The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Monsoon Siam

Five Finds on Friday: Alicia Walsh-Noel

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Alicia Walsh-Noel, Manager of Brasserie Saison, which celebrates Sunday each week now with “Eggs Benefit,” brunch from 11 am to 3 pm with live jazz and specials from the bar. A portion of proceeds go to a different charity each month, and this month it is The Charlottesville Free Clinic. Walsh-Noel’s picks:

1) Kao Soi at Monsoon Siam. “This dish is an ultra comforting curry noodle soup. It’s the perfect juxtaposition of flavor and texture: the sweet curry to the funky pickled cabbage and onions and then the slurpy egg noodles to the crunchy noodle garnish. There’s a reason it’s not available from their to-go-go location – you have to eat it in the restaurant for the full experience. I crave this whenever it’s cold outside or I have a cold or when Antarctica is cold.”

2) Peanut Butter Pie at The Pie Chest and an Almond Latte from Lone Light Coffee. “If you didn’t already know about this place, when you’re walking up 4th St., the aromas will lure you into their door. When you enter, it’s as if you’ve been transported into a quaint New England town –there aren’t many places in Charlottesville that can do that. Tucked within The Pie Chest is Lone Light Coffee, which makes incredible coffee drinks and their own almond milk in-house. The stuff is delicious! I seriously have a hard time getting coffee anywhere else. Rachel Pennington, the owner/baker of The Pie Chest is incredibly talented. You can’t go wrong with any of her sweet or savory pies but I really dig the peanut butter because it’s a little of both. The real deal-sealer is that the crust is PERFECT every time.”

3) Commander Chicory Blue Cheese from Twenty Paces. “So apparently studies are saying that cheese addictions are a real thing? I always blamed it on my French heritage but now even my doctor is telling me to stop! Le sigh. I first had this cheese at Lampo. Then again at Lampo. Then again. And then…well, my husband runs the kitchen at Champion Taproom and he put it on…get this: CHICKEN WING TACOS. OMG. I die now. Anyway, it’s stinky and smoky and I would most likely have it as my last meal.”

4) Whatever Lumpia is on Special at Champion Tap Room. “Speaking of my husband, Jon Bray has this move where he puts things into Filipino egg roll wrappers and then fries them. Need I say more? Ok, I’ll say more. His original has ground pork and dates that he serves with garlicky vinegar sauce. But lately he’s been getting a little wild, making Cheeseburger Lumpia for a kids event and a Buffalo Chicken version another time. This week, it sounds like he’s going with a more traditional pork and shrimp version that should be tasty. Maybe it’s cheating to put your own spouse on this list, but if this is about a memorable and emotional connection to food, Jon’s super-creative twists on Filipino classics are both seared into my memory and make me so happy!”

5) Oyster Mushrooms and Grits at Oakhart Social. “I couldn’t possibly write a Five Finds without mentioning Oakhart. This place is like home to me and I’m stoked at the love they have received so quickly from the Charlottesville community. It’s rare to find a chef that can execute vegetable dishes with the skill that Tristan does and these mushrooms are one of my faves! They make a delicious star of the show with pickles, buttery grits, and crispy, fried chickpeas. Follow that up with all the Fernets and hugs for a foolproof Oakhart evening.”

Five Finds on Friday: Yannick Fayolle

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Yannick Fayolle, the former Clifton Inn Executive Chef who now runs two food businesses: Blue Ridge Pizza Co., which he owns with his fiancée Nikki Benedikt, and also Fayolle’s Table, a catering service where Fayolle will bring a fine dining Chef’s Table experience to the comfort of your home. Fayolle’s picks:

1) Noodle Beef Soup at Monsoon Siam. “With the traditional Thai flavors, this has got to be one of my favorite soups. Light yet so flavorful. Top it with some of those amazing green chilis and this is one for the books.”

2) Pork from Mount Rouge Farm. “Can’t put into words how awesome this pork is! Josh Hatter feeds his animals with seasonal veggies, so tender and juicy. I love to smoke the butt roast in our wood fire oven to throw on top of some of our pizzas for Blue Ridge Pizza Co.”

3) Lamb Rogan Josh at Milan. “Only the best thing on the menu! The flavors bring me back to my island life in Mauritius. I really enjoy the blend of spices that complement the lamb . . . and the garlic naan. You can never go wrong with naan! Just an added bonus.”

4)  Prosciutto Pizza at Lampo. “Being in the pizza business myself, I love what these guys over at Lampo do! They have the science behind the dough and flavors down! This is a very classic Italian pizza whose flavors are very well balanced on a perfectly baked crust.”

5) Nitro Coffee at Shenandoah Joe. “Probably one of the greatest inventions of all time! The idea of coffee coming-out in the consistency as Guinness beer is probably the best thing every! I am one serious coffee fanatic. I must have my early morning fix of caffeine.”

Five Finds on Friday: River Hawkins

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Today’s Five Finds on Fridays come from River Hawkins, bar manager and co-owner of the hot new restaurant, The Bebedero, which had its grand opening this week.  Hawkins’ picks:

1)  Papaya Salad (Som Tum) at Monsoon Siam.  “I lived in Thailand for a couple of years managing a large dance club, and everyday before work I would get a bowl of Sum Tum from a little old vendor lady who carried around the ingredients on her shoulders and made it for you right there on the sidewalk with a little mortar and pestle. Monsoon’s Som Tum takes me back to Thailand and those strange beautiful days.”

2) Roasted Beet Salad with Blackened Catfish at The Whiskey Jar.  “I have this almost every time I get lunch at the Whiskey Jar. It’s just so perfect and light and savory. I never feel heavy or sleepy after eating a huge bowl of it.”

3)  Cemitas at Al Carbon.  “I was blessed to have traveled throughout Peru for a while, and the way they prepare their meats at Al Carbon is just as delicious as the vendor food I had in Cusco. I just wish I could get guinea pig there.”

4)  Kung Pao Chicken at Peter Chang’s.  “Spicy deliciousness. Every Chinese I place I go, I have the Kung Pao Chicken. If that’s good I know everything is good.”

5) Nachos at The Bebedero.  “This may seem like shameless self promotion, but I’ve eaten nachos all over the world and I honestly think Chef Cesar makes the best and most creative nachos I’ve ever tasted. I don’t have any control over the food, so this really is my objective opinion.”