On a luminous April afternoon, Brian and I took the winding country roads out of town to the Hill and Holler at Blenheim Vineyards Library Series Dinner. Hill and Holler, a Charlottesville dinner event company, puts on dinners at local farms with an ever-changing roster of local chefs. It’s the brainchild of Tracey Love, who is also the head of sales at Blenheim Vineyards, which was a partner for the April event. Arriving early, we had a chance to wander, explore, and take in the sweeping vistas of the historic Blenheim property.
Matt Greene of J.M. Stock Provisions and Tristan Wraight of Oakhart Social planned and cooked the evening’s meal of five courses, each paired with a Blenheim wine. We’re longtime fans of J.M. Stock and their commitment to great local, seasonal ingredients and Oakhart Social is a new favorite with a similar commitment to innovative local food. We were excited to see the results of Matt and Tristan’s collaboration and they decidedly did not disappoint. Like all Hill and Holler dinners, the meal was served family-style and throughout the evening we were delighted by each communal dish’s blend of rusic presentation and sophisticated flavors.
The evening started with an array of passed hors d’oeuvres and wine served from the Cozy Caravan Club Wine Bar, poured by Blenheim’s own winemaker Kirsty Harmon. Brian and I were huge fans of Blenheim’s Claimhouse White, named for the oldest building on the property and possibly all of Albemarle County. Afterwards, we all took our seats at long tables under a huge white tent, where we enjoyed the sounds and smells of a cool Virginia spring accompanied by an amuse bouche of shrimp ceviche, thinly sliced radishes, and spiced yogurt. This little bite was intensely lemony and so delicious.
The dinner began in earnest with a fish course featuring a whole grilled bluefish atop a bed of spinach with grilled lemon, curried almonds, pickled ramps, and tarragon dressing paired with Blenheim’s 2014 Painted White, a blend of Chardonnay, Vigonier, and Sauvignon Blanc with hints of citrus and a crisp finish.
We then tucked in to grilled escarole topped with blood orange, chopped olives, and fried capers. Layers of bitterness (bitter can be a very good thing), smoke, and brine were complemented nicely by Blenheim Vineyards’ 2015 Rose.
The main course was lamb two ways – perfectly grilled leg and tender confit shoulder – served with a shaved asparagus and celery, herb, and arugula salad; a nutty farro salad with pickled raisins and charred spring onions; and flatbreads with a trio of sauces and spicy pickled vegetables. This course was paired with Blenheim’s 2012 Cabernet Sauvignon, a rich red with hints of leather and bay leaf that was a great accompaniment for such a multifaceted main.
We finished the meal simply, with whipped ricotta topped with strawberries, honey, maldon salt, and thyme. It was a perfect ending to an evening that expertly balanced the rustic with the refined, and showcased Central Virginia’s wonderful ingredients in a setting as beautiful as the meal itself.
Disclaimer: Complimentary event tickets were given to Brian and me in exchange for coverage of the event. No other compensation was provided. As always, all opinions are my own. I’m thrilled to have the opportunity to share the fantastic Charlottesville food scene with you!