For the rumored birthplace of macaroni and cheese, Charlottesville, Virginia might have been flying under the epicurean radar for a couple decades. Recently, however, there has been an explosion of vineyards, breweries and worthwhile restaurants.
Charlottesville’s culinary roots reach back to Thomas Jefferson at Monticello, whom some claim is America’s first foodie. As an enthusiastic traveler, Jefferson loved to bring back recipes he tasted abroad and even tended his own vines. Upon further investigation, Jefferson was probably not the father of macaroni and cheese, but he did import a “mould for making macaroni” from Naples, Italy and popularize the dish at Monticello dinners (and we certainly thank him for that!)
Fortunately, Charlottesville’s love of good food did not die with Jefferson, and is a worthy Virginia attraction. With this behind-the-scenes guide to Charlottesville’s culinary scene, you will be able to hit spots that may be easy to miss, with interesting facts about each enticing you further.
Fireplace at Bold Rock Cider. Photo courtesy of Bold Rock.
1) Off-The-Beaten Path: Bold Rock Ciderworks
As part of the “Brew Ridge Trail”, people may know Bold Rock Ciderworks…
Labskaus, a traditional North German dish. Photo courtesy of Jessica Festa.
“It isn’t pretty. My kids won’t even eat it because it looks weird. But, it’s delicious and really special for the region.”
My dining companion, a Hamburg local named Guido, and I are at the Restaurant Broscheks in Hamburg’s City Center, choosing our lunch entrees. When I tell him I want to try something with cultural significance, he immediately urges me to the Labskaus, an important dish in Northern Germany despite its apparently odd aesthetics. The meal features a mixture of salted minced beef bits, onion and potatoes mushed together with beetroot — which gives it a red hue — topped with a fried egg and gherkin. On the side, rollmop herring adds some healthy protein.
As someone who’s eaten everything from guinea pig to worm tacos, I feel confident this German staple won’t spoil my appetite. Guido describes to me that it’s a dish he’ll only order at truly high quality restaurants, as its usually best when home-made.
“Some restaurants will use canned meat and then it isn’t that good,” he explains. “My favorite is when my grandmother makes it.”
When the plate…
Meet Kushi Yama Asian Tapas & Grill,
which focuses on Asian Tapas, a new concept for fine dining in Amarillo Texas. They boast over 40 different types of tapas and had us at hello with some of the freshest and most interesting sushi I’ve had in awhile (outside Japan that is),
which is astonishing given how far they are from the coast.
Kushi Yama has monthly Wine Dinners, which means that their wine menu is top notch! They even had two Kistler Chardonnay’s to choose from, which was a great choice for us given the diverse blend of dishes we were planning to sample over the course of an evening. Chef Richard specializes in “Asian Tapas”
but their menu had so many options to choose from, you could never get bored with its tantalizing dish variations. Let’s just say that the selection blends the best of Asian food with a modern style, look and feel and are all beautifully presented, even their sushi rolls.
While tapas are their specialty, let’s start by talking about their fabulous sushi rolls. First, let’s remember that we were in the middle of Texas, not on some bustling coastal American town. Second,…
Looking to explore Tel Aviv, Israel, like a local? Epicure & Culture caught up with Laila Arad-Allan, born and raised in Tel Aviv and the founder of the free walking tour nonprofit, Tel Aviv Greeter. Here are her suggestions on how to get to know the city beyond the typical tourist sites. Above Jaffa’s Flea Market. Photo courtesy of ChameleonsEye via Shutterstock and below Photo courtesy of Anna_Pustynnikova via Shutterstock.
1. A special cultural experience in Tel Aviv occurs every Friday at noon. This is when the city prepares for the coming Sabath. The city streets are bustling with people doing their shopping for Sabath, the markets are swarming with locals purchasing goods, and the atmosphere is unique – nowhere in the world does it exist. You really have to see and experience it to understand this special day.
Photo courtesy of Itamar Grinberg via flickr.
2. For some Israeli tradition, try folk dancing. Every Saturday morning on Gordon Beach there is a gathering of many people who enjoy folk dancing together. They arrive from all over town…
As we made our way into Nashville Tennessee
, it was dark and while we were staying only a 20 minute walk from the city center for our first two nights, we were too tired to meander there, even in a 5 minute cab. A stone’s throw from the hotel was Division Street
however, home to night clubs and bars, most of which are regularly frequented by college students given the nearby vicinity of Vanderbilt University.
And so, with very little vigor, we became 20 again on that very late evening. The first place that tried to made us youthful again was the fried chicken eatery called Hattie B’s
. Known for their extra spicy fried chicken, you can decide from varying degrees of “spicy hot” — Southern (no heat), Mild (touch of heat), Medium (warming up), Hot (feel the heat), Damn Hot (fire starter) and lastly, Shut the Cluck Up (burn notice).
Casual in every way, you’ll sit at either outdoor or indoor picnic tables. Once you land a table, you’ll be asked to fill out your “chicken” card, choosing your preferred degree of hot and spicy as well…
Travel the back roads between American Highways 49 and 61 in search of Lost Superstitions and the spirits of Sam Cooke, Howlin’ Wolf and Muddy Waters and wind up in Clarksdale Mississippi,
the home of the Delta Blues. I covered unique “stays”
in this charming southern city (and the photos are fabulous
), one of which includes the Shack Up Inn, which has a restaurant called Rust Restaurant
– yes, really. That will give you an idea of the ambiance of this oh so not luxurious but oh so authentic place.
In a city that has a restaurant called Rust, you might be wondering what kind of food is served there or anywhere in Clarksdale for that matter, a place music lovers flock to for things like the Juke Joint Festival and authentic blues at RED’s, not for its food. Clarksdale is surrounded by original cotton plantations, so you’d assume there’d be plenty of home grown cooking and southern fare and well, you are right for the most part…..with a twist.
We quickly learned that Clarksdale seems to have a lot of surprises and twists!!
Two restaurants foodies should know about are Yazoo Pass
on Yazoo Street and Oxbow
Looking to explore Medellin, Colombia, like a local? Pablo Alvarez-Correa, a native, shares his take on how to see the city like a local.
1. For a lesser-known cultural attraction, visit the SiCLeadas, Medellin’s Critical Mass. It happens every Wednesday evening, and is organized by Colectivo Siclas, who set amazing routes to take your bike — they can also lend you a bicycle — and hit the road together with other 8,000 people.
2. One experience not to miss is the football games. This city loves football, and the football games gather the whole spectrum of our society: poor, rich, young, old…all types of city-dwellers will be seen at a football game. Regardless of which team is playing, you must go!
3. For a true taste of Medellin, don’t miss Sancocho de Bagre (fish soup) at La Esquina de la Ricura in Minorista Market (Calle 55), a delicious hole-in-the-wall restaurant. If you prefer a higher end restaurant offering a more diverse, yet incredible authentic and well prepared cuisine, then you should go to Queareparaenamorarte (Partida EL Retiro, Las Palmas) — yes, it’s a long name, but the food is amazing. Or simply try our most typical dish: Bandeja Paisa at…
Most foodies may think of Nashville over Memphis when it comes to award-winning chefs and renowned southern dishes and restaurants you’ll want to write home about. While Nashville is no doubt a serious foodie city given its size, the number of celebrities who live there and pass through, Memphis has its fair share of great restaurants worth noting (and adding to your must-eat-at-list) for your next trip to Tennessee. Be sure to read our write-up on the foodie guide to Nashville for our latest picks and take notes on our recommended choices for Memphis below.
Let’s start with the incredibly surprising and delicious Eighty 3 Restaurant
in the Madison Hotel
, where we stayed while we toured Memphis. Below, find a Max Hussey gem, the latest chef at Eighty 3
— the spicy ahi tuna wonton with avocado, sesame, chili, scallions and red onion.
Other great seafood specialties include the Louisiana crab cake, shrimp beignets with shrimp/pepper jelly, lump crab and shrimp ceviche, his seafood gumbo (crawfish, shrimp, okra, scallop, lobster, rice, clam and seafood stock with creole seasonings), shrimp and grits, and roasted salmon with green tomato pepper ragu, stone ground grits, sweet sun drops…
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