The foodie frontier: 10th Annual Food & Drink Issue

Photo: Beyond The Flavor Photo: Beyond The Flavor

There are those of us for whom food will never be just fuel. Whether you call us connoisseurs, food snobs, epicureans, gourmets, or foodies, we scorn these terms that belittle our passion and preoccupation with what passes our discerning lips. We’re always on the prowl, hunting for that morsel, meal, or glass that will blow our minds and haunt our taste buds forever. Of course, we can’t just tuck right in.

No, we have to document this potentially life-altering experience, so we Instagram, Facebook, and tweet before we eat. We’re exhibitionists and pornographers of food, throwing down a gastronomic gauntlet in our social rings with every drool-inducing post. My pork belly looks better than yours. Food and drink are our toys and Charlottesville is our sandbox.

Still, there’s virtue in our fetish. We’re more committed than ever to eating, drinking, and buying local—and so are the chefs and cooks who feed us. Instead of competing, they’re collaborating. Formal and fussy are making way for hearty and gratifying, and no one thinks that cooking is his one-way ticket to the Food Network. This is our 10th year publishing this issue devoted to all that’s consumable, and it’s never tasted (or looked or sounded) better. Dig in.

By Megan J. Headley, Tami Keaveny, Giles Morris, and Caite White

Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards. Photo: Jen Fariello

Extreme conditions
Roughing it isn’t exactly a term you’d apply to wine tasting, but some of our winery’s tasting rooms are decidedly cushier than others. Here are the two that occupy opposing sides of the spectrum.

With steak frites and Petit Verdot cupcakes on the menu, a wood-burning fireplace in the tasting room, and pastoral views from a ceiling-fanned, covered deck, Pippin Hill Farm and Vineyards pampers guests in every way. The tasting room is open Tuesday through Sunday from 11am to 5pm and a tasting of four wines costs $6.

At Virginia Wineworks (if your GPS is good enough to have even found it), you’ll have to walk through the winemaking facilities, stepping over rubber hosing to get to the makeshift tasting room bar where the only thing on the menu is a tupperware tub of saltines. Getting to see wine being made, bottled, and boxed is all part of the charm though. Open every day (except major holidays) from 11am-5pm, Virginia Wineworks wine tastings are $5 and Michael Shaps wine is $7, but you may as well try both for $10.

Photo: Andrea Hubbell

Kitchen ink
If clothes make the man, then tattoos make the chef. Not only do they cover burn scars and other kitchen war wounds, but if they have a culinary bent, they serve as a walking business card. Here’s a super “sharp” tat from a busy restaurateur around town.

Gimme some skin
You can do better than pork rinds and potato chips. Indulging in a guilty-pleasure snack doesn’t mean you need to slum it. Crispy chicken skin satisfies the meanest cravings for fat and salt with gourmet style.

Clifton Inn teases your appetite with a bite of crispy chicken skin that gets fancy with a topping of foie gras mousse and foraged wood sorrel.

Farther afield, at the Roosevelt in Richmond, fried chicken skins stand in for fries as the side for a slider topped with pickles and kimchi mayo.

If you want to munch the high-class snack from the comfort of your own recliner, spread uncooked chicken skin on a baking sheet and cook it in a 300-degree oven until crisp. Season with salt.

Finger lickin’ good.

There’s a new T.J. coming to town
For those who make the trek to Short Pump every month to stock up on Trader Joe’s products, November can’t come soon enough. Here’s a top 10 list of what we’ll be clamoring over once our very own T.J.s opens in the Shops at Stonefield.

1. Dark Chocolate Roasted Pistachio Toffee
2. Edamame Hummus
3. Journey to the Center of the Cookie
4. Heat & Eat Falafel
5. Breaded Eggplant Cutlets
6. Lemon and Triple Ginger Snap Ice Cream
7. Arancini Bites
8. Crunchy Salted Almond Butter with Flaxseeds
9. Fresh Pizza Dough
10. Whole Wheat Lavash Chips

Seven days a week
So much to eat and drink and so little time (and money). Here’s a weekly meal plan for the tastiest specials around town.

Meatball Monday at Fellini’s #9
$12 Tuesdays at Maya
$6 food and drink menu at Bang!
Thirsty Thursday $5 glasses of wine at Orzo
10 Virginia wines by the glass at Tempo
No capping fee and $1 off draft Belgian beer at Beer Run
Cheap Virginia beers at Brookville

In a New York state of mind
Let’s get one thing straight. Charlottesville is not New York and never will be. Nor would we want it to be, what with our clean air, one degree of separation, and nature in our backyards. Still, with a fleet of yellow cabs, a Zagat Survey in the works, and loads more eateries than is typical for a small town, we too have commercial hubs that need names.

The stretch on West Main Street that once occupied nothing but car dealerships and service stations is now a food mecca with its own name (that would be Midtown), association, and street fair. Moto Pho Co., One Meatball Place, Bella’s, and Sweethaus (which recently moved down West Main to a huge space at 843) are among Midtown’s newcomers, while West Main, Main Street Market, Zinc, Blue Moon Diner, Maya, Horse & Hound, Continental Divide, and l’etoile keep the center of our little apple kicking.

Now, where would the Village be?

Photo: John Robinson

History in the remaking
Notice something different about the McDonald’s at Barracks Road Shopping Center? The first Golden Arches to open in Charlottesville is getting its second facelift since it opened in December 1970.