Knife & Fork | Fall/Winter 2022

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HUNT! Want to find truffles in Virginia? Start here

GATHER! Umma’s just wants to welcome all y’all

COOK! Cake many ways from a former C’ville foodie FALL / WINTER 2022

Taste is everything. Melissa Close-Hart on her new Southern restaurant



A CHANGE IN ATMOSPHERE The Legendary Mill Room

The Mill Room Restaurant is a highlight of Boar’s Head Resort infused with history and inspiration from the local scenery. Whether dining inside or on the terrace, each room within the restaurant offers its own sophisticated ambiance with a unique view of the bucolic resort landscape. Reservations: or (434) 972-2230

Owned and operated by the UVA Foundation


973 Emmet St N., Charlottesville, VA 22903 • •


American Regional American Regional CuisineCuisine Featuring Featuring steaks, scallops, salmon, pork chops, steaks, scallops, salmon, pork chops, chicken, pasta & other seasonal fresh food fresh food chicken, pasta & other seasonal We offer several gluten-free, vegan vegetable We and offer severalchoices gluten-free, vegan

and vegetable choices

Onsite catering, wedding & banquet facilities available

Check Our Website ( for Current Hours of Operation, Check Our Website ( Scheduled Entertainment & Happenings

Onsite catering, wedding for Current Hours of Operation, Rt. 522, 4533Entertainment Zachary Taylor Hwy., Mineral Va & banquet facilities availableMinutes from the lake onScheduled & Happenings Minutes from the540-894-4343 lake on Rt. •522, 4533 Zachary Taylor Hwy., Mineral Va 540-894-4343 •

delivering fresh, wholesome goodness from your local farmer to your family.

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TA B L E O F C O N T E N T S Amuse Bouche 10 Let’s bake All the cakes from a former Charlottesville food scene fixture.

11 We’re screamin’ SugarBear serves up local ice cream, down to the dairy.

13 Keep ’em coming Donations are up for BRAFB.

13 ...On an open fire Chestnuts fresh from Virginia.

The Dish 17 Foodies on foodies An interview with Umma’s, courtesy of Splendora’s PK Ross.

21 Clean eats A local parenting blogger on eating vegan (plus a recipe!).

22 Going green DuCard amps up its sustainable initiatives.

Virginia cider is making a splash.

25 Bless her heart Melissa Close-Hart opens a Southern spot in Belmont.

26 On the hunt! Black truffles in central Virginia—for the taking!

27 It’s poppin’ Blenheim Vineyards’ new wine program—for everyone.

29 He scores Ralph Sampson takes on the Charlottesville resto scene.

46 The Last Bite


23 Drink up

Baked to perfection


We like our cookies like we like our romantic partners: A little rough around the edges, but gooey on the inside. With that in mind, we went in search of the perfect one (cookie, not partner). Spoiler alert: There are a lot of excellent options, and we’ve compiled a list of the ones melting our hearts, from Allen’s shortbread to Baggby’s iconic chocolate chip. Hope you find what you’re looking for.

Stuck on Ivy Inn’s pudding cake.

ON THE COVER: Our Charlottesville cookie bucket list. PHOTO: Anna Kariel

KNIFE & FORK, a supplement to C-VILLE Weekly, is distributed in Charlottesville, Albemarle County, and the Shenandoah Valley. No part of this publication may be reproduced without the written permission of the publisher. Knife & Fork Editor Caite Hamilton. Copy Editor Susan Sorensen.

308 E. Main St. Charlottesville, VA 22902 (434) 817-2749 n

Tracy Federico.

Art Director Max March. Graphic Designer

Account Executives Annick Canevet, Lisa C. Hurdle, Brittany Keller, Gabby Kirk, Stephanie

Vogtman, Beth Wood. Production Coordinator Faith Gibson.

Publisher Anna Harrison. Chief Financial

Officer Debbie Miller. A/R Specialist Nanci Winter. Circulation Manager Billy Dempsey. ©2022 C-VILLE Weekly.

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Eclectic, scratch-made pastries, croissants, french macarons, & more. Breakfast sandwiches on the weekend. More info at IG: @BowerbirdBakeshop OPEN: Thurs-Fri 7:30am-3pm • Sat-Sun 8am-2pm

609 East Market St.

120 10th St NW Cville, VA 22903

1 block north of the Downtown Mall


Vibrant Food Fun Cocktails Communal Patio

Big S|ster.

Lit±l= S|ster.

Open for Breads, Pastries, Cof fee, and Takeout Breakfast, Lunch & Br unch. MarieBette Café & Bakery · 700 Rose Hill Drive, Charlottesville · 434.529.6118 Petite MarieBette · 105 E Water Street, Charlottesville · 434.284.8903

826 Hinton Ave •

please r u st i c call • 434.972.9463 it ali a n to• reserve fo o in d advance • wi ne c r af t co c k t ai l s • c i c c he t t i b a r


The Taste of Turkey, Experience a world renowned delicacy from Turkey in the heart of downtown Charlottesville. Our authentic and delicious Döner Kebab is prepared in the Turkish street food tradition with homemade falafel. They are served in pita sandwiches, in wraps and in bowls. It is healthy, affordable and delicious.

now accepting reservations for holiday parties in our new private dining room new private dining room for holiday parties in our now accepting reservations WINNER

dine in, take out or delivery options.


111 W Water St, Charlottesville (434) 328-8786

Reservations at • 434.972.9643 826 826Hinton HintonAve Ave ••

please call 434.972.9463 to reserve in advance

Indulge in the culinary art created by Chef Matthew and his team 1799 Restaurant features luxury dining in a historic setting with modern touches

Complete your meal with a perfect wine pairing from our award winning wine list 1296 Clifton Inn Drive Charlottesville, VA For reservations: 434.971.1800

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Of all the ice cream joints in Charlottesville, she walks into mine. Great for Groups Private Event Space Trivia Night Vegan & Gluten Free Options Certified Green Restaurant

EST 1985


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37 Years!


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One-of-a-kind family-friendly Bar + Restaurant + Game Room


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“Where memories are made one scoop at a time!” 223 E.Main Street Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall 977-4139

1304 E Market Street, Charlottesville


fast Burrito k a e Br

Farmacy’s main focus is primarily using as many Organic ingredients as possible and supporting Local farmers. Jessica and Gabino Lino are the owners of Farmacy Food Truck, Café and Catering. Jessica went to nutrition school and Gabino is from Mexico and has been cooking professionally for over 15 years. Together they created Farmacy’s concept of Organic Local Mexican Fusion. Follow them on FB or Instagram to see the latest specials and for event info to catch the food truck. Also check out their new Cafe in the CODE building courtyard on the downtown mall. 222 West Main St. Or email them for catering details at

Food Truck, Café and Caterer Ch f e Be



For cake’s sake

YOU MAY KNOW HER AS THE FORMER BAKER AT Greenwood Grocery, or the woman who in 2020 penned Hot Cheese (aptly named—it’s a collection of recipes with hot cheese as the star), or even as the author of the Chesnok food blog, but Polina Chesnakova’s gunning for a new title: the cake lady. Her new book, Everyday Cake, is for cake lovers in the truest sense, the kind of people who just like to have a sweet treat sitting on the counter. Of course, the Seattle-based author admits, there are a few recipes that might be better saved for a special occasion than a Tuesday afternoon (looking at you, rum raisin bundt, emphasis on the rum), but because the book is uniquely organized by pan shape, she’s made it easy to get just what you’re craving. Catch her at Common House on September 22 to dive into each beautiful page. In the meantime, here’s what she had to say about her new release.—CH Knife & Fork: Why cake? Polina Chesnakova: I wanted to write a baking book and felt like 1) the great thing about cake is that they can be made as simple or as complicated as you want, but they’re always welcome, and 2) there were so many cake books out there that focused on decorating, layering, or making four to five different components. I wanted to write a book that focused on simple, rustic cakes that hit on all the everyday reasons to make them—when a craving hits, for the unexpected guest, or when you want something sweet to celebrate with, but without the fuss. Do you have a favorite in the book, or are they kind of all your babies? They’re all my babies obviously! But, as the title suggests, it just depends on my mood or the occasion. The olive oil cake is super easy and quick to whip up, and great for showcasing whatever fruit is in season (I suggest pairing it with a fruit compote and whipped cream). It’s my go-to for when I want to serve a simple, yet elegant dessert (which is often the case). I’m also really proud of the golden milk tres leches—the milk mixture is this gorgeous electric yellow and because it’s infused with turmeric and whole spices like cardamom, cinnamon, and black pepper, the

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This new recipe book is sweet (and, in some cases, savory)

Polina Chesnakova’s Everyday Cake is available now. Find it at

flavor is out of this world. The sponge soaks it all up and the cool whipped cream makes each bite extra creamy (plus it helps cut the sweetness!). Are there any family recipes included? Yes! I have my mom’s rum raisin bundt cake (ironically, a family favorite seeing as the recipe calls for an entire cup of rum, and yet no one in my family drinks, ha!); the apple sharlotka (so quick and easy to whip together—think soft, sponge cake studded with apple chunks); napoleon (puff pastry layered with whipped pastry cream); and grated jam cake, which is perfectly homey and just the kind of dessert you want always want lying around. What’s the first cake you remember making? I think my first ventures into cake making (if they count) were cupcakes. There were definitely Betty Crocker box mix-


Sweet find SugarBear is on the case—or, rather, in the case. The small-batch ice cream­can be found at Feast!, Bowerbird Bakeshop, and MarieBette Café & Bakery. From UVA alum (and Penn State Ice Cream Short Course grad) Emily Harpster, each pint includes local ingredients—think jam from Jam According to Daniel, coffee from Lone Light, and dairy from Homestead Creamery. Find it at—CH

Your cookbooks focus on one specific thing— cheese, cake... Was that on purpose? Not a deliberate choice! Just sort of worked out that way. My dream has always been to write a book on my food heritage and family recipes— the mainly Russian and Georgian dishes I grew up with—so when the opportunities to write these past two books arose, I saw them as stepping stones to this goal. But when and how I’ll write it is still TBD!


es and Duncan Hines frosting involved, but I think the first from-scratch batch I remember making was an Ina Garten chocolate cupcake with peanut butter frosting recipe. I really got into baking in high school, and I was a big “Barefoot Contessa” fan and loved all of her cookbooks. I brought the cupcakes into school and of course my fellow 16-year-olds were like, ‘Whoa, you made them from scratch?’ I’m pretty sure that’s also when my love-for-baking reputation began.

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Here’s one to add to your fall pick-your-own calendar: chestnuts. Grown at Black Oak Farm in Nelson County, these hearty nuts nearly went extinct in the early 1900s, after a fungus ravaged the North American population of chestnut trees. But David and Kim Bryant grow an American-Chinese hybrid tree on more than 20 acres of land, and their pickyour-own offering begins September 24. Visit virginiachestnuts. com for more info.—CH


Bringing chestnut back

Keep ’em full Good food news: The Blue Ridge Area Food Bank reported that its March collections added up to the most donations in its 11-year history. The BRAFB School Food Drive brought in 11,000 pounds of food from 22 schools, over 18 days. “The opportunity for the schools, family, students, parents to come together has really been spectacular,” says Albemarle High School senior Kat Ravichandran, who helped lead the effort. The extra food has been sorely needed: According to BRAFB CEO Michael McKee, the number of food insecure families in the Blue Ridge area has increased more than 50 percent since 2000, and the food bank is now serving about 110,000 people every month. Learn how you can help fight hunger at—WH Knife&Fork 13


UNFORGETTABLE FLAVORS Start your evening at The Pink Grouse enjoying a locally-sourced and inspired dinner menu. End your evening at Bobboo sipping creative cocktails and nuanced whiskey selections.

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Find us at: 499 W Main Street Learn more: Follow us @quirkhotelcva to stay up to date on all things Quirk.


Virginia’s finest steakhouse since 1965. We are open Wednesday- Saturday from 5pm for Inside Dining & Curbside Pickup. Outside dining available weather permitting.

Please call for reservations 434-296-4630

2018 Holiday Drive 434.296.4630 |

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Pippin Hill Farm & Vineyards is unique among the fine wineries along Virginia’s Monticello Wine Trail. We not only create distinguished boutique wines, our Tasting Room pairs them with exquisite fare from the garden: local, fresh, seasonal, from vineyard-and garden-to-table, and always with Pippin Hill’s welcoming sense of relaxed elegance. ES TAT E TOUR & TA S T I NG Join us for a unique, in-depth exploration of our wines, vines, and land. The experience starts with a glass of award-winning bubbly and a guided tour of our Estate vines. The tour is followed by an intimate tasting featuring a selection of six exclusive Reserve and Library wines and concludes at a table in our tasting room where you will enjoy culinary favorites such as such as our cheese & charcuterie board and seasonal burrata. Book via RESY


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Three Charlottesville restaurant owners on what it means to make food ‘of a place’ By Caite Hamilton Knife&Fork 17

The Dish

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Kelsey Naylor and Anna Gardner hope Umma’s can be an inclusive space where diners can stretch their palettes.

mother’s like, “This is how it’s supposed to be.” And then when we went to Japan and saw the baselines of where that all came from. Our own experiences and Anna’s interpretations of things that I grew up with—putting a new spin on it. The way it’s evolved, I think, is kind of what the restaurant is turning into. Like generations of what it was into what it can be. Just using the idea and running with it. PR: Do you think it surprises a lot of people— before the Apple TV series [“Pachinko”] came out—that Korea was colonized by Japan and that’s why there’s more of that kind of interplay between the foods? I feel like the Japanese overlay of what Korea’s existing food ways were is really interesting. Is that something you noticed when you lived in Japan? KN: There are so many things where Korea took it and ran with it and made it, to our mind, better. But there are also certain things like curry that they took and just ruined (in


Patricia Ross: You guys have a point of view with your food that shares Korean history. Do you feel like your restaurant occupies a liminal space where you have roots in one place, but you’ve grafted onto your particular experience? Kelsey Naylor: Definitely. I grew up eating the—my mom’s very anal, like, “This is how [the dish] is supposed to be.” And my grand-



nna Gardner and Kelsey Naylor had been working in Charlottesville kitchens for years—Naylor at L’étoile, TEN, The Alley Light, Gardner at The Ivy Inn, Junction, Oakhurst Inn, and together at Public Fish & Oyster—when they started feeling a burn-out coming on. They decided to take a year off to explore Japan and, when they came back, they opened Pye Dog Pizza as a way to see what the classic Italian dish looks like outside of Italy—Naylor’s native Korea included (see: bulgogi and cheese pizza). In 2020, wanting to focus even more on the Japanese cuisine they’d learned about during their year abroad, they pivoted to a new food truck concept: Basan, which is closer to Umma’s, the brick and mortar spot they opened this spring. It’s there that they’re exploring the intersection of Japan, Korea, and America and, even more specifically, Japan, Korea, and Charlottesville, utilizing a lot of ingredients from Sussex Farm, run by Naylor’s “mamabird,” Jen. It’s that spirit that captured the attention of Splendora’s owner Patricia Ross, who’s been a fan of the women since Pye Dog and an even bigger one these days, as Umma’s continues to push the imagination and taste buds of local diners. Similarly, Ross works to create gelato and pastries that feel, as she says, “of a place.” Her gelato might not look quite like the cone you ordered that one time in Italy proper, but that’s because what Ross serves at her Stonefield shop is from her own perspective, and uses ingredients from Virginia—and the same goes for “authentic” Japanese cuisine at Umma’s. “I hate that word,” Ross says. “I think authentic just means that it means something to someone. It sounds so Pollyanna, but I want people who live to make food to be able to confidently put their heart on a plate without worrying about a cognoscenti imposing judgment or a broader public dragging them to mediocrity.” We asked the three women to chat—Actors on Actors-style—about authenticity, cooking across cultures, and the Charlottesville food scene. Oh, and which “whiny average dude ballad” they hate the most.

Patricia Ross

The Dish

my opinion). Like, why do you need to put raisins in? Not everything has to be spicy with raisins in it. Like, it’s gonna be okay. PR: That translation really figures into the way you guys are doing your dishes now. Is that a deliberate choice that you made or just something that happened? Anna Gardner: I think to a certain extent it is a deliberate choice just because it is so endlessly fascinating to see the minor tweaks. So I, in many ways, like to think of it as not “Americanizing” things, but trying to look at things in the way it would be looked at over there and try to play with the flavors that way, as opposed in the reverse, which I think is a subtle, but very different perspective. KN: I feel like a lot of what we get trapped in here, as far as Americanizing things, is like, oh, furikake. “I’m just gonna put it on. There, it’s Japanese now.” Stuff like that is always—that makes me angry.

PR: You guys very deliberately avoid designations of authentic, which at this point feels like a marketing angle rather than an actual point of view of food. How do you thread that needle when there are Japanese elements that are Korean-ified in what you’re doing? The distinction is subtle, as you say. How do you thread that needle without being a dickhead? AG: I mean, it sounds so L.A., but we just make what we want to make. At the end of the day, I think all food is storytelling. Like, for instance, I never disliked Asian food, but I never once thought to myself, you know what I want to cook is Asian food—until I had been with Kelsey for a while and eaten so much of her mom’s food that it kind of took on its own sentimental life for me personally. It’s not like we sit down and write a menu and say to ourselves, like, “Man, I really want to interrogate the meaning of uni” or whatever. We’re just telling stories. If that means something to us, whether it be a memory that we personally have, or just a feeling from childhood, pretty much any dish you ask us about, we could tell you. You might not taste it and be like, “Oh, this tastes like the time they played in sprinklers,” but it’s kind of the baseline of where things come from. KN: I know the one that I was really excited about was on the menu a long time ago. The story was that my grandmother used to wake up and go to the fish market in Baltimore at like four o’clock in the morning and get flounder. And my dad and my mom’s dad definitely did not get along. My dad doesn’t know any Korean. But the way that they kind of bridged that gap together was through the sashimi. They would just sit there and drink Crown Royal all day. So we did sashimi with Crown Royal ponzu to kind of show the story of like, these are ways that we connect with other people. AG: So as far as the question of authenticity goes, we do deliberately avoid it. I don’t believe it is humanly possible to make any authentic food, like authentic Japanese food in Virginia, because the terroir is so different. KN: It’s disappointing because there’s so much that you can get from food. By marketing yourself as authentic, it leads people to these assumptions about what [the cuisine] should be because someone else called themselves authentic Korean or authentic Japanese. Even if [our food] is authentic to us, there are nuances in the language. But people will just pick that one word and hold onto it and not listen to anything that we have to say.

PR: The thing that I love about your food is one, it’s always a surprise to me and I eat quite a bit. And two, I don’t know the specific instances where you guys are cooking from, but I do know where I am when I’m eating. And it’s always something that brings a core memory. AG: It has been very humbling to see how many people respond to that. Though it is perhaps a slower burn, we have been so blessed with a lot of very loyal, die-hard customers. And while they may not be in love with everything we make, we’ve gotten to build relationships with them. PR: Do you guys wanna talk about how important it is to you to be an unofficial gay bar? KN: Indeed. So I guess our stance before we even opened the restaurant was there is a very, very lacking gay community in Charlottesville. Either you are the type of gay person that loves cycling and you can meet a couple gay people cycling or like, oh, I don’t know. I’ll go to Firefly because they happen to have the flag out front, but like, that’s it. There isn’t really a space for people to meet other people and hang out and feel just safe. I feel like Charlottesville is one of those places where you never outright feel in danger, just not welcome. Being able to have that unofficial gay bar status is like, yeah, I would be so stoked to be able to go somewhere and be like, nobody here gives a shit that I’m gay. AG: We have two straight people on staff out of 20. It makes me so happy. It wasn’t a conscious choice. People just kind of—build it and they will come. KN: It’s not to say I only want gay people to come here. I just want it to also be a space that’s like anybody—literally anyone, I don’t care what your background is or any of that—I want it to be a space where you never feel weird about hanging out or holding your partner’s hand. PR: One more question, and then we can be done. An eccentric billionaire comes into the restaurant and promises to fund it but you have to play her favorite song on loop. Anytime she eats here—and she eats for two to three hours minimum. What is her favorite song? It has to be a specific song that breaks you. AG: “American Girl,” Tom Petty. PR: I’m talking good money. Like you can do whatever you want—rent forever. She might even buy the building for you, right? And pay the property tax. KN: “Yellow” by Coldplay.

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ur winery offers an extensive List of premium Virginia wines for an extraordinary tasting experience. We are open January through April. Friday through Monday, 11am-5pm: May through

December, 7 days a week, 11am-5pm. Complimentary music Saturday

and Sunday afternoons. Come see for yourself and visit us in rural Louisa County, an easy drive from Richmond. Check our website for directions and details, Voted one of Virginia's favorite tasting rooms five years in a row!


13372 Shannon Hill Road I Louisa, VA 23093 I 540-894-1536 I @ Ii

The Dish

Practical and palatable BohoVegMom’s recipes make vegan eating reasonable for even the most reluctant cook By Laura Drummond



nown by the online community as BohoVegMom, food blogger Amy Rolph has been serving up plantbased recipes from her home in Charlottesville since 2019. The restaurant manager turned stay-at-home mom started an Instagram account to connect with other vegan cuisine enthusiasts during the pandemic, and soon after launched a dedicated website ( to share her practical and palatable dishes. Rolph has been eating a plant-based diet since the early aughts. As an environmental science student at Penn State, she felt compelled to adopt a vegan lifestyle. “While learning about the human impact on the world, I wanted to reduce my impact as an individual. That’s why I started eschewing animal products,” she says. A self-described experimental eater, Rolph was excited about a plant-based diet, especially after finding it helped her feel nourished, energetic, and healthy. However, it did have its challenges. Reflecting on those early days,

BohoVegMom Amy Rolph gained a following during the pandemic, when she started a blog to document the plant-based meals she makes for her family.

Rolph says, “Veganism wasn’t mainstream, and ‘plant-based’ wasn’t even a thing back then. You couldn’t really go out to restaurants, and

Vegan cooking made easy BohoVegMom Amy Rolph says her favorite foods to cook and eat are soups and stews. “I just love throwing everything in one pot, giving it time to cook, the flavors to build. They’re even better the next day. It’s cozy comfort food for me—always my go-to.” Tempeh White Bean Chili 1 tbsp. olive oil

1 tsp. oregano

1/2 cup frozen corn

8 oz. package of tempeh, diced**

1/2 tsp. salt

Juice of 1 medium lime

1 small yellow onion, diced

1/8 tsp. pepper

1/4 cup cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeño, seeded & minced

3 cups veggie broth

3 cloves garlic, minced

2 15 oz. cans white beans, drained

An extra can of white beans can be used in place of tempeh.

2 tsp. cumin

2 4 oz. cans diced green chiles

Serves 6

Heat oil on medium-high heat in a large soup pot. Add onion and tempeh to the pot and sauté for about five minutes to soften onions and brown tempeh. Add jalapeño and garlic, and sauté for one minute. Next, add cumin, oregano, salt, and pepper; cook for 30 seconds while mixing all ingredients. Finally, add broth, beans, chiles, and corn to the pot. Bring to a boil, then turn burner to low and simmer for 25 to 30 minutes. Remove from heat and stir in lime juice and cilantro.

there weren’t all these vegan products on the shelves at the grocery store.” With few easily accessible options, Rolph turned to cooking more for herself. “That time made me resourceful,” she says. “I can attribute most of my skills to many years of having to cook vegan without being able to buy convenience food.” Rolph asserts that she does not possess natural talent nor formal training. Her culinary abilities have been hard-earned in her home kitchen, where she has spent untold hours building and refining her recipes. “It’s a lot of trial and error,” she says. “I’ve been working on them for years in my little notebook.” The finished recipes Rolph shares via BohoVegMom have these common characteristics: plant-based, simple, delicious, and budget friendly. By keeping recipes straightforward, BohoVegMom illustrates that preparing vegan meals doesn’t have to be elaborate or expensive. “This plant-forward lifestyle is going to be the cheapest that anyone can possibly eat,” says Rolph. She hopes to make plant-based eating reasonable for even the most reluctant cook. “Any little changes can add up to a lot. Being experimental and being willing to try new things in the kitchen is a good thing.”

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The Dish

Stewards of the earth


DuCard Vineyards eliminates plastic bottles from its tasting room

By Laura Drummond


s this the most environmentally friendly option?” At DuCard Vineyards, this is the question asked prior to making each and every decision. Nestled at the edge of the Shenandoah National Park among the mountains of Madison County, DuCard’s vintners are not only committed to producing award-winning, small-batch wine but also devoted to being good stewards of the earth. “We benefit greatly from our environment, and we want to keep it as healthy as possible,” says Beth Wilson, DuCard’s Customer Experience and Marketing Director. Their latest concentration: eliminating plastics from their tasting room. Partnering with Virginia Artesian Bottling Company, DuCard offers 12-ounce glass bottles of water that are recyclable and refillable, thus eliminating a need for single-use plastic water bottles. Roughly 480 billion plastic bottles were used globally last year, and of those, less than 10 percent were recycled. With this initiative, Wilson estimates that DuCard is preventing the use of nearly 10,000 plastic bottles per year. “While we certainly know

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“Especially for wineries and agricultural businesses in general, we thrive and are successful because of what the land and the environment give us.” BETH WILSON we’re not making a measurable dent in the problem, our philosophy is that everyone can do something, contribute to the solution, and be a good role model,” says DuCard’s founder and president Scott Elliff. Not only does DuCard consider the environmental impact of the products and supplies in use, but also the carbon footprint in terms of sourcing and shipping. DuCard locally sources whenever possible, and that includes the water in the bottles. “Our water is sourced from a number of springs at our central Virginia property,” says Nick Brown, president of Virginia Artesian Bottling. “Our carbon foot-

print is lower than most other water options, which are trucked in from up to a thousand miles away to Virginia-based businesses.” Prior to the transition to water in glass bottles, DuCard’s tasting room eradicated plastic tableware, opting for biodegradable and compostable items instead. Local sources provide the cheeses, meats, and chocolates for wine pairing, and the items are stored in reusable glass containers. The wine bottles are 20 percent lighter than average, and corks get recycled and turned into flooring. Beyond the tasting room is an expansive array of practices ensuring sustainable operations. In the vineyard, DuCard uses mainly organic materials and natural methods for vine management and protection. It composts grape waste by-products for use in its fields and gardens. For the winery, solar panels generate power for heating, cooling, lighting, processing, and production. An on-premises artificial wetland system uses plants to filter winery wastewater. In all facets of the enterprise, DuCard focuses on employing and retaining mostly local workforce. It has even joined with Piedmont Virginia Community College to help train local people in vineyard operations and management for its viticulture and enology program. DuCard is the first winery in Virginia to implement the glass bottle initiative, but this is not the first time it has led the way in sustainability efforts. Since opening its doors in 2010, DuCard has been something of a trailblazer, as evidenced by its repeat recognition as the Greenest Winery in Virginia (2010, 2015). The hope is for others to implement similar practices. “Especially for wineries and agricultural businesses in general, we thrive and are successful because of what the land and the environment give us,” says Wilson. “It’s our turn to take good care of it.” While these efforts often take a great deal of time and work to plan and implement, and rarely present much of, if any, cost savings, DuCard has no plans to slow down. “There are lots of reasons why it’s not the easiest way to go, but it’s the best way,” says Wilson. “We’re not just committed—we’re happy to do it.”

The Dish

Best pressed

A rise in popularity finds Virginia cider going for the gold By Paul Ting


eginning in 2021, the annual Virginia Governor’s Cup competition, which traditionally recognizes the best wines in the state, included a separate category for cider. In 2022, the competition awarded 10 gold medals to ciders and Albemarle CiderWorks’ 2019 Hewes Crab won Best in Show. Opened by the Shelton family in 2009, Albemarle CiderWorks is Virginia’s oldest operating cidery. The growth of Albemarle CiderWorks parallels the renaissance of cider in Virginia, and its resurgence in the United States. Cider is considered one of the country’s original beverages, brought here from England by the first settlers and produced by several of the founding fathers. While consumption waned as beer and wine became popular, consumer interest has reignited in recent years, resulting in more cideries, more variety, and an increase in the volume of production. In Virginia, cider falls under the same category as wine for tax purposes, and some of these tax dollars are controlled by the Virginia Wine Board, which uses the money for marketing, research, and other initiatives. As the cider market has grown, Virginia has ramped up promotion of the beverage. These efforts extend to the inclusion of cider in the Governor’s Cup, increased marketing, and the recent expansion of the state-funded Winemakers Research Exchange (see page 16) to include cider in its research and education efforts. With cider’s inclusion in the Governor’s Cup, the VWB recognized the wine/cider apples and oranges (well, grapes) situation by forming a separate category for cider, and assuring that the cider judges are distinct from the wine judges. This year’s judges panel featured cider enthusiasts, cider makers, cidery owners, and even a certified pommelier. Similar to the better-known sommelier designation for wine, the establishment in 2019 of the pommelier designation is more evidence of cider’s growing importance in the United States. While a historic beverage rooted in history, cider is still new to many and presents an opportunity to taste, explore, and keep drinking local.

How ’bout them apples? The process of tasting cider is similar to tasting wine, but the underlying flavors vary between the source fruit of apples and grapes. Like wine, specific training exists for those who taste cider professionally. These tips let you be the judge. Glassware: Although you may not drink cider from wine glasses normally, using a wine glass helps distinguish flavors because of its wide bowl and ability to concentrate aromas for evaluation. A larger, thinner bowl will help you swirl cider to bring out subtle aromas. Temperature: Most people drink cider chilled at colder temperatures, but tasting at slightly warmer temperatures, 55 degrees is suggested, helps bring out flavors and textural components. Comfort: Take your time. Taste in a well-lit, odor- free environment. Stay hydrated as you taste. Taste in order: Taste dryer, lighter ciders first and then move on to sweeter, heavier ciders. Appearance: Look closely at color and clarity. Do you see bubbles? Is the cider watery and thin or full-bodied and syrupy?

Smell: Put your nose in the glass and evaluate the aroma. Can you smell anything, or is the impression intense and pungent? Does it smell like apples, pears, other fruits, flowers, herbs, vanilla, honey, spice? Is it musty? Taste: Allow the cider to touch all parts of your tongue. Do the flavors match the aromas that you identified? Is the cider sweet, acidic, bitter? If there is sweetness or acidity, is it in balance, or does the cider seem flat or sour? Mouthfeel: Is it light, like water, or does it feel heavier, like syrup? Does it dry out your mouth or is it creamy? Length and finish: How do the flavors change and finish? How long does it last? Overall impression: What is your final evaluation of the cider? Is it pleasant? Is it complex? Is it balanced? Pairing: Try pairing your favorites with food and see how your impressions change.

This story originally ran in C-VILLE Weekly.

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The Dish

Fresh Hart

Chef Melissa Close-Hart has new restaurant­—and a new outlook By Shea Gibbs



he team behind Junction, the Southwest-style Belmont restaurant that closed in 2020, has launched another eatery in the same space, but new patrons can expect anything but the same old. The new resto goes by the name Mockingbird and serves up Southern comfort. Head chef Melissa Close-Hart worked with long-time collaborators Michelle Moshier, Matthew Hart, and Helen Aker to come up with the concept after carefully debating Junction’s reopening. CloseHart says the new direction felt like a fresh start. “Junction did an okay job, and I did an okay job in that position, but it wasn’t really my passion,” the acclaimed chef says. “We did a lot of research, and we finally just said, ‘The best food gets produced by people that are doing something close to their heart.’” In addition to switching culinary focus, the Mockingbird dining room has been significantly downsized. Where Junction operated on both floors of the restored Belmont building at 421 Monticello Rd., Mockingbird will stick to the downstairs level. That gives it 100 floor seats and another 13 at the bar, down from 250. The upstairs will be devoted to Aker’s catering operation, and serve as an event space for parties up to 60 people. At Junction, Close-Hart and her back-ofhouse team served 2,200 square feet of dining room out of a 210-square-foot kitchen. That wasn’t tenable, and the change will allow the chef not only to cook food aligned with her own Southern heritage, but to do more oneoffs and boutique specials. Close-Hart says Mockingbird will differ from other soul food joints around town in that it’ll focus on the Deep South, with a bit of Cajun and creole thrown in, as well as Gulf Coast—rather than Eastern Shore—seafood. On the menu at Mockingbird are staples like fried green tomatoes and crispy chicken and waffles, but also more unique items like bison hanger steak and the Not-So-Classic Pot Roast with blue cheese crumbles. CloseHart wants to maintain five daily specials, as well, including an app and entrée along with the soup, catch, and ice cream of the day.

After closing her Southwest-inspired spot Junction during the pandemic, chef Melissa Close-Hart is back, newly sober and focusing on a cuisine that’s closer to her heart.

“Being at The Local for the last two and a half years, we do a lot of numbers,” Close-Hart says. “So a farmer might say, ‘I have two pounds of cowpeas.’ We can’t do anything with that.” The other big change at Close-Hart’s new restaurant is in the chef ’s personal focus. She’s been sober for the past three years and says she’s more energized and passionate about running a restaurant than she has been in a long time. “When we opened Junction, I was not in the right frame of mind, and it took about two years to realize I was in trouble,” Close-Hart says. “And to be frank about it, there are a lot of parts of opening Junction I don’t remember, between the stress and the addiction issues.” Close-Hart spent 30 days in rehab when she decided to fight her addictions. Some folks around her said she’d never be able to return to the restaurant business and stay

sober. But being a chef “is who I am, not just what I do,” she says, and there was no way she was giving it all up. Mockingbird opened to the public in late July after missing its soft opening the week prior. A COVID flareup likewise slowed the business for several days in early August. Otherwise, Close-Hart says things have been running smoothly, and she continues to revive her love of cooking. She’s also found support for her sobriety from a therapist and the growing crowd of sober chefs in Charlottesville and beyond. “I don’t even think about it anymore. It is not a concept in my life, and I don’t struggle with it,” Close-Hart says. “I found a happy place, and I have great people that surround me. I’m happy to talk about my sobriety if it helps even one person think about getting sober. And, it keeps me accountable.”

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The Dish

Buried treasure Farming for truffles in...Central Virginia?

By Carol Diggs


o botanists, Tuber melanosporum is a fungus that grows on tree roots underground. Gourmets give it a classier name: the black Périgord truffle. Once only produced in certain areas of France, Italy, and Spain, black truffles are now cultivated all over the world—including locally. Seeing truffle farms in New Zealand gave Pat Martin and her husband, John, an idea for their retirement: a quiet rural life, running a small-scale business that would give them an excuse to travel. In 2007 they bought land west of Culpeper, began nurturing English oak seedlings inoculated with Tuber melanosporum, and launched Virginia Truffles LLC.

“For truffle farming, you have to be in it for the long haul,” Martin says. It can take four to eight years before the transplanted trees’ roots produce truffles—but, as farmers know, there are no guarantees. The Martins saw their first truffle harvest (“two really nice ones”) in 2018. They now have six acres of trees*; last year’s harvest was seven pounds—not bad for a product that sells for more its weight in gold. Martin’s daughter Olivia Taylor, who has degrees in biology and environmental science, jumped in to help manage the tree nursery. Then came the challenge of actually finding the product—so Taylor was off to Provence to learn how to train truffle-hunting dogs. (Most professional truffle operations use dogs, she says; “truffle-hunting pigs are only for the tourists.”)

*While English oak is not a native tree, it is not considered invasive. Olivia Taylor says research indicates the specific conditions Tuber melanosporum requires make it unlikely it will “escape” or hybridize with native truffle species.

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Taylor now has three trained dogs, and during the harvest season (December to March) offers truffle-lovers a chance to hunt for their own. The hunts include a backgrounding on truffles, advice on storage, and recipe tastings around the firepit. Why so much fuss over a simple fungus? Partly, it’s the mystique that surrounds any rare ingredient. But truffle-lovers swear by its rich, earthy aroma and a taste sometimes called a mix of earth and chocolate. Fresh truffle can be thinly sliced directly into a dish, and when stored properly (wrapped in a paper towel in an air-tight container in the refrigerator), lasts 10 to 14 days. Storing truffle along with a high-fat food (eggs, butter, cream) imparts its unique aroma and taste. Leftover bits can also be frozen and used to infuse oil, butter, cheeses, and sauces (truffle aioli, anyone?). As always, buyers beware: Taylor cautions that truffle “flavoring” (as in commercially made truffle oils or dressing) is a synthetic approximation. If you want the real experience, buy the real fungus.

The Dish

Thoughtful pairings Community is the focus of Blenheim’s new wine club By Paul Ting

“You’ll definitely make new friends and have new reference points for wine after attending a club event,” he says. PK Ross, well-known for Splendora’s Gelato and Not Your Sweetie Chocolates, led the discussion at the club’s kickoff event in April. Ross sees the opportunity to change stereotypes and to empower people who may view themselves as outside the traditional wine community. “I like that I could be wildly wrong about these [wine and food] pairings, and that Oenoverse makes space for conversations to start… I think casual wine drinkers could learn to take more chances in the wine aisle if they had a safety net of ‘you have your own neural pathways. You can talk about wine however you want.’”


Gather, drink, and think These special guests lead the upcoming Blenheim Vineyards’ Oenoverse club conversations. September/October: Matt Harmon, winemaker and CEO of Harmony Wine November/December: Jason Becton, wine professional and co-owner of MarieBette and Petite MarieBette

This story originally ran in C-VILLE Weekly.


hen it comes to wine, it can be easy to focus on education and use facts, legality, and tradition in your approach. What does a particular grape variety taste like, or what should it taste like? What laws govern wine of a certain style or from a certain place? What defines “quality” in a wine? How do I know if a wine is good? It is important, though, not to lose sight of another aspect of wine: a creative expression of personal taste. Wine can occupy a magical space, facilitating the exchange of ideas, bringing people together in fellowship around the table, and, in doing so, binding people together in community. Oenoverse (“oeno” is Latin for wine) is a new wine club concept from Blenheim Vineyards that was designed to pair community and discussion. Every two months, members receive wines chosen by a rotating wine enthusiast or wine professional, appointed for their knowledge and their ongoing support of Blenheim Vineyards—and that’s just the beginning. Tracey Love, the director of marketing and events at Blenheim, says that Oenoverse is different from traditional clubs because it aims to be “experiential.” With every membership, entry for two people is included for an in-person tasting event led by the person who selected the wines. “Our intention is ensuring that Blenheim is an inclusive space where everyone is welcome to enjoy, share, and learn about wine,” she says. “The goal is to share a platform that invites the community together with the focus of wine and conversation.” Reggie Leonard, who has hosted similar events, will serve as master of ceremonies at each tasting. With Oenoverse, Leonard, the associate director for career connections and community engagement at UVA’s School of Data Science, combines an expertise in community engagement with his burgeoning passion for wine. He describes the new club as “inclusive by design” and a “collective experience,” rather than the traditional club member pick-up, where you get your wine and retreat to your respective corner or friend group.

Love explains that space is the limiting factor as things get started. “We are hoping that the Oenoverse stays a manageable size because we’d prefer the in-person tasting events to stay intimate, but will adapt depending on whatever happens,” she says. “We can expand to the tent or offer a virtual option if we need to. The more the merrier!” At the same time, when your founding principles are community, inclusivity, and diversity, growth seems almost inevitable. Leonard is careful with his words. “So far, it’s a Blenheim thing,” he says. “The idea… is transcendent enough to expand to more regional wineries, and it even has the legs to be a far-reaching club with chapters. Hopefully, in seeing conversations led by members and leaders of various communities, more of our community can see themselves being a part of the Oenoverse.” As Love frames it: “We all have work to do pushing the wine industry to be more inclusive and diverse. This is one small step towards growing our wine community.” More information about the Oenoverse wine club can be found at oenoverse.

Learn about wine in new ways with Oenoverse host Reggie Leonard.

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The Dish

Tall orders


Ralph Sampson makes his play in the restaurant world

Ralph Sampson’s American Tap Room is open six days a week at the Barracks Road Shopping Center.

By Will Ham


t’s been more than 40 years since Ralph Sampson led the University of Virginia Cavaliers to a run of basketball glory that included an NIT title in 1980, an NCAA Final Four appearance in 1981, and a trip to the NCAA Elite Eight in 1983. The 7-foot, 4-inch Harrisonburg native was one of the most sought after college recruits of his generation, winning NBA Rookie of the Year and making the cover of Sports Illustrated six times during his college career. He retired from pro basketball in 1995, went into coaching for several years, and was inducted into the Basketball Hall of Fame in 2011. For his latest rebound, Sampson returns to Charlottesville to lead a new team at Ralph Sampson’s American Tap Room, which held

its grand opening at its Barracks Road location this spring. “The opening weekend was crazy,” says Sampson. “It happened to line up with alumni weekend, so the opening celebration with the teams tested us from the start.” The stylish restaurant combines a traditional sports bar with upscale-casual dining, and it’s clear how much consideration went into every aspect, including the decor. Seated under a wall of signed basketballs, accented by a miniature statue of Sampson himself, the superstar baller takes care to emphasize that “this is not just a sports bar. We want it to be a place where people can have great experiences and great food. You’ll never see me hang my jersey on the wall.” The idea, says Sampson, is to bring together the community as a whole. “The world of UVA can feel very separate from the rest of the

city,” he says. “Like when I was a student, I didn’t feel like I knew the rest of Charlottesville. So we hope that this can be a place for both communities.” The menu follows the vibe of the restaurant with a mix of bar food and fine-dining options, intending to offer something for everyone. A bacon-wrapped filet mignon with lobster tail rings in at $54, with burger prices around $14. An order of the jumbo lump crab cake arrived softly composed, herby, and drizzled with grilled lemon accompanied by crispy, well-seasoned fries. A side of dijonnaise complemented the crab dish, as did the house IPA—Ralph’s Big Juicy, a mouthwatering citrusy beer developed in partnership with Three Notch’d Brewing Company. With plenty of room for dessert, Sampson personally recommended the Rockslide brownie sundae. “It’s one of my favorites on the whole menu,” he says. “The chocolate is so rich and soft, there’s nothing else like it.” Sampson approaches his foray into the restaurant business with a coach’s mentality. “I want to win championships in the restaurant industry,” he says. He understands that success in this field, like sports, comes from building a team of talented, hard-working players. Sampson partnered with Thompson Hospitality, the group behind The Ridley on West Main Street, to build his first original-concept restaurant. “I first met Warren [Thompson] back when we were both at UVA, but it wasn’t until recently that we connected again over this project,” he says. “There were so many moving parts and some setbacks when it came to opening this place up. It really showed us our strengths and our weaknesses, and I was lucky to have such an experienced and professional team on my side.” Sampson says he has lots of plans for the space, everything from screenings of classic games to meet-and-greets with professional athletes and live recordings of his all-thingssports podcast, “Center Court.” With its community focus, and sports history foundation, his American Tap Room is a place where Sampson is sure to power forward once again. This story originally ran in C-VILLE Weekly.

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Thibaut-Janisson was born from a long friendship that began in a Grand Cru village in the Champagne region of France and continues today in Blue Ridge Mountains of Charlottesville, Virginia. Thibaut-Janisson Winery | Charlottesville, Virginia | (434) 996-3307 |

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or are cookies the ultimate treat? They can be sweet (p.38), they can be savory (p.35), or they can be simple enough to dunk (or daintily dip, pinky up!) in a cup of English breakfast (p.41). You can serve them at parties (p.36), you can pack them in a kid’s lunch (p.35, you can pile them high and soak them in a cold glass of local milk (p.37). Yes, we’re all in on cookies and know you will be, too. Just don’t forget to wipe up the crumbs, you monsters!


BY Carol Diggs, Shea Gibbs, and Caite Hamilton

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BIG BOY That’s your

The Keevils resurrect a Brookville favorite


FANS OF HARRISON KEEVIL’S BROOKVILLE Restaurant might remember the bulky bacon chocolate chip cookies that became a staple on the comfort food spot’s dessert menu during its six-year Downtown Mall tenure. What they might not remember is that Jennifer Keevil, Harrison’s wife, was the one who developed the cookie’s original recipe. “We were labeled as the pig restaurant, and we thought it would be funny,” she says. “They came out ooey, gooey, and delicious.” Since closing Brookville in 2016, Keevil and Keevil operated an eponymous grocery and kitchen before launching a “digital food hall,” Multiverse Kitchens, last year. The online ordering portal and brick-and-mortar restaurant features nine brands with unique offerings. The Keevils launched one brand, Long Strange Chip, to immortalize their beloved Brookville cookie recipe.

Jennifer says the recipe’s unique in at least two ways. One, it contains no salt, a trendy darling of modern cookie-meisters. Two, it has an elevated baking powder to soda ratio, which gives the cookies their signature puffy appearance. “Baking is a science, and you have to add things a certain way,” Keevil says. To that end, she beats the sugar and butter for an extended period, adds chocolate chips and her dry ingredients, spins the dough only another 15 to 30 seconds, then leaves it the heck alone. The final step keeps the gluten from overactivating. In its current iteration, the old Brookville recipe is the starting point for five Long Strange Chip products: chocolate chip, chocolate chocolate chip, bacon chocolate chip, peanut butter pieces chocolate chip, and toffee chocolate chip. And each cookie is baked to order. “We undercook them a smidge, and they’re still warm,” Keevil says.—SG

G EM JON LAPANTA ALWAYS GOT SOMETHING sweet after dinner when he was a boy, and when his parents opened Baggby’s— the Downtown Mall sandwich shop he still runs—they wanted their patrons to get the same. Their solution was a tiny chocolate chip cookie in every bag. Impossibly moist and buttery, the tiny cookie has become a Baggby’s signature during the lunch joint’s remarkable 28year run. The secret to the cookie’s success? LaPanta says it’s the original recipe his mom Ann used, which calls for breaking the sugar down before whipping it with real butter and adding all-purpose flour and chocolate. “Mrs. Fields has a similar recipe, but my mom was making them back in the ’60s,” LaPanta says. Every morning, LaPanta and his team make a big batch of dough before eyeballing two sets of raw cookie balls—one for the large choco-chippers available at the counter and the other for their tiny counterparts. They never use a scoop, which gives the sweet biscuits their endearing non-uniform shape. The Baggby’s bakers toss off a few trays at 350 degrees, then monitor sales to see when they need to fire up more fresh. They never want to sell day-olds, LaPanta says, so they make sure they don’t make too many. During a typical fourhour lunch rush over the past few years, Baggby’s has gone through nearly 50 pounds of cookie dough. “People come up to the counter and ask, ‘Can I buy the little cookies?’” LaPanta says. The answer? Yes, but not until after they make sure they have enough for every order. So yeah, Baggby’s little cookies are delicious. But with all that butter, sugar, and chocolate, how bad are they for you? “I’ve been eating them hot off the pan every morning since 1994, so there must be something to them,” LaPanta says.—SG

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WOULDN’T IT BE GREAT IF THERE WAS ONE DOUGH THAT could do double, triple, even quadruple duty when it came to making cookies? Albemarle Baking Company’s Gerry Newman did us a solid, sharing a dough recipe that just requires a few simple tweaks depending on what kind of cookie you’re craving. Try it out (and don’t forget to share).—CH 36 Knife&Fork

Cookie dough 8.5 oz. butter (room temp) 8.5 ounce 10.25 oz. sugar 2 eggs (room temp) .25 oz. vanilla 10.25 oz. all-purpose flour 1 tsp. baking powder 1/2 tsp. salt Cream the butter and sugar, then add eggs one at a time, scraping well between additions. Sift the flour, baking powder, and salt, and add to mix until well incorporated. Rest mixture in fridge for at least one hour. Scoop and bake at 375 degrees for 10 minutes.


Wash it down There’s almost nothing better than a glass of cold milk to wash down a warm cookie on your tongue. We recommend Homestead Creamery’s version. Fresh from cows who live in the Blue Ridge Mountains, it comes in a glass gallon bottle that you can (hot tip!) return to the store for $2 off your next purchase.—CH

Mix it up

 Add a 12-ounce bag of chocolate chips for chocolate chip cookies.


 Roll scooped dough in a mix of 1 pound granulated sugar and 5 tablespoons cinnamon for snickerdoodles.

$3.49 at Kroger

Seeing shapes

 Omit the vanilla and add the zest of one lemon. When cookies come out of the oven, make a glaze of the juice of the lemon and powdered sugar, adjusting to the right thickness, and glaze the warm cookies.


 Add 5 ounces of rolled oats and 8 ounces raisins for oatmeal raisin cookies.

Level up your cookiebaking game with a cutter. We like the selection at Happy Cook— everything from a dog bone to an airplane.—CH $2.95, Knife&Fork 37

BELLY UP to the JAR ...The cookie jar, that is. Here are nine favorites we keep reaching for, from classic sugar to matcha mint.

Lemon cookie from The Country Store

Molasses from Feast!

Dark chocolate crinkle from Cou Cou Rachou


Snickerdoodle from Gearharts

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White chocolate macadamia from Bee Conscious Baking Company

Sugar cookie from Paradox Pastry Matcha mint chocolate chip from Bowerbird Bakeshop

If you insist on plates and napkins (so proper!), find the ones on these pages at Caspari.

Black Cadillac from Albemarle Baking Company

Oatmeal Raisin from Great Harvest Bread Company

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Congratulations Laura on a job well done!

247 Ridge McIntire Rd | Charlottesville | (434) 296-3185 |

Caribbean Cuisine


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(434) 466–0092 233 4th Street NW


Once Anwar Allen passed the test from his wife Laura's grandmother (whose recipe they use for Allen's Scottish Shortbread), he took on the role of chief baker for the company.

SIMPLE... AND SCRUMPTIOUS SOMETIMES, IN THIS WORLD OF TOO MUCH, we crave simple. And for simple, you can’t beat shortbread: one part sugar, two parts butter, three parts flour. While many cuisines—British, Danish, Dutch, French, Spanish, Greek, Middle Eastern, Indian, even Japanese—have their version of this basic biscuit, if it’s called shortbread, it’s Scottish. Ask Laura Allen, of Charlottesville-based Allen’s Scottish Shortbread: Since 2014, her family has relied on her immigrant grandmother’s recipe, handed down through generations of Glaswegians. The story goes that Scottish shortbread developed from a French version brought over by the ill-fated (and half-French) Mary, Queen of Scots. The name comes from its texture—“short,” or crumbly, because of the high fat content (twice as much butter as sugar). And butter is the clue to shortbread’s distinctive rich, melting mouth feel.

Allen’s shortbread is particularly luscious. Laura’s husband Anwar, the chief baker (once he’d been initiated by grandmother Allen), will reveal they use a portion of rice flour, for texture. But the real mysteries—what kind(s) of flour? Sifted how many times? What kind of butter? Granulated or powdered sugar, or both? A touch of salt? How long and at what stage should the dough be chilled?—are jealously guarded. While the recipe is hallowed, the Allens have developed a range of flavors keyed to a traditional shortbread partner: a good, bracing cup of tea. From a family connection with John Harney, founder of Harney & Sons Fine Teas, the Allens began partnering with John’s grandson Emeric in 2019 to use the brand’s special blends in their shortbread. Anwar says the Earl Grey, lavender, cinnamon spice and Meyer lemon varieties are particularly popular; Laura says new flavors are in the works, but they are (no surprise) “a secret.”

The couple is committed to keeping Allen’s Scottish Shortbread a “gourmet, artisan product” made by hand in small batches. While Whole Foods and Wegmans carry the brand, you’re also likely to find it in specialty retailers and gourmet shops like Foods of All Nations, Shenandoah Joe’s, Kindness Cafe, The Happy Cook, Mona Lisa Pasta, Market Street Market—and online. Laura, who grew up with Beatrix Potter and Angelina Ballerina (which inspired their packaging’s watercolor illustrations of the Allen rabbit family), sees a shortbread treat as a moment of ease and enjoyment, a little bit of childhood returned. Their customers seem to agree, whether they’re sipping tea, coffee (“especially good with the traditional holiday spice and pumpkin spice flavors,” says Laura), wine, Champagne, or even—appropriately—a good Scotch. What’s the Allens’ secret ingredient? “I think it’s love,” Laura says, “just like my grandmother’s.”—CD

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Celebrate the best of Virginia wine & food. Award-winning wines & tasting room. Seasonal menus from the bounty of local Virginia farms. Details at Come visit us in the foothills of the Blue Ridge Mountains.

6109 Wolftown-Hood Road • Madison, VA 22727 • 540.948.9005

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APR 74 5102 S. Seminole Trail Madison, VA 22727 540-948-6505

Thank you for voting! We look forward to seeing you for brunch soon!

Best Brunch (434) 465-2108 - 817 W Main St. - Knife&Fork 43



11:30am - 9:00pm | 2162 Barracks Rd, Charlottesville, VA 22903 | (434) 244-9818

Breakfast Lunch and Dinner Mon-Sat 6-9pm Sun 7-3pm 1420 Richmond Rd

Thank you C-ville for voting 2011


Best Family Friendly Restaurant


Best Brunch And Kid Friendly Restaurant

Best Kids’ Menu


Best Brunch

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The Last Bite


Stick a fork in it We’re in a bit of a sticky situation over here (in the best way), thanks to Ivy Inn’s beloved toffee pudding cake. The dessert—a staple on the menu for the past 15 years—starts with a portion of classic date/coffee cake, then each slice takes a warm bath in a pan of caramel-praline sauce. Next comes toasted pecans, followed by a dollop of cappuccino-Kahlúa ice cream. It’s not hard to see (or taste) why it reigns supreme. We’ll never get out of this one. 46 Knife&Fork

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