Wednesday, March 31, 2010

The Swan Thieves

I just finished reading The Swan Thieves by Elizabeth Kostova (stayed up way too late!). This was not a book about food or wine. It's a novel about art and obsession. A good read.

But the really, really cool thing happened on page 526 of my hardback edition. The main character is on the outskirts of Paris and stumbles upon a restaurant that I lunched at several years ago. In the book-instance only coffee was consumed with no mention of the establishment's name. But the brief description transported me to an enchanted early Spring day overlooking the water in the Bois de Boulogne where even the small French dogs were treated well.

And don't forget the 500 + 4 = 1 Giveaway through April 1.

Sunday, March 28, 2010

Go to Tastebuds

Last night we had an early dinner at Tastebuds. If you have not been, go. These guys have wonderful, imaginative dishes at very fair prices. They are a Northside treasure, but they should really be a city-wide treasure. I am happy they are in walking distance of my house!

And they now serve cocktails as well as wine and beer. To celebrate a gorgeous day we ordered a Dark and Stormy (dark rum, ginger beer, and lime) and a French 76 (vodka, grenadine, lemon juice, sparkling wine).

For wine we selected our usual: St. Francis, Cabernet Sauvignon, Sonoma, 2006. The wine is always consistent. Tonight was no exception.

We shared Duck-Leek Spring Roll with Ginger-Pear Dipping Sauce. Ginger dominated the dipping sauce on this night.

Hubby decided to get the 8 oz. Angus Bistro Burger with Red Bliss Hash & Sweet Onion Relish. Yummy!

And I went for simple: Traditional 8" Pizza with  Marinara Sauce and Mozzarella

All good as usual. And if you can't go out, they have a take out menu filled with delightful temptations. Also, Tuesday - Thursday they feature a prix fixe menu for $16 per person.

Tastebuds on Urbanspoon

Remember the 500 + 4 = 1 Giveaway now through April 1.

That Old Familiar Feeling at Rosie Connolly's

We hooked up with ET this past week at Rosie Connolly's.

This is ET's home away from home. A cider for her (Magnus this evening), a Snakebite for me (Harp and cider), and Half and Half for hubby (Harp and Guinness). The bar area with the heavy dark wood tables and stools along with the plaid cushions provide a comfy and lived-in atmosphere.

While the food is plain pub fare that could  use a dash of salt and pepper, the mashed potatoes are real. And the owners and staff are down to earth and welcoming. Almost everyone who enters is a regular. Folks are warmly greeted as they settle in for a pint or two.

And the owners have been through a lot. They signed the papers for the pub the day before Gaston blew in and drowned out the Bottom. Hats off to them for courage and perserverance.

It's a freindly neighborhood place. And the Snakebites are awesome.

Rosie Connollys on Urbanspoon

And don't forget the 500 + 4 = 1 Giveaway though April 1.

A Sake Education at Dd33

Last weekend we met friends for dinner at Dd33 in the Far West End. The snow thwarted our first attempt to try this Asian Bistro.

My husband and I arrived early. We decided to have a cocktail at the bar - a mojito for him (exactly what a mojito should be - limey, minty, rummy); a green tea martini for me - Ketel One, sake, green tea syrup (very refreshing, very unusual).

We watched Joe our bartender mix a few cosmos for the girls-night-out group at the end of the bar. When he had a free moment, we asked him about sake. Dd33's menu featured several different bottles. We had never tried it and didn't know what to expect. Joe, and Al (who turned out to be our waiter for the evening), informed us that sake did not need to be consumed warm or hot - this serving method could hide impurities of the beverage. And then Joe did something that put him on the A-list for bartenders: he served us a sample of Wandering Poet. And Joe was smart, too. This sake was very mild with melon and banana undertones. Wandering Poet would be a fantastic summer time aperitif.

Our friends joined us at the bar. When we raved about the sake, they ordered a flight to sample (and generously shared!).

Rihaku “Dreamy Clouds”

Rihaku “Wandering Poet”  crisp and clean, with notes of banana, melon, and herbs

Mukune “Root of Innocence”  soft and crisp, with white pepper, cedar, clean finish

All three were different, but tasty in their fruity or woodsy way. None were harsh. And a big shout out of thanks for educating us!

We made our way to our dining table for the evening. I liked the Asian-influenced decor; colorful, yet clean lines.

As we perused the menu, the sake receded and we ordered wine - A Merryvale Starmont Cabernet Sauvignon ‘05, Napa and a Monmousseau Vouvray '07, France. Both were great and added contrast to the food.

For starters we shared:
  • Grilled duck quesadilla with roasted squash, aged cheddar, spiced hoisin
  • Crisp calamari with ginger-citrus aioli, smoked sea salt, thai sweet chili
  • Lump crab spring rolls with southeast asian herbs, candied ginger, nuoc cham dip
All very tasty. Each dish contained some type of sweetness (hoisin sauce, sweet batter for the calamari, sweet crab) and the Vouvray paired well. But Wandering Poet might have been a better choice?

For entrees we consumed:
  • Coconut curry shrimp with roasted plantain, carrots and bell peppers, ginger-coconut sticky rice, tropical fruit relish - The shrimp were sauteed, not fried. The rice was lovely.
  • Seared sea scallops with puff pastry, ginger sautéed gailan, sweet potato, bourbon-ginger cream sauce - The scallops were perfectly prepared.
  • Steak frites harris ranch hanger steak, smoked chili fries, hanover tomato and papaya ketchup, red miso aioli - Medium rare yumminess. The red miso aioli was akin to a wasabi-influenced mustard and was a most excellent pairing with the frites. The cabernet was definitely a good match.
  • Miso glazed alaskan sablefish with grilled seasonal vegetables, shiitake mushroom and gruyere croquette- A nice white fish. The grilled zucchini was quite tasty. The fish did not pair well with either wine. Maybe the Root of Innocence with its woodsy characteristc would have been better?
Definitely a night of discoveries and well worth the trip our west. The next time I go, I have to experiment with the pairing of sake with food.

Reservations for Dd33 can be made on OpenTable.

Dd33 Asian Bistro on Urbanspoon

And don't forget the 500 + 4 = 1 Giveaway now through April 1.

Saturday, March 27, 2010

Photo Hunt: Fresh

Fresh oregano springing up after a wintry slumber

And don't forget the 500 + 4 = 1 Giveaway now through April 1.

Tuesday, March 23, 2010

Macaron Day in Richmond

I want to thank Veronica, blogger at Kitchen Musings and owner of Petites Bouchees for sponsoring Free Macaron Day in Richmond this past Saturday. The macarons were divine! I marvel at the craftmanship and patience it takes to make these unique and flavorful bite-size desserts.

I also want to thank Rostov's for participating and having lovely lattes, etc., to sip with the macarons. What a great idea!

And what a lovely, glorious, sunshine-at-last day! I captured quite a few photos along Grove Ave.

And then wandered into Spoonfed to dine al fresco on chicken picatta, carrots with dill, and lemonade.

And, don't forget - email me for the 500 + 4 = 1 Giveaway now through April 1.

Monday, March 22, 2010

Meeting Patty Green

Last Thursday J. Emerson hosted a free tasting of Patricia Green wines.

And Patty herself poured her wonderful creations. She even served a chardonnay that I could drink without gagging. But the real star was Nortorious (a bit too pricy for us, but just the opportunity to taste this fantastic wine was appreciated). A sumptuous, yet hearty pinot noir. She was nice and signed our bottle, too!

Why more folks do not attend these FREE and fantastic tastings, I can't speculate. I can just tell you what you missed. This Thursday J. Emerson is hosting a FREE 2000 Bordeaux tasting. If you want to know more about French Bordeaux, this is the tasting for you.

After we our tasting last week we wandered over to Cafe Caturra and listened to the Brazilian vocals of Laura Ann Singh.

We imbibed a great cabernet

And enjoyed baked potato soup, egg salad, Greek salad, and a chicken club. What a great evening.

And don't forget the 500 + 4 = 1 Giveaway! Now through April 1.

Sunday, March 21, 2010

4 Years + 500 Posts = 1 Giveaway

Has it really been 4 years? I'm amazed I have kept at it. And to celebrate my longevity and all of you who have occasionally browsed through my posts, I will give away one "grand" prize (locally sourced).

Here's what you need to do -

Between now and April 1 email me at In the email let me know what's been memorable, what you would like to see, if you can render any technical assistance to help me jazz up my site (if Blogger had not made this fairly idiot-proof, the food blog train would have left without me), which restaurants or food experiences I should try this year, and anything else you wish to convey.

After April 1, I will draw a winner and contact that lucky person. The "grand" prize will come from a local restaurant or retailer that I admire, but geared to the winner's tastes.

Thanks to all of you for being so supportive over the years.

Saturday, March 20, 2010

What's for Lunch? Roy's Big Burger

In fact, a cheeseburger and fries. Last Saturday I drove to the take out joint on Lakeside and squeezed into the last parking spot available.

I waded through other folks craving some burgers, ordered, and waited for the large patties to cook. Local retailers had sent one worker out to pick up lunch for a crowd. A Girl Scout Troop had set up an awning to sell cookies. Old friends jawed about the weather while waiting for lunch.

In the end I experienced greasy beefy satisfaction.

You gotta love this place.

Roy's Big Burger on Urbanspoon

Photo Hunt: Three

Taken this morning -

Sunday, March 14, 2010

Greek Grill Cafe

Greek Grill Cafe opened January of this year at 2313 Westwood Ave. They claim to have "The Most Authentic Greek Cuisine in Richmond." I don't know if this is true or not, but we did have a very satisfying meal there last week.

The building once housed an Indian restaurant and then a myriad of other short-lived places. The coat of paint with blue accents and murals featuring Grecian scenes (along with a tongue-in-cheek nod to visiting tourists) give the place a fresh and appealing character. And our waitress was both warm and genuine as she informed us of the specials and greeted friends at the door.

We shared a small Greek Salad (definitely more than enough for two!) featuring lettuce, tomato, feta, kalamata olives, cucumbers, onions, green peppers, pepperoncini peppers, and their signature Greek dressing. We received a generous portion of feta and briny olives. The Greek dressing was particularly delicious and I used it not only for the salad, but also as a dipping sauce for my bread. Next time, I plan to request the dressing for my bread even if I am not ordering a salad.

We then tried the Greek Grill Specialty Pizza. 14 inches and a very thin crust with feta, onions, black olives, chicken, green peppers, and mushrooms and red sauce. The feta added a creamy richness to the pizza. The mushrooms did not come from a can. The chicken presented a different, tasty touch. Because of the richness, we definitely had to box up part of it and I had yummy lunch leftovers for a couple of days. All of the pizzas come with feta and can be served with olive oil or red sauce.

We had a nice dinner and I am interested in returning to try Souvlaki or Santopini Spaghetti with feta and shrimp. The Greek Custard and Greek Coffee sound tempting as well.

Greek Grill Cafe on Urbanspoon

Saturday, March 13, 2010

A Perfect Evening at Acacia

We found the perfect spot to celebrate the beginning of the weekend and say goodbye to a long week. Acacia. We had no reservations, but the bar turned out to be exactly the spot to be. Last November Arthur mixed up some mighty fine cocktails. Last night Michelle served up our cocktails with truly meticulous care. It was a joy to watch her at her craft, a joy to imbibe, and a joy to eat the wondrous food that Dale Reitzer was dishing out last evening. Yes, perfect.

The great thing about the specialy cocktail list is that it changes up, like the menu. Last night we had a Cherry Whiskey Sour (Wild Turkey, Luxardo, Cherry and Lemon juices) and a Kentucky Tea Party (Loose-leaf Tea, Bourbon, Aperol). The Tea Party had a smokey flavor and I thought it captured the essence of rural Kentucky. The Whiskey Sour was the best ever.

For starters, my hubby had the fried oysters over cole slaw with a spicy mayo. Overall, Richmond serves up some of the best oysters and Acacia's were outstanding. The cole slaw was over the top good, too. I could not pass up the soup - roasted pear, salsify, and parsnip. A perfect blend of fruit and root vegetable with a sprinkling of crisp bacon. After every bite I raved about how delicious it was.

For dinner we ordered a 2005 Château de Ségriès Côtes du Rhône Clos de l'Hermitage. Fairly hearty and showing decent fruit.

My spouse, after much mental debate, decided to order Mahi with sweet potatoes and a pineapple curry sauce and greens. While a bit unusual from his normal entree ordering, he definitely enjoyed the dish. The sauce was sweet, but the greens added a bitter balance. A great taste adventure.

Once I read the entree menu, there was only one thing to order: roasted long island duck breast - stuffed with pear, wrapped with applewood bacon, smoked gouda polenta, balsamic honey sauce. And, oh my god, I am so glad I did! All of the flavors were distinct, but melded together perfectly. Although I am not a huge polenta fan, this soft version wowed me. A hint of cheesy richness that satisfied the palate. And the duck was absolutely perfect. Smokiness from the bacon, a hint of fruit from the pear, and, of course, the breast itself cooked medium.

We were tempted to try the Bourbon Maple Creme Brulee for dessert, but passed and enjoyed Tuaca and coffee with whipped cream and Sambuca.

I had never had the subtly nutty flavor of Tuaca and Michelle let me have a taste of it straight before mixing it with my coffee. I think I have found another after dinner liqueur to add to my cabinet at home. Michelle was also great in letting us look at other bottles on her shelf. Aperol is an orange flavored alcohol. Pisco is kind of like a Peruvian version of grappa. Next time we go we want to try an Acacia-style Dark and Stormy and make sure we watch the making of it. Dark rum and an injection of whipped cream from one of those stainless steel dispensers along with ginger and lime.

What an incredible evening.

Acacia Mid-town on Urbanspoon

Photo Hunt: Spiral


Thursday, March 11, 2010

A Big Shout Out to RVA Foodie and All of You Fabulous Eating Richmond Bloggers!

Many thanks to RVA Foodie who persisted and finally got the whole gaggle of  Eating Richmond Bloggers together for an evening of meet and greet. And hats off to Jason at Olio and all of his staff for being gracious hosts and serving up delicious food!

And Richmond Dish - I loved talking wine with you! So much fun.

Eating Bird Food and Richmond, Food for Thought have great write ups, so please check them out.

For sustenance on this evening, I went for the PROSCIUTTO di PARMA $8.95 prosciutto, fresh mozzarella, basil, greens, red peppers, olive oil & balsamic on ciabatta, and hubby tried ITALIAN TUNA SALAD $10.95 avocado, apples, red onion, tomato & zucchini with balsamic dressing. Delish! And Olio offered some great wine gems, including a 2006 Bourgogne from Shaps and Roucher-Sarrazin.

An elegant Burgundy that I did not think I would see again when it vacated the shelves at Kroger a couple of years ago. Not only was it pleasing, the price was the retail rack price (as are all of the wines for imbibing). I heard that the beer prices were unbeatable, too.

So, go experience Olio for yourself. I hope to try a bottle of Santenay in the near future...

Saturday, March 06, 2010