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Episode 13 of Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons.

11407045_10205563151371828_2815855348172948960_nEpisode 13 is live! Available at Edacious – Food Talk for Gluttons, on iTunes, Stitcher, SoundCloud, and your regular podcast outlets. To quote NoBull Burger spokesperson Elizabeth Raymond, “Most veggie burgers taste like the cardboard box they came in.” Not NoBull. These are not punched-out soybean patties people. You can see the lentils, beans, barley, and vegetables depending on the kind you choose – NoBull has four including a gluten-free option. Throw them on the grill. It’s an organic meal in under 15 minutes. Only 3 points on Weight Watchers but tastes like 20. Coming soon, a NoBull crumble for tacos or spaghetti sauce or to throw into eggs. I can’t wait!

Crissanne Raymond developed the concept of the NoBull Burger 35 years ago while growing up in The Virgin Islands, because 1) you couldn’t really eat the meat there, unless you loved mutton, and 2) the hippie movement and Bob Marley’s One Love philosophy made vegetarianism a popular concept.

In five years they’ve gone from selling at farmer’s markets to appearing in restaurants, grocery stores, and university and hospital cafeterias nationwide. All the while their advertising has been mostly word of mouth. Is having a family business all hearts and butterflies? Is Charlottesville finally ready for a dedicated vegetarian restaurant? Listen to find out, and to discover how NoBull is working to change that food behemoth Sysco one veggie burger at a time.

This episode is sponsored by In A Flash Laser.

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

Timberwood Grill.

Way up on 29N, way up there, just when you think you’ve left Charlottesville for the vast, empty wasteland that is the space between Cville and let’s say Warrenton, you will find a great little place to eat. Nothing fancy, but very tasty. They serve burgers, beer, other things, and have a patio strung with tiny white lights for eating al fresco. What more do you need? You might think it’s a fast food joint – there’s a lot of those on this stretch of 29 just across from the Target near the entrance to Forest Lakes. But in fact it’s a local place. And it’s called the Timberwood Grill.

The husband and I have eaten at the Timberwood Grill several times since we moved to Charlottesville from Pittsburgh last April. It’s close, which has become increasingly important since we moved to the boondocks. It’s also convenient – just a little over and straight down 29. It’s also the comfort food of restaurants – serving your basic All-American fare – burgers, beer, steaks, seafood, salads, and your basic appetizers of nachos and what have you. During a hard week of work, let’s say probably by Wednesday, you’re in need of a mid-week treat. You don’t want to be too adventurous. Nothing on the menu that you can’t pronounce. It’s more you want to be pampered by familiarity. You want to know what to expect. Timberwood delivers that.

Their burgers are huge and delicious. Basic bacon cheeseburger with slice of red onion, tomato, lettuce, and mayo. I’ve ordered other things (crab dip) which taste fine, but I always end up back at the burger. And the fries are out of this world. Fried twice, really crunchy. Imagine Arby’s curly fries that are way better.

It’s gotten so when I’ve had a really sucky week I start to crave a burger and mug of Dogfish Head IPA. Did I mention the beer? The first time we came here to eat we ordered mugs of beer, thinking they were smaller than the pints. Wrongo! These mugs are HUGE, frosty behemoths – so big you have to hold it in two hands. Pickle barrels of beer. Yummy pickle barrels full of beer. A yard of beer. Remember Dan from “Roseanne” when he visits England at Disney’s Epcot and the waitress asks if he’d like a yard of beer? He asks, “Pray tell, what is a YARD of beer?” Yeah, at Timberwood I feel like that. “Pray tell, what is a MUG of beer?” It’s wunnerful.

There’s just nothing like sitting under those tiny white lights on a summer night, listening to the traffic whizzing by Target (okay maybe that’s not so great) sipping a yard, I mean mug of beer and chomping down on a juicy burger. It takes the aggravation of the week dead away. All summer we’ve sat under those lights on a date night when we just felt like something familiar. We’ve been there so often I forgot to review the place! Which is kind of a hallmark of a great place – it’s so familiar it feels like home and isn’t a restaurant.

The service isn’t that great – just a bunch of high school kids it seems like, but they get the job done. Here the service isn’t really part of the equation – it’s the atmosphere that’s the thing. In a weird way, Timberwood has recreated the feeling of someone’s living room or porch. It doesn’t feel all that much like a restaurant, but like a pair of old slippers. Comfy old slippers. When we feel like crap and need a break, we come eat here. When my brother-in-law was visiting because he was sad, going through a separation, we brought him to Timberwood Grill. Their Chuck Norris burger helped set things to rights. When my cousin comes to visit in a few weeks, guess where we’re going?

On our last visit to eat we noticed new construction – they’re expanding the dining room. Obviously Timberwood is doing something right. We walked outside to the patio, passing the indoor booths of pale wood and a bar surrounded by flat screen televisions to get to our seats under the tiny white lights once again. Something tells me when cold weather finally descends, as it seems to have the past week or so, we’ll get to enjoy the inside too. All those hoity-toity foodies at the Downtown Mall fighting for tables can have it. When I want comfort and familiarity, mid-week or anytime, I’ll eat at this hidden gem on 29N.

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