Sunday, June 26, 2011

Olio - Simple Deliciousness

When I walked into Olio on West Main it occurred to me that I had never eaten here for a regular dinner. I attended a local food bloggers gathering quite a while ago and I enjoyed a wine dinner (at a very reasonable price). So, despite previous visits it felt like a first time experience.

Olio - Sign

We arrived very early. As we made our way to the counter to look at various offerings and peruse the menu, one of the staff warmly greeted us. As we took our time figuring out dinner options, the other staff members made sure we knew they were ready to take our order or answer any questions (they were busy preparing items for a reception and didn't want to ignore us).

The menu offered lots of sandwich options, salads, and some pizzas. Then we turned the menu over and spotted entrees available after 4 PM. Upon further deliberation I ordered the Italian Picnic ($8.49) - house-roasted turkey, granny-smith apple, fig jam, cheese with garlic aioli on baguette.

Olio - Sandwich

Quite delicious. The sandwich normally comes with Taleggio, but I am not a fan of this cheese (although the concept sounds yummy and I'm sure it would be a great match for other diners). Swiss was suggested as an alternative and it worked well. I liked the crunch of the apple. The turkey was plentiful and the bread had a pleasing crunchy crust. The star of the show was named Fig. The jam added the perfect sweet touch.

My hubby selected the Baked Pasta a la Vodka with Meatballs ($10.95) - penne pasta with chunky tomato sauce, four large meatballs, and parmesan and provolone cheeses melted on top. The meal came with one side dish and grilled bread. He decided on the white bean and roasted tomatoes as the accompinament.

Olio - Pasta with Meatballs

The pasta was a generous portion with dense herb-flavored meatballs. The meatballs had been placed on top of the pasta (to allow for a vegetarian option) and baked. We wished a bit of sauce and cheese had been placed on top of the meatballs to meld the meat with the dish. No matter, still wonderfully delicious. And the white bean salad was delightful. Chopped herbs and a tad of vinegar added to large cooked white beans and tomatoes. Tasty and particularly pleasing as a side dish for summer.

Olio caters, runs a market with specialty items (likethe fig jam) and wine and beer. Wine can be enjoyed with dinner. We were able to select from any item on the wine racks. Most of the bottles we looked at ranged in the $25 - $30 range. We selected a Morgan Syrah/Grenache blend from Monterey, CA.

Olio - Morgan Wine

As we enjoyed our meal several folks came in for take out. A wine tasting was set up featuring white, red, and sparkling options. Regulars popped in to say hello.

Olio offers simple deliciousness in a comfortably casual environment.

Olio on Urbanspoon

Saturday, June 25, 2011

SOJ 6/18/2011

A bit late, but still a great market last week (and, yes, I'm going today as well!). Here are a few photos:

Wrinkly Cukes

Markiss and Guitar

Fennel Trio

Tomatoes on Checked Cloth


If you have photos of the local area markets, post them here.

Saturday, June 11, 2011

SOJ 6/11/2011

A hot one today at the South of the James Market, but that did not stop folks from attending. Many thanks to all of the producers who harvested yummy items this past week to have available for today. The weather has been brutally hot. I applaud your stamina!

We picked up a fresh chicken from Ault's (we plan on smoking it tomorrow!); radicchio, Japanese turnips, and garlic from Manakintowne Growers; Yukon Gold potatoes and arugula from Fertile Crescent Farm (picked and washed!); spring red onions from Pleitez Produce; carrots from Bill's Produce; pork chops from Root Force Collective (from year old pigs that foraged on acorns and such in the forest); a spot of tea from Koralee Coffee; iced coffee from Blanchard's (they always have a sugar syrup to sweeten your cold brew - much better than granular sugar); noodles and egg rolls from Tropical Safari; and a pork taco from El Cielito Lindo.

Of course, all manner of other goodies were also available. Tomatoes were beginning to trickle in and beets and other greens were also abundant. As we entered and exited the market, our favorite bluesman, Markiss Blowfish serenaded the crowd and tried to stay cool.

Here are some photos. If you have photos of any of the local markets, post them here.

Veggie Baskets

Spring Onions

Noodles and Spring Rolls

Greens Basket

Fat Carrots


Beginning of Tomato Season

The beginning of a lifelong affair with barbeque

Potato Baskets

Pork Taco and Hot Sauce

Kissy Kissy

Black Radish

Sunny Day at SOJ

Potato, Leek, and Golden Beet Soup

With a couple of goodies from the SOJ Market last week I made a Potato, Leek, and Golden Beet Soup. Here was how it looked as I got started:

Soup Beginnings

Potato, Leek, and Golden Beet Soup

1 pound potatoes, peeled and diced
1 pound golden beets, peeled and diced
2 leeks, trimmed of dark green stalks and sliced
2 garlic cloves, diced
salt and pepper to taste
cream to taste
Tarragon leaves

Place the potatoes, leeks, beets, and garlic in a pot and barely cover with water. Bring the pot to a boil and then then reduce heat to a simmer. Simmer for about 30-45 minutes until vegetables and tender. Puree the soup using an emersion blender or food processor. Add salt and pepper. Let simmer about 5 minutes. Remove from heat and add about a tablespoon or cream (more or less as desired). Serve with a few tarragon leaves topping each bowl.

If you need a bit of meat in this, forget about the tarragon leaves and add some crumbled crisp bacon or proscuitto.

Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Broad Appetit 2011

Several posts on this already and here's my take. Best food festival in Richmond. This is the place where local chefs and establishments do an excellent job of showcasing all of the fabulous foodieness available in RVA. Well done all!

I celebrate the fact that it's on Broad Street. Broad Street is wide enough to accommodate the vendors and patrons with room enough to line the sidewalks with tables and chairs. Brilliant design. While lots of folks attended, I did not feel so squished.

A couple of peeves. Why have this in June when it's hot? I go early, eat hearty, and leave. I'm not for roasting (unless it's say, a chicken). Second peeve - some vendors were not ready with food at 11 AM. We overheard that they were waiting on a health certificate. I don't know if the inspector was late or he/she had been early and found no one around. If the festival starts at 11 AM, be ready. By the time I get back to you, I may be full of other goodies or the line at your place is too long and the temperature is too hot for me to practice patience.

Some brief food highlights:

Great to see Lehja participate from the Far West End and their shrimp and bean salad was divine.

Acacia had stinger sliders. A new taste adventure. While the stingray was a bit too fishy for me, I was glad I tried it. And Acacia had lovely soft shell crabs. I had tried soft shells years ago, more than once, and I hated them. Way too crunchy. Acacia had been talking up how they pick their velvets, but since they were only an entree, I was not going to be adventurous at the restaurant. At Broad Appetit, I had my chance and they convinced me that soft shells can be good. I was impressed!

Of course the macarons from Petites Bouchees were to die for. The hazelnut with the salted butter caramel was my favorite.

My hubby enjoyed the meatballs from Avenue 805 as well as the salmon fritters from Tastebuds American Bistro.

The crabcake and spoonbread combination from M Bistro was also noteworthy. As well as the lobster and shrimp roll with housemade (or tentmade) chips from U of R.

I'll leave you with some photos of the event. It was great to see Richmond support all of the restaurants at Broad Appetit! I had a delicious time.

M Bistro - Crabcake and Spoonbread

Acacia - Soft Shell Crab

Shyndigz Cake

Lined up for Franklin Inn

Avenue 805 - Meatballs

Bonvenu - Lox and Pickles

UR Lobster and Shrimp Roll

Ettamae's Cafe

Louisiana Flair

Andrew from Tastebuds American Bistro


Monday, June 06, 2011

And yet another delightful dinner at Tastebuds American Bistro

For all of you who enjoy Enoteca Sogno: since you are now travelling to the Northside, I encourage you to vary your dining pattern just a wee bit and alternate between Enoteca and Tastebuds American Bistro. Both are fabulous. I've eaten at Enoteca twice now and have been immensely pleased. But I love going to Tastebuds as well.

Tastebuds American Bistro was where we dined on Saturday night with some friends of ours. We have probably dined with friends and family more at Tastebuds than anywhere else in Richmond. They offer a wide variety of dishes of varying sizes and when one member of our party only wants dessert while the rest of us enjoy salads and entrees, these guys happily oblige. We enjoy the atmosphere and they are still the most reasonably priced place in Richmond for inventive, imaginative dishes.


I'll get off of my soapbox now and show you what we had.

Of course we had wine - a St. Francis Cabernet Sauvignon 2007 from Sonoma for $30. No wine is priced over $35 and while the wine list is small, they feature some yummy selections.


We then ordered salads: Spinach, Shaved Red Onion, Goat Cheese Crumble & Lemon-Parsley Dressing ($4.50) and Romaine with Cucumbers, Tomatoes & Onions in an Olive Vinaigrette with Feta Crumble ($4.50).  I adore the spinach with an incredibly creamy goat cheese and onion that is pickled. Lots of subtle flavors melding together perfectly. The guys enjoyed the veggies and strong cheese for the romaine-based salad.

Entrees consisted of Sliced Sirloin with Hand Cut Potato Crisps, Grilled Asparagus and Charred Tomato Salad with Blue Cheese and Cabernet Reduction ($16.50)


Pan Roasted Salmon Au Poivre, with Fried Yukon Gold Potatoes, Shaved Fennel Salad and Cool Lemon Crema ($16.00)


and Pork Adobo Taco with Mole Sauce and Corn and Black Bean Salad ($6.50) from the Small Plate selections



For dessert was a chocolate covered ganache cake concoction with espresso ice cream


A great evening with friends. Consider taking your friends and yourself to Tastebuds American Bistro!

Sunday, June 05, 2011

SOJ 6/4/2011

We were out of town last weekend and missed going to the market. We were back at South of the James yesterday. As usual, wonderful produce was abundant. Manakintowne Specialty Growers had radicchio! The line for pork, chicken, and eggs at Ault's was long (but worth it!). A number of vendors had new potatoes. The garlic was also coming in as well as zephyr squash. We picked up some Portuguese Sweet Bread from Tater Dave's and enjoyed Chicken Lettuce Wraps from Thai Cabin. We met a number of happy dogs and petted a chicken courtesy of the Neighborhood Resource Center!

Photos follow, as usual.

Tater Dave's


Thai Cabin Lettuce Wraps

Sunny Veggies

Pretty Chicken

One Happy Girl


Garlic and Onions

For You We Farm

If you have area farmers market pics, post them here.