The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Tavola

Five Finds on Friday: Kerrie Pierce

KerrieatVitae

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Kerrie Pierce of Vitae Spirits, which has just released this year’s batch of Poptails — five different Pierce cocktails served frozen as popsicles in a tube. Collab & Cream, for example, is an astonishingly delicious blend of Collab #1 beer spirit, Orange liqueur, coffee vanilla syrup, milk, and malted milk ball pieces. Meanwhile, on June 21, Vitae is throwing a party to celebrate release of their Distiller’s Reserve Barrel-Aged Rum Batch #1, a blend of rums aged for over two years in Keswick Vineyard’s 2014 Cabernet Franc barrels and Smooth Ambler Old Scout bourbon barrels. Pierce’s picks:

1) Apricot Danish at Albemarle Baking Company.  “I enjoy devouring many things at Albemarle Baking Company, but this pastry is my top favorite and I will snag one every time I walk through the door. It was my favorite pastry when I was in France, and I love that I can get one whenever I want right here in town. Crispy, flaky pastry dough, creamy custard and a little poached apricot without being overwhelmingly sweet. What’s not to love?”

2) Moules Frites at Public Fish & Oyster. “You can’t beat perfectly cooked mussels in a delicious broth with frites and a glass of wine. A friend and I are making our way through all the broth options. It is a delightful quest, and a lovely way to spend an evening with a friend.”

3) Papas Bravas at MAS Tapas. “I order this every visit as long as they aren’t out! Pure comfort food. Sizzling hot yukon gold potato with aioli and grey sea salt? They disappear  too quickly, and then a little bread is needed to mop up whatever is left in the skillet.

4) Branzino alla Griglia at Tavola.  “I find it difficult to explore the rest of the menu because I want this every time. Tender and flaky sea bass with a parsley root puree, baby arugula and fennel with preserved lemon. The flavors all work so perfectly together and I could eat a giant bowl of the parsley root puree with a spoon it is so good.”

5) Tamales Oaxaquenos at La Michoacana. “One of my favorite dishes at Michoanaca, which again is difficult to pick because everything they make is so tasty! The masa is cooked perfectly and the mole sauce is one of the best I’ve ever had. I’ll always order a side of fried yucca if they have it on special too.”

 

“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

Five Finds on Friday: Lindsay Dorrier

LD Head Shot

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Bold Rock Hard Cider’s Lindsay Dorrier, who will compete next week in the 2017 Shop to Stop Hunger, benefiting the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank. At 10 am on December 7 at the Barracks Road Kroger, Dorrier and four other beverage insiders will each have one minute to fill their shopping carts with as much food as they can, all for the food bank. Visit the event page to survey the competitors and donate in the name of your pick to win. As cold weather approaches, your donations are more important than ever. So, go! Dorrier’s picks:

1) Dealer’s Choice at Cicchetti Bar at Tavola. “It’s been mentioned before but worth mentioning again: the Cicchetti Bar at Tavola features the best cocktails in town. I mostly drink hard cider followed by wine and some beer but Tavola’s Maiale Milanese wouldn’t be a complete meal without a Dealer’s Choice cocktail from the Cicchetti Bar to start. The talented bartenders are always able to take my vague suggestions on taste (something fresh, vodka, maybe a touch of sweetness) and turn it into an amazing cocktail. Fellow Scottsville Elementary School alum and longtime friend Christian Johnston did an awesome job building the Cicchetti Bar from the ground up, and Steve Yang has ably grabbed the torch and continued to push it forward. Kudos to both for running an operation that is distinctively next level in terms of quality and even showmanship with their approach to crafting the cocktails.”

2) Made To Order Mozzarella at Fry’s Spring Station. “I live a stone’s throw away from Fry’s Spring Station and am grateful to have such awesome food and ambiance in my backyard. One of my new favorite appetizer’s is the Made To Order Mozzarella. If the mozzarella is Batman then the flatbread is Robin. They go perfectly together and I’m confident I have not had better flatbread. Top with roasted tomatoes and you are cooking with gas.”

3) Shaved Salad at Oakhart Social. “The perfect start to any culinary adventure at Oakhart where you literally can’t go wrong with the menu selections. The shaved salad has varied textures, tastes and colors that combine together to create a beautifully simple yet complex dish. Arugula, watermelon radish, medjool date and a few other interesting veggies tossed in a creamy garlic dressing will keep you going back for a second or third scoop. Make sure you order more than one for larger groups!”

4) Sweet Heat Wings at Fardowners. “Just a touch outside of Charlottesville but worth the drive, Fardowners in Crozet dishes out an amazing house made wing sauce in the Sweet Heat which has a perfect dose of habanero spice blended with a delicious honey and raspberry sweetness. The wings are never scrawny or dried out and always thoroughly coated with this sweet and fiery deliciousness. I don’t dream about wings too often but my mouth has definitively started to water just thinking about this dish.”

5) Chili Dusted Sea Scallops at Zocalo. “I’ve had a longstanding aversion towards seafood, which is why extra weight should be given to the Chili Dusted Sea Scallops at Zocalo making this list. These scallops are flat out amazing, perfectly seared and served on a bed of sautéed spinach and fried plantains. I’ve tried to replicate them at home but have come to realize that there is just no matching this excellence at Zocalo.”