FOOD- DISH-Mobile java: Mall awash in caffeine

Last week, over a 150 Habitat for Humanity volunteers helped to build six houses in six days in the Fifeville neighborhood as part of Habitat's 2006 Home Building Blitz. 

Not only were there lots of nails and hammering, there were lots of mouths to feed! Luckily, a number of local restaurants stepped in to feed the workers. According to Art Peters, COO of Habitat Charlottesville, Starbucks, Festive Fare, and C'ville Coffee helped everyone stay awake (shifts sometimes lasted until 11pm, Peters says), Bodo's supplied the morning bagels, and The Pointe at the Omni, Hamilton's on the Downtown Mall, A Pimento catering, Domino's Pizza, Snookie Warner's Barbeque, Whole Foods, Padow's, The Corner Restaurant, Martha Jefferson Hospital, The Junior League of Charlottesville, The College Inn, and The Double Tree Hotel served up food during the week. Kroger and Giant also helped out.  

When Dish stopped by the Blitz on Monday, June 5, Bill and Kate Hamilton, owners of Hamilton's on the Mall, had just started to prepare lunch for the 100-plus crew. Could these be the owners of the chic, upscale lunch and dinner venue on the Mall sweating over a smoky grill in the hot sun?

"They worked their tails off for us," says Peters. 

"We've been involved in Habitat for about six years now," says Bill Hamilton, grilling up some glistening marinated chicken kabobs. "In fact, we're on the advisory board." 

"We've done a number of events for Habitat," says Kate Hamilton, mixing up a little dill orzo salad. "But so have many other restaurants. Sticks, for example, often provides lunch for the build-outs. We're just happy to help out. Habitat is such a great organization."

More Java Java on Mall Mall

Look out Mudhouse, Café Cubano, and the coffee cart in front of Chaps! A new bean slinger is headed downtown, and its packin' a certified fair trade coffee, environmentally friendly, comfy décor philosophy that could shake up the café scene. 

Yes, we're takin' about Java Java, ex-com school professor John Leschke's feng shui-inspired coffee house at the Townside Center on Ivy Road. The three-year old beanery plans to open another shop in the old home of Glaze & Blaze (The ceramic fun house is looking for a new location, says owner Elizabeth Boisvert, who sites rent increases and a lack of parking as the reasons for the move.) on July 1 and be open for business sometime in September. 

According to manager/partner, Irvin Santiago, who will be in charge of the downtown location, the new shop will adopt "more of a laid back approach" to make it a new place to hang out on the Mall. 

"We also want to be very environmentally friendly," says Santiago. "We'll have organically grown, fair trade coffee, of course; but we also plan to recycle a lot. I'd like to take our organically aware philosophy to the next level."

Santiago says he also wants to open a small kitchen at some point, and provide outside seating. 

Food for thought

Gourmet mushroom farmer Ted Millich says the creation of his Forrest Flavors farm grew out of his interest in "wildcrafting," a kind of ethical harvesting of wild plants that respects the ecosystem. Like fairies or gnomes, wildcrafters tiptoe into fields or forests and pick plants without leaving a trace. 

"I also found out that most gourmet mushrooms have healing polysaccharides that boost the immune system and fight cancers," says Millich. "After my dad died, I received some assets and started this business."

Millich, who started the farm about a year ago, has a stand at the City Market on Saturday mornings and also sells his mushrooms to Integral Yoga, Feast, Rebecca's, L'étoile, and Revolutionary Soup. His interest in the larger issue of food production 

"We started our building in October and had our first harvest and sales in February," he says. 

Like growing numbers of people in the food industry, Millich has been motivated by his interest in the larger issue of food production.  He's involved in a local group called Charlottesville Peak Oil, who believe oil production has peaked or will peak very soon, creating a world-wide energy crisis as production fails to meet demand. What does this have to do with food? 

"We can predict that, as we run out of cheap energy, we will be traveling and shipping less," says Millich, "and our food systems, which are thoroughly dependent on oil products, will have to change to be organic and closer to the consumer."

Interested in finding out more? Check out the group's website at or show up at their next meeting on June 19 at the Jefferson-Madison Regional Library. 

Look for Java Java to appear in the old Glaze & Blaze spot in September