The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Now & Zen

Five Finds on Friday: John Hoffman

hoffman

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from John Hoffman, Executive Chef of Keswick Hall. On New Year’s Eve, Keswick is offering several different ways to celebrate the new year, including a special tasting menu with a jazz trio; a gala with an eight-piece band, cocktails, hors d’oeuvres, and a champagne toast; and, even a bash for the kids while their parents celebrate. For details and reservations, call (434) 924-4346. Hoffman’s picks:

1) Funghi Pizza at Lampo. “Lampo is our ‘Happy Place’ as my wife says. From Chef Loren to all of the service staff, they make your experience feel welcoming. The Funghi pizza with Sharondale Farm mushrooms and the house made N’duja are my go-tos.”

2) Ol’ Dirty Biscuit at Ace Biscuit and BBQ. “We went to Ace on a recommendation and it instantly reminded us of being back in Charleston, SC.  The Ol’ Dirty Biscuit is our breakfast staple.”

3) Empanadas at The Bebedero. “When my wife and I are having trouble deciding on a dinner date, we always seem to agree on The Bebedero.  The drinks are great and the food seems to be bursting with freshness.  The empanadas or if you’re lucky enough to catch pozole as a special are some of our favorites.”

4) The Farm at Oakhurst Inn.On lazy Sundays mornings we like to roll into the little cottage known as the Oakhurst Inn for brunch.  The Farm is always seasoned perfectly and the pickled jalepenos add just enough kick to get you moving.”

5) Crunchy Spicy Tuna Roll at Now & Zen. “I met Toshi while working an event at Keswick. The next week we had to stop by with some friends to check it out. The big rolls are something we’d never seen before. Our favorite is the crunchy Spicy Tuna but anything with eel is a plus.”

“Best Thing I Ate All Year” 2016

Looking back at 2016, what stands out as the best thing you ate all year?  Top area chefs provide their answer. (Here are last year’s picks.) A tribute to Charlottesville’s bounty:

Mitchell Beerens (Lampo)

Agedashi Tofu at Now & Zen. “The silken tofu is made crispy by dusting it in potato starch and frying it. Then, it’s set in a spa of tentsuyu broth made smoky from the katsuobushi and a little sweet from mirin. Perfect balance of big flavors.”

tofu

Craig Hartman (BBQ Exchange)

Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana at Parallel 38. “When restaurants around the world jumped to support the town of Amatrice in Italy after it was devastated by an earthquake, we were fortunate enough to experience a version of Spaghetti all’ Amatriciana at Parallel 38. Their version was almost exactly the same as what we experienced in Italy. It was also so delicious that we went back the next night to have it again.”

p38spag

Brian Jones (The Alley Light)

Brebirousse from Flora Artisanal Cheese in Timbercreek Market with Seeded Roll from Albemarle Baking Company.  “The seeded roll is a beautiful roll, made from baguette dough,  crusted in fennel seeds, poppy seeds and white sesame seeds. What a yummy combination of flavors. Brebirousse is a soft, smooth, creamy, buttery sheep’s milk cheese from the Rhone-Alpes region of France. Not to take anything away from these two ingredients, but food memories often have more to do with the eater’s condition at the time of the meal than the actual meal itself.  Food always tastes better when you are hungry!  I have eaten at some amazing restaurants in my life but I the best meal I ever had in my life was on a backpacking trip when our rations were low and our calorie output far exceeded our calorie intake. We savored every last morsel, scraped our cooking vessel clean, so clean that there was nothing left to wash. Possibly food is at its best  when the aromas or tastes remind you of a forgotten memory lost somewhere in the back of your mind. Think Ratatouille the movie when the food critic Anton Ego bites into Chef Remy’s ratatouille.”

cheese seeded

Christian Kelly (Maya)

Duck Liver Terrine at The Ivy Inn.  “This pâté en terrine is a slice of art. The perfect suspension of fat in meat wrapped in what appeared to be paper-thin cured duck breast slices and served with traditional pommery mustard and pickled vegetables. Angelo’s food is truly inspiring. The work of his kitchen is a delight to the taste buds. Well done.”

ivyduck

Tommy Lasley (Fry’s Spring Station, Ivy Provisions)

Live Scallop with Uni Broth at Mican (now closed). “The best thing I ate this past year was way too much amazing sashimi at Mican Japanese Restaurant, which unfortunately is no longer open! Everything I had was the best example I have tried in years, Charlottesville or otherwise. If I had to pick one bite it was the live scallop with uni broth.” [Note: Mican’s owners are now serving sushi at Lemongrass.]

Thomas Leroy (Kardinal Hall)

Pork Belly at BBQ Exchange. “I went there and ordered  the meat combo plate of course. The ribs were outstanding, but that pork belly with a fried crispy finish to balance the smoking flavor was amazing. I topped it with their bacon bbq sauce of course. Next time I go, that’s all I’m ordering.”

pickles-belly-and-ribs

Michael McCarthy (Dr. Ho’s Humble Pie)

Salt Honey Pie from Greenwood Gourmet by Polina Chesnakova. “Nuff said.”

Loren Mendosa (Lampo)

Olive Oil Gelato from Splendora’s. “I don’t know if PK’s running it regularly, but it was truly fantastic. She used our Mosto olive oil from Liguria and we topped it with sea salt and a drizzle of the Galardo olive oil that Hodges and Jill Myers are importing. It was the perfect combination!”

gelato

Jenny Peterson (Paradox Pastry)

Roasted Chicken and Street Corn Off the Cob at The Fitzroy. “Holy moly! Food tends to be an ‘in the moment’ experience for me, and that chicken and corn just hit the spot at the right time, and it was so comfy and cozy in there.”

chicken corn

Ian Redshaw (Lampo)

Sunchokes from Wayside Produce. “Any vegetable from Wayside Produce, especially the sunchokes. These are the best vegetables I have been able to find thus far in my career.”

chokes

Ivan Rekosh (ZoCaLo)

Flank and Brisket Pho at Thai Cuisine & Noodle House. “This time of year I’m loving the pho from Thai Cuisine. I usually opt for the flank and brisket but sometimes add the tendon. The broth is amazing. I love to stick my whole face in the bowl and breathe in the steam while I’m slurping the noodles. Really warms you up from the inside out on these cold days. Also a great family runs it.” 

pho

Wilson Richey (co-owner, The Alley Light, The Bebedero, The Pie Chest, Revolutionary Soup, The Whiskey Jar)

Chicken Liver Mousse Tart at Timbercreek Market. “Just redefined what can be done with chicken liver, so smooth and elegant. I would eat the whole tart if it were not frowned upon to do things like that.”

mousse

John Shanesy (Petit Pois)

Black Bean and Corn Relleno at ZoCaLo. “It hits on every texture, and all the flavors are very well pronounced but at the same time all working in unison to be a joy to eat. They’ve been great new neighbors to get to meet and have greeted me so warmly as well.”

stuffed

Andrew Silver (ZoCaLo)

Polpettine Panuozzo at Lampo. “Meatball parm sub was my go-to late night, altered state, munchie meal.  Lampo’s is the refined, grown up version.  Plus the fact that the bread is baked ‘a la minute’ seals the deal.”

meatball

Angelo Vangelopoulos (The Ivy Inn)

Petit Kouign-aman from MarieBette. “I found this gem at the city market. Will Darsie filled my request for a mixed bag of goodies while I picked up my veggies from Susan and Wally Parks at Broadhead Mountain Farm. It’s an over the top decadent croissant dough masterpiece with apples and a metric ton of butter and sugar. My market visit is no longer complete without one of them.”

petit

Tristan Wraight (Oakhart Social)

170 Dry Aged NY Strip at Lampo. “Ridiculously delicious. Cast iron crispy and served with a head of roasted garlic. Not even fair.”

strip

Tucker Yoder (Timbercreek Market)

I Don’t Even Own a Gun by Twenty Paces.  “I Don’t Even Own a Gun and Noah’s Arcade are some of the best cheeses I have ever tasted. Could easily rival European cheeses. Great funky cheeses. All their cheeses have been a revelation this year but the soft gooey ones are a Yoder family favorite.”

paces

 

Five Finds on Friday: John Schaible

Johnny

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from John Schaible, chef of the new-and-improved Fry’s Spring Station, under the guidance of Ben Thompson and Tommy Lasley. Schaible first worked with Lasley at Orzo and Thomspon at The Rock Barn, before they both suggested he take some time away from Charlottesville to train in other venues. After stints at two highly acclaimed spots – Westchester’s Blue Hill at Stone Barns and Brooklyn’s The Meat Hook – Schaible, who has been dubbed Johnny Meat, has returned to town to run the kitchen at Fry’s Spring Station. Schaible’s picks:

1)  The Gobbfather at Ivy Provisions.  “Always a healthy start to my day – hahaha! When I can squeeze past 40 other people and get a sandwich, it’s the Gobbfather and a Traeger Brothers coffee. The staff is actually really friendly and the space is fun and pretty accessible. They carry great product, wine, beer and lots of grocery for adding to your pantry or inventory.”

2) Potato, Egg, and Cheese Taco by Brazos Tacos from Atlas Coffee. “Atlas is right next to Fry’s, so if I can’t have a Gobbfather in the morning, I get a taco from the steam table. Laurie at Atlas is one of the coolest business owners and she introduced me to this great idea that Brazos has and their awesome tacos.”

3)  Cheddar Jalapeno Dogs from The Rock Barn at the City Market. “Though I don’t butcher with Ben any more, if I have some time Saturday morning, I stop by the Market to give him or his crew some guff and pick up these dogs. Ben’s products are  really great and he isn’t afraid to R&D new stuff and test it on the public.”

4)  Raw Fish Salad at Now & Zen. “Really just the best for a quiet lunch and to satiate any raw fish cravings a meat eater finds when they are low on omega 3s. I have always really liked Now & Zen. They do really good, fun sushi for a very affordable price. Their raw fish salad is pretty amazing. Fresh, light, citric and loaded with salmon, tuna, mackerel, scallop. It’s like their kitchen fish sink.”

5)  Manhattan at The Whiskey Jar. “Something about Charlottesville brought out my love of bourbon. The Whiskey Jar has pretty simple straightforward and perfected cocktails. A Manhattan does it for me. I like the casual and social feel of the Jar and sometimes, when I am lucky, I get to see Red and the Romantics there.”

 

%d bloggers like this: