Charlottesville, Virginia

Charlottesville Virginia fried chicken

I have to admit, it’s been a bit difficult to blog while I’ve been on the road. Much of it is that I have a little MacBook Air computer that I got specifically for travel, whose lightness has saved my back, but the tiny screen makes it hard to write on since I can only see a few sentences/thoughts at a time. In addition to that, pictures get reduced to a much smaller size so I’ve been peering at my screen, hunched over to see the photos that are about the size of a post-it note. No wonder the eye doctor I saw a few weeks ago dialed up my prescription big-time. I fear that the time is rapidly approaching that I’ll resemble Mr. Magoo.

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I’ve been so busy that I arrived home from my trip to Charlottesville to a Final Disconnection Notice from the electric and gas company since I’ve been remiss in paying them, I guess. So if I disappear completely, at least you’ll know why.

University of Virginia

So, naturally, when I was invited by the Department of French at the University of Virginia to come and speak, I didn’t hesitate for a minute to say yes. Because free time is overrated, isn’t it? (Please say yes….)

University of Virginia

Being surrounded by French scholars who surely knew more than I do about French language and culture seemed like it would be a little daunting, but I have to say, I was blown away by the people I met at the university. Rather than being a bunch of stern academics who sit around and memorize French verbs (…help!), I found myself amongst a mixed group of students and professors from France, the United States, and North Africa, who weren’t sitting around discussing the meaning of Descartes or Alexis de Toqueville’s observations on democracy in America.

Instead, conversations ranged from French cinema and the language, to racism, colonialism, and anti-Americanism, as well as French gastronomy and, of course, the French language. Being a dolt, it was terrific to speak with students and teachers who were a lot more intensely involved with aspects of French culture than I. About half of them were French, and all classes are taught in French. But it was fun to be in a group of people fluent in both languages, so we could glide easily in and out of whatever seemed the most appropriate, as some words work better in French (especially culinary terms) than others.

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It was a dynamic example of how people, from what are often portrayed as two opposing cultures, can come together and learn from, and understand each other, without the ambivalence or accusations that you sometimes hear when differences between the two cultures are discussed. Why can’t politicians be as astute as these students and teachers? As everyone knows, all cultures have their pluses and their minuses. And it was great to be able to talk fluently with people who were so dedicated to continuing such quality discussion and continuing the successful relationship between the two countries

University of Virginia

The University of Virginia was founded by Thomas Jefferson, whose original architectural design is still there in the form of a generous, grassy square, presided over by the famous Rotunda, currently undergoing structural renovations.

Rotunda

Being a Francophile, Jefferson wanted to make sure that there was a dedicated space at the school for French studies, a tradition which continues to this day. Upperclassmen can apply to live in one of the tiny dorms around the square. In the winter, wood is brought to their doors so they can light fires in the chimneys, which sounds quaint, doesn’t it? Equally quaint, but perhaps less-so, are the bathrooms, which are located way on the other side of the buildings, so you have to go outside and go down a set of stairs, if you need to use ‘em.

University of Virginia

And if I recall from my days in college, with all those keg parties, our bathrooms got a pretty heavy workout. And I wouldn’t have wanted to have to navigate a set of stairs in the dark of night. But these students are the crème de la crème of academics, and have much brighter futures than those who squandered their college education away on taking courses like bowling, guitar, and a sociology course where we all talked about what we did in the sack, as did our professor, who had us write it all down for our final exam. FYI: I think I got a B- in that one, but barely passed Fancy Diving because the high diving board scared the you-know-what out of me. Have you been up on one and looked down? If so, you know how terrifying it is.

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Now that I’m all grown up, I stood in front of students myself, and the teachers, and took on a question and answer period where we got to discuss issues, ranging from the direction of French gastronomy, to what is my favorite thing to eat. I think in answer to the last question they were expecting something French (in which case, I’d choose cassoulet or Kouign amann), but I said: “Fried chicken.”

It evoked a hearty laugh from the group, but I gotta to say, it’s the thing I love more than anything else in the whole wide world. Fortunately I don’t have access to it frequently, but the people in Charlottesville do, at Wayside. And when I spoke with a lovely Frenchwoman from Paris at the reception afterward, she said to me, “Oh, that’s my favorite food too. I love fried chicken.” See? The French and Americans share a lot more in common than we give ourselves credit for.

After she said that, her eyes rolled back in her head, as she was dreaming of that salty, crispy skin with the hot moist meat underneath, that let’s go a burst of steam when you pull back the first, exquisitely crackly piece of fried skin and pop it in your mouth. Even though a few of us in the Franco-American mix had laughed amongst us that there were words in both languages that didn’t quite translate, ranging from “obnoxious” and ludique, to laïcité and “date,” we made a “date” to get ourselves some of that chicken before I left.

Lampo pizzeria

Usually there are the “shouldas,” who, no matter where you go, say that you shoulda gone somewhere else for reasons that I’m not exactly clear about since you’ve already been to the place and it can only make you feel like you failed – similar to standing on the top of a 3 meter diving board and merely jumped in the pool, even though you shoulda dove in. Sometimes, that’s all you can do. In the case of fried chicken, it was a win as everybody in town said Wayside was the place to go. And boy, was it…I’m not going to say that if you go to Charlottesville you should go there, but let’s just say that you’re advised to put it on your list.

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Charlottesville is one of those perfect little American cities; clean, with free shuttle buses, lots of trees, and people who say “Thank you, sir.” It feels more like a town than a city. The university is a dominant presence, and many visitors undoubtedly come to visit Monticello. Perhaps lesser known are the great restaurants and food shops in Charlottesville with local breweries, vineyards not far from the city, butchers offering sustainable meat, excellent coffee shops, and artisan bakeries.

At Albemarie Baking Company, I had an oatmeal cookie that didn’t completely win me over, although the bread looked so good that I ran back before I left to grab a multigrain loaf to bring back with me. Thinking back, I probably should have gotten a loaf on Day #1 as the breakfast buffet at my hotel confirmed everyone’s worst ideas of food in America, which is a shame when you’re surrounded by such beautiful breads, and excellent coffee isn’t all that far away.

Cannelés

Also nearby is Gearhart’s Chocolate, which Ari brought me to. He heads the French Department at the university and was my local guide for the few days that I was there. I also think before I came that we set a record for the world’s longest email thread. I picked up some pistachio toffee dipped in chocolate, although it was a lovely gesture when one of the attendees at my talk later that night brought me a Charlottesville care package, which included a whole box of Gearheart’s chocolates, local granola, cannelés from MarieBette bakery, and a split of Virginia sparkling wine, which is definitely going back to Paris with me to surprise some Parisian friends. Thanks, Susan! : )

People in Charlottesville are oh-so-polite; on the free tram that circles the city, when the riders get off out the back door, each one hollers to the driver, “THANK YOU, Sir!” in their earnest, booming American voices. Being used to the fear of getting scolded for taking an interdit photo, I was hesitant to snap photos in the places that I went. But when I did, people could not have been more accommodating and were happy to let me highlight what they were doing everywhere I went. Most offered to move something around or let me in behind the counter to get a better look.

Millie Joe

Like the food, American coffee is no longer a joke, except for the horrible cup I had near Penn Station in Manhattan – and that was a very, very bad joke. The excellent macchiato I had the next day at Mudhouse Coffee Roasters, then the following day at Milli Joe, who gets their coffee from Counter Culture in North Carolina, made up for the dreadful cup that I had in New York.

Milli Joe

Speaking of mouthfuls, I hadn’t realized the allegiance to waffles in Charlottesville, and had a honey drizzled number with my coffee one bleary morning at Milli Joe, which was a nice repose from the overly sweet offerings at my hotel breakfast bar, which included several 2-quart pump bottles of flavored coffee creamers that were getting a heavy workout, especially with the old folks who were particularly giddy with excitement over them. If you’re going to put something in your coffee, besides milk or sugar, why not make it something really good? So I left a note in the suggestion box when I checked out of the hotel that they should replace with coffee creamers with distributeurs of whiskey and Kahluà. So if you’re ever at a hotel in Charlottesville and they have pump bottles of booze at the breakfast bar, you can thank you-know-who.

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Paris isn’t the only place that’s become très Brooklyn. The local J.M. Stock Provisions resembles Brooklyn (and now, parts of Paris) with exposed brick walls, wood counters, a butcher case that features humanely raised meat, and other products that boldly state their provenance.

Stock provisions

I initially went inside because the chalkboard on the sidewalk promised the best ham biscuits in town. But since I had stuffed myself that morning on….well, never mind…I ended up getting a coffee and a few bags of cornmeal and polenta from a local mill, to bring home. If I do go back, I should have the biscuit because someone was eating one and it looked mighty good. But I’ve learned from traveling that you can’t eat and do everything. (Which I said when I left Turkey about 35 years ago, after traveling around the country for a month, vowing to go back, which I haven’t done.)

Cornmeal and polenta

On my very first day in C-Ville, as it’s called, after a lengthy train ride, it seemed like burger day. So Ari from the French department took me to Citizen Burger Bar on the pedestrian mall, which discourages chain stores (there was only one – a pharmacy) and had couple of good used bookstores that I got to poke through later. We both went with the generously tall burgers with cheese, blackened onions, and — being Francophiles, aïoli, lively garlic mayonnaise.

Citizen Burger Bar

He went with the rather un-French sweet potato fries and I went with the regular frites. Since coming up was fried chicken day (or night), he decided we should keep it “light” the next day and suggested pizza for lunch at Lampo pizzeria, which specializes in Neapolitan pies.

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Lampo pizzeria

I kept it “light” and started with a green salad made of gem lettuce with anchovy dressing, and crisp bits of Parmesan frico, little fried pieces of cheese. Then ate a whole pizza by myself.

Lampo pizzeria

Lampo pizzeria

I don’t know many places outside of Italy that take such care with their pizzas that they give them a D.O.C denomination, meaning they make them in the traditional way, using the traditional ingredients. (Personally, anyone who can make it through all these rules deserves whatever denomination they want.) But I passed on the D.O.C. margherita and marinara pizzas because I had to go with Diavola, with n’duja, which the server explained to me was spicy sausage, and ever since a French friend told me how much he loves “…le pepperoni in America that they put on pizza!” I try to always get some version of spicy sausage pizza when I’m in the states, in his honor.

Fried chicken from Wayside

For the last meal, fried chicken from Wayside it was. And what a feast!

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We got a big family pack, as well as onion rings, macaroni and cheese, and hush puppies, fritters made with corn meal, which we washed down with a nice bottle of French wine — bien sûr.

Hush puppies

After taking the plunge and going out for my morning coffee on the last day, I stopped into Feast! to get provisions for the train, since American train food is on par with French train food. Can’t we come to some bilateral international agreement to fix that? Amongst all the wonderful cheeses – local and imported, charcuterie, and homemade fresh vegetable salads, they made me a sandwich for the long ride with roast chicken, Vermont cheddar, fig jam, and arugula, along with a kale salad, which I planned to finish up with some salted butter caramels made with local cream from La Vache microcreamery.

Charlottesville_

It was nice to see French and American cultures coming together in Charlottesville, courtesy of Thomas Jefferson, whose tradition is still carried on by the teachers and students at the university. But also by the cooks, chefs, and bakers, practicing la cuisine du marché, using what’s fresh and local in their cooking, growing their own grapes and producing local wines, and baking breads and pastries, combining both French and American products and traditions. Am not sure we’ll see an upsurge of fried chicken places in Paris, or pepperoni coming to a pizzeria near you – if you live in Paris, that is – but I’ve got a few American samples that are coming back with me. (Although non-dairy coffee creamer isn’t going to be one of them.)


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70 comments

  • April 20, 2015 12:59pm

    Charlottesville is such a quaint town! We love visiting Monticello and the beautiful landscape.
    That’s so funny about the upper-class men’s dorms! The wood-fired chimneys sound tempting but outside restrooms are not! :)

    • April 20, 2015 1:14pm
      David Lebovitz

      I really wanted to go to Monticello but since my time was limited, I thought it merited a longer visit than what I had time for. Plus I wanted to go when the gardens were open to the public, so will have to wait for another trip. (I think the dorms are for men as well as women; some of the doors were open and I peered inside. They are charming, but small. Although what a place to live!)

  • Mike
    April 20, 2015 2:08pm

    Oh boy – I hope you’re well provisioned to stay out of the way of the Sociology majors for a few days. Thanks for the write up – living so close, I guess I should visit?

  • Katie
    April 20, 2015 3:35pm

    Thank you for taking such lovely notes on our little town! We are proud of our food and so glad you enjoyed it. And, for future reference: the fritters made with cornmeal at Wayside have a particular name you need to know: “hushpuppies”!

  • Katie
    April 20, 2015 3:37pm

    Oh, just realized you DID catch the hushpuppies name! So glad you had them!

  • Michael
    April 20, 2015 3:43pm

    Nice hunger-inducing article. I’m a Virginian living in California for the last ten years, and they just don’t do fried chicken the way they should.

    Monticello is definitely worth a lengthy self-reflective visit. Good call on the gardens. Among many other things, Tom found time to document and catalogue each plant he grew. Seeing how he spent his time will make you feel lazy indeed.

  • Emily
    April 20, 2015 4:13pm

    As a graduate of UVA living in Paris for the past 5 years, your write up made me smile the whole time I was reading. Charlottesville is a great little city with a wonderful food scene, and I’m thrilled you enjoyed your time and meals there :)

  • Saraj
    April 20, 2015 4:15pm

    We often joke that there’s not much to do here but eat, but the great food offerings are endless.

  • Kate
    April 20, 2015 4:26pm

    Wow, I had no idea that Charlottesville had such a great food scene! Wish I had one of those waffles right now!

    Kate

  • Kagi
    April 20, 2015 4:27pm

    Boy, do I miss C’ville. While Wayside is much beloved, true fans of fried chicken will tell you that the best in town is to be had at the Coastal gas station on Cherry Ave. Next time!

  • April 20, 2015 4:41pm

    Ha! I was at the Lampo bar finishing a pizza with some friends and saw you taking pictures in the kitchen. I didn’t piece together who you were until seeing FB posts starting to show up. So glad you had a good time here. It’s hard these days trying to decide where to go out – a ridiculous number of great choices.

  • witloof
    April 20, 2015 4:44pm

    Hi David,

    There should be a method of enlarging the typeface in the composition app for your blog. Poke around in the drop down menus. It is probably under text or font size. I compose in 24 point and it’s much more comfortable.
    I am also a MacBook Air owner, and agree that the keyboard is awful! I bought mine last year thinking I would use it to write reports while sitting in cafes but it’s torture to type on.

    I also rely heavily on using the Pages app for composing and then cut and paste into whatever else I’m doing.

  • April 20, 2015 4:56pm

    I’m thrilled you liked Charlottesville. After almost a decade in Brooklyn, my husband and I moved here two years ago (we’re both UVA alums). I love the laid back pace of life, natural beauty, and great food so much! I heartily approve of your food choices too. JM Stock is a fantastic butcher and local resource – thanks for giving those guys the shout out. And yes, Wayside is totally the best.

    Happy travels!

  • April 20, 2015 5:13pm
    David Lebovitz

    witloof: Yes, the font size can be increased, but then I see even less. I was going to trade up to the new Mac portable, but it’s not much bigger. I have an older MacBook Pro that I was going to overhaul with a new drive and memory because it’s always showing me the dreaded spinning disk, but haven’t had time to get it to a repair shop. My only reluctance is that it’s too heavy to travel with.

    Kagi: That was also on my host’s list but Wayside won out.

    Michael: When I saw the gardens were closed, it seemed better to go when they’re open. Plus I only had a couple of hours to get there and back, and see it, and I didn’t want to rush through. Jefferson was a pretty interesting person and yes, all his paperwork would make anyone else feel lazy!

    Elizabeth: It shows how far the food has come in the U.S. when you have places like Lampo serving authentic Neapolitan pizza in a gorgeous wood oven, and places like the two listed served excellent coffee, in an area that doesn’t get a lot of coverage for its food. It was also remarkable that at places like Feast! there is duck confit, housemade terrines, and a sustainable butcher shop just next door. Who needs Brooklyn? ; )

  • April 20, 2015 5:24pm

    Charlottesville is a gem of a town. I make it a point to stop by every time we’re driving through. And really Waysides fried chicken just does justice for the road. Thanks for the little snapshot of this beautiful town.

  • Pascale Hapgood
    April 20, 2015 5:29pm

    It was a pleasure to hear your conversation and your take on many aspects of French life I take for granted.
    It was nice to meet you and discuss the weird invent of the “cronut” ever so briefly!
    So glad you liked our lovely town!

  • Dana
    April 20, 2015 5:37pm

    David Lebovitz! I’m so mad at you! On your tours I always see you in cities I used to live in. Never the city I currently live in. I’m in San Diego right now, can’t you manage a tour stop here!? Ce vous plait?

  • anne
    April 20, 2015 5:39pm

    Hi David,

    How about posting a recipe for the “best’ fried chicken?

    A New Yorker, like me, would be grateful. May be it’s the start of “Your American Kitchen?”

    Thanks, Anne

    • April 20, 2015 5:58pm
      David Lebovitz

      If I was going to post a “best” fried chicken recipe, I’d have to try a whole bunch of them, and/or try a whole lot of them out. And while I love fried chicken, (in addition to concerns about my waistline from all that recipe-testing…) I think deep-frying is best left to the professional with the big fryers – and people to clean up afterward!

      If you want to give it a go, I’ll bet the recipes from Michael Ruhlman (and on Food52) are winners.

  • Pam
    April 20, 2015 5:50pm

    Oh too bad you did not head out the to the restaurant on the Relais & Chateaux property – The Clifton Inn. The setting is stunning and the food very, very interesting.

  • April 20, 2015 5:51pm

    Right after being accepted to UVA, I went to visit the campus. My first shock was the sound of all the different Southern accents on my tour; the second was hearing that the most prestigious accommodations were rooms without central heat or bathrooms. At that point I decided that perhaps my value system and UVA’s weren’t aligned ;) It really is a beautiful place and an excellent school – I’m impressed with all the alums I’ve met!

  • sara
    April 20, 2015 5:57pm

    Milli Joe is one of our favorites! This waffles are awesome, and I think it’s the best coffee in town!

  • April 20, 2015 6:05pm

    This was a delightful read! I love C-ville but haven’t been in a few years. I really do suggest taking the Monticello tour when you have time, the gardens are lovely, and Jefferson was such a fascinating man.
    The food! I may heavily suggest we drop all our plans for a mini road trip this weekend to C-ville!

  • Quynh
    April 20, 2015 6:07pm

    David- I have been a long time fan and reader of yours for many years, but have never chimed in until now. I live in Alexandria VA, just outside of DC, and it was great to see such a lovely article written about C-ville. Wayside is one of my favorites!

  • Cherie
    April 20, 2015 6:08pm

    Such a nice walk down memory lane with a whole slew of new things that have changed since I finished school there ages ago – you inspire me to plan a visit :)

  • Kim Shook
    April 20, 2015 6:09pm

    I was thrilled to see this post! My husband was UVA for grad school back in the 80’s and we loved it dearly. We live in Richmond and go back often. So many familiar sights and foods! I’m glad that you enjoyed your visit and were treated so well.

  • Bonnie
    April 20, 2015 6:17pm

    You bring back fond memories of Charlottesville. My parents moved there in the early 70s, before the town had it’s growth spurt. While I have lived in many places, I have always thought of Charlottsville as home. I’m so glad that you are enjoying your visit.

  • Joan
    April 20, 2015 6:19pm

    It had never occurred to me to go to Charlottesville until now, but every picture in this post makes me want to shop for airfare. Immediately!

  • Jude
    April 20, 2015 6:21pm

    I loved this post. I love Monticello and I love fried chicken. It’s my favorite food as well. Did you know it Morgan Freeman’s favorite food? Along with collard greens. There is an art to good fried chicken. I don’t like the commercial deep fried versions. I like it pan fried with minimal oil and covered with a lid. I grew up in the south and my Mother had perfected the preparation of fried chicken. People who laugh about it have probably only eaten the commercial chain stuff which is awful.

  • April 20, 2015 6:34pm

    David – here’s a tip for you – if you have an iPad (even a mini) buy the app DUET ($10.00) – then link the iPad to you MBC using the standard iPad charging cable….download DUET onto the MBA and run it from there and the iPad – voila! You now have dual monitors….vert cool – works realGood – and for 10 bucks it’s a no-brainer

    MXM

  • April 20, 2015 6:47pm

    Charlottesville is an awesome town to eat in!

  • Kathryn
    April 20, 2015 6:54pm

    Thank you for a wonderful, laugh-out-loud morning read. And I enjoyed reading about and seeing pictures of beautiful Charlottesville and the University of Virginia. And the food, bien sûr.

  • Maura in LA
    April 20, 2015 6:56pm

    Nothing is better than fried chicken, which is easy to make at home. In addition to the recipes you linked to, the Saveur recipe for Gus’ Fried Chicken (available online – just search it) produces delicious home fried chicken like that we had in Kansas City when I was growing up.

    Never been to Charlottesville, but your writing is so evocative that now I want to visit. Thanks, David.

  • Linda H
    April 20, 2015 7:09pm

    I love Charlottesville. It’s a just-right size city, full of interesting people and places. Monticello does merit a day,

  • Carol
    April 20, 2015 7:14pm

    So glad you were able to enjoy a few days at my beautiful alma matter. I haven’t been to Charlottesville in many years, so I enjoyed reading about your visit. Sorry you got a bad cookie; when I was an undergraduate there in the 80s there was a lovely little bakery on the Corner near the university that had wonderful cookies. I know it’s long gone now.
    Hope you can make it back for a visit to Monticello. It is definitely worth it.

  • Bev
    April 20, 2015 7:22pm

    David, can you tell us what that is pinned to the top of your hamburger bun? I am intrigued. I too now what to visit this lovely city.

  • maggie
    April 20, 2015 7:25pm

    Bev, that’s a fried pickle! And those are the best hamburger buns in the city!

    • Bev
      April 20, 2015 7:42pm

      Thanks, Maggie – I never would have guessed, as that is not something we ever see here (West Coast of Canada).

  • Julia Johnson
    April 20, 2015 7:32pm

    The next time you find yourself in Los Angeles, look me up and I will introduce you to Uncle Andre’s — the fried chicken of your dreams, my treat!

  • Lisa
    April 20, 2015 7:51pm

    David, thank you for your fun, wonderful Charlottesville, VA stories! UVA is lovely, and I’m glad you got a taste of ‘real’ fried chicken and those addictive little Hush Puppies. I’m reading about Thos Jefferson’s 1787 three month visit through France. If you have a chance, read: “Thomas Jefferson’s journey to the south of France” by Roy & Alma Moore ; introduction by Lucia C. Stanton.

    Jefferson kept detailed daily journals throughout his life, including recipes, Monticello crops, visitors and his travesl. His trip to France was documented so thoroughly that the authors were able to retrace his actual stops, putting together a lovely book with photos (sans tourists) of the ancient buildings, interspersed with commentary, and correspondences with his daughter, friends and France’s VIPs. Really neat.

    Thank you for sharing the wonderful stories of your visits to the U.S.

    • April 20, 2015 7:59pm
      David Lebovitz

      Thanks for the recommendation. I read a book about Château D’Yquem by Richard Olney, the famed Sauternes made near Bordeaux a while back. When Jefferson visited, he apparently bought hundreds bottles of the pricey wine because he fancied it so much. (Some of the older, and rare Yquems sell for over $100k per bottle!) The New Yorker wrote a pretty good article about them, called The Jefferson Bottles involving some people recently selling supposed bottles from his collection.

      The website for Monticello does have some of the historical research about him catalogued. But it’s also interesting that he not only had great taste, but that he was also a smart investor! : )

  • Dianne
    April 20, 2015 7:54pm

    Great blog!

  • Cris
    April 20, 2015 7:56pm

    Talk about “should haves!” We drove right by there two weeks ago on our way to Williamsburg. I would have made sure to stop for some fried chicken to have something yummy to remember. Although we enjoyed our time in Williamsburg and Jamestown we never found anything memorable to eat there in spite of extensive Chowhound research. So sad – I was looking forward to southern food indulgences!

  • Kari
    April 20, 2015 8:56pm

    I love Charlottesville! Such a quaint little town!
    Kari

  • Lisa
    April 20, 2015 9:49pm

    What a wonderful read! Thanks for the many smiles that crossed my face while traveling vicariously with you through Charlottesville . You’re a funny guy!

  • Duncan
    April 20, 2015 9:51pm

    Ha! I was standing at the intersection across from Milli Joe’s thinking that the guy standing next to me looked a lot like David Lebovitz. But really, why would he be in Charlottesville….

    I’ll have to start following you on Twitter to keep up with your travels. Had I known you were in C’ville I would have gone to your talk in the French dept.

  • April 20, 2015 10:58pm

    I’m so glad your visit to our little burgh hit the culinary gems! Feast and Lampo and JM Stock—you had some in-the-know people planning your stay. What’s truly funny is that just a week or so ago I took a photo of your book on my son’s soccer pitch. It was my light reading that was probably a mistake because it made me far too hungry (made the croque madames later with provisions from Feast– it was incredible). And to think you were either coming or going at the same time. Thanks for the shout-outs for our beloved local businesses. It makes me happy that you had a nice visit to Charlottesville.

  • Sharon
    April 20, 2015 11:15pm

    Glad you mentioned the grains from Wade’s Mill in nearby Raphine. I love visiting that traditional mill, run by Jim and Georgie Young. Georgie also gives cooking classes and invites local chefs to do the same. Sadly, she will be ending them this year, but I’m not sure if the mill is shutting down too.

  • April 20, 2015 11:16pm

    Thank you for the lovely post on our beautiful (and delicious!) town. Charlottesville truly is a gem of a place–we never want to move away.

  • April 20, 2015 11:48pm

    Fentimans ginger beer! That stuff is made in Newcastle, England, just down the way from me. Great stuff, but amazed to see it in Charlottesville USA!

  • Sharlene
    April 20, 2015 11:48pm

    To think that the man who “introduced” me Madame Denise Acabo so that I could marvel at all the chocolates at A L’Etoile d’Or (I still have her magical wrapping paper), and have the best buckwheat crepes in Breizh Cafe was in my home town?!! Sigh. I so would have been at the UVa event. Damn flu. Needless to say, so cool that you visited Cville and had the opportunity to try the local foods here. Thanks for sharing your experience in this great post!

  • April 21, 2015 12:21am

    My husband and I just visited C’ville for a few days and made it to Citizen Burger, which we loved. How in the heck did we miss that pizza and all those other lovely places. I’m plotting my return trip now. Thanks for the great recap!

  • AC
    April 21, 2015 1:29am

    Oh please, the next time you are in Charlottesville, drive over Afton Mountain to Staunton. I think you’d love my little town. We have renowned restaurants (the Shack, Zynodoa) and amazing bakeries and you could go south to Wade’s Mill to buy your grits from the source or visit with Joel Salatin at Polyface. And that’s not even touching on our theatre scene…

  • Gavrielle
    April 21, 2015 5:41am

    I knew nothing about Charlottesville, but your delicious prose out it firmly on my list. And anyone whose idea of light eating involves pizza is my kinda guy:).

  • April 21, 2015 6:24am

    A beautiful city, friendly folks and food fit for a king….I therefore crown you! ;)

    Thanks for educating me. I had no idea of the influences of French within the university. I plead ignorance and acknowledge that my understanding of historical significance to areas outside my neck of the woods is sadly limited.

    Again, it’s late and I’m illegally looking at food porn. It’s bad enough I had to lay my eyes on that coffee, but chicken and burgers are ridiculously intoxicating at any time of the day or night. And then you just had to talk about pizza, didn’t you?

    I’m just going to have to sign off and cry myself to sleep. I’m sure to dream of figs and caramels, trains and trolleys. I’ll try not to hold a grudge. Hopefully your suitcase arrived home safely. It would be a shame to lose such great treasures.

    One last thing, Honey-Bunches, have you had the opportunity to try sprouted wheat bread? I discovered it at the organic grocers about a month ago. OMG!

  • Lynne
    April 21, 2015 8:28am

    Thank you, David, for your wonderful blog….such a joy to read

  • April 21, 2015 2:29pm

    Isn’t Charlottesville great! It definitely looks like you sourced out the best spots to visit. It’s great to see that J.M. Stock Provisions is still doing well. I went to a pig butchery workshop the owners hosted about two years ago before their storefront was open and they are some super awesome guys. I’ll definitely have to try out Lampo next time I’m down there too! How’d you like the fried pickle on the burger?!

  • Mr.T
    April 21, 2015 3:06pm

    Hi David, enjoyed your blog of a great Mid Atlantic town! You missed going to the best dining experience in Charlottesville with superb service at ORZO! It is in the same location as Gearhart’s Chcocolate and Feast and not to be missed the next time you are there! Ask those French scholars at UVA to invite you back next academic year!

  • April 21, 2015 5:38pm

    I can’t believe I missed this!!! As a native Virginian and French major, I would have definitely made the trip down to hear you speak! I am a little partial given that I am a University of Richmond graduate and UVA was somewhat of a rival for us Richmonders. But you make Charlottesville look great and you definitely hooked me in with that fried chicken at the top. Come back to Virginia soon!

  • Debbie
    April 23, 2015 12:51am

    Thanks to your blog I tried the oatmeal golden raisin cookie, the zero oatmeal cookie, and the chocolate chunk oatmeal cookie at Albemarle Baking Company. When I stopped in today to pick up my dinner bread, the zero oatmeal cookies were sold out! Ordered a couple of dozen to share with my students on Friday and a couple of dozen more for a family picnic dinner on Saturday. Have enjoyed your new cookbook.

  • Rahcyne
    April 23, 2015 12:01pm

    Another UVA alum and Francophile. Loved reading this account of your time in the Ville. I was there 2 weeks ago and wish I had read this post prior to going! The food scene was very different 20 years ago! I will share with my fellow alum. Btw, the county is Albermarle. Great post nevertheless!

  • April 23, 2015 1:38pm

    Charlottesville sounds like a great time! The university campus is just gorgeous. Wish I’d stopped there on my recent roadtrip down South…

  • April 23, 2015 7:21pm

    Yes!!! I can’t believe how extensive this write up is. I live right down the street from Charlottesville’s Downtown Mall and I’ve been to every one of these places and it’s kind of mind blowing to know that they’re now Lebovitz approved! Lampo is insanely good. It’s cooperatively owned by a bunch of Italian obsessed food nerds, and it shows in the fantastic, authentic quality of the food (and wine list). And Millie Joe’s! Such a great little coffee shop. I never thought about the French influence on the city due to Jeffersons infatuation. But I’m sure his food philosophy is what makes this city so different from the rest of the state. And what attracts the hoards of food lovers, visitors and locals both!

  • Linda Schiffer
    April 24, 2015 2:28am

    Hi David! I would like to send you a link to an article you might like.

    http://finance.yahoo.com/news/why-you-shouldn-t-steal-hotel-shampoo-184253471.html

    A long time ago you wrote that you hate the wasteful little bottles of shampoo in hotels. Finally someone is doing something about it.

    Thanks for all of your wonderful posts.

  • Charlotte K
    April 27, 2015 1:09am

    David–I just got back from a week visiting family in Richmond, VA The visit included a day trip to see Monticello. On the way down in the airport I happened to read this post! I insisted to my family that my trip to Monticello would not be complete without a detour to the Wayside to eat fried chicken (I live in Boston, so good southern fried chicken is a rare pleasure–unless I make it myself). Great tip! Not only was the chicken fantastic but the people were super-friendly and were — get ready for it– talking about your blog post! Apparently I’m not the only person educated by it! Thanks so much (and I’m happy about the coincidence).

    I went down to Richmond for the Virginia Garden Week but it also happened to be Richmond restaurant week, and we ate out every night. Had some really good meals and fun cocktails.

  • April 28, 2015 2:50am

    You captured C’Ville wonderfully. My husband and I are both UVA alums and we love it dearly. You showed me some places we need to add on our next visit. Glad you had a wonderful time.

  • April 28, 2015 3:46pm

    Your pictures inspire me to become a better photographer and be able to tell stories through them. Bravo !

  • Susan
    April 29, 2015 8:25pm

    David,

    I’m just now getting around to reading about your time here in my fair city ;-)
    I so enjoyed your talk at UVa! I’ve been an admirer for some time now. After living in Belgium for six years, I yearn to get all the news from Paris!! You are so spot on in your descriptions of life in France. I am enjoying my autographed copy of My Paris Kitchen, thanks to your visit to B&N! I snapped one good pic! I have already made the delectable Ham, blue cheese and pear quiche. Love the crust!!!

    Merci beaucoup, mon ami!! Please come back to Cville anytime!

  • April 30, 2015 3:40am

    Thank you for sharing so many of the incredible culinary highlights of our Cville! It really is a beautiful place with unique and entertaining places and spaces.

    Chin chin!

  • May 6, 2015 8:04pm

    Wow, you made my mouth water. I am off to Charlottesville on 5/14 for my daughter’s graduation and cannot wait to try some of these places. Just need to decide on which ones!