Monday, May 23, 2011

Caught in the Rain

DSC_0019 by pjpink

DSC_0019 a photo by pjpink on Flickr.
I had the most wonderful cocktail at Acacia last week entitled Caught in the Rain. The ingredients consisted of Gran Centenario Azul Reposado Tequila, Del Maguey Crema Mezcal, and Aperol.

The taste? Imagine you are walking in a misty rain. It's about 65 degrees and a house has a smokey wood-fired chimney near by.


Thank you Michelle and staff at the Acacia Bar for your artistry!

Sunday, May 22, 2011

SOJ 5/21/2011

The South of the James Market was bright and sunny and crowded yesterday. Of course, we got our little fresh chicken from Ault's and picked up carrots from Victory Farms, cinnamon honey from Alfredo's, fresh pasta from Cavanna's, and snow peas from Fertile Crescent. Blanchard's had iced coffee and we had noodles from Tropical Safari and a breakfast sandwich from Meat on the Street. There were lots of other wonderful items, too. Take a gander at some photos:

Ravishing Radishes


Surveying the Market

Lettuces in Wooden Crate

Markiss Blowfish
Markiss Blowfish - Our favorite Blues Man

Alfredo's Honey

Purple Kohlrabi

Turnips Basking in the Sun

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

Huynh's Vietnamese Cuisine

We tried a new Vietnamese place last week called Huynh's. Located in the West End of Richmond at 5905 W. Broad, the storefront is unassuming. We were glad they had an "Open" sign to let us know they were, indeed, open.


The interior was neatly laid out with a few decorative touches.


The menu contained some of the usual Vietnamese offerings for this area, but also carried a few different items. So, we took our time perusing the menu before ordering.

To start we had Fried Chicken Potstickers


and Jicama Root Shrimp Rolls.


The potstickers left a lot to be desired. The dough was thick and the chicken rather bland. The Jicama Root Shrimp Rolls were outstanding! I liked the use of the jicama. I would definitely order these again.

For entrees hubby had the Pineapple Chicken Stir-Fry (pineapples, celery, carrot, onion and bell pepper in a tangy sweet and sour sauce).


This dish was a lot lighter than a traditional sweet and sour chicken. The sauce was more subtle and the dish more fresh-tasting.

I ordered the House-Grill Vermicelli - pork, shrimp, chicken, and spring roll served with iceberg lettuce, basil, cucumber, bean sprouts, marinated carrots, crushed peanuts, and fish sauce.


Since I detest bean sprouts and cucumbers do not agree with me, the kitchen kindly left these off of my dish. No matter the restaurant, I love this noodle salad. At Huynh's the appeal was the variety of the meat ingredients. I liked having both grilled chicken and pork and shrimp. The spring roll was a bonus. Very satisfying.

Lovely experience for our tastebuds and we plan to return. The only suggestion I would have is to consider a delivery service.

Saturday, May 21, 2011

SOJ 5/14/2011

We were not able to attend opening day of the 2011 South of the James Saturday market. We were out of town. We did go last week and greeted familiar vendors and discovered new purveyors. As always, Ault's Family Farms has fresh chickens which we roasted that very night! Fertile Crescent Farm had bags of fresh-picked and washed arugula - the convenience of bagged lettuce, but way more delicious! We also picked up Japanese turnips and radishes. Two new prepared food vendors offered sustenance - Thai Cabin and Meat on the Street.

Here are a few photos from last week:


Chicken lettuce wraps from Thai Cabin - a bit messy, but delish!


Great Indonesian Tea




If you have photos, post them to the Richmond Area Farmers Markets flickr group.

Two DC Restaurants

A couple of weeks ago we traveled to Washington, DC for a short weekend trip. We ate at two new places (new to us, at least).

On Saturday we happened upon Cuba Libre located in Chinatown. This place turned out to be a chain with other locations in Philly, Atlantic City, and Orlando. The interior was over the top and we thought we had been transported to Disney World. No matter. The staff were pleasant, the drinks refreshing, and the food delicious.

DC - Cuba Libra Bar

DC - Cuba Libre Tables
Tables and Chairs

On the weekends Cuba Libre offers Brunch without Borders. This is an all-you-can-eat non-buffet. We could keep ordering small plates in any order or combination and for an extra $10 we could order as many brunch cocktails as we liked. We were walking, we had no real plans, so we settled in and devised our eating and drinking strategies.

Our cocktails of choice were watermelon mimosas

DC - Cuba Libre Watermelon Mimosa
So refreshing. I have to try this at home.

and red sangria using cuba libra rum.

DC - Cuba Libre Sangria
Fruity with a rum kick

We tried numerous small plates. Here were a few of them:

DC - Cuba Libre Cheese and Spinach Puffs
Cheese and Spinach Puffs - Not my favorite, but hubby enjoyed them

DC - Cuba Libre Short Rib Spring Roll and Ceasar Salad
Short rib spring roll and Ceasar salad - very tasty!

DC - Cuba Libre Crabcake and Poached Egg
Poached egg over crabcake with a spicy sauce - yummy!

DC - Cuba Libre Smoked Duck
House-smoked duck breast. This was so good I ordered two of them!

A delicious, luxuriant brunch. Afterwards we hearded over to the National Portrait Gallery to see the special Alexander Calder exhibit which is on display until August 14, 2011. If you are in DC, go see it. Although small, the exhibit is quite excellent and focuses on his wire portraits. Best of all, it's free.

On the previous evening we ate at Ripple in Cleveland Park. A locally-focused sustainable establishment.

DC - Ripple Place Settings
Ripple tables and chairs

Although we did order a California wine with a Spanish flair.

DC - Ripple Wine Front
Porqui no - California blend of Zinfandel, Cabernet Sauvignon, Petite Sirah, and Petit Verdot

The cheese and meat plate (we could mix and match to our delight) was excellent. For cheese we enjoyed goat (garrotxa), sheep (fiore sardo), and cow (l'amuse gouda). And the meat blew our socks off: Benton's Tennessee Ham, aged 26 months. Sliced extremely thin so it melted in your mouth.

DC - Ripple Cheese and Charcuterie
The most important staff member at Ripple: the lady in charge of the cured meat and cheese!

DC - Ripple Cheese and Cured Meat
Drool, drool, drool

The starter was definitely the highlight of the evening. Unfortunately, our entrees arrived before we had even finished half of the first course. The tables were small and it made things a bit awkward. The small menu had some interesting selections. I tried the slow cooked duck egg in broth with broccoli puree.

DC - Ripple Duck Egg in Broth
An interesting combination

A bit too green for me, but worth a try. If you go to Ripple stick with the cheese and meat and if you want something else, wait to order it so you can savor each course without feeling rushed.

Monday, May 16, 2011

Amuse Brunch - Golden Beet Soup

A couple of weeks ago after visiting Picasso for the 2nd time we had brunch at Amuse. The Goldne Beet Soup was killer!

Welcome to Northside Enoteca Sogno!

At last! Enoteca Sogno in Northside! We waited and waited. I'm so very glad we are in walking distance. I'm thrilled that the building has been spruced up. As we entered Farouk enthusiastically greeted us, seated us, and proceeded to serve us.

We ordered a nice Albe Barolo.

Enoteca Sogno - Albe Barolo
A hearty splurge

We then shared the white beans and arugula crostini and the trio of salami from Olli Salumeria. Yummy, yummy!

Enoteca Sogno - Tuscan Beans
One of my favorite dishes - simple and elegant

Enoteca Sogno - Salami Trio
The first we have tried this brand. It will not be the last
 For the main event we selected the pasta with bolognese. Mmmm!

Enoteca Sogno - Pasta Bolognese
Fresh pasta and lots of meat. Mmmm!

And we continued to get our Italian on with some espresso.

Enoteca Sogno - Espresso
Gettin' our Italian on with some Illy

Oh so lovely and a great way to celebrate a wedding anniversary! Thank you Enoteca Sogno. We are glad you are here.

Saturday, May 14, 2011

Cinque Terre

The last excusion we took outside of Florence was to Cinque Terre. We had heard about this place and many of you have probably seen Rick Steves overview on PBS (we hadn't until after our return). We decided to sign up for an all day (literally 12 hour) tour with Walkabout. For 90 euros per person, we had English-speaking guides, a motor coach to the area and back, hiking along thousand year old donkey paths, lunch, train fare from one village to another, and a  boat trip hugging the Mediterranean coast. The group had 40 people and 3 tour guides. Two guides split the group in half and the last guide took care of the logistics such as train tickets, timetables, and getting participants from one village to another if they were not able to hike the steep terrain.

This tour was well worth it. We saw all 5 major villages in the area. The views were spectacular. The guides were knowledgeable, but not intrusive. We did some hiking and it was tough for both of us since we are not in shape. The only small complaint was that I did not have enough time to take more photographs. Overall this was the best group tour I have ever been on (I usually run in the opposite direction).

Lunch consisted of a variety of marinated octopus and squid salad and pasta with traditional pesto sauce. No wine since the most strenuous hike was yet to come. I really liked the octopus. The pesto was rich and flavorful.

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I will leave you with various snaps of the area.

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