Foodies rejoice: RW updates, farm dreams, and mini-La Taza

food-gresgeRestaurant Week pioneer Mark Gresge of L'etoile returns with more delicious surprises.

Get psyched, foodies! Restaurant Week is coming, so save the dates: Monday, January 25 through Sunday, January 31. (Oh, and we’re already planning another one in July 12 through 18!). We’re talking three-course meals at some of the area’s best restaurant for just $26, with includes $1 to the Charlottesville branch of the Blue Ridge Area Food Bank–-a nice way to give back to our community and help the food bank restock after the holiday rush.

And now for some updates. The Omni hotel’s The Pointe restaurant has just become the first to reveal its 2010 menu to eager diners, which you can check out at There will be seared rockfish with potatoes au gratin, jumbo shrimp, roasted ratatouille, and even bacon-wrapped meatloaf. And more! Every participating restaurant will have their menu listed in a Restaurant Week Special Section inserted in the January 21 edition of the Hook and menus will also be posted on as we receive them

Oh, and don’t forget, restaurants are taking reservations now and all contact information is available at All 8 restaurants that participated in 2009 are returning, plus we have 10 new restaurants participating for a total of 18 great restaurants to choose from.

And just like the first time, in addition to participating in Restaurant Week, The Boar's Head Inn, Keswick Hall and The Omni are all offering room discounts during Restaurant Week. Oh, yes, it’s going to be a delicious good time!

Make that small farm dream come true

Ever dream of starting your own farm? Or making the one you did start even more successful? Why not think about taking the Piedmont Environmental Council’s popular Exploring the Small Farm Dream course at Piedmont Virginia Community College.

According to a release, PEC staff and guest speakers will guide you through the decision-making process involved in launching a small farm enterprise. Creative exercises, research and class discussion will help assess your skills and resources, while guest speakers from local farms will give you pointers.

Guest speakers include Albemarle Ciderworks owners Chuck and Charlotte Shelton, Caromont Farm owner Gail Hobbs-Page, Double H Farm owners Richard Bean, and Ramona and Collins Huff of Gryffon’s Aerie, to name just a few.

The course will take place at PVCC on Monday evenings, February 1, 8, 15, 22 from 6-8:30pm, and includes an optional field trip to the Local Food Hub Educational Farm on March 6 from 9am-1pm. Tuition for this non-credit course is $149, and includes a workbook and the field trip. To register, call PVCC at 434-961-5354 or register online through the PVCC website.

La Taza's mini-me

SNL employees were saddened to learn that The Bean, the coffee shop located in the SNL building off of Market Street, closed up shop at the end of December. But they also learned that there would be a fun new replacement–La Tazita. Yes, that’s a take on La Taza, the Downtown Belmont coffee house, which will be opening a smaller version of itself in the SNL building in mid-January. According to the folks at SNL, La Tazita will be offering some of the same food, coffee, and espresso favorites the Belmont location has offered. Plus, they will be accepting credit / debit cards and will be offering email ordering and "to go" prepared foods in the near future.