/ Edwards Country Ham and Va. Chutney Co. Plum Chutney
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Hunt Country Market
Country Ham with house made honey mustard
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Ivy Inn
Kite’s Country Ham with hickory syrup mustard
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JM Stock Provisions
House-made Tasso ham with hot sauce and honey
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Keevil & Keevil Grocery & Kitchen
Edwards Country Ham with Aunt Suzy’s cheese spread and pepper jelly
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The Whiskey Jar
Kite’s Country Ham
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