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Hungry for stories: The 2011 food round-up

The past year was a rough one economically, but that didn't stop some brave souls from opening up restaurants and eateries. We counted 28 new places that opened this past year, while 15 places closed. However, one restaurant, Carlton's, opened and closed this year, giving us some indication of the high-wire act restaurateurs must perform in these tough times and in this increasingly demanding foodie town.

And speaking of foodie towns. Back in May, Forbes had a story with lots of props for RelayFoods.com, the new Charlottesville-based grocery-gathering business which seems to be holding its own in a field littered with start-up corpses, but the real shocker was a casually inserted shout out to Charlottesville as the "locavore capital of the world."

Indeed, in the last five years, area chefs and grocers have taken the use of local produce to a new level. It used to be that chefs had a hard time finding enough volume of locally produced food, but thanks to ventures like the Local Food Hub and a growing number of producers we're in the midst of a local food explosion.

So, as we head into 2012, here are few memories from the past year.

 

Peter Chang chooses Charlottesville

The elusive Chinese chef once featured i...

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FunStuff: December 22 and beyond

Night lights
You may never be sure the Great Wall of China is visible from space, but you can bet your last chocolate coin that Jeffrey Norford's Christmas lights are visible from I-64. The full-time delivery driver (whose hauls include the Hook) has become legendary for personally greeting visitors– this year dressed as Rudolph– at his house-dwarfing display near the U.S. 20 exit. (From Downtown: Take Monticello Avenue toward PVCC and then left on Quarry Road which turns into Mountain View Street.)
Until January 8, 1307 Mountain View Street, evenings, free

 

Skip is back
There may not be a "Skip" in Skip Castro, but like Jesus to Bethlehem, the venerable "Boogie at Midnight" party...

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Road rage? Law student to spend Christmas Eve in jail

It hasn't been a good year for students at the UVA Law School, at least for the four budding barristers learning the law via outside-the-classroom incidents.

The latest is Schuyler-raised London Crounse, 24, who is supposed to enter the legal profession in 2013 and who graduated with honors from Virginia Military Institute, but who allegedly so traumatized a bike-riding UVA p...

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My minute with Hitch

I got word this morning, December 16, that the most iconoclastic journalist of his time, Christopher Hitchens, died yesterday. I thought you might like to hear of my one interaction with him.

It was June of 1998 in Washington, D.C., where I led a small delegation from C-ville Weekly to the annual convention of the Association of Alternative Newsweeklies. It was quite the weekend event!

For starters, we all went out to a bar where the thumping bass and cacophony of lights couldn't overshadow the treat of the evening: Mayor Marion Barry. Having regained the mayorship despite an embarrassing bout with crack cocaine and prison, Barry arrived at this official convention social event at a bar on a cobblestoned alley which his dark limousine ably traveled. Thrilled to meet a man who had turned himself into a public tragedy, members of the gaggle of hard-drinking journalists took turns introducing themselves.

Speaking of hard-drinking journalists, Hitchens was the star of the weekend confab. I say this because at the next day's quite sober programs, Hitch was booked into a large ballroom while a simultaneous or near-simultaneous speech by Ralph Nader took place in a room not much larger than a storage closet.

Anyway, in that standing-room-only space, Hitch proceeded to gently scold the so-called alternative press for failing to investigate, for failing to take chances. T...

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Last stand: The Charlottesville Occupier who died

She didn't come to Lee Park to protest. She was just looking for a safe place to sleep.

Now, friends and family are mourning the death of Linda Doig, a former international fashion model who once worked with top designers in Milan and Paris, but whose downward spiral into alcoholism brought her into the Occupy Charlottesville encampment in late November. Within days of setting up camp in the park, she told a reporter, she embraced the movement.

"You have to listen to what they're saying," said Doig. "They're making sense."

During the interview, conducted on November 28, the 51-year-old Doig appeared tearful and frail but mentally lucid as she recalled her glamorous past and the medical issues that ravaged her. She noted that a back injury and other conditions were exacerbated by the outdoor living conditions she endured since getting evicted from an Albemarle County residence in mid-November.

"I don't know where I'm going to go," said Doig, weeping, as her companion, 47-year-old carpenter Carey Hicks, squeezed her hand and expressed sympathy for her situation.

"She had further to fall than I did," Hicks said of their sudden homelessness.

Sources indicate that Doig's family members, who had been trying to find her since her eviction, had obtained a room for her in an area motel soon after she left Lee Park; but her health appears to have deteriorated...

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