Sweet deals, new bread, old beer, and your garden
Whether the daily deal craze is a boom or a bubble, it's certainly been a boon for local foodies.
Last weekend, 147 savvy social networkers scooped up the $15-for-$30 deal at Brookville on the Downtown Mall from Charlottesville Daily Deal, the site run by the Hook that's competing locally with Groupon and LivingSocial. Meanwhile, another newspaper running with the idea, the Richmond Times-Dispatch, features a class with a former White House chef at 60 percent off. Who woulda thought online coupons could help save the newspaper business?
McIntire Plaza to welcome Great Harvest
There's a new bakery opening up in the former Crazy Horse Studio space next to Cville Coffee in McIntire Plaza called the Great Harvest Bread Company, a chain that claims it recruits "the nicest, most generous, honest, and authentic people we can find."
Recently Dish had a chance to sample the goods during a visit from young husband-and-wife team Matt Monson and Kath Younger, who are indeed real nice.
The two are clearly foodies and health nuts. Kath authors a popular blog called Kath Eats Real Food, inspired by her journey from being a slightly overweight college kid to a beamingly healthy local entrepreneur. Matt, a self-described nerd who had to overcome social ineptitude, wasn't sure what he wanted to do with his life after college and a degree in anthropology, so he took a job at a Great Harvest in Charlotte, North Carolina.
But it appears the anthropologist in him had something to do with it as well, as he describes baking a loaf of bread as "a microcosm" of human existence. "No matter how much careful planning, measuring, and attention to detail you put into your loaf," he explains, "there will always be some chaotic yeast that turns it into something exciting."
And the bread? Well, it was delicious. Look for more on the Monsons and the Great Harvest Bread Company, which should be open sometime in April, in future installments of the Dish.
L'étoile goes hyper-local
Think you've got what it takes to grow something good enough for a French restaurant? L'étoile chef/owner Mark Gresge thinks so. He wants to take the local food movement to a new level and create menus using your family garden plot.
"Each week throughout the growing season we want to showcase a local garden and make the weekend special with its produce," says Gresge, who'll trade a weekend dinner for two with the lucky grower. "The produce doesn't have to be exotic– we'd want something that someone is very proud of and perhaps has a great story about."
I don't know what it is, but my zucchini have always grown huge and abstract looking. I remember one time I grew a 10-pound zucchini that looked like a squatting bulldog. But I digress!
So if you have some prize tomatoes you'd like to see served up at l'étoile, give Gresge a call at 979-7957 or get his email address from his fancy new website, letoilerestaurant.com. After all, wouldn't it be cool to see a menu item like "ratatouille niçoise with Shiflett Family tomatoes."
Life, liberty, and the pursuit of good beer
Monticello has a new microbrew, Monticello Reserve Ale, brewed and bottled locally by Starr Hill Brewery. According to a release, the idea was inspired by Thomas Jefferson's own beer-making, which accelerated at Monticello when a master brewer from Britain arrived in town during the War of 1812. Indeed, Jefferson began producing 100 gallons of it every spring and summer.
On Monday, February 21, they'll be tapping the first keg at the Thomas Jefferson Visitor Center Museum Shop, and you're invited for a tasting from noon to 3pm.