The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Firefly

#12: Ace Dip – Ace Biscuit & Barbecue

The Barbecue Sandwich

It is easy to think of sandwiches as simple food, ready in seconds. Open the fridge, put some cold cuts on bread, and you’re done. But, for a chef as passionate as Brian Ashworth of Ace Biscuit & Barbecue, a great sandwich can take hours or even days to make.

For his Ace Dip, Ashworth transforms an ordinary pork barbecue sandwich into one that some call the best sandwich in town. He starts by smoking whole pork shoulders for 8-10 hours, placing them in a half pan as they smoke, to capture all the drippings, the condensed essences of pork and smoke. When the pork shoulders are done, he removes the bones and makes a stock from the bones, drippings, and aromatics like mirepoix, black peppercorns, garlic, and bay leaves. To that he adds roasted garlic, crushed red pepper, house-made hot sauce, vinegar, and brown sugar, brings it all to a boil, and thickens it with a simple roux of flour and butter. He then purees it and, voila, “smoky gravy.”

Meanwhile, Ashworth cooks yellow onions over very low heat for up to eight hours, slowly removing all of their water, and gently caramelizing them. For sandwich assembly, he smears house-made parsley-garlic butter on a bun and griddles it. On that, he piles pulled pork shoulder, caramelized onions, and provolone, and serves it with a cup of the smoky gravy for dipping.

Pork smoked all day. Eight-hour onions. Gravy redolent of smoke and swine. A bun with toasty butter and garlic. One bite of the sandwich dripping in gravy and you’ll never call sandwiches simple again.

The genius of smoked pork in liquid smoked pork dates back even further than Ace Biscuit & Barbecue’s opening in 2012. When Ashworth was a sous chef at Zocalo, he would lie awake at night and dream up ideas for a restaurant of his own, sometimes jumping out of bed to jot them down so he would not forget. Thank goodness for the Ace Dip he didn’t just roll back over.

#12: Ace Dip – Ace Biscuit & Barbecue
The Charlottesville 29 of Sandwiches

Others of Note: The Hot Mess at Vision BBQ Vegetarian Alternatives: The Vegetarian Option at Vision BBQ, BBQ Jackfruit Sandwich at Firefly (GFA)

Five Finds on Friday: Casandra Rodriguez

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Casandra Rodriguez of Vegan Comforts Soul Food, which opens this Sunday March 13, and will be open every Sunday and Monday to follow. Rodriguez has formerly served her vegan soul food at markets and pop-ups, and now has a temporary home at Royalty Coffee Sandwiches and Pastries on Cherry Avenue. A permanent venue is coming soon. Follow along for updates on Instagram. At Vegan Comforts, she’s particularly fond of the Vish Tacos, made from fried hearts of palm, as well as the “Slow Poke Rodriguez,” with Field Roast chorizo, simply egg scrambled in homemade salsa, topped with feta cheeze on a homemade buttermilk biscuit. Elsewhere in town, Rodriguez’s all-Vegan picks:

1) Pho and Crispy Rolls at Vu Noodles. “I get the crispy rolls just so I can dip them in the pho, and both together are so comforting, savory, and refreshingly delicious. I literally go here once or twice a week. Highly recommend.”

2) Portobello Philly at Firefly. “When I’m craving a Philly cheesesteak and don’t feel like cooking this is my go-to spot for it. It is so yummy.”

3) Creole Beans Platter at Pearl Island. “Wooo chile, this whole meal is the perfect combo. The creole beans are perfectly seasoned and the tostones with the sauce are to die for. Don’t get me started on the rice with the garlic kale. So so good.”

4) Won Ton Nachos at Botanical. “Ryan got me hooked on these nachos. They are so delicious. The cashew cheese sauce could pass for real cheese, first of all, and the toppings were so fresh and had the perfect crisp light touch. Def will be back for more.”

5) General Tso’s Cauliflower and Coconut Rice at Bang!. “Bring back the chickpea roll things, haha, no but seriously. My favorite dish from here right now is the General Tso’s cauliflower and the coconut rice. So comforting and filling.”

Five Finds on Friday: Ryan Becklund

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come Ryan Becklund, who left a job managing a vegan restaurant in the D.C. area to launch her own vegan restaurant in Charlottesville. Botanical opens tomorrow, March 5, in the former home to Java Java on the downtown mall. Becklund’s picks:

1) Any Vegan Croissant from Bowerbird Bakeshop. “I can’t believe that vegan croissants exist in Charlottesville and on top of that, these ones are perfect. Flaky, buttery, and delicious. You would never know they are vegan.”

2) Vegan Tater Tachos from Firefly. “Firefly has an awesome vegan menu overall, but these are my favorite on the list. Who doesn’t love a good tacho, especially with some rich cashew cheese?

3) Chili from The Juice Laundry. “This chili is a showstopper. It is vegan, but it could stand the test against any traditionally made chili. Definitely get it with the jalapeño cashew cream.”

4) Sweet Potato Tempura Roll from Now & Zen. “There are tons of veggie sushi rolls on the menu and all are great, but this is my go-to roll. I could eat it everyday.”

5) Marinara D.O.C. from Lampo. “A pizza without cheese is the only way I eat pizza. Without the cheese, the sauce and bread are the stars and that is exactly the case on this comforting, satisfying pie.”

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