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With over 300 restaurants in town, how's a hungry foodie to choose? With the Hook's Foodfinder, of course! Search hundreds of local restaurant listings (or hit the random search function and let the FoodFinder decide for you), check ratings and read reviews, or login and write one yourself. All you need to know about the local cuisine scene is right here.
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Can’t decide where to eat?

by Dave McNair

Let the Hook’s Foodfinder decide for you! While the ole’ Foodfinder has hundreds of restaurant listings (and reviews and ratings…which we need more of people!), searching through them all to find a place to eat can be overwhelming. So we’ve added a little random search function. Just click the link and see what the Charlottesville food god’s serve up. Nothing strike your fancy? Hit the random search button again in the upper right-hand corner of the page for a fresh selection. Okay, so it ain’t Google Earth…but we think it’s pretty nifty.

Winky’s has original Big Jim BBQ, Fellini’s now has lunch

by Dave McNair

If you’re feeling hungry, Dish has a couple of news items you might be interested in. First off, Juanita “Winky” Hunt, who revived Big Jim’s on Angus Road and re-named it Winky’s, tells us that they are now serving the original Big Jim’s BBQ. As was previously reported, Brent Lunnen, bought Big Jim’s old catering operation on 10th Street, and according to Hunt he’s hired Big Jim’s old cook and cooked up some BBQ with the same recipe.

“We sampled a bit of it the other day,” says Hunt, “and it’s just like the original.”

Second, it appears that Fellini’s #9 on the Downtown Mall is now serving lunch. There’s a your choice of salad, pasta, and bread option for $7.95 that includes a choice of spaghetti and meatballs or plain sauce, lasagna, cannelloni, and shrimp with linguine. There are also antipasti like caprese and bruschetta, and desserts like tiramisu, carrot cake, cheese cake, and a gelato of the day.

Holiday Open House at Kluge Estate Farm Shop

by Dave McNair
December 7, 2008 12:00 am

In addition to Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard’s brands of wine, food pairings, artisanal cheese selection, homegrown plants and gifts, the Holiday Open House will feature mulled spice wine, passed hors d’oeuvres, custom and pre-made gift baskets, exclusive stocking stuffers, gift wrapping and other limited edition celebratory specials.  From 2pm-4pm on both days of the Open House, Kluge Estate’s esteemed winemakers will be available for a meet and greet and tastings.

“This is a great way to learn about wine firsthand,” says wine shop manager Kristin Moses Murray. “Be it your first visit or if you are a regular, this is an opportunity to take advantage of items and pricing only available during the holidays.  Stock up on gifts for loved ones, co-workers, or just for yourself!”

The Kluge Estate Farm Shop is the tasting room, gift shop and gourmet food outpost of Kluge Estate Winery and Vineyard.  Established in 1999, Kluge Estate is tucked into Carter’s Mountain on 2,000-acres situated just miles from the birthplace of American viticulture, Thomas Jefferson’s Monticello.

Saturday, December 6, 10am-6pm and Sunday, December 7, 10am-5pm

Edible strikes again! Mag company goes after local food blog

by Dave McNair

Commenting online about Edible Communities Inc’s lawsuit against Flavor Magazine, in which the corporate food mag went after the local food mag for copyright infringement, blogger Jenee Libby jokingly wondered when the company would come after her. 


“Oh dear, thinking maybe I should change the name of my blog! lol! ;) which has no affiliation whatsoever,” she wrote as Feisty Bourbon Girl.

 As a hobby, the recent transplant from Pittsburgh launched a website called Edible Cville on which she reviews Charlottesville restaurants and writes about the local food movement.

Now it appears she may have to shut down her blog. Read on! 

Dude, where’s my falafel?

by Dave McNair

Dish loves a good falafel, that ancient Middle Eastern fried patty or ball made from fava beans or chickpeas, and stuffed into a pita or laid on a bed of lettuce with vegetables–especially eggplant, yum!–and laced with tahini sauce.  But where do you get a good one in town?  Read on!

Party in the Pink

by Dave McNair

The folks at Milano / Verity blue in the ‘pink warehouse‘ on South Street are having a holiday party tomorrow…and you’re invited! It’s from 5 to 9pm and they’ll be serving white wine and light fare. There will also be live music courtesy of the Gina Sobel Trio.

“Don’t let the stock market blues get you down!” says co-owner Mark Cave. ” Come celebrate with us.”

Note: Cave informs us that Thursday’s from 5-9pm will be live acoustic nights. Next Thursday, December 11, its Matt Jones.

Help save the world with fondue? Don’t mind if I do!

by Kate Malay

Chocolate can come at a cost—not to our waistline but to our global health. On Saturday, December 6, a small group of activists and friends hope to raise local awareness of human trafficking in the cocoa industry and fair trade products through the World’s Largest Chocolate Fondue Party.

“I love chocolate and there’s no reason to stop eating it! We just have to channel our purchasing power from sources that don’t take advantage of, hurt, or abuse the lives of others,” says Elisabeth Barahona, co-organizer with her sister in-law, Anita Oliver. As she grew up in Ivory Coast in West Africa, one of the world’s leading producers of cocoa, Barahona feels especially compelled to the cause.

Charlottesville’s satellite event is one among many around the world, but the only host in Virginia. The World Wide Chocolate Fondue Party starts at 7:30 pm on Saturday, December 6 at Rapture on the Downtown Mall. Tickets are only $5, and fair trade products will be available for sale, too.

Oliver says that chocolate makes her “very happy,” but once she learned about the human slave trade, she wondered, “at what cost?”

“It is something I had previously done with coffee, and I know I can feel good about supporting farmers and their families. We heard about Stop the Traffik’s fondue party and we wanted to take part,” Oliver explains. “ At first we were just going to do a home party with a few friends, but that didn’t feel like enough, so here we are trying to put together a huge event - hopefully to get more people on board to help change the world one chocolate bar at a time.”

Stop the Traffik is an organization that monitors slavery and hopes to infiltrate industries that still practice it with a mission of education, advocacy for victims, and philanthropy for large-scale action.

Questions? Email or call 434-242-4982.

Allen wishes Winky well

by Dave McNair

It appears that former Virginia governor and US Senator George Allen (R) reads The Dish, as he has a post on his blog today wishing Juanita “Winky” Hunt, who recently revived Big Jim’s by opening Winky’s in the same building on Angus Road, some good fortune. In a 2002 HotSeat, Allen sited Big Jim’s as his favorite Charlottesville restaurant.

“Good luck to Winky as she starts her new business venture,” writes Allen, “keeping alive my favorite restaurant in Charlottesville.”

Le Beaujolais Nouveau est arrivé!

by Dave McNair

Well, at Zinc on West Main at least. Though we don’t get quite as excited as the French do about the quick corking of this fruity red wine, which is fermented in a matter of weeks and officially released on the third Thursday of November every year (that would be TODAY!), it’s not a bad way to get a little happy buzz on as we descend into the depths of winter. As the folks at Zinc remind us, it’s a pretty easy wine to drink…or gulp.

Eureka Topeka! Steakhouse to open

by Dave McNair
November 24, 2008 11:00 am

It’s offical…the new Topeka’s Steakhouse N’ Saloon at Peter Jefferson Place on Pantops, right in front of the Hilton Garden Suites, opens on Monday, November 24 at 11am.

Back in January, Topeka’s owner Phil Cornett predicted a May opening. Well, he was only about five months off! As anyone who has driven by the site can tell, construction on the new steakhouse has been elaborate. It almost looks like some kind of mini, altered version of Monticello. Indeed, a building permit last year put the construction cost at $850,000. As Cornett told us, this is the third restaurant in his nascent franchise operation; the other Topeka’s are in Richmond and Midlothian.

Topeka’s has a reputation for friendly service, beefy salads (big, not meat-powered), something for everyone on the menu, a great kid’s menu, and– like Five Guys– buckets of salted peanuts in their shells to munch on while you wait. Besides aging and cutting their own beef “to retain as much of the natural juices as possible,” Cornett said they’d started something called a “butcher shop concept.” Basically, you can order Topeka cut slabs of raw meat to go.

“It’s a really cool little added thing for our customers,” said Cornett. “For customers who are confident in their grilling skills, I should say.”

Oh, and since the opening is on a Monday…kids eat free!

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