Betsy and Charlie in Charlottesville

A couple that moved to Charlottesville from Washington DC who will tell you all about their adventures in a new town.

Red Pump Kitchen

There are a couple retail spaces in Charlottesville that seem to turn over pretty frequently.  One spot is on the corner of 4th St SE.  Since we’ve been here, this spot has held Enoteca and then Positively 4th Street.

If you’ve been to the downtown mall recently,  you’ll notice a  beautiful new  facade for the space and a sweet restaurant called Red Pump Kitchen.   We checked it out a couple weeks ago with some friends who were visiting.  We didn’t have reservations, but the hostesses were extremely friendly and very helpful.  They were able to fit us in within the hour.

The menu is mainly Tuscan-inspired and features small pizzas, pastas, and some entree options.  I got the squid ink tagliatelle and it was very good.  Charlie got one of the pizzas.  I think this is going to a be a go-to place for a lot of people moving forward.

Unfortunately, the service was incredibly incredibly slow.  Charlie and Leigh (our friend) both ordered pizzas that arrived a good 30+ minutes before Nate and I got our pastas.  We were almost wondering if they considered the pizzas like an appetizer, but the server didn’t mention anything.  The restaurant was also very crowded, maybe one or two too many tables for the space.  I’m hoping these are just new restaurant kinks that they will work out over the next couple of weeks.

Overall, while there has been a lot of turnover for this space, Red Pump seems like a pretty solid keeper!



We’ve been to Zinburger (in the Barracks shopping center) twice now and have enjoyed it both times.  The atmosphere is fun (especially with good friends!), a bit loud, and good for families.  The outdoor space is very cool and the milkshakes are crazy rich.  They also have some fun happy hour deals and 1/2 price wine Wednesdays.  The burgers have been delicious and the toppings are sound, but I have one (kind of major) complaint…the bottom bun is always super soggy.  I want to really like this place, but don’t know if I can get over the soggy bun situation.  Perhaps I’ll need to order with bun on the side and assemble my own next time…Maybe.

La Michoacana

I don’t know how this is possible, but I don’t know if we’ve ever blogged about one of our favorite places to eat in Charlottesville.  La Michoacana is a cute little (now much bigger) spot on High Street that serves AMAZING tacos! Charlie and I try to go every Saturday for lunch when we’re in town and available and never get sick of it.  I usually get the tacos de carnitas and Charlie often sticks with the tacos de lengua.  You can get tacos mexicanos (cilantro and onions) or super (sour cream, cheese, lettuce, tomatoes, cilantro, and onions).  We prefer the super version.  We’ve also tried their nachos, tortas, sopes, and more (all delicious) but we are sticking to the tacos. 

I’m trying to figure out a way to move the restaurant with us to Pennsylvania (or at least the tacos).  Let us know if you have any suggestions.  🙂

Al Carbon Chicken

We may have just found one of our favorite places to eat in Charlottesville (2nd of course to la Michoacana).  Al Carbon Chicken  is fantastic!  We had heard some good things from blogs and  friends and were not disappointed! Charlie picked me up after ballet last night, and since Al Carbon was right there, we decided to check it out.  We got the half chicken meal that came with two sides and we ordered some churros for good measure (~$16). The chicken was moist, savory, and the skin was delicious.  The saffron rice and plantains (the sides we chose) were very well flavored and the churros were awesome! Oh my gosh it was good!

Now the question is – how many times can we go before we move?!

Ivy Inn

We have been to many restaurants in Charlottesville, but we have never been to Ivy Inn. After hearing many good things, a few nights ago we made our first visit for dinner. We really liked it. Betsy had the crab soup and the rack of lamb. I had the foie gras, a salad, and the trout. Overall the food was very good, especially the proteins. The foie gras was cooked perfectly and the flavors were very delicate, the lamb was delicious, and the trout was perfect. I would even say the trout was one of the best fish dishes I have had recently, although I could see how somebody else would think it is a little too salty thanks to the gremolata, although I loved it. The trout had a super clean/fresh taste. The lamb was perfectly cooked and perfectly flavored.

As far as the atmosphere goes, the dining room was nice, but if it wasn’t so hot outside we would have sat out on the porch, which looked very nice. Our server was pleasant. The clientele was a little older, but we did not mind. Overall, we definitely recommend Ivy Inn. We would be interested to hear about any experiences staying at the Inn.

Breakfast Go-To

Is this the best breakfast item in Charlottesville?

from ivy provisions

“the regular” from ivy provisions

We have finally discovered Ivy Provisions, the breakfast and sandwich shop turned full service restaurant on Ivy Road just west of Charlottesville. They serve breakfast all day, sandwiches for lunch, and have recently started dinner service. The sandwiches are very good. We have had the italian sandwich (“Notorious P.I.G.”) and the roast pork sandwich (“Yo Adrian”). However, what we really love about this place is the breakfast sandwich called “The Regular.” It is an egg souffle, bacon, and cheddar on a delicious biscuit. It is thick without being too much to put in your mouth; both the egg and the biscuit are not dry; the amount of cheese is just right. Everything is in perfect proportion.

We look forward to trying their dinner. For now, The Regular is definitely our go-to breakfast in Charlottesville.

Moving Time – Getting Ready!

With our upcoming move to Pennsylvania, we’re starting to clean out!

I have a ton of clothing, shoes, and accessories that I’d like to sell as well as some furniture.  We’re also cleaning out our craft supplies and other home goods.   We’re trying 3 different sales channels with the hopes that they each work!

1.  Clothing and Accessories:  I couldn’t get my act together to bring the clothing to consignment locally, so I’m trying an online consignment option called Tradesy.  Ive sold one pair of shoes so far and the process was incredibly easy.    I still have to post a lot more.  If anyone has any tips for selling on Tradesy, I’d love to hear them!

2.  Furniture:  We’re selling some of our transitional pieces on Craigslist.  We have a table, a desk, some chairs, bar stools, etc.  Mostly from Ikea.  So far, we haven’t had any luck, but we’ll keep reposting hoping to get some hits.

3.  Miscellaneous:  I’ve heard awesome things from friends who use FreeCycle so I decided to give it a try.  I posted a few items this weekend and have already had 2 requests (mostly for craft materials).  We posted some of Bayley’s old toys and collars, paints, ribbons and trim, craft papers, etc.  If these don’t go, I might drop them off at Goodwill.

I have been tempted to hold a yard sale one weekend for things that don’t sell online.   Any suggestions?  Has anyone had any luck selling clothes at a yard sale?

Let me know if you are looking for something in particular and I’m sure we have it and can bear to part with it!

Wish us luck!


Parallel 38

Charlie and I have a lot to celebrate! Charlie has been working tirelessly for the past almost 6 years on his PhD in Economics and was just offered and accepted a position on the faculty at Penn State University.   It has been a whirlwind few months preparing for interviews, traveling from school to school, and making a pretty big decision.  Now that things have slowed down, we wanted to take a breather and celebrate with a nice dinner.  We know Clifton Inn, Zynodoa, and Mas, but we wanted to try something new.  Parallel 38 recently opened in the new Stonefield shops and the menu looked great, so we made a reservation.  

The restaurant is right next to the movie theater on Bond St.  We lucked out and found parking right on the street across from the restaurant.  Inside, the restaurant is somewhat dark, but inviting, with high unfinished ceilings.  The lighting fixtures are very industrial and simple.  Charlie and I sat at a small 2 seat table right across from the kitchen window.  Ben, our server, explained the concept of the restaurant and recommended we take a look at the extensive wine list.  They do have a sommelier who helped Charlie decide between a couple of whites.  

We ordered the spread sampler and the 2 meat and cheese platter and let Ben choose the remaining dishes.  We had such a great experience in Asheville letting our waiter pick our menu so we wanted to try the method at Parallel 38.  First, the labneh (a yogurt spread with pita) was delicious.  We also got hummus and htipiti with the spread sampler, but I pretty much devoured the labneh.  We tasted JAMÓN SERRANO (similar to prosciutto) and  SALCHICHÓN IBERICO (a salami from iberico pigs) as well as GARROTXA (goat’s milk cheese) and IDIAZABEL (cow’s milk cheese).  It worked perfectly! I preferred the salchichon and Charlie preferred the jamon.  I preferred the idiazabel and Charlie the garrotxa.  

Next up, our surprise plates.  Ben sent out SAMFAINA (vegetable dish with zucchini and tomatoes), CHOIRINI PANSETA (pork belly), and GAMBAS AL MARATHO (shrimp with chorizo, fennel, and feta).  Each dish was very good and well done.  The pork belly was very well cooked and had an excellent crust on the outside.  It was a little sweet but had a good balance of meat and fat.  The shrimp combination was delicious.  Charlie isn’t the biggest fan of shrimp but he really enjoyed the chorizo and fennel mix.  The shrimp was well cooked and I really enjoyed the dish.  The vegetable dish came with a roasted tomato sauce and some labneh on the plate.  The combination was very simple and well done.  We finished our evening with some almond cookies (home-made) served with chocolate ice cream and pomegranate mousse.  The cookies had a great flavor, the texture was a little off.  

We had a great time.  The service was solid and our meal was very good.  I’m so glad we have such an awesome selection of restaurants in Charlottesville and Parallel 38 is certainly a great addition.  

thai fried rice battle

For some reason I have been getting thai fried rice every time I go to Lemongrass. Its probably my favorite lunch spot on the corner. But the other day, we got take-out from Downtown Thai after hanging out with friends on the downtown mall. So, I ordered the thai fried rice in order to compare.

I think the biggest difference between these two restaurants is the spice level scale.  Lemongrass has a 10-point scale, but in my opinion that is about 7 points too many. Most of the time I have  been there, the food is not hot no matter what number I choose between 1 and 7.  Downtown Thai has a 5-point scale, and on average is much hotter. A “3” at Downtown Thai is quite hot, almost too hot for my taste, and much much hotter than a “6” at Lemongrass.

So who won the battle? Well…it is a little hard to compare. I think I would give the nod to Downtown Thai. But I am not sure if this is just because it was at the perfect level of hotness. A “3” at Downtown is just about perfect for me.  Maybe I will ratchet up the spice at Lemongrass next time I go.

Local Artist: Nancy Bass

Have you been in Roxie Daisy and seen the sweet cow portraits? They have them on shelves and various walls? I forget where I first saw them, but I have been admiring Nancy Bass‘s cows for the past 4 years.   A few weeks ago, I received an email from Nancy announcing an open house at her studio.  Charlie and I decided it might be time to take the plunge and buy a cow painting.

We took a drive out to Nancy’s studio, just out 29 south of town.  The studio is in a beautiful old brick farmhouse.  As we drove up the dirt and gravel driveway, we were surrounded by cows! They were all over the front hill of the house, crossing the driveway, and walking around the fields surrounding the house.  photo 1

Nancy was very welcoming. She had on display a variety of her paintings including a selection from the herd, the flock, and others.  I gravitated straight toward “the herd”, the small cow paintings that I have had my eye on.

We talked to Nancy about her painting process (very interesting), the farm house, her training, and more.  Nancy originally started painting portraits, switched to landscapes, and now, kind of combines the two with her animal portraits.  She did have a couple landscapes (with cows in them) that we really liked as well.

After a lot of hemming and hawing, we finally picked our new cow painting! Amy (the cow) now has a special place in our living room and we couldn’t be happier!


photo 3(Charlie in front of Nancy’s studio with Amy)


Thank you Nancy!