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Filtering by Category: retaurants

two local meals [and a side of cornbread]


December 1st...what? How did that happen? November rushed by as if being chased by a ticking time bomb and I have no doubt that December will disappear just as quickly. We’re coming up on the end of another year, one that I am not so sad to see put behind us as I hope for a happier 2010. Don’t get me wrong, there have been some really fabulous experiences in 2009 that I hope never to forget, many of them being food-related and therefore blog-related, and two of those having happened in November. I’ve been meaning to write this post since the 9th of last month, after an especially wonderful evening spent with dear friends at a favorite Charlottesville restaurant, and one week after an afternoon spent with the same friends at Double H Farm outside of Charlottesville. On both occasions we were immersed in a local food nirvana, surrounded by the people who produce a good portion of the food served on our household table and others who support their efforts. What follows is a pictorial tour of both events with some notes on the experiences. I feel that this post will be most enjoyed by those who live in the Charlottesville area and have no doubt eaten pork or eggs or arugula from Double H Farm, had a conversation with Richard and Jean at the Farmer’s Market and perhaps even participated in one of the Local Food and Spirits Nights hosted by Maya. But I hope that my non-local readers will enjoy it as well, and possibly be prompted to explore similar opportunities in their own localities. And, way down at the bottom of this post, there’s cornbread.

Double H Farm

Many, many thanks to Richard Bean and Jean Rinaldi for inviting us to their home.  Double H Farm (which stands for Happy Hearts) provides sustainably raised pork and vegetables to Charlottesville-area restaurants and individual consumers.  Richard is one of the only true butchers left in our vicinity, cutting meat on his farm after the pigs have been slaughtered at a licensed, USDA-inspected facility as required by Virginia law.  You can read more about his process here. The Berkshire hogs roam freely on a portion of the 32-acres at Double H Farm.  They are curious about visitors at their fence and will come up to say hello if you're careful not to make sudden movements. The chickens at Double H provide some of the best eggs I've ever tasted.  Their yolks are a deep orange and add a luxurious texture to baked goods.  The birds are free-roaming; their pen and hen houses are moved by tractor every couple of weeks to a new, fresh piece of land. Goats.  So cute, so friendly.  I won't tell you about their fate as I prefer to think of them happily frolicking around their pen with the Great Pyrenees dogs that act as their protectors. I just adore the spicy bite that arugula lends to salads and soups, and Richard and Jean grow some of the best around. One of my favorite veggies - collard greens.  I am a southern girl, after all.

Maya : Local Food and Spirits Night : November 9th, 2009

Each month Maya hosts a Local Food and Spirits Night.  The restaurant offers a 5-course menu created using only locally-sourced ingredients, each course accompanied by locally-produced spirits. And, even better, the farmers, winemakers and brewers who make this special evening possible are invited to the event so that they may share and discuss their practices with the rest of the guests. Every item on the menu was local except for the sherry vinegar in the salad dressing and the pecans on the salad. The farmers and winemaker featured at the dinner we attended (along with their contributions) were: Richard Bean of Double H Farm - pork shoulder, sausage, greens, cornmeal Megan and Rob Weary of Roundabout Farm - vegetables Peter Hatch of Monticello Gardens - vegetables Tom Silliman of Sweet Dog Farm - poultry Rag Mountain Trout - trout Gabriele Rausse of Gabriele Rausse Winery - wine With its dim lighting, exposed brick walls and tiny tea lights on the long community tables adorned with festive autumn leaves, the warm ambience of the upstairs dining room at Maya provided the perfect backdrop for the southern-inspired meal we were served.  Outside the air was brisk but inside our bodies were warmed by a subtly smokey white bean soup with andouille sausage, chicken, kale and broccoli.  This first course was paired with the Gabriele Rausse Bianco, a white table wine composed of 90% viognier grapes - my personal favorite - aged for five months in French oak barrels.  This course fought hard to be my favorite of the evening, but in the end was over-shadowed by the braised pork shoulder.  I guess I'm just a sucker for Double H Farm pork. While enjoying a salad of autumn lettuce, smoked trout, radish, apple and pecans, we learned about the history of the Gardens at Monticello and Thomas Jefferson's experimentation there.  Megan and Rob Weary of Roundabout Farm described their sustainable farming practices and their appreciation of Peter Castiglione and Christian Kelly, owners of Maya, who once explained their desire to own a restaurant that "brings [local] food in the back door to sell out the front". The evening continued with more wine from Gabriele Rausse and delicious food from the kitchen.  We enjoyed chicken breast rolled with smoked ham, served with collard greens and an appalachian cheese sauce as we heard Tom Silliman of Sweet Dog Farm discuss the joys and challenges of running his family-owned farm and just how he had raised the chicken on our plate.  Our party agreed that the third course of braised pork shoulder with mixed greens, gnocci and crumbled bits of bacon was the highlight of the evening, and cheered for our friend Richard as he expressed the importance of eating locally and asking the right questions.  "Where does it come from?  How was it raised?  You've got to ask!" We finished the meal with warm apple tart tatin and the Collage dessert wine; our bellies full, our minds slightly fizzy and our mouths exclaiming that we'd be back again soon.  For sure. Cornbread, for me, is one of the most comforting recipes to make when the weather turns cold.  This particular recipe I made with eggs and white cornmeal from Double H Farm and chives from our own garden. Its quite good with a bowlful of piping-hot chili on a frigid evening, a not-so-bad way to welcome Winter and a new year.

Cheddar Chive Cornbread

adapted from The Joy of Cooking Ingredients
  • 1-1/4 cups stone-ground cornmeal
  • 3/4 cup white whole wheat flour
  • 1 tbsp sugar
  • 2 tsp baking powder
  • 1/2 tsp baking soda
  • 1/2 tsp salt
  • 2 large eggs
  • 1-1/3 cups milk (I used 1%)
  • 3 tbsp melted unsalted butter
  • 1/2 to 1 cup grated cheese (this will very based on the strength of your cheese.  I used 1/2 cup of cheddar, and wish I'd used more)
  • 2 tbsp fresh chives, minced
  1. Preheat oven to 425*F.  Butter a 9 x 9-inch baking pan.
  2. In a large bowl, whisk together all of the dry ingredients.
  3. In a smaller bowl, whisk together the eggs and the milk.
  4. Add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients and stir until moistened.  Fold in the melted butter. Fold in the cheddar and chives.
  5. Scrape batter into greased baking pan, tilting pan to level.  Bake for 20-25 minutes until toothpick inserted in center comes out clean.
  6. Let the cornbread cool in the pan for 15-20 minutes.  Invert the pan to release the cornbread and slice into 9 pieces.  Serve warm.
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NYC, and capture


I learned a little something about myself last weekend. When immersed in a city I adore, surrounded by bustling people, towering buildings, a cacophony of sounds and a myriad of smells both good and bad...I am not a very good photographer. Or, perhaps better stated, when distracted by new experiences I tend to forget that I am a photographer. Don’t be mistaken, Brian and I lugged camera equipment all over the West Village, Meat Packing District, Brooklyn Heights and DUMBO, gave ourselves sore necks and shoulders and stressed ourselves out on the subway thinking about the amount of money strapped to our bodies in the form of photo gear, but returned with an embarrassingly low amount of shots. I seem to have a hard time peeling my eyes from the sky, the street, the architecture and the bakery windows to step behind the camera and look through the lens. And its not just New York City, the same can be said of Boston and New Orleans, both cities that Brian and I love but for which we have very little documentation of our visits. I’m trying to decide if this is such a bad thing, since a lack of photographs is typically the result of the two of us having a very good time. Whether it be good company, good food or good surroundings, if we’re in the middle of a good experience, I lack the ability to stop and capture the moment. Clearly, I need to learn how to multi-task. The sparse amount of quality pictures in this post is quite the opposite of what I envisioned as we packed up our gear, debating which lenses to take and worrying about memory card space. Upon our return and my download of images, I seriously contemplated just forgetting about a Bella Eats: NYC segment, but it saddened me to not, in some way, acknowledge the amazing time we had, as short and busy as it was. Bella Eats, while providing a space from which to share recipes, photographs and stories with you all, my readers, has also become a bit of a journal for me - a place to document my adventures in the kitchen, to witness my growth as a photographer, to work on my voice as a writer and to record revelations I have about various aspects of my life. Such as the fact that my camera needs to become a part of my daily routine, and that I should be documenting more than just food. And so, in an attempt to challenge myself as a photographer and to give myself yet another creative outlet (can you ever have too many?!?) I’ve started a little photo journal over at tumblr. My plan is to post at least one photo each day, with whatever camera is available to me, along with whatever it is that I am thinking as I take the shot. My hope is to raise my awareness of the moments that make up my life, both big and small, and to document as many of them as I can without taking away from the moment itself. Because I am never without my iPhone, most photos will be taken with it and perhaps doctored with an app like ShakeItPhoto, or BestCamera. This exercise is about developing my eye, not my skills, and so I prefer the low-tech (can you call the iPhone low-tech?) non-pressure of snapping a photo and immediately uploading it, rather than fussing with camera settings and editing software like Adobe Lightroom and Photoshop. The journal is called capture, and you can check it out here if you’d like. It is not about food, although since food encompasses a large part of my life there will surely be some appearances by dishes and drinks that have an impact on me, both good and bad. It is a personal project, so the moments captured will likely only mean something to me and perhaps the person that I share them with, but may not appeal to a larger audience. However, because I was inspired by the lovely Becka of Studio222Photography to start this journal, I thought that it was only appropriate that I share mine with all of you, and hope that some of you may be inspired to start your own. capture And now, a few highlights from our trip to NYC.  Again, this is mostly for our own reference and to highlight some of the places we recommend others visiting the city to see.  It is not an exhibit of extraordinary photography skills.  :) View from our hotel room, straight down into Ground Zero.  Sobering to see, but fascinating to watch the construction from 33 stories above. This was a fantastic place to stay if you're planning on concentrating your time in lower Manhattan and Brooklyn, as we were. NYC merge 3 Magnolia Bakery in the West Village. A quaint little space crowded with baked goods on every available surface and so many people - behind the counter, in front of the counter, on the sidewalk outside and filling the park across the street - that you get flustered and order the first thing you can focus your eyes on. As you stand in line, wondering what it is that you just ordered, you are comforted by the fact that every single sweet they make is delicious, so whatever it is you’ve just requested will be great no matter what... NYC merge 2 A visit to Chelsea Market in the Meat Packing District, so that we could try and spot some Food Network stars (filmed upstairs) and get a sticky bun from Amy's Bread.  We drooled over olive oils, dried pastas and cured meats at Buon Italia, and wished we lived in the Village so that we could take home some milk, yogurt or cheese from Ronnybrook Milk Bar. NYC merge The wedding Saturday was at the Brooklyn Historic Society, a lovely setting that fit the bride (one of my most creative girlfriends from high school) and groom perfectly.  After the beautiful ceremony, we all ate, drank and danced the night away.  I was lucky enough to reconnect with two other girlfriends from high school, which means that, surrounded by good company, we have very few photos to share of the evening. NYC merge 4 The desserts were catered by Baked in Brooklyn, a bakery I've been following from a distance for a few years.  Sadly, we didn't make it there to visit, but the wedding desserts were absolutely amazing and I highly recommend a visit to the bakery to try them for yourself. A bakery in Brooklyn that we did visit was Almondine.  Oh my.  Rated by NY Magazine as New York City's Best Bakery, the tiny shop on Water Street did not disappoint.  We were there when it opened, standing on the front steps with a handful of locals waiting anxiously for the doors to be unlocked.  Our first round through the line (yes, we went through twice) yielded the best croissant of my life (almond) and a raisin croissant for Brian.  With round two, Brian brought a chocolate croissant (pictured below) and a slice of mushroom, broccoli tomato quiche to the table.  The croissants were as light as air and the quiche was creamy and rich.  My only recommendation?  Buy extras, and fly them home with you.  I promise you'll be wanting seconds the next day. NYC merge 5 And don't miss Jacques Torres across the street. NYC merge 6 Also, while in Brooklyn, I rekindled my love for bridges... IMG_9478 ...and the Flea Markets that happen underneath them.  Again, I was surrounded by shiny (and not-so-shiny) objects, so other than this shot, and the fabulous necklace I bought from artist Jessica DeCarlo, I have no evidence of the Brooklyn Flea.  But if you're ever in DUMBO on a Sunday morning, take my advice and wander over to the underside of the Brooklyn Bridge.  You won't be disappointed. IMG_9526 Thank you all for your NYC recommendations!  I only wish we'd had more time to spend, and look forward to our next trip.  That's the beauty of having a blog, I'll have your recommendations and this post to reference for our next visit! I'll be back in a couple of days with a meal perfect for the summer-to-fall transition.  In the meantime, you can follow me on twitter or capture.
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bluegrass grill + tofu two ways


Brian and I park about 1/3 of a mile from our offices every morning.  The walk to work is short and pleasant, but forces us to pass our favorite C'ville breakfast spot, The Bluegrass Grill.  The restaurant serves down-home breakfasts and is famous for their house-made baked goods, especially the honey wheat biscuits.  I dream about their biscuits.  Its impossible to get a table on the weekends without waiting an hour, so we don't get to go very often, but every morning as we walk by we say "we need to get up early one day and go before work".  After 6 months of talking about it, today was finally "one day".  We invited our good friend Amy to join us so it was the perfect start to a Friday morning, good food + good company. Breakfast:  Short stack of Honey Wheat Pancakes with fresh strawberries, real maple syrup and a sprinkling of powdered sugar.  It was AMAZING.  I ate almost the whole plate.  :)  Surprisingly these puppies stuck with me from 8am until 1:30pm!!!  I thought for sure that I would be starving by 10. 081205-b1 Lunch:  Because I knew I'd be having a large, not-so-healthy breakfast I decided to keep lunch simple and satisfying.  I had a baked sweet potato in the fridge so tossed it in a bowl with 1/2 cup edamame and sea salt sprinkled on top.  Perfect. 081205-l1 And two more of the Pumpkin Oatmeal Chocolate Chip cookies from my co-worker... 081204-l41 Snack:  Nothing!  My lunch was so late that I didn't need one. Dinner:  Miso soup and pan-glazed tofu.   I wanted to use some of this guy in the spirit of this week's BSI... 081205-d1 I used my favorite recipe from Moosewood for Miso Soup with Tofu and Shitake Mushroom Broth. 081205-d3 And pan-glazed my tofu using this method, but with the following glaze.
  • 1/4 cup water (usually this would be veggie broth, but i'm out)
  • 2 tbsp low-sodium soy sauce
  • 1 tsp minced ginger
  • 1 tbsp honey
  • 1/2 tsp crushed red pepper flakes
081205-d4 081205-d5 081205-d6 And a lovely glass of cabernet. 081205-d2 Dessert: 1/2 cup fat free french vanilla Stoneyfield yogurt, 1 small pink lady apple and a handful of Annie's Honey Bunny Grahams. 081205-d7 Does anybody have any big weekend plans?  I am going to be a knitting goal is to start and finish a scarf this weekend that will be a Christmas gift.  I went to the yarn shop today during lunch to pick up a blend that I'm really excited about!  I finished a scarf last night that is also a Christmas gift, but I can't show it because I don't want to ruin the surprise for the recipient!  :) Have a great night! PS:  Kelly over at groundedfitness is giving away a danskin vest...check out her blog to see how you can win it!
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BSI disaster + groceries


Thank you ladies for your kind thoughts regarding my BSI and your faith in me in the kitchen!  I hope I don't disappoint you but, BSI pumpkin attempt #1 was definitely a disaster.  However, my goal for myself with these BSI entries is to try something new for me, which I did, and I feel like I learned something, which is good.  So that is why I am still going to share the recipe + experience with you all (but Lindsay, please don't submit it!  I have another recipe that I am going to post in the morning...).  So, here goes. bsia-5 Pumpkin Creme "Disasters" Ingredients: Pumpkin Cream
  • 8 oz of 1/3 less fat cream cheese
  • 1 cup pureed pumpkin
  • 1 egg
  • 1/3 cup honey
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp nutmeg
  • pinch of ground cloves
  • 1 roll of frozen phyllo dough, thawed
  • 2 apples, cored and sliced thinly
  • 1 tsp cinnamon
  • 1 tbsp turbinado sugar
  1. Combine all pumpkin cream ingredients together.
  2. Combine apples with cinnamon and turbinado sugar in separate bowl.
  3. (this step has many modifications as evidenced by the photo above, but this is what seemed to work best...) Unroll phyllo dough.  Take two sheets and lay them on cutting board.  Cut in 1/2 down the length of the sheets.  Spread pumpkin cream across one of the strips of dough.  Pile a couple of spoonfuls of apple mixture at one end, and roll phyllo dough to form a little packet.
  4. Place packets on greased cookie sheet.  Brush with egg white (I used butter, which was not good.  I think an egg white would be better.) and sprinkle with cinnamon.
  5. Bake at 375* for 20 minutes, or until golden brown.
pumpkin cream pumpkin cream cinnamon apples cinnamon apples  bsia-4 bsia-51 They all look different because I was having a lot of trouble with the phyllo dough and was trying different methods of wrapping/rolling.  I realized that what I really needed was puff pastry (lesson #1) and that phyllo dough doesn't work well with more liquid fillings because it gets soggy and the filling seeps through (lesson #2).  I was pretty bummed because the flavor was good, the form however was not.  This photo pretty much sums it up... bsia-6 Oh well.  I'm over it now and have moved on to a new BSI recipe which I will post tomorrow.  It satisfies another goal of mine, the "healthify classic favorites" challenge I set up for myself last weekend, so I'm pretty excited about it.   On to the food diary. Dinner: Brian and I met a friend at our favorite Indian cuisine restaurant in town, Maharaja (sorry, no website).  I LOVE Indian food.  This restaurant gets me so excited because I know I am always going to have a great meal there with plenty of leftovers for the next day.  Our meal tonight definitely brought the food dance out of me (reserved only for stellar eating experiences.)  Sadly, the pictures are pretty awful (iphone + dark restaurant = grainy photos).  I'll have better ones tomorrow when I eat my leftovers for lunch. I had the Dal Saag (lentils and spinach in a cream-based sauce) and Vegetable Masala (veggies and chickpeas in a spicy tomato sauce) along with 2 pieces of naan (nobody can resist the naan!) and some white rice. 081122-d1 I had double what you see on my plate below, about 1/2 the total entree you see in the picture above. 081122-d2 And 1/2 this glass of wine.  Brian finished the rest for me... 081122-d31 We went to Whole Foods afterwards, nice and full so we didn't buy the whole store.  We did manage to spend a stupid amount of money per usual...  It really got me thinking about all of you bloggies that are participating in the Thanksgiving Challenge.  I am SO IMPRESSED with all of you and can't wait to see your final numbers.  When we got home I looked through our freezer and pantry and realized that we have A LOT of food.  I am hoping to next month adopt a similar challenge for Brian and I, even if just to cut our grocery bill in 1/2 for the month.  It seems like great timing to clean out the fridge, freezer and pantry before going home to Florida for Christmas, and the perfect time of year to be saving money and giving thanks for what we have. Here's our loot for the trip.  We decided to do a separate Thanksgiving trip on Tuesday (hello crowds!!!) to get the veggies and other miscellaneous items we need for the big dinner. groceries-11
  • whole wheat bread for bri's lunches
  • whole wheat pizza dough (should be in the newbies)
  • coffee
  • clif mojo and clif z-bars (we got clif builders for Brian b/c he LOVES them)
  • fancy cheese for fancy grilled cheese sandwiches one night
  • eggs
  • soymilk
  • oikos
  • maple syrup
  • tuna
  • canned beans for chili
  • canned tomatoes for tomato soup
  • pasta sauce
  • vino
  • bell peppers
  • onions
  • garlic
  • pears
  • fennel 
  • bananas
  • raspberries (not in season here, but 2 for 1...can't resist that!!!)
  • frozen berries
  • celery
The newbies!!! groceries-31
  • whole wheat pizza dough
  • cinnamon roll Larabar! (still no pb cookie or coconut!!!)
  • dates!!!
  • adriatic fig spread!!!
  • new tea - honey vanilla chamomile for night time and nutcracker sweet for work
I'm sipping on the honey vanilla chamomile right now and it is yummy!  It also means that I'm about ready for bed...chamomile is the perfect evening relaxer for me.  I will post my official BSI entry in the morning, along with some preliminary Thanksgiving plans!  I can't wait to hear what you all are doing for Thanksgiving!   G'night!  :)
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freezing friday


Well, so much for the beautiful weather.  I think it has snowed 3 separate times since my post this morning! Just flurries, nothing stuck.  And the wind is whipping so hard that its coming through cracks around my office windows.  My hands are completely frozen and I have the heat set at 76*!  :(  Brian and I braved the cold to walk down the pedestrian mall for a lunch date. Lunch:  We went to one of my favorite restaurants in downtown C'ville, Bizou.  Here is what Food & Wine had to say about my little favorite in May 2004:  "This downtown diner gets packed at lunchtime with University of Virginia faculty. The retro interior features red-leather booths and vintage movie posters. There's roasted chicken and grilled rib eye, but Bizou's specialty is its succulent homemade meat loaf with chipotle ketchup (119 W. Main St.; 434-977-1818)."  Their gourmet down-home cooking is to-die-for, especially on blustery days like today.  They have my favorite summer meal, a golden beet salad with fresh chevre and their house-made honey mustard dressing.  It is SO good.  I was surprised that it was still on the menu today, but I was craving something warm and filling so I got their veggie burrito instead. I'm sorry about the picture quality, I only had my iphone and the restaurant is pretty dark inside. 081121-l1 No cheese or sour cream inside, just wonderful sauteed greens and veggies.  I found lots of spinach, brussels sprout leaves, onions, carrots, corn and diced tomato inside.  And I asked for the creme fraiche on the side...normally they drizzle it all over the top.  The burrito is so good though that I think I only drizzled the spicy, creamy sauce on two bites. 081121-l2 I finished everything on my plate.  Yum. For an afternoon snack I have a Clif Nectar bar, but we typically have wine and cheese in my office on Friday afternoons so I may hold off on snacking on the bar until I know if we're doing that today. 081121-s1 Have a great afternoon!
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