Wednesday, January 31, 2007

And the Certificate Goes To...

First of all, the "Generosity Award" goes to Greg Pullen from Bin 22 in Carytown. He donated a $25 gift certificate. What a great guy. Go eat at Bin 22!

So, thanks to Greg and everyone at Bin 22, the $25 grand prize goes to Tripp from Clio - My Musings

A $10 gift certificate to The Belmont Butchery (courtesy of pjpink) goes to Ross who hosts RVA Blogs

Thanks to all who helped me celebrate 100!

Tuesday, January 30, 2007

100th Post!

To celebrate my 100th post, I'm giving away a $10 gift certificate to a Richmond food-related establishment. I haven't decided which establishment, yet. And I will be giving away only one certificate. The first person to email me with name and address will be the lucky recipient! You can reach me at

Happy 100th Post!!!

Wednesday, January 24, 2007

Viognier & Winter Wine Specials at CanCan

The other night we wandered over to CanCan. Currently, they are focusing on Vins de Pays or regional French wines. The best gem we found turned out to be a white: Miquel Laurent Vin de Pays D'oc Viognier. Ever since I discovered this grape at a Virginia Winery many, many years ago, I have had a disappointing love affair with this white grape. Usually, Viognier has an extremely floral nose. The wine literally smells like flowers. Alas, the taste does not approach the bouquet. The area in France that produces appellation Viogniers is Condrieu. These wines are prohibitively expensive. The Viognier at CanCan had hardly a nose at all, but the taste overwhelmed us with flowers, particularly orchids. What a find!

There are several ways to enjoy this Viognier as well as the many other gems that CanCan carries. Check out these wine specials now through April:

Sunday - Half Price Vin de Pays Bottles
Monday - $5 Regional Wine by the Glass
Tuesday - 50% Off Reserve Wine List
Wednesday - Half Price House Wine
Thursday - $3 Half Glass of Wine
Friday - Open Glass Night - All wines from Brasserie List available by the glass
Saturday - Half Price Sparkling Wine by the Bottle

A Votre Sante!

The Hospitality of Friends

Over the weekend we relied on the hospitality of friends. We began with sopressata and Serrano from The Belmont Butchery along with Spanish olives stuffed with anchovies. The main course consisted of Indian Butter Chicken, rice, and green beans with grated lemon peel. The chicken had a wonderfully spicy (not hot) yogurt sauce. And we were also treated to homemade naan. The flat strips of dough puffed up like magic on a preheated pizza stone. And the sauce just begged for the naan! Dessert ended up being a delicious hodgepodge: fudge brownie, dulche de leche ice cream, and winesap apples and currents sautéed in port. The big surprise turned out to be the beverage accompanying dessert: White Port direct from Oporto. The port had the look and consistency of tawny port but did not have the nuttiness and was smoother to drink. The nectar paired well with our variety of sweets. We are indeed fortunate to have such wonderful compatriots!

Saturday, January 20, 2007

Davis & Main

We have already grown tired of the takeout routine, so, last night we headed over to River City Cellars for the Friday night tasting (they had a very tasty 2005 Brouilly) and then walked to Davis & Main. We were a little surprised at how smoky the place was. We didn’t see anyone currently smoking at the bar, thus, we determined it was the leftover odor from the night before. But it was cold, we were tired, so we stayed anyway. We had a bottle of 14 Hands Merlot from Washington State. Very fruity and easy to drink. And we both ordered the NY Strip Special (medium rare) with sautéed peppers and onions and garlic mashed potatoes. The steak was indeed medium rare and had a nice char-grill flavor on the outside. Unfortunately, our steak knives may as well have been butter knives. We had a very hard time cutting up the meat. I enjoyed the peppers and onions, but we should have gotten more of them – 3 strips of each seemed rather skimpy. But I raved about the potatoes – more like smashed potatoes complete with peel. These were perfect for a cold evening.

Davis & Main was decent, but I will probably stick to the burger next time. Our steaks were $25.00 a piece and did not come with a salad and very few vegetables. This place is not upscale enough to warrant outrageous prices. And the out-of-town family from Texas was a bit annoying. They parked right in front of the restaurant and blocked a fire hydrant. The driver even looked at it as she got out of her SUV with a cell phone stuck to her ear. At least they were not local.

Thursday, January 18, 2007

Kitchen Renovation Saga - Part 1

My husband and I have taken the plunge. We are in the process of renovating our kitchen. We are doing most of the work ourselves. And while the floor is being recovered (terra cotta tile with blue dots) and our stove and sink are out of commission, we are either eating out, calling for delivery, or picking up takeout. We also hope to rely on the generosity of a few friends, as well. So far, we have eaten outside on a balmy evening at Coppola's (I'm still partial to the Industrial, grilled, with no tomatoes), a pizza delivered by Zorba's on MacArthur (onion, green pepper, pepperoni, and extra cheese), Kabuto's on Midlothian to celebrate the Eiffel Tartan's birthday (did you realize that a Japanese establishment can actually NOT have hot tea???), Cuban sandwiches with a Cafe con Leche chaser at Kuba Kuba (yummy as always), fried chicken, potato wedges, and green beans from Ukrop's (the green beans pretty much sucked), and Marinated Grilled Chicken Salad and Chicken Parmesan with Spaghetti from The Crazy Greek (the house dressing is wonderful).

I'll be glad to have my kitchen back.

Wednesday, January 10, 2007

Informal Dinner Party

We had friends over for dinner last Friday night. The weather was way too warm for January, but we took advantage of it and enjoyed the first course outside on our back deck. The menu is listed below:

First Course

Fol-Epi Cheese – A slightly nutty, buttery French cheese

Pyrenees with Green Peppercorn Cheese – Semi-soft piquant cow’s milk cheese

Saucisson Sec Sausage – House-cured pork from The Belmont Butchery

Blue Skies Crackers - Available at Tan-A Grocery


2004 Terrazas de los Andes Reserva Malbec, Mendoza, Argentina

Second Course

Chicken Breasts with Green Olives and Capers

Sauteed Carrots in a Lemon-Butter Sauce

Orzo with Parsley, Fresh-ground Black Pepper, and Grated Romano Cheese


2003 Les Chevrefeuilles Domaine La Remejeanne, Cotes du Rhone, France

1999 Domaine Bois De Boursan, Chateauneuf-du-Pape, France


Macaroons with Grated Orange Peel


2004 Nachtgold Eiswein, Rheinhessen, Germany

Dark Roast Espresso-style Coffee

What a treat to host a casual multi-course meal! My general strategy was to do as much of the second course prep work before our guests arrived. We had a very easy-to-prepare first course and I did no cooking while we enjoyed the appetizers al fresco. As folks had more wine and digested the first course, I prepared the main meal while everyone gathered in the kitchen and chatted. We ate the next course in the dining room at a very leisurely pace. Dessert was a breeze because our guests brought the sweets. I believe it was a delightful evening for all.

Monday, January 08, 2007

Coinjock Marina & Restaurant

If you are heading down to or coming back from the Outer Banks and you need to stop for sustenance, get off the beaten path (in this case Rt. 12) and head to the Coinjock Marina & Restaurant. Located at 321 Waterlily Rd. along the Intracoastal Waterway, the restaurant is a quiet little spot with great food. We arrived for lunch on a Sunday and soon discovered that this is the place for locals after church as well as a favorite for police, fire, and other service sector personnel. And if you are traversing by boat, you can put in at the dock for some fine eating. Colleen, our waitress, was pleasant and capable, serving us house-made potato chips as we were seated. The establishment serves dinner selections all day and also offers a sandwich menu for lunch as well as daily specials. There is also a decent wine list. My hubby ordered the Fried Shrimp dinner with fries, slaw, and hush puppies ($15.99). Lots of large-sized shrimp barely breaded. Very yummy. I initially was going to order the chicken sandwich, but one of the specials for the day was home-made Chicken and Dumplings ($10.99). As we traveled back to Richmond and the day had become cloudy and dreary, this comfort dish turned out to be perfect. Pulled chicken meat (both light and dark meat), a thick broth, and flat dumplings. We have traveled Rt. 12 for years without venturing to this tucked-away restaurant. It will now be the only place to stop.

How to Dress Up a Goose

I cooked a goose over the holidays. It turned out to be a memorable meal, but not necessarily because of the goose. Don’t get me wrong. I enjoyed the goose. It was very similar to duck. We only partook of the goose breast the first night, and I managed to cook the breast to medium, thus, the meat did not dry out. I used an electric roaster as well, which I highly recommend. The rack in the roaster allowed the fat to drip off of the goose, and there were no concerns about fires from the goose fat. Despite my success with the bird itself, it was the Tawny Port Gravy that my husband and I raved about. The gravy is one of Emeril Lagasse’s recipes from The Food Network. We were so pleased with the gravy that I will be making it to accompany future duck and/or pheasant dishes. Here is my slightly tweaked version:

Tawny Port Gravy

2 teaspoons olive oil

Giblets and neck from the goose (I halved the goose neck to fit better in the pot)

1 sweet onion, chopped

2 carrots, chopped

Salt, freshly ground, to taste

Black pepper, freshly ground, to taste

5 bay leaves

Dried thyme, to taste

2 tablespoons flour

2 cups Tawny port (I used Benjamin Australia Tawny Port @ ~$10 a bottle)

2 cups water

In a sauce pan that can eventually accommodate all of the liquid, heat oil over medium-high heat. Add the goose parts and brown, stirring, 3-4 minutes. Add the onion, carrots, salt, pepper, bay leaves, and thyme and cook, stirring often for 5-10 minutes, or until onions soften. Add the flour and stir. At this point you may be scraping the flour from the bottom of the pan. Do this for about 5 minutes (or lees, if you can’t stand the scraping any longer). Add the port and scrape all of the bits one last time. Bring port to a boil, stirring occasionally, for about 5 minutes. Add the water and bring to a boil. Reduce heat to medium and simmer for about an hour. The liquid should reduce down to about two cups. Remove from heat and strain into a clean pot. Keep warm until ready to serve. Ladle over goose breast or other wild game bird. Enjoy.

My husband and I were thrilled with the results. The gravy was sweet and slightly nutty. The harshness of the alcohol had evaporated. It really was a perfect accompaniment to the gaminess of the bird. We also ate sautéed green beans and shallots as well as goose fat roasted fingerling potatoes.

I used the leftover goose meat to make a Goose Shepherd’s Pie. I also made goose stock and rendered the goose fat.

Tuesday, January 02, 2007

Texas de Brazil

Texas de Brazil, recently opened in Regency Square Mall, greeted us with a diverse trio of hostesses amid old world Spanish décor. My husband had run across a 25% coupon, and we decided to give ourselves an early Christmas treat. As it happened, my sweetie left the coupon at home, thus, I waited in the lounge area, replete with cozy sofas. The bartender never even looked my way to offer a drink or even to say Happy Holidays. Thank goodness the rest of the staff knew how to portray customer service. Texas de Brazil is a Churrascaria or a Brazilian Steakhouse and focuses on grilled meats (all you can eat) accompanied by a “salad bar.” Prices tended to be steep - $39.99 for the combined salad bar and grilled meat bonanza. Wine, drinks, and desserts were extra. There was a $29.99 option (I’m not sure for what), but our coupon was for the entire deal, so, we plunged on in. Well, we first perused the wine list. As with most upscale chain restaurants, the wine prices are beyond the pale. While we drooled over the list, we tended to gape over the more than twice retail price. We did discover a Buehler Zinfandel for $31.00 and promptly ordered it. The “salad bar” came first. But this was no ordinary salad bar. In fact, only two bowls of leafy lettuce presented itself. The rest of the bar was literally a feast itself. Listed is what I remember:

Lobster bisque

Black beans (hubby raved about these)

Jasmine rice

Sautéed carrots



Manchego cheese

Fresh mozzarella balls

Grilled provolone

Other cheeses

Roasted red and yellow peppers

Grilled zucchini

Seared sashimi tuna

Shrimp salad


Caperberries (I was thrilled to see these)

Herbed green and black olives

A wide variety of olive oils and aged Balsamic vinegars

What a chore to reserve our main meal for the grilled meats! We truly enjoyed the “salad bar” with its wide variety.

But on to the meat! At our table we encountered round disks – green on one side, red on the other. The grilled meats were presented by gauchos brandishing tall sword-like skewers of succulent carnivorous heaven (the gauchos were easy on the eye as well). When our disks were green, a gaucho presented a skewer. If our disks were red, he walked on by. What an assortment – Brazilian sausage, chicken wrapped in bacon, pork loin, beef tenderloin wrapped in bacon, flank steak, sirloin, etc., etc. Every time a new item passed by we flagged down the gaucho. All of the beef was prepared medium rare, but could be cooked to our preference. Since medium rare worked for us, we did not need to make any special requests. We discovered that the beef, particularly the flank steak and the sirloin, tasted the best. And the salad bar had chimichurri sauce to accompany the beef which was delightful. We also were served side dishes of garlic mashed potatoes and grilled bananas as well as rolls. Needless to say we stuffed ourselves. One of the managers arrived at our table to inquire if we were finished. We moaned, yes. Then he asked if we had tried the beef ribs. When we replied no, he said, “Well, you are not done yet.” He whisked our old plates away and returned with carved slivers of beef ribs. Yes, they were delicious as well.

Texas de Brazil is not a place I would frequent on a regular basis, but the food was good quality and offered a wide variety. I would think twice if not for the 25% coupon, except, maybe, for a special occasion. The other disconcerting discovery was how fast we ate and waddled out of the place. While a nice dinner will generally take us two hours or more to enjoy, we were at the stuffed phase in about an hour much to our dismay. Next time, we have a coupon in hand and we slow down enough to chew our food