Today’s Five Finds on Friday come a woman with many culinary hats, Polina Chesnakova. Most significantly, she writes the excellent new food blog Chesnok. She also is Baker for Greenwood Gourmet Grocery, and has previously baked at Brazos Tacos and Paradox Pastry, been sous chef of Feast!, and written for Edible Blue Ridge and Our Local Commons. On July 13 at The Spice Diva, Chesnakova is giving a Georgian National cooking class. Tickets and info on this rare treat can be found here. Chesnakova’s picks:
1) Apricot Jam from Jam According to Daniel with Ricotta from Twenty Paces on 5-Grain Batard from MarieBette Cafe & Bakery. “I could honestly write an entire paragraph on each of these items alone, they inspire that much fervor. However, since I am limited to five picks, I figured I’d cheat a little instead. Each ingredient is perfect in its own right, yet when you combine the three, you somehow create something so . . . simply good. I find myself craving this toast almost everyday and if I had to pick one breakfast, this would be it.”
2) Tom Kha Noodle Bowl at Pad Thai. “If I’m having a bad day, the weather has been bad, or I just want something that will warm me from the inside out, I go to Pad Thai for this dish. It’s so easy to be tempted by everything else on the menu (hello pork belly drunken noodles, cabbage, lamb curry!), and many times I am. But, when I stick to my initial goal and order myself a huge bowl of this spicy, sweet and sour soup I am left satisfied, wanting no more.
3) Mr. Rech at The Alley Light. “This is my favorite dessert in Charlottesville, hands down. Hazelnut meringues sandwich a praline parfait, which is then all bathed in a dark chocolate ganache. Each bite is a delightful play of textures and sensations, and you can’t get much better than classic chocolate and hazelnuts together. It’s pretty rich so do yourself a favor and share it. Or don’t.
4) BFP at Brookville. “This Big F****** Pancake is where it’s at. Fried up in a cast iron skillet, it’s over an inch thick and doused in maple syrup and butter. You can get it with slabs of bacon cooked right in or in the summer, and my favorite, fresh local blueberries! In college, it was mine and my best friends’ “thing” (usually after a rough night), and we have made it a tradition to go there every time they’re all back in town.”
5) Anything I Cook On my Blanc Creatives Carbon Steel Pan. “I cook at home more than I eat out and man oh man! Cooking on this baby: perfect, even sear every time. Once, I cooked eggs on it and I swear they could’ve slipped right off, it was pre-seasoned so well. The only thing better than the pans themselves are the guys who make them. They are extremely passionate about their craft (“We’re like, skilled artisans!”), and it really comes through in all that they make. Good work boys (and Catalina)!”