A Charlottesville Recipe Book?

Hoo2LA writes: I found myself in a conversation with several other ex-Charlottesvillians just the other day and we discovered that one of the things we all really miss, surprisingly, was the food. It was suggested that someone should get together a Charlottesville recipes book. So, supposing that someone did travel about Charlottesville soliciting recipes, what would you all think has to make it in there?

We let our decisions be guided by the taste of the food, theoretical ease of preparation (hence, no Crozet pizza, given lack of pizza ovens in regular kitchens) and nostalgic value.

To get you started:

  • Crab Cakes at Martha’s

  • The sides – baked beans and potato salad – at Blue Ridge Pig

  • The wings (particularly Honey Habenero) at Maarten’s

  • The Hash BBQ at Big Jim’s

    (I apologize for the UVA focus, but we were students. Of course, feel free to expand our horizons.)

  • 29 thoughts on “A Charlottesville Recipe Book?”

    1. We have spectacular eateries catering to the pearl-earrings-and-coifed-hair crowd. Or ‘group’ I should say. Fleurie is tops, Oxo falling off but still good, Metropolitan (once it re-opens), and then a few out in the county. There are also second-tier but still fine places like Tastings and Hamilton’s &tc. But their recipes would not comfortably keep company with barbecued wings and baked beans.

      So besides "Charlottesville food" maybe you might focus a bit, as you would define the mission of a term paper. If it is to be student-oriented food okay, though I do not recall buying a lot of cookbooks as a student. One would believe, or hope, or wish, or half-heartedly pretend, that students have better things to read.

    2. This isn’t really a term paper or a student-defined project. Forget, if you want, the examples I offered – they were just things that I recalled of off of the top of my head (and for the record, I don’t think that I’ve ever seen a student at BRP, though I have no doubt they make it out there).

      So, I suppose, make this then the mission: for each respondent, consider which foods from Charlottesville you’d most like to have the recipe for, given feasibility of preparation, taste and (perhaps) nostalgic or emotional value.

      It is purposefully broad, hopefully just as inclusive of the horse-raisin’ crowd as the student crowd as the living-wage-protesting crowd. Otherwise, I think that it will be hard to come up with more than a dozen or so dishes – though I’d love to be shown to be incorrect!


      PS – To be sure, and no offense intended, I doubt that anything that OXO, Hamilton’s, Metropolitan or even the vaunted Fleurie can offer ranks as high in its genre as the sides at BRP do in theirs. To each his own, but to each a varied menu!

    3. How about a Grillswith? I know its not hard to make but…

      And I can give you the Texas Fire sauce recipe from Maarten’s – Texas Pete and butter. Its can be found on a Texas Pete bottle.

    4. i have to say here…i haven’t yet eaten at fleurie (though i’ve heard better things of it than any restaurant in quite some time) but i wouldn’t call anything else in town spectacular in the high end range. metropolitain was inconsistent (with the reopening and tim & vincent sounding as though they’ll do more of the cooking i hope it settles in well) and oxo is, well, overpriced and rarely seasonal in its choices. (though i think their chocolate filled beignets are a lovely idea.)

      c’ville’s strength is good cheap food. gusburgers, cheap chinese anywhere you like (especially marco and luca of late…btw, their dumplings would have to be in any book i think). cheap mexican…all good stuff.

      in addition, i’d want:

      take it away’s house dressing

      the biltmore’s potato soup

      christian’s pizza crust

      everything bodo’s ever made, especially the ceasar dressing and the egg salad

      chandler’s cupcakes

      zazus’ peanut sauce

      arches…all of it

      the sesame-soy dressing at tokyo rose

      and others i’m sure

    5. Bashir’s apricot glazed turkey and brie on the house bread. Or for medicinal purposes, his roast beef sandwich with horseradish could burn a new hole in your sinuses. Both are downtown mall benchmarks in sandwich-ery.

    6. Am I the only one who misses "the king" at higher grounds? Sadly I’m responsible for its demise. The only sandwich they made that actually required ASSEMBLY (all the other sandwiches are premade) so they got sick of making them for me all the time, and now tell me that they dont make them anymore even though they didnt reprint their menu with the king removed.

      I want it back, NOW! Who owns that place? Who do I have to complain to? Cant they fire those lazy people and hire people willing to actually do work in exchange for their compensation?

    7. I’ll commiserate, Lars. You should hear the groans from the kitchen every time I order the bruschetta (which requires chopping tomatoes, garlic, and basil and <this must be the tough part> putting it on top of toasted bread). You’d think my order had inflicted physical pain!

    8. That is not the recipe of Maarten’s Texas Fire sauce. I know because I put those few ingredients together and named that sauce for Jim & Linda back then. It’s not difficult to make, but it’s not printed on the side of the Texas Pete bottle.

    9. restaurants are about the package – the food, the atmosphere, the people.. none of these things would be the same if you made the food at home.

      i can appreciate the idea of saving money to make what you like, or having access to it when you are far away, but a) you usually won’t save money doing it and b) you’ll cheapen the experience if it becomes that easy and separated from how you once knew it.

      i personally have no interest in trying to replicate some restaurant’s great stuff. isn’t experimentation more fun? if you can follow a recipe you can wing it just as well and make something good you haven’t had before, right?

    10. Yeah, I think its a matter of tact. We shouldn’t have to have high level diplomacy talks with the cook just to get lunch.

      Coffee places make a FORTUNE, have you ever seen how much cash they have in HG or MH towards the end of a friday night? They definitly rival the vaults of most banks.

      The point is, they can afford to pay the relativly small amounts of money that goes to payroll. This is why people have a hard time getting accepted to work of coffee places, lots of people want to work there, and they can afford to pay above average wages to get people they consider to be with their "image" or whatever, trendy, model, whatever they choose.

      Whats my long and rambling point? Well if they can afford to hire plenty of help, how about hiring a MANAGER to make sure that people do their job and provide at least a fixed level of customer service. However high they want that to be, I dont want to have to bring my LAWYER with me to get lunch.

      Either that, or put some money into a per-putting-stuff-on-toast bonus and forget about the manager.


    11. I rarely go there, so when I recently had breakfast there I was more than a little confused. Was it okay to order another drink from your table? Where was my mom’s tea (sitting on the counter- they’d forgotten to point out that it was our tea order so it just sat there getting cold and overbrewed until we got someone’s attention to ask where our tea was)? Why did I have to walk across to the store for a diet coke? Could I please have a cup of ice? Where the hell were the napkins? Could you be a little more rude to me and obnoxiously counter-culture? How about a fork? They’d better be glad the food was so damn good.

    12. Forget Big Jim’s. Get in the car and drive a few minutes north or south to Pig N’ Steak in Madison or Pig N’ Steak Too in Scottsville. Blows Big Jim’s away. Big time. Better, friendlier service, too.

      Besides, Big Jim’s hash BBQ has become waaaaaaaaay too consistent – it seems that they no longer smoke their own pork.

    13. For years, my mouth would water just over the sign for the Pig n’ Steak every trip north. Finally, a couple of months ago, I swung by to give it a try. I have to say that while it was okay, I was definitely underwhelmed. Perhaps this reflects more on my taste for BBQ.

      That said, I don’t know that Big Jim’s is king. I really, really like Blue Ridge Pig – I just didn’t want to put everything on their menu on my list.

    14. I would suggest:

      The Kung-Pao Chicken at Szechuan (best I’ve ever had, anywhere, ever), Bodo’s Bagels, and the venerable Gusburger. Maybe also the Hot & Sour Soup from Taiwan Garden, too …


    15. Do you have any insights as to the honey habenero? I suppose I could ask them next time I’m in town (I was a waiter there of limited value), but that might not be for a while.

    16. I’ll commiserate, Lars. You should hear the groans from the kitchen every time I order the bruschetta (which requires chopping tomatoes, garlic, and basil and &lt;this must be the tough part&gt; putting it on top of toasted bread). You’d think my order had inflicted physical pain!

      That’s funny. During my stint there (admittedly brief: 11/96 – 03/97), I quite enjoyed making the bruschetta. Though I ate so much of everything there over time that I’m regrettably no longer able to have a meal there (it’s not that I don’t like it, I’ve just had so much of it), I can always have their bruschetta.

    17. Sorry but the Honey Habanero is after my time there (’89-’94). However Linda used to always say that the recipes were not a secret because it was as much the atmosphere and the people that made you want to come back (as someone else stated in another thread). So I would think if you asked they would give it to you.

    18. I don’t know anything about the Barnaby’s recipe, but for those of you who loved Expressos’s pizza(where Northern Exposure is now), they would put brown sugar in their sauce. Yum!

    19. Isn’t there some kind of thing done with donuts in this town, like sticking two together and grilling them or something like that?

      or am I thinking of the last college town I lived in?

    20. its the "grillswith"…grill a glazed donut or two until the glaze melts and caramalizes and then top with vanilla ice cream. i don’t know for certain who started it, but i used to eat them frequently at the white spot.

    21. I think the old University Diner invented this item, but it’s really before my time so I could easily be wrong. These days several places have this traditional item on the menu.

    22. The loss of Barnaby’s is one I’ll mourn forever. That was the best pizza known to man. Everything, from crust to toppings, was just first-rate. I remember gobbling square pizza slices and drinking root bear from frosted mugs when I was as young as 12 years old…

      YES, YES, we need that recipe for the book!


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