Five Finds on Friday: Gail Hobbs-Page

On Fridays, we feature five finds from local chefs and personalities.  Today’s picks come from Gail Hobbs-Page of Caromont Farm, whose beautiful cheeses were featured last week in a Southern Foodways Alliance dinner at The Whiskey Jar, celebrating the region’s finest female purveyors of food.  Hobbs-Page’s picks:

1)  Amy’s Arugula Salad at Pippin Hill Farm Table and Wine Bar, with Albemarle sour cherries, duck confit, sunny side up farm egg, and Caromont Farm’s chévre.  “I frequently go to Pippin Hill because of its close proximity to Caromont Farm. I am in awe of Amalia’s food and the Southern Albemarle Ridge view.  There are moments when everything comes together for me — I ‘vacation’ here.  I cannot stop thinking about this salad.  Simple, yet balanced, bright and harmonic.  This is field-to-fork at its best and a lot closer than Napa.”

2)  Chicken Curry and/or Pork Dumplings with Sesame Noodles at Got Dumplings.  “On Saturday mornings my day begins at 4 a.m.  After way too much Shenandoah Joe Smoky Mountain Roast on an empty stomach, I NEED these dumplings to survive!  They pan sear them just a bit for a crunchy edge and dress them with a citrusy  ponzu sauce.  The chilled noodles are perfectly dressed with a not-too-sweet sesame sauce and dusted with toasted sesame seeds.  They also provide spicy Sriracha for those who can handle spicy food in the morning (which I can).  Lately, I’ve been adding a dose of Radical Roots greens on top.  Authentic street food you can eat while walking around the market.”

3)  Spices at the Spice Diva.  “They make me want to get in my kitchen and cook.  The shop is a jewel, and I hate to blow the whistle because it’s so tiny, I fear that when folks figure out what FRESH, VIBRANT, QUALITY spices can do for chefs and home cooks alike, you won’t be able to get in  there.  Currently my favorite curry blend (and there are many) is the Vadouvan, a French green curry too complex to contemplate.  We have a lot of cabrito to use up around here, and this makes it easy.  The black truffle salt isn’t bad either. The list goes on and on.”

4)  Stewed Cabbage and Pinto Beans  at Mel’s Cafe with freshly chopped onions and a side of stewed tomatoes.  “Tastes like my Momma’s, and that is saying something.  Pete’s on the table and the tea is sweet.  Got a tear in my eye.”

5)  Jalapeno Cheeseburgers at the Howardsville General Store.  “Caromont Farm is out there (off winding country roads) and our culinary choices are limited, so thank GOD for Gwen and her crew!  Burgers are real, tomato is home grown, the crinkle cuts are fried to order, and the chicken salad and coleslaw are homemade.  Get the cheeseburger with jalapenos and take a book.  This is a fine local experience on the banks of the James River.”