The Charlottesville 29

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

Tag: Whisper Hill Farm

Holy Mole: Mole from Conmole Makes Dinner Easy and Charlottesville’s Bounty Even Better

When “Comal” became “Conmole” last year, a main reason for the change was the restaurant’s plan to begin offering its signature moles for sale. A mole is a slow-cooked Mexican chile sauce typically served with a protein or vegetables. Conmole’s outstanding moles are the backbone of its menu, and when the restaurant changed its name last February, its aim was to launch sales of its moles by the end of the year. Not even a pandemic could stop it from doing so, as online mole sauce sales are now underway.

This is excellent news for Charlottesville diners. While Conmole’s moles take hours to develop their flavor, making dinner with them at home can take just minutes. Just sauté a protein or some vegetables, smother it in your favorite mole, and you’ve got a world class meal.

The Culture of Takeout Meets Charlottesville’s Bounty

A great plus of the Culture of Takeout is convenience. Place your order, pick it up, and a delicious dinner is yours. Sometimes, though, it can be fun to spend a little more time to use foods from the Culture of Takeout as ingredients to create your own dinner. With Charlottesville’s bounty, the possibilities seem endless. And always delicious.

Tonight’s dinner began with a soup of turnips and butternut squash from Whisper Hill Farm. As much as we miss Whisper Hill Farm’s tomatoes in the warmth of the summer, the farm’s beautiful winter vegetables sustain us through the cold. By themselves, the turnips and squash would have made for a delicious soup. The addition of Conmole’s guajillo mole made a great thing even better.

Guajillo peppers are a classic ingredient of Oaxaca, where Conmole co-owner Benos Bustamante is from. The recipe for Conmole’s guajillo mole comes from his mother Yolie Bustamante, using toasted guajillos, onions, tomatoes, and Yolie’s secret blend of spices. For our soup, to accent the smokiness of the peppers and spices, we added a little Mezcal. Why not? Turnips, butternut squash, and guajillo mole. Thought it came together in just minutes, the result, wow:

Next was a simple sauté of shrimp and chorizo in the same guajillo mole. The shrimp came from Surfside Sustainable Seafood, a business re-launched last year by restaurant industry veteran Lenny Craig. Craig’s business model is simple: source sustainable seafood from Virginia’s coast and deliver it to Charlottesville restaurants and consumers. Craig posts offerings each week, takes orders, and then makes a run to the coast to retrieve them. Our shrimp were fresh — never frozen — shell-on Carolina shrimp, 16-20 per pound.

The shrimp were sautéed in Mexican chorizo from the charcuterie wizards at JM Stock Provisions.

Pour over Conmole’s guajillo mole, and ahí está!

Five Finds on Friday: Stacy Miller


Today’s Five Finds on Friday come from Stacy Miller of Good Phyte Foods, the local producer of healthy and vegan foods that now offers locally grown superfood salads at the Wednesday Farmers in the Park, some City Market Saturdays, and by delivery for group lunches on the Downtown Mall. Email to book your lunch delivery. Miller’s picks:

1) Fresh Basil from Twin Oaks Community Farm. “Their genoa basil is the BEST. Tom, their head flower grower and the one you’ll meet at City Market, will tell you it’s because the basil plot is right adjacent to an old cattle barn and the plants get lots of good nitrogen to fuel leaf growth, but I’ll tell you it’s just plain heaven to smell and that it makes our pesto crackers possible. I am also working on developing a new pesto proton (grain-free crouton), so will be getting a lot of their basil this summer!”

2) Warm-from-the-bush Blueberries at Seaman’s Orchard. “Spending a Sunday afternoon in July picking blueberries with my son is a treat I look forward to all year. I picked blueberries with my mom as a child at our local orchard, and I look forward to continuing the tradition by picking excessive quantities, gorging myself for weeks, eventually using them to make my son’s birthday cake, and then plaguing our freezer with plump ziploc bags through the winter.”

3) Fresh Jersey Milk from my milk share at Windy Hill Farm.  “At the end of the day, I fill a coffee mug with granola and whatever chopped fruit I can find  (Gold Rush Apples or the rarer Shizuka from Vintage Virginia Apples are my favorites) and granola (usually the “well-done” chunks of magnolia crunch), and sloppily pour from one of our half gallon ball jars until it overflows onto the counter. If I’m lucky, I get to open a fresh jar– one with 3-4 inches of cream at the top, and intentionally do a crappy job of shaking it up, so that I mostly get cream in my mug. There is no better comfort food than homemade granola and raw Jersey cow milk, in my book.”

4) Kombucha on Tap from Mountain Culture Kombucha. “The Ginger, Coconut Turmeric, or Blueberry Lemongrass are my favorites, especially at the end of a market day in the summer. We barter good phyte bars for their bucha at City Market, and I chug it sloppily before breaking down our booth after six hours standing on asphalt!  I only wish it were available on tap at more bars in town!”

5) Monster Lacinato Kale from Whisper Hill Farm. “Their greens are absurdly large and are ideal for dehydrating for our bars since they lay so flat on the trays. Their kale and chard are great for getting creative with wraps or rolling and slicing to make long shreds in a salad. I am so impressed with certified organic farmers who manage to grow flawless vegetables with ease — I’ve never seen them sell a single leaf with flea beetle damage, which is hard to do!”

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