02/08 – summer menus

With all gardens in full-swing we're tipping over with sunny herbs, tomato heirlooms, peppers hot mild and in-between, beans, glorious sweet corn, squashes, stonefruit, berries, and from the ocean, Butterfish, Sardines, Fluke, Flounder, White Shrimp, Spanish Pulpo and Calamares. We're taking in local chickens, ducks, lambs and pigs as well, and our smoker is happily chugging away. This is when our farming partners really earn their money as one crop follows another and then Winter is upon us. If you're not gardening at home please stop by Wednesday and Saturday Markets to try some of this fresh, wholesome food, or come by MAS any night to see why local is better, fresher, and full of flavor!

01/14 – Richard Bean and his Legacy

Much has been said and written since the passing of our friend and local farmer, Richard Bean. Along with his partner, Jean Rinaldi, Richard gave us, all of us, the best he had, never holding back, walking the walk for small, local farm permaculture. This week many chefs and friends will be featuring dishes in commemoration of all Richard did for this foodshed and community. At MAS, one of the first things we bonded over (this time the eggs definitely came first,) was rabbits. So we are running our rabbit and duck liver terrine in several dishes along with pickles, mustard, and our wholesome organic bread. There is a link you can check into to find out more info about the tribute :

12/21 – X-MAS and New Year's Eve

December means we continue the holiday thanks, feasts, and celebrations of family, faith, food, and yes, fun. At MAS we will be closed xMAS eve and XMAS day, re-opening the day after XMAS. we hope you all enjoy a safe and peaceful holiday.
New Year's Eve will bring our Fabulous Last Supper of 2013, a 12 course degustacion menu paired with Spain's finest wines, apperitivos, and desserts of course. No New Year's Eve is complete at MAS without lots of Cava being poured, and the Rick Olivares Trio playing! come join us,
reservation requests to

11/26 – Thanksgiving and Other Communal Moments

We will be closed this Thursday in observance of the National holiday. MAS was founded on a simple practice that food, and dining is something best done together, as a shared act of love, kindness, family, fortune, filial duty, and yes, fun. We hope you find all of those and share with those less fortunate through your local foodbank, shelter, and soup kitchen. Feliz

08/13 – De Verano, los Perros y Los Tomates

after the usual withering Spring and early summer months we're still standing. despite record heat and drought. the last cooling rains were most welcome and for the tomato and other veggies still not blighted or burnt, we can expect a few more months of local crops. Look for more greens as the heat lets up, peppers and yes tomatoes, stonefruits, squashes.

Watching the industrial food and GMO community explain why their plans to monoculture everything have failed miserably shows the emptiness of their promise to "feed the world". They are so deeply inculcated into our industrial base that without cheap, modified corn many product lines will be limited or even discontinued in favor of ethanol or plastics. Commodity prices fluctuate wildly, fortunes are made from the unreliability and suffering. This delusional strategy of using corn, and not every corn, only the industrialized, copyrighted versions owned by giants like Cargill, Monsanto and ADM, cannot help but reinforce the idea of permaculture and local, sustainable food chains that feature heirloom and drought-resistant varieties from this bio-region. you'll see none of the pricing surges locally that the industrial folks claim is part of the business and forces livestock and farmers to fight over feed corn and grains. they are so addicted to cheap, enhanced and modified feed they can never turn back from the 'crack' they currently base their entire system on.

With that hand-in-hand goes antibiotics, hormones and other 'therapies' intended sometimes for humans but now part of the system for propping up stressed, sick and unhealthy animals into the National and International food chains. The FDA is completely outgunned, undermanned and underfunded to deal with the consequences of these decisions as they ripple through our food chains wreaking havoc. Researchers now can point to several of these pharmaceutical and chemical strategies as responsible for such highly drug-resistant pathogens in our environment which in turn brings on even more poisonous, insidious chemicals and treatments to deal with a growing 'superbug' problem.

Foraged and pastured herds, flocks, gaggles don't need GMO corn to get by and fatten them for market. They also don't need the level of antibiotic and hormone therapies to cope with filthy and over-crowded living conditions, and the stress of over-production industrial practices demand to get their investment returns. In many ways we feed and house our livestock like our citizens with foods that keep them in a state of hunger and dehydration, bloating them on cheap carbs with little or no exercise before market.

So please support your local CSA's and Farmers' Markets, get to know your neighbors, learn how to make preserves, canning and pickling all summer and fall. let's not give in to the temptation for cheap, drug-spiked foods that only help greedy corporate conglomerates' bottom lines.

08/13 – Private Parties

From time to time we make our space available for private functions, recruitment mixers, meet and greets and just good old fashioned celebrations like wedding receptions, anniversaries, and birthdays. Typically Fridays and Saturdays are not used. if you are interested, have a plan for 25 or more people, please feel free to contact us at 434.979.0990 and we can talk.

06/08 – New Stuff

we are pleased to be offering some nice Gran Reserva Vermouth from Spain for more refreshing aperitivos with your tapas seleciones. Perucchi is full of wonderful herbal, aromatic accents, balsamic, ginseng burnt orange and spearmint oil. come sit on the patio or inside where it's cool, throw some soda and an orange slice in it and relax . . .

05/31 – Mi Barri

having the pleasure of visiting Tuscany and now Catalunya i always try to be as innocuously present as possible. that means eating at out of the way and neighborhood spots, talking to chefs, cooks, bakers, and farmers to get a sense of what the anima or soul of the place is. my priviledge each time is that so many people are gracious and patient with my language skittles, and eager to show me why and how they live. as now i am in Barcelona in a busy, quirky, artsy and entirely socialistic neighborhood known as Gracia, just north of most of the main touristico destinations, but encompassing many of the great ones like the Gaudi expressions of Casa Mila, Park Guell, and Sagrada Familia. ifeel so at home here despite my obvious incongruous appearance of a hungry bear in black. what makes this a great neighborhood is place, the mentality and meaning of which is slightly different but strongly the same in most residents minds. fiercely independent, artistico, and opinionated el Gracianeros are at home in all situations because they have a center, a depth of context few places can match. they also have kickass bars and taperias! the point of this all is that while living in America i can feel solidarity with the neighbors as they deal with development pressures, as we certainly do in Belmont. MAS v.1.0 is still in beta but we are surrounded by the newer versions of village life v. 2.0. the support we get and give enriches our version and vision whereas the newer is cut free from that connection in a malware sort of way with unforeseen consequences we all suffer for. we build a garden on an abandoned lot, they tear down a house and put up a stripmall. I can sense that the modern, technocratic version 2.0 of Belmont is just around the corner and want to be part of it in a living sense, like displayed at our Gateway Bridge Re-design charette, not in the cold, imprecise asphalt-laying mentality so prevalent in our government agencies. the distillation of our total experiences should yield a more concentrated and potent form of experience not the disembodied, Disney-esque version that brand marketing produces. Money, it is said is the weakest form of glue that binds humans whereas shared experiences be the strongest. Viva mi barri y viva Gracia! the glue is strong where we meet, the meat is richest closest to the bone. let us enjoy the marrow together

04/05 – Peach Blossoms, Merkels, Hedgehogs, and Halibut

the onset of sudden Spring syndrome we have the bountiful hills and valleys of the Blue Ridge coming to life, beds are planted, piglets and lambs learning the ropes, and lots of fruit trees are popping. we're looking at what should be (remember it's agriculture not accounting) a memorable season of wild mushrooms, ramps, early fruits like strawberries and raspberries, even our pomegranates are blossoming already! we hope you enjoy the scenery right now, it's unmatched for simple beauty, and go out and support your local farm-to-table restaurants.

02/28 – Bread, Ossabaws, Berkshires, Bridges, and Dreams of a Better Day

We continue to arc away from the cold and dreary towards the hopeful warmth, new growth and renewal of Spring. This means new babies, sprouting buds, flowers, greens and veggies for foodies. The work at vineyards is just beginning meanwhile inside we consider unleashing the vitality we have been storing up by baking buttered doughs, serving up pickles, preserves and confits, pancettas, smoked salmons, jamones, terrines from last season. Always with a nod to the next, the new, the ascendant we use our traditions and methodologies to place consistent quality and detail first, sustainability too, for what is tradition but the ability to continue at high standards without nostalgia or kitsch, craft with depth and purpose, the refinement and distillation of practices to yield, dare i say, the very best of who and what we are.

We, all of us at MAS are so proud of our neighbors for observing the practice of dreaming the unknown and holding a Gait Way competition for designers to re-envision the Belmont traverse from downtown. It showed that together, our dreams are bigger, deeper and more reflective of who we are and that by daring to ask questions and challenge assumptions we strengthen and shore up our collective future. good job!

Finally we'll be receiving a couple of pigs this month for fabrication, an Ossabaw, a very old breed, and a Berkshire, renowned for the juicy marbling of its meat. that means we get to butcher these whole animals using seam butchery making sausages, terrines, hams and braises, rendering our own lard and supporting local farmers who have blessed us with the abundance of their labors. Many thanks to Caromont Farm, Autumn Olive Farm and the Patterson Farm for the love. From the roots of a humble tapas bar we now are receiving and producing so much of our own products and i'm proud to say, never has an industrial tractor trailer shadowed our sidewalks with their poison.

02/11 – Hydration Hydration Hydration

I'm frequently asked to talk about our breadmaking and so i am. Specifically about hydration or how much water we use in our doughs. Because of the type of flours, our brick oven, and the use of natural starters, our doughs are much wetter than commercial or mass-produced doughs and breads with the water content reaching upwards of 80%, like now, with that number moving downward as the weather warms, and humidity rises. Since our doughs spend most of their lives in a cool environment for their ' cold-retarded fementation' they need to be wetter too to prevent too much evaporation during this process. It means a lot of lead time and patience, sticky fingers and a good hard wooden table to work on. After while the forming can take place and we'll get to further proofing in the warm environment of our bread room. More later . . .

02/09 – Puente de los Suspiros

I have always contended if you want new ideas you need to harness the power of artists, our most creative thinkers. Community members, along with the civil engineering and architectural practitioners have done just that. The process for a new design for Belmont's bridge into downtown Cville has been all-hands-on deck affair: with charettes, community meetings, designs galore and ideas aplenty, what will be distilled out of this heady brew of hopes, dreams, and yes, sighs? Well one step will be taken this weekend as ideas from the UVA School of Architecture's design project will be presented at the Music Resource Center this Saturday. Led by recent import Iñaki Alday, and Eduardo Arroyo, two of Spain's leading young architects, among others, this urban puzzle is an important opportunity for Belmont and Cville to step out of the shadows of red brick and porticos of the 18th century and into the 21st century to address some of our long-term transportation, pedestrian and community needs. Can a small, motivated village like Belmont, with all its history and future-promise, be a fertile ground for the incubation of a new way, approach and rapprochement between neighborhood and urban core, town and gown, pedestrian and automotive, and finally serve as a mediation/meditation between the gritty, messy commutes of the past and present and the audacity of vision in this new process? The world is watching Cville, and Belmont is once again, leading the way, gladly, joyously to a better future. Join us at MAS in saluting the neighborhood activists, UVA School of Architecture, and City for joining this process - now let's make our own history! Visca Belmont!

01/25 – M9 - Ten Years of Gratitude

We'll be rounding the corner for year ten this Sunday and it goes without saying we owe it all to you, our customers, friends, neighbors, staff and suppliers. Nothing this hard can happen without team work and cooperation and lots of red wine. So this Sunday we've invited you and yours to come celebrate the next ten years with us. Don't forget to bring your invitation, an open mind and heart, don't eat a big lunch either. We kick off at 7pm, will have Rick Olivares and his talented Trio, loads of foods and bevvies. We'll close Monday the 30th of January to re-stock and put the pieces back together. Hope to see you Sunday. Muchas Gracias

Tomas Rahal


The last Saturday of 2011, reflections on a curious year, and we go forward with the aspirations of what is to come. I am so thankful for the hard work and support of the staff at MAS and of your role in keeping the lights on for almost nine years now. Humbly I thank you.
Tonight we will be serving lots of your favorites, oysters, diver's scallops, tuna, caviars, wild mushrooms, lamb chops,boquerones, tenderloins, of course with fabulous Spanish Cava, sherries, and those iconic red wine, all that's left is you.
Please have a tremendous night, be careful, if necessary call a taxi, but above all else know that we love and appreciate your patronage, kindness, and patience and want to see you in the New Year safe and sound.
İGracias Por Todo! Tomas

12/26 – Tasting Notes From Staff and You

As an ongoing dialogue about our wines, their sourcing, production and value, we are inviting customers to write in their own tasting notes on recent wine purchases at MAS, and current to our list. This means you will actually have to taste the wines, but that's not so bad is it? Just post it to our Facebook page. also the Mammacitas will be joining you with their own takes, faves, and picks to help push it all along. Salut!

12/13 – You Can't Have XMAS without MAS!

Here's a shameless self-promotional reminder to you that MAS still has some 2011 Gift Certificates available for those you really love, and we also sell our wines off-premises for the discerning Spanish wine afficianados. Feliz Navidad

12/07 – Holiday Schedule 2011-12

MAS will be closed XMas eve and XMas day in observance of the holiday, reopening Monday the 26th for Boxing Day. so if you're not to played out with your presents and holiday treats come join us and have a glass of cheer!

12/05 – Nuestros Postres Nuevos

with the changing weather we like to change our recipes for bread and desserts in seemingly subtle ways, namely moisture and flour type. the lighter whiter organic flour is out and the harder, high gluten red winter wheat is in. More spring water in the recipe means wetter doughs and higher brick hearth temps, like 750 degrees worth. so you'll notice a bit more charring on the exterior of the bread because it goes in to a much hotter oven, and wetter doughs mean more browning. so, relax, no one has 'burned' your bread carelessly, it's just more caramelization of the glutens with less margin of error of our summer breads. the interior is a soft, silky texture as a result of the crusty exterior and higher water content. On to new stuff: we working on our first non-gluten loaves using spelt and chickpea flours, and a couple of fun old-fashioned desserts, whiskey pie and home-made vegan oreos w/ espresso brulee. at a tasting on Sunday they both scored big points. let us know what you think.

11/22 – Espresso Ideals

Working with Dave Fafarra at Shenandoah Joe's Coffee, we have developed a new espresso blend, MASuelo, featuring Ethiopian beans with a bright, almost 'blueberry' aroma, dark, rich crema and smooth, long finish. we hope you enjoy it!

11/21 – Turkey Day

MAS will be closed in observance of the national holiday. from our family to yours, please have a safe, wonderful, and impossibly delicious turkey day. we'll see you Friday

11/21 – Ocean Bounty

Like España, we are blessed with abundant shorelines, coasts from which we harvest many species of fish, shellfish, sea vegetables and yes, salts. The sustainable harvest in the North Atlantic and Mid-Atlantic regions are yielding tremendous values and flavors for restaurants and cooks including several Cod and related Cod Species, Red Snapper, Monkfish, Lionfish, and Triggerfish. the recent phenomenon of wasted by-catch to address regulatory rules is being looked at more closely in an attempt to close the loop on wasteful harvesting practices which unnecessarily destroys young populations of fish, crustaceans, and shellfish. we are happy to have the opportunity to offer Fluke (flounder) and Hake (Merluza), both are prized for their delicate flavor and are staples in España. Along with sustainably harvested shellfish clams, oysters, mussels, barnacles, lobsters and crabs these species are part and parcel of a strategy to bring the full table from España to you in an honest, pure and delicious presentation. Buen Provecho!

11/21 – Tasting and Spitting

we're pleased to have secured some of the most hard-to-find Spanish wines to enhance your MAS experience. some come to us directly as a result of contact with the vinyeros and producers themselves. Some through the perigrinations of the world marketplace. others through hard work and research, begging, pleading, prodding and most often, tasting and spitting. we encourage you to come in and see what we've been up to, ask questions and of course, taste and spit and see what all the fuss is about. i think you'll be pleasantly surprised.

11/05 – El Toro Ha Vuelta!

After a five-week adventure in the motherland exploring cuisines, cultures and landscapes, I have returned to the autumnal Charlottesville, a mosaic of russets, golds, greens, reds, and rain. lots of rain. Spain was still under drought for the fifth straight month for our visit and became more and more crispy as the days went by. The chiarascuro of narrow medieval streets and cellars gave way to dusty-footsteps, cracked earth, gnarled vines, beautiful sunsets, but no rain in sight. Exceptions were the startlingly beautiful Galicia, Asturias and Pais Vasco, or the Green Coast as it is known.
I was very excited about hearing from our producers of wines, jamons, chorizo, cheeses, ciders, olive oil, almonds, membrillo, and yes, the elusive bocarones. Their practices, profiles, proclivities and prerogatives confirmed to me that quality in materials and sourcing is always first and foremost. The fish we ate so fresh, at times alive just prior to cooking, the aged beef and cured meats incredible, the wines all ridiculously good but most importantly sustainably produced, and the farms, fincas, bodegas and estates showed us that no matter how big, conservation, respect for the environment and tradition can all harmoniously exist. There does not exist the paradox of environment or jobs in Spain, such a proposition is considered preposterous and short-sighted. And yet their economy too is under duress as it tries to matriculate with the rest of the world markets.
We ate so many different cusines and different foods we had to photograph and record to remember all the remarkable moments. you can follow our progress (still ongoing at i will be producing some extensive photo galleries as well.
I have to thank Juan Esteves and Alex Heilbronner for allowing me to take them away from their pursuits, jobs, schooling, and families - their assistance on this journey was crucial, and hope that they too have the fire in their bellies from meeting and dining and listening to so many remarkable Castellanos, Gallegos, Euskadi, and Catalánes. Now on to the Fall and Winter - i think you're going to like what we have in store! Hasta MAS!

09/29 – 9/29 – New Wine List

New Wine list, MAS wonderful weather...just the perfect combo!

Our new recently updated wine list with Clos Mogador Manyetes in Priorat, Baco Perez organic white from Naranjuez, Tierra Fidel's Blanca from La Bastida in Rioja, and Ameztoi's Rubetis Txakolina from Guipuzqoa ,the new Vina Boconia Todonia Rosé Gran Reserva, with a total addition of 30plus new splendid wines, will keep you wanting MAS and MORE!. If you've never had these wines before, what are you waiting for? Come and enjoy the fun, plenty to choose from. They're very special and supremely suited to our cocina at MAS. Bring some friends, family, your boss, or just sneak out by yourself. we'll take care of the rest!

08/15 – Summer Fun, Summer's Begun

Well hopefully everyone survived another round of 'death weather', your gardens are soaked but debris-laden and perhaps you have power again. If there was ever an argument for smaller, more integrative and intensive farming this weather was it. rather than stake everything on energy-intensive, petroleum-based monocultures, chemical-laden fields and manure choked stockyards, that wash-out creating the nightmarish algal blooms/red tides in the Chesapeake Bay and Puget Sounds, e.g., smaller, species and technique-varied farms, plots and urban gardens are unmatched for their productivity, sustainability and quality of results. we are blessed to have so many around us in our foodshed - please continue to support them and treat your family to wholesome, nutrient-dense foods that don't require a tractor trailer to bring to market. and keep composting, your garden will thank you.

07/28 – Time, Texture, Tincture

Looking around at other venues in town and out of town, i am dazzled at the time taken and careful assemblage of beautiful textures, plant and animal, in our food both at restaurants and especially at home. More of us are canning and preserving the pure flavors of spring and summer, even taking time to make jellies, vinegars and infusions. the end result of course is stunningly beautiful, total visual, taste, smell and tactile nirvana. Of note i've been reading "Natura" by Albert Adria, one-half of the brother team that brought us "El Bulli" restaurant in Spain, but also "Atelier Crenn" in San Francisco, at the suggestion of Harrison Keevil from Brookville restaurant in Cville. Words despair but here's a few anyways: operatic, primordial, essential, pitch-perfect, and blissful.

07/23 – Rioja Bonanza Buleria!

I don't know what to say about the latest heat wave but the best response is come inside, and savor some roasted milk-fed baby goat, or grilled BoerBok leg, along with some salty almonds, olives, bocarones, and grilled gambas. Let's make some noise as I'll be opening up a variety of special Riojas, mostly from the Alavesa, which we will make available by the glass tonight only including some '91 Tondonia, '00 Prada Enea, '02 Bosconia, '03 Alberdi, and lots of '04's and '05's all Reservas. but don't fret, there are some delicious Crianzas and Tinto de Mesas, along with very special Blancas from Muga, Cifras, Tierra Fidel, Gravonia and a couple of Txakolinas. If i can't beat the heat i can certainly celebrate the magic that is Rioja Alavesa like the good old days before air conditioning.

07/17 – Rioja Resurgence

With the first puff of smoke from the thousands of outdoor grills wafting through the neighborhood, the signal is clear, barbeque season is here. whether you like dry-aged beef, pork loin, ribs, lamb chops or some leg of local goat, Rioja is the wine for you. Primarily composed of Tempranillo grapes, but also featuring Garnacha, Graciano, Mazuela, Carinena, Viura, these special red wines display the beautiful ripe fruit up front with loads of raspberry, cherry, and blackberry, and finish with the long structured tannins from the years of mandatory barrel then bottle-aging. But let's not forget their rosados and white wines whose floral, crisp flavor profiles cool, refresh and cut through the smokiest foods off the grill. Recent tastings at MAS with grilled veggies, gambas a la plancha, pimenton padron, and barbecoa de cabrito included the '06 Letras, '05 Cifras, both new projects from Bodegas Exeo, Vina Cubillo '04, Valsacro Crianza '04, Allende Crianza '05, and the very special Reservas Vina Bosconia '02, Alberdi '04, and Tierra Fidel '02.

07/16 – Summer Transition

by now gardens are bumping with output, chickens are on strike, and the second round of kids are out of the womb. at MAS we're lightening up the bread doughs making them leaner, lighter, less glutinous, added some gluten-free doughs like spelt & chickpea to our coca list, and are really grooving on the barbecoa, finger-licking tapas like jumbo shrimp off la plancha, periwinkles and lobsters, the always interesting Padron peppers, fresh greens, cinnamon chickens and goat curry. the wines are also going light like Cava and Aperol aperitivos, or some hard Sidra, Txakolinas, citrusy, dense white Riojas and flinty Albarinos, or maybe a Hendricks and soda. we're always open late so you can take your time on these balmy nights and listen to the crickets from our patio.

06/18 – getting in shape this summer

along with our already popular gluten-free dishes, summer usually brings more healthy, nutritionally-dense selections to the plate at MAS such as fruit and raw veggie platters, chilled soups, lots of fresh seafood and of course pastured poultry, goats, lambs and yes, beef. our diet here already employs so many beneficial ingredients such as virgin olive oil, canola oil, sea salt, peppers, tomatoes, whole grains, and a slew of anti-oxidants. so why, i am often asked by children, u gotta love their sincerity, am i so big and fat? with so much of our lives lived publicly and through the immediacy of social media, no easy answer pops up but the evidence and pounds pile on.

i love food and eating with staff and friends is truly a great pleasure. i also love to shop and recent forays into the nuevo whole foods have been a blast. i mean ostrich eggs??????!!!!! F---ng A! it's no secret that you should never trust a skinny chef but let's get real! most chefs, myself included, often suffer the same fate as many other professionals who have hectic, stressful jobs - we eat poorly, too late, and often only as a foil for stimulants. food which is our lives, can be our undoing and so i have been tasked to lose some significant weight this year by my doctor and staff. honestly i'd be delighted to 'eat off' the pounds as many fad diets claim is possible, but such is not the case. so, along with my staff, who all belong to ACAC, i have also enjoined the help of some very special trainers at CLAY Fitness/ EAT to fight the good fight, and local food counselor and Health Coach Ivana Kadija. of course it's up to me and my will ( or lack of it). it isn't easy carrying so much extra baggage and while i still think i can squeeze by in narrow passages i've almost been abandoned in a few old wine cellars that proved to be designed for more svelte occupants. so, if you see me casually flipping tractor tires on Douglas Avenue do not be alarmed, it is not THE HULK! he doesn't need a trainer. derisive laughter is discouraged, cheering encouraged, but a simple 'ataboy' will suffice. tomas

06/18 – Very Special Guests Announced

by now you may have heard that cville will welcome the very famous tony bourdain and his dashing counterpart eric ripert october 30th at the Paramount Theater Downtown. the two are referred to by my female friends as "the silver foxes" which i'm sure they would find flattering. it should be a fun evening. the night before we will be hosting our very first TriMoCa Harvest Feast © with a local pig, goat and lamb roast, plenty of wine and lots of local veggies, fruits and cheeses. the new Belmont Neighborhood Composting Initiative should be in full swing by then, garden beds planted and who knows, producing already. it's a joy working in such a great place with so many friendly neighbors whose support, help, advice, recipes, advocacy, home-canned goods, prodding and endless supply of herbs, and of course, tomatoes make all of us feel right at home in this little village.

06/03 – Tis the Season for Refreshing Fermented Beverages

After a long, cold Winter, and with the advent of our very short Spring season, tastes move towards refreshing, cooling and effervescent drinks that will compliment the many garden arrivals, seasonal seafoods, bbq and fresh herbs. At MAS we've added several Spanish traditional Sidras or ciders, as light as lagers but not as dense as a Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay or Albarino. Along with Sidras we're offering the Belgian ales of La Chouffe, Hoegarden, Northern Lights of Starr Hill, and seasonal brews from Blueridge Brewery. Local winemaker Claude Thibaut has given us his Thiebaud-Janisson Blanc de Chardonnay Monticello Brut, a creamier counterpoint to the briskly dry Spanish Cavas. Both are crafted through the methode champenoise process and excellent. and we finally got our hands on the elusive Txakolina Rosado "Rubentis", a fresh light-ruby throated summer wine crisply acidic w/ rhubarb and strawberry in its nose. Don't overlook the staples of our light to medium bodied wines, Sherries, including some really stellar Finos, Manzanillas, and Olorosos. And last but not least, the crisp, green apple, grapefruit and pear-scented Ruedas, Albarinos, and Viuras.

Last but not least are our specialty cocktails which utilize infused spirits, fresh herbs, muddled fruits and extracts to tickle your palate and stimulate your appetite with Caiparinas, Mojitos, Gimlets, Old-Fashioneds, Sazeracs, Margueritas & Cosmos. We'll see you on the patio!

06/03 – Local Sparkling Wine Featured in June Tasting

MAS will be hosting a wine tasting with Margaux & Company's very own Pamela Margaux on June 29th, beginning at 6 pm. We will sampling some local sparklers from Claude Thiebaut of Thiebaut-Janisson as well as several Reservas from Spain, and and a few surprises. The sparkling Chardonnay wines from Claude have been a pleasant addition ever since we added them to our wine list last year. crisp, creamy and floral they are a great compliment to our seafoods, spicy foods, and of course great Spanish and local cheeses. Please join us in celebrating the great work of Claude and other small-batch producers.

05/26 – Memorial Day

In observance of the National Day of Remembrance, MAS will be closed for Memorial Day but will re-open for our regular hours on Tuesday.

05/14 – Champions of 2011

With the triumph by the Blau Grana in Spain, Barcelona achieved a landmark third straight La Liga title and is now on to Wembley Stadium to face the bully-boys of Manchester United. But right here in Charlottesville, our own SOCA team, MAS, triumphed in a playoff match against the Zealots in resounding fashion, 6-0, earning the league championship for this season. we couldn't be prouder and look forward to next season and building on this awesome accomplishment. VISCA MAS!

05/14 – Cabritos and the rights of Spring

With all the press surrounding local foods and farms, we like to dive a little deeper into the cycle of food coming out of our area farms, especially those that make cheese and wines. so we took delivery today of delicious, organic, local, delicate cabritos, or lechazos, milk-fed-only baby goats from Highland Farms. it is very common in cheese-producing areas that some of the kids are culled out to allow for more milk for cheese production. quite a delicate and pure speciality often enjoyed traditionally in Spain with robust, big-shouldered red wines, we will be offering these for large parties to share, roasted in our brick oven to perfection. a tremendous Spanish treat, they come with bread and vegetables and will feed up to 15 people. if interested, let us know. this is as rustic as it gets folks, and we are humbly honored to be able to offer these beautifully raised goats for your party.

05/09 – Back to Basics

Fall is here and with it a building optimism for the future projects, paths, provisions and plans. we'll be in Spain for the next several weeks looking, listening, smelling, tasting, meeting and above all else eating and drinking the marvelous regional cuisines that make up Spain. the peoples and languages are where it all starts and inspiration comes easily when so much care, tradition and innovation is integrated in even the smallest thing, custom, craftware, wines and foods. It will be harvest time so I'm really looking forward to what was the 2010-11 creations in oils, nuts, fruits, grapes, and the promise of the future projects. Of course this is where it all began for me many years ago. i go back to the palate of manchego, monte enebro, jamón, olives, sea salt, anchovies, tempranillo, viura, garnacha, bacalao, albariño, pimentón, padron, and cabrito, these flavors are all-encompassing, nourishing, grounding, comforting. whatever happens to Spain these guardian angels will endure.

05/06 – Belmont Composting & Garden Project (BCGP)

took delivery today of some very nice composted soil with which to begin our restaurant composting initiative and organic garden. beginning with a humble patch off Carlton with a great exposure and gently-sloping turf, we hope to put in 16 raised beds that will in time receive the composted by-products of local kitchens & coffee shops and provide even more yummy organic veggies for customers and neighbors. why do this? we are striving to become as landfill-free as possible and while i might talk trash from time to time, we're very serious about our footprint as a business and restaurant and hope others will feel the same way. Belmont is, in large part, a neighborhood of gardens and people who are forever improving their properties. a walking tour of yards and gardens here would reveal an incredible reservoir of urban plots that feed families and freezers for the fall and winter. hopefully our small part in all of this will help to contribute to waste awareness while lessening our load to the landfill. i know the worms are really happy!

04/21 – Good Wines, Great Friend

MAS and Charlottesville recently lost one of its dear friends and community leader, Terry Seig. While we lament his passing we are also very grateful at the time and memory of his company here at MAS and beyond. With Spain in his family background, Terry was a fabulous guest to entertain at a tapas bar. This man loved his Spanish jamon and bocarones, and could be seen sharing his platos with whoever sat next to him. His generosity of spirit and knowledge of food and wine will be missed, but mostly, his great smile, warmth and humor in our home was what i'll always remember. "we're going to take a trip to Spain soon Tomasito, so you can meet my family," he told me recently over a cool glass of Aljibes Rosado and Iberico Jamon.
"Ens veiem allà amic i tindrem un molt que parlar!"

04/04 – Sustainability in the Face of Total Annihilation

As we've seen in past years and of late man's ability to damage and despoil nature and natural systems in reaching epic proportions, to wit Japan and BP's oil spill in the Gulf of Mexico. Time is what is needed to allow these systems to recover and we as a country must resist the urge to develop at all costs. the risks should be private but the public ends up holding the bag, again as radioactivity, dispersants, and all forms of concentrated, toxic and half-life compounds and elements remain long after the company or government departs vampire-like, from the scene of the crime, renames itself or re-brands or re-launchs itself out of liability and tort law.

the seemingly inexhaustible abundance of our oceans is now in question, again, and it's important to support sustainable efforts to observe limits, re-establish diversity, and kindly use native species so we're not all eating only Snakefish or Carp in the immediate future. Where do you buy such seafood?

First, ask your fishmonger, sushi bar or seafood counter - if they don't know you probably shouldn't be shopping or eating there anyways. few professions have their finger on the pulse more closely than fishing so they know alot or should about their trade. After hurrican Katrina i was able to call my broker and get replacement shrimp from clean waters immediately.
Second, use in-season fish, they're fresher, have a much smaller footprint and are better for you than something caught near Antarctica and deep frozen for months. this is perishable stuff and the omega-3's and vitamins do dissipate over time i don't care what freezer you use.
Third, support sustainable efforts so they survive economically and it will incentivize others to do the same. money follows money, and in markets, one good idea is always copied repeatedly. also support restaurants, bars, taverns, wherever sustainable foods are offered. they too should reap economic benefit for doing the right thing instead of sending it to the megadeath corporation. if we can do it for cute dolphins why not adorable cod, flounder, snapper, bluecrabs, oysters?

04/03 – Pairing wines a waste of time?

recent blogs and 'experts' have weighed in on the benefit & practice of pairing wines with certain foods, sometimes any food. let's make something very clear, most wine is made to accompany food, i don't care what you read. the pedantic, snobbish character displayed by some sommeliers or vintners is entirely their practice and most producers and chefs would tell you to pick what you like and if you like it, drink it regardless of price, points scored in wine guides, or past reputations. but when you are drinking wine, or any alcoholic beverage with food, why spoil it by pairing a delicate white with asparagus, or vinegary foods, pickled dishes, etc. there is certainly enough creativity in the wine and complexity in the food to accommodate and compliment a wide range of flavors, e.g., port wine with peppery steak, champagne and caviar, or apple cider with grilled fish. martinis used to be the gold standard for a steak dinner and one i indulge in merrily at steakhouses. your wine steward, server, bartender or chef should be able to give you a range of choices suited to many outcomes, but not exclusive to one. believe me, when it works together like oysters and Cava, Fino sherry with toasted almonds, Cabernet Sauvignons with steaks, Ribera del Dueros with grilled lamb and so forth, it's a lightning bolt moment that needs no explanation.

at MAS we believe in no bad choices, only good ingredients and hand-crafted wines, beers, ciders, & cocktails that make the highest grade. "if it grows together it goes together" should be your default guide in selecting wines and foods together. be adventurous and if you trust your server, bartender, owner or sommelier, if all else fails, let them select for you. stop listening to the experts who are often wrong and get out there and do some tasting and spitting. who knows what you'll discover.

03/25 – Tasting and Spitting

we have always endeavored to bring you the best, value-packed wine selections from Espana to enhance your MAS tapeo experience. sometimes this is the result of directly contacting vinyeros and producers, sometimes research and development of menus, but mostly we find gems and jewels of the vine through good old-fashioned tasting and spitting. In this way we too learn about varietals, vintages, styles and regions, and what is possible and available by winemakers like Carlos Fernandez of Agricola LaBastida and Bodegas Exeo fame.

recently we were blessed by the addition of two splendid wines from the Basque region, Tierra Fidel's Blanca from LaBastida in Rioja, and Ameztoi's Rubetis Txakolina from Guipuzqoa. To my knowledge we are the only restaurant in America offering the Tierra Fidel and the only one in Charlottesville with the Rubentis. Both of these wines are sterling examples of restraint and exemplify the crisp acidity so often found in wines from Northeastern Espana, a region of great contrasts, ocean and mountains, with tremendous cultural heritages. You taste soft fruity notes in the mostly white Garnacha, Mazuela, and Viura Blanca of melon, kiwi, cinnamon, "un vino meloso, con cuerpo, muy redondo, dándonos en nariz mucha fruta y una complejidad pocas veces encontrada y con unas notas de madera muy bien integradas." And in the Rubentis, a 50/50 blend of hondarribi zuri and hondarribi beltza, rhubarb, cassis, with light fizz and carbonation. please consider these if you are ordering seafood like oysters, clams, or our pan-fried flounder, but also richer foods like smoky pork ribs, veal cheeks, duck confitado, fois gras, or the roasted veal marrow bones. buen provecho

03/23 – Nubian Goat Syndicate

Knowing we have a voracious appetite for all things goat, (the new pork belly according to the food hipgeoisie), the Albemarle Nubian Brigade at Caromont Farms is pumping out some tasty cheeses and lo and behold, a few of their own cabritos for us to bring to you. look for them in coming days.

Caromonts Bloomsbury is a creamy, medium-bodied goat cheese w/ chalky white mold rind reminscent of a Camembert or Brie de meaux. the interior is firm yet creamy with no air pockets and the flavor first tangy, then nutty and herbal has a pleasant, clean finish and balanced acidity. less fatty than either French cheese, and certainly less-ammonia in the nose makes this cheese even more user-friendly. along with the Bloomsbury we're featuring the Frais made from Devon cow's milk, a firm, impastata-like white cheese that's spreadable but we'll stuff empanadas and make white pizzas with ours. clean, creamy, unsalted - thanks 2Gail and the girls!

03/17 – Recent Garnacha Tastings

on a recent tasting at MAS we sampled the Subirats Cava, non-vintage, a light, floral, lightly fruity sparkler with a crisp, dry finish. we paired it with some incomparable, briny, deep-cupped Stellar Bay oysters. i can truly say these are some of the cleanest tasting, mineral-laden succulent oysters this man who grew up at the ocean has ever had. remarkable. then we ordered the Lopez de Heredia Gravonia, Rioja Blanco, aged 4 years in oak and then released ten years old, the honey-colored, crisp 100% Viura grape wine was truly special. perfectly balanced with an acidity that just cuts right through the spicy steamed prawns we paired it with. as it opened up there were aromas of wild thyme, the slightest caramel note and buttery smoothness and long finish. then on to more rioja and the exemplary Cifras '08 Garnacha from Bodegas Exeo. this is a new project from the Agricola LaBastida folks and a stunning start. velvety smooth texture, aged in concrete 'eggs' to maintain the high acidity and moderate the tannins, this wine reeks of raspberries and red currants, the tart acidity mellows with exposure to food and air and as it opens fully a long, lush finish with our paired Jamon Iberico and potato croquettas. it really just cuts through the olive oil and salty cure creating a wonderful harmony, or should i say hamony? we finished with a staff favorite the Priorat Tinto from Genium, a garnacha blend that sparkles with ruby-throated notes of black cherries, light scent of cassis and blackberry-jamminess. it absolutely sings after an hour or so if you can hold back, but it won't be easy.

03/17 – Spring, Patio Season Upon Us

not counting our eggs too soon, this mild almost hot weather has everyone talking patio so we're gonna give it a try tomorrow, Friday, with the caveat it might get chilly in the evening so bring a wrap of sweater in case you're out there. we'll provide the duck and bunny stew, our casserola, some BoerBok chuletas from Autumn Olive Farm, Free Union Grass Farm's excellent organic pasture Beef, Forrest Green Farm's amazing eggs in our tortillas, aliolis and desserts, and of course all the other scrumptulescent tapas and wines we love to serve you.

03/14 – Home Cooking, Home Schooling

Had a great chat today with Rob Rahm from Forrest Green Farm in Louisa about eggs, chickens, Great Pyrenees and miniature cattle. just another Monday. what delicious eggs! The good thing about home-schooling children Rob reminded me, is they don't eat the dreck that passes for nutrition in today's schools, hospitals, colleges, and Universities, oh yes, and prisons too. that's right folks, sometimes they are the same providers in all these places where our loved ones and children's welfare is in their hands.

03/11 – Pizza Party for Kids?

I know it sounds crazy but recently someone asked if i had ever used our space for such an event. No we haven't but i am certainly open to exposing children to high-quality, organic and locally-sourced foods, especially when prepared in our lovely brick hearth. So, if you have a hankering to throw your kids a party like no other they've been to, contact me on facebook or call MAS @ 434.979.0990 and let's spitball a pizzextravaganza. They'll never ask for mass- processed & produced, antibiotic & hormone-soaked commercial pizza again!

03/11 – Degustacion de Starr Hill

Wednesday night was a thoroughly enjoyable evening with brewmaster Mark Thompson and guests drinking six selections from Starr Hill's repertory of beers. We paired our Spanish rustic cuisine with everything from light, wheat-based beers, on to medium bodied amber and jomo, ultimately to dark, malty stout. The first thing you notice is that in contrast to wine, beer is lower in alcohol, so acidity, hops and finish play a huge role in pairing successfully with hearty foods like chorizo, jamon iberico, shittake mushroom bisque, steamed prawns w/ berber spice, or the trinxat from Catalunya w/ cabbage, pork belly, ribs and sausage. thanks again to all attending.

03/05 – Jamon Theme and Variacion

In the category of Spanish Jamon, We are pleased to offer the Palacios Black Label Jamon Serrano & the Fermin Pata Negra Jamon Iberico, both 18 Month Reservas. From America we are serving The Heath Putnam/Johnson County Mangalitsa Jamon 18 month Reserve Jamon. They cost a pretty penny but you get what you pay for in all these hand-crafted cured meats. All this may sound confusing but when you taste the Jamon Serrano, then its duskier, more marbled ancestors the Mangalitsa and the Iberico Pata Negra, you will discern a deeper, nuttier flavor from the older, more pastured, and forage-fed wooly hogs that are derivations of the ancient arboreal hogs of the Iberian peninsula. Why should you care? well it really is a matter of taste but also very tradition-driven as all three are produced from ancient practices of selection, feeding, curing and aging. The physical environment is also very important. The feed selection and forage allowed, along with aging before slaughter produces richer, more marbled meat higher in beneficial monounsaturated fats, lipids, oleic & linoleic acids, b vitamins, mineral like zinc and iron & Omega threes. much like wines these cured meats reflect the land they come from, the dry aging and marbling analogous to old vines with their complex flavor profiles & austere minerality, the nutty ripeness more like mature cheeses in that bacterial transformations take place in caves, barns, basements and aging environments. this is minimalist food at its best - tied to a place - and should be enjoyed with the dry, light sherries of Andalucia, and the ruby-throated wines of Espana from Ribera del Duero, Rioja Alta and Mencia, or just a glass of sangria in a pinch.

03/03 – Starr Hill Beer Degustacion

March 9th we will be hosting a dinner and tasting with Starr Hill Brewery and their excellent team including Brewmaster Mark Thompson. As of now we will be coursing seven different beers and tasting dishes made with the beers, including a dessert course. If you are interested please call MAS @ 434.979.0990 or reach us through our Facebook page. space will be limited to 30 guests - you won't want to miss this thrilling event. price for the evening is $50 plus tax & tip.

02/14 – Dia De Los Enamorados

Valentine's Day Terroir: the sound of cava corks popping, the tink-tink of martini glasses, the glow of candlelight, scent of roses, light murmurs of laughter, toasts and knowing smiles. it's magic watching so many people taking the time to enjoy themselves and carve out a moment for their partners and friends away from the howling winds of February. So slurp a few oysters, pour more sangria and cava and let's toast away the winter blues - buen provecho!

02/07 – Beware of the Zombies: Jamon and its Variations

many articles have been written, and blogs created on, for and in praise of pork, specifically cured versions. the zeitgeist is for sustainably-raised, pastured and forage-fed heritage breeds like the Duroc, or Iberico, Ossabaw, Mangalitsa, Kurabota, to name a few. Like heirloom tomatoes, these breeds have been dutifully raised to preserve their fabulous qualities and beneficial properties.

Curing preserves a piece of meat and allows for a slow, safe maturation of flavors, aromas, and qualities not present in fresh meat. the cultural traditions and practices, like salting, air-drying, brining, smoking, pickling, have been shown over the course of centuries to be safer and healthier for you than current, industrial food production techniques and protocols that operate within a bio-hazard zone. the diet of the animals is also safer, more intrinsic to the health of the sustainably raised livestock. the final product is cleaner, more flavorful, safer and better for you than your salt-cure-injected, Food Network celebrity-pimped hormone-addled and antibiotic laden factory animal zombies. don't get me started.

at MAS we serve a variety of cured, traditional as well as in-house fabricated pork, beef and seafood. whenever possible we will source these raw materials locally, make them ourselves, like Merguez or Buttifara sausages, lox, briskets, pork bellies, e.g. In the case of Jamon Serranos, Paleta de Belotta and Chorizo, we source from the best producers in Espana. to that end we have procured a new Jamon, from the Hungarian Mangalitsa wooly hogs that are reputed to be similiar in genetics and flavor profile to the Iberico, or Pata Negra hogs of Espana. We're excited to try them, as any animal that has forage as a primary part of their diet, the meat will be lush, deeply flavored and higher in oleic acids and omega 3's. we hope you will like them too. just ask your server for a taste next time you are here.

01/27 – Restaurant Week Redux

ice, snow, who knew January could be so cold? well thankfully our brick oven never sleeps. did you know our fabulous bread is available to-go each and every day? it is. just come in during dinner and ask any staff member. big loaves or small loaves, we got'em.

01/24 – M8 Feliz Anniversario MAS!

2010: we said goodbye to some friends and families and hello to new arrivals, and another year is in the books friends. we worked hard with the neighborhood, a local baker, elementary schools, the city government, and activists. it seems these trying times bring out the best in people too. we are thankful for all their contributions and vision. while we saw so many familiar faces last night we count our blessings for your continued support and kindness. here's to 2011 and the promise of the future: more discoveries, more experiments, more friends, more farmers, and please more morels!

on the personal level i can't begin to express how lucky i am to have such good, considerate staff, friends and neighbors whose support means so much to me. last night was perfect, the smiling faces and kind words warming even after eight years, you still care. thank you from the bottom of my heart.

01/14 – Private Party Prospectus

MAS can be a great place for a private party. Our back room, which can accommodate 25-50 people, is semi-private and depending on your mood, can be quietly serene or urbanely sophisticated. if your party needs a larger format, 50-150 people, the entire restaurant is made available. during warmer months that includes our outdoor patio.

In either case, the total resources of MAS are brought to bear in order to provide a one of a kind experience for your party. this might include our full bar, extensive wine lists, passed and shared tapas platters, raw bar specialties, delicacies from our wood-fired hearth, paellas and even roast suckling pigs.

please feel free to contact us regarding your next party for 25 or more and we will endeavor to make it a memorable event.

01/11 – Baby it's cold outside!

snow, ice, rain - the full compliment of Southern Winter weather is upon us and we at MAS are dedicated to help you cast off those chilly vibes with freshly-braised duck, rabbit and beef brisket, giant white beans with house-smoked pork belly and of course, plump gambas off the grill and briny, fat oysters from Vancouver Island. nothing says joy like the fruit of the vine whether it be glistening, bright and supple red wine from Rioja, slutty Garnachas from Priorat or rich, or deep, tannic wonders from Ribera del Duero, we share your pain this time of year. but think what an amazing Spring we will all have here in the Piedmont.

01/09 – Cheese and the meaning of good milk

with so many goat, pig, sheep and cow herds locally, it's only natural we would be blessed w/ an abundance of great milk from grazing in our lush meadows and pastures. for us at MAS that means two great things: cheese and meats. you can only suckle so much milk before the babies are on their own - what to do with all that extra milk? preserve it through cheese-making. much like making wine the cheeses are a result of time, environment, bacteria, and the skills -of the crafts person. but it all starts with good, wholesome milk chalked full of pro-biotic qualities and nutrients. we love our goat and cow's milk products from Albemarle County's Caromont Farm and use them in as many dishes as possible, often on their own with some fresh bread, lavender honey, on our flatbreads, or in a chopped salad or over some fresh tortillas w/ braised Akaushi brisket.

if we are lucky, the process of suckling will produce an overabundance of piglets, kids or calves and so some are culled and we have one of our signature special dishes: cochinillo, cabrito or lechazo, young suckling pigs, goats and lambs roasted in our brick hearth. this is such an integral part of the traditional food experience in Spain that many wines and even regions are famed for their preparations: Castilla Leon's Ribera Del Dueros and Pais Vasco's Riojas are two of the best known. simply prepared with minimal condiments the roasts and braises reflect the simple austerity of. pure, unadulterated ingredients. my favorite chef and mentor always said "you must never be afraid to let the ingredients speak for themselves." how twue.

01/09 – Magnums, Steers and Cocas

we recently overhauled our wine list bringing in more value wines and adding some very special wines. a new category for us is Magnums and large format bottles like 3L and 5L's. they're special for a variety of reasons primarily they are special to the winemakers and so they make them available in the larger formats for larger parties. secondarily they are quite beautiful to behold on a table and still show the care and art that goes into the bottle, label and cork-making arts. some we don't carry in smaller formats at all so they are rare to us indeed and hope you and yours will get a chance to open and share these rare gifts from Spain.

we recently had a chance to share a steer from Free Union Grass Farm and can't wait to start cooking some delicious stews, smoked shanks and cheeks, and of course make lotsa meatballs and stuffings from the many cuts that come from fresh, primal cuts. this was a pastured animal sustainably raised and conscientiously slaughtered. the difference is always profound for most of us. i look forward to more 'share' projects this year.

with the cold weather we reset our menus and some recipes to adapt to the different energy and environment. you need only look at diners coming in from a 20 degree windy blast to understand. they want warm, comforting food, maybe spicy, definitely out of the wood-fired hearth, followed by and with some rich, lusty reds from old vines. we fire up the cocas this time of year, a Spanish flatbread that resembles a pizza. along with our bread doughs that means wetter doughs, higher oven temps. the results are charry, chewy and thin-crusted. we gin up the brick hearth to around 800 degrees to get maximum spring in the dough and a quick bake without burning up the toppings. along with some braised veal cheeks, fois gras, brisket or stew w/ chorizo and red beans, the wood-fired dishes are so full of flavor and texture and we hope you help yourself to some simple happiness via the humble wood fire.

12/30 – New Year's Schedule

2010 was quite an experience and we're emerging in one piece for 2011. this year we will be open for regular hours, 5:30 pm -2 am Friday NY's Eve and Saturday, NY's day. Come have a glass of cava Friday night and let's toast those who couldn't be here, and those whose shoulders we walk on. Just wanted to give you more love as we enter 2011 and let you try out our shrimp and grits Saturday night. BTW happy New Year if we miss you, love to all of you who make what we do possible. And to the farmers, orchardists, bakers, chocolatiers, winemakers, sausage stuffers, goat herders, chicken wranglers, and cheese artists, much love from the bottom of our hearts for all the love and devotion you pour into everything you do. you make me look good and we couldn't do it without you. drive safely, be careful, and we'll see you all in the New Year. Tomas

11/13 – Local Beef

Excited about offering some locally pastured English White Faced beef from Free Union Grass Farm. I've wanted to buy a "cowshare" after our "milkshare" experience. The pastured beef, lamb and goats around here are exemplary and show how much variety there is in our local food shed.

11/13 – Holiday Schedule

for the upcoming holidays we will close xmas eve and xmas day, re-open Monday the 27th for regular hours. then we're open straight through new year's day so you can heal your wounds saturday after SCOTS and CRACKER at the Jefferson.

11/09 – Winter Pantry

Leaves are falling, first frost is here and we're starting to see the abundance of richer, more mature foods come to the table. Line-caught Albacore tunas, a staple of Spanish cuisine, and Eastern Rockfish have been gorging on anchovies, crabs & minnows in preparation for their migratory journey and it shows in their size, flavor and numbers as they shoal near our coasts. don't forget the marvelous selection of shellfish too like the Stone Crab claws, Mussels, Clams and oysters that have been eating plankton and storing up for the winter. the gorgeous greens, pumpkins, squashes, potatoes, late garlic are coming in now, along with ducks and chickens and later turkeys. we are blessed with abundance in the Shenandoah Valley and i'm quite sure you'll agree that the ingredients we are able to offer are second to none. come and enjoy the harvest with us and look for our oyster tasting dinner coming in early December.

08/21 – Tres es la Vencida

Three is the charm! it's official MAS has been selected by the readers of C'ville Weekly as Best Restaurant for the third year in a row. Along with kudos for Best Patio and Best place to Bring a Date, we'd like to think our other strengths, hard-working waitstaff, wine list, small plates, late-night service, are all special as well. It all began with a small dream and now we are still pushing our limits, building bridges with the neighborhood and larger community, local farmers and producers, to bring you the best tapas experience possible. Thank you for your kind consideration again Charlottesville. Viva España!

08/07 – Saber Sabado?

Saturday is important in many ways for MAS but mainly because we have the full force and effort of farms behind us on market days. Today we have fresh okra, tomatoes, rabbits, cheeses, padron peppers, melons, endive, mushrooms and collards to tempt you away from hot kitchens at home. come join us under the Belmont skyline for hot foods, cool wines and beverages and people watching. soundtrack courtesy of the monticello road cicada, cricket & treefrog ensemble.

07/18 – Dog Days of Summer are Here

on a recent trip to NYC i was blessed with 103 degree weather nearly every day and unrelenting suffocating humidity (not to mention a near-death experience with a crazed cyclist.) but whatta place! everybody hustles, lotsa interesting faces, places - so much variety. i can proudly say our menus, wines and cocktails can hold their own with the best in our weight class and our staff works and hustles just as hard as big-city staffs. congratulations MAS, you make me proud.

the preponderance of fresh farmer markets in the Northeast, especially Metropolitan New York is inspiring not just from an ecological, ethical point of view, but culinarily speaking the reintroduction, cultivation & variety of old and heirloom veggies, kind practices, fresh sausages and pastured meats, poultry, dairy and baked goods was astounding. equally inspiring was how many young people were eschewing the typical corporate job for a taste of green acres. goodbye Times Square! hello compost pile.

coming home it was a beautiful thing to see horses and cows in pastures, green mountains, and yes, turkey buzzards keeping rhythm to all below in slow sweeping arcs. decompression, blue skies, and little kids waving to the train as it passed their humble abodes told me i was close to cville and the warm embrace of MAS Tapas. of course it was 103 degrees here too so time to eat some melons, ice down the sangria and txakoli and keep a close eye on the ice machine.

07/18 – Website Make-Over

we will soon be working on updating our very old and clunky website with loads more options, pictures and info for you to matriculate with your senses and fancy-pants smart phones. like all construction projects, bear with us while we make a mess. gracias

06/29 – Duraderos Mas

even though we received many body blows during the cyclonic episode of a week ago, we endure and continue on, much like the Spanish National Football Team who vanquished their neighbors and thuggish rivals, Portugal 1-0 in South Africa today. we are still without umbrellas so please bear with us as we seek out replacements for those stalwart canopies so viciously rendered asunder by nature's wrath. in the by and by, we will endeavor to bring you all the freshest local goodies available, now heirloom tomatoes, squashes, peaches, herbs and livestock, and please remember, support your local farms and markets every week. we have so much to be thankful for and so much work to do, let's get to it - buen provecho! hasta mas!

06/25 – MAS Vinceremos!

despite repeating lightning bolts and tornados MAS survives, albeit without our saffron guardians the umbrellas who gave their lives for us yesterday . . . but we're powered up and ready for friday with more live spotted prawns, baby lamb, delicious farm veggies like chard, zukes, cukes and squash and oysters tonight from the chilly West Coast waters of Totten Island, WA. when you grow tired of staring at the darkness, please, please, walk towards the light and some delicious tapas, vinos and chilled adult beverages
P>S> Viva Espana - Viva USA!

06/16 – Summer Sets In

if you haven't noticed yet, it's World Cup time so when we're not preparing for your presence at MAS we're rooting for España and the USA in South Africa. meanwhile back in the kitchen and on the farms we're receiving fresh Razor Clams, or Navajas from Washington State beaches, plump white-fleshed flounder filets from the tip of Long Island, Montauk, still banging out the wild King Salmon, and ruby-red Yellowfin tuna from the Outer banks of North Carolina. most of these don't fit into our 100-mile rule but we're a little limited now with all the tragic consequences of losing a biosphere as large and plentiful as the Gulf of Mexico. what it has meant so far is that alternative sources (eats coast fisheries, Northwest Pacific & Alaska) are needed to supply the large institutional vendors the Gulf mostly supplies, your chain restaurants, tourist spots and frozen food section at the market. we'll continue to use our friends at United Export Services, and Sea to Table for sustainable seafood choices.

on the local farm front Roundabout, Manakintowne, Double H, & Bessette farms are harvesting kales, collards and chards, and we're beginning to see the first zucchinis and squashes. I had some delicious beef bulgogi at the Wolf Creek Farm stand at City Market and look forward to more of their delicious, pastured beef.

06/08 – late spring harvest bounty

in speaking with local growers this week it looks like we're going to have a bumper crop of goodness this year starting with late spring veggies, livestock and dairy. we're getting our garden in order and i couldn't help but notice with gardener's envy the incredible garden happening at Zinc on West Main street, where much of their landscaping is devoted to edible produce. that's how you close the loop folks, recycle scraps into compost, compost into soil, soil into edibles, and so on. we are nurturing our pomegranate, lavender, mint and rosemary patches, young tomatoes and peppers are coming on, and i hope to have basil, nasturtiums and cilantro soon. the spring lambs and baby goats so far are stupendous. cleaning and preparing them you see how pure and fresh the meat is, and my hat is off to Caromont, Autumn Olive, Allen's Creek, and Silky Cow farms for the care and conscientious handling of their breeds and livestock. you are great stewards of this beautiful land we share and we salute you. we also want your cheeses so don't forget MAS!

06/07 – mixed blessings

Normally i like to talk with you about current food and culinary topics at MAS but allow me to first throw out some thank yous and acknowledge some blessings. firstly, thank you to all the neighbors who continue to fight for the sanctity of this little village we call Belmont. it's not easy being made fun of for standing up for your rights as residents, or being ignored by City government or told that you come second to shady commercial interests or banal legal & bureaucratic technicalities, or worse, harassed by uncaring visitors and their supporters in the middle of the night when most people are enjoying their sleep. the tenaciousness and patience displayed is inspiring but it does come at a cost. that cost is the loss of innocence and aspiration in believing that our government will work for the people when necessary, not against them, and when ordinary citizens do stand up to be counted, their voices count for more than the 3 minute sound bites allowed at City Council and Planning Commission meetings (even when there are no other people to publicly comment.)

The loss of a functioning, solution driven forum for addressing serious and continuing neighborhood problems is causing despair in Belmont, where one might compare officials' response to the pattern of complaints about crime, noise, property damage and ordinance violations to that of a bunch of firefighters arguing over who will hold the ladder while a building burns down in front of them. let this serve as a warning to other neighborhoods in Charlottesville, this really could happen to you.

where will it all end? the "for sale" signs are already cropping up around Belmont, Monticello and Douglas, and no neighborhood is safe when tolerance of this kind of behavior is sanctioned by officials. the democratic contract is for equality of opportunity & subsequent participation in matters in the public forum. if outcomes don't match expectations how long can we keep expecting citizens to care or stay long enough to work out their differences, hopes, dreams, etc.? what kind of place will we be in twenty years?

finally i would like to say how proud we are that Benos Bustamente received his Mechanical Engineering Degree at the most recent UVA graduation. well done Benos, the world needs you now more than ever. also farewell to Mandy Ferald and Anna Martin who leave us for greener pastures. may you find success in whatever you do mamacitas, we'll miss you. we are delighted to witness Jacquie Wheeler's rapid recovery from a car accident in May and hope to have her back on the floor at MAS soon.

And finally, on July 4th, 2010, MAS' own Juan Esteves will become a United States citizen in the annual ceremony at Mr. Jefferson's Monticello. A 2005 graduate of UVA, Juan has proven that hard work, dedication and a commitment to excellence have their rewards. you are a MASSTAR chamo' and we are very proud and honored to welcome you to our crazy-quilt of a country where dreams really do come true. Mr. Jefferson is smiling.

05/28 – spring lamb are in!

while i was hoping for purely milk-fed lambs, the spring lambs from Allen's Creek Farm look fantastic, lean, pure and I'm sure luscious. as well we received their livers kidneys and sweetbreads so next week we'll try to get those in the brick hearth, slowly roasted and ready for you to try. Allen's Creek Farm is a participant in the SSARE program, a sustainable agriculture program which allows Allen's Creek Farm to develop a more hearty dairy breed resistant and acclimated to our hot, humid climate. This flock is a mix of East Freisians, St. Croix and Katahdin. Next Spring we'll get some 14 day olds for true lechazo wonderfulness, and hopefully local ewe's milk cheese from their mommies

04/22 – lechazos, cabritos, vinos nuevos

we received the first of our baby goats, or cabritos, today, and they look fabulous. lean, not an ounce of fat, conscientiously raised and prepared in Albemarle county on mother's milk and tender-loving care. we will be roasting them in our brick oven as always with lavender, garlic, olive oil, sea salt and fresh pepper. it's quite a treat and certainly at the forefront of healthy cuisine these days. we'll also be receiving our goat cheeses from Caromont Farm soon, and the baby lambs or lechazos in a couple of weeks. don't forget to ask your servers for wine recommendations for these special dishes especially the sumptuous Rioja Reservas and Ribero del Dueros on our list. buen provecho!

04/21 – Springtime Arrivals

just tasted some preserves made from autumn olives (Elaeagnus umbellata) a fabulous non-native species that tastes like a mild cranberry and is full of amazing vitamins and minerals. it was a first for me, i've walked by these plants a million times without tasting the bright red berries. Despite their foreign origin, I can only say we are so blessed here in the Shenandoah Valley with biodiversity and the simple artistry of farmers and producers from every walk of life. it's kinda a chef's dream scenario. from home canning to livestock we can boast a cornucopia second to none. what better way to tame the incursion of invasive species than to eat them especially when they are so chock full of vitamins and minerals. well at long last we procured the beloved baby fava beans and they've been selling like baby fava beans! along with the habas we're receiving local asparagus, red kale, green chard, pippin apples, wild mushrooms, spaghetti squash and some very juicy goat racks and shoulder. with the weather a little more stable we'll see more and more evenings out on the patio and our cocido will reflect this outdoor dining with more herbs, chickens, rice dishes, veggies, salads, ceviches, tartares, hot-smoked wild salmon and grass-fed beef. support your local producers folks and preserve this incredible biomass and diversity of abundance.

03/21 – Estrellas de MAS

the stars of MAS, bartenders, servers, cooks et al, are featured in photographs hanging at MAS currently. over the drab Winter months the staff planned then executed a day-long photo shoot of themselves with the incredible eye and talents of Tom Cogill behind the camera. this is reality restaurant work, one frame at a time. i think you'll agree as you see them Tom did an incredible job and the staff looks beautiful, interesting, provocative, and whimsical. they are hanging in the main room of MAS through April. we hope you enjoy this other side of our staff.

03/20 – Arriba Primavera

now that we are sufficiently thawed and grapevines are sending out new shoots, it is only appropriate that we begin patio season at MAS. We're getting the outdoors ready (if this weekend was any barometer) it looks like a sizzling season ahead. we've been planning our kitchen garden, talking to local farmers about crops, and waiting for signs of morels, ramps, and wild salmon - we should have them beginning this week. we're also talking to local farmers about their suckling lamb and goats, spring chickens, quail and the start of leafy, green vegetable season. come try our new line of dishes this week including fideos, big, fat semolina wheat noodles with baby clams and basil, or green chard stuffed with ground pork, tomatoes, pine nuts, and Manchego, or some Carolina line-caught Yellowfin tuna tartare. did i mention our new wine list, out soon, featuring a dozen new finds we think you will love as much as we do, with loads of bargains and value and a few surprises. well, staff "combines" are this week and more wine training to get ready for the outdoor crush. yea, we take it seriously and push ourselves physically and mentally, but it's fun and i never knew how competitive the staff was until now.

02/05 – Blizzard '10 Redux

Well it's snowing like hell again but we've cleared the walkways and parking lot so you can come and enjoy some fabulous tapas treats like our saffron-leek pizza, confit duck, smokey pork ribs, plump mussels in sofrito, beef tenderloin po'boy, white beans and chard, and much more. i know it's messy outside but after your first rita or hot toddy, you'll get the hang of it and we'll all toast the snow away. at least until tomorrow, when, sadly, we will really be closed.

02/05 – Crazy Winter-Like Weather Wreaking Havoc

Despite the pummeling we've been taking of late by the snow gods on high, we have endeavored to be open most nights so far this January and now February. While i am very happy and excited for the Spring prospects of wild asparagus, mushrooms, ramps, et all that come from moisture-laden soils, enough already! i'm colder than a scantily-clad barbarian in a Frazetta mountain pass skirmish. we're planning to be open this friday and saturday with a full array of tempting tapas including ginormous sea scallops, sweetbreads and shortribs, octopus, stonecrab, baby pig, pizzas, smoked tongue bocadillos and many of your MAS favorites. watch your step outside, drive carefully and when you arrive, we'll take care of the rest. the kitchen never rests.

01/24 – M7 - Simply Fantastic

Under cover from chilly rainstorms, regulars, neighbors and friends gathered tonight to celebrate the seventh anniversary for MAS. To be sure it was a packed house and those in attendance were treated to groovy music, sumptuous tapas treats and the cava flowed like water. There's something magical about a room full of people just having fun and christening MAS with their laughter, hugs and dance moves as i write this. Thank you to all who have supported us, continue to do so, and thank you to all our neighbors and supporters who came out in chilly January to celebrate. It's been quite a ride and we couldn't have done it without you. Now i've got to head back to the dance floor - that's my joint playing!

01/14 – Bollywood Nights -From Tuxedos to Taffeta

The glow is gone, but the memories remain from what had to be one of our funnest New Year's crowd evuh. there was a patrick reed sighting, maybe next time he can spin for us. It would be hard to imagine a better-dressed, or better-looking group on NY's Eve - everyone was resplendent in their finest threads, beads, sequins, tuxedos and taffeta. Much food was consumed and we especially liked the wood-fired pizzas, tandoori lamb shanks and shrimp and mango samosas. DL Ty was kicking and we danced the night away to cava bubbles, blinding dervishes and the delightful sounds of laughter, joy and relief that 2009, the year of the devil, was now gone. welcome 2010, and a humbly offered thank you C'Ville for keeping us in the black once again. let's keep the party flames burning! Viva MAS!

12/30 – MAS Año Nuevo 2010

well it's almost over, 2009 that is, the year that just wouldn't go away. we've broken all our snow shovels, cleared a place for you to come and feast, dance and drink the decade away come Thursday's Nuevo Año celebration. we have alot to be thankful for and we want you to come help us ring in the new year right.

we'll be featuring most of your MAS faves like datil con tocino, gambas a la parilla, solomillo de Akaushi, but we're also bringing some spice and far east flavor to the scene like shrimp and mango samosas, a tandoori of lamb shanks, duck confit w/ cherry-ancho chili and chocolate glaze, our wood-fired thin-crust cocas w/fig, guindale, jamon and manchego, lobster w/ saffron, garlic and pumpkin sauce, spicy calamares w/ chickpeas, hamahama oysters w/ sparkling Cava foams, mussels in lemongrass, red curry and coconut, tender and very vindaloo chicken wings and much more. we'll also be serving some fancy cocktails and of course, our second-to-none wine list of fabulous Spanish selecciones. the kitchen is open till 11 and the dance party starts around then so come join us for what is always a fun, frenzied explosion of funk, fusion, food and festivity. MAS opens it's doors at 5.30 pm and as always , there is no cover.

12/21 – MAS Blizzard Update

after throwing in the shovel Saturday, we are toiling to clear everything up for tonight, Monday, Dec 21, so that we can all tapas again in warm, cozy surroundings. keep in mind that tonight we will clip our hours back so service will begin at 5.30 pm and go until 11 pm tonight so you and our staff can navigate safely home. we'll fire up the brick oven too just for that smoky Belmont vibe. Hope to see you here - Tomas

12/18 – MAS Año Nuevo + 2010 - Bollywood Nights

Come join MAS for a fascinating, furious, fusion of funk, fun and food at our NY's Eve Bollywood Nights party. No cover charge ever and this year features our own Fists of Curry Cooking Team, the Whirling Dervishes of Belmontistan, splendid cocktails from the far east, tremendous tapas of the highest order, copious pourings of Cava, joyous celebrations for no good reason, and always an unfettered expression of dance idioms. if you like Picasso or are a fan of Shiva, Ganesh and over-the-top cinema from Bollywood you won't want to miss one scintillating moment of waiting for the clock to hit midnight.

MAS will serve tapas from 5.30 pm- 11 pm, drinks till 2 am - the party begins when you arrive. MAS will be closed NY's day, re-opening Saturday, Jan 02 at 5.30 pm

12/04 – Wendell Berry and the Art of Sustainable Living

It's rare when i get to look back on all that has passed in Charlottesville for the past 20 years i have been a part of this village/town/community, but last night was definitely the high point of a very eclectic experience. I've been blessed to have been around town for Kurt Vonnegut, Fumihiko Maki, the Dali Llama, several presidents, Howard Zinn, Geraldine Brooks, Derek Walcott, Noam Chomsky, and many other distinguished giants in their fields. Last night MAS hosted a dinner for Wendell Berry, American author and spokesperson for sustainable agriculture and intelligent discussion of the issues of the day. With the generous support of The Bridge Arts Initiative and UVA's Brown College, and many of our area's best organic and sustainable farms, MAS prepared a seven course meal with locally produced ciders, organic wines and desserts.
A bona fide original like Thomas Jefferson, Wendell Berry is a writer, farmer, father, mentor and activist for sustainable development for the past 50 years, Wendell Berry epitomizes the true spirit of innovation, respect for the land and the culture it supports. Along with Wendell Berry representatives from SubRosa bakery, Manakintowne Growers, Charlottesville Food Hub, Feast!, Roundabout Farm, Polyface Farm, Perfect Flavor Creamery, Elena Day Pastries, Planet Earth Diversified were on hand to join the salute and break bread with this pioneer from Kentucky.
Unanimously we felt that the night was special, even magical in that the intimacy in which we were celebrate his accomplishments, meet him, and isalute his inspirational body of work. If you are interested in this event or Wendell Berry i encourage you to contact The Bridge Arts Initiative, or your local bookstore for some of his works.

11/25 – MAS Seating Policy Redux

i have recently received several exasperated comments about out seating policy, so let me elaborate on how it works. we do not accept reservations, for any reason, because we reward those who are actually here at MAS, and do not allow for favoritism, table-holding, call-aheads, or any other last-minute reservation trolling techniques. what you see is what you get. our lower room accomodates private parties of 25 or more by arrangement beforehand. our policy stipulates that when you arrive we then place you in line for seating , and then seat you according to the order you arrive. sometimes this takes longer than you expect, and we cannot prevent that. seating is also determined based upon how many are in your party, whether or not they are actually there to be seated (no call-aheads), inside or out in warm weather, and until december 1st 2009, smoking or non-smoking. since we do not limit people's time on a table you may find that turnover is longer than expected. such is life when you are having a good time, eating remarkable food, drinking delicious wines and adult beverages. we will never give you an arrival time or seating time because it is impossible. what we can do is with total honesty, tell you what the outlook is for a table or bar seat, and not deviate from that. this entire process is based upon trust so you must trust us when we are trying to put you in the mix. I realize, after seven years of frustrated comments, that this is not what some people want to hear. especially when it comes to smaller parties wanting a big party table. we'll put two smaller parties together if they are amenable, and this happens often.
but the truth is, if you come to a busy restaurant, on a busy night, you cannot expect them to carve out a space for your party in the midst of such demand. be patient, behave, and patiently wait your turn. it will come. the most fun part of visiting Spain's still-thriving tapas joints are the crowds, cheek to jowl, clamoring for food, sangria, cider, food! it's often done without any seating at all, just space to get a shoulder towards the bartender or cook, or close enough to grab some snails or tortilla sitting on the bar. like Spain, we serve you while you are waiting, then transfer everything to your table so you are never empty-handed when at MAS. just remember, we open at 5.30 but serve a full menu until the wee hours of the morning. most people in charlottesville like to eat at 8 pm. it defies explanation but everywhere in town has the same problems. because we serve later than most spots, we offer a wider range of seating options should time be a concern.

we are thrilled for each and every customer that walks throught the door, rest assured we are doing our best to get you to your desired seating option, with food and drinks, as soon as is possible.

11/24 – Belmont Mandala Project/ MASFresco

Something wonderful is going on in our little village. Check it out online at : 2009 Belmont Mandala Project. This is proof caring people are out there doing totally wonderful projects and work for everyone one of us.

The Vision of City Repair
City Repair is an organized group action that educates and inspires communities and individuals to creatively transform the places where they live. City Repair facilitates artistic and ecologically-oriented placemaking through projects that honor the interconnection of human communities and the natural world. The many projects of City Repair have been accomplished by a mostly volunteer staff and thousands of volunteer citizen activists.

Along these lines MAS is organizing a mural project for Spring of '10 to engage young artists and local businesses in cooperative projects that benefit everyone, and reinforce the principles of heads, hearts, and hands. Simple craft and artisan construction are pillars of MAS' core mission, giving back to the community is another. we are looking forward to this and other worthy endeavors as a way of saying "thank you" Belmont and Charlottesville for your support.

11/23 – Winter is Wonderful for Spanish Wines

At MAS we are not content to sit and wait for Springtime and have been busy tasting and selecting new wines, sherries, and brandies to enhance your tapas experience at MAS. The new selections all have one thing in common - they are delicious! from simple, by-the-glass value wines to a new exotic French varietal from Lebanon, all selections are very food-friendly, many fruit-forward, and some sublimely smooth and elegant from barrel-aging. we think you'll agree that there is something for everyone on our list from earthy, biodynamic and organic wines to sparkling, light effervescent cavas and rosados. we also made an effort to represent the older, more suave old-style wines that don't come on strong from the nose but are more subtle in their aromas and how they feel texture-wise. these should all be released by December.

11/23 – MAS Holiday Schedule

MAS in observance of the national holidays, will be closed Thanksgiving day, November 26th, and will re-open for regular hours Friday, November 27th. MAS will then close Christmas Eve and Christmas day, reopening the following Saturday, December 26th for regular hours. New Year's Eve we are open for our New Year Celebration and close the following New Year's day. Then our MAS-Aversary, M7, will be on Sunday, January 25th, look for your invitation soon! Please enjoy a safe, fun and wonderful holiday season and from all the MAS Mamacitas and Chamos, the very best to you and yours. Buen Provecho, Tomas

11/02 – Rock the Vote Again!

you may not realize but you are being asked to step up again and support candidates for office who believe in meaningful healthcare reform, sustainable land-use policies, infrastructure and transportation re-fitting, neighborhood development that is slow, kind, and resident friendly, and a myriad of other issues that never seem to go away. Please make a difference it's not too late - polls are open late for those who work in the mornings. and please keep those emails, letters and phone calls coming - we can make a difference - si podemos!

10/29 – The Sound of MAS

Thievery Corporation, the sound of MAS and many other night spots across the globe, will be playing tonight, Thursday October 29th from 8-11 at the Charlottesville Pavillion. Tickets are on sale online and at the gate. Thievery has amassed a huge following for its unique spin on old standards, genre-bending remixes and other-worldly takes on traditional music from around the globe. It's a sexy, fun and interesting way to spend the night together, you and MAS and Thievery - come to the show, eat tapas after like a rock star at our warm, cozy bar.

10/09 – No Smoking Status Approaching Virginia

the Commonwealth's newly designated statute banning smoking in doors at restaurants will come into full effect this December 1, 2009. while we've always had a separate no-smoking room, and a large, negative ionizer smoke-eater system, MAS will officially join the ranks of restos banning smoking indoors, proving once again that all things must pass.

09/02 – MAS takes top awards in local Best of C'Ville voting

Humbly noted, MAS has taken and been voted "best of" in C'Ville's annual readers' poll for 2009. Awards include Best dish, bacon-wrapped dates(the nirvana of tapas bites), best place to take a date (of course), hardest working waitstaff (amen), best small plates,(we are a tapas bar after all), and best restaurant, (truly blessed). we owe all of it to our amazing customers, their patience and loyalty and ability to appreciate hand-crafted foods, locally sourced, dutifully executed, and readers who once again recognized our effort, and for that we are truly grateful and salute you. here's to another amazing year of bringing sunny España to C'ville. It has been our pleasure to do so. Tomas

09/01 – Winter Season's Bounty

With the return of Winter we find that local farms are beginning their transformation into preparations for the Spring, vineyards have completed their harvests, with the remaining cold-weather crops still growing for harvest. we've been receiving kubotcha pumpkins, gala apples, brussel sprouts, collards, last of the sweet peppers, last of the padron peppers, with radicchio, chard, kale and more pumpkins on the horizon. chickens, ducks, baby goats, quail and rabbits aren't far behind. we also received over 100 pounds of pawpaws, an intoxicating native fruit like a cross between a ripe pear and a mango. we'll be trying to make some custards out of these ancient and delicious fruits.

the change of season also means a return to more slowly-cooked, richer and more substantial cocino like our Nieman's Ranch pork cheeks, creamy pumpkin bisque, leeks roasted in duck fat and saffron, brussels sprouts simmered in heavy cream, fresh thyme and smoked bacon, cold-smoked Coho Salmon, rabbit confitado with fennel, Manilla clams in a spicy green mole, and of course, our wood-fired cocas (crispy, smoky flatbreads). the lush green Spring made this year truly green and perhaps next year we'll see a nice wet Spring as well.

03/27 – Morels, Ramps and Wild Asparagus!

With Spring rains come delicious earthy treats from the forest in the form of wild Morels, the cousin to truffles, wild garlic known as ramps in these parts or rampos in Espana, and local wild asparagus. The cooling, steady rainfall and mild temperatures coax these delights out of their winter hibernation and onto our tables. We love this time of year specifically because of their basic, essential flavors of woodlands, soil, pungency and sweet tender shoots. MAS features them often wild a plump grain like Farro or spelt from Espana, or with a three-minute duck egg and grey sea salt. try them with a crisp, floral Albarino a lightly aged Oloroso sherry, or go all out with a spicy, minerally Priorato. we think you'll agree that Spring is special.

03/03 – Chef's Table Update

Recently i had the opportunity to enjoy an evening of tapas and wines with Pam and Peter Dewitz, two regular neighborhood customers who shared their comments and impressions with me on a cold January evening.

our menu was as follows:
grilled ♠asparagus and olives w/ La Gitana Manzanilla;
paleta de bellota w/ Passenau Ceps Nous Priorato '06;
fresh Virginica oysters w/ Can Blau Monstant '07;
spinach salad w/ pine nuts, golden raisins and Manchego;
grilled baby lamb chops, chicken and pork meatballs all also with the Can Blau '07; and finally some bocarones and Chateau Doisy Daine Sauternes de Barsac.

the pairings followed along complimentary lines but some were very contrasting like the bocarones and Sauterne, or the Ceps Nous w/ oysters. as always at MAS, we didn't really have an agenda and ordered whatever struck our fancy. such is the freedom of expression at MAS. Viva la differencia!

La Gitana Manzanilla. Asparagus is always tough to pair but the high alcohol and crisp acidity of the sherry was a good compliment.

Next we switched to a medium-bodied red wine for the acorn pork. the rich marbling of the bellota was beautifully mirrored in the silky, fruit-forward Priorato. the Manchego cheese that accompanied the paleta or shoulder, added a nice tartness to the buttery cured meat. I could have drunk this red wine all night but we switched to a more full-bodied wine w/ a little more gravitas in terms of texture and finish, the Can Blau Monstant '07, a cousin of the Priorato.

The oysters were deliciously pristine, crisp and briny, which was a nice compliment to the black cherry, toasted oak and astringent notes of the Monstant. you don't need any condiments for these oysters, a hybrid of eastern chesapeake oysters grown in around the San Juans near Vancouver.

we followed the oysters with our classic spinach salad w/ pine nuts, mango vinaigretta, golden raisins and Manchego cheese, again allowing the sweetness of the dressing to contrast w/ the astringency of the wine for a pleasant palate cleansing. Next was our grilled lamb chops w/ herbal mojo verde, a smoky, earthy compliment to the toasty oak and leather of the Monstant. as with all pairings different facets of a wine are revealed by different pairings, all a testament to the skill of the winemakers. we finished the meal with some of our stalwart tapas, the albondigas or meatballs, made from chicken and pork with our smoky, pungent Romesco sauce, and our Cantabrian white anchovies or bocarones. if you haven't tried these anchovies you won't believe how fresh, clean and delicious they are. they'll make a seal out of anyone!

at last we tried the Chateau Doisy Daine, a remarkable dry Sauterne from Barsac in Bordeaux, from the pre-eminent family of white wine in France. i know, we only serve Spanish wine at MAS and that is true but this, like the Tokai on our dessert wine list are just too scrumptious to pass up.

12/08 – Jamon Iberico de Bellota is here!

The world-renowned acorn ham from Spain has arrived at MAS and what a revelation. Moist, tender and oh so delicious the flavor of wild acorns and mast melt in your with the richness one would expect from an old, dry-aged steak. We are pleased to offer the 2 year-old Jamon Iberico de Belotta and the Palleta de Iberico, a shoulder cut, and are awaiting the chorizo. We still feature the 18 month old Reserva Jamon Serrano as well. These are arguably the best Jamon in the world and sustainably produced. Years back when MAS was a big baby a local gentleman, Steve Provence had the vision to produce these Jamon locally and the effort, while noble, soon ended with one Jamon for MAS. The fabled pata negra, or blackfoot pigs are the secret and their meat is extraordinary for its suppleness and beneficial omega-3's and "healthy" fats, i.e., not hydrogenated, or industrially manipulated for weight gain, flavor or effect. As well they are free-ranging pigs with acorns and hot summers on the Dehesas strewn with Holm Oaks. Come see what the fuss is all about. You can thank me later.

12/05 – Record Year For Local Products

We at MAS have had what can only be described as a record year for local produce, poultry, wild harvested and game foods. With several years of srought behind us we finally broke through with Spring and Summer rains plentiful enough to help sustain local growers and farms through two full seasons. Notwithstanding the rains, the skill and diversity of local artisan and heritage farmers is extraordinary and much appreciated. I would personally like to thank the following for helping MAS preserve and present some very tasty and traditional tapas through their undying support for organic and sustainable practices: Piedmont Environmental Council, Double H Farm, Roundabout Farm, Manakintowne Specialty Growers, Gryffon's Aerie Heritage Meats, Bessette Farm, Planet Earth Diversified, United Export Services, Caromont Farm, and all the little wild harvesters that brought us beautiful morels, hen-of-the-woods, matsutake, and chanterelle mushrooms. Did I mention the numerous neighbors who generously shared their tomatoes, basil and herbs with us. We salute you and support all you are doing. See you next Spring!

11/30 – MAS and Marion Kingdon

MAS, and Charlottesville has lost one of it dearest and most talented friends, Marion Kingdon. Marion was instrumental in helping MAS from its inception on the drawing board, shepherding MAS through the birthing process and establishing it as one of Charlottesville's most unique destinations. I could never do her justice in such a small space but she was loved by all. Her dedication to MAS was without question as we spent many cold days in our warehouse staging area plotting and planning our creation. I don't know what I would have done without her resolute and positive contributions which ranged from the sublime of estate antique silverplate flatwear and sterling candlelabras on the concrete bar, to her input as we developed the innovative menu of tapas and brought PBR on draft back to Charlottesville's working classes. Marion loved Belmont so much that she and her husband Jim bought and remodeled a lovely house down the street from MAS where they have been raising their young son John, a prolific devourer of MAS Tapas lamb chops, broccolini and gambas al parilla.
Always ready to help whoever was in need, she displayed an unselfish, generous and kind spirit with a genteel and elegant flair. Many may remember her boutique, "Golightly" where she often schooled me on pocketbook issues and Audrey Hepburn. I'd like to think she and Audrey would have gotten along famously. Her wit and wisdom, media savvy and love of family, good wine, life and friends endeared Marion to all who knew her. She was a friend, a great mom, loving wife, a founder and a dear friend and we will sorely miss her. Tomas

07/01 – The Return of Sangria!

At last we have been given the greenlight to serve our traditional sangria again after an absence of over six months. The General Assembly in all its wisdom has seen fit to modify the original pre-prohibition law forbidding the mixing of spirits with wine or beer. Unfortunately this change of heart took many months and hundreds if not thousands of letters from customers and restaurants. So come on by, the patio is open and the sangria is chilled. Saludos!

06/20 – Chef's Table Update

Chef Tomas Rahal got a chance to sit down with Kate Malay of the UVA Alumni Association and Juan Esteves a web analyst for Crutchfield Electronics. Over the course of the evening they got to sample ten different tapas and several wines. Here's what they thought.

Brick Oven Bread: "Moist, chewy, delicious with the extra virgin olive oil"

Cebollas Asados: Our oven roasted baby Vidalia onions "Please don't ever change these. They are creamy, a little smokey, and very tender"

Paquettes de Uvas: Grapes Leaves Stuffed With Lamb "Meaty, with a lemony tang, I enjoyed the lamb and rice filling"

Ensalada de Radicchio: Green Salad of Frisee, Radicchio, Walnuts, Blackberries, and Blue Cheese "Simply great!"

Ostras Frescas: Fresh Mirada Oysters from WA State "These were perfect oysters. Briny, a little sweet too, perfect with our cava"

Vierias Chamuscadas: Pan Seared Sea Scallops with Pequillo Mojo "Nicely done and perfectly seared."

Mollejas Salteadas: Veal Sweetbreads with Ham, Star Anise, and Fig Glaze "Delicious, what a unique dish"

Pescado con Ensalada de Hinojo: Hand Caught Mahi-Mahi with Fennel Blood Orange Salad " You had an uphill battle getting me to eat Mahi-Mahi and fennel, but I really liked these two together a lot."

Montidito de Carne: Open Faced Wagyu Sandwich with Spicy Mustard and Radicchio "Good, but maybe more salt next time."

©2014 Mas Tapas

Charlottesville Restaurant Group