Overheard on the restaurant scene: this week’s food and drink news


Gingerbread Downtown Mall, 2006 competition. Gingerbread Downtown Mall, 2006 competition.

We’re always keeping our eyes and ears out for the latest news on Charlottesville’s food and drink scene, so pick up a paper and check c-ville.com/living each week for the latest Small Bites. Have a scoop for Small Bites? E-mail us at bites@c-ville.com.

Feeling both thirsty and crafty? Enjoy a glass of local wine while you try your hand at creating some handmade holiday decorations at Blenheim Vineyards during wreath-making workshops on Fridays and Saturdays November 29 and 30, and December 6 and 7. Gardener Michelle Smith will lead the three-hour workshop, offering the techniques and materials you need to put together the perfect wreath to hang on your front door in time for the holidays. You’re welcome to bring your own materials like pinecones, berries, or ribbons, but boxwood greenery and dried flowers foraged from the properties adjoining the winery will be provided. Cost is $65 for non-wine club members, and $55 for members. Spaces is limited to 12 people per session, so register ahead of time at www.blenheimvineyards.com.

Get it while it’s cold! Some winter wine drinkers may be all about the dense, dark reds like Petit Verdot, but at least one local vineyard is offering a new option for the white winos. Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is releasing its first estate-grown Sauvignon Blanc for a limited time during the holidays. The distinctively rich white wine features fruity flavors of honeydew, peaches, and honey, and will be available from Friday, November 22 to Monday, December 3.

Make mine chocolate covered. Paintings & Prose bookstore and gallery is bowing out of the Downtown Mall, and taking its place is My Chocolate Shoppe, which will offer more than 25 varieties of hand-crafted specialty treats, including truffles, creams, homemade fudge, chocolate-dipped apples, and caramels. Chocolatier Mary Schellhammer opened her first chocolate shop in Fredericksburg, and in 2010 her chocolates were named “best new product in Virginia” by the Virginia Department of Agriculture. Assuming everything runs smoothly over the next few weeks, the shop will officially open its doors for business on Sunday, December 15.

Want to accommodate all your gluten-intolerant friends during the holidays? Check out the Charlottesville Cooking School for a gluten-free holiday baking class on Sunday, December 1. Join Heather Esposito—owner of Sweet Freedom, the country’s first 100 percent gluten-free, allergen-friendly bakery—for a three-hour workshop on baking gluten-free versions of classic holiday treats. Esposito, who’s been featured on The Food Network’s “Cupcake Wars” and The Cooking Channel, will introduce the ingredients and techniques used to create gluten-free goodies like chocolate chip cookies, oatmeal raisin cookies, gingerbread, and pumpkin cupcakes. Cost is $75 per person. Register online at www.charlottesvillecookingschool.com.

Just a few days left to register for the 10th annual gingerbread competition at the Omni Charlottesville Hotel. Registration closes on Monday, December 2, and the competition begins Thursday, December 5. This year’s theme is “Stage and Screen: Favorite movie or play.” Obsessed with the mansion from The Godfather? Recreate it in cookie, icing, and candy form. Entree fees are $25 for professionals, $15 for adults, and $20 for families. Teens and kids below the age of 17 enter for free. For more information and registration forms, visit www.virginiagingerbreadchristmas.com.