Wednesday, August 24, 2011

Meaty Pizza

Meaty Pizza by pjpink

Meaty Pizza a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Fire-roasted pizza at Sette. Lots of meat and freshly grated cheese.

Sunday, August 21, 2011

Selba Soft Opening

I did something a couple of weeks ago that I had never done before - go to a soft opening for a restaurant. Selba had advertised this on Facebook and we decided to try it.

Selba Mural

On this night they only offered small plates and a limited wine selection which was explained to us as we were seated in the Garden Room. Fair enough. The waitstaff was lovely and gave us time enough to peruse our choices and pointed out some of the restaurant features (the windows of the Garden Room can be opened during decent weather).

As we entered we were asked if we wanted to dine in the regular part of the restaurant or the Garden Room. We chose the latter. We had heard that the room was awesome. It was. Large windows, water fountain, plants, and multiple stained glass lights all added to the atmosphere.

Selba Garden Room 1

To start we ordered a 1/2 bottle of Adelsheim Pinot Gris. Nice fat white wine. Lots of body and flavor.

Adelsheim Pinot Gris

And enjoyed the wine with a Mixed Green Salad: Manakintowne lettuces, herbes fine, lemon-thyme vinaigrette and Summer Corn Soup: yellow corn and coconut milk with Virginia jumbo crab and epazote oil. The salad was nice. The corn soup, interesting. The crab tasted a wee bit fishy.


Corn Soup

For the next course we ordered a 1/2 bottle of Frog's Leap Cabernet Sauvignon. Yummy!

Frog's Leap Cab

And selected Seared Pork Tenderloin: Morrocan spce rubbed with shell bean and corn succotash and tomato-prune chutney and Grilled Tri-Tip Steak: smoked fingerling potato salad, braised ruby chard, and herb compound butter. Both of these were excellent! The pork was tender and the beans were done. We both liked the fact that pinto beans (or equivalent) were used for the succotash. And the tri-tip was also over the top. Medium rare deliciousness. And I loved the smoked fingerlings. I hope they feature this on the menu frequently. The smokiness of the potatoes and the herb compound butter helped flavor the chard so I even enjoyed my greens!

Pork Beans Corn

Trip-tip and Smoked Potatoes

A lovely meal. The small plates were a big hit with us, serving up tasty offerings at decent prices and not getting overly stuffed. We both look forward to seeing the regular menu and enjoying the Garden Room again.

Colorful Lights

Saturday, August 20, 2011

Enoteca Sogno Dinner Photos

After a hard day at work we strolled over to Enoteca Sogno for some good food therapy. The Northside Italian restaurant now features cocktails as well as a well-stocked wine list. We started with Aperol Spritzes - Slightly bitter orange with fizz. Fresh mozzarella and roasted peppers were shared.

Aperol Spritz

Gary and Farouk enticed us with a Sardinain wine - Korem. A hint of spice, unusual grapes, Bordeaux-style.


We both had specials for the evening: Pork chops with sweet peppers and salmon, accompanied by pasta and marinara. Simple fare, excellently executed.

Pork and Peppers


The therapy worked.

Chicken in Tomato-Red Wine Sauce

A crowd-pleasing recipe.

Chicken in Tomato-Red Wine Sauce

3 lbs of chicken parts, skinned (bone-in preferable)
2 onions chopped
2 ripe tomatoes, pulsed in food processor
3 garlic cloves minced (or more)
5 sprigs of thyme (remove leaves and discard stems)
3 cups of red wine (use wine that you would not mind drinking – I prefer a syrah or petite sirah for this recipe)
1 cup chicken stock
1 bay leaf
Olive oil
Unsalted Butter

Place 2 tablespoons olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter in pot large enough to accommodate all ingredients and turn stove to medium-high. As butter and oil are heating, salt and pepper chicken pieces. When butter foam has subsided, add chicken and sear about 5 minutes per side (adjust heat, if needed). Take chicken out and set aside. Add onions to pot and saut̩ until translucent. Add wine and scrape up any browned bits with a wooden utensil. Add chicken stock, tomatoes, garlic, thyme, and bay leaf. Stir to mix. Add chicken back into the pot, making sure the liquid covers the meat. Add more wine or stock, if needed. Bring the liquid to a boil. Cover the pot and turn the heat to low. Simmer for 45 minutes Р1 hour (chicken should be tender and almost falling off the bone). Turn the chicken over about halfway through. While chicken is simmering, place 2 tablespoon butter and 2 tablespoons flour in a bowl and let butter soften. Once butter is softened, mix into a paste. When chicken is done remove it from the liquid and set aside. Remove bay leaf and discard. Raise the heat to medium high and boil liquid for about 10 minutes, stirring frequently. Using an emulsion blender (boat motor), blend the liquid, onions and herbs until smooth. Reduce heat to low and add butter-flour paste. Let paste melt to thicken sauce and then add chicken back to the pot. Add salt and pepper as desired.

Serve over egg noodles or rice or serve with a salad and a loaf of crusty bread.

Friday, August 19, 2011

SOJ 8/13/2011

Some quick photos of the South of the James Market last Saturday.

Hot Orange

Purple Gathering

Heirloom Cantaloupe

Market Mutt

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

Sunday, August 14, 2011

A Whiney Rant

I have always enjoyed eating at Can Can. It's truly a touch of France nestled in the heart of Carytown. The food is exquisite. That zinc bar is amazing. Heck, I even like the ladies room and the hallway leading to it. Currently, there are oil paintings on display perfectly capturing the atmosphere.

Sadly, my husband and I have decided that if we dine at Can Can, it will only be for lunch and will imbibe at most a carafe of wine. The reason for this? The wine prices are just too damn high. The French cuisine begs for wine, and, as all of you know, we enjoy wine with our meal (and then some). I don't mind splurging for a nice bottle, but when I pay the high price, I generally believe I am getting decent value. Maybe the wine is hard to find or the restaurant overhead is low for the upper end selection. This is not the case at Can Can.

A carafe is $32 and more than likely the liquid is coming from a box. None of the roses in the current listing are under $40. In comparison, only one rose at Secco is over $38. To be fair, Can Can offers wines that may not be readily available locally. However, of the ones I recognize, the prices are exorbitant. Case in point: Can Can lists Charles Schleret Reisling from Alsace. This is a lovely dry Reisling, lots of body and flavor. I first discovered this beauty at River City Cellars. The average retail price is $24. Can Can charges $72. This is a $48 difference! If Can Can participated in the newly legislated Bring Your Own Wine program and charged a $40 corkage fee (which would be outrageously high), I would still be better off bringing my own bottle. If this is happening with wines that I know, what is happening with the unknown wines?

Obviously, high wine prices are not a concern for the majority of Richmond diners. Can Can remains as busy and as popular as ever. Good for them. Personally, it's difficult to justify the markup, thus, we have regulated ourselves to the occasional lunch.

Monday, August 08, 2011

SOJ 8/6/2011

Abundance abounds at the South of the James Market despite the heat. Lovely tomatoes, peppers, onions, garlic, fresh chicken, and mouth-watering doughnuts.

Pics from this week:

A Sea of Tomatoes



Delicious Doughnuts

A Wagonful of Flowers

Adopt a Cutie

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

Saturday, August 06, 2011

Yummy Yummy from Tastebuds American Bistro

Tastebuds Asian Skewers by pjpink

Tastebuds Asian Skewers a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
Asian Chimichurri Sirloin and Shrimp Skewers, Jasmine Rice Spring Roll and Stir-Fry Vegetables