FOOD- DISH- Wagons & pots: Fresh veggies, hot fondue

Earlier this year, Dish touted Dave Matthews' Best of What's Around Farm and Ploughshares Farm in Louisa for their Community Supported Agriculture (CSA) programs, a nationwide movement that allows people to buy fresh, locally grown produce by subscription. Now there's another subscription veggie option on the table: Horse and Buggy Produce.

What makes this venture so interesting is that most is grown by Shenandoah Valley's Mennonite community, who have been farming organically in the Valley since before "organic" became hip. The problem is that many Mennonites, like the Amish, still get around by horse-drawn carriage, a life-style choice that makes it a little difficult to distribute their goods. In fact, they started selling their goods auction-style only last year, says Horse and Buggy's founder, Brett Wilson.

Chances are you've already eaten the Mennonite's produce. That's because Wilson already supplies produce to a number of area restaurants, including Duner's, Mas, Feast!, Mono Loco, Fuel, Blue Light Grill, Vivace, Clifton Inn, Hotcakes, Fellini's, Bizou, Escafe, 3 Notch'd Grill, C&O, La Cucina, Rococo's, Fleurie, and L'Etoile.

"It's the variety that differentiates us from places like Best of What's Around," says Wilson. "Since the Mennonites have been doing this for so long, there's just a tremendous variety.

"For example, they have their own mature orchards, tomatos, green beans, corn, all kinds of berries, herbs, flowers, grapes, cantaloupe, and eggs, even apple cider and apple butter. Places like Best of What's Around simply haven't been around long enough to offer what the Mennonites can."

The price is comparable. Subscriptions are $625 for the season that runs from early May to October, and subscribers can pay either by the month or all at once. Wilson says the weekly deliveries will feed between four and six people. For more information about Horse and Buggy, log on to their website at

Fondue is back!

Back in the bell-bottom era, fondue was a sweet little dinner party gimmick that flopped. In fact, it was the butt of an infamous 1976 Saturday Night Live sketch called "Fondue Sets for Namibia," in which Garrett Morris played an African leader imploring Americans to send their old fondue sets to his emerging nation.

"We are appealing to you as world citizens," he implored. "We need your fondue sets.

"Many people in the United State receive these fondue sets as gifts for anniversaries, birthdays, and house-warming parties and put them up on the shelf and forget about them. There are thousands of Namibian housewives who could cheer up an otherwise dull dinner party with one of these sets."

As you can imagine, Dish was shocked to learn that fondue is not only alive and well, but is coming to Charlottesville!

At the end of May, The Melting Pot, a fondue chain with over 80 restaurants across the country, will move into the first floor of the brand new Holsinger Building on Water Street. As with all things '70s, fondue is making a comeback among 20 and 30-somethings.

The Melting Pot, according to the company website, "provides a unique, upscale and intimate dining experience with its assortment of fondue, cooked at the table by the guests." Now why didn't Dish think of that! Who needs a kitchen staff when you can get your customers to cook their own food?

In other chain restaurant news, that big ditch in front of Harris Teeter at Barracks Road Shopping Center is going to be a Chipotle restaurant, the hip home of gourmet burritos and tacos. According to company spokesman Chris Arnold, the new restaurant "is slated to open in the fourth quarter." Fourth what? Dish asked.

"Fourth quarter­ the October through December time frame," says Arnold. "We have a large and growing presence in that mid-Atlantic area, and Charlottesville is a logical extension of our existing footprint."

Oh, Dish pines for the days when our little ville was more horse and buggy and less upscale!

Brett Wilson's Horse and Buggy Produce will bring the Mennonite community's veggies to your table.