It’s a long time since the “tomorrow” that I intended to write. We’ve been on the road, en famille, down to Charlottesville, VA and back, and then several days at home during which John painted and I cleaned and cleaned and cleaned. And did some cooking (post on that to come — with pictures even!). This could be a post which muses on all the good restaurants in Charlottesville and wonders why that small-ish university city manages to support such a range of good places while our small-ish university city . . . but I’m not going to go there.
I will though, give a special mention to The Blue Ridge Pig, hole in the wall, mustard style barbecue, side of baked beans and mustard slaw, sort of place. John and I liked it all very much; Naomi was disappointed by the mustard-ness and spiciness. Both she and Nick wolfed down the beans.
And I have to say a little about Bizou, a sort of bistro on the downtown pedestrian mall with a small and frequently changing menu of “up-scale down-home” cooking. Inside it’s diner casual, with red booths and table-side juke-boxes, and old movie posters on the wall. It’s totally unfussy and unpretentious and the kind of place where it was OK for the kids to go stand in front of the open kitchen and watch the chefs on the line. The food is prepared with love and imagination. For an appetizer, I lusted after the creamy grits with bacon and chantarelles, but we ordered the goat cheese and tapenade bread plate as more friendly to all ages at the table. Nick learned the thrill of a good tapenade, using his baguette as a transportation device for moving large blobs of the stuff to his mouth then holding up the increasingly soggy slice with a plaintive “Mama! More!” For entrees we had a perfectly cooked roast pork loin on a bed of risotto style orzo with jambalaya sausage and a tomato broth and a wonderfully spiced but not spicy coconut curry with mussels and scallops. Even skeptical Naomi liked the curry broth, although she deemed her plate of calamari “too fancy” (meaning not fried enough). I believe there was a lovely chocolate mousse for dessert; at least the evidence of my kids’ faces and spoons would indicate so, but since I was in the bathroom when it was delivered and the bowl was empty when I sat down again, I can’t say for sure. (I exaggerate. I got some and it was great, but it did turn the children, particularly the littlest, into ravening beasts).
Much to my delight, Nick’s visit to Bizou was also the occasion of his learning the word cooking (at twenty months, it was high time). Back home at our cabin in the woods next morning, he dragged the pots and pans into a line on the floor, crammed his Easter Bunny into a stew pot and stirred it with a wooden spoon with great concentration muttering “coooooooking” to himself. At one point he frowned, got up and fetched his small plastic elephant and added it to the pot with a vigorous stir. He seemed pleased with the results, and brought each of us in turn a spoonful and watched us “taste” it with great anxiety until we each said “mmmmm.” He is his parent’s child.