The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Tavola Cicchetti Bar

Tavola’s Rebecca Edwards: National Bartending Finalist

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Photo by Shannon Sturgis.

Rebecca Edwards, of Tavola Cicchetti Bar, has reached the National Finals in the United States Bartenders’ Guild annual World Class bartending competition, sponsored by Diageo. The competition “attracts the country’s best bartenders who represent the craft and elevation of the art of cocktail creation,” says the USBG, “with the ultimate goal of representing the U.S. at the global competition.”

To reach the National Finals, Edwards first had to qualify for the Regional Finals, as determined by an expert panel’s review of a large pool of applicants’ essays and cocktail recipes. Edwards entered the Hestia, which is currently on the cocktail menu at Tavola. It is Zacapa 23 rum, amontillado sherry, coffee liqueur, lemon, and burnt sugar, smoked with applewood.

On the strength of her cocktail and essays, Edwards became one of just ten finalists to reach our area’s Regional Finals, April 28-30 in Minneapolis. There, she competed in three rounds against the best in our region, judged on drink quality, hospitality, presentation, technique, and creativity. First, in the “signature” challenge, entrants created a cocktail inspired by Scotland, host of the this year’s Global Finals. Next, in the “single ingredient” challenge, each entrant chose a single ingredient inspired by their home region, and had to use every part of it to make twists on classic cocktails. From Virginia, Edwards used peanuts, and invented a peanut martini, a peanut margarita, and a peanut old fashioned. Finally, in the “lightening round” challenge, entrants had eight minutes to make six original cocktails, four of which are created in advance, and two of which must be dealer’s choice, invented on the spot. Edwards finished with a full minute to spare. 

The National Finals are June 8-11 in Lexington, and if Edwards were to win that, she’d be off to represent the United States in Global Finals, September in Scotland, for the chance to be named the World Class Bartender of the Year. 

Congratulations to Rebecca. No wonder The Charlottesville 29 called one of her cocktails among the best of 2018.

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2019 USBG World Class Southern Regional Finalists, Photo by Shannon Sturgis

 

 

Five Finds on Friday: Sarah Sargent

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Sarah Sargent of The Catering Outfit, which is joining this week’s Restaurant Week with its own pop-up restaurant, Foodbar, where Sargent will be maitre ‘d. Foodbar is a seven-seat, copper bar overlooking Chef Walter’s open kitchen, with additional seats at tables for a few more guests. The menu is no joke. (North American Sake Brewery sake-poached monkfish, horseradish parsnip puree, fermented beech mushrooms, grilled scallions, beet and plum.) Full menu and details here. Plus, after Restaurant Week ends, on Sunday, January 27 industry folks are invited to Foodbar to unwind with a special $20 menu just for them. Sargent’s picks:

1) Nutter Butters from Found. Market. “When I discovered Found. Market on the other side of our parking lot, I was beyond thrilled. And I started shopping for larger pants. If you haven’t been before, you must check it out for lunch. The quiche of the day or the turkey & muenster on house focaccia with pickled onions are my favorites, followed of course with that darn, dream worthy Nutter Butter. I’ve known the owners of Found. Market for quite a while, as chef Walter has bought lamb from their family farm (Retreat Farms) for years. The entire family (I think!) owns and operates this thoughtful market  and bakery. Son Elliot makes the most amazing treats, like apple crumb coffee cake and chocolate cake with chocolate merlot ganache icing . . . Are you still reading this, or driving there now?!”

2) HAY! Straws at Continental Divide. “First and foremost, I’m a California girl. A couple years ago, San Diego county passed a law making people pay ten cents for a plastic bag at local retailers, encouraging the community to use reusable bags and kick that nasty plastic to the curb. This past year they passed a measure outlawing straws in restaurants. We’ve all had that uncomfortable, soggy, wet, paper straw in our mouths at some point and I think we can all agree – it’s no fun. So when I wrapped my lips around the HAY! Straw poking out of my house margarita at Continental Divide the other night – I was thrilled. Plus Continental Divide has my other California staple: good Mexican food. It took a minute, but I’ve officially embraced Tex- Mex instead if wishing it was Baja Med. The spinach and mushroom enchiladas with smoked gouda are always on point, and you can’t lose when ordering the carnitas. Throw in a house margarita with that wonderful sea-turtle-lovin’ HAY! Straw, and you got yourself a fiesta.”

3) Witchcraft at Tavola’s Cicchetti Bar. “Steve Yang has made such a lovely cocktail menu at the cicchetti bar. It is one of my favorite places to just take a breath after work on a weekday, especially a Monday. Many of us in the industry take Mondays off, but not all of us. After I survive a Monday like a boss, I like to slip around the corner for a slow drink and bite. I’m not always a gin fan, but the liquore strega, sesame falernum, house tonic, and pretty lime garnish makes for a very revivifying mouthful. I love the cicchetti bar’s food specials too. The other night I enjoyed polenta fries with a spicy marinara. It is definitely my spot to experience la dolce far niente.”

4) Flaming Boodie Sauce from Hip Hop Hill. “If you like hot sauce, this is your lover. I like me some hot wings now and then, but this honey hopenero hot sauce is one of my favs because it also doubles as a marinade. Last summer I spent many nights grilling under the stars, and this sauce made it onto a lot of my local chicken and steak. I also spent a good part of my summer trying new ways to use hops in the kitchen, like popping a few fresh nuggets into my homemade dill pickles. Hip Hop Hill is a hop farm out in Free Union (hence the honey “hop”enero) that is out to prove that hops aren’t just for beer. The Hill also happens to be the home of a fully licensed commercial kitchen and bottling warehouse. Owner Alessandro Valmarama has teamed up with Mad Hatter Foods, offering them a permanent home bottling facility, and I can’t wait to see what else these guys have in the works. You used to have to ‘know a guy’ to try this stuff, but luckily you can now pick up a bottle at Beer Run, JM Stock Provisions, or The Shebeen.”

5) Margherita D.O.C. at Lampo. “I know, it’s not that exciting. And there have been several late night, wine fueled arguments over the D.O.C. vs ‘regular’ margherita pizza–can you even taste the difference? My vote is, totes. And if there were ever a find to get excited about, it’s Lampo pizza. I don’t always have that much time to eat out, yet it’s one of my favorite things to do. Every time I get a night out with my girlfriends I want to go to Lampo. Something about sitting at a tiny table right off the sidewalk on a boisterous patio, sipping delicious Italian wine, picking at marinated olives, and giving ourselves the ‘go ahead’ to eat an entire loaf of bread before eating an entire pizza all to ourselves (it only comes in one size). Reminds me of vacations in Roma, where nights are long and the wine is endless. It’s just a perfect night out in my book.” 

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Five Finds on Friday: Rebecca Edwards

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Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Tavola Cicchetti Bar’s Rebecca Edwards, creator of one of the best cocktails of the year. With several great bartenders in town now, “Dealer’s Choice” reaped rewards all year long in 2018. Even among that elite group, though, Edwards’ Smoke & Ashes stood out. Edwards stirs together Del Maguey Vida Mezcal, Meletti Amaro, Cocchi Dopo Teatro, and a pinch of salt, before placing the glass under a glass dome filled with applewood smoke. Edwards’ picks:

1) Wedge Salad at Oakhart Social. “I walk into Oakhart and I’m immediately in my happy place. Most of the time I’m there with my coworkers to get drinks after a Saturday night shift, but when I do get in there at normal people dinner hours, the wedge salad is an absolute must. The combination of the creamy poppy seed dressing with the everything bagel spice is heaven when paired with the pickled red onion and the crunch of baby gem lettuce. My fiancé, Steve, is essentially a carnivore and even he consistently craves this salad, so this dish is kind of a miracle.”

2) K.I.S.S. Caprese at Ivy Provisions. “As a vegetarian in a super meat-loving town, I eat A LOT of caprese sandwich variations. The K.I.S.S. Caprese is the one I consistently crave—even though I sometimes eat it multiple times in one week! Their fresh mozzarella is buttery and melts in your mouth, and it perfectly contrasts with the bitter kick of the arugula. I like to add avocado; it makes for a messy and delicious lunch feast.”

3) Vesper Martini at Lost Saint. “Colin and his team have a wonderful cocktail menu all around, but one of my favorite aspects of this place is their huge foundation of classic cocktails. Vespers have kind of fallen out of style in recent years (maybe because they’re shaken instead of stirred) but as far as martinis go they’re my absolute favorite. Boozy yet deceptively smooth, a Vesper is always a great end to a long bar shift. I usually leave the gin choice up to Colin—he almost always has a new product I’m excited to try.”

4) Burrata and Artichoke Ravioli at Tavola. “This one might be cheating because it’s a special and Chef Dylan only runs it once every few months, but I’m including it because this is truly one of the best dishes I’ve ever tasted. (I’m not the only one—my mom has me text her every time it’s on the specials board!) House-made ravioli stuffed with burrata cheese and artichokes, topped with truffle butter, roasted artichokes, grana padano and chives. It’s a dish that reads as incredibly rich, but it ends up being decadent yet light at the same time. Paired with a glass of Catarratto, every bite is an absolute dream.”

5) Tofu and Veggie Drunken Noodles at Pad Thai. “This is another one I’ll sometimes order multiple times a week. When I eat Thai food I usually prefer a sinus-clearing level of spice, and this dish definitely delivers. The noodles are cooked perfectly and there are a generous variety of veggies to add crunch. Definitely my favorite Thai food in town!”

Smoke & Ashes

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