What else is there left to say about the Stock Ham Biscuit? Dish of the Year. Charlottesville’s signature dish. “Dish of the universe,” one chef said, while another might have put it best: “so good I stare at it while I chew.”
Indeed, it is common to wonder how something that looks so simple can evoke such a reaction. Here are 1,314 words on the biscuit that still cannot explain it. You just have to see for yourself.
When “Comal” became “Conmole” last year, a main reason for the change was the restaurant’s plan to begin offering its signature moles for sale. A mole is a slow-cooked Mexican chile sauce typically served with a protein or vegetables. Conmole’s outstanding moles are the backbone of its menu, and when the restaurant changed its name last February, its aim was to launch sales of its moles by the end of the year. Not even a pandemic could stop it from doing so, as online mole sauce sales are now underway.
This is excellent news for Charlottesville diners. While Conmole’s moles take hours to develop their flavor, making dinner with them at home can take just minutes. Just sauté a protein or some vegetables, smother it in your favorite mole, and you’ve got a world class meal.
The Culture of Takeout Meets Charlottesville’s Bounty
A great plus of the Culture of Takeout is convenience. Place your order, pick it up, and a delicious dinner is yours. Sometimes, though, it can be fun to spend a little more time to use foods from the Culture of Takeout as ingredients to create your own dinner. With Charlottesville’s bounty, the possibilities seem endless. And always delicious.
Tonight’s dinner began with a soup of turnips and butternut squash from Whisper Hill Farm. As much as we miss Whisper Hill Farm’s tomatoes in the warmth of the summer, the farm’s beautiful winter vegetables sustain us through the cold. By themselves, the turnips and squash would have made for a delicious soup. The addition of Conmole’s guajillo mole made a great thing even better.
Guajillo peppers are a classic ingredient of Oaxaca, where Conmole co-owner Benos Bustamante is from. The recipe for Conmole’s guajillo mole comes from his mother Yolie Bustamante, using toasted guajillos, onions, tomatoes, and Yolie’s secret blend of spices. For our soup, to accent the smokiness of the peppers and spices, we added a little Mezcal. Why not? Turnips, butternut squash, and guajillo mole. Thought it came together in just minutes, the result, wow:
Next was a simple sauté of shrimp and chorizo in the same guajillo mole. The shrimp came from Surfside Sustainable Seafood, a business re-launched last year by restaurant industry veteran Lenny Craig. Craig’s business model is simple: source sustainable seafood from Virginia’s coast and deliver it to Charlottesville restaurants and consumers. Craig posts offerings each week, takes orders, and then makes a run to the coast to retrieve them. Our shrimp were fresh — never frozen — shell-on Carolina shrimp, 16-20 per pound.
The shrimp were sautéed in Mexican chorizo from the charcuterie wizards at JM Stock Provisions.
Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from reader Mary Bridget Kane. In celebration of the Culture of Takeout, Five Finds on Friday has been featuring readers selected at random in weekly drawings. Also part of the prize is a $100 restaurant gift certificate, like Kane’s certificate to Conmole. Kane’s picks:
1) Ham Biscuits from JM Stock Provisions. “Absolute perfection and my favorite way to start a weekend morning. Also everyone who works there is just fantastic.”
2) Wessex from Greenwood Gourmet Grocery. “One of my favorite things about the Charlottesville area is that there are at least a half dozen truly fantastic sandwich places. After years of taste tests and an extensive Google Doc ranking system, I’ve concluded that Greenwood Grocery tops the list. It’s tough to choose just one from their menu but I keep coming back to the Wessex.”
3) Turkey and Swiss on Sourdough from Take it Away. “Couldn’t pick just one Cville sandwich. My go to is turkey and Swiss on their homemade sourdough with arugula, pickles, roasted tomatoes and of course extra house dressing.”
4) Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “Perfect combination of sweet, savory, crunchy. I think it’s the dates that make it.”
5) Grilled Cheese and Tomato Soup from C&O. “Best served with a dirty martini and some late night gossip. Makes me feel like I’ve traveled back in time.”