Sunday, March 29, 2015

Food Travel Porn: Charlottesville, VA

For those of you who know me well, food is only one of my passions. Travel also ranks pretty high and I make it a point to combine these two as often as possible. Since 2009, I've made a pact with myself to travel internationally each year. I've kept that promise to myself each year since. Last year I upped the ante and also vowed to get out of town every quarter. It didn't have to be far, but it had to be at least for an overnight. Last year, this pact took me to Austin, Peru, Ecuador and San Diego.

My first quarter trip for 2015 was an overnight to Charlottesville, VA. Despite living in the D.C. area for 11 years, I had yet to make the trip despite countless people telling me it was right up my alley. Only a 2 1/2- hour drive from DC, this needed to happen. And I found the perfect excuse when Doug, who went to law school there many years ago, commented on the great food scene and how we wanted to go back for a quick visit. Despite a busy, and at times nasty winter weather-wise, we found a weekend to go. Here are some of our favorites food stops from the trip. And yes, we will be back and hit the wineries once the nice weather decides to stick around for good. Next up? NYC for a weekend and a long weekend in New Orleans in April. I cannot wait.

Marco & Luca - We went there for what Doug has repeatedly said are his most favorite dumplings. The place has grown a little in size since he was in school, but still only sits a modest 15 people or so and the dumplings remain cheap.

Twisted Branch Tea Bazaar - After we walked around the pedestrian mall and checked out some of the sites, we paid two visits to this tea shop, which reminded me a lot of the places I visited in Boulder, Colorado in the mid-90s. Both trippy, and tree-like, the inside décor took you to a far off place and provided a sanctuary of hot beverages on a blustery day, as well as Board games to pass the time. If you like tea and may be a bit of a hippie (such as myself) spend some time there on one of their cushioned pillows with a nice, hot cup of tea.

Commonwealth Restaurant & Sky Bar - There are A LOT of awesome places to eat in Charlottesville, or so I'm told from all of the amazing recommendations we received. This of course means we'll just have to come back! We settled on Commonwealth which not only had great ratings online, but also a lot of personal praise from several friends. The menu did not disappoint. We started off with a Ahi Tuna Tartare, and follows with two amazing entrees. I must admit, I think Doug made the better choice here. Doug had the Seared Diver Scallops with Pork Belly, Mashed Sweet Potato and a cider reduction. This was a beyond amazing flavor combination and I wanted to eat off more of his plate, and fortunately he was happy to share. I ordered the Braised Beef Brisket with Horseradish Potatoes, Carrot Frites and an Onion Gremolata. The desserts also looked amazing, but there was just no room left at the Inn. Speaking of Inns...we stayed at the South Street Inn. Quaint, convenient, and they offered a wine and cheese happy hour!

Bodo's Bagels - I'm a tough critic when it comes to bagels. I feel nothing competes with a New York bagel. Or a Montreal bagel, which comes in a close second in my book. But these were some damn good bagels. We grabbed two on our way back to DC and I only wish we'd picked more up for the week. Next time, for sure.

Next up in my quarterly pact? NYC for a weekend trip with my mom and a long weekend in New Orleans with Doug in April. I cannot wait. And will no doubt eat a ton and write all about it!

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