After our dinner at The Shebeen, A & I crashed pretty early, allowing us to get up early and do some exploring the best way we know how- on our own two feet. A weekend long run took us around the UVA campus and through lots of quaint neighborhoods.
As soon as we were back and showered, we took a quick trip around the corner to Great Harvest Charlottesville, a terrific bakery owned and operated by one of our favorite bloggers, Kath of Kath Eats Real Food. Although she wasn't at the bakery, we chatted with her husband Matt and perused the bread and other goodies, of which there are many. We ended up selecting a loaf of Cinnamon Chip and some seeded buns, with Matt throwing in a free Savannah Bar- a "must try" of the bakery. Thanks Matt!
The Savannah bar was devoured almost immediately- a surprisingly dense, just sweet enough oat and berry bar- a perfect little treat for sinking your teeth into after a morning run. A cup of locally roasted coffee and we were ready to hit the farmer's market.
During the warmer months, Cville has a huge market near the Downtown Mall, with goods ranging from herbs and spices, cheeses, baked goods, Japanese street food, and the best jam I've ever had. JAM according to daniel had a huge spread of all their seasonal jams, including a fig + lime that would be amazing on a thick piece of bread with a little brie. I'm strongly considering ordering a case of this online.
The market was a great diversion while we waited for a table at The Bluegrass Grill & Bakery, a cozy, down-home place to get brunch. While the wait is no shorter than a solid hour on the weekend, we were really blown away by all of the dishes we tried. It was one of those meals where you just want to tuck in and enjoy and not even consider taking the time to chronicle the event. Thanks to our friend Mike for snapping a few quick pics, including one of the highlights- chocolate covered bacon! It is really just something everyone needs to experience for themselves. Do yourself a favor and just go. And order off the weekend specials menu.
Fortunately, we had another solid brunch experience the following morning at The Pigeon Hole, a funky little restaurant located in the "The Corner," a stretch of shops and restaurants popular with the students. Recommended to me by a couple of UVA grads, The Pigeon Hole was quite welcoming, with a great outdoor seating area extending off of a beautiful porch.
A & I weren't all that hungry so we decided to split one "Belly Stuffer" item (all $7) and one "Nibbler" (all $4). The Huevos Rancheros certainly stuffed our bellies- a platter of slow cooked black beans, a couple fried eggs and a thick layer of melted cheddar layered with a pretty potent spicy red sauce. The hash browns accompanying the dish were cut on the smaller side and soft- not mushy, but I preferred the hearty chunks of crispy potatoes at Bluegrass. As for the huevos, Pigeon Hole keeps it simple, with the basic components playing well off one another. The beans were super thick and sludgy, making it easy to incorporate them into each bite.
One of our friends dishes came with a side of grits- and I am not exaggerating when I say we had grits in some form in every single meal we ate that weekend- but he handed them off to A & I to split. Again, the chefs kept it extremely simple- just grits, salt, and perhaps a touch of butter. The stone-ground corn itself was grainier and grittier than some of the more milled versions, giving it a rustic texture that actually required chewing. Cooking them long and slow provided a super creamy texture without getting a whole lot of dairy involved.
We finished up with a nibbler- two small sticky buns. Gooey cinnamon-tinted bread drizzled with a caramel sauce and embedded with halved pecans... a sweet and sticky way to end the meal. Perfect for sharing (and satisfying the inevitable sweet tooth).
Our weekend wrapped up with a barbecue at home, and then we sadly said goodbye to a beautiful southern college town that reminded us of home... though perhaps with better food! Don't worry Charlottesville... we'll be back!
The Pigeon Hole