The Great Locavore Dinner Party Challenge

We all agree (right?) that there are environmental, societal, nutritional, and taste benefits to getting your produce and animal products from local farms, but how many locally-sourced ingredients are actually in *your* average dinner? The always-entertaining Cheenius, Mr.Dr. Cheenius, Butter Boy & Butter Babe (aka the Tiny Twosome), and friends challenged themselves with a special dinner party to see how local their cooking could get. Here’s Cheenius to tell you more…

lakeside dining

Locavores . . . eating local . . . blah blah blah local.  Cheenius and friends decided it was time to meet the challenge head-on and hold a Local Food Only Dinner.  Each guest made something that was primarily sourced from near-by foods, which gave us an interesting menu:

Local beer, wine, and cider (duh)
Baba Ganoush
Deviled Eggs
Tomato Mozarella Salad
Potatoes Au Gratin
Roasted Corn/Black Beans/Peppers/Tomato/Feta Salad
Roasted Potatoes
Blueberry Pie
Peach Honey Ice Cream

(No main dish, but did we really need one?)

local beverages

local caprese

Everything was quite tasty, especially the Potatoes Au Gratin from Butter Babe, and we were having fun (discussing Ebola, etc.) until Cheenius ruined it with . . .


She and Mr.Dr. Cheenius made everyone score their dishes as follows:

  • Grown or made yourself = 3 points
  • Grown within 50 miles = 2 points
  • From anywhere in VA = 1 point

It was a weighted average, so you had to consider the percentage each ingredient made of the whole dish, and then multiply by the point system, and then add them up.  All this on a Friday night?  Ridiculous.

corn, tomato, avocado, bean salad

local blueberry pie

Obviously Cheenius, with her own garden and eggs, won, but she graciously bestowed jars of local honey as prizes to the 2nd and 3rd place winners.  One lucky guest also won for most local human (if you count Northern VA as Virginia).

Good times, may have to make it an annual event!

And the best cupcakerie in Charlottesville is…

The Occasion

Cheenius had a birthday, and her birthday wish was to eat ALL the cupcakes. So, she and Mr. Cheenius hosted a cupcake tasting featuring cupcakes from four Charlottesville bakeries. Below, I present the science of the great experiment.


The Contenders

(Descriptions from the bakeries’ websites)

Sweethaus: All of our cupcakes and frostings are small-batch, homemade treats and they come in 2 sizes, mini and regular.

Pearl’s: Our products are perfect for any celebration, offering nostalgic classics and retro creations combined for flawless presentations.

Cappellino’s Crazy Cakes: Featuring over 20 flavors of cupcakes that are as delicious as they are beautiful, Cappellino’s is quickly becoming known as Charlottesville’s premiere cupcake bakery.

Charlottesville Cupcake: Farm fresh eggs, organic ingredients, and the best chocolate and vanilla obtainable will always be our preferred choices. (Available by pre-order only)

cupcake tasting

The Method

Mr. Cheenius ordered basic chocolate cupcakes with vanilla frosting from each of the bakeries, and cleverly asked for no decorations, such as edible glitter, that might give away the origin of the cakes. He also went to great pains to cut the cupcakes into uniform slices, masking another clue: some bakeries are known for smaller or larger cakes.

The testers were instructed to sample a slice from each new platter and rate them on the following attributes: appearance, aroma, texture, frosting taste, and cake taste. We were able to try any of the cakes again after we completed the rotation of the four to minimize positional bias, and were encouraged to cleanse our palates with milk and/or pretzels between cakes.

cupcake tasting

The Results

Our initial glee at the bonanza awaiting us quickly gave way to sugar jitters and groans of indigestion. Hearts racing, we waded through the tasting and bravely soldiered on to demolish many of the unique flavors, such as red velvet, pistachio, lemon, and Oreo, from each bakery that Mr. Cheenius presented upon completion of the tasting, to keep us occupied while he tallied the results.


The unanimous winner was Pearl’s, although the pistachio cupcake from Sweethaus may have been the overall favorite. We’ll have to do a separate experiment to rate the non-standard flavors.

The sugar overload made us a little batty…

cupcake icing on toilet

Yes, that is glittery icing from an Oreo cupcake. The amount of sugar consumed in a cupcake tasting is not for amateurs. Don’t try this at home, kids! Or do, and invite me.