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.
It may be the most popular sandwich of the Western world. #1 in the USA, #1 in the U.K., and in France some even claim it accounts for 70% of sandwiches eaten in the country.
While many cultures have their own takes on a ham sandwich, Charlottesville’s peak form is the Spanish rendition at Mas Tapas. Chef Mike Ketola has been doing it the same way for nearly two decades, starting with a crusty roll, baked fresh every day in-house. Atop that Ketola slathers Mas’ famous garlic alioli, made by a slow, patient process. And, then there’s just ham and cheese. As with everything at Mas, though, sourcing is key. The jamon Serrano and queso Manchego are world class. As is the sandwich.
1) Alpha and Omega at Tavola Cicchetti Bar. “Perfection in a glass. I love this drink so much that my husband John and I served a version of it at our wedding. The brown-butter washed sherry is unreal. Delicate, warm, and bright at the same time.”
2) Hawaiian Plate with BBQ Chicken, Mac Salad, and Cucumber Kimchi from Mochiko. “I grew up in southern California, and one thing I miss about it is its proximity to Hawaii. That’s why I was so excited to hear about Riki’s stand at the market (and eventually his brick and mortar at 5th street station). You can’t go wrong with anything on the menu, but the BBQ chicken is my favorite. I always ask for extra furikake seasoning on the side—and grab some Hawaiian Sun punch and spam musubis on the way out.”
3) Da Vinci Sandwich from Mona Lisa Pasta. “The real star of this sandwich is the three-seeded baguette coated in what I’m pretty sure is a mixture of fennel seeds, poppy seeds, and sesame seeds (though I always eat it too quickly to know for sure). A perfect balance of salami, soppressata, provolone, tomato, greens, house dressing, and sun-dried tomato pesto. In a town with a lot of amazing sandwiches, it’s my favorite one to introduce to people.”
4) Garganelli Alla Zucca at Tavola. “I actually learned about this dish on a recipe blog, someone visiting from Texas had eaten this at Tavola and created a recipe inspired by it. Once I ordered the original in person I fell in love. The crispy sage and caramelized red onions take it over the top.”
5) Almond Pave Cake from Paradox Pastry. “Four simple ingredients – almond flour, butter, eggs, sugar. Dense, buttery goodness. It’s my birthday cake every year and I have been known to eat it for breakfast.”