Bella Luna Harrisonburg’s Best Pizza

Bella Luna Wood-Fired Pizza
80 W. Water Street
Harrisonburg VA  22801
540.433.1366
http://www.bellalunawoodfired.com/

Pizza | $

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They run the pizza over at about 700 degrees.

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They use Central Milling Company Organic Type 00 Wheat Flour to make the pizza dough in-house.

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They source much of their ingredients locally.

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My wife ordered her pizza with a tomato puree sauce, garlic, meatballs, mozzarella, and mushrooms.

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For my pizza I selected a pie with the tomato puree sauce, sausage, mozzarella, and prosciutto. The pizza was really good. The dough was baked perfectly and the sauce had a great light tomato taste.  The sausage and prosciutto were wonderful and not to salty.

The restaurant follows state COVID-19 guidelines with tables spaced generously and the staff all worn masks. We ate early so there was little noise. The service was excellent and everyone was friendly. We can’t wait to go back.

Three Blacksmiths 5-Star Dinner

Three Blacksmiths
20 Main St.
Sperryville, VA 22740
(540) 987-5105
https://www.threeblacksmiths.com/

American | $$$$

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The simple elegant décor is comfortably inviting. It is like having dinner in Chef John MacPherson’s dinning room at home.

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Co-Owner and Chef’s wife Diane MacPherson oversees the dinning room where no detail, large or small, escapes her.

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After being welcomed by Diane and Chef at the front door it’s wine or a non-alcoholic drink for starters.

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Shortly after being seated this wonderful bread arrived, kept warm on a bed of hot rocks.

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For the bread you had a choice of whipped butter or whipped onion butter made with smoked and charred onions. Always choose the onion butter.

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For starters…

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Work begins on the first course.

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A Seared New Bedford Scallop with Coconut Saffron, Edamane, Peaches, and Crispy Pork Belly. The scallop was cooked perfectly and nicely paired with the crispy pork belly.

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Next up, Sunnyside Farm Kabocha Squash Soup with Carolina Shrimp Sausage and Tomato-Hyssop Preserve. Kabocha Squash is a Japanese winter squash with a nice slightly sweet taste. The soup was a very good accompaniment for the amazing shrimp sausage. It took me a couple of minutes to wrap my head around shrimp sausage. A first for me, it was fantastic with a nice shrimp taste paired with a hint of fennel.

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My favorite dish of the night, Sweet Corn & Summer Truffle Tortelloni with Pickled Aji-Dolce Pepper and Sungold Tomato Dashi. The home-made pasta was cooked perfectly with a super creamy sweet corn filling that was fabulous.

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For the entrée Chef served a Sorghum Glazed Cavendish Quail with Toasted Wheat Berries, Romano Beans, Castelvetrano Relish, and Blackberry Agrodolce. The sweetness of the sorghum in the skin mitigated the gameyness of the flawlessly cooked quail. I especially like the Castelvetrano Relish.

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Intermezzo

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Dessert was a Sunnyside Asian Pear Galette with Crème Fraiche Gelato, Shattered Almond Glass, Mascarpone, and Pear Caramel. Every element here worked, from the gelato on a crumble to the pear caramel. Just the right amount of sweetness to finish the meal.

We are fortunate to have many wonderful restaurants in Virginia, from the Inn at Little Washington, The Restaurant at Patowmack Farm, and the Shack to The Ashby Inn, Restaurant Eve, and FOODE, all offering fantastic food. Three Blacksmiths has an edge because they offer a world class dining experience. The food is phenomenal for sure, but it is the attention to detail and service that make the experience. The warm welcome, interaction with the chef, and attentive but not intrusive service. The plating is first class and the timing and flow of the courses is flawless. Something few people notice unless it is not working.

Open Wednesday through Saturday, reservations and pre-payment for dinner are required and right now there are no openings until late March 2021. This is not likely to get better since they have an ever-growing loyal clientele and a reduction in seating to comply with statewide COVID-19 restrictions. Find a reason to celebrate something and make a reservation now, it will be the best meal you have had.

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Some mini scones as a parting gift from Chef John.

We joined my Executive Event Chef Ken and Dee at dinner to celebrate her birthday. The staff all signed a nice card for her.  A small but meaningful gesture.

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Aldi Announces Recall on Fresh Peaches Due to Salmonella Outbreak in 20 States

The contaminated peaches in question are from supplier Wawona Packing Company. This recall affects both organic loose bulk and packaged peaches found in two-pound plastic pouches. This announcement comes after more than 85 people around the country have reported experiencing sickness linked to the peach outbreak.

Source: Aldi Announces Recall on Fresh Peaches Due to Salmonella Outbreak in 20 States

Leesburg’s Best BBQ

Yummy Pig New American BBQ
BBQ | $

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Open less than 4 months at it’s downtown Leesburg location, Yummy Pig is crushing the BBQ scene.

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They are located less than a block off King Street in space formally occupied by the Italian restaurant Casa Nostra.

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The décor is simple and warm,

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All employees  wore masks.

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To start we chose the unique and tasty Brisket Empanadas. It’s a traditional empanada filled with Smoked Brisket, Ground Beef, Cheddar, Olives, and Dried Cranberries served with a Chipotle Ranch Dip. We have never had anything like it. The Smoked Brisket was perfect and the Chipotle Ranch Dip was a nice cool mildly spicy complement, an ideal combination.

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For my wife’s entrée she chose the Smoked Meat Quesadilla filled with  Smoked Pork, Cheddar Cheese, Peppers & Onions,  and a Tonkatsu Sauce drizzle with Sour Cream, Guacamole & Pico de Gallo on the side. The Tonkatsu Sauce is a nice touch. It is a Japanese sauce typically made with ketchup, soy sauce, brown sugar, mirin, Worcestershire sauce, ginger, and garlic. My wife loved them and said she would not hesitate to order it again.

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My entrée was typical for me, a moist Brisket Sandwich with a side a Mac & Cheese. Ordering the same thing in most BBQ joints allows me to easily compare dishes. As my readers know, my gold standard for BBQ  in Virginia is Hammerdown BBQ in Aldie. Yummy Pig gives them a real run for their money.  I would give Hammerdown an ever so slight edge on flavor, but that is it. And that is saying something since most BBQ restaurants don’t come close to what Hammerdown offers.

The brisket was super melt-in-your-mouth moist and flavorful on a nice fresh bun. The Mac & Cheese is the best I have had in any restaurant. Chef/Owner Jim Thompson has done a masterful job of creating fantastic BBQ then putting it on the menu in unique ways. His Smoked Meat Chili, Burritos, Quesadillas, Taco Platter, and Peppered Bacon Grilled Cheese all sound wonderful.

We ate early on a Saturday night so with few people in the restaurant I did not bother with a noise level reading. I could easily see noise building while guests waited for their food but once it came and they got a taste you could probably hear a pin drop. The wait staff and management were all friendly and attentive. If you are anywhere near Leesburg you don’t want to pass up lunch or dinner at Yummy Pig.

Quick Pickled Red Onions (Paleo, Whole30, Vegan)

These quick pickled red onions add a tangy crunch to all of your favorite dishes, from burgers to salads! Sweetened only with apple juice, these pickled onions are Whole30-friendly, paleo, and vegan! One of the easiest ways to jazz up a boring dish is to top them with zingy, crunchy pickled onions.

Source: Quick Pickled Red Onions (Paleo, Whole30, Vegan)

Made In Recycle Program

Made In Cookware
https://madeincookware.com

Made In Cookware has announced a partnership with Habitat for Humanity as a part of their ongoing Made In Recycling Program!  At checkout, indicate you want to recycle your old cookware and they will provide a return shipping label in your Made In order to send your old cookware, from any brand, for collection and donation to a Habitat for Humanity ReStore location.

If you have been thinking about upgrading your cookware to something very well made and reasonably priced, now’s your chance to do something good at the same time.

Dining in America is Changing

Thousands of restaurants have not survived various Coronavirus shutdowns and fewer people are eating out. Many chefs are offering private chef experiences during this confusing time. Just because your favorite restaurant may be closed does not mean you still cannot enjoy that culinary experience. Having a chef come to your home to prepare a special dinner with family or friends often costs little more than taking the group to a better restaurant.

One of the best chefs in Virginia is David Dunlap. A Richmond based chef with an impressive resume. He has held positions as Executive Sous Chef at the Inn at Little Washington, Executive Chef at the Ashby Inn, and Executive Chef at Quirk Hotels in Richmond and Charlottesville. Two years ago we stopped in and saw David at Maple & Pine the restaurant at the Richmond Quirk Hotel. His dishes are amazing and unique. You can see them in this blog post I did.

If you are looking for a way to make an evening and dinner special, consider contacting Chef David, you won’t be disappointed.

Chef David Dunlap
https://www.chefdaviddunlap.com/