Chillin' (or not) in Charlottesville

Who turned on the damn furnace? Whew, it is way too hot way too early here in the D.C. nether-region. Despite temps inching towards the 90 degree Fahrenheit mark, we made it to Charlottesville this weekend for some fun!

Thanks to the perusing of this C-ville blogger, our trip was peppered with tasty experiences all weekend long.

After a short and traffic-free two-hour drive, we pulled into the parking garage in downtown Charlottesville just in time for the last hour or so of their kickin' farmers market. We ambled around to see the market vendors selling everything from jam to jewelry, and all in between some pretty swell looking produce. Scott couldn't resist the strawberries, so we snagged a quart of them for lunch.

We decided to grab some lunch from a downtown spot and drive west to Skyline Drive and Shenandoah Nat'l Park. Luckily, Baggby's on the downtown pedestrian mall had some delectable-sounding sandwiches, so Scott scored the Cold Grinder and I chose the Remarkable (turkey, cream cheese, mayo, bacon, tomato, sprouts, avocado, on multi grain bread).

The park was a nice spot to relax and nosh. I miss the mountains terribly, and it was comforting to know they're not too terribly far away. The temperature was a sold 10 to 15 degrees cooler up on Skyline Drive - I even broke out my hoodie to stay warm. That was fantastic!

Our view wasn't too shabby, either.

And of course, strawberries for dessert make for a wonderful time.

We then trucked in down to the little town of Crozet, home of Starr Hill Brewery. The bartenders loaded us up with free Dixie Cup-sized samples of Love, Festie, Imperial IPA, Stout, Lucy and a couple others. Lucy was my fave - light ale with coriander, lime and ginger.  The guide who led a 20-minute tour was amiable and informative.

Later, we met up with our friend Beth, of P&C fame, at her parents' home not too far from Charlottesville, for a fantastic meal of local grass-fed beef burgers. C-ville has a rockin' local and sustainable food culture going!

On Sunday morning, Scott and I met up with my friend Miss V, celebrating 31 years young! Her birthday brunch at Bluegrass Grill was worth the long wait -- I had The Duke (eggs Benedict with avocado and turkey sausage on English muffin) and Scott's Denver Omelet was great. I had high hopes for their biscuits, being biscuit-deprived livin' up here in Maryland, but it was *whole grain*. I'm sorry, but any muffin worth its merit will not be gussied up as a health food. Just give me the flaky hot biscuit with the lard or butter, ok?

Fortified by the big brunch, we set out for the UVA campus and enjoyed checking out Thomas Jefferson's gorgeous rotunda (modeled after the Pantheon, which I saw in Rome last month!). We headed back to the Pedestrian Mall, where a fire broke out in a building undergoing renovations. All the hubub with the fire trucks, hoses, and sirens was quite interesting -- luckily I think everyone in the area was ok. We drove back to the University area to get away from the heat -- and over to Arch's Frozen Yogurt. I had chocolate-vanilla swirl with brownie batter (low fat!) and it was gooey and out of control good.

Downtown pedestrian mall art -- Scott approves.
We checked out a few neighborhoods -- when you're with  historic preservation and transportation planners, you look at a lot of streetscapes and architecture, but I'm not whining - they're whip smart and share a lot of interesting details! To kill a little time, we ducked in to Siips Wine and Champagne Bar -- Scott had a pint of Starr Hill and Victoria and I tried out the Gavi di Gavi – Figini 2008 of Italy. Described to us as "very champagne-like," it was crisp and cool and just perfect.

Finally ready for another meal, we hit up Mono Loco ("Crazy Monkey") for dinner.Their freshly-fried tortilla chips and guacamole were so filling that none of us could finish our entrees - Scott had pork enchiladas, I had the cod and truffled mushroom burrito, and Miss V the vegetarian had the truffled mushroom burrito. Their tangerine margarita was spectacular - a lovely cold cocktail to welcome the summer season!

This trip to Charlottesville was just the pick-us-up we needed, thanks to friends and the blog recommendations. If the weather conditions up in those mountains remain cooler than lower elevations, we may head up there more than once in 2011!