Sunday, September 21, 2008

Fried Potatoes and Onions

Last night we had a simple meal of bacon-spiked scrambled eggs and fried potatoes and onions. Here is how I prepared the potatoes:

Fried Potatoes and Onions

5 medium Yukon Gold potatoes
½ cup onion, diced
2 tablespoons bacon grease (other alternatives include peanut oil or olive oil; if you want to be truly decadent, use duck fat)

Scrub potatoes clean and place them whole in a pot. Cover with water. Add 1 teaspoon salt. Boil for ½ an hour. Take potatoes out of the pot and set them aside to cool. While the potatoes are cooling, heat up bacon grease in a non-stick pan (I use an electric skillet at 300 degrees) and sauté the onions until tender. Dice up the potatoes (with or without the skins – your choice). Add the potatoes to the skillet and spread them out in an even layer. Add salt and pepper to taste. Let potatoes and onions cook for 7-10 minutes. Flip potatoes and onions over and let cook another 7-10 minutes. Onions should be golden brown and potatoes should be tender and beginning to brown. Serve immediately.

We toasted our simple meal with Saint-Germain Blanc de Blancs Brut, an inexpensive French sparkling wine.


For lunch yesterday we wandered over to Willow Lawn to try Sticks Kebob Shop.

Originally, from Charlottesville, they have recently opened in Richmond. The space is brightly painted and art work from the Crossroads Art Center graced the walls, which I thought was a very nice local touch. The ordering concept features picking a sandwich ($5.99 - $7.49), salad ($6.75 - $8.25), or platter ($7.49 - $8.99). Then pick a stick (or kebob). Options include mixed veggies, chicken, beef, pork, shrimp, or lamb. Select a sauce for your kebob – Cucumber-Yogurt, Fire-Roasted Pepper, Sesame-Lemon Vinaigrette, or Creamy Cilantro-Lime. If you pick a platter then you also pick a side – ranging from Hummus to Tabouleh to Roasted Eggplant Salad. Fries ($1.99) and onion rings ($2.49) can be ordered as extras. Limeades, Mango Lemonades, the usual assortment of beverages and beer are available in the liquid refreshment department.

We had a lot of decisions to make. I chose the sandwich (no tomato) with the African Spiced Pork Loin kebob and the creamy cilantro-lime sauce ($6.49). I added grilled onions for an extra $.75. The kebob was wrapped in a grilled flatbread. To drink I ordered the “fresh squeezed” limeade ($1.95). My grilled kebob delicately sported some spices, but the taste was lost with the sauce and the onions. And while the sauce, onions and grilled flatbread were all tasty for the $7.25 price tag, I did not seem to get a lot of food. And even though the limeade said “fresh-squeezed” it came out of one of those beverage circulators. All of the squeezing must have occurred in the morning before opening (I hope).

My hubby ordered the platter with the Chili-Spiked Beef Sirloin kebob ($7.99) with the cucumber-yogurt sauce and Tabouleh. The platter came with Basmati rice and grilled flatbread.

Once again the sauce over-powered the slightly spiced beef. He really liked the rice and the Tabouleh was decent. Still, for the price, the meal seemed skimpy.

Sticks has a neat concept that focuses on grilled preparations and not fried ones. It also offers plenty of veggie options. But we paid almost $20 for lunch and non-alcoholic beverages and left wanting to go across the street and order a Dairy Queen Blizzard because we were not satisfied. With Jason’s Deli just a few doors down and Panera Bread and Chipotle across the street, the competition will be fierce.

Willow Lawn Plaza
1700 Willow Lawn Dr. #115

Saturday, September 20, 2008

Perbacco! Edible Garden Lunch

This week I learned that "Perbacco!"means "Wow!" in Italian, and I discovered lunch at Edible Garden.

Yesterday - What a perfect perbacco day. Sunny with just enough fluffy clouds that the light breeze could gently push around. I reveled in the beginning-of-Fall temperature. Friends unexpectedly asked me to lunch at Edible Garden and the gods had blessed me with free space on my calendar.

We, of course, ate outside and fraternized with a precious Chihuahua at the neighboring table. During lunch we also marveled at a hawk and a Monarch butterfly among the grounds. Alas, I had to go back to work, thus, no wine (if I have one glass, I'll inevitably want another). The lunch menu offered salads, quiche of the day, soup of the day, and sandwiches. I had decided to order the Saffron Marinated Sliced Roast Pork with an Assorted Pepper Relish, Monterey Jack Cheese, Shredded Lettuce & Chipotle Aioli on a Wrap. And then I heard about the soup of the day - Potato and Arugula with Arugula Pesto. I then changed my order to the soup and 1/2 sandwich (or wrap in this case). I really enjoyed the wrap - lots of great flavors going on, but the soup was THE BEST. Perbacco!

I still have to try Edible Garden for dinner, but I'm glad I have at least been for lunch. I also need to check out the Autumn Dinner Series.

Edible Garden on Urbanspoon

Monday, September 15, 2008

Vietti and Benziger Will Make My Week

Two outstanding wine shops are featuring two outstanding free tastings this week.

First up is J. Emerson on Wed. Sept. 17th from 5:30-7:30 PM. The folks there are featuring one of my favorite Italian producers - Vietti.

2007 Roero Arneis
2006 Barbara d'Asti Tre Vigne
2005 Barbera d'Alba Scarrone Vigna Vecchia
2005 Nebbiolo Perbacco
2004 Barolo Castiglione
2007 Moscato d'Asti

And then on Thurs. Sept. 18th from 5:30-7:30 PM The Wine Cellar off of Midlothian Turnpike will host a special evening with Erinn Benziger of the Sonoma-based Benziger Winery.

Both promise to be extrodinary tastings. I am just so excited!

Sunday, September 14, 2008

Seek Comfort at O'Toole's

We attempted to enjoy the 43rd St. Festival of the Arts. Unfortunately, the heat seared our flesh and our brains. And while we wanted to try some of the food vendors, the humidity blurred the menu offerings. We gave up and headed for O'Toole's Restaurant and Pub. I'm embarrassed to say we had never been here, even when they announced a no smoking policy. What can I say? Too many restaurants, so little time.

We began with two glasses of water (yes, it was that hot!), and followed it up with a draft Harp and a margarita on the rocks. Menu choices abounded. We were tempted by the onion rings. Plates of HUGE batter fried rounds wafted by us. Our eyes and heads followed. Our necks whipped us back to our booth. No rings for us this time. Instead we ordered a crab cake sandwich with steak fries and grilled corned beef and swiss on rye with mashed potatoes. (Most menu options came with a choice of a side - lots of potato varieties as well as mac and cheese and veggies.) The sandwiches and fries were decent pub fare. Nothing earth shattering, but good comfort food. The wow factor was the mashed potatoes. The real deal here with lots of tender chunks and swimming in a salted butter-like substance. I know, I know, not healthy but oh-my-god-good.

We will be back to try a number of things: onion rings, fish and chips, chopped sirloin, open-faced turkey sandwiches...

O'Toole's Restaurant & Pub

4800 Forest Hill Ave.

Richmond, VA 23225


O'Tooles on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 13, 2008

50th Annual Armenian Food Festival Sept. 18-21

St. James Armenian Church located at the corner of Patterson and Pepper Avenues will host the 50th Annual Armenian Food Festival Sept. 18-21. We went last year and had a great time. Check out their website for the times and the list of foods and prices. They will also feature Armenian beer and wine.

Got Good Crust?

Arianna's Grill does.

We journeyed there to try their pizza last night after tasting a selection of Hogue and Chateau Ste. Michelle wines at The Wine Cellar.

Small place - about five large booths and five tables. Exposed brick. Fruit and vegetable art gracing the walls. Line of site to the busy kitchen and pizza ovens.

We ordered a 2005 Lodali Nebbiolo d"Alba (light, fruity red). We were thankful for a wine list with decent choices. And, to eat, we chose the Arianna's Special pizza with pepperoni, sausage, mushrooms, green peppers, and onions. The tiny restaurant was packed with diners, so our pizza took a bit of time. Understandable. And we enjoyed our pie. It was heaped with diced peppers and onions. I knew I was getting some veggies. The thin sliced mushrooms and sausage were decently generous, as well. Not as much pepperoni topped the pizza and since the sausage was so strong they were over shadowed. By themselves, the pepperoni tasted very spicy. We briefly mourned the lost flavor. A nice helping of cheese, but the sauce was almost non-existent. The crust was good crunchy and good chewy. Yummy, yummy.

While we ate other diners had ordered salads, pasta dishes, and subs. The pasta dishes induced the most mouth-watering moments, as well as the rolls.

We plan to return to take advantage of other delights. And although Arianna's delivers, alas, they limit the delivery area to the Fan and West End. If Northside ever becomes and option, I will consider delivery.

Arianna's Grill
700 N. Sheppard St.
Richmond, VA 23221

Arianna's Grill on Urbanspoon

Wednesday, September 10, 2008

Mark Your Calendar for Wine Opener November 6

The 4th Annual Richmond Wine Opener to benefit the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation will be held November 6 from 6-9 PM in the Rotunda at the Science Museum on Broad Street. John from Anything Wine has a great write up of the event. He has also created a nifty little widget to add to your blog in order to spread the word. Tickets are only $65 per person in advance and $35 is tax deductible. The event will feature tastings of over 150 wines from across the globe as well as scrumptious nibbles by local eateries.

To purchase tickets go to the Cystic Fibrosis Foundation website or call Amy McCracken at 804-527-1500.

Sunday, September 07, 2008

Hess Collection Mount Veeder 19 Block Cuvée - 2005

Hess Collection Mount Veeder 19 Block Cuvée - 2005

I have now had this wine twice at The Barrel Thief ($9 a glass and $27 a bottle). The blend is superb with a hearty mouth feel. It's the taste that comes to my mind when a Napa meritage is mentioned.

And The Barrel Thief's price is great. The Hess website sells it for $36.

Bistro 27 We Came For The Food

On Friday my husband and I ate at Bistro 27 before dodging rain drops during First Fridays. We had dined here over a year ago with mixed feelings. This time we could rave a bit more. Although there were a couple of flubs. I still have no idea if this place is non-smoking or not, but for the couple of hours when we were there, no one lit up. I continue to admire the two story ceilings and the huge windows.

We ordered wine - a 2005 Pont de Crillon Cotes du Rhone from the $27 and under wine list. Unfortunately, a 2006 arrived. After some discussion, we decided to stick with it (is it too hard to print out a new list?). We liked the wine, but the 2006 traded in the heartiness of the 2005 for more of a spiciness. My other gripe was that the $27 and under wine menu did not reveal any prices. Were there any below $27? How much below? The menu featured one of my favorite Argentinian Malbecs, but if it was $27 a bottle, that would be almost three times retail.

But we didn't come just for the wine. We came for the food, too. And the food turned out to be the highlight.

For starters:

Rillettes of Duck - $10 Pulled pork and duck slowly roasted served with toasted bread, cornichons, and mustard This could have been a meal. I had a generous amount of succulent pork and duck (mostly pork). Spinach in a light vinaigrette accompanied the plate.

Classic Caesar Salad - $6 Sounded simple enough, but my hubby raved about it. He thought it was the best Caesar he had ever consumed. He really liked the generous portion of shaved Parmesan that topped the greens.


Ravioli di Manzo e Fontina - $14 Homemade ravioli of beef, fontina cheese, and herbs in a tomato cream sauce The beef was so tender and the ravioli so light. A deceptively rich and very delicious dish. "Mmmm" and "Oh my God" regularly entered my vocabulary.

Misto Fritti - $21 Fried prawn, flounder, scallops, and calamari served with parsley aioli and fried zucchini Generous portions in a light batter. My husband enjoyed the scallops the most. The shrimp were large and sweet (yes I begged for a taste).

We were too stuffed for dessert.

We would definitely return for the food.

After dinner we strolled Broad Street to enjoy the art festivities.

Twenty Seven on Urbanspoon

Saturday, September 06, 2008

Chicken Noodle Soup

Even though it's humid outside, the dreariness (due to Hanna) dictates that I make Chicken Soup. Here is my recipe for Chicken Noodle Soup:

Chicken Noodle Soup

1 whole chicken cut up or whole with skin removed
1 yellow or sweet onion, diced
3 – 4 carrots, diced
1 tsp. dried thyme (or to taste)
1 tsp. dried lavender (or to taste)
salt and pepper to taste
4 – 6 ounces dried egg noodles

Place chicken in stock pot. Fill pot with water. Add a teaspoon of salt. Let water come to a boil and then reduce heat. Cook chicken for about an hour or until chicken is cooked through and easily pulls away from the bone. Remove chicken from pot and set aside to cool. Add onion, carrots, herbs, salt and pepper to pot. Simmer while chicken cools. When chicken is cool enough to handle, debone and shred. Put shredded chicken in pot and simmer about ½ hour. Adjust seasonings as desired. Put dried egg noodles into pot to cook. Soup is ready to serve when egg noodles are done.

Artini 2008

While the square pink flyers did not specify that Bistro Twenty Seven was participating in Artini 2008, they did feature a special martini for First Fridays Art Walk - Vodka, Bacardi Limon, Triple Sec and Mint. More than enough to thumb our nose at Hanna.

The official Artini 2008 restaurant list includes:

Avenue 805
Cabo's Corner Bistro
Can Can
Down Under Restaurant and Lounge
The White Dog
Lucky Buddha
Kitchen 64
Nile Ethiopian Restaurant
Rendezvous Restaurant and Lounge

From now until September 27 $1 from the sales of each of these restaurants' special concoctions will go to benefit First Fridays.

I will drink to that!