FOOD- THE DISH- Good Fortune: Crozet gets Chinese, Ix gets hookahs

Last week, Crozet residents got a long-awaited treat– a new chinese restaurant called New China.

It was a momentous day in Crozet dining history last week, as the little hamlet to the west welcomed its first Chinese take-out restaurant in recent memory. Appropriately enough, it's called New China. 

Located on The Square in the space formerly occupied by the Crozet Snack Shop, the joint already appears to be jumping. When we called, we were told they were too busy to talk. According to Crozet resident and real estate blogger Jim Duncan, folks in town are enthused the lunch special is only $5.72! However, you might want to get yours to go, as Duncan says there's only one table. 

And get this: Duncan says there is a sign up at the Clover Lawn Shopping Center that says another Chinese restaurant will be opening up soon. Ah, when it rains chow mein, it pours.


Holy hookah, a Moroccan place!

Back in March, when Al Dente owner Karim Sellam informed us he was moving his Downtown Italian eatery to the Ix Building, he mentioned that he was also thinking about opening a Moroccan restaurant.

Sellam, who worked for years for some of Piazza San Marco's finest restaurants, is Moroccan, after all, and he confessed a desire to return to his roots. Well, it appears that Casablancan treats are finally coming to Charlottesville.

Sellam is putting the finishing touches on Al Hamraa, located right next door to Al Dente, and expects to be open in early November.

Expect an intense blend of spices and exotic decor, as Sellam has imported authentic Moroccan art and furnishings along with his family recipes. You'll also be encouraged to eat the traditional Moroccan way– with you hands– and to light up a hookah while you listen to traditional Middle Eastern music late into the night. 

"The atmosphere is very traditional," says Sellam, who admits it took him a long time to get things right, "...with low tables and pillows, just like the homes in Morocco."   


NYT gets it right, almost

In the Travel section of the October 26 New York Times, Charlottesville is featured for its culture, history, cuisine, and entertainment. It comes through that writer Joshua Kurlantzick found exactly what I hope any visitor to Charlottesville would: that there's something for everyone.

Of course, this is hardly the first time we've caught the eye of papers with national markets. In May, the Washington Post said, quite boldly, "If It Tastes Good, It's in Charlottesville." Jane Black paid her dues to Rev Soup, the businesses of the Main Street Market, Mas, Ten, Hamilton's, Bang, the Tea Bazaar, Timberlake's, Aroma's, Hot Cakes–- forgive me for my colloquial names–- there were just so many worthy recipients yet still just a sampling of all we have to offer. I reveled in visits from Travel+Leisure and Wine Spectator, too. My reaction to their coverage was simply an exhilarated, "Yes, I know!" (Unfortunately, I was given the news about the WP coverage while driving outside Louisville and nearly off-roaded.)

So did the NYT use its 36 hours in Charlottesville wisely? I'll say this: Kurlantzick's got stamina. He pays visits to Monticello, Ash Lawn-Highland, the University of Virginia Grounds, and Barboursville. He recognizes Virginia wine, the Kluge-Ruhe Aboriginal Art Collection, and the views from Skyline Drive. Miller's, our symbolic cornerstone of local music, gets a nod. I have to agree with Kurlantzick that the Clifton Inn feels as Kentucky as an old-fashioned (but try their lavender martini!), and I can't help but smile as I wonder how he'd characterize the spring Foxfield Races.

However, Kurlantzick appears less wise when he identifies Route 20 North and the Barboursville area as the "the fictional locale for "The Waltons" on TV." Actually, the fictional locale for the popular TV show is in Nelson County, on the opposite side of Charlottesville– in Schuyler to be exact– where the actual house that Waltons creator Earl Hamner Jr. and his family lived in is located. In fact, the real Jim "Jim Bob" Hamner, Earl's brother, was still living in the house when it was auctioned off in 2003.

Still, you are welcome back any time. And that goes for, well, everyone.– Kate Malay


New ‘Smoothie' opens at Rio Hill

Missing the Tropical Smoothie Café that used to be on University Avenue? Well, listen up... a new location opened in the Rio Hill Shopping Center, between Dick's and Kroger, on Thursday, October 23.