Sunday, October 31, 2010

Vegetarian Beer Dinner at Cafe Gutenberg

Here is some info on a vegetarian beer dinner at Cafe Gutenberg. Alas, I am not a beer fan and I definitely eat meat, but wanted to spread the word to others.

We thought we should give you a good reason to go out on a Tuesday (Nov. 9), and what better than a six course vegan beer dinner?

That's right, you are hereby called upon to celebrate Richmond Beer Week, vegetarian style! We'll offer six of our favorite craft beers from the Duvel family of breweries, each paired with a vegan or vegetarian course that'll hopefully knock your socks off.

Tasting starts at 6:30 PM and is $38 pp BEER INCLUDED!... Seats are by reservation only, so RSVP with an email to Deadline is November 3rd so make your reservations soon!

Epic Vegan Beer Dinner

Truffle Honey Frites
Fresh Herbs and Parmigianna Reggiano or Nooch Crumbles
Duvel Strong Golden Ale

Pumpernickel Toasts with Brown Sugar Onions and Cabot (or Vegan) Cheddar Nutmeg Sauce
Warm Spinach and Sultana Salad
Chouffe Trippel IPA

Red Chili Rooster Wings, Pickled Daikon Radish
Ommegang Abbey Ale

Local Oyster Mushroom Pasta with Porcini- Truffle Cream or
Vegan Sweet Pea Mac and Cheese
McChouffe Brown Ale

Sauerkraut Spring Rolls!
Wholegrain Mustard and Sour Cherry Sauce
Maredsus Brun

Leifmans Kreikbeer Milkshake

Saturday, October 30, 2010

SOJ Still Has Amazing Produce Despite the Cooler Weather

Check out the colorful array at the South of the James Market this morning:



Golden Beets


If you have any local market photos, post them here.

Sea Salt Caramels

Sea Salt Caramels, originally uploaded by pjpink.
Amazingly simple. Deliciously divine. Check out Lana's Customer Desserts.

Balliceaux Brunch

Last Sunday we took a stroll down Monument Avenue. As we finished our walk we were trying to figure out where to eat lunch/brunch. Kuba Kuba is always a favortie, but the line was out the door. So, we ambled along Lombardy and checked out Balliceaux. I had heard all of the hoopla about this place. I had heard it was fantastic. I still had not gotten around to eating here (so many restaurants, so little time).

We popped in and were surprised that a table was available. We immediately order a Bloody Mary (very peppery) and a Pomegranate Mimosa (very refreshing and garnished with a blackberry).
The menu options were plentiful and presented some twists on traditional themes. But we were extremely pleased that Surry sausage was featured in entrees as well as a side option. I have raved about this Virginia sausage quite a few times. It is that good.

Because Surry sausage was on the menu, we made sure it was part of our order. Hubby had the sausage, grits, and greens dish. Real good grits in the best comfort food tradition. The greens were cooked, but not mushy graced with vinegar and sun-dried tomato.


I did not want a big meal and ordered a la carte: Egg in a Frame with a side of Surry sausage. The egg was overeasy and framed in a piece of grilled Texas toast. Perfect.

We were satisfied and happy with our brunch choice. We must go back and try out dinner.

Wednesday, October 27, 2010

A Peek at La Grotta

IMG_7685, originally uploaded by pjpink.

A different take at La Grotta. Captured during the InLight exhibition.

Sunday, October 24, 2010


IMG_7687, originally uploaded by pjpink.
From InLight Richmond

If you have photos from any of the InLight installations, consider posting them to the InLight Flickr group.

Maintenant, j'aime Bouchon

We traveled to Shockoe Slip for the InLight Richmond exhibition. We arrived early so we could eat dinner. There were lots of choices, but we decided upon Bouchon because they had big windows. If we dallied at dinner we could still catch glimpses of the opening parade. We entered and were informed that all of the tables were reserved (we should have guessed), but space was available at the bar. So, we sat at the bar, and this turned out to be much more favorable. The small bar at Bouchon offered the regular menu plus a bar menu consisting of simple, less expensive fare. Wow! The best of all worlds. As we sat at the bar, John, who had been our waiter the last time recognized us and welcomed us back. Now, I love Bouchon.

We started with cocktails: Leap Year which was gin and Grand Marnier based and Amandahattan - bourbon, lillet, and cherry.

Both were not sweet and a nice aperitif. Olivier, our bartender, knew his stuff. Near the end of the sipping we ordered an onion and black olive tart to share.

Perfect. The onions were sweet and the black olives were pungnet and warm. An excellent match. And the crust - fluffy with a bit of chewiness.

We ordered a Bordeaux from Saint-Estephe -

And then the steak frites.

We really enjoyed the steak - tender and cooked just right. And the frites were terrific, especially with the wine sauce.

Our evening had started off with a bang.

We also thoroughly enjoyed the InLight installations. A few pics from a few of our favorites:

Saturday, October 23, 2010

Interesting Week

Random food and drink related blips from this week:

Blip 1:
For my birthday, hubby gave me roses (this is a BIG deal since he never gives me flowers) and took me out to Lehja, the new Indian restaurant in Shortpump. Where he takes me on my birthday is always a surprise and since we headed out to the far west, I could not have imagined what he was thinking. It turned to be a great choice. The interior is modern chic with clean lines, bright colors, and nice textures.

We ordered Snake Charmers at the bar (Patron Silver, ginger, and lime). I loved the ginger bits (or the snake bites), but the lime was more of a margarita mix and killed the taste of the tequila.

For food and wine, we moved into the dining room and ordered a Torbreck Woodcutter's Shiraz to drink. Lehja offers a wide variety of wine, both red and white. The hard part is figuring out what pairs well. The Torbreck was a winner with our food. Appetizers were shrimp for him and paneer for me and an order of garlic naan. Big jumbo shrimp with pineapple-basil chutney. The paneer was chunks of soft cheese in a hot sauce with peppers and onions (this appetizer could have satisfied for a main dish). For the main course I ordered Chicken Tikka Masala and hubby had a lamb dish with a mango pomegranate sauce. All good and there ae other menus items that must be tried upon our return.

Blip 2:

I had to run an errand south of the river and stopped by three of my favorite places. Vino Market was conducting a wine tasting and I had this wonderful chenin blanc from South Africa called Essay - very citrusy and clean tasting. And then I let Dave show me all of the great stuff on sale, including a Blue Eyed Boy Shiraz from Molly Dooker. Then, on to The Wine Cellar. John had gone home by the time I made it to the store, but I picked up a Snowqualmie Merlot from Washington State to try. Finally, I picked up ribs, hushpuppies, and onion rings from Q Barbeque to eat at home. The onion rings did not travel well, but the other stuff did. Love the puppies! And the ribs were smoked and meaty and the meat was easily separated from the bone.

Blip 3:

I pan-seared a white/black pepper NY strip and served it with dragon's tongue beans with sauteed onions and garlic/turnip/potato mash. Yummy. We opened a 2003 Domaine du Caillou Chateauneuf-du-Pape to go along with the meal.

Sunday, October 17, 2010

Lunch at Secco

I had a very satisfying lunch at Secco.

A panini filled with pork confit, spicy plum chutney, and St. Agur blue

and a glass of 2006 Benotto Monferatto Rosso Nebieul from Piedmont, Italy

The blue cheese imparted a hint of earthiness which balanced out the chutney and complemented the wine. Very pleasant.

SOJ Fall Colors

The South of the James Market continues to delight. Fall colors abound.

If you have local market photos, please post them here.

Bargain Hour at Bouchon

We finally made it to Bouchon and during the magical 5-6 PM time slot that features a $20 prix fixe menu (soup or salad, a choice of entree, and dessert).

We had not planned to dine at Bouchon or so early. We were in grunge jeans and shirts. But John, our waiter, welcomed us with open arms.

We chose a wine - Marc Kreydenweiss Perrierres. The menu stated it was a Rhone. Technically, this is true, but it's actually from the Vallee du Rhone and classified in AOC terms as Costiere de Nimes. This extreme southern part of the Rhone Valley produces different tasting wines than what I typically think of as Rhone. And while the wine was good and we enjoyed it, a French restaurant should have called out the distinction.

To begin the eating portion of the meal, hubby had the mixed green salad which was quite tasty and I had the soup. The soup for the evening was carrot/ginger/curry and it was fabulous. A great combination of flavors.

For the entree we had a choice of salmon with mushrooms and veggies or roasted chicken with a brandy-mushroom sauce. My spouse ordered the salmon which he liked (and I did not try - still not a salmon fan). I had the chicken.

We were pleased to note that the portion sizes were regular-sized, even though it was the bargain hour. We were also happy to see that our dishes used different types of mushrooms. The chicken was very tender. The mushrooms added a little earthy flavor, which paired nicely with the wine.

For dessert we both had the creme brulee which John promised would be the best we had ever had. Yes, the creme brulee was good, but, alas, not the best. The best ever was consumed at Chez Max (I still dream about this creme brulee).

We definitely want to return. The food was prepared with care and attention and there is a bufflo rib eye on the regular menu that is intriguing.

Bouchon on Urbanspoon

Brunch at Wild Ginger

Last Sunday we went to Wild Ginger for Brunch. It was a nice day and the weather was decent enough that we could eat outside.

We were surprised that this place was not busy. It was after 12 PM. One couple sat in the dining room and another took a table outside. That was it.

Hubby ordered Tuna Lover’s Lunch -  4 pieces tuna sushi and tuna roll ($10.95). Exactly what he was expecting and beautifully presented.

I tried Eggs Huntua - English muffins, Malaysian scrambled eggs, lump crab smothered in a Sake Hollandaise and served with fresh seasonal fruit ($11.95). Very nice. I think the English muffin could have been toasted a bit more, but the sake added more of a sweetness to the dish instead of a lemon-citrus presence. The kiwi and strawberries were a nice accompaniment. A nice twist to the traditional brunch offering.

Another Fine Dinner at Cafe Rustica

Once again we found ourselves eating at the bar at Cafe Rustica. We had a lovely wine. 2005 Chateau du Bousquet from Cotes du Bourg in Bordeaux.

For dinner I had Schweinschnitzel with red cabbage and spaetzle. Yummy! The portion was large and satisfying. The breading, perfect. Loved the capers. The spaetzle was pan-fried. This bit of browning added subtle flavor and enhanced the enjoyment of the side dish.

My hubby ordered the Oyster Stew and Swedish Meatballs. The stew was creamy and intensely rich. Not a dish for everyday consumption.

The meatballs were over-the-top good. The best of the dishes we had and maybe the best dish on the current menu.

Our charming waitress (with the slightly squeaky voice) recognized us from the last time we visited and treated us well. Once again, a good evening at Cafe Rustica.

Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Memorable Food and Wine Pairings at Fleming's

Every so often one receives a unique and special opportunity. Last week we were invited to participate in the Fleming's "media event." We met some folks in the news media, discovered faces behind our favorite local food blogs, and caught up with bloggers we knew. The event was to introduce us to Fleming's new Fall dishes. And just so you know - the event was free; we were expertly wined and dined; and we were given gift certificates to use on a return trip (which we will happily do!).

Overall, we experienced great food, but the standout was the wine and food pairings. All of the selections were thoughtfully selected and made the evening extraordinary.

To begin we were served a Stoli Bombshell. The proceeds from the sale of this martini between 5 and 7 PM every evening at the bar goes to Avon Breast Cancer Crusade. The raspberry cocktail is $6 and is only 99 calories. If you are calorie conscious, this could be the drink for you. Because it is only 99 calories, the raspberry syrup and preserve ingredients are sugar-free.

On to the rest of the menu -
Lump Crab Louis Wraps, butter lettuce, avocado, bacon, egg, tomato, chives with 1000 island vinaigrette
Wine Pairing: Sanford, Santa Barbara County, 2007 Chardonnay

Great start to the evening. The butter lettuce acted more like little fresh green bowls. The crab was delicious. The bacon enhanced, but did not overpower the dish. Now, for anyone who reads my blog, you know that I really do not like chardonnay. And the Sanford tasted like a typical California chardonnay. But this wine was superb with this dish. What really wowed me was how well the wine paired with the avocado. Truly amazing!

Salmon Nicoise Salad, broiled salmon fillet, roasted Yukon potatoes, french green beans, truffled deviled eggs, roasted sweet baby peppers, lemon-balsamic vinaigrette
Wine Pairing: Conundrum, California, 2008

I had never had the opportunity to taste Conundrum. The 2008 is a blend of Sauvignon Blanc, Chardonnay, Viognier, and Muscat. What a great white wine! Unfortunately, I do not like salmon, and Fleming's did not change my mind (I did try it, just in case). My hubby, however really enjoyed his salmon (and the rest of mine!). He thought it had the right touch of sweet glaze without engulfing the fish qualities. I did like the green beans with just a bit of basil and I enjoyed the truffled deviled eggs. This dish was presented "deconstructed," but it seemed more of a haphazard presentation.

Roasted Mushroom Ravioli, portobello and shiitake mushrooms, porcini butter sauce
Wine Pairing: Schug, Sonoma Coast, 2007 Pinot Noir

Mushrooms aren't usually my favorite either, but these were very tasty. The earthiness of the fungi and the richness of the sauce balanced each other very well. And the wine added depth to the dish.

Peppercorn Steak, prime New York strip, cracked black and white peppercorns, proprietary “F17”
steak sauce on the side
Wine Pairing: Faust, Napa Valley, 2006 Cabernet Sauvignon

And for the evening's main event we experienced steak. Both hubby and I loved the black and white peppercorn seasoning. Just the right touch. And the Faust Cab? Drool time. How delightfully, in-your-face yummy. We were both thrilled that the proprietary steak sauce was served on the side. This NY strip did not need to be covered up in any way. It needed to glory in all of its nakedness and then be married up to Faust. Oh yeah!
And while we thought we were through (except for dessert), we had a couple of other new Fall dishes sprung on us:

Oysters Rockefeller, three freshly shucked oysters baked with sambucca-laced creamed spinach, shaved parmesan cheese and crispy bacon bits

I could eat these and truthfully say they were decent. Someone who likes oysters would probably really enjoy them.

Cioppino, shrimp, clams and black mussels simmered in a spicy tomato broth, topped with roasted seabass, served with toasted sourdough

Neither of us had tried this seafood stew. It was nice and spicy and the seabass was tasty. Since I am a steak lover, I'm not sure I would order this dish, but for folks where beef is not a first love and they are tagging along for dinner, the Cioppino makes for a good hearty alternative.

And finally, dessert:

Fleming’s Crème Brûlée Trio – Chocolate, Banana, and Vanilla

I'm not a banana fan, but hubby thought it decent. The vanilla was decent, too. The chocolate was the great standout and would have paired well with port.
I want to thank Fleming's for giving me and my husband the opportunity to experience some new menu items as well as some phenomenal wine pairings. Keep in mind that Fleming's also features quite a number of gluten-free options, too. And if the dinner prices may keep you away, consider the 5 for $6 'til 7 bar menu. 5 cocktails/glasses of wine/appetizers at $6 each until 7 PM. And if appetizers aren't heavy enough, they also have a bacon cheeseburger for $6.

Monday, October 11, 2010

Richmond Folk Festival - Year Three

We deliberately ensure that we are not out of town during the Richmond Folk Festival. It's free. The music is fantastic and we always learn something about a new culture. We are also lucky that there is a free shuttle service from The Diamond and we can walk to it. While my photos do not do the festival justice, here they are anyway. If you are intrigued by any of the groups, check out their websites.

Bonsoir Catin - Cajun

Capoeira Luanda - Brazilian martial arts

Sibirskaya Vechora - Siberian

Andes Manta - this group was our favorite

And there were food vendors of all stripes, too.

If you have never been, plan on going next year. The festival keeps getting better and better with a wide variety of music.

If you have any photos of the folk festival, post them to this flickr site.