The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Little Hat Creek Farm

Five Finds on Friday: Gay Beery

Gay Beery

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from chef Gay Beery, of A Pimento Catering, a guest on the latest episode of the Charlottesville-based podcast Edacious, where you can learn all about her career and why she considers her catering jobs like “her babies.” Beery’s picks, “with implied apologies.” she says “to all the wonderful things I’ve missed here – I love you all still”:

1) Whole Grain Rye from Little Hat Creek Farm. “A recent pleasure of mine (or should I say obsession) is the whole grain rye from the kind people at Little Hat Creek Farm. I think of this bread as more of a kornbröt, dense with moist grain, hinting at a custard-like texture, just crying out for butter (I oblige). Though, I also slather it with fromage frais from Caromont Farm (thank you, Gail). I do love all slow-risen, high-moisture breads and this provides. This is definitely one of my ‘desert island’ foods – it could keep despair at bay for at least a week or two, and conveniently would likely be almost as good the fourteenth day.”

2) Funghi Pizza at Lampo. “Does this really need any explanation? Probably not. But I will say that no matter how many times I’ve had this, I still want more. Thankfully, Lampo has a wine list that always entices and I’m pretty sure I’ve never ordered the same wine twice – so there’s that. And I’ll order escarole off any menu that offers. Glee.”

3) Coupe Maison at C&O. “C&O has owned a piece of my heart for one reason or ten for the last two decades. In their care, I’ve celebrated weddings and funerals (yes, they were celebrations), birthdays and just having seen the baddest band at The Rose (it was always okay to arrive here at 1:30 AM and know you could stay a while). For all those years, the C&O has offered some comfort and love on white china and white linen. Respect. Their bartender roster is as notorious – if more skill-based – as the Parking Lot, with some overlap. Out of everything on the menu, I think the most lasting impression has come served in a tall glass – the Coupe Maison. Too much for me, but I like to watch.”

4) Vegetables at Oakhart Social. “So far, Oakhart Social has yet to leave me NOT amazed. The thrill of reinvention is alive and well in this kitchen, especially if you like to dig into a meal rich in vegetables. Crisp or fork tender, braised or fried, with or without the adornment of animal protein, every dish from this kitchen sings. I always order the flatbread special, I never tire of their shaved salad (dates, yes), and whatever they do with a carrot, you know it’s going to exceed your expectations. (I’ve had a real thing for carrots this year, the high of which I experienced at the eponymous Via Carota in NYC. If you’re in the city, just do it.) Their meat dishes are all fabulous, indeed, but I most often eat just the veg here, because there is more than one could want, and that is a sincere pleasure. Great cocktails! But as someone who can really only manage one and a half glasses of the average wine pour, I love the incremental ways you can order wine here, without the emotional burden of waste or overindulgence.”

5) Fried Chicken from Wayside Takeout . “My husband, who is sitting with me right now, is demanding I include the Wayside, as their fried chicken (and my favorite, fried gizzards) are our last-minute go to when we are too tired to cook and teetering over the hangry edge of a day. We recently learned the limits, though, on a sad Sunday when we both had to work and each held out the carrot (there’s the carrot again, ha), and discovered, mid chicken skin fantasy, that they are civilized and observe their Sundays away from the shop. Bless ‘em.”

“Why does any of this matter? Because food is love. It’s true.”

 

“Best Thing I Ate All Year” 2017

No matter what else may be going on in the world, every year is a good food year. Each December we celebrate the Charlottesville food year by looking back at our latest trip around the sun and asking top area chefs: what was the best thing you ate all year? Here are the picks from 2016 and 2015. And, below are this year’s picks in chefs’ annual tribute to Charlottesville’s bounty. Meanwhile, check back here next week for The Charlottesville 29 pick for 2017 Dish of the Year.

Mitchell Beerens (Lampo)

Crispy Lamb Shank at Oakhart Social. “The lamb shank at Oakhart Social was the best thing I ate all year. Crispy crust that gave way to super succulent meat. I’m pretty sure it was served with hummus and harissa. Super simple and super soulful. That’s what I love about Tristan and Ben’s spot.”

Shank

Tim Burgess (The Space, Bang!, and Bizou)

Biscuits at Floozie’s Pie Shop. “I had the garden omelette, grits and biscuit at Floozie’s Pie shop in Louisa last February.  The omelette was really good, fluffy farm egg goodness, but not the star here. The biscuit took me back to my childhood, the best I’ve ever had and I’ve made a lot of biscuits in my day.  Then the grits, stone ground, salty, cheesy, buttery boom. I was floored by the meal, but shouldn’t have been, Jade and Debbie can flat out cook. Their pies are the real deal too.”

floozie

Jose de Brito (Fleurie)

Cotoletta di Maiale Alla Milanese at Tavola. “My dining etiquette is that when I return dining in a same establishment I rarely reorder the same dish except in extraordinary circumstances, and that would be when I was presented with a good dish. Tavola’s pork a la Milanese is the one dish that breaks my code of conduct. It never miss, I tried to break from my bad habit; once or probably twice I did order another dish. Although the restaurant is tasty across the line, when the pork is executed flawlessly it is close to saintliness. The other day, a guest of Fleurie asked me after service what was my favorite dish in Charlottesville. Before answering her I asked her the same question and we both answered simultaneously, the pork milanese at Tavola! You see when the breading on the cutlet is perfectly breaded, the sear is of the right color, neither too light or too dark, the capers have been slightly sautéed to take out the rawness, the tomatoes roasted a la perfection and the baby arugula wilted with kindness, the sum of all those delicate little details added to a butter emulsion laced with a drop of Meyer lemon, when that emulsion has the right body, the perfect amount amount of butter to cling to the breading, it is definitely, without any doubt my choice for best dish in C-ville. (Although, after reflection, the porchetta sandwich at Lampo is a close one and another dish that has made me break my rules, I usually never eat sandwiches , but I guess I am off subject, sorry!) And now to finish my little pamphlet. Let ourself ponder about what the French Chef Joel Robuchon once said: ‘What makes a good cook from a great cook, it is all about the details.’ The Milanese at Tavola has all the right details. Arrivederci, good people.”

Laura Fonner (Duner’s)

Smoked Jerk Jackfruit by Prime 109. “I had the pleasure of judging food for a cook-off at Highland Orchard Farms and Lampo participated by debuting some of the items that will be on their new menu at their downtown steak house Prime 109. Their lamb and duck kielbasa and dry aged Szechuan peppercorn pastrami were out of this world. Amazing flavors. Amazing textures. But the standout dish that blew me away was actually their young smoked jerk jackfruit. I taste a lot of things all year long but this is the first thing this year that actually surprised me, which is what I look for in new dishes. The flavor is perfect, sweet and spicy. The texture was similar to meat and I am sure it will actually fool people into thinking they are eating some sort of jerk meat. Hats off to those gentlemen. I look forward to seeing what else will come from that restaurant!”

Jackfruit

Craig Hartman (BBQ Exchange)

Crab Stuffed Squash Blossoms at Ivy Inn. “Angelo Vangelopoulos created a tasting menu for our 31st anniversary. It was world class. Our first meal with Angelo was in 1993, and watching his growth as a chef has been a real joy. He really has grown in a great direction! The whole meal was stellar but the crab stuffed squash blossoms with sweet corn sauce was unforgettable, and his father’s tomato-braised pole beans were life changing! Then, not to forget the pig brain amuse bouche, which was genius.”

squash

Michael Keaveny (Tavola)

Short Rib at The Coat Room at Brasserie Saison.  “I had a short rib with carrot ‘BBQ’ sauce in The Coat Room at Brasserie Saisson that was pretty memorable. It was crispy on the outside and tender inside. Great contrast in texture, and the sauce was surprisingly delicious. Great dish! I will miss Tyler’s food, though all indications are the new chefs are killing it!”

shortrib

Michael McCarthy (Dr. Ho’s)

Chocolate Croissant from Little Hat Creek Farm. “Spectacular if not amazeballs! I’m good for one or two every time I visit the Nelson county farmers’ market.”

choc-croissant-1911

Jenny Peterson (Paradox Pastry)

Braised Beef and Macaroni at The Alley Light. “I have to say, it’s sooooo difficult to pick a ‘best.’ I think a ‘best’ is so often situation specific. Was it who I was with on a perfect evening after a very, very long work week? Then it would be the comfort of the Braised Beef with Mac at The Alley Light.”

Tomas Rahal (MAS)

Soft-poached Duck Egg with Perigord Truffles, asparagus, moliterno di tartuffo at MAS tied with Mike Ketola’s Salt-citrus Cured Albacore Loin with grapefruit and Brussels leaves salad, also at MAS. “JF Legault’s soft-scrambled farm egg with Alba truffles was a close third. I’d love to give props to other spots, but these dishes were transcendent.”

Duckegg

Ian Redshaw (Lampo)

Spicy Beef Noodle Soup at Cafe 88. “Available Friday and Saturday, dine-in only, this hidden gem is worth every last drop.”

Noodlesoup

Ivan Rekosh (Zocalo)

Roast Beef Panuozzo at Lampo.  “If I had to choose one thing, it’d probably be the aged roast beef sandwich with provolone at Lampo. I remember eating it and thinking this is the best sandwich I’ve had in a long ass time.”

beef

Wilson Richey (Ten Course Hospitality)

Crispy Scallops at Brasserie Saison. “I know you are not supposed to pick your own restaurants, but Tyler really nailed that dish and I just can’t make something up. The textures are one of the most stand out parts of the dish: the crunchy exterior, the creamy puree beneath it, and the crisp celery root on top. It’s just perfectly balanced flavor and texture. There are a lot of things going on. I could eat those scallops every night.”

scallops

Andrew Silver (Roots Natural Kitchen)

Ma Po Tofu at Taste of China. “I have discovered that I really like soft tofu (Zzzam also has really good soft tofu). It is spicy, numbing, hot, aromatic and tender. Pairs perfectly with stir fried snow pea shoots and a cold Tsingtao.”

tofu

Angelo Vangelopoulos (Ivy Inn)

Sourdough Bread by Tucker Yoder at Timbercreek Market. “I was lucky enough to have Tucker gift me a loaf (I think he owed for some truffles or something), and my family and I ate it for days. The crust is thick, it’s full of grains (I think his wife grinds the wheatberries?), has amazing chew and long lasting flavor. My son’s eyes lit up when he tasted it for the first time and he asked ‘WHERE did you get this?! It’s AMAZING!'”

sourdough1

Tristan Wraight (Oakhart Social)

Foie Gras with Passion Fruit Gelée at Fleurie. “Hot Damn. Those guys are actually cooking, and well. You don’t see real cooking all that much these days.”

foiegras

Tucker Yoder (Back 40)

Persimmons from Edible Landscaping. “These persimmons right here from my man Dan. Chased with a shot of tequila or mezcal.”

Persimmon