Skip to content

Posts from the ‘Brookville’ Category

Best of 2013.

Yep, about this time each year I pull out my golden fork and spoon awards for my “Best of” post. Not the best restaurants, but the best food I ate. The most memorable. I sit down with coffee and a notepad, and brainstorm the 13 best foods I ate in the Charlottesville area in 2013. From off the top of my head. Because in this brain with its vastly diminishing capacity (thanks middle age and Lyme Disease) if I can remember it right away, it was probably pretty outstanding. And worthy of an award, however small. I’m just one broad, but I’ve got a good palate and know when something has skipped past the boundaries of delicious into the stratosphere of, “Hey remember when we ate that?”

Here are my picks in alphabetical order by establishment. Go eat them. A few are seasonal, but I bet if you wait until the appropriate season and ask real nice, they’ll make it for you. Especially when you tell them it won a major award! Congratulations to all, and good eats in 2014!*

Smoked Turkey. At BBQ Exchange.
This is the second year in a row Chef Hartman’s smoked turkey has won a golden fork and for good reason. It’s incredible. Melt-in-your-mouth-smoke-meets-sweet-meets-meat incredible. Only available at Thanksgiving. Sad face. This was the third time The Hubby and I ordered our turkey from The Exchange and if I can help it, I will never cook turkey again. Because it won’t be as good. The first year we got the dinner with sides, but I like leftovers. LOTS of leftovers, so the next year we got an entire bird. Repeated this year. And between the two of us, managed to finish off a 15-20 pounder. Boom!

Fried Green Tomato, Smoked Salmon, and Mozzarella Salad with Basil Crema. At Bizou Restaurant.
A fancy take on a BLT. The crunchy fat and acid of the tomato pairs well with the soft cheese and the creamy greenness of the crema, which was like the best Green Goddess dressing I’ve ever had. I couldn’t eaten five of these salads without saying Boo!

Bacon Fat Popcorn. At Brookville Restaurant.
Congrats to Brookville for making my “Best of” list 2 years running! The Hubby and I love Chef Keevil’s place and eat there often for brunch or any time we need the greatest hamburger on the face of God’s green earth. But in 2014 his bacon fat popcorn sent me into the stratosphere. Imagine huge fluffy kernels with just a touch of salt. Then imagine crunching down and tasting bacon. But not a big grease-filled overpowering smoky business. A touch, a kiss. Like popcorn and bacon didn’t get married but are just making out. HEAVEN!

Chocolate Macaroon. At Cappellino’s Crazy Cakes.
Who cares if it’s gluten-free? This cookie is simply the most deeply, darkly, chocolaty, ooey, gooey confection I’ve ever eaten. Right away you can taste the high-quality chocolate. The way it just glides over your tongue into a gooey delicious chewy chocolaty mess is a gorgeous thing indeed. No way you can eat just one. It has officially replaced their Apple Harvest as my favorite cookie.

Carne Asada Tacos. At El Tako Nako.
Monday night is taco night because of this food truck on Hydraulic Road across from Stonefield. I love all the tacos on offer: Pastor, Chorizo, Lengua, but it’s the Carne Asada that gets my motor running. Charred meat with a little cilantro, onion, and lime in double-wrapped corn tortillas. Completely authentic Mexican tacos for $2 each. You can’t beat that with a stick.

Pupusa Queso Con Frijoles. At El Tepeyac.
El Tepeyac has incredible tacos, but I will always mark 2013 as the year I fell in love with pupusas. This Salvadorian style tortilla tastes like the best Hot Pocket you’ve ever eaten. Scratch that. Imagine if Hot Pockets were actually any good! That’s an El Tepeyac Pupusa. They’ve got several different styles (including an incredible one make with loroco flowers) but my favorite is the pupusa with black beans and cheese. Like you took corn pudding, stuffed cheese and black bean dip inside it then stuffed it in a panini press. I can eat pupusas until the cows come home.

Poached Duck Egg Frisee Salad With Warm Bacon Dressing, Chive Flowers, and Crispy Ramps. At GlassHaus Kitchen.
I’m very sad I won’t be able to enjoy this classic anymore while sitting on the patio with The Hubby and watching the freight trains roll by. Chef Ian Boden’s version is lovely and perfect. The creamy egg mixes with the warm fat of the bacon and the tang of the chive and the sweet of the ramps to create something awfully special. Perhaps we can persuade him to recreate this perfection at his new venture, The Shack? Hope so.

Chicken Liver Mousse. At JM Stock Provisions & Supply.
I’m a sucker for a good chicken liver mousse. Put some of that on a cracker or good piece of baguette and pour me a glass of wine and that’s dinner. The mousse at JM Stock is luscious, creamy, rich, and decadent. Priced right and presented in a small Mason jar. Yep, an entire Mason jar full of chicken liver mousse. If that’s not decadent I don’t know what is.

Tonkotsu Ramen. At Now & Zen.
Ever since I tucked into my first bowl of in Vancouver a few years back I have searched and longed for this dish. There isn’t a day goes by where I don’t long for ramen. Not the 5-for-a-dollar version in the market, but good, authentic, steaming, yummy ramen. Preferably with fatty broth, seasoned egg, and extra wakame. No matter where we travel, my first question is always, “Is there ramen here?” Now when fellow seekers ask me, I can point them to Now & Zen. Unfortunately Chef Sato only has ramen nights every so often (next one scheduled for January 19 and 20). Go early with an empty stomach (bowls are huge), and order the broth as fatty as you can.

Fried Okra With Comeback Sauce. At Pasture Charlottesville.
Oh my lord! Simply the best fried okra I’ve ever had in my life. Chef Jason Alley fries the okra whole, and the batter is so light, so crispy, I dare you not to finish off their ginormous bowl. Every time I’ve eaten this I swear I won’t possibly finish the whole thing, and every time I fail. It’s that good. The comeback sauce tastes like mayonnaise and Sriracha? Not sure, but it has kept me coming back for this appetizer again and again.

Spicy Creamed Rice Grits, Smoked Tomato Broth, Black-Eyed Peas.
At Pasture Charlottesville.

This is one of those dishes I want to magically appear on my counter every time I have a crappy day. Or the weather is crappy. Or I’m just feeling crappy. Comfort in a bowl. They serve this as a small plate, but trust me, after inhaling this unctuous blend of smoky, creamy goodness you’ll want more. A whole lot more. Tastes like a big ol’ nap! Which is a compliment of the highest order.

Charcuterie Plate. Pippin Hill Vineyard.
We had a miserable spring and summer full of rain and gray skies. So when we finally hit a warm patch The Hubby and I had a lovely “All Summer in a Day” moment at Pippin Hill. Cured meats, olives, arugula pesto and grape must mustard paired with a nice Cabernet Franc can cure every form of seasonal disorder. I’m convinced of it. And I’m counting the days when I can lounge on their sumptuous deck once again.

Anson Mills Sea Island Peas with House Bacon and Appalachian Star Farm Spring Onions. At The Whiskey Jar.
This dish was prepared as a side for the Southern Foodways Alliance Summer Symposium opening dinner. The beans tasted like tiny black-eyed peas, but with better texture and flavor: sweet, meaty, and hearty. The bacon added a fatty, smoky flavor while the spring onions provided sweetness. This dish was by far the hit of the night; everyone raved. I even bought my own bag for New Year’s Hoppin’ John. To say I can’t wait to dig in would be an understatement. Here’s hoping Sea Island Peas are rediscovered and relished in 2014. They need to be.

Peach Trifle. At The Whiskey Jar.
Congratulations to Rachel Pennington on creating a dessert I devoured without a second thought. Let me explain. Usually I’m so enamored of appetizers by the time the dessert comes, I can’t take more than a bite. Not here. This trifle with its layers of fresh peach, feather-light cake, fresh cream, and vanilla custard is simply one of the best desserts I’ve ever tasted. Decadent, yet light as a Spring cloud in May. It should be a staple on their summer menu. And they should give Chef Pennington a raise. Yum!

*You’ll notice I actually included my “Best 14 for 2013”. Whatever. I love it when my town makes it hard to stay within parameters ;)

2012 Best Dishes. (Top 3!)

All week I’ve been describing my top Charlottesville Dishes of 2012. This was not the year of the “Best Restaurant” but the year of memorable bites and brews. The stuff I crave when I get hungry for something special. The dishes I immediately remember without even thinking. Looking back over the list, they’ve run the gamut from appetizers to mains to condiments. And now we arrive at the Top 3.

Numbers 12-10

Numbers 9-7

Numbers 6-4

3. Almond Cake. I gained weight this year. And I blame Jenny Peterson of Paradox Pastry. Seriously, I go in there for one little sweet treat and a tea, and I end up going home with a bagful of goodies. Her Spice Cake made me tear up it reminded me so much of my grandma’s. But her Almond Cake? It made me slap the table. Hard. It’s my favorite kind of cake because it’s SO dense and chockfull of almond flavor. Cakey cake ;) But the kind I make at home with almond paste comes NOWHERE NEAR the perfection she reaches. And it’s served as a giant slab which makes you feel like a naughty child who’s eating dessert before dinner. What’s better than that?

2. Bibimbap. Imagine a huge piping hot stone bowl of rice, veggies, meat, and sauce all topped with a fried egg. The meat is sliced thin and is secondary, acting as a condiment to the veggies and rice underneath. The sauce is spicy, but sweet as well. The rice on the bottom is getting crispy because the stone bowl is browning it up nicely. When you take your chopsticks and blend it all together, the egg yolk runs all through this delicious mixture, turning it into one big gorgeous heap of comfort. In your mouth the crispy rice, the sizzling meat, the creamy egg and crispy vegetables blend into a perfect morsel of happiness. There is seriously nothing better to eat on a cold day. The Bibimbap they serve at The Korean House on Carlton Avenue is unstoppable. Suffering from the flu? The blues? A serious case of “There’s nothing new to eat in this town” syndrome? Eat this. Now.

1. Potter’s Craft Oak Barrel Reserve Cider. I love this stuff. Adore it. People have begun to get sick of hearing me wax poetic on how beautiful it is. The checkout guys at Whole Foods roll their eyes when they see me coming because they know I’m about to go off on the merits of Potter’s Craft Oak Barrel Reserve Cider. Again.

I’ve spent years telling anyone who’ll listen about the wonderfulness that is cider, and to my glee, 2012 was definitely “The Year of Cider” in Charlottesville. There are 6 cideries in the area at last count, numerous cider tastings and events, and November saw our first Cider Week in Virginia. So what makes Potter’s Craft Oak Barrel Reserve so special?

It seriously tastes like nothing else I’ve had. Ever. And I’m what you call a cider enthusiast. Nothing is more refreshing on a hot day, cold day, hell, any day. Dan Potter and Tim Edmond have really invented something new. I’m convinced of this. By aging their blend of cider in used Laird’s Apple Brandy oak casks for 6 months, they’ve allowed a dry, crisp, refreshing beverage to acquire undertones of mellow roundness, caramel, vanilla, and well. . .bourbon! It has replaced Calvados as the after dinner drink of choice in our house. It’s lighter, but with the same “kick” a nice digestif offers after a big meal. What did we crack open on New Year’s? Not champagne my friend. It was this cider. Sipped slowly. Sipped often. Congratulations Dan and Tim. This was the best, greatest thing I had in Charlottesville all year. By far.

What do you think? Agree? Disagree? Must admit, it was tough to have only 12. So I include these additional as honorable mentions. Thank you Charlottesville for keeping my belly full this past year, and here’s to a scrumptious 2013. Cheers!

Honorable Mentions:
Smoked Turkey from BBQ Exchange (only available Thanksgiving & Christmas)
“The Burger” at Brookville Restaurant
Sticky Toffee Pudding at The Ivy Inn
Dolmas at Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar
Blondies at Great Harvest Charlottesville

Out of Office.

…just for a little while. Since I racked up my neck and back hauling luggage on a trip to Vegas (yeah, I know, I gotta come up with a better story), I’ve been laying pretty low and not posting because:

  • I can’t stay on a computer more than 20 minutes, which barely gives me enough time to do the important stuff like answer email and check my Restaurant City game ;P
  • I’ve lost my appetite due to the meds. Sadly, even the porniest of food porn does nothing to make me need, want, desire, much less write about, food. Not quite the agony of say, Grant Achatz getting a tongue tumor, but with the same twist of irony.
  • I’m housebound. Cabin fever has set in. Not “Donner Party” stir crazy just yet, but getting there. Hubby arrives home from work and me *and* my dog go running to the door. Most journeys outside involve driving = A.G.O.N.Y. And after 20 minutes in a restaurant booth or 10 minutes standing my neck begins to whisper things like, “This hurts bitch. What’s the matter with you?” If you’ve ever seen Richard Grant talking to his boil in “How to Get Ahead in Advertising,” you’ll know what I’m talking about.

Read more

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 3,942 other followers

%d bloggers like this: