I love my husband. Instead of taking me to some lame, crowded, 3-courses-and-dessert-meal for Valentine’s Day, he takes me to Porkapolooza! at The BBQ Exchange in Gordonsville. In its 3rd year, Chef Craig Hartman always delivers porky goodness to the extreme. This year in addition to long-time favorites, Sticky Love Bacon and Pork Belly “pops”, he offered up Puerto Rican pork shoulder, Pernil, and three different sauces! Chimichurri, Sofrito, and Red Mole, my personal favorite. The Pernil was falling off the bone tender, and mixed up in beans was simply divine. We stuffed ourselves silly. Paired with a beer from Devil’s Backbone and a bacon doughnut for dessert, I’d have to say it was a pretty damn good day.
And as my Muddy used to day, “I’m tight as a tick!” One suggestion for next year Chef Hartman…………….HAMMOCKS!
And the great news is Porkapolooza is going on from noon to 8pm tomorrow, Saturday, February 16th. You’re a fool to miss it.
It was a cold January evening when The Hubby and I scrambled to get the dog walked and fed. We rushed out the door breathless and exhausted because we had both worked late……….again. Reluctantly, we headed out to yet another Charlottesville Restaurant Week obligation.
Yes, I said obligation. Let me clarify before you slap hashtags #whinybitch #whitepeopleproblems and #waaahmbulance all over my blog. I know eating out is an expensive privilege. If I didn’t love eating so much I wouldn’t spend all my time writing about it. I am blessed beyond belief. It is my humble opinion, however, Restaurant Week is suffering from a lack of surprise. Which translates into a lack of excitement. I adore its mission and LOVE the fact I can translate my enjoyment of food into helping local charities. To me that’s the highest purpose on Earth. Give back, give back, give back. But after 4 years, I can almost predict with 100% accuracy what every Restaurant Week meal will be like. There will be chicken, beef, pork, and a seafood option, maybe. The appetizers will probably be more interesting than the entrées. The desserts will include a flourless chocolate something. The meat will be oversalted. The restaurant will rush you out in an hour or less. It will be loud and crowded. And the service will be uneven. It’s like dining in a restaurant on Valentine’s Day or New Year’s Eve. Amateur night. If you know food at all, you stay well away.
It’s the reason you haven’t seen many, if ANY Restaurant Week reviews on this blog. Because while the goal is admirable, the meals weren’t exactly memorable. Until now.
The minute we stepped into Glass Haus Kitchen I had a hunch this night would be different. The interior is stunning. It hits you like a soft chuck under the chin. “Heeeeeey,” it says. “Stay awhile.” Uber modern which isn’t my cup of tea (look at my blog design), but the light is so golden, warm, and inviting you feel you just stepped into a 1930’s movie and you’re about to have cocktails with Nick and Nora Charles. Fabulous!
This post was supposed to go up months ago. My apologies to C-Ville Weekly, who were kind enough to ask me to judge. I had an amazing time, thank you so much.
Last summer I had the good fortune to judge a fried chicken contest for C-Ville Weekly. In the past I’ve judged pie and barbecue, so 3rd time makes me an expert? Not so sure. When someone asked what my expertise was with chicken I stammered before replying, “Um, I eat a lot of it? My grandma made a lot of it? And um, I eat a lot of it?” It wasn’t until later I remembered to mention oh yeah, I also write for a food blog.
They say you learn by doing and I guess by doing a lot of judging you certainly get better. That and by quitting smoking. My palate is one helluva lot more nuanced than it was 15 years ago when I was slurping up ramen noodles in a poorly ventilated alleyway apartment in college then chasing it with a Camel Light.
Judging constantly surprises me. Forming opinions on pie is easy, just because there are so many different flavors and textures. Barbecue is a little more challenging, cause well, it’s all meat. I find myself relying on tenderness and sauce flavor because it all tasted pretty damn good. I assumed chicken would be hardest of all, because really there is only one way to fry a chicken and that is to fry. a. chicken. Little did I know.