The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Tucker Yoder

Introducing the Prezzant

present

MarieBette Cafe & Bakery is at it again. The same bakery that created the international “bronut” sensation in 2015 has just unveiled a new hybrid pastry. And this time, they may not need the boost of an online media craze. From good old fashioned word of mouth alone, the pastries are already selling out faster than the bakery can make them.

Not much of a gift recipient, I used to tell my loved ones during the holidays that I would prefer their presence to their presents. But, if prezzants had been around back then, I might have reconsidered. Half pretzel, half croissant, MarieBette’s prezzants are outstanding. Like most good bakers, MarieBette’s Patrick Evans is a perfectionist, and, after experimenting by dipping croissant dough in lye, he took his time before deciding his latest creation was ready for release.

It shows. The lucky few who have tried a prezzant have raved. “Love the smokiness and buttery crunch,” one said. “OMG. It’s absolutely amazing,” said another. “What dreams are made of,” another swooned. And, “Had a bite and not gonna lie: I died.” Even top chefs are impressed. “I went at 10 this morning to buy all they had left. There were only five left,” said Tucker Yoder of Back 40 Restaurant. “Buttery, crunchy, flaky. All the good things of a croissant with added pretzel awesomeness.”

Now, if we only get our hands on some more.

prezzant

MarieBette’s Patrick Evans: 

“The prezzants were born out of doing a bunch of tests for traditional pretzels that we are offering now for our wholesale clients. My friend Sharlene McNeish (who runs Levain Baking Studio here in town and is a very passionate baker herself) was helping us develop a recipe and for about two weeks we were doing different recipes everyday.

We had really jumped in and were going crazy with the recipe testing. During that time we had this lye solution on hand. The solution has a very high PH and when it you dip the unbaked pretzels in it and bake them, they lye reacts chemically with the heat and gives the pretzels the classic color and crust and adds that unique rich flavor that is so quintessential to pretzels.

We make croissants daily so while in my testing mode, I curiously dipped some scraps of croissant dough in the solution, sprinkled some with a bit of pretzel salt, and some with our own ‘everything’ mix,  and baked them to see how they’d come out. The results were amazing. Everyone who tasted them went crazy over those first few morsels. We made a few more tests, then a few more, learning, experimenting with shapes, and refining the process each time . . .

When I lived in NYC I used to get pretzel croissants at one of my favorite bakeries, but they didn’t have the lye bath and the dark crust and unique taste that comes from it. And it seems a few places do a ‘cretzel’ with a croissant dough shaped like a pretzel, but seemingly no lye. In Europe, some German bakeries sell ‘laugencroissants’ (meaning lye croissants) but I’ve heard those aren’t the same either. In any case, it’s an amazingly unique flavor that you have to taste to really understand, and we are thrilled to offer that in Charlottesville!”

“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.”

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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: Zach Miller

Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Zach Miller, co-owner of Timbercreek Market, set to re-open next month with the addition of a new onsite restaurant, Back Forty. While the market will still offer meat and produce from Timbercreek Farm and other local sources, Back Forty will be a full-service restaurant under the direction of chef Tucker Yoder. “Back 40 is his restaurant,” says Miller. “We simply are along for the ride.” For that ride, Chef Yoder says to expect “a more refined version of the things we are doing now.” There is even a bar with house cocktails, and Yoder has already begun jarring cherries in rye and sorghum for that very purpose. Miller’s picks:

1) Falconer Hoppy Wheat Ale from Champion Brewing Company. “You can always find a Champion at our house, but this beer is at the top of my list. Hunter’s beers are all great which is why we are collaborating on a special release with Champion for our new restaurant. We will grow the crops and Hunter will create a magic beer.”

2) The Steakhouse Burger at Citizen Burger Bar, served rare. “Shameless self promotion? Yes. But what is there not to like? So many great flavors in between the greatest bread in town – an Albemarle Baking Company brioche.”

3) F8 by Jake Busching Wines. “Jake’s wines are great! The F8 is not only great but the grapes are grown by my friend Carl Tinder, so knowing the farmer makes it a win and it’s really good to top it off!”

4) 434 Summer Pale Ale from Three Notch’d Brewery. “Another find in our kitchen. It is a delicious light drinking summer beer that our beer buyer, Maggie Slinkman, has made a staple at the market for the summer.”

5) Spicy Peanut Tofu at Revolutionary Soup. “This is my go-to spot for lunch when I am downtown. If I eat lunch it needs to be light and quick and Rev Soup delivers every time.”