Cheers for charity: Drink up during Negroni Week

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Five local bars, including Tavola, which will offer four versions of a Negroni, are participating in Negroni Week from June 5-11. A portion of proceeds from each Negroni sold at participating bars goes to charity. Staff photo. Five local bars, including Tavola, which will offer four versions of a Negroni, are participating in Negroni Week from June 5-11. A portion of proceeds from each Negroni sold at participating bars goes to charity. Staff photo.

Ordering a classic aperitivo Italian cocktail will give you a new buzz starting June 5: a chance to donate to charity. Negroni Week, a fundraising event from June 5-11 revolving around the bright, bitter citrus drink, has Charlottesville bars signing up to give a portion of their sales of the drink to a partner charity of their choosing.

Steve Yang, Tavola’s bar manager, plans to donate $1 to $2 of each cocktail sold to No Kid Hungry.

“No Kid Hungry is more in line with what our owner likes to do and what we like to do,” Yang says, adding that he wants to raise “as much as possible” for the charity, which works to end childhood hunger in the Commonwealth.

And Yang has conjured up four unique spins on the classic beverage.

“We have our classic Negroni, we have our boulevardier, which traditionally is going to be a bourbon version of a Negroni, but we do one with our own housemade bitter orange instead of Campari, and we use more of an after-dinner dessert-y vermouth,” Yang says.

You can also donate your dollars with drinks at The Alley Light, Brasserie Saison, The Whiskey Jar and Lost Saint, which was the first area bar to participate.

Negroni Week has raised about $900,000 since its founding in 2013, and Charlottesville is stepping up to add to that sum.

-Alexa Nash

Kitchen confidential

The concept for Underground Kitchen was brought to fruition by Richmond’s Micheal Sparks, who merged mystery with community. The Underground Kitchen’s members, called “Foodies,” get on an email list that promotes a themed five- to seven-course meal in an undisclosed location with a local chef who develops a completely unique menu; all of the details are kept secret until the last minute.

Locations are chosen first and then paired with a chef, who is set loose to create a mouthwatering menu.

“They all come with an idea, and we want them to do what they’re passionate about,” Sparks says. “We give them the opportunity to cook outside the box, so we leave that up to the professionals.”

Only 25 to 40 tickets are sold, which covers the meal, wine pairings and gratuity. The process is first come, first serve, and at $125 to $500, tickets go fast.

Sparks focuses on conversation, and encourages guests to get to know their neighbors.

“We’re responsible for two weddings, three engagements and a lot of people dating,” Sparks says, along with countless friendships. “It’s a powerful thing, what happens between food and wine.”

The next dinner will be held June 5 with the theme “From the Cast Iron to the Plate,” which will highlight Virginia’s Colonial-style cooking with a twist. Sign up to get pop-up dinner alerts at theundergroundkitchen.org.

-Alexa Nash

Plan ahead

Food blogger and chef Lynsie Steele has launched Vie, a meal-planning service based around what’s on sale at local grocery stores—Whole Foods, Harris Teeter, Kroger and Wegmans—each week and designed to help home cooks save time and money.

Customers can choose from various plans, including annual, three-month or one-month mega or mini plans. Each plan includes recipes and instructions, shopping lists, video demonstrations, online recipe tips and access to Vie team members for specific shopping and cooking questions. Pricing varies—for instance, a one-month mini plan is $19 plus a $1 sign-up fee; an annual mega plan is $399 plus a $1 sign-up fee. Full pricing information is available at getvie.com.

-Erin O’Hare 

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