Liquid gold: Local cidery and coffee roaster garner national awards

The Harrison apple, an heirloom variety once thought to be extinct, was reintroduced by Tom Burford of Albemarle CiderWorks—and used to make an award-winning cider. Photo: Courtesy Albemarle CiderWorks The Harrison apple, an heirloom variety once thought to be extinct, was reintroduced by Tom Burford of Albemarle CiderWorks—and used to make an award-winning cider. Photo: Courtesy Albemarle CiderWorks

On Friday, January 17, Albemarle CiderWorks and Mudhouse Coffee Roasters scored top honors in the 2020 Good Food Awards in San Francisco. Among more than 2,000 entrants, the cidery and coffee producer were regional (South) winners in their respective categories—ACW for its Harrison cider, and Mudhouse for its Geisha Moras Negras roast. Bestowed annually by the creators of Slow Food Nations, the awards recognize “players in the food system who are driving towards tasty, authentic, and responsible food in order to humanize and reform our American food culture.”

Albemarle CiderWorks’ Harrison cider took top regional (South) honors at the annual Good Foods Awards in San Francisco. Photo: Courtesy Albemarle CiderWorks

As the name suggests, the ACW cider is made from the Harrison apple, an 18th-century variety that fell out of use and was thought to be extinct until its rediscovery in the late 1970s. Years later, ACW’s Thomas Burford became the first contemporary orchardist to cultivate the yellow, black-speckled Harrison, and today it is widely grown and popular among cider makers (but too ugly for supermarket sales).

The story of Mudhouse’s award winner begins in 1960, when the Geisha coffee variety was introduced in Panama. Mudhouse sources its beans from a third-generation family farm there. Grown at an altitude of about 5,400 feet, the fruit is hand-picked by migrant laborers from the Ngäbe-Buglé indigenous region, and it is quite precious. Eight ounces of Mudhouse’s Moras Negras will set you back $75. That’s more than most of us would be willing to pay. But at the 2006 Best of Panama event, an executive from Vermont’s Green Mountain Coffee remarked, “I am the least religious person here and when I tasted this coffee I saw the face of God in a cup.”

If you’re into that sort of thing, you can buy the stuff at mudhouse.com.

Speaking of awards…

Five local vineyards wowed the judges at the 2020 San Francisco Chronicle Wine Competition, securing prestigious awards and doing the Monticello American Viticultural Area proud. Jefferson and Barboursville vineyards, Veritas Vineyard & Winery, and Trump Winery earned Double Gold designations for five wines, and newcomer Hark Vineyards was the only Best in Class winner from Virginia, singled out in the classic packaging category for its 2017 chardonnay label design. The Chronicle’s annual event is the largest in North America, drawing 6,700 entries from 1,000 wineries this year. Judges dole out Double Gold medals sparingly but found worthy recipients in the Jefferson Vineyards 2018 viognier, Barboursville’s 2018 vermentino, and Trump Winery’s 2016 meritage (a red blend consisting primarily of cabernet franc). Veritas nabbed two double-golds for cabernet franc bottlings, the 2017 reserve and 2017 standard in the $40-and-over and under-$30 categories, respectively.

This is nuts!

Sorry, fans of dairy alternatives like soy and almond milk, you may have to adapt to new terminology. A bill just cleared the Virginia House Agriculture Subcommittee defining milk as “the lacteal secretion, practically free of colostrum, obtained by the complete milking of a healthy hooved mammal.” The measure is intended to protect the commonwealth’s dairy industry from the surge in popularity of plant-based “milk” products. The legislation is moooving up the lawmaking food chain for further consideration.

Munch madness

C-VILLE’s Restaurant Week 2020 kicks off Friday, January 24, with 40 restaurants offering three-course meals for $29 or $39 (plus tax and a huge tip, please)—and presenting some tantalizing dishes. We’ve got our hungry little eyes on a few, including: Little Star’s seared rockfish with escarole, chipotle, manchego, and pimento fundito; Fleurie’s pan-roasted Polyface Farm chicken with braised cabbage and bacon; Kama’s grilled Virginia oysters with uni butter; 1799 at The Clifton’s rainbow trout with sweet potato, kale, and orange emulsion; Three Notch’d’s truffled mushroom ragout with potato gnocchi, vegetarian bordelaise, baked kale, and pecorino; and to top things off, Common House (aka Vinegar Hall)’s buttermilk panna cotta with persimmon jam. A portion of the proceeds benefit the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank, so eat up!

Bird is the word

Bowerbird Bakeshop, that is. The team behind the City Market stalwart recently announced a brick-and-mortar location at the Tenth Street Warehouses this spring. On Monday, co-owners Earl Vallery and Maria Niechwiadowicz surpassed their $5,555 GoFundMe target (by about $500) to defray part of the $70,000 start-up costs. Ten percent of all donations above the goal benefit City of Promise, the nonprofit working to empower underserved populations in Charlottesville.

Movin’ on up

It’s last call at Ace Biscuit & BBQ’s Henry Street location. The charming storefront next to Vitae Spirits will close on January 26 as the kings of carbo-loading move to bigger digs at 600 Concord Ave., just a couple of blocks away. No opening date at the new location has been announced.

Plus ça change

Less than a year after taking the helm at Gordonsville’s Rochambeau, Michelin-starred chef Bernard Guillot has returned to France, citing personal reasons. But the restaurant won’t miss a beat, as Jean-Louis and Karen Dumonet step in to fill the void in early February. The couple met long ago at cooking school in Paris and have been collaborating on restaurants all over the world for 35-plus years. Their latest project, Dumonet, was a popular French bistro in Brooklyn.

It’s mai-tai o’clock somewhere

Now that it’s actually cold outside, Brasserie Saison is hosting a Tropical Tiki Getaway so you can mind-trip to a warm, sandy beach. The intimate downstairs Coat Room will be decorated like a luau (we see a fake palm tree in our future) and paper-umbrella cocktails will be served. Wear your Hawaiian shirts and flip-flops. 6-10pm, Thursday, January 30. 111 E. Main St., Downtown Mall, 202-7027, brasseriesaison.net.

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