On the Market, Part 5: Early Summer 2012

pantheonpopsiclesIt’s getting real hot real fast, and even the children electric with youth and sporting a total lack of self-imposed limits aren’t sure if they enjoy the humid heat making sweat rings on their t-shirts and scorching unprotected skin to the shade of a ripe tomato that will hurt tomorrow, but mom has aloe and ice cream and everything will be alright. Either by ignoring the sunburn on purpose or just in the excitement of the bubbling crowds and half-forgotten smells, the farmer’s market calls once again.

In Season

Greens, greens and nothing but greens! Chard, kale, salad greens, scallions, peas, garlic scapes!, strawberries, and so on. An early wet spring brought in greens by the armful, perfect… Read More

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Lemongrass Lafayette Scallops at Tempo

Brice Cunningham, owner of Tempo Restaurant in Charlottesville, VAReady for a history lesson? I’ll make this quick.

In 1824, Gilbert du Motier, a.k.a. the Marquis de Lafayette, traveled from France and paid a visit to his friend Thomas Jefferson at Monticello. During his two week stay, Lafayette and Jefferson chatted about UVA, the means of maintaining political independence in the republics in South America, and a host of other philosophical topics that only men of their time could make interesting. The online Thomas Jefferson Encyclopedia via Monticello.org is a great resource if you want to learn more about the Lafayette/Jefferson bromance. But, this is a food blog. I digress… Read More

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Plank Road Exchange 

Plank Road Exchange in Batesville (outside Charlottesville, VA)The closing of the Batesville Store was a miserable shame, and to the people responsible: what you’ve done is bad and you should feel bad. It was the perfect nearby getaway, music venue, food destination, the quintessential small town hangout. However, as one door closes, one more opens.

The brand new Plank Road Exchange is of course different from the Batesville Store with different guiding forces and a different overall feel. However, it basically looks the same and still offers delicious house-made foods and specials, frequent live music, and the lovely small-town charm. It’s new, of course, and still has kinks to work out, but the Exchange offers a wide selection… Read More

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Grass & Grub Pop-up Restaurant: Lions & Lambs

Grass & Grub pop-up restaurant at The Jefferson Theater in Charlottesville, VAListen here, folks, because I’m about to drop some seriously profound philosophizing on you. Like, these go to 11-level philosophizing. Ready? Food is the new rock ‘n’ roll. Food shows like Iron Chef and Top Chef get far more viewers than any weekly televised concert would, and personalities from these shows – Anthony Bourdain and Tom Colicchio – are selling out live performance venues like the Paramount, and bigger, all across the country. Women fawn over them as they sign autographs and wave to the flashing bulbs. Rising chefs, often heavily inked and smoking cigarettes, wield their finely tuned instruments in places like “kitchen stadium” to create works of… Read More

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The Whiskey Jar 

The Whiskey Jar in Charlottesville, VAWhen I heard that Escafé was moving over to the old OXO space, ushering in a wagon wheel saloon specializing in affordable spins on rustic Southern fare, I was skeptical. Known less (to me) as a restaurant and more as a place to drink Red-Bull-vodka-laden Orange Crushes while dancing on the bar to Lady Gaga, Escafé featured a kind of grinding that had little in common with that now being employed by Whiskey Jar chefs to produce their delicious boiled peanut hummus. Unfortunately, my skepticism was confirmed after my first two visits. Fortunately, it was unconfirmed after my last two.

The space is almost but not quite unrecognizable. The bar… Read More

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Saigon Cafe, a Vegan Review

Fried rice noodles with mixed veggies at Saigon Café in Charlottesville, VAOn our most recent visit to the reliable Saigon Café (menu here), we started with vegetable rolls – carrots, tree ears, bean vermicelli, cabbage, celery, onion wrapped in rice paper and fried. Delicious! Sometimes fried foods can be overwhelmingly fried, but these were really good, with a prominent veggie flavor. So good, we ordered a second helping. The dipping sauce is sweet but not overpowering, balanced out with a touch of spice. The rolls were served on a large bed of lettuce, which was a strangely aggressive presentation – I can’t imagine anyone eats it. We… Read More

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Rosemary Lemonade at The Flat

Rosemary Lemonade at The Flat Creperie in Charlottesville, VAThis is not a great picture. It looks like lemonade. What you can’t see here is the perfect kiss of rosemary infusion that elevates this above pedestrian lemonades. Especially on a day like today. It probably won’t be there for long, so get one while you can and while the weather strongly suggests you should!

Note: If you haven’t been to The Flat for a lunch crepe, you’re missing out. More info can be found on The Flat website or The Flat on Yelp

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Bella’s Restaurant, The Interview

Bella's Restaurant in Charlottesville, VACharlottesville’s newest and arguably “only real” Italian restaurant opens its doors in just a few weeks on March 23rd. I recently chatted at the construction site of what is soon to be Bella’s Restaurant with Chefi Austin Robbins, Valeria “Bella” Bisenti, and general manager Justin Heilbrun-Toft. Lucia Sallese, Bella’s mother, also joined us. She doesn’t speak English but gave us all a lesson in pronouncing a la parmigiana. “Mama” as she is affectionately known, is visiting from Rome to train Chef Austin.

ICEBREAKER

Bella, what is the concept of your eponymous restaurant?

There is nothing like Bella’s Restaurant in the current culinary scene here in Charlottesville. For us, it was very important to have something that is really traditional, really authentic. We… Read More

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Dessert in a Bottle, Barboursville Style

Malvaxia Passito dessert wine at Barboursville Vineyards outside Charlottesville, VAIt’s funny how things go sometimes.  I recently wandered up to Barboursville Vineyards on one of those seemingly not-so-rare mild February days, half fevering for spring already.  Barboursville was an intentional destination, as I’d been gifted a certain bottle and thought to compare mine against the rest of the winery’s extensive lineup.  Turns out something totally unexpected stole my wine loving heart: the 2006 Malvaxia Reserve Passito.

First introduced in 2001, the Malvaxia Passito is a labor of love.  Unlike the process for making ice wines, grapes for this style of wine are never frozen.  Instead, following Italian tradition… Read More

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Hazelnut Heaven at Blue Moon Diner

Hazelnut Heaven – nutella, bananas, and bacon – at Blue Moon Diner in Charlottesville, VAI know I write a lot about brunch these days but what can I say? It’s my favorite meal of the week, and our dinner adventures have been scaling back in inverse proportion to the baby that has been growing in Erin’s belly. Anyway, my favorite meal of the week just got a little bit more favoriter with the recent discovery of Blue Moon Diner‘s “Hazelnut Heaven” sandwich.

It’s the sandwich Elvis would have eaten every day had he been more a nutella guy than a peanut butter guy. Nutella… Read More

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