Saturday, October 31, 2009

Fall at South of the James Market

The South of the James Market gave us a drizzly welcome today, but a myriad of vendors continue to proffer their wares. Over the last few weeks we have enjoyed:

The return of red and oak leaf lettuce from Victory Farms (these guys have the best lettuce)

Cute little hedgehog gourds from a Chesterfiled County producer

Speckled turkey eggs from Empress Farm

Cinnamon-laced whipped butter from Alfredo's (think delectable Christmas presents!)

Golden Staymen apples from Walnut Creek Farm

Sausage-stuffed tortellini from Cavanna Pasta

Japanese white turnips from Victory Farms or Fertile Crescent Farm - let me expound on the turnips a bit. I have never liked turnips. My mom (who eats and likes way more veggies than I do) positively hates turnips. My hubby convinced me to try these. Miracles do happen. I like this variety. They are not bitter. I have used them in stews and have also made mashed potatoes and turnips. Next up, I will try roasting them. And, at last, I like a vegetable that my mother does not like (although, I think if a snuck some in her food she would be pleasantly surprised...)

An Exquisite Wine

2005 La Reine Des Bois Domaine de la Mordoree from Lirac.

Available at J. Emerson.

Local Beef Sources

The Vino Market is carrying Deb-Lyn Natural Beef from Dinwiddie. We picked up a thin cut rib eye for $13 a pound. Great price. Great taste. Locally grown.

The Belmont Butchery is carrying Beechwood Farm beef from Goochland. We had a bistro steak this past week pan seared in olive oil and butter. Also $13 a pound. Yummy.

Wild Ginger

If you find yourself on the Southside of Richmond in need of dinner, head over to Wild Ginger. We found ourselves south of the river one Friday and headed over The Vino Market for their wine tasting (Dave, Hunter, and gang are always welcoming). We also browsed in the newly opened Bella Arte Gallery. Both establishments highly recommended Wild Ginger as THE place to dine.

So, we tried it. And if you find yourself dining at Wild Ginger, ask for Chris. This multi-pierced, yet clean-cut and sharp-pressed waiter will treat you right.

Wild Ginger featured Pan Asian cuisine and an extensive and decent-priced wine list. The atmosphere evoked a contemporary hipness. Were we really South of the James and bordering Powhatan?

As usual we slowly perused the menu and the wine list. Maki Rolls, small plates featuring Grilled Lamb Lollipops and Sashimi Napoleon cried out for us to try. Entrees of Sambal Shrimp and Pork Chops in a Malay Coffee Sauce seduced our tastebuds. Chris gave us a run down of the specials for the evening as well as the featured Italian wine. He ascertained that we were definitely going to order some wine. He then went on to tell us about his favorite wine on the list - Patricia Green Pinot Noir. We listened politely and asked for more time. He left us to make our decisions. And after about five minutes he returned with two sample glasses - one of the featured Italian red and one of the Patricia Green Pinot. Wow! This had never happened before where a waiter handed us wine to sample to assist in making our decision. And while we liked the Italian and would have considered ordering it any other time, the Patty G simply blew us away. I had always heard about this Oregon Pinot, but had never had it. With Chris' simple, yet generous gesture, I became a fan of both him and the wine and we ordered a bottle. And at $50 retail, it was extremely well-priced. As we saw Chris serve other tables he continued to use this selling technique to great advantage both for him and for his diners.

So, the tone was set. We luxuriated in our surprisingly hearty, yet silky smooth red and proceeded to order dinner. My spouse ordered the special Halloween Maki Roll featuring tuna and an eerie glow cube. Both fun and delicious. He also had an order of Wild Ginger Fried Rice with cashews, red peppers, raisins, pineapple, and edamame ($11). The rice was very interesting. My first thought was that the pineapple and raisins would dominate the dish and make it too sweet. This was not the case. All of the ingredients were subtle and added up to a wonderful taste experience.

I finally decided upon the Two88 Roll with shrimp tempura, avocado, spicy lump crab, and eel sauce ($14). I also ordered Yellowtail Sushi Nigiri ($5.25). I think this roll was the favorite for both of us. Great flavors with an added crunchy texture. The avocado was sliced thin (I have no idea how) and wrapped around the shrimp with the crab mixture on top. And, of course, the presentation also evoked oohs and aahs. Beauty to be savored by both the eye and the tongue.

A great evening. A new favorite dining spot. Remember, ask for Chris.

Wild Ginger on Urbanspoon

Happy Halloween Richmond!

Thursday, October 29, 2009

River City Supper Club #8 - Barrel Thief on Patterson

River City Supper Club #8 convened at The Barrel Thief on Patterson on a Saturday evening. We arrived at 7 PM to a patron-free establishment. This was good in some ways – we had our pick of table location, we could peruse the wine selection at our leisure. In some ways it was not so good – staff was still not focused and neglected to tell us that us that there is no corkage fee on Saturdays.

Out of the featured red wines that we sampled, only one was truly kick-ass: 2007 Domaine des Hauts Chassis Crozes Hermitage. Hearty and priced right.

Our other selections were Patapon – an interesting non-conformist French red from Coteaux de Loir

And Travaglini Gattinara – nice Italian in the skewed bottle.

We ordered three small slates: Smoked Trout, Duck and Pheasant Pate, and Artichoke-Leek spread. We ate pate, the spread, and smoked salmon (another inattention to detail from the staff on a very unbusy night). My hubby and I are just getting into the enjoyment of pate and this one was good. And even though the salmon was a mistake, it tasted heavenly.

We then ordered cups of soup and most looked forward to the Tuscan white bean and bacon, only to be told after our order was taken that only three cups remained of the soup du jour. Butternut Squash Bisque became the substitute. The bean soup offered a lot of bacon flavor, but was distressingly short of beans. The bisque was decent, but laced with cinnamon and a bit too sweet.

Paninis rounded out the evening and were very satisfying.

As always, the company made the evening stellar, but The Barrel Thief was a bit off kilter.

Barrel Thief on Urbanspoon

Monday, October 26, 2009

Red Beans and Rice

Unfortunately, I was under the weather for the Richmond Folk Festival. I did manage to catch Phil Wiggins and Corey Harris on Sunday. While I was soaking up the sun rays, I also consumed the meaty red beans and rice from Send-a-Chef. Great blues and fantastic food.

Send-a-Chef was impressive.

Unfortunately, just that activity tuckered me out and I had to go home.

Sunday, October 25, 2009

Cape Cod

Cape Cod in late September. And our first visit to the Cape. What a lovely time. We stayed at a sweet little cottage off of Main St. in Chatham for the week owned by a couple of artists. Perfect for two and within walking distance of Chatham Light and the quaint and upscale shops and restaurants in town. The weather maintained a breezy 65-70 degrees during the day, heaven. Of course, it had to pour one of those days, but we were able to get in our early morning beach stroll before the deluge.

We stuck to the exploration of the Lower and Outer Cape. While we ventured into Hyannis one day, we quickly retreated to the more natural landscape of the National Seashore. Highlights included visiting several light houses, experiencing the unique and festive Provincetown – right before the place closed up for the season, whale watching, climbing Pilgrim Monument, seal communing, wild turkey lurking, meandering rocky and eerie seascapes along the bay at Wellfleet, trekking tidal vistas that had previously captivated Edward Hopper, learning about natives and washashores, wine-tasting at Truro, and consuming a whole heap of incredibly delicious seafood!

Check out a few photos:

And now, on to the food. As stated earlier, we had seafood most lunches and dinners. A few so-so, most mouth-watering and delightful. I’ve listed all of them with a few comments about each. You’ll see where I waxed rhapsodic.

First up, the interesting food-related shops:

Chatham Cheese Company – good stuff, good variety

Gustare Oils and Vinegars – Probably some upscale chain, but all they feature are infused olive oils and balsamic vinegars. All can be tasted before purchasing. We bought lavender infused balsamic vinegar.

Chatham Jam and Jelly Shop – An expanded salt box house where the living room is the shop. Featured jellies include rose hip, cranberry, and wild beach plum (from locally harvested wild plums). Once again a taste before you buy establishment. We bought several.

Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod – the cab franc grapes looked fantastic in the vineyard, but the wines left a lot to be desired, lighthouse wine bottles keep sales brisk as well as the cranberry wine. Except for the cab franc, all other grape varieties are trucked in from other places

Now the restaurants:

Seamen’s Inne at Mystic Seaport – on the way, decent fried shrimp, abysmal service . Next time if the weather is nice we will check out the seafood shacks we saw before we arrived at the historic area and eat outside

Vinings Bistro – housed over top of the Dunkin’ Donuts and sharing space on the second floor with the Town Hall. Looks great, but a bit sketchy on the hostess service. The spitted and roasted chicken was delightful – a perfect mix of smoked, grilled, and roastedness. Decent lobster and spinach soft taco. The scallops competed with too many flavors and were not enjoyable. Crusher Petite Sirah from Clarksburg, CA took the edge off

Vining's Bistro on Urbanspoon
Chatham Village CafĂ© – locally roasted coffee, very expensive sandwiches – but open every day starting at 6 AM (so one can enjoy coffee during an early morning beach stroll)

Chatham Squire – so good we ate there twice, a list of mouth-watering daily specials including seafood (all sorts), other meats, and a pate of the day. We had shrimp scampi over spinach and pasta one night, excellent and succulent shrimp, and the best snapper ever. Our 2nd night was another scampi dish with gulf shrimp (Maine gulf), scallops, and big lobster chunks over lobster-stuffed ravioli, and get this – a bottle of Perrier- Jouet was only $45!! This is a must-eat place if you are ever in the neighborhood – relaxed, casual, reasonable bar drinks and a ditzy, yet friendly and fun waitress. They also have a great bar for four-legged companions

Chatham Squire Restaurant on Urbanspoon
Pepe’s Wharf (Provincetown) – excellent view of the bay while we ate on the sheltered lower deck, waiters definitely paid more attention to my hubby than me, good lobster roll with a lot of the succulent white meat, decent margaritas, too

Wild Goose Tavern – Chatham clams (or steamers) and shrimp Caesar salad. The clams were good, but very gritty, they were served with broth, but I was not able to figure out how to use the broth to get rid of the grit (yeah – I’m such a tourist), Hitching Post Pinot Noir – yum

The Original Gourmet Brunch (Hyannis) – 50 different variations of omelets from this mom and pop place

Marley’s – we were suckered in by the cat, but this locals place had great fried shrimp and a waitress that kept our wine glasses full of Wolf Blass Yellow Label the entire evening, best wait service

Marleys of Chatham on Urbanspoon
Moby Dick’s (Wellfleet) – fantastic lobster shack. I took great delight in tackling a steamed lobster, yummy, yummy. Hubby tried the Wellfleet oysters and while he liked them, he prefers the Virginia variety. For lobster, a must-eat place

MOBY Dicks on Urbanspoon
Impudent Oyster – very busy, even mid-week, very good filet and grilled lobster tail, delicious Seafood Putanesca, tasty Cabernet Sauvignon from Moon Mountain Vineyard in Sonoma

Impudent Oyster on Urbanspoon
Chatham Pier Fish Market – take out only with a large variety of seafood choices, we were thrilled with the fried shrimp and onion rings

Chatham Pier Fish Market on Urbanspoon
Woody’s Lobster Pool (Eastham) – probably a real rocking place during the summer, order at the counter and enjoy the huge bar, really good fried clam strips

Woody's Eastham Lobster Pool on Urbanspoon
Chatham Bars Inn – our big splurge night, fantastic clam chowder, 2005 Savigny-Les-Beaune 1er Cru Les Peuillets from Rodolphe Demougeot (HUGE splurge, but very yummy), exquisite duck breast and leg confit, enjoyable tuna, very dark dining room, service was unfortunately second rate

Bottom line – if you go, devour the local seafood and enjoy the nature of the Cape.