Lunch cart love

Lunch cart love

Charlottesville is getting kind of famous for its poshed-up versions of city staples: the black tie gas station (R.I.P., Fuel Co.), the break-the-bank gym membership, the luxe condos for students, and now Hamdingers, Patrick Critzer’s gourmet food cart on the Downtown Mall. There is one major difference in Critzer’s approach, though—Hamdingers doesn’t charge a fortune for its soul-satisfying cuisine; in fact, it’s quite affordable, and with offerings like the coconut potato curry with ginger spinach, it’s downright irresistible.

You say potato, and you say coconut. Add to that some ginger spinach, and you’ve got to-go curry to die for.

Critzer notes that the potato curry "is a good side, or you can add meat to make it a stew-type main dish," and he recommends serving it with cinnamon rice, olive oil-soaked flat bread, not-too-dry white wine and minty whole milk yogurt with cucumbers. Um, yummy. He’s also on the lookout for a local lamb source to round out the meaty nosh on the cart, plus salmon cakes and soba noodles for the less farm animal-inclined. Catering is a big part of the biz, too, and you can get in touch with him over the phone, 977-4648, or check out the website,

Hamdingers’ Coconut Potato Curry with Ginger Spinach

1 Tbs. olive oil (or your favorite fat, says Patrick)
1/2 cup minced mix of ginger, garlic, jalapeño
1 cup chopped onion
Meat of choice (optional)
1/2 cup mix of fresh ground cardamom, coriander and mustard seeds
3 lbs. potatoes, diced
1 lb. spinach
2 cans coconut milk
3 cups stock (meat or vegetable)
Green peas or cooked lentils (optional)
Salt and pepper

Saute ginger, garlic and jalapeño in a little of your favorite fat, remove and reserve. Then saute the onion, and if you want to add meat, do it now. Cook until lightly browned; add cardamom, coriander and mustard seeds. Let it get sticky, then add potatoes and spinach. Put the earlier mixture back into the pan. Stir in coconut milk and stock and cook until potatoes are tender, add salt and pepper to taste and some green peas or lentils if you like.