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  1. We hadn’t been to L’Auberge Provencal in a few years, but headed out last weekend with a couple friends for a German Wine dinner, hosted by Elite Imports. We had a five course meal with accompanying wines. Each course paired very well, and we wouldn’t hesitate to return to La Table Provencal for a “regular” meal. Fluke Sashimi, preserved lemon, green apple, mango vinegar - Graacher Himmelreich Reisling Kabinett, Joh. Jos. Prum 2015 Excellent first dish – the preserved lemon and green apple matched particularly well with the Kabinett. We also received a peach gazpacho as an amuse, but this was rather unceremoniously plunked in front of us and as a result didn’t know what it was (apart from obviously being a gazpacho of some type) until later. Service was a bit choppy – we were often left to review the printed menus to understand what we were eating. The waitstaff didn’t describe the dishes at all. Scallop, spaetzle, heirloom tomato, chili flake - Graacher Himmelreich Reisling Spatlese, Joh. Jos Prum 2015 Maybe my favorite course of the afternoon – I taste any chili flake, but the acidity in the Spatlese and the tomato cut the richness of the scallop and spaetzli nicely. A small portion though - as the scallop was definitely singular. Maultaschen, bratwurst, Asian pear, dates, caramelized onion - Zeltinger Sonnenhur Reisling Spatlese, Joh. Jos Prum 2015 Another good example of how an off-dry or even sweet wine with enough acidity can pair with heartier foods. This dish included three silver dollar sized pieces of bratwurst – the maultaschen was in a ravioli-like format and the pear and onion were carmelized in a sort of rustic jam. At this point we began to notice two things – that the portions were pretty small, and that wine glasses were not topped up during courses (and were relatively small pours to begin with). Baker Farm pork roulade, potato, cabbage, fig, juniper - Weingut Bernhard Huber, Baden Pinot Noir Spatburgunder Trocken, 2014 Excellent dish – and a great pairing with the Spatburgunder, however I think that the wine suffered by comparison as it was such a departure from the gradually building sugar profiles in the wines until this point. The majority of the group ranked this wine as their least favorite of the afternoon, but I wonder if that would have been the case were it served earlier. The roulade was good, but two slices – cabbage manifested itself in the form of two cabbage leaves, and the potato salad was two spheres of potato with the traditional accompaniments. Peaches, Olive oil cake, vanilla yogurt, pine nut brittle - Wehlener Sonnenhur Reisling Auslese, Joh. Jos Prum, 2015 I was fully prepared to hate this course, but boy was I wrong. As delightful as a box of birds. Enjoyed the olive oil cake and yogurt as they were on the savory side and provided a very nice contrast to the sweetest wine of the evening. A great time was had by all - with two caveats. Portions were on the small side, as were the pours. I understand that there is a fine line in tasting menu portion control and wine dinner/ lunch pours, but the pours were considerably less than a half glass. The other caveat was the service – I’d describe it as perfunctory – bring plate, drop plate, clear plate. The service may have been compromised by the fact that the reps from Elite were often talking to the group between courses. Given the 2015 vintage’s reputation in Germany it was a nice opportunity to taste through some Rieslings and bring back a few cases.
  2. I found myself out in Berryville, VA last weekend and stopped in to a relatively new burger shop on W. Main street called Charlie's. Charlie's is a family owned casual restaurant serving burgers, fries, hot dogs and milkshakes. The beef is local (though no source is listed on the menu) and ground in house, and the shakes are made with organic ice cream. We ordered a few burgers and a hot dog, along with an order of regular fries and sweet potato waffle fries. The burgers were cooked to order and to temperature, and can be topped with a fairly wide array of free toppings, plus the usual upcharges (cheese, bacon, etc). Both the sweet potato and regular fries were previously frozen and not made in house, but were fried to order. The burgers were all cooked as requested - one quibble from our group was that a double burger should have two slices of cheese on it, but that's very minor. Shakes were also excellent, and a wide variety of flavors were available (we had vanilla and banana). Service was a bit slow, but as mentioned everything was done to order and the owner's entire family was in the restaurant serving customers. We were given an extra helping of sweet potato fries to make up for the slowness of getting burgers out - a nice but unnecessary touch. There's not a whole lot in Clarke County, and one could do much worse than stop in and support this family owned establishment serving up good, honest fare. We aren't "over the mountain" much, but will be sure to head back in when we are.
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