While it could be said that Charlottesville has been on the local food scene for some time now, the happenings of this community of chefs, farmers, growers, bakers, craftspeople and general food enthusiasts have been made more prevalent over the past year with the launch of Beyond the Flavor, an online resource for everything food-related in the area. The project is the brainchild of local photographers, foodies, and scarpa enthusiasts Sarah Cramer Shields and Andrea Hubbell. The duo’s website seeks to reach, “beyond the flavor to capture the stories behind meals shared at the tables” of Charlottesville’s food community. As they so aptly put it: “recipes are richer than the ingredients used to prepare them.” Beyond the Flavor has just released its first physical publication, Commons, a beautifully assembled soft bound book with stories, full-color photographs, and 30 recipes. We’ve got it on the shelf at Scarpa, and we’re obsessed. With Commons hot off the presses (and with Sarah as a new mother and Andrea as a soon-to-be new mother!) these amazing women have been especially busy, but they were kind enough to answer a few questions about their work, their favorite recipes for fall, what they’ve had their eyes on in Scarpa, and what’s next for their inspiring collaboration. Read below! Food is on our minds; don’t be surprised if you see it popping up more frequently on the blog this fall . . .
How did your collaboration, resulting now in this gorgeous book, begin?
We dreamed up Beyond the Flavor on a plane heading for New Orleans in early 2012. We have a mutual love for food and community, and wanted to create a project that celebrated Charlottesville’s vibrant culinary scene. After days of inspiration in NOLA, we’d decided on our project name and focus by the time our plane landed back in Charlottesville!
When you were putting together Commons, what did a typical workday look like?
Andrea: We were very ambitious with our timeline for Commons. Both of us pregnant, we set Sarah’s due date as our press date and worked backwards from there. Which left us 3 months to seek sponsors, establish the content, photograph and write all of the stories, test all of the recipes and design the book with our graphic design team at Convoy. There was never a ‘typical’ day...each one was different, which we both love. Some days we were photographing multiple stories, others we were reviewing copy from our incredible editor, Jenny Paurys, and others we were collaborating with our interns to work out problems with recipes...and most days we were doing all of these things! All of this on top of continuing to run our individual photography companies and keeping content on the website fresh. We didn’t sleep much!
Sarah: A typical work day? More like a typical 24 hours! We worked around the clock to make this passion project happen. Every day at Beyond the Flavor is completely different (which is why I think we love it so much). On any given day we can be found off-roading on a local farm, playing with goats, trying amazing cheese in a chef's home kitchen, planting potatoes with kids, editing, emailing anyone and everyone, drinking coffee and always eating!
A new recipe you want to try this fall? An old favorite?
Sarah: A take on my old favorite: butternut squash lasagna.
Andrea: I love the same butternut squash lasagna that Sarah mentioned, along with my husband’s grandmother’s apple crisp. Both have become staples that I look forward to at this time of year, as well as butternut squash soup and risotto, swiss pumpkin, and switching my yogurt/smoothie breakfast routine over to oatmeal. We also braise a lot of meat through the fall and winter.
Favorite fall activity in Charlottesville?
Sarah: Apple picking, wearing sweaters and boots, cider drinking, inviting friends over for a delicious fall meal and eating/sipping by a roaring fire!
Andrea: I love the fall festivals! It seems like there is something different happening every weekend, from apple festivals, to the fiber festival, to oyster festivals. Last year I missed them all because I photographed weddings every weekend, but this fall Brian and I will be toting our baby boy to every festival we can.
Anything in Scarpa you’ve had your eye on?
Andrea: I am such a sucker for Fiorentini + Baker boots. I already have two pairs and am anxiously waiting to see what is coming this fall. Maybe I’ll branch out this year and pick up a fabulous bag instead...but the boots are usually my big splurge of the year.
Sarah: I always want a new bag! Loving the Alice. D bag! Want! How do decide on a color? So many wonderful choices!
What’s next on the horizon for Beyond the Flavor?
Now that Commons Vol. 1 is out, we want to turn our attention back to more regular posting on the website. We have some exciting feature stories coming up that we can’t wait to share! And we’re planning our own fall festival in collaboration with Shenandoah Joe, which we’ll be announcing soon. We’re also starting to plan Volume 2 of Commons, which will come out in September of 2014. We thought we’d give ourselves more than 3 months for the next edition.
andrea & sarah with volume 1 of commons.
commons with some new scarpa favorites -- bags by Alice D. Handmade in Italy with locally sourced leather (and with the color palette of the tote designed by Amy Gardner herself) we think these bags are the perfect farm-to-table dining companion! see some variations available online here. and here.
Albert, Sarah's new little guy, with Commons!